Category Archives: Knit

Aloha shawlette class: modified triangle shawls

I’m teaching a class at Twisted in Portland on the next two Tuesday evenings, August 18 and 25. You’re invited!

Aloha Shawl

My Aloha shawl and shawlette are the centerpiece of this class, so we’ll talk about basic lace stitches, the very fun shellflower lei stitch, and knit on edgings.

Aloha details

But the class isn’t just a how-to for this particular shawl. We’ll also talk about triangle shawl shaping, with both traditional and extended wingspans, and how to add a center panel to a regular triangle shawl.

aloha kal day 1

Interested? Contact Twisted to sign up. I’d love to see you there in our new expanded classroom space across the street!

Gradient yarn knitting progress

I’m knitting along on my current design project with Knit Circus gradient yarn, and I wanted to show you my progress.

Knit Circus Thrilling

See how the yarn is changing into the next shade of blue? I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next, and when.

Hiya Hiya Interchangeable Needles review

I bought some new tools when I was at TNNA last May. These are Hiya Hiya Interchangeable Needles, in the small sizes, regular tip stainless.

Hiya Hiya 1

Inside this pretty case are four inch needle tips sizes US 2 through 8.

Hiya Hiya interchangeable

In the zippered pocket on the back of the case are cords to make interchangeable needles in 16, 24, 32, and 40 inch lengths, as well as rubber grips for tightening the tips to the cords.

back pocket

I’m using size 4 tips to make a 32 inch needle. This is just right for my current design project with this gorgeous Knit Circus gradient yarn. So far, they are knitting just as smoothly and nicely as my fixed length Hiya Hiya stainless steel needles. I like Hiya Hiya needles for the smooth join between the needle and the cable when I’m working with lots of yarn overs. The yarn overs glide right up and over the join.

Hiya Hiya interchangeable

These needle tips are 4 inches long. I think they’re too long for a 16 inch needle, because it’s hard to comfortably bring them around into a circle with long tips. But I like these tips just fine for the other needle lengths, and I wouldn’t like them to be shorter. The needles are also offered in a 5 inch tip, but that’s too long for me.

I kind of wish I had chosen the sharp tips option, but these are sharp enough. I’m enjoying my project so far.

Do you use interchangeable needles? What do you like?

Gradient yarn

Have you fallen down the gradient yarn rabbit hole? I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up!

Knit Circus yarn

This is 150 grams of gradient heaven from Knit Circus Yarns. The yarn is called Thrilling, 80/20 Superwash Merino/Tussah Silk, colorway Starry Night. 575 yards is going to make a shawl that I can really wrap up in! The long continuous color change is going to work perfectly with the design I’ve plotted out.

The other gradient that I’ve knit with recently is from Black Trillium Fibres. Rather than a continuous shading, it’s in five even mini-skeins.

Black Trillium Lilt

The mini-skein put-up was perfect for the design I was working on, where the color changes are distinct and need a start and end point.

Have you knit with gradient yarns? Do you plan your gradient projects based on the type of gradient, or do you choose your gradient based on the project? Or do you just wing it, and apply glorious gradients to whatever you’re knitting? Inquiring minds wanna know!

PS: I had a math error on my last post: It was 40,000 stitches, not 20,000! I was thinking in terms of the right side row patterning, rather than both right and wrong sides. No wonder it went on and on and on! But definitely worth the effort. So pretty!

20k stitches later…

Edit: it’s 40K, not 20K. I was thinking about the 16 row repeat, but it’s 32 rows. Math! But it’s bound off and done. Ends woven in; here are the orts:


It’s just the way I imagined it. I love it when that happens. I’ll show you next spring…

20k is a lot of stitches! It’s fairly regular knitting, so this was a good project to read a book by. Reading does slow my knitting down a bit, but it’s worth it to entertain both my fingers and my mind. I just read Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline. It was a pretty good read, the stories of two women, one current day and one the personal history of an orphan in the 1920’s/1930’s. The current day portions feel like a YA novel, and the older portions were a fascinating look into a chapter of history that was new to me. But the ending of the book seemed like it was thrown together; after so much detail it seemed like there was a sudden push of the fast forward button. Still, a good read.

While not knitting, I’ve revisited what is now my favorite Portland walk. It’s 2.7 miles around the Willamette River waterfront, along the Vera Katz Eastside Esplanade and Waterfront Park on the west side. I walked it with a friend on Thursday morning and was captivated by shadows under the Hawthorne Bridge.

hawthorne bridge pdx shadows

I went back Friday with another friend because I wanted to capture the moving shadows. They’re a little cockroachy, aren’t they?

View from the other side of the Hawthorne Bridge: PacMan-esque shadows #pdx @sue.tangomango

A video posted by Michele (@pdxknitterati) on

Do you Instagram? I love it. I’m pdxknitterati over there, too. Come follow me for more fun pictures!

Here’s a little more Portland eye candy…

pdxknitterati burnside bridge

I’d never noticed the details on the Burnside Bridge turrets. Zoom in to see the detail under the windows. I love the leaf/flower? at the bottom, too.

pdx love locks

Apparently we’re copying Paris with love locks.

Eastbank EsplanadeAlong the esplanade.

Time to write up a pattern, and cast on for the next one! I already have it plotted out…

What’s on your needles?

Swatching and blocking, yarn and ice cream

Do you always swatch? Do you always wash and block your swatches? True confessions time here: I don’t always swatch, and when I do, I don’t always wash and block it. This has come back to bite me several times. Lesson learned! I’ve modified my approach: If the yarn is familiar to me, I might dive right in. A new yarn? It’s best to do my homework.

knitpicks galileo

This is Knit Picks Galileo in a deliciously plummy color called Urchin. It reminds me of these shield urchins I saw last December.

shingle urchins hawaii

But I digress.

This ia a new to me yarn. It’s sport weight, a 50/50 blend of Merino and Bamboo viscose. Two ply. It’s deliciously bouncy and round to knit with. Occasionally I’ll split the yarn with the Hiya Hiya Sharps that I’m knitting with, but I want that pointy tip for the lace stitches I’m working. It’s a reasonable trade-off.

The ballband recommends a size US 3-5 needle. I started with a 7, just for grins, because it’s going to be lace. Definitely too floppy. I swatched with a 6, and it felt pretty good, but I thought I’d push the envelope and swatch with a 5, too. It felt a little full on the needle, but surprise! It was my favorite of the three blocked swatches. It relaxed a lot from the bouncy knitted piece, but it also had more of the structure it needed to make this lace behave. So glad I swatched AND blocked in this instance. I’ve been knitting like crazy, and I’m halfway done with the project. No pictures; it’s a secret for now.

Speaking of plummy, my friends offered me plums from their super-productive tree again this year. I picked two colanders full, which was enough for two batches of jam.

yellow plums

I thought I’d come up with my perfect plum jam last summer. That was before I had some plum bourbon jam on a mini-doughnut at Pip’s Original Doughnuts. And over the year I’d also decided that I like a more traditional pectin set for plum jam. (Pomona’s is still my go-to for strawberry, and no pectin at all for raspberry.)

pdxknitterati bourbon plum jam

After the first batch, I went for the trifecta of favorite things: Plum, bourbon, crystallized ginger. Heaven. Not particularly boozy, but a extra depth of flavor that plain plum jam doesn’t have.

Notes for myself:

6 cups chopped plums
1/4 c water
Bring to boil, simmer 5 minutes. Add 1 box Sure-Jell pectin for less sugar (pink box) mixed with 1/4 cup sugar. Bring to boil.

4.5 cups sugar
1/4 cup bourbon
1/4 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger

Boil 1 minute per pectin package drections, water bath process for 10 minutes (sea level).


I must be an extravagant measurer, or maybe I should re-measure my plums after the first simmer, which I don’t, but I always end up with a bit more jam than I’m expecting. I can only process 8 jars with my stockpot/orange silicone trivet setup, and that’s my expected yield. Maybe it’s the added bourbon, ginger, water? Anyway, the extra jam goes into a jar and into the fridge. I had extras from 2 batches in the fridge, so I did this.

pdxknitterati plum bourbon jam ice cream

Plum bourbon jam ice cream. It was a good reason to use the ice cream maker the kids gave to me a couple years ago. And they were coming for dinner!

pdxknitterati plum bourbon jam ice cream

Tastes as good as it looks!

Inspired by Erica’s recipe, but I doubled it and adjusted it for sweetness:

2 cups whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup plum bourbon jam
up to 1/4 cup sugar, to taste

Mix milk, cream, jam. Taste! Adjust sweetness as desired. Process in ice cream maker 25-30 minutes. This is a soft set; I put the ice cream in a storage container in the freezer for a couple hours before serving for a firmer set. Delicious. In a perfect world I might make a custard base for a smoother texture, but that would mean more work. I wonder if I’d like it with half and half instead of cream? This is like swatching, with food! But I’m guessing that laziness will win out, and this simple version is probably how it will always happen at my house.

I think this would be spectacular with strawberry balsamic jam, with some additional sugared strawberries thrown in. Just sayin’.

So, extravagant swatching, blocking, measuring, eating! What is your extravagance this summer?

Pink…yarn, wine, and a PDX bridge ramble

I’ve just bound off and blocked a new design project.

Black Trillium Lilt

Such pretty leftovers! And they kind of go with my wine.

Black Trillium Lilt

I’ve loved every moment of knitting with this gorgeous gradient kit from Black Trillium Fibres. It’s Lilt, an 85/15 superwash merino/silk blend. Very nice. I’ve been intrigued by gradients recently, but this was my very first adventure with one. I’ll be back for more.

It’s a gorgeous day for blocking outdoors. And after my bird poop blocking incident, I’ve devised a way to protect my knits. I can’t show you what I’m blocking, but here’s the scoop.

screen for blocking

I had a roll of this fiberglass screen material in my basement. Once upon a time, I was going to make simple screens to put in our casement windows when they were open. Long story short, it never happened, and then we replaced all the windows a few years ago. (54 windows. Ouch. Love the new ones.) So I cut off a piece and laid it over my blocking project. I put a few extra pins in the project to hold the screen up above it, and a few more pins to hold down the corners. Perfect! And no bird pooped on it…this time.

Portland bridgesSteel, Broadway, Fremont Bridges

We’re having a very lovely summer in Portland. I walked the downtown bridge loop with a friend the other morning. It’s 2.7 miles from the Hawthorne Bridge to the Steel Bridge on the East Side Esplanade, over the Steel, along Waterfront Park on the west side, and back over the Hawthorne.

public pianoPlay me!

A picture perfect day. And we also took a little side trip to see the new Tillikum Crossing bridge, which is scheduled to open September 12. It’s for pedestrians, bicycles, and light rail. No cars. So pretty.

Tillikum Crossing

Yellow plums are ripe; there will be some plum bourbon jam in my near future. What’s on your needles or in your kitchen this summer?

July: Tour de Fleece, Blues Festival, Chicago

July means Tour de France, which means Tour de Fleece! I participated last year, but that’s pretty much the last time I picked up my spindle. I had started spinning this pretty BFL from Knitted Wit


but when I picked it up on Saturday to start again, I was pretty confused! First I had to figure out which direction I was spinning (easy), and then I couldn’t get it drafting. Why not? I couldn’t remember which hand I used for drafting! That’s definitely a hint that it’s been way too long.

bfl spinning

I don’t think my poorly wound cop was helping at all (wobbly spinning), so I wound it on my niddy noddy (thank goodness I eventually remembered how to do that) and started over. Let’s see how much spinning I get done this time! And if I can get something fairly consistent. I want a fingering to sport weight singles, to use as a single ply yarn for a simple triangle shawl. I want the colors to be the star of this project.

What else? Oh, the beginning of July means it’s time for Portland’s Waterfront Blues Festival. It’s been egregiously hot here (mid-90’s), so I wasn’t interested in spending much time listening to music outdoors, but I did go with DH on Saturday evening for a couple hours. Portland really knows how to throw a party.

blues festivalClick the picture for a closer look: Thousands in the park, the Hawthorne Bridge, and Dave Alvin and Phil Alvin and the Guilty Ones on stage.

The weekend before, DH and I flew to Chicago to visit a friend who moved away last year. We were joined by two other friends who had also moved away from Portland. Reunion tour!

Lincoln Park group shot

We had a great time. 72 hours was enough to get a taste of Chicago, and make us want to go back. Here’s the whirlwind. We did an architecture tour by boat. Highly recommended.

chicago architecture

postmodern chicago

chicago architecture

Chicago has many beautiful parks, which feature free activities, including the zoo. Lots of public art:

chicago beanThe Bean in Millennium Park

Jaume Plensa Awilda

This is the back of “Looking into My Dreams, Awilda” in Millennium Park by Jaume Plensa, which is very similar to his “Echo” that I saw at the Olympic Sculpture Park in Seattle in May.

daily bride and AwildaAwilda snuck into this picture, too.

At first I thought this was another bride at the Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool in Lincoln Park, but it was a fashion photo shoot.

Caldwell Lily Pool Chicago

lily pool photo shootGorgeous.

chagall mural chicago

This Marc Chagall mural is in the plaza at the Chase building (which is a cool looking building itself). I didn’t realize until I looked at this picture that there’s a Ferris wheel in it. I saw it as an echo of this, which I took to be a rose window from a cathedral.

chagall mural chicago 3

Chagall mural Chicago 2

Love this signature.

And I love that there’s a beach in this city! Lake Michigan is huge.

Chicago beach

We got around by trains, cabs, Uber, and Divvy.


And ate and drank our way through town. Sometimes simple is best: This avocado toast at Le Pain Quotidien

avocado toast

inspired this when I got back home.

avocado toast breakfastToasted English muffin, avocado, sea salt, cumin, chia seeds. Simple and delicious.

lox and latke Diner food!

Eataly Chicago is two floors of fabulous shopping and eating. The cheese counter is impressive. They have the same for meat, and bread. And the pasta selection is out of this world. Or this country, at least.

eataly cheese counter

Of course I took my knitting, which seems to echo the antennae on the Sears Tower.

knitting sears tower

Good friends, good times. I wish you the same for your summer!

So, so close, yarn chicken!

19 said yes, 19 said no. Ever the optimist, I forged on. And this is how close I got:

pdxknitterati yarn chicken

I made it! With 3 inches to spare. Just enough to sew in the end. It wasn’t really high stakes, because I would have just moved to the next color a little early, but I love a good game of yarn chicken. At least when I WIN.

Speaking of win, I did the random number thingy with the yes voters, and the winner is the 5th yes, Lindarumsey. I’m sending her an email to figure out what to send her, yarn, pattern, or other. Thanks to all for playing, and congrats to Linda!

Congrats also to pdxknitter, who won her own game of yarn chicken with 18 inches to spare. Woot! And sending good vibes to the Yarn Harlot, who is playing a much higher stakes game of yarn chicken

A little game of Yarn Chicken (contest), classes

Edited to add: Contest closed! See next post for the results and winner.

I’m playing a little game of yarn chicken. Do you think there’s enough yarn left for me to get 1050 stitches? Yes or no. Leave a comment, and I’ll do a random drawing from the correct answers when I find out. Winner gets something fun from my stash!

yarn chicken pdxknitterati

Yarn chicken is always more fun with wine, yes?

In other news, I’m teaching three classes at Twisted next week: Monday Cast On, Bind Off, Saturday Tink Drop Frog and Blocking. I know it’s summer and you’re not sure you want to be playing with wool, but we have air conditioning! Sign up now and make it happen!