The love of music

In 2000, DH sent me to piano camp as a birthday gift. We were both taking music lessons (piano for me, guitar for him), and read Noah Adams’ book, Piano Lessons: Music, Love and True Adventures. The description of Adams’ week at Sonata Piano Camp as an adult student inspired DH to surprise me with the same.

music quilt detail

It turned out to be the gift that kept on giving. I went many more times after that. I made great friends, and even improved my piano skills. One of my new friends attended with her mom, Betsy. Betsy was my duet partner in 2001. She was an amazing woman: A college math teacher, marathon runner, downhill ski racer, knitter, quilter.

music quilt 2

When Betsy was dying in 2012, I sent a note along with a CD of her playing at Sonata, including the duet that we played. It arrived the morning she passed away. Last year her husband was deciding what to do with some of her things, and wanted to know if I would like her music quilt.

music quilt

I love the composition of this, how she took the simple repetition of the black and white star blocks and personalized it with a music theme. The one brown star at the bottom left. The heart that balances it visually. The music staff border fabric. The embroidery around the top edge: “I love music, in around and, under the stars”. It is a beautiful piece of hand quilted art, expressing our love of music both visually and in words. I am so honored to receive this. I’m glad I knew Betsy, and I’m glad to have this quilt to remember her by.

duet partners

Here’s our duet from 2001, Pastorale by Stecher, Horowitz, and Gordon. Betsy is playing primo, and I’m secondo.

My time is mostly devoted to knitting and designing now, with not much piano. Guitar and singing with friends is my current musical outlet. But every once in a while, I sit at the bench and play pieces I learned at camp…

If you’d like to know more about Sonata camps, here’s their website. All levels of playing welcome. And here’s an article from the NY Times; my roomie Katie Hafner wrote it in 2002.

Edited to add: Here’s a note from my friend Becky, Betsy’s daughter.

I am Betsy’s daughter. Michele and mom always had a special connection thru knitting and friendship. The CD Michele refers to contained a few songs from the sonata concert. The odd thing was the mailman brought it at 8 am the day she passed away and the receptionist said he never came before 2 pm. My mom had been unresponsive for 16 hrs but when I played the CD her eyebrows raised and she smiled. My stepfather Alex kept the letter that arrived with the CD. This past summer he asked me if he thought Michele would enjoy having the quilt. I immediately said yes they contacted Michele for confirmation. i am glad that my mom’s creativity is in the home of a fellow knitter and music lover.

Thank you, Becky!

XOXOKAL

I’ve cast on for the February Hugs and Kisses KAL, now tagged XOXOKAL on Ravelry.

pdxknitterati fern shawlette

Four pattern repeats done on my Fern Shawlette. The beads are very subtle here, but they do show up better in real life.

pdxknitterati louet gems

The yarn is Louet Gems Fingering in Willow, 100g, and Miyuki Delica beads (tubes rather than seed beads) in Celery.

It’s a pleasure becoming reacquainted with this pattern of mine. It’s not difficult, but it does require paying a little attention, and also pausing to add two beads on most right side rows.

pdxknitterati bead tin

I’m using my trusty Bead Aid to add beads to my knitting, and managing my beads with my bead tin. Do you bead your knits? One of the KAL prizes for the weekly drawings is a set of Bead Aids. I know someone will love theirs as much as I love mine!

There’s still time to join the KAL; we’ve only just started casting on. And the Criss Cross patterns are still on sale for 20% off with coupon code WEAVE, through February 10.

February 2015 KAL

KAL details here.

For a little more fun, I’m giving away 2 patterns from this collection here and on Instagram. To enter, leave a comment and let me know which is your favorite! If you already own your favorite, let me know that and your hoped for pattern. On Sunday, February 8, I’ll draw a name from here, and a name from Instagram. (Do you Instagram? I’m PDXKnitterati over there, too.) You can find names of these patterns in this post.

When I’m not working on my Fern Shawlette, I’m being lured by the siren song of a new to me yarn.

malabrigo rastita solis

This is Malabrigo Rastita, a DK weight slightly felted single ply yarn. I am enchanted by it. This color is Solis, a mix of greens and blues. Not quite as blue as this picture would lead you to believe, and knitting at night it looks only green, but by daylight it is gloriously both.

I can’t show you what I’m making with it yet, but I have already knit through one 100g hank, and I’m not bored with it at all.

OK, comment time. Let me know your favorite pattern from the XOXOKAL set! And anything else you want to comment on.

Hugs and Kisses KAL: Casting on soon!

It’s official: Debbie4 named the February KAL on Ravelry: Hugs and Kisses KAL (the shawls/cowl/hat hug your shoulders/neck/head, and the Criss Cross patterns have “kisses” (x’s)

February 2015 KAL

It includes all seven of my patterns released in January 2015, and also the Hugs and Kisses OXO Fingerless Mitts, just because the name fits. Ravelry links below:

Criss Cross Beret

Thrumviator
Criss Cross Hat
Criss Cross Mitts
Hugs and Kisses OXO Cable Fingerless Mitts (not new, but the name fits!)
Fern Lace Shawlette
Sophie’s Rose
Reversi Cowl

Edited to add: Win one of these patterns! Details in next post.

Don’t forget, the discount code for all Criss Cross patterns is WEAVE, good through February 10. And the code for Reversi is DOTDASH, good through January 31.

We’ll cast on February 1. Choose your knit, and join the KAL in this thread in my Ravelry group. I hope you can join us. We’ll have chat and weekly prize drawings. It’s a pretty small group so far, which makes your chances of winning a prize HUGE. Knit on!

New Criss Cross Accessories patterns

Done! The Criss Cross Accessories Collection is now available on Ravelry. I’m really pleased with this collection.

pdxknitterati criss cross hathat

pdxknitterati criss cross beretberet

pdxknitterati criss cross mittsmitts

The patterns are available either singly or as a set of three. To celebrate the launch of this set, use the coupon code WEAVE at checkout through February 10 for 20% off either a single pattern:

hat

beret

mitts

or the e-book. These patterns are also eligible for my February KAL. Come over to the Ravelry group to join the fun! Link to KAL thread here.

15 seconds of fame for me and #pdxcarpet on NBC Nightly News

Remember my recent post about customizing sneakers? I ordered sneakers featuring the Portland airport’s #pdxcarpet for DH’s birthday. They arrived last week, and he was thrilled.

#pdxcarpet selfie

The airport is replacing its 30 year old carpet this year. This has prompted an outpouring of love for the old carpet, which means home for lots of travelers. I know, Keep Portland Weird. We went to the airport to take a picture of DH’s new shoes on the matching carpet. A cameraman was kneeling on the floor taking video, so DH put his foot in front of the lens. Camera guy looks up, and says, “You’re kidding.” Nope, not kidding at all…

NBC Nightly News Crew

I thought it was a local news station, but it turns out that NBC Nightly News sent Harry Smith to do a story on the carpet. We were interviewed for the story that ran on Friday, January 23. Here’s the story:

Only in Portland Would the Airport’s Carpet Reach Cult Status

I took some screenshots from the story:

#pdxcarpet shoes

pdxcarpet shoes

pdxcarpet selfie

It was very fun. DH says it was the Best. Birthday. Ever. He blogged it, too. Not bad for the right shoes in the right place at the right time!

Coming soon: Criss Cross Hat, Beret, Mitts

I fell in love with a stitch pattern back in November, and I’ve had a great time playing with it. It’s my adaptation of a stitch pattern I saw in a Japanese stitch dictionary.

pdxknitterati criss cross stitch

It’s kind of like a cable, except the stitches go through each other, instead of in front or behind each other.

pdxknitterati criss cross hat

The first thing I did was try it on a beanie hat in Malabrigo Merino Worsted in Indigo; I was teaching a circular hat class at Twisted and wanted to mix things up for myself. A little extra thinking on how I wanted to place my crown decreases, and it was done. Cute! But this style hat doesn’t look great on me, and I really wanted a hat for me.

pdxknitterati criss cross beret

Next up: the slouchy beret. It’s a thing, you know. This is Malabrigo Rios in Azules. Even more thinking about how to arrange crown decreases (I think you’ll really like it), and I love it. It looks good on Bobbi, my model, and it looks cute on me, too!

pdxkitterati criss cross beret

But what happens if you need a bigger one? If you have a big head? So I knit another one in Malabrigo Merino Worsted, Black Forest, with more stitches. Looks great, but you know what? In wet blocking, the bottom band of the beret gets super stretchy, so you don’t really need more stitches to get a beret that fits a larger head. The diameter of the beret is a tad bigger, but not anything to write home about. If you want a little extra slouch, knit the large size, but the circumference of the band is hugely malleable. I put some elastic in the band on both the smaller and larger versions, and both fit my largish head just fine.

pdxknitterati criss cross beret

And then I knit one in Malabrigo Merino Worsted in Moss to check my numbers, while I was on vacation. It still needs blocking.

pdxknitterati criss cross mitts

Unless a hat is super special (like Thrumviator, or Pippi), I like to have matching mitts to justify the pattern. Here’s the first version of the mitts in Indigo, like the beanie. I used a peasant thumb, because I didn’t want to mess with the criss cross stitch pattern. It worked great.

pdxknitterati criss cross mitts and beret

Since I made the blue beret for me, I wanted matching mitts. Done. And check out those lovely crown decreases.

pdxknitterati criss cross mitts

I made a green set for my friend Carole for Christmas, because she loved the yarn color (Moss). I knit them with a larger needle, because the original mitts were a bit snug on her. The pattern repeat is large enough that you can’t easily change the number of stitches to adjust sizing. But when she put one of the mitts on upside down, I decided it was time to rethink the peasant thumb (which also looked a little sloppy at larger gauge).

pdxknitterati criss cross mitts

I made this set in Malabrigo Rios, as a Christmas gift for my niece. (The blue Dream in Color Classy with Cashmere that I originally gave her with a promise of mitts was too heavy for this pattern, and also excess dye was crocking all over my hands and needles. Not happy with that one. Couldn’t find Azules in Rios again, so I opted for Solis, which is green. She can have her choice of these, or the Indigo pair. Her mom (my sister) is hoping she chooses Indigo, so she can have the green for herself. Go Ducks!) I used my favorite increased thumb gusset. Careful planning meant it didn’t interrupt the stitch pattern at all. Fits like a dream. The cuffs are a little longer than necessary, though.

pdxknitterati criss cross mitts

One more time! I knit the mitts once more in Moss, with a thumb gusset, and adjusted the overall length which required adjusting the stitch pattern. Perfect. I do all this messing around, so you don’t have to!

Patterns are all with my tech editor right now. I’m going to set them up as individual patterns, but you’ll be able to purchase them either individually, or as a set of two or three patterns, with discounts for sets. Coming soon! And the Criss Cross accessories will be eligible for February’s KAL, too.

Have you ever fallen in love with a technique or stitch pattern, and had to play it out to the nth degree? That happened to me with entrelac, and with my favorite leaf motif (Big Leaf Scarf, Garland, Autumn Scarf, a couple other projects in the works or hibernating.) I think I’ve finally played out this stitch pattern for me; that was a lot of knitting! Now it’s time to cast on something new…

Malabrigo Reversi Cowl

Mmmmmm, Malabrigo. This sumptuously squishy cowl is knit in the round with two coordinating colors of Malabrigo Worsted, a lovely single ply merino yarn. Cleverly slipped stitches look like Morse code, but it’s not saying anything except, “Wear me!” Only one color is worked per round. Reversing colors halfway through gives you two looks with one quick flip. You can easily adjust the length and height of this cowl to suit your fancy.

pdxknitterati reversi cowl

This pattern is available for $6 USD via download through Ravelry, Reversi Cowl link here. To celebrate the launch of this pattern, I’m offering 20% off with coupon code DOTDASH.

pdxknitterati reversi cowl

I took this picture last fall, just before I bound off. I love the contrast between the cowl and the Japanese maple leaves!

I’m planning a February KAL through my Ravelry PDXKnitterati group. You can knit along with me, any of my patterns released this month. So far the patterns are:
.
pdxknitterati sophies roseSophie’s Rose

fern shawletteFern Lace Shawlette

thrumviator hatThrumviator

Reversi, shown above,

and my newest design, which should be published next week, Criss Cross Beret, Hat, and/or Fingerless Mitts. I’m looking forward to showing you these, soon. There’s a very cool stitch pattern as a theme.

We’ll have weekly prize drawings during the KAL; show me your progress and you’ll be entered in the drawings! I’m looking for a clever name for this KAL. Leave me a suggestion either here or on the Ravelry PDXKnitterati discussion board, and if I pick yours, there’s a prize for you.

Let’s go!

Pick your poison

pdxknitterati dpn magic loop two circs

That’s a lot of pointy bits! Kind of like my cat when I’m trying to get her into the carrier.

I recently taught a circular hat class at Twisted. It’s a pretty basic hat, knit bottom up beginning with some ribbing, then stockinette, and K2tog decreases to close up the crown. At some point, we move to dpns, because that’s how the pattern is written.

I remember when I knit my first hat (it was about 24 years ago), I was terrified of the dpns, so I just worked the last several rounds back and forth, and then sewed the seam shut. CHICKEN!

Malabrigo Rios

Now dpns are an old standard for me. I like them; they’re very Little House on the Prairie. They look scary, but you only use two needles at a time. I tell my class it’s a Jedi mind trick. The other needles? “Those are not the needles you are looking for. They do not exist at this moment.”

There’s been some interest in using two circulars, or magic loop, so I was asked to demonstrate those two methods, too. I don’t use them, so I taught myself a couple nights ago. Easy peasy.

pdxknitterati magic loop

I had a nice flexible cable on my HiyaHiya 32″ needle, so magic loop wasn’t so bad. I could see using this, and might on my Honey Cardigan sleeve, when I get to decreasing. I think I’d like the cable to be slightly longer, maybe 40″ or so.

pdxknitterati two circulars

Two circulars? I can do it, but I don’t like the needle ends flapping around. It seems like an alien octopus. Your mileage may vary, as they say.

What’s your favorite method for small diameter knitting?

New year, new knits?

On New Year’s Eve I picked up my previously abandoned Honey Cardigan project, and found that it really only needs sleeves. The body increases are finished, and it’s long enough, so I finished the bottom edge in garter stitch.

honey cardi wip

It’s supposed to have applied i-cord all the way around the body and neck edges, but I know I’ll never finish that. I’ll crochet around the fronts and neck instead. I’m working on the first sleeve, and I think it will go pretty quickly in simple stockinette. Perfect multi-tasking knitting. I’ll finish the sleeves with the same garter stitch border as the body.

honey cardi bottom edge

I certainly don’t want to set this aside for another year. Apparently I began this in Feburary 2013 (thanks Ravelry, for keeping me honest). And in the realm of “do as I say, not as I do,” I didn’t wash and block my gauge swatch, so this is an adventure all around.

malabrigo arroyo purpuras

I’m hoping to cast on Joji Locatelli’s Even Flow cardigan after this one is done. I bought the yarn last fall when Twisted had a big delivery of Malabrigo. You have to jump if you want a sweater quantity of Mal!

dream in color classy with cashmere

I may be getting ahead of myself, though. I gave my niece a ball of lovely yarn and a promise of mitts for Christmas, and I do need to finish that, both for the gift, and because I want to publish the pattern! This Dream in Color Classy with Cashmere turned out to be a little too heavy for what I wanted to make. Also, it was leaving blue dye all over my fingers, and my wooden needles, too. I had to go back to Twisted and buy more yarn, this time a skein of Malabrigo Rios.

Malabrigo Rios

They’re both listed as worsted, but the Classy knits up a lot heavier than the Rios. Back on track now…

japan new year stamp

This is sweet. The Japan new year stamp for the year of the sheep shows a sheep that has finished the scarf it was knitting 12 years ago, the previous year of the sheep. Or maybe the sheep has knit oodles of project since then. Hard to tell. But check out the detailing: The yarn ball label with the character for sheep on it on the old stamp, and the circular needle with the crochet hook behind it on the new stamp. Fun! This must be the year to Buy. All. The. Wool.

Don’t forget, I have three newly re-released patterns on sale with coupon code at check out:

fern shawlette

FERN for 20% off Fern Lace Shawlette

sophie's rose shawlette
ROSES for 20% off Sophie’s Rose

thrumviator hat

THRUM for $1 off Thrumviator

I’m thinking of doing a re-release KAL with these knits in February through Ravelry after I finish last year’s knitting this month. Check out the Ravelry thread here. Why join a KAL? Fun, camaraderie, and prizes! I’ll be knitting another Fern Shawlette, this time with the beads I didn’t have time for when I knit the prototype. I’ll be using Louet Gems, and these lovely Miyuki Delica beads that I originally swatched with.

What’s on your needles? Are you knitting out the old, or knitting in the new?

Kilauea Iki volcano hike, beaches

A little more aloha: On our trip to the Big Island last month, we made a day trip to Kilauea to hike the Kilauea Iki (small Kilauea) crater. This was the site of a huge 1959 eruption. All is calm now.

fern forest

The 4 mile hike starts off at the edge of the crater, going though a beautiful forest with glimpses of the crater below.

kilauea iki crater hawaii

CollegeKid noted that the floor of the crater looks like “a giant brownie pan.” Why yes it does.

kilauea iki crater hawaii

But it’s not as smooth as it looks when you get down in the crater. These brownies are cracked!

kilauea iki and halema'uma'u

You can see the steam rising from Halema’uma’u, the crater inside the larger Kilauea caldera, on the other side of the Byron Ledge. You definitely know that you’re standing on an active volcano. Science rocks!

Pu'u Pua'i and Halema'uma'u

The blown out cinder cone between Kilauea Iki and the larger Kilauea caldera is Pu’u Pua’i (gushing hill). It doesn’t look that big from the edge of the crater, but when you get down into the crater, it’s a different story.

Pu'u Pua'i Kilauea

The kids decided to see what it looked like up top.

Kilauea Iki crater Hawaii

The second half of the hike crosses the crater floor. It was pretty windy the day we were there. The floor is mostly barren, but little bits of vegetation are making their way back. Steam rises from vents in the floor. After crossing the floor, there’s a climb back up to the crater’s rim. The trail is forested again, and the birds do a great job of singing but keeping out of sight. This is a great hike! I liked it even more than the one we did last year, and that was good, too.

punalu'u black sand beach

On our way back from Kilauea, we stopped at Punalu’u, a black sand beach. Yes, the volcanic sand really is black! And the water looks very blue by comparison.

punalu'u honu

Hawaiian green turtles (honu) come hang out here. It was pretty late in the afternoon, so we didn’t stay long. We wanted to get poké from Da Poké Shack on the way home, and watch the sunset from our lanai.

kona sunset

We made it with 15 minutes to spare.

We spent time on two other beaches on this trip. We visited Kahalu’u in Kailua-Kona, twice (second time because it beat sitting in traffic trying to go somewhere else). This is very civilized with a parking lot, concessions, and the easiest snorkeling ever.

convict tang hawaii convict tang

urchins urchins

pencil urchin hawaii pencil urchin

You can even just walk around on the rocks and see fish in the water, but that was so tempting that we had to get in and snorkel anyway.

K4 honu Kahalu'u

K8 honu Kahalu'u

Apparently this year they’ve started numbering the honu. I’m curious if it’s always the same one up on the beach. Guess I’ll have to go back to find out.

manini'owali kua bay

The other very fun beach is Manini’owali at Kua Bay. The water is spectacularly pretty here, as is the white sand beach. The waves are pretty strong in the winter, and the ocean pulls the sand offshore. Next month there will be a lot less beach. It all comes back in the summer.

santa hats kua bay

I dubbed these guys the Santa Society. There were three of them; I’m not sure how they kept their hats!

We came home just before Christmas, for a whirlwind of Hanukkah and Christmas parties. I’m happy to be home, but I do miss the warm sunshine.

yellow billed cardinal

And these guys. Yellow billed cardinal. They’d come after breakfast and pick up any crumbs we left on the lanai. Tidy is as tidy does!