RCYC KAL begins in one week! Parties and more…

Can you believe it? One week until the cast on for the Rose City Yarn Crawl Mystery Shawlette KAL. The official cast on date is Friday January 17; the first clue will be released that day. If you’re local to Portland, I’d love to knit with you! I’m having a cast on party at Twisted from 5 to 8 p.m. We’ll have refreshments and prizes; drop by any time and knit a bit with us. I’m thrilled to be the designer of this mystery shawlette!

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I’m also knitting with the KAL/CAL group at the Knitting Bee on Sunday January 26, from 1-3 p.m., and bringing a little trunk show there, too.

And Lorajean (Knitted Wit) and I are planning a trip to For Yarn’s Sake on Friday, January 31 during their KAL time, 4:30 to 6 p.m. I love having these opportunities to knit with you; knitters are the nicest people.

I’m ready to cast on! Well, I will be, once I get my yarn from Knitted Wit next week. This is what happens when you hang out with a dyer.

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I changed my colors, because I finally realized that I’ll get the sample back next year. My new yarn colors: clematis and tugboat.

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This is not the actual yarn, just the color. The yarn will be Knitted Wit Single Fingering, rather than this plied sample. Lorajean gave me yarn for the KAL, but now she’s talked me into the blues. I asked her if she wanted the silver lining and madge back, and she said that I should give it away on the blog! This is your chance to win these two skeins of gorgeous yarn. Leave a comment by midnight January 13 to enter to win. (Fine print: Winner must be a USA resident, so I can mail it out quickly in case s/he needs it for the KAL.) Thank you, LJ!

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I hope you’ll be knitting along with me. And when we’re finished with the KAL, I hope to see you on the crawl with your beautiful shawlette! I’m also hoping that we can get a group picture at the Yarn Ball on February 26. That will be a rainbow of awesome! Rose City Yarn Crawl is also giving away prizes in conjunction with the KAL and CAL; more info on that later. The actual yarn crawl dates are February 27 through March 1, and includes 18 Portland-area yarn shops.

Here’s the scoop on the KAL: The pattern is available through Ravelry here for $6. You’ll receive a pre-MKAL information sheet telling you about yarn and dates. Every week beginning January 17 the pattern will be updated with the next clue so you can download it.

The RCYC group on Ravelry is here: Pop on over and see what colors people are choosing in the pre-MKAL thread!

Are you ready to cast on? Do you want to win yarn? Leave a comment, in either case!

Thrumbelina KAL, and a winner

Just in case you need more fun knitting this month, I’m having a Thrumbelina KAL beginning January 21.

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My good friends at Lantern Moon are having their spring retreat at Timberline Lodge this year, and as part of their goodie bag they are sending Thrumbelina kits to their participants for a pre-retreat KAL. The lucky retreat participants will have cozy toes in a gorgeous setting in April. I can’t go, but I’ll have cozy toes here at home, and so can you.

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This is a great introduction to thrumming. What’s thrumming? Working bits of wool into your knitting as you go. So cushy! I had a thrumming class at Twisted last Monday. Look at all the squishy fiber on the table. Thanks for thrumming with me!

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I’m coordinating the KAL through my PDXKnitterati Ravelry group; join the group and it will be in your Ravelry forums. I’m giving away two copies of the Thrumbelina pattern before the KAL begins; leave a comment on this post by January 15 if you’d like a chance to win.

Speaking of winners, I have a winner of the Under 100 Knit Collection from Knit Picks ebook. It’s Laura, who commented on December 30. Laura, I’ll be in touch! Thank you all for playing along; I loved learning about your favorite 2013 knits.

Still knitting like a madwoman clearing the needles for upcoming KALs! And still dreaming of Lempster, but I don’t think I can do it. I have a design due soon, and I should do that first. Not a bad problem to have, though.

Don’t forget to leave a comment to win a copy of Thrumbelina!

Happy new year hike

A perfect time to blow out the cobwebs! We went hiking in the Columbia River Gorge on Saturday. Drove out from under the fog bank to see Mt. Hood in the distance:

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We took the same hike we did last July. There’s more water now, but the snowpack is way below normal, so still not overwhelming.

Upper McCord Creek Falls:

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On the way up, we looked down on Elowah Falls:

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Same falls, from ground level. I love the snow ledge. Lots of people out this weekend!

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I’ve decided that 2014 will be the year of the purge. There’s too much stuff in the house. DH found these items in the back of a closet.

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A Gryffindor sweater I knit for Kid2, maybe a dozen years ago. I’m sending it to a friend who will love it. And here’s a lone mitten from 1991.

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I knit 8 pairs of these, as birthday party favors. Knit flat (I didn’t know how to use dpns back then), seamed up the side. Bugs Bunny buttons, of course.

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Oddly enough, I knew exactly where the mate was. These won’t be purged, though. I may have to frame them. Or at least keep them in my sample box.

I have big plans for painting my knitting studio, and then organizing all my crafty stuff in it. Right now my organizer bins are in the room off our bedroom, but it’s coming in to my studio, along with my sewing machine. I love these IKEA bins. They’re not this tidy right now…

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What are your crafty plans for 2014? And don’t forget, I’m picking the winner of the Under 100 Knit Collection ebook tonight. More lovely things to knit!

January is selfish knitting month: cast on with me!

After the frenzy of gift knitting (which I don’t do…), January is traditionally selfish knitting month. (And I’m using the term selfish in the most positive way: for your SELF!) What are you going to knit? Are you casting on something new, or trying to finish something already on the needles? I need to finish something to clear my needles before this.

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I’m planning to knit the Rose City Yarn Crawl Mystery KAL, so I can have this shawlette for myself. My original will be a sample somewhere for the next year, and I want one for me NOW. Will you be knitting along with me? You’re invited! Check out the RCYC group on Ravelry for ongoing details.

I’m also having a Thrumbelina KAL. If you were lucky enough to register for Lantern Moon’s April retreat, you’ll be knitting your own Thrumbelinas along with me before the retreat so you’ll have cozy toes when you go to Timberline Lodge. No kick off date yet; we’re working out details. But you don’t have to be going on this retreat to knit along. The more the merrier for the KAL, as far as I’m concerned. More thrums for everyone!

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And I need to get started on a new design, due in March.

All three of these upcoming knits are fun, but technically for me they’re work, so they’re not really selfish knitting. What about something that’s just for me? I guess finishing the current knit is all about me (my own knit of my new shawl design debuting in February), so that counts. But I’m also dreaming of casting on Lempster from Knitty. While I’ve been dreaming, my friend Sarah has knit two of them! I received some gift cards to Twisted for Christmas, so they may kick start my Lempster. Am I crazy? Can I get all these knits done in a timely manner? There’s only one way to find out!

What’s your selfish knitting for January? If you need some inspiration, go look through the Doomsday Knits and Under 100 Knit Collection sets. And don’t forget, I’m having a giveaway of the Under 100 ebook. Leave a comment on the previous post to enter to win. Happy new year!

Under 100 Knit Collection: book launch and giveaway

I’m so pleased to have one more pattern published this year. It’s my Fern Shawlette, and it’s part of the Under 100 Knit Collection from Knit Picks which goes live today. Each of the 30 projects in this book takes 100 grams of yarn or less. Hats, socks, scarves, shawlettes, mitts, accessories…all my favorite things, and all knit up very quickly.

Here’s my Fern Shawlette, as shown in the book.

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And here’s Fern, in a lighter color so you can see the detail. (Thanks, Bobbi, for modeling!)

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The Fern Shawlette is knit with 100g (or less) of fingering weight yarn. This is Knit Picks Palette, 100% Peruvian Highland Wool. It’s a lot like Shetland, and knits up to be light and airy. Beads are optional on this piece.

You can order this book from Knit Picks as an ebook, or as a print book. The patterns are also available individually. I’ve had the pleasure of paging through the print copy for the past week, and I’m giving away a copy of the ebook here on my blog. More on that in a bit.

I’ve had a fun knitting year; here are the designs I’ve published or had published in 2013.

2013 design mosaic

Daffy Taffy Twists, Starwood Cowl & Cuffs, Filigree Shawl
Garland Shawl, Ooh La Lace Shawlette, Webfoot Shawl
Autumn Scarf, Fern Shawlette, Thrumviator

2014 is off to a great start. The cast on for the first ever Rose City Yarn Crawl KAL mystery shawlette I designed begins January 17 (are you going to participate in the KAL?) and I have another piece that will launch during the crawl, too. I have a club knit coming out at the end of January, and I’m also designing another club knit for March. I may be having a Thrumbelina KAL, too. My fingers will be flying; come knit with me!

To celebrate the debut of the Under 100 Collection, I’m giving away a copy of the ebook. To enter, leave a comment on this post telling me about the best thing you knit in 2013. I’ll pick the ebook winner on January 6. Good luck!

Puff, the magic…pastry

My go-to dessert for holiday parties this season has been a simple pear tart. Fresh sliced pears on a bed of puff pastry, brushed with butter and sprinkled with sugar before a little turn in the oven. (Please excuse the kitchen lighting; it was dark out. As usual.)

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Paired (peared? hah!) with my favorite bourbon caramel sauce, this is a heavenly dish. My favorite aunt sends me pears at Christmas, and many of them have gone the way of the tart. I”m saving some for cranberry pear bourbon jam, though.

I was reading blogs today, and saw Tango Mango’s decadent chocolate swirl buns, yeasty buns full of chopped chocolate. I was tempted, but feeling much too lazy to make a yeast dough and wait for it to rise. Luckily, I had one last puff pastry sheet in the freezer, so I did a mashup of her chocolate swirl buns and her pain au chocolat. (If you like to play with food, you really need to follow her blog.)

Here’s the result.

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Chocolate pinwheel puffs
Yield: 9 pretty puffs, and two not so pretty ones

Ingredients:
1 sheet puff pastry
1 cup mini chocolate chips
1 egg
sprinkle of sugar, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Use a little non-stick spray in the bottom of a standard muffin tin to keep melted chocolate from sticking. (I didn’t, and only had a little sticking.)

Thaw puff pastry, and then use a rolling pin to roll out dough to about 12″ by 12″, not a lot thinner, mostly just to roll out the creases. Sprinkle mini chocolate chips over the surface. I’m guessing on the amount, you could go way heavier if you want. Let your conscience be your guide. Mine looked like this. (sorry, more kitchen lighting)

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Roll the dough up into a tube. Scramble the egg to make an egg wash, and brush some on the edge to seal the roll. Slice the roll into 1 inch pieces. Place the pieces into the muffin pan. They look like they’re too small for the pan, but they’ll puff up. The two end pieces won’t be pretty; you can add additional chocolate chips to make up for it. Brush the pinwheels lightly with the egg wash, and sprinkle them with sugar if you’d like. I didn’t, but the sparkle and crunch would be a nice addition.

Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes, until pastry is golden brown. Remove from oven and cool on wire rack. Eat the not quite so pretty end pieces first to hide the evidence.

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Enjoy your pinwheels while paging through Doomsday Knits. Oh, I think I forgot to tell you: Doomsday Knits is live!

Doomsday Knits

You can order your ebook for immediate delivery, or ebook and hard copy. Hard copies will ship in January. I’m looking forward to sniffing the ink in my printed version, but I’m enjoying my ebook NOW. My Thrumviator is in this book, and now that I’m back in Portland, I could really use one!

Thrumviator 2

Happy knitting, and happy munching!

A little more aloha

Besides the moonsets, what else captivated us in Hawaii? More nature! More science!

We visited Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. The island of Hawaii is made up of five volcanoes, and you never forget that you’re on them. Halema’uma’u Crater in the center of Kilauea Caldera continues to smoke.

Halema'uma'u Crater

And the edge of caldera continues to steam. The heat under the ground makes the rainwater in the cracks steam.

Caldera steam

We had a pretty ambitious day planned, and got to do most of it. We took a short (2.5 mile) hike that took us around the edge of the caldera, and down to the caldera floor.

Kilauea Caldera

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Cairns mark the trail. I love how little plants have sprouted in the cracks on the floor, tiny attempts at new life. There’s actually a trail that crosses the caldera, but it’s been closed for years because it’s not safe.

We took a stroll through the Thurston Lava Tube. It was actually underwhelming, but out of the oncoming rain! No pic; it was over almost before it began.

We drove to the end of the Chain of Craters Road. Why is it the end? Lava overran the road in 2003. So cool that nature has her way.

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Looking west back towards the usable road…

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Looking east. Road closed, indeed.

Hōlei Sea Arch is here, too. You’re 90 feet above the water; don’t lean too far out over the edge to see it!

Holei sea arch

I’m not sure why there’s a lone stand of palm trees near here; I tried googling but didn’t come up with a definitive answer.

end of road palms

I wanted to visit the petroglyphs at Pu’u Loa, but it was near dark when we left the end of the road. And it gets really dark. No lights on the road, and it was raining, too. My biggest regret? I forgot that I wanted to see Halema’uma’u Crater glowing in the dark! I guess I’ll have to go back, soon.

We went snorkeling at Kahalu’u Beach the next day. This is the easiest snorkel spot, ever. You can walk into the water and see fish, but they really look better if you put your mask on. Lots of honu (sea turtles) visit here, too.

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They’ve named this fellow Rocky. Maybe he’s the same one I saw in January.

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We toured a chocolate farm, Original Hawaiian Chocolate. This is the first chocolate venture to go from farm to chocolate bar in Hawaii. Single origin Hawaiian chocolate, mmmmm. Cacao pods form from tiny flowers on the wood of the trees.

green cacao

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They come in different colors, but they all make chocolate. Inside the pod, the beans are covered with a white sticky substance. Geckos find it delicious.

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We like the part from the inside!

chocolate vat

We also visited Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park, or Place of Refuge. In olden times, if you had broken the strict kapu laws, you could be put to death…unless you made it to the pu’uhonua first. My family thought of it as “base,” and they felt a need to visit. Feeling guilty?

Base!

Safe!

Last sunset…

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And remember how I said that you never forget that you’re sitting on a volcano? Our last evening there we felt a disturbance, unnerving enough that I checked with the US Geological Survey’s site. A 3.2 earthquake, off the coast. Just a little rumble.

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Back home, and back to knitting!

Chasing the moonset, and Korknisse aloha!

Our vacation in Hawaii last week coincided with the full moon. I love watching the moon set over the water, and this time I was prepared! The moon set later each successive morning, so my pictures were different every day.

Monday, the 16th, 5:24 a.m. HST.
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By 5:51, things were looking distinctly reddish!
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Tuesday, 6:23 a.m. The moon was full last night at 11 p.m., so this is the full moon setting. The sky is a lot lighter, closer to dawn.
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Wednesday, 6:25 a.m. The moon is a lot higher than yesterday’s pic at this time.
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By 6:51, the sky was pretty light. No more lovely moonlight on the water, but I do like the puppy-shaped cloud.
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At that point, I wasn’t planning to wake early for any more moon pics, but on Thursday, I woke up early by accident, and saw Jupiter, below and to the right of the moon. 6:25 a.m.

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I learned a lot about my new camera, and have a lot more to learn. Looking forward to it!

On Friday and Saturday, the surf was unusually high, and the beaches on the west side of the Big Island were closed. This meant less beach time for us, but we enjoyed watching the waves from our lanai. All the comforts of home, and surfers to entertain us, too.

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I’ll tell you about our close encounter with a volcano in another post…

Have you finished your gift knitting? I don’t like scheduled gift knitting; it’s too much pressure for me. But I do like a little knitting for a personal touch. Do you remember the Korknisse I knit a couple years ago? (Pattern: Korknisse by Manne)

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I decided to knit a few on vacation. But my gauge was a lot looser this time around (a little too much aloha?), so I had to dress up champagne corks instead of regular corks.

chunky korknisse

L’il chunkies wishing you a merry Christmas Eve!

Arm Knitting?

I guess it’s a thing. You use your arms as knitting needles. Really big gauge, suitable for a chunky accessory. Check out the video here, and then let me know if you think it’s worth trying. I’m not convinced yet…

I’m being pretty slow about getting ready for Christmas, but here’s the next little step. This is the poinsettia tree at my church; we’ve been using the frame for the past three years or so. I always help set it up. I think we may need to scoot it back a little bit; the light isn’t falling quite right on it. I’m probably the only person who is that particular about it, though.

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You can see the first two advent candle banners on the right side of the picture. When it’s all up, it will look like this.

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We made these last year, and I love them. If you want to know more about the technique (salt and dye on silk), you can read about it here. It’s really fun, but you don’t really know how it’s going to turn out until it does. Hard for a control freak like me, but a good lesson in letting go!

Are you knitting/making gifts this year? I have one thing I want to make for a friend, but it won’t get done before Christmas. I’m planning on the box of yarn with a card explaining what it’s going to be method. Have you ever done that? I’m thinking it counts!

One holiday at a time…

That’s my motto. No Christmas before Thanksgiving. Heck, no Christmas before Halloween!

A couple weekends ago, it couldn’t be helped. Hanukkah and Thanksgiving coincided, so we had to do both at the same time. My sister-in-law made a menurkey. I can’t find the picture of her with it, so here’s DH.

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We came home and celebrated the rest of Hanukkah.

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(Playing with depth of field and my menorah collection)

Now I’m ready to prepare for Christmas.

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We had a little snow here to put me in the right frame of mind.
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I found Madagascar Bourbon vanilla beans for a reasonable price at Costco, so I’m making some vanilla extracts. Two are made with vodka, and two are made with bourbon. I gues that would make the latter…Bourbon Madagascar Bourbon vanilla extract! A week later, the vodka version is nearly as dark as the bourbon version. But don’t let that fool you; it won’t be ready to use for about a month or so. Here’s a recipe; it’s crazy simple. I love these flip top bottles, but I wish they came in a smaller version! These are 8 ounces, which is a lot of vanilla extract.

More merry-making: Here’s a group from Westlake High School singing at the Rotunda in the Texas Capitol in Austin Texas.

Yes, Austin! We had a quick getaway this week. Here’s a better view up into the dome. The star up there measures 8 feet across.

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This is a beautiful building. So much detail!

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Even the door hinges are beautiful.

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Texas State Representatives meet here.

We also toured the LBJ Library and Museum, and saw lots of bands play. Favorite meal: breakfast tacos at Torchy’s Tacos. Cheap hipster slacker breakfast.

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We got around via Car2Go. Very cool!

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Cheaper than a cab, and pretty convenient. You only pay for the time you drive, 41 cents/minute, and you can park in any legal parking lot in their service area. We have these in Portland, too, and use them occasionally when we need a second car. Do you have Car2Go where you live?

Are you ready for Christmas? Not me, not yet!