Tag Archives: yarn

SEA-PDX Yarn Train

The annual Seattle to Portland Yarn Train arrived in town on Saturday, bringing Seattle knitters down south for a yarn crawl. I couldn’t meet the train because I was rehearsing with the Day Old Pastries, so I met up with Kathy at Knit/Purl.

Knit Purl

I met Kathy last summer at the Sock Summit Ravelry party, and we’ve been bloggy friends ever since. She was with her friend Chandria, and Denise, whom they met on the train. I offered to take the three of them across town to Twisted, my usual stomping grounds. But first, I needed to check in at the PDXKnitbloggers’ home base at the Starbucks kitty corner from Knit/Purl.

PDXKBs

I found Cindy, Duffy, Judy, Susan…and a table covered with yarn.

AbstractFibers BFL

Susan was just back from TNNA, and she had a samples of her entire new Blue Faced Leicester sock yarn. Judy was trying to choose two coordinating colors for a design project. It was difficult, because they were all gorgeous!

twisted

We did make it over to Twisted. As we pulled up, my phone picked up a text message. It was a tweet from Twisted: “Love Stinks! Spend your Valentine’s day hexing your crappy ex with our Voodoo Doll kits! (Then go on a date with someone way hotter)” That made me laugh out loud. We went in asking for the voodoo dolls, and here they are, modeling in front of the wall of sock yarn.

voodoo

Kathy bought some Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran to make a Pippi hat. It will be her first color work. Fun!

Pippi

I also ran into Debbi and her friend Susan, and Sharon (but I forgot to take her picture, sorry).

Debbi

All that yarn shopping is exhausting! We had a very late lunch at Costello’s, down the street, and then headed to Yarnia. I’d never been to Yarnia before, so this was an adventure for me, too.

yarnia

Yarnia is like Build-a-Bear for knitters. You choose thin fibers/colors you want to put together, and they are wound off together onto a cone to make the yarn of your dreams. Denise was in heaven! She got exactly what she wanted for a shawl project. With sparkle in it, of course. Here’s the winding machine in action. (There’s a cone of shiny stuff on the floor, feeding into the yarn on the cone, but I didn’t realize it when I was filming.)

There wasn’t time to visit any more yarn stores, so I chauffeured the happy knitters back to the train station. And I realized then that I didn’t buy any yarn at all! I’m just not much of a stasher. It was a fun day.

Monday is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day here in the States. Are you participating in any MLK Day activities? I’ll be at a workday for the Backpack Program; they provide weekend lunches for needy children at a local elementary school. (For some children, a federally-sponsored school lunch is their main meal of the day, and there is no school lunch on the weekend.) The Day Old Pastries will lead some singing at the event. If you’re local and looking for something to do, it’s from 1 to 3 p.m. at Woodlawn United Methodist Church, 1425 NE Dekum, Portland, 97211.

Party on, knitters

We had our knitting party at Twisted this weekend. The party was a fund-raiser for our local high school. We had 16 participants. Most, but not all, had knit before.

Our projects? The As You Like It cowls. Lantern Moon blondewood needles. Malabrigo Chunky yarn. It’s like knitting with chewy linguine, so luscious.

mmmmal

Oh, and desserts. Lots of desserts. A stellar cheesecake served with chocolate truffle sauce and/or blueberry compote (recipe below), lime bars, fruit, chocolate…

party 6

Lots of knitting going on!

party 4

party 3

party 2

That’s Carole in the apron. She’s my party kitchen wench. We do projects together and have a lot of fun. And she makes the world’s best cheesecake. She doesn’t knit, though.

party 1

Carole’s DH Scott, the PTA president, knits! I taught him many years ago.

shirt

Don’t you love Amy’s shirt?

There was only one knitting faux pas of the evening.

twisted join

Join, being careful not to twist…oops.

shmem

Thanks to Twisted for having this party with us!

I made blueberry compote with berries from last summer’s crop. This one turned out particularly well; it thickened enough by itself that I didn’t have to add any cornstarch.

Blueberry Compote

2.5 cups frozen blueberries, unthawed
1/3 C sugar
1/3 C water
1 T fresh squeezed lemon juice

Combine 1.5 C berries with the sugar and water in a medium saucepan. Simmer over medium heat, stirring often, until berries burst, about 10 minutes. Add remaining berries and lemon juice. Continue stirring; cook until compote thickens, about 8 minutes. Cool, then cover and refrigerate. Serve warm when you’re ready!

How was *your* weekend?

December Single Skein Club

It’s December, which means it’s time for the sixth and final 2009 offering of the Single Skein Club at Twisted. This club has been a ton of fun to be in, even if I didn’t knit most of the projects! There’s something so tantalizing about about knowing that a surprise is waiting for you at the yarn shop. If you haven’t picked up your kit yet, or if you’re non-local and waiting to receive your shipment, avert your eyes now. Oh, wait, I’ll distract you with this other picture, first.

persimmon

One of these things is not like the other…

But the color is pretty similar! We love clementines at our house; they’re sweet, juicy, seedless. A perfect small snack. My mom gave me this persimmon before we went away for Thanksgiving. After seeing them on a tree in North Carolina, we came home to eat this one.

Have you ever eaten a persimmon? The Teen laughingly insisted that it was a tomato. But it didn’t taste anything like a tomato! Sweet, but not overly so, and firm-ish like…a not quite ripe mango? Anyway, it was good, and it’s gone.

Okay, back to the Single Skein Club. Last chance to avert your eyes.

Ready?

yohoho ssc

This month’s kit has a very timely pattern for mittens, 100 grams of yarn, and a ruler with a built-in needle gauge. Always handy! Oh, there was also a twizzler that matched the yarn, but that was munched days ago.

hempwol

The yarn is Hempwol, a 65/35 wool/hemp blend. It feels nice. The color is a heathery red. Love it!

hempwol 2

I don’t think I’ll be knitting this into mittens until after Hanukkah and Christmas. There’s a lot of knitting going on here, and I’m pretty pleased with all of it. More, later.

As luck would have it…

I’m pretty lucky! Bonnie picked me as the winner in her drawing for some yarn and her new pattern.

alpaca silk

This yarn is 50 grams/146 yards of Alpaca Silk in the Ice colorway from Blue Sky Alpacas. It’s a gorgeous shade of gray, and the silk in it gives it a beautiful sheen. It feels great, too.

closeup

See it glow? I love it!

bsky

The pattern is called Buttermilk Sky; it looks lovely. I”m looking forward to knitting this sweet little cowl.

Thank you, Bonnie!

A veritable potpourri

Let’s see, where am I? Oh, yes, the contest!

I ran the random number generator at random.org and the winners are: Susie (KnittingKnoobie) for the purple Berroco Vintage Wool, and Marie (permissiontounwind) for the blue Lanaloft. I’ll be sending out yarn soon.

Just a bit of knitting going on here. We started the Quincy hat knitalong at knit night last week; I love the way the i-cord just happens on the edges. This will be the moebius strip of the hat band around the head. Isn’t it pretty?

garter

Here’s a better look at the edges. Don’t worry; the green is temporary. It’s a provisional cast on so the beginning can be grafted to the end.

provisional

And I’m still highly distracted by my new guitar. It has a lovely voice, and I’ve been playing a lot. I had the action adjusted (lowered) by our luthier, and it’s easier to play. Dreamy. Now I just need to learn to play better! I’m learning to pick arpeggios rather than just strum. Doing that while singing is an interesting exercise in coordination, but it’s getting better.

taki

I’m also writing a couple songs with a friend (he composes the music; I write the lyrics), and that’s been a lot of fun. I’m so lucky to have all these creative outlets in my life, and I know it.

Knit and play on!

Distracted

Not much knitting this past weekend. I’m a little distracted.

I played a friend’s new guitar (picture in previous post), and the sound of it took me back to high school youth group. Hanging out and singing was a big part of my life. About 5 years ago, I decided to learn to play, just a little, so I could revisit some of the music that I loved so much. I bought a little Norman folk acoustic then, and it has served me well.

norman

But the sound of my friend’s guitar is calling my name. Insistently. So I’ve been shopping for a new guitar, and I’m going to end up with the same Takamine. I can’t wait!

To make up for today’s lack of knitting content, I’m offering up a bit of yarn that came my way. This is Berroco Vintage Wool. It’s worsted weight, 50% acrylic, 40% wool, 10% nylon. It was in the goodie bag at the Sock Summit Ravelry party in August, and it’s nice, but I’m kind of a natural fiber snob and so I don’t think I’ll ever use it.

vintage

The other yarn is Brown Sheep Lanaloft, which is a sport weight 100% wool single. I bought it when I was designing my Seafoam Socks, but then decided to use a different yarn. I’m not sure it would be great for socks; it’s a single and it’s also not superwash. I’ve discovered that my other non-superwash socks need more tender care than I’ve been giving them!

lanaloft

If you’re interested in either of these yarns, tell me which one, or both, and what you’d make with it. I’ll take names until midnight Friday, October 30, and then I’ll do two drawings with the random number thingy.

Good luck!

Knitting project design process

All the cool kids were at Rhinebeck last weekend, and I was way over here on the left coast, just hanging out. But I walked to Twisted on Saturday and bought some yarn, so I didn’t feel so left out. I came back with these.

db cash chunky

db chunky knit

Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Chunky, 55% merino, 33% microfiber, 12% cashmere. This is incredibly soft and squishy to knit with. One ball makes a very efficient neck warmer (kind of like a mock T-neck), but it’s not very big. I don’t really want to use two for this project, so we’ll see how it goes. The color is somewhere between the two pictures: deep, vibrant, wine-y.

mal chunky

Malabrigo Chunky, 100% kettle dyed merino, 100 grams. It’s slightly heavier. And also really fun to knit with. The stitch definition is divine.

kw bulky

And I have one more on hand; it’s a bulky 100% merino yarn from Knitted Wit. Why am I suddenly obsessed with chunky yarn?

I’m hosting another party for the high school Booster Auction. Twisted is supplying the venue, and Lantern Moon is donating the needles. (Thank you to both!) Last year, I designed the Checkerboard Scarflet as a party project. I need a new project for this year. Yes, it’s above and beyond hosting the party, but it’s fun and for a good cause.

I’ve decided that I want to use a chunky yarn this year, to get near instant gratification. The project needs to be beginner friendly, but interesting enough for an experienced knitter to get some joy from it. I don’t want another flat scarf/scarflet. Fingerless mitts would be great, but you have to make two. I think a single item would be better. I think it’s going to be a cowl.

Next step: The perfect stitch pattern. I want to give options, so I think I’ll have three of them. I want at least one of them to be simple enough that a relative beginner will have a successful experience. I want something easily memorized. I want it to be elegant. Soon, with these chunky yarns!

In the meantime, I’ve returned to the piano bench and am picking my way through a Clementi sonatina (hey, I can still read music!) for relatively instant gratification, as well as trying to resurrect old repertoire. Hello, Mozart? Are you still there?

tak2

And I’m playing this guitar, just for a couple days. I have it on temporary swap with a friend; it’s new and I may want one of my own. Yes I have a guitar, but it’s not this nice! (Thanks to the Teen for being guitar model. He plays way better than I do.)

Dizzy, my head is spinning

Are you old enough to remember this song? Apparently I am! But it was an oldie when it first came across my radar. Honest.

Here’s my first yarn! The fiber is Shimmer, 80% merino, 20% tussah silk, from Knitted Wit. The colorway is Hydrangea.

plied

I did the shoebox lazy kate, but my center pull ball didn’t want to pull smoothly from the center. It kept tangling around the knitting needle because the outside yarn was wrapping around the needle in the opposite direction. I ended up putting the knitting needle up through the box and using it like a flagpole so it could unwind over the end of the needle. Whatever.

flagpole

Plying seemed to be pretty straightforward, and the resulting yarn isn’t wackily twisty at all. I don’t know if it’s true, but it seemed like the twist of the single was untwisting itself into the twist of the plying. Is that what makes the whole thing balance? I just let them twist together, and if it didn’t go twisting back on itself in one direction or the other when I took the weight of the spindle off it, I considered it to be ready to wind off before plying the next bit.

close

I haven’t washed it or thwacked (!) it yet, but I will soon. I have some blocking to do for a friend, so I’ll use a packet of soak for all of it.

plied skein

And apparently I’m a spinning fool. Because look what I’m doing now. Dizzy…

rose city

This is more Shimmer from Knitted Wit. The color is Rose City, and I love it!

rose city 2

What happens next?

I finished spinning my first bit of fiber. What do you call that thing, anyway? It was in a pretty braid. My spinning isn’t very consistent yet; sometimes there’s a clump of almost roving, but mostly it’s a nice single. I’m getting to the point where I can feel if it’s doing what I want. I love it when the twist jumps up between my fingers and the fiber is nicely drafted and takes up the twist with a little zing.

Here’s Day 1.

first spin

And here’s where I ended; I think it was 4 sessions in all.

first spin done

This is the sum total of it, on a small Turkish Delight. It’s a center pull ball, if I can screw up the courage to take it apart. Will it explode? There’s a lot of twisty energy in that little ball of yarn! It’s all new to me.

I’ve read that you should ply your singles to balance the yarn. There’s not a lot of yarn here, so it won’t amount to much. I think I can take the end from the inside and the end from the outside, and ply them with the spindle in the opposite direction that I spun it. How do I hold the ball, on a knitting needle maybe? And I’m guessing that I somehow need to keep it under tension so the twistiness doesn’t curlicue everything up? Any and all hints welcome!

Luminary panel musings

luminaries

There were some interesting questions put to the Luminary Panel at Sock Summit. One that I found particularly intriguing was, “Why are there no knitters of color here?” I found it interesting on a couple levels. One is that I *am* a person of color, just not the color that the questioner meant. (I’m Asian-American, and I saw many other Asian-American knitters at Sock Summit.)

The discussion by the panel first delved into socio-economic issues; if food and housing is insecure, knitting is not going to be high on your priority list. Race is often tied to socio-economic status. Knitting in the US is primarily a recreational activity, and it can be quite spendy if you let it be! But I ran into an acquaintance right after the panel discussion, and she commented that she doesn’t have a ton of money, and that you don’t have to have a ton of money to knit. Another idea explored by the panel was that knitting isn’t a part of all cultures around the world. One could extrapolate that we should evangelize knitting and spread the word, but I don’t think all people should be forced to consider knitting for their leisure activity. It’s supposed to be fun. I think we should just say, “Here’s something I like. If you want to knit, I’d be glad to teach you.”

Who taught you to knit? Did you ask to be taught, or did someone offer to teach you? Or did you just find it intriguing on your own? As a child, I wanted to learn to knit because I was heavily into the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Deep in my heart, I wanted to be a pioneer girl. (Pretty funny for a Chinese girl.) In fact, part of the reason I still love my cuff-down socks on dpns is the whole pioneer sticks and string schtick; pioneer girls didn’t have two circulars or magic loop! (This reminds me of the “You can’t use the pedal when you play Bach because he didn’t” argument, although in that case I’d say, “He would have if it had existed!”)

I’m still knitting along on my ruffle tank, and swatching my colorful stealth project. And I think I’m going to start one of Cat Bordhi’s toe-up socks, just for review. And I’ve fallen in love with Lorelei from Twist Collective, but I don’t think I’ll start that right now! Just dreaming. I’ve noticed a good bit of start-itis in other bloggers that were at Sock Summit. Too many creative ideas all at once?

Besides start-itis, Sock Summit has had another effect on me. I had to buy another box to store my increased stash. Although the stash is growing, I’m still not a stasher at heart, so I’d like to share a skein from my Sock Summit goodies. This is from Deb Accuardi’s pre-summit lunch. The colorway is Cherry Mallow by CraftsMeow. It’s 100% superwash merino wool fingering weight yarn, 400 yards.

cherry mallow

If you’d like to play, leave me a comment telling me who taught you to knit. I’ll do the random number thing and pick a winner after August 23. Good luck; I’m looking forward to some wonderful stories!