First dip in the pool with knitted planned pooling!

This yarn is 9.5 years old. I bought it at Sock Summit in the summer of 2009. I think the company changed hands somewhere along the way since then, but I still have this skein.

The yarn is Lorna’s Laces Bullfrogs and Butterflies, colorway Cat Bordhi Ah Ha! This is a great yarn for teaching and learning; the short color runs mean that the color of the stitch on the next row will probably be a different color than the one below it. It makes it easy to describe what’s happening with either stitch. It’s a worsted weight single ply yarn, nice and sticky so it doesn’t ladder when you drop a stitch. It’s perfect for investigating techniques, too.

You can tell from the skein that it’s hand dyed in blocks of color. I don’t love variegated yarn when the colors are all left to arrange themselves willy-nilly, but it’s perfect for something I’ve been wanting to play with for a while. Planned pooling!

Knitting in the round with space dyed yarns like this is the easiest first foray into pooled color knitting. You can make the colors stack up, or plan so they shift to the left or the right, depending on whether the circumference of your kitting is a little longer or a little shorter than the length of your color repeat. I think. I’m still playing around with it.

Planned pooling with flat knitting lets you plan where your colors will fall in even more exciting ways. You can stack colors, but a stitch or two off the color repeat will turn into diamonds and argyles. Tammy’s scarf above is crocheted in Socks that Rock by Blue Moon Fiber Arts. (It seems to be a bit easier to control the size of your stitches in crochet, which makes it ideal for planned pooling.)

You can play with this pooling calculator at plannedpooling.com to see what happens with different colors and stitch counts, knitted flat and in the round. That’s a little too advanced for me right now; it’s enough just trying to make sure my colors stack! I usually read while knitting, but that’s not possible when I have to watch my colors.

I’m not a complete stranger to pooling, but it’s always happened by accident. My Meander Cowls had a really interesting wandering stripe. See the little blue zigzag?

The yarn by Delicious Yarns is tonally variegated with a dip of contrasting color at the end of the skein.

All three samples pooled in interesting ways.

Have you had color pooling in your knits? Was it by accident, or on purpose? Does planned pooling interest you? It’s my January selfish knitting. I was going to knit a sweater, but now I just want to jump in the pool!

A whale of a new year, and more on Barbie knitting

Last week was Winter Whale Watch week at the Oregon Coast; gray whales are migrating down to Baja to their warmer winter waters. I went on a day trip with friends to try to catch a glimpse of them.

We ended up at Ecola State Park, which has gorgeous views. You can see Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach from here.

We didn’t see any whales/spouts, so I made this picture to commemorate the day.

Along the way, I had this very happy lap full of rainbow knitting. This is a project with Knitted Wit, due in late February. It’s her #glowupknittedwit rainbow mini skeins, paired with a skein of Oregon Sky. The base is Knitted Wit Fingering.

It was the perfect knit for a drizzly day. The project is done and currently blocking; I love how it turned out. I’m looking forward to sharing it with you soon.

Thanks for all your comments on the previous Barbie knits post. I was wondering just what kind of skating outfit was in that Knitting for Barbie canister, so I googled “knit 2 piece barbie skating outfit” and found this pattern page on Ravelry. It’s a 1962 pattern for a sweater and skinny pants. There’s a picture of the printed pattern, and more googling found a copy of the pattern posted on an old blogspot blog.

The instructions are extensive and quite bossy, with a header that says DO ONE STEP AT A TIME — DO NOT READ AHEAD and a footer that says DO NOT PUT YOUR WORK DOWN BEFORE YOU FINISH THE ROW YOU’RE WORKING ON. The pattern is aimed at beginners, with instructions for ribbing that include moving the yarn back and forth between the needles for knits and purls. I wonder how many of these outfits were knit, and how many were abandoned?

Maybe it wasn’t that hard. At least it was small; the cast on for the back is only 14 stitches.

My Aunt Rose taught me to knit when I was 14. My first knitting project was a pullover sweater knit in the round with baby blue worsted weight yarn, with twin cables up the front. What was your first project?

Knitting for Barbie in the 1960s

My friend Dave Worth was recently at SFO, San Francisco International Airport. They always have interesting exhibits there. The current one is on 1950’s consumerism. This picture he posted on FB caught my eye. (Barbie was introduced in 1959.)

The Knitting for Barbie canister featured a 2 piece skating outfit for Barbie. It says: Step by step instructions, especially designed for young beginners. I hope it was easier than this one!

This is the top half of the skater’s outfit that my Aunt Vivian knit for my Barbie.

Also in the picture? A gum wrapper chain; check it out in the upper left corner. But that Barbie outfit sent me down memory lane, so I’m revisiting my 2009/2015 posts on knitting and Barbie. A blast from the past!

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I’ve had this booklet/magazine that’s been on my knitting shelf for what seems like forever.

This one is a 1965 reprint of a magazine originally published in 1952. It used to belong to my Aunt Vivian, who gave it to me when I was in high school. I remember knitting these slippers!

My Thrumbelina Thrummed Slippers have a very similar super simple shaping.

thrumbelina thrummed slippers

Check out this dress:

Aunt Vivian used to make clothes for our Barbie dolls. Does this look familiar?

The sash is long gone. I found this dress, along with some other treasures, at Mom’s house. The other items are from more doll clothing booklets, and I have those, too. Check out what a fashionably dressed Barbie was wearing in the late ’60’s and early ’70’s. Stylish sheath dresses:

Mohair winter coat, scarf, hat:

A sequined shell:

And this half of a skater outfit. I love the mohair edging on this. I remember the fabulous flared skirt. I always wanted one just like it for me. I remember sewing dresses with full circle skirts with my Aunt Rose when I was 10; I loved twirling in them. In college I made a dress with a full circle skirt with a drawstring waist and drawstring neckline…out of a bedsheet! No pattern needed.

Check out this elegant skirt.

Especially the waist shaping. No drawstring waist here!

Aunt Vivian loved to knit and crochet. She made lots of clothes for our dolls, and vests for us. In her later years she knit many, many hats for the homeless. Aunt Rose taught me to knit when I spent the summer with her when I was 14. How lucky was I? Two aunts with crafty skills, one on each side of the family.

Who taught you to knit?

2018 was a trippy year

We had a pretty trippy year in 2018. We began the year in Kona, swimming with the mantas, and returned to Kona in December and met some octopuses. In between, we went to Scotland to hang with Son1 on his sabbatical, and I even made it wool-related. We stopped in Barcelona along the way. And in November, we had a weekend in New Orleans to meet up with friends who have moved away from PDX.

Another friend just asked me about our NOLA trip, since she’s headed there next week. That reminded me that I never posted! So here’s the scoop on NOLA and a bit of Barcelona which was also lacking a post.

Music: We stayed in the Marigny near Frenchmen Street, which was a great location. We used AirBnB, and had a really cute semi-attached shotgun house. Frenchmen Street has lots of live music venues, and isn’t as grossly alcohol focused as Bourbon Street in the French Quarter. We enjoyed music at the Spotted Cat and the Three Muses.

Food: The standouts were a breakfast at the Ruby Slipper Cafe, with huge fluffy biscuits and outstanding benedicts. (Bonus: You can get in line, online, before you arrive. No waiting!)

And a dinner with no pictures at all at Pêche Seafood Grill. Lots of fun flavors, locally sourced fish, delicious.

We had beignets and café au lait at the original Café du Monde in the French Market, the venerable original purveyor of these tasty bits. No picture until after we inhaled them.

Stuff: The best thing about NOLA is walking around and running into things! Jackson Square in the French Quarter feels like the center of the universe.

The architecture is distinctive, lots of verandas and narrow houses.

New Orleans is home to Mardi Gras festivities, and there’s a museum exhibit at the Presbytère, Museum of Louisiana history right on Jackson Square in the French Quarter. Lots of great costumes.

And one of Fats Domino’s two pianos, rescued from his flooded house after Hurricane Katrina. (Really interesting story of the two pianos here.)

Music in the street? Why not? There are buskers everywhere, including this group outside Café du Monde.

This is Tuba Skinny. Loved them!

I don’t know if it’s a weekend thing, but we saw several Second Line processions. These can be celebrating weddings, funerals, anything that needs it. This one was my favorite.

Somehow we ran into Napoleon Bonaparte and Josephine in a hat shop. She’s a costumer!

I got into the hat thing, just for a moment. New Orleans is great for a quick weekend, and probably even better with more time. Alas, I had to go home, and DH had to go to his next gig.

Here are a few photos from Barcelona. For me, Barcelona was all about Gaudi. We visited Sagrada Familia, of course.

Casa Batllo was really interesting, too.

We did the tourist picture!

DH was bemused at the Picasso Museum.

I was, too.

Overall, we liked Barcelona, but didn’t love it. Maybe because we didn’t feel connected? We stayed in a hotel because we were using points, so we never felt part of a neighborhood. When we went from there to Scotland, I felt at home, especially at the B&B in Oban.

2018 was a big travel year, and probably the last one for a bit. DH has taken a new job here in PDX, so he won’t be traveling all the time, racking up all those points and miles. Back to being a regular Joe!

(DH and la girafa coqueta on the Rambla de Catalunya, Barcelona)

Introducing: Concentric Bed Socks

My new Concentric Bed Socks are knit from the cuff down using a single strand of worsted weight yarn for a quick and cozy knit. You can use magic loop, 2 circulars, or double pointed needles; knitter’s choice! Alternating bands of knits and purls create a scrunchy fabric that traps warm air at the ankle. These Bed Socks are very similar to my Concentric Slipper Socks, which are knit double stranded. They’re perfect when you don’t need quite so much bulk and warmth.

The Concentric Bed Socks are sized for women, or a small man’s foot, based on the available yardage in Knit Circus’ Ringmaster Panoramic Gradient 50g cakes. They feature a contrasting heel and toe, which makes it possible to use just two matching 50g balls of gradient yarn for the ankle and foot.

This pattern is now available through Ravelry; link here. Want to knit both the Bed Socks and the Slipper Socks? See the Ravelry pattern page for special pricing. If you’ve already purchased the Slipper Socks pattern, the price for the Bed Socks pattern will be automatically adjusted for you.

These are a perfect treat for you to knit during January, aka Selfish Knitting Month. Or you could knit them for someone special, almost as special as you.

Cool factoid: This is my 13th pattern this year, and my 100th pattern on Ravelry!

Thanks to tech editor Amanda Woodruff, and test knitters Jacqueline Lydston, Denise Delagarza, and Ann Berg.

Happy new year!

December Aloha, and happy new year!

We ran away to the sun in early December, and had a fabulous time. There was even knitting involved.

We saw turtles and tide pools.

Honu at Ai’opio Beach

Tide pool at Wawaloli Beach

Shingle urchins

We visited an octopus research facility…

And watched sunsets and moonsets.

Waning crescent moonset Dec. 8, 2018

Eventually we had to come home…

It’s been a good year, knit-wise. I published 13 patterns this year (the newest one, Concentric Bed Socks, will be out tomorrow), and taught at retreats, festivals, and yarn shops. Designing and teaching go hand in hand for me.

What will 2019 bring? More of the same, I hope!

I’m working on a collaboration with Knitted Wit for March. It’s flying along, and I hope to be done with the knitting next week.

What do you want to knit in 2019?

Second chance knitting

One of the things that I love about knitting is that you can always tweak it if it’s not exactly the way you want it.

When I first knit my carbon/pollen version of my Lucky Star shawl, I knit 9 repeats of the edging, and decided it was too much. I didn’t want the bright edging to overwhelm the shawl. I ripped it back to five repeats, and deemed it perfect.

And it was. Fresh off the blocking wires, it was just the way I wanted it.

But this very bouncy, round Knitted Wit Victory Sock yarn relaxed a bit, making the edging a little shorter than I anticipated.

So I tinked the dark carbon bind off, and added two more repeats of the lace edging for a total of 7 repeats.

Each row is about 450 stitches, so I’m adding 3600 stitches. Piece o’ cake.

Binding off…again!

Now I just have a few extra ends to sew in. *After* I re-block. I could sew before blocking, but I never clip the ends until after, anyway. I don’t want the ends to pop through when I block my shawls. Since I don’t want to handle the ends twice, I just wait and take care of it all after blocking.

Do you sew your ends before or after blocking? And have you ever tinked a bind off to lengthen or shorten a piece of knitting? (Are you as fussy as I am?)

Coming up: A revamped Bucket List for steeking class

Steeks! Does the word strike fear in your heart? Cutting your knitting…it’s not so scary if it’s just on a tiny piece, and that’s why I designed my Bucket List Coffee Accessories a few years back.

Steeking a little piece of knitting isn’t nearly so scary as cutting a sweater. There’s so much less time invested in the knitting.

I took a steeking class with Mary Scott Huff many years ago at Columbia Gorge Fiber Festival. Afterwards, I designed this scarf as a first steeking project. I offered a class for this project, and it was fun. But the catch was that you had to knit the whole thing before class. That was a commitment!

So I designed a smaller project, the mug rug (coaster) and coffee cozy that you see here. I reshaped the class as a two-parter: Beginning stranded colorwork on week one, and steek cutting and finishing on week two.

Now I’m going to offer the class at Twisted as a single class, the one with the cutting fun. I’m updating the pattern with a few more helpful hints for stranded colorwork, and changing the steek area from a checkerboard pattern to vertical stripes. This will make it easier to see exactly where to reinforce the knitting before cutting the steek.

If steeking is on your knitting bucket list, this is a gentle introduction. If you’ve purchased the pattern before through Ravelry, you’ll be notified when the update is ready later this month. I want to re-photograph the steeking instructions for the pattern, so I’m reknitting samples.

My class at Twisted is scheduled for January 26. It will be fun!

And then you’ll be ready for more. I’m very tempted by Fringe Association’s upcoming Steekalong in January. It has so many things to recommend it: Mary Jane Mucklestone’s Sólbein pattern (she designed Stopover, and I knit two of them) and Léttlopi, the lovely Icelandic wool yarn knit at a looser than normal gauge (again, Stopover). Also, the camaraderie with other knitters on Instagram is fun, too.

Here’s Stopover. Light and airy! Imagine a similar cardigan…

Hoping I can squeeze out the knitting time for this, as I work on a design deadline piece before February. But first: Bucket List update!

Are steeks on your bucket list?

Coming soon: Concentric Bed Socks

It’s a race to the toe!

It’s a pleasure to knit these single strand worsted weight socks with Knit Circus Ringmaster Panoramic Gradient. The yarn has held up perfectly after frogging the Concentric Slipper Socks. The added bit of contrasting color for heels and toes means that I can make the cuff as tall and scrunchy as it needs to be. The pattern will have three sizes. It’s off to tech editor and test knitters now.

You’ll note that I’m back to magic loop. The Flexi-Flips were nice, but when I picked up the stitches for the gussets, I had more stitches than I felt comfortable with having on the short Flexi-Flips needles, and was afraid they’d go sliding off. I’m back to a 32” circular, and very happy. If the Flexi-Flips were just a bit longer, or if they came in a set of four, they would have been fine. Oh, well, they’ll be great for fingerless mitts!

I have quite a bit of knitting help here, from the helpful knitting cats.

Yadi wants to chew the cables.

Biscuit has become quite a lap cat.

Hope your Saturday is going well!

Free Dotty Cowl pattern

Last summer I designed this Dotty Cowl for Knit Picks, for their 12 Weeks of Gifting. I just saw the Knit Picks blog post; it’s up!

I designed it with two shades of Chroma Worsted, one plain and one gradient. Two balls of Chroma is enough for two cowls, one for you and one for a friend. Happy gifting!

The stitch pattern is a simple slip stitch pattern. Only one color is used per row. (Photos above are by Knit Picks.)

The pattern is free. You can download it from Knit Picks here. Enjoy!

Here’s mine. I can see that it still needs to be blocked. It’s not bad, but a little smoother in the stockinette sections would be nice. I know what’s next on my to-do list. Blocking is magic!