Maskmaker, maskmaker, make me a mask…

Oh, why not just break into song?

Pfaff sewing machine

My lovely old Singer 306K still needs service, and it would take 2.5 weeks to get it back. So I borrowed my mom’s sewing machine. Sewing masks is a lot more fun when my thread doesn’t break every six inches.

An IG friend gave me some elastic, so I got back to work. Check out these fabric combos. Most were just languishing here in my stash, from when I thought I wanted to quilt.

Face masks blue stars Chinese scriptChinese script and blue stars

Face masks purplePurple florals

Fabric samples Music!

Fabric samplesMartinis and stars, a trade from friend Sharyn for some elastic

I had enough elastic for 50 masks. I’m making 20, and I shared elastic with my mask-making friends. They’re going to family, friends, and nurses. Many hands make light work!

I’m still using the Deaconess mask pattern, but I’ve changed my dimensions to make them a little taller based on fit on DH. I’m now cutting my fabric to be 6.75” (.75” taller) x 9”. When I run out of elastic, I could start making masks with ties, or I could just get back to my knitting.

Also Covid-19 related: Have you heard about Going on a Bear Hunt? It’s a way to engage families who are out walking. Leave a bear in your window! We saw many bears on our walk last night.

Going on a bear hunt

Bisquee is guarding the house with Tedward and Dr. Bear.

Teddy bears

Dr. Bear’s mask is on point!

How’s your Minerva KAL progress?

I haven’t been knitting a lot; I got sidetracked by sewing face masks this weekend. More on that later.

Minerva KAL progress

But I love how entrelac gives me a little feeling of victory, each time I finish a rectangle or triangle. Progress! I can tell as I cycle through my colors that I’m getting somewhere. And I love seeing what’s to come, too. My Huckleberry Knits DK Gradient is knitting up into a shimmering rainbow, rather than individual squares, just as I envisioned.

How are *you* doing with yours? Do you have any questions? The pattern is meant to stand on its own, but my little video tutorials can help light your way.

If you’ve downloaded the pattern, please do give Minerva a try. I offered special introductory pricing as a way to help in these troubling pandemic times. I’d love to know that it’s helping you! Please post your projects on Ravelry or Instagram and let me know. Use hastags #pdxknitterati and #minervakal2020 so I can find them on IG.

The Minerva Entrelac Cowl or Scarf pattern is available through Ravelry. Come knit with me!

Previous Minerva KAL 2020 posts:
Introducing Minerva Entrelac Cowl/Scarf and KAL
Minerva KAL: Choosing your yarn
Minerva KAL: Casting On
Minerva KAL: Base Triangles
Minerva KAL: Tier 2
Minerva KAL: Finishing Tier 2

Stay home, save lives, sew masks

You’ve probably seen the slogan, “stay home, stay safe.” But that’s not strong enough. It’s not all about us. “Stay home, save lives” is a stronger statement, and addresses the greater good.

But what if you *have* to go out for that rare trip? Grocery shopping? Pharmacy pickup? Or if your work has been deemed essential? I think a face mask is in order. Even if it doesn’t protect *you* from everything, it helps protect *others* from us. And it makes us all remember to keep a distance, and not touch our faces. I’m in.

Face masks

I spent a recent afternoon sewing masks using this pattern. It’s simple, and it works. They’ve added a version with ties, since elastic is in short supply these days. Also, people who have to wear them for long periods say that the elastic can be irritating behind the ears. I experimented with elastic and ties.

Face masks

Top to bottom: Elastic, beading cord, ribbon ties.

Elastic: I cut 1” elastic lengthwise to make 1/4” strips. It frayed a bit, but I think it’s done fraying. I’ll put a few drops of Fray Chek on the edges, but not all over because it has to be able to stretch. This is the only elastic I had in the house, and now it’s all gone.

Beading cord: I have a small supply of this. If you make knots at each end, there’s a better chance it won’t slip out of your seam. And if you cut the pieces a little long (7.5” between knots) the wearer can tie a loose knot in the cord to shorten it up to the right size. Too short, and it will be uncomfortable, so it’s nice to be adjustable.

Ribbon ties: I tried this before the second pattern was added to the website, so I just put ties at the corners. I used 14” lengths, but 16” is going to be better as far as having enough to comfortably manipulate the ties. I don’t advise lightweight ribbon like this, though; it wants to tangle. This ribbon was from when Son1 went to camp, 24 years ago. I had to put his name inside his clothes!

Singer sewing machine and catHow do you use this thing?

I don’t think Bisquee had ever seen the sewing machine before! I don’t sew much.

Face mask model

Success! But my sewing machine is having tension issues, so I’m going to have to figure out what’s going on inside the tension knob. YouTube to the rescue!

More on this lovely old sewing machine in this blog post here.

Edited to add: the 6” x 9” masks are fine on me, but short on DH, so I’m increasing the size to 6.75” x 9” for a little more coverage. Onward!

Baking for fun and comfort

I spent some extra time in the kitchen this weekend. I had a hankering for bagels, and we didn’t have any.

homemade bagels

I’ve used this bagel recipe before, with good results. I was a bit worried, because my yeast had a “best by” date of February 2019, but it worked just fine. You know at the beginning of the process, so no problem.

My mods: I use 2 C white flour and 1.5 C spelt flour, 2.5 tsp yeast. The whole grain doesn’t want to rise as much as white flour, so a little more yeast, and I only knead it 5 mins instead of 10 (because the whole grain bran cuts the gluten fibers). Other than that, follow directions!

The bagels are delicious! Fabulous straight from the oven, but I actually like the slightly chewier texture the next day.

I’ve seen on the interwebz that lots of people are stress baking during this COVID-19 stay-at-home order. Apparently there’s been a run on flour and yeast at the grocery stores. I don’t think I’m stress baking; I just like to bake! I’m not ready to use more of my dwindling flour supply yet, but that didn’t stop me from making dessert.

Peanut butter cookies

I baked some flourless peanut butter cookies, using a mashup of The Nashville Food Project’s 3 ingredient peanut butter cookies from Judy’s Chickens and Smitten Kitchen’s 5 ingredient version. The 2 extra ingredients? A splash of vanilla, and some coarse sea salt sprinkles. Those two extras make my day.

Peanut Butter Cookies (makes about 18 2” cookies)

7/8 cup peanut butter (just a little less than a full cup)
7/8 cup packed light brown sugar, or a mixture of light brown and white sugar
1 egg
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
coarse sea salt, for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (no mess to clean up!)

Whisk sugar(s) and egg together in a mixing bowl. Whisk in vanilla, then peanut butter, until smooth. Use a mini ice cream scoop to form balls, and place on cookie sheet. Criss cross slightly flat with a fork. Sprinkle with sea salt.

Bake 12-15 mins, or until lightly browned at edges. Let them cool slightly, then move to wire rack to finish cooling. Store in airtight container, if you don’t eat them all immediately!

If you used a full cup of sugar, and a whole cup of peanut butter, it would still be fine. I used all brown sugar this time, but I’ve used half brown and half white before. This is not the time to stress over your baking!

How are you managing? Are you staying at home? Baking? Knitting? Cleaning house? OK, that last one isn’t high on my to-do list!

Minerva KAL: Finishing Tier 2

Oh, that last bit, the right edge triangle. It sounds a little tricksy at the end, but it’s not hard. Just keep following the directions, to the end, which is a slightly tricky part. Here’s a video for you:

Then it’s on to Tier 3, which is a piece of cake! 🍰

When you’re finishing Tier 4, with another right edge triangle, picking up the last stitch can be a little tricky. I like to pick up here, in the outside of the first V on the outside edge, so the corner of the triangle doesn’t stick out as a bump on the lovely straight edge.

Now it’s just a matter of knitting away and watching your colors change. Have fun!

Entrelac knitting

You can find the Minerva pattern here on Ravelry. Come knit with me!

If you’re on Ravelry, please make a project page for your Minerva; I’d love to see them there. Ravelry makes it so easy to find them all together. And post on Instagram using #minervakal2020 and #pdxknitterati too. I love seeing your progress.

Just keep knitting…

Edited to add:
All Minerva KAL 2020 posts:
Introducing Minerva Entrelac Cowl/Scarf and KAL
Minerva KAL: Choosing your yarn
Minerva KAL: Casting On
Minerva KAL: Base Triangles
Minerva KAL: Tier 2
Minerva KAL: Finishing Tier 2

Minerva KAL: Tier 2

How are your base triangles looking? Not really triangles, are they? But they’re close enough, and they’ll look good as we go on.

I forgot to ask: If you’re on Ravelry, please make a project page for your Minerva; I’d love to see them there. Ravelry makes it so easy to find them all together. And please post your progress on Instagram using #minervakal2020 and #pdxknitterati so I can see them there, too.

Here’s a short video on how to start the left edge triangle.

And here’s a video on picking up stitches for the first right leaning rectangle.

You can find the Minerva pattern here on Ravelry. Come knit with me!

Knit on…

Edited to add:
All Minerva KAL 2020 posts:
Introducing Minerva Entrelac Cowl/Scarf and KAL
Minerva KAL: Choosing your yarn
Minerva KAL: Casting On
Minerva KAL: Base Triangles
Minerva KAL: Tier 2
Minerva KAL: Finishing Tier 2

Minerva KAL: Base Triangles!

Did you cast on and purl your setup row?

I used a crochet chain provisional cast on. If you’re doing it right, you’ll see the chain. See on the last 3 stitches, I did it wrong? Don’t do that!

Here’s a short video to walk you through the beginning of the first row.

And a video of the transition between the first and next triangle.

Let me know how you’re doing with your project; post on Instagram and use #minervakal2020 and #pdxknitterati so I can see them. And please make a Ravelry page for your project if you’re a Raveler; I love being able to check in on your projects. And post on your blog if you’re a blogger and let me know!

I’m using a bit of Knit Picks Chroma Worsted, I think in Pegasus, to show you this beginning, because I already used my Huckleberry Knits Gradient to do a little knitting last night. I had a Zoom meeting with the knitters who were going to come to my Minerva class that I had to cancel, so it’s a bit ahead of where we are right now.

Biscuit helped me set up my workspace. She was ready for her closeup, under the warm Ott light!

We had a good meeting, but it sure is a lot harder to have a knitting class when you can’t touch the other people’s knitting! And one on one is easier than a large group. So in a pinch, Zoom for sure. But I’d always choose in-person over virtual meeting, if possible.

If you want to join the Minerva KAL, you can find the Minerva pattern here on Ravelry.

If you need a private lesson or tutorial via Zoom, I can arrange that! Shoot me a message.

Knit on, with confidence and hope, through all crises. ~ Elizabeth Zimmermann

Edited to add:
All Minerva KAL 2020 posts:
Introducing Minerva Entrelac Cowl/Scarf and KAL
Minerva KAL: Choosing your yarn
Minerva KAL: Casting On
Minerva KAL: Base Triangles
Minerva KAL: Tier 2
Minerva KAL: Finishing Tier 2

Minerva Entrelac KAL: Casting on

Ready to cast on? Almost! Are you planning to knit a cowl, or a scarf? It’s good to plan your ending before beginning.

Photo by test knitter Paula Sadler

If you’re planning to knit a scarf, you can just begin with a long tail cast on. The first row after that is a purl row, because when you turn to knit back after casting on, you’re looking at the bumpy purl side of your cast on. We’re knitting stockinette based entrelac, so we want all those purl bumps on the back! By purling the setup row, we’re getting ready to work from the public side, the right side, the knit side.

If you’re planning to seam your Minerva into a loop cowl, I’d recommend beginning with a provisional cast on. When you’re finished knitting, you can pick up the live stitches from the provisional cast on, and use these with 3 needle bind off to join the beginning to the end. I did this with my Noro Minerva; I’d always rather knit than sew!

The crochet chain provisional cast on is my favorite provisional cast on. I made this tutorial back in 2012; it’s not as pretty as more recent tutorials, but it still works! You can use whatever provisional cast on you choose, though.

And if you just use a long tail cast on because you thought you were knitting a scarf, and somewhere along the way you change your mind? You can also pick up stitches along the cast on edge, and join those to the end with a 3 needle bind off. It’s a little bit tighter, though, so I didn’t love doing that (on the 2 Chroma cowls). I used an elastic bind off, in combination with the 3 needle bind off, to make the seam more flexible. But that’s for later!

OK, let’s go! Cast on, and purl your setup row. We’ll go from there.

You can find the Minerva pattern here on Ravelry.

Edited to add:
All Minerva KAL 2020 posts:
Introducing Minerva Entrelac Cowl/Scarf and KAL
Minerva KAL: Choosing your yarn
Minerva KAL: Casting On
Minerva KAL: Base Triangles
Minerva KAL: Tier 2
Minerva KAL: Finishing Tier 2

Syncopated brioche tutorial

Planning for a Minerva KAL cast on tomorrow, which is Wednesday. Is anyone else having issues of not knowing what day it is, while working from home? What yarn are you using? Color changing? Or do you want to do stripes and sew in all those ends? Knitter’s choice!

While you’re off picking yarn for Minerva, let’s have a look at some brioche. You know brioche is never far from my mind.

If you’ve become comfortable with 2 color brioche rib, you may be wondering what else can you do with it. Let’s syncopate!

What is syncopated brioche? It’s a simple switching from brioche knit to brioche purl, or vice versa, within the row or round. What happens when you do that?

This! See where I changed from knitting with the blue yarn in the rib stitches, to purling with the blue yarn at the leafy border? The blue purl stitches sink into the background in the border. And I switched from purling with the yellow yarn in the ribbing to knitting with the yellow yarn at the leafy border. The knit stitches always stand out more than the purl stitches in brioche rib, so the knit stitch yarn will be your featured color.

Here’s the back of that same sample.

And here’s where two edges meet on my Syncopation Shawl, the leafy side border and the wide ending of this asymmetric triangle shawl.

Here it is in the scarf version of Syncopation.

I made a little video tutorial to explain what happens at that dividing point in syncopated brioche.

Let me know if you find it helpful. And if you’re not a knitter, you can just listen to me yammer soothingly while we all practice social distancing!

Lovenote Sweater update

While you’re busy choosing yarn for the MinervaKAL2020, I thought I’d show you where I am with my Love Note sweater. I had put it on hold while I finished my Noro Minerva sample, but now I have time to get back to it.

I love the better lace definition on US 9 needles, and I’ve gone back to US 10 for the body because I like the floaty quality of the stockinette that way. Yes, I did knit stockinette on the 9 for an inch or so, and didn’t like the way it felt, so there was a little more frogging.

I still don’t really know what my gauge is, but I put it on 2 circulars and tried it on, and it is a much better size than the first one! I know, do as I say, not as I do as far as gauge swatching for sweaters goes. As long as you’re willing to live with the consequences, you can do whatever you want! You could say that my first two attempts at this sweater were giant gauge swatches, themselves.

The first time I tried to get an update picture, Calvin wanted to help. There’s not enough contrast between rug and sweater, but I love this picture anyway. It was his one year anniversary with us, and he has been very charming since day one.

It’s a rainy day here, after a stretch of glorious sunshine. Today’s to do list:

  • Learn how to use Instagram Stories (don’t laugh; I’ve been resisting
  • Learn how to use Zoom on my laptop (for singing and knitting?)
  • Try sewing some masks using this tutorial (haven’t used my sewing machine in a long time, hope it’s in good form!)

What are you doing during this time of social distancing? Let’s flatten that curve!