On the needles: Love Note

The week before Red Alder, I went to St. Louis to visit DH’s mom. She moved to assisted living in January, and we wanted to do a check-in. I’m pleased that it’s been a fairly smooth transition, and that things are going well.

I finished my Chroma Worsted Aspen Leaf scarf on the plane home (FO pix soon). I’ve been working on sample knitting in the new year because I needed mindless knitting during a lot of travel: St. Louis, VKLive NYC, New Orleans, St. Louis again.

When I finished Aspen Leaf, I had a bit of a dilemma. I’m a fairly monogamous knitter, and I had nothing else on the needles.

I couldn’t go to Red Alder without knitting. And I didn’t have the mental bandwidth to design something to work on at that very moment.

I’ve been inspired by Instagram pictures of Love Note sweaters. It’s always fun to knit someone else’s design; it’s like a knitting vacation when I don’t have to dream up every detail. The pattern calls for two yarns held together, so I poked around in my limited stash, and came up with two purple yarns. One is this Lion Brand Silk Mohair that I won as a door prize at the one and only History Unwound Retreat in Colonial Williamsburg in 2015.

The other is Hazel Knits Artisan Sock in the Rogue colorway; I think that means that it’s a one off. I have 2 skeins from my gift basket from the Lantern Moon Retreat that I taught at in 2018. (Click the links for blog posts about these two retreats; they were stellar.)

Would these two yarns play well for a Love Note sweater? The pattern requests a single ply fingering weight paired with a laceweight mohair. The Artisan Sock is a plied yarn, but it’s what I have. I looked at projects in Ravelry, and others have used plied yarns, so why not? And I’m kind of tickled that both these yarns are retreat souvenirs. It would be great to use stash yarn for this project!

I did a half, um, hearted gauge swatch, figured it was close enough, and cast on so I’d have something to knit at Red Alder. I didn’t want to use too much mohair in my swatching, because it’s really hard to frog, especially when held with another yarn! And my yardage is *just* enough to make this sweater.

So we’ll see if I like the fabric; the jury is still out. So fuzzy! And we’ll see if the gauge I’m knitting results in a reasonable sweater. Did I wash and block my swatch? No; do as I say, not as I do! But the pattern recommends anywhere from 4 to 12 inches of positive ease, and I’m pretty sure my knitting will result in ease somewhere in that very wide range. It’s modeled with 7 inches of ease in my size.

I’ve finished another lace repeat since the picture above, and I’m almost to the sleeve division. But I’m not going to work on it for a few days.

I cut my thumb on broken glass, and it was deep! No stitches needed, though. We added a splint on top of all of this to keep me from bumping/using it. I’m hoping I can unsplint to teach classes all weekend. I’m trying to write instructions and knit a swatch for a new class for my Syncopation shawl/scarf. Wish me luck!

Red Alder 1.0

The first ever Red Alder Fiber Arts Retreat is in the books, and it was fabulous. It followed in the footsteps of Madrona, but it was its own thing, created from scratch, and ever so wonderful.

I arrived to see Red Alder’s Becky with her finished Petite Brioche (note how she has diagnosed and fixed the WS of her brioche rib by watching the video for continental knitters) and her Clematis hat work-in-progress. This all came about due to an Instagram conversation last week! (In case you’re new here, my Petite Brioche is a free beginner brioche pattern with video tutorials, link here.)

I taught 4 classes: Herringbone Braids and Beyond, Athena Entrelac Cowl, Brioche Pastiche, and Fixing Lace Mistakes.

This is always my favorite moment in the Tink Lace class, if just for the shock value. The students always get over it…eventually. And then they fix it!

Krista brought her finished Brioche Pastiche to show me. It looks great!

And Joan brought her finished Dotty Cake hat to show me, too. I just happened to have mine with me because I used it for a sample in my Herringbone Braids class. Serendipity!

The market had lots of familiar faces, and some new ones, too.

I’m seeing Lorajean (Knitted Wit) and Shannon more on the road than at home! Last month at VKLive NYC, this month at Red Alder, next month at VKLive Seattle/Bellevue. This is their first Madrona/Red Alder show. And we’ll have our annual Rose City Yarn Crawl mega-trunk show at For Yarn’s Sake with them and Debbi Stone on Thursday, March 5. See you there!

Rebecca from A Hundred Ravens yarn showed me some beautiful colors on a yak base, and others on merino.

Greenwood Fiberworks had some gorgeous mini-skein kits.

Foxy Stacey and Cindy were flaunting all the colors at Fierce Fibers. I re-acquainted myself with a few gradient colorways that have me daydreaming again. This was the first Madrona/Red Alder show for Fierce Fibers, too.

There was a lot more in the market; this was just a tiny taste.

Besides teaching, I took a class on Knit 1 Below with Harry Welles. It looks like brioche; it just uses another way to get that result. It was interesting, but I’ll just keep knitting brioche…you know I’m smitten!

Evenings were fun, too. Here’s Red Alder’s John in fine disco gear from the Friday night Fiber-In. I’ll leave you to search the web for Harry’s crochet pants.

Clara Parkes gave the keynote at the Saturday banquet, about wool, of course!

There were some yarn winding shenanigans before the banquet; Mary Scott Huff needed a swift so I stepped in. I still say this beautiful color from Fierce Fibers is NOT pink. Terra cotta? It has a lovely brown undertone.

The hotel Murano features a different glass artist on each floor; I finally got up close and personal with this piece, which I’ve admired on their key cards for years. I didn’t realize how subversive it is! Susan Taylor Glasgow’s statement says, “My life and art are the result of homemaking gone awry. I have the luxury of exploring the complexities of domestic life from the safe distance of my studio.”

Happily ever after, cooking, ironing and vacuuming…ha!

I’m so glad the inaugural Red Alder Fiber Arts Retreat was a success. Lots of smiles! I look forward to this event again next year.

Moonrise over Tacoma, first night.

Moonset over Tacoma, last morning. And that’s as much Mt. Rainier view I had all weekend!

Did you go to Red Alder? What did you love?

A Tale of Two Decreases

I just made a video tutorial for an alternate version of a left leaning brioche decrease.

The center decrease shown is a right leaning decrease. The one on the right is a left leaning decrease, and it’s fine for most purposes. But it shows a lot of the dark colored wrap of the stitch that is passed over. Most of the time, this doesn’t bother me.

But sometimes, like in my Aspen Leaf scarf, I want the left and right leaning decreases to mirror each other more closely.

The Brioche Unwrapped Decrease moves that wrap out of the way before passing the slipped stitch over. Very tidy! Thanks to Xandy Peters for dreaming this up. I’ve made my own video tutorial, because I want to make sure it will always be available when I link to it in a pattern.

Brioche Unwrapped Decrease tutorial link

Here you go! If you don’t like the unwrapped decrease, you can always use the other left leaning decrease. You’re the boss of your knitting!

Introducing: Aspen Leaf

Aspen Leaf is ready to rock and roll!

Aspen Leaf is a leafy brioche scarf. Butterfly wing-shaped wedges are introduced in syncopated brioche as the leaves narrow and widen. The leaves are especially glorious in a gradient main color, and a speckle or semi-solid makes a nice background. The leaf pattern repeats 10 times using two 4 oz skeins of DK weight yarn. You could easily substitute two 4 oz skeins of worsted weight yarn for a slightly wider scarf with fewer repeats.

Sample shown in Huckleberry Knits DK Gradient (Practical Tactical Brilliance) and Huckleberry Knits American Dream DK (When You Said Hi, I Forgot My Dang Name). Gauge is not critical in this stretchy fabric, but it can affect size and yardage requirements. Work for a gauge that gives you a pleasant fabric, not floppy nor tight. Knit as many leaves as you like, depending on how much yarn you have.

This was my relaxing vacation knit in December. Brioche, relaxing? Yes; once you’ve knit a leaf or two, the shaping is easy to remember. You should have experience knitting brioche before knitting Aspen Leaf.

I took it to VKLive NYC last month.

We had a good time!

I’m knitting one more for myself in Knit Picks Chroma Worsted; it’s a little wider and will have 8 leaves, according to my yarn scale. No yarn chicken here!

This pattern is available through Ravelry. It’s 10% off through February 14, 2020 as a valentine to you. Happy knitting!

Syncopation encore, and VKLive NYC

I finished a third version of my Syncopation shawl just before VKLive NYC. I wanted to wear it there, and I did!

This version is a size/shape between the original shawl and scarf, so a bit wider/less deep than the original shawl, and not as long and skinny as the scarf. I scrunch it a bit at the neck so the point will fall at center front; rolling the scrunch means that some of the reverse color from the other side shows at the neck, which I love.

I’ve added instructions for this size/shape to the pattern, which is available on Ravelry. If you purchased the pattern, you should have received an email letting you know about the update so you can download the latest version. Or if you’re one of my new brioche students, you can just buy it now…

I wore it a lot! I was wearing it when I met up with Ann and Kay from Mason Dixon Knitting in the Knitty City booth, and when I saw Lorajean and Shannon in the Knitted Wit booth, and when I was teaching on a slightly snowy Saturday. It’s a good travel companion, easy to put on and wear.

Bright lights, big city! The NYC show was BIG, with a very different feel than the Columbus show. We were at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square, with classes all over and a market on TWO floors.

Here’s a view from the balcony; take this and multiply by two. It was packed with product, and with shoppers.

I taught 5 classes to great students. And I gave my lecture, Blocking: It’s Magic. Once I figured out that the computer wasn’t touch screen, my PowerPoint presentation went very smoothly! (So used to my iPad; I forget…)

This sign was going up during the day, and I decided the question needed to be: Who’s Afraid of PDXKnitterati!

This is my new Aspen Leaf Scarf (pattern coming soon). The colors from Huckleberry Knits have Hamilton-themed names: Practical Tactical Brilliance and When You Said Hi I Forgot My Dang Name.

This picture is as close to Hamilton as my scarf was going to get.

On a whim, I tried to get a ticket to Hamilton in the cancellation line. I got THISCLOSE; they ran out 2 people ahead of me. But it was fun hanging out for a bit, chatting with people from Atlanta and Honolulu who were hoping to get in.

I wasn’t on the hunt for yarn this weekend, which made my limited time in the marketplace a little more manageable, but I really wanted a knitty souvenir. I bought this swatch necklace from Porterness Studio; it’s perfect! I’m wearing it all the time.

Happy tired teachers at the end of the last day. And more random photos below.

Mochimochiland

Carol Milne glass art

GettingPurlyWithIt Nancy

IndieUntangled

Safiyyyah, aka DrunkKnitter

I stayed overnight, and took a walk in Central Park and down Fifth Avenue the next morning before going home. Such a gorgeous day!

Wollman Rink

Carriage Ride

Ice rescue ladders

Down gown in the Bergdorf window. I could have used this; it was cold!

Oh, here are a couple flyover pictures that I love:

Jack Frost artistry

Cloud shadows over a great lake

And now, on to the next thing…let’s GO!

Jump on this: Red Alder

Red Alder Fiber Arts Retreat is coming right up, February 13-16. Registration closes February 1. There are still spots in some classes, and a very few hotel rooms have opened up at the Hotel Murano, too. Rooms must be booked by today, January 29, for the Red Alder rate, by emailing Nichole; See Red Alder’s registration page on their website for more info. There are also other hotels listed on the Location page.

I’m teaching:
Brioche Pastiche (full)
Fixing Your Mistakes: Lace Edition (one spot left)
Herringbone Braids and Beyond
Athena Entrelac Cowl

Come knit with me!

And the winner is…

Sorry for the delay; I’ve been to St. Louis, New York City (VKLive) and New Orleans since I posted the Yarn Over: Brioche Knits ebook offer at the beginning of this month, and I’m having a little travel whiplash!

The winner of the ebook is Lisa Adcock. Lisa, I’m emailing you to let you know how to claim your book. It’s a big file, so it will be a download for you.

I’m slowly catching up on life at home, I’ll tell you all about VKLive soon!

For now, here’s a bit of knitting, and my lovely souvenir swatch necklace from Porterness Studio at VKLive…

Both Sides Now, backstory

I started designing Both Sides Now last winter, even before the Knit Picks call for submissions for a brioche collection.

This was from January 2019. I knew I wanted brioche, and a half-pi shawl.

February 2019: I played around with some stitch patterns. The little round leaf pattern didn’t thrill me, and I cogitated for days on how to make that twig pattern bend to my will. Once I figured it out, I contacted Knit Picks to see if they had more of these colors. Nope, discontinued. But they sent me some glorious blues to play with.

I was playing with this at Crafty Moms weekend in March last year.

There was definitely some trial and error and learning curve involved. And then there was a call for submissions for a brioche collection. Perfect! I was halfway there already!

When I blocked and photographed the shawl, I discovered that there really was no wrong side. Both sides looked great. Voilà, Both Sides Now.

I found it fascinating that the twigs on RS and WS faced opposite directions, down and up. And when you look at it closely, the lower sections look like light veined leaves between dark outlines on the RS (left half), but they don’t look that way on the upper section of the WS. Clearly, it’s not an exact reversal of color and texture.

Usually KnitPicks writes their patterns for MC and CC, but I requested that we use DC and LC designations (dark color and light color) because I wanted to make sure those lower veined leaves were reproducible. They’re especially nice if the yarn colors are very tonally contrasty.

After I finished the blue shawl, I went back and finished the purple version as a shawlette to see how far the yarn would go. I used almost every last bit of yarn, one skein of each color.

The leaves show up really well here, too. Instructions for both sizes, shawlette and shawl, are in the pattern.

Here’s the Knit Picks sample, same side as the purple above. In the top section, the light colored twigs point downwards. With less tonal contrast in the greens, the leaf veins in the lower section don’t pop as much as they do in the blue and purple versions. Still very pretty, just different.

This was a lot of knitting that I couldn’t show you last year! Now all has been revealed.

For a chance to win the YO: Brioche Knits ebook, visit the first Both Sides Now blog post and leave a comment there. I’m drawing a name at the end of the weekend. Good luck!

Aspen Leaf scarf in progress

I finished my syncopated brioche Aspen Leaf scarf. It was perfect vacation knitting; the leaf pattern repeats over 10 leaves, and once you understand how the leaves widen and narrow, it’s pretty easy to memorize. This sample is in Huckleberry Knits’ DK Blue Faced Leicester; the gradient is Practical Tactical Brilliance, and the speckle is When You Said Hi I Forgot My Dang Name.

I’ve just finished the pattern and sent it to my tech editor. I’m looking for a few test knitters; let me know if you would like to test knit. Testers should already have experience with syncopated brioche knitting.

I’m also knitting another one in worsted weight, but I haven’t decided if it’s going to be in Knit Picks Chroma Worsted (single ply) or Malabrigo Rios (plied). Swatching now, and the Chroma may be winning…

Knit on!

Both Sides Now, and Window Pane

Have I set an earworm for you? Joni Mitchell or Judy Collins? Read to the bottom for a giveaway opportunity!

My Both Sides Now shawl pattern is on the cover of the new book, Yarn Over: Brioche Knits from Knit Picks! I’m really pleased.

Both Sides Now is a brioche half pi shawl. Both the “right side” and “wrong side” look good. The cover photo is what I think of as the wrong side. The second photo above is what I consider the right side.

My blue version has contrastier colors, so the lower section really pops, and looks like veined leaves. On this side, my right side, the twigs point downward.

But the back side of it is pretty awesome, too. The twigs point upwards on this side, just like on the book cover. The upper section doesn’t show as leaves quite as much, though. I love that you can wear it either way, according to your mood.

Oh! I have TWO patterns in this book; the other is my Window Pane Scarf. It was my first foray into syncopated brioche; I was going to use it as a teaching piece but then I had the opportunity to use it here. So I designed Hopscotch for my teaching piece, and Syncopation after that.

But I love this, too, and it would be a great learning piece for syncopated brioche!

The Yarn Over: Brioche Knits ebook has simple and complex projects in a variety of yarn weights. There’s something for everyone, from beginner to expert.

To celebrate these new designs, I’m giving away two copies of the Yarn Over: Brioche Knits ebook. One will go to a commenter on this post, and the other will go to a PDXKnitterati newsletter subscriber. I’ll be drawing a name on or around January 12. Good luck!