New class: Brioche Doctor! Fixing Brioche Mistakes

We love knitting brioche. But sometimes things happen. I’m launching a new Zoom class, Brioche Doctor: Fixing Mistakes in Brioche. We’ll go from finding simple missed yarn overs all the way through frogging and getting back on the needles. Class will be on Saturday, February 13, 10:30 am to 12:30 pm, Pacific time. Registration is through Twisted Yarn Shop.

We’ll be working with a flat 2 color brioche swatch, but even if you’ve only ever done brioche in the round, this should be pretty accessible for you. I love new classes, and I think this one will be lots of fun. Come tink, drop, and frog with me!

To the frog pond, happily

I knit the hat on the left, while developing the hat on the right (pattern next week; I just need pictures). The first hat wasn’t what I wanted, so I frogged the crown and re-finished it as a cowl. Yes, you *can* frog brioche and get it back on the needles!

Side conversation: I’m working up a Brioche Doctor version of my Tink Drop Frog fixing mistakes class; I’ll let you know when that goes live.

Done. I love these leaves, and I had enough yarn leftover to knit one more cowl. I decided to play with the smaller leaf that I worked out for the blue hat. But! What if I made it a longer (wider) loop, too? That’s really my preferred cowl style, long and hanging down, not so much up around my neck. I’d need this yarn back to do that, though.

To the frog pond! You know that brioche is a two sided fabric, in separately worked layers. Did you know you can frog one color at a time, leaving the other color behind? This looks so cool, like a frilly petticoat peeking out under a skirt.

Almost there…

I have the new cowl about halfway done, which means it’s the traditional time where I start second and third guessing myself. Should I make the leaves even smaller? Do just I add this version on to the existing cowl pattern, or make a new pattern? I think the answer to that depends on how much extra work goes into it. Right now it’s just using the new smaller leaf from the hat, but if I make the leaves even smaller, it would be a ton of work to redo the chart and written instructions *again*, so it would want to be a separate pattern. Diminishing leaves, diminishing returns?

Really, I just need to finish knitting this so I can move on to a couple shawl ideas that are buzzing in my head. It’s time to get 2021 on the road!

VKLive from both sides again, and Inauguration Day 2021

I had a great weekend teaching at VKLive. I love teaching, and it was especially fun to teach my revamped YO? YO! Fun and Fancy Elongated Stitches class. I got to become reacquainted with some of my favorite designs.

I also had the chance to be a student again, this time in Laura Nelkin’s Beaded Brioche class. Two of my favorite techniques in one class!

Laura explained how she decides where to bead her brioche stitches (hint: make a pattern swatch first and visually decide where you want them). She went on to show how to either place beads via crochet hook or pre-string them. The beads in this sample are placed, but I used my trusty Bead Aid. rather than a crochet hook. In real life I’d like more contrast than there is here, but I was working with leftovers from other projects.

I usually place my beads *before* working a stitch, and couldn’t visualize how to do this on a brioche knit stitch. Laura places her beads *after* working the stitch. That makes a lot more sense for brioche; then it’s just like placing beads in any other knitting. Easy peasy! I’m looking forward to adding beads to my next brioche shawl or scarf.

I also attended the Rowan High Tea (BYO beverage); it was fun to learn about all the ways tea is enjoyed in different regions in the UK. And I knit this peach while watching! It’s stuffed with yarn scraps that I collected while sewing in ends. Reduce, reuse, recycle! The pattern is free from Anna Hrachovec at MochiMochiLand, if you’d like to knit your own peach. Mine is knit with Malabrigo Worsted on US3 needles, so it’s not as tiny as hers. You can see it in the second picture, which gives a better sense of scale. I used my Flexi-Flips which made it work up very quickly; I was done before the tea ended!

I‘ve finished the colorwork on DH’s Dreyma, yay! I worked the short rows using the German short rows that I learned in classes with Bristol Ivy and Ana Campos at December’s VKLive. One thing that was slightly confusing was that we learned to make and resolve short rows either on the right side (knit) or the wrong side (purl) but we didn’t discuss resolving short rows made on the purl side but resolved on the knit side when knitting in the round. I found this tutorial by Patty Lyons which worked fairly well, but one of my short rows resulted in a hole…that I’ll just sew up later. Git ‘er done!

I’ve divided for the sleeves and body, and it’s just stockinette for miles for a while. This is perfect for knitting while waiting for classes to start, or during Zoom meetings, or even while reading. But I must admit, I was too captivated by the inauguration ceremonies this morning to knit. Congratulations to President Biden and Vice President Harris!

Pearls and pjs

Leftover bacon/arugula/pear/blue cheese pizza with poached egg for breakfast. Soooo good. My favorite aunt (the one who taught me to knit!) sends me pears every year, and these are spectacular.

Have a great day!

Katie’s Kep, encore

I had my first Katie’s Kep class on Sunday for For Yarn’s Sake, and we had a great time. We started off with a chat about size and gauge. I think that’s especially important with this project, which is prescribed to be 22” around. You can see how much smaller my second kep will be, and you can also see how lovely the fabric is after blocking. Blocking is magic, both for this yarn and for stranded colorwork in general.

Even though I’m reducing the circumference, the top will still have this lovely six pointed star. Math!

The hat pattern is free from Shetland Wool Week if you’d like to make your own. Also, I’ve added a third stranded colorwork Zoom class through For Yarn’s Sake on February 28 for this project. Register here, if you’d like to start your kep with me and a small group of knitters. We’ll talk about sizing, gauge, how to manage your yarns, yarn color dominance, and more! If you need yarn, For Yarn’s Sake also has kits for this project in 5 colorways. I found that very helpful!

Shetland Wool Week also has patterns for a cowl and fingerless gloves that coordinate with this hat; you can purchase them here.

I find the small color pattern repeats in each round to be very soothing, meditative knitting. Not a bad thing in these turbulent times. So far, 2021 is on a pace to outrun 2020. Yikes.

Paella!

For Christmas, we gave the kids a private Zoom class with our favorite local chef, Jenn Louis. She has had several restaurants here in Portland, and has several cookbooks out, too. Their choices were: handmade pasta, paella, or tamales. They felt that paella was the dish they would probably make again on their own. Good call!

Jenn even lent us paella pans for the event. So perfect! I did all the shopping; it was like making a meal kit for the kids. They’re in a Covid bubble, as are we, so we had two houses cooking together, apart.

Jenn planned the whole meal. We had some nibbles before dinner: Manchego cheese, quince paste, marcona almonds and baguette.

Salad with roasted red pepper, olives, tangerines, lemon vinaigrette (and some goat cheese left over from the dates)

Bacon wrapped dates, stuffed with goat cheese.

The kids bought these delightful Spanish wines, red and an effervescent white. They were a perfect pairing with our dinner.

Are you hungry now? Jenn has graciously allowed me to share the paella recipe, below. She also said that we could do this in a large skillet, if we didn’t have paella pans. (I’m not sure I really have room to store one, lovely as the are.)

Paella with chorizo and shellfish

SERVES 4
1⁄4 cup [60 ml] olive oil, plus more for finishing
4 ounces [115 g] chorizo, roughly chopped
8 ounces [230 g] mixed seafood of your choice
1 yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons sweet smoked paprika
1 cup [200 g] Calasparra, Valencia, or Bomba rice (short grain, arborio works, too)
Small pinch of saffron threads (about 1⁄2 teaspoon)
2 tomatoes, cut into 6 pieces each and most seeds removed
Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 cups [960 ml] chicken stock or water, plus more as needed

Warm the olive oil in a 13 1⁄2-inch [34-cm] paella pan over medium-high heat. Add the chorizo and cook for 2 minutes, then add the onion, garlic, and paprika. Cook until the onion is translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the rice and saffron and stir to evenly coat and toast the rice, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook until they become warm and begin to fall apart, about 3 more minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Evenly distribute and flatten out the rice in the pan and then add the stock. Turn the heat to high, taste the broth, and adjust the seasoning. Bring to a simmer, then decrease the heat to a medium simmer and cook, rotating the paella pan every 2 minutes, for about 20 minutes, until the rice is plump and cooked. Taste and adjust with salt and pepper.

After 10 minutes arrange the seafood on top of the rice and continue to cook until the seafood is done.

Keep the paella over high heat and continue to rotate the pan every 2 minutes to create an evenly crispy bottom, (known as socarrat). Add additional chicken stock or water as needed to fully cook the rice.

A very pretty dinner, indeed!

I love gifts that are consumable, and leave no clutter behind. This was exactly right. And we all got to hang out together on Zoom, still socially distant. I’ll be so glad when they can just come over for dinner again, but this was a great alternative. Thanks to Jenn Louis for the recipe and the class!

Jenn’s latest cookbook is The Chicken Soup Manifesto; I gave a copy to my sister Sharon last year.

Burmese Chicken Noodle Soup
Chicken Mafè (West African)
Chicken gumbo

She’s on a roll! (Photos are courtesy Sharon Hsu. And I don’t know why the first two turned sideways when I uploaded them?)

Happy new year; I hope it’s delicious!

Katie’s Kep: FO! and VKL class winner

I just finished knitting Katie’s Kep, the free Shetland Wool Week pattern from 2020.

The crown is definitely the star of the show. Absolutely gorgeous. Both of these pictures are pre-blocking.

I didn’t knit to gauge, but I’m not willing to knit a hat on smaller than US3 needles. The hat is supposed to be 22” but mine is 23” instead, and 9” tall. I don’t swatch for hats. I go by Meg Swansen’s maxim that the hat will fit *someone*! My first hat is a great big gauge swatch.

I’m knitting a second hat, with one fewer repeat of the body stitch pattern. My kit from For Yarn’s Sake has enough of all the CC yarn for a second hat, if I buy an extra ball of the main color, which I did. (There are 5 colorways to choose from.)

I’ve adjusted my cast on, too. I know how to get the crown to work out, based on my reduced number of stitches. Math tells me that my new hat will measure 19”, which gives me some negative ease to help keep it on my head. I might try to remove a few stitches to make it a bit shorter…or not. When it stretches out to accomodate my 22.5” head, that will also make it shorter. Fabric has to come from somewhere! My hats are generally 8” tall.

I’m teaching a Zoom class for For Yarn’s Sake this Sunday, and again later in the month, based on this pattern. (Classes are full. Should we schedule a third class?) We’ll start the class with a discussion on gauge! We’ll also talk about swatching, or not, and ways to adjust the size of the hat. I’m really looking forward to it!

In other class news, I’ve picked a winner for a free class with me at January Vogue Knitting Live. It’s Lauri T! I’ll email her and let her know that she’ll be in my YO? YO! Fun and Fancy Elongated Stitches class. I’m pretty excited about that one, too. I just re-vamped the handout for class, adding more fun stitches. We won’t get through them all in 2 hours, but the handout is a good reference and jumping off point. Congratulations, Lauri!

What new knitting skill do you want to learn in 2021?

One thing leads to another…

Leafy Origami test knitter Debbie Braden told me that she was wearing her small cowl like a pony tail hat. Hmmm, I thought. It would be super easy to close up the top and make a hat. So I did.

But I didn’t love it. It looked a bit bucket-like, and it was a little too big. It felt like it wanted to slide off my head. I turned up the bottom, and lost a good deal of visible leafiness. Humbug! Fixable? Challenge accepted.

If I removed a 24 stitch repeat, it would be too small. So I reduced the size of the pattern repeat to 20 stitches to make a smaller leaf, which removed 16 stitches overall. It was still going to be a little small, so I went up a needle size to change the gauge. Close enough!

Of course, removing 4 stitches meant removing 4 rounds per leaf, which meant the hat would be too short. So I added one more vertical repeat. More leaves! I had to finesse a bit at the beginning of the hat to end up with approximately the number of rounds I wanted, and it worked. It was a balancing act, and it was fun to puzzle it out.

The fit is definitely better. I think the added leaves make it easier to see them on your head, even if you turn up the brim.

So what began as a simple addition of a closing to the original Leafy Origami cowl pattern ended up being an entire re-chart/re-write. I finished it on the last day of 2020. It goes to the tech editor this week to kick off 2021. I’m looking for a couple more test knitters who are up for some challenging brioche!

I looked back at my Ravelry project page and see that I finished 28 items in 2020. Many of them were multiples for design projects and KALs: 3 Half the Knit Sky shawls, 3 Minerva cowls, 2 Deep End hats, 2 Deep End cowls. And 3 Love Note sweaters! I definitely knit a lot last year.

This year? I have several design ideas percolating in my head; we’ll see what comes of them. And I’m still knitting away on DH’s sweater, and my Katie’s Kep. Did I tell you I started that one over? My stitches were so much more even after I changed to a new needle, I decided that it would be worth it to start again. Here’s to new beginnings in 2021! Happy new year!

Vogue Knitting Live January 2021

I’m thrilled to be teaching at Vogue’s Virtual Knitting Live in January. It feels like a lifetime since I taught in NYC last January, in very different circumstances! Someday, we’ll all knit together in-person again, but for now this will do. We’ve been doing virtual events since May, and it’s going pretty smoothly. For the January event, Vogue is adding some very NYC flair, including a virtual fashion show.

I’m teaching Tink Drop Frog/Fixing Mistakes, Syncopated Brioche/Syncopation Shawl or Scarf, Minerva Entrelac Cowl, and YO? YO! Fun and Fancy Elongated Stitches. And! I’m giving away a spot in one of my classes. Leave a comment and let me know which class you’d like to take if you win, and why. I’ll pick a winner on January 5. You can also leave a comment on my Dec. 29 Instagram post, Facebook post, Twitter post, and/or in reply to my newsletter! I’m PDXKnitterati everywhere…

Good luck!

Multiple WIPs, oh noes!

I usually have one or two projects at a time; that’s plenty for me. I work better when I’m a bit obsessive. But my two current projects are both stranded colorwork (Dreyma and Katie’s Kep), and that means paying attention to a chart, all the time. Sometimes that’s not possible.

So here we are with brioche again, a perfect multi-tasker project for me. I decided I hadn’t had enough of this color combo yet; Malabrigo Rios in Volcan and Azul Profundo. I gave two friends the previous cowls in this color combo, and I decided I liked it so much I wanted to use it again.

Debbie Braden, one of my Leafy Origami Cowl test knitters, said she was wearing the small cowl as a hat with her ponytail coming out the top. Hmmm. I think I can actually make this close up on top, gracefully. I’ve gone so far as to chart it, and now I have to see if it works in real life. If not, I’ll rip off the top, and finish as a cowl for Mom-in-law. It’s a winner, either way.

Here’s another non-charted project from the weekend. I made a little bow with my other 32 ft strand of fairy lights. US 9 needles, again. I made a stitch holder for the live stitches, using a piece of guitar string. After that I realized that I probably have a stitch holder somewhere that would have worked! Oh well, it’s all good.

I’ve got a lot of food gifts to make in the next few days, which will be a good changeup from knitting. My forearms are still reminding me that I knit too long on Dreyma last week, so it still looks like this:

DH wore the hat over the weekend, so I guess we’ve done our gifts early! (Mine is the board in the leafy hat-to-be picture.)

Are you a mulit-WIP or monogamous knitter? Are you scrambling this week, or completely chill?

Dreaming of Dreyma

I was putting away my blocking the other night, so I checked my gauge on the newly blocked Gauge Hat. It did relax just a bit, and where I had 20.5 st and 26 rounds/4 inches, I now have 20 st and 26 rounds/4 inches. I can work with that! The row gauge is spot on. The prescribed stitch gauge is 19 st/4 inches, so I’m choosing a size (43.75”) that will give me the size I want (41.6” at my gauge).

And since I did the math for the sweater, I accidentally cast on. I wasn’t planning to start yet, but you know how it goes. I used the German twisted/Old Norwegian cast on, for a little extra heft (but still flexible) at the neckline. (Little plug for my HiyaHiya interchangeables: I now have this on a combination of the 40” cable plus the 16” cable. It grew too big for the flat lay picture before I realized it! The yoke includes body and sleeve stitches, which makes it bigger than 40 inches.)

So here’s hoping my gauge swatch hat didn’t lie to me! But I can always adjust the body circumference up or down 8 stitches, after the yoke is done. (8 stitches because of the pattern that goes before the bottom ribbing is a multiple of 8; you can see it on the hat.)

This is a reminder: Put down your knitting and stretch! I knit a lot on this last night (just one more, one more, one more round of patterning, so seductive) and realized that my forearms were feeling a bit achy due to tendinitis. Something about the way I hold this particular project, I guess. Knitting with fairy lights bothered my elbow after a time. Kay Gardiner of Modern Daily Knitting shares her thoughts, via shoulder injury, in a post this week, too. It’s going around. Listen to your body, so you don’t get an injury that takes a long time to heal!

I’m about to start the last contrast color on the yoke. Not right now, though. Break time!