Introducing: Madrona Cowl

What’s next on my hit parade? A snuggly warm cowl. Winter is coming!

Madrona trees are native to the Pacific Northwest. They have gorgeous peeling bark, shiny leaves, and little berries. This brioche knit cowl features leaves and optional small bobble-like berries. I knit most of the blue cowl (no berries) last February while at Madrona Fiber Arts Festival, and the name seems to fit. I started the green version at the Lantern Moon retreat in March; it has berries on the vertical columns. Lots of good memories in these!

This cowl is worked in the round from the bottom up. The pattern has lots of links to my brioche knitting tutorials, which you can also find on my tutorials page here.

I loved knitting these cowls, but I wanted to wait to publish the pattern until after summer. And then I forgot to include them in my photo shoot last month with Erin, so it was DIY time. A camera remote control is a fabulous tool!

The Madrona Cowl pattern is available through Ravelry, link here. It’s 10% off through October 19, no coupon needed. But! As always, newsletter subscribers will receive a 20% off coupon in my upcoming newsletter. Sign up here, if you haven’t already!

Happy cozy knitting!

Introducing: Concentric Slipper Socks

I had so much fun designing the Concentric Cowl. What else could I design with such sproingy goodness?

Concentric Slipper Socks, of course!

These are knit from the cuff down using 2 strands of worsted weight yarn held together 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.

(Women’s medium sock with 4 purled ankle bands, on top of women’s large sock with 3 ankle bands)

These slipper socks can be knit in three women’s sizes, or for a small man’s foot, based on the available yardage in Knit Circus’ Ringmaster Panoramic Gradient 50g cakes. Four cakes are needed to achieve 2 slipper socks with matching gradient shading, since the yarn is held double. Sample shown in Thanks for all the Fish colorway.

These slipper socks would also be cute knit with two different yarns held together for a marled effect. Your imagination is the limit!

This pattern is available through Ravelry; link here. As always, newsletter subscribers will receive a special discount coupon. Not a subscriber yet? Sign up here!

Thanks to tech editor Amanda Woodruff, and test knitters Jacqueline Lydston, Denise Delagarza, and Ann Berg. And thanks to Knit Circus Yarns for the inspiringly gorgeous yarn!

OFFF 2018 weekend and brioche inc/dec tutorial

It was a glorious transition into autumn. What better way to celebrate than with a fiber festival? Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival is done for another year.

I spent Friday afternoon judging the knitting entries. This piece was the winner of several awards, including the top award for the festival.

It’s handspun from Jacob wool (this year’s featured breed), hand knit, with 1300 beads, and perfectly blocked. I loved everything about it. (Shawl pattern is Moon Shadows by Romi Hill.) I found out afterward from the knitter that she had lost at yarn chicken the week before, and had to spin more yarn to finish. She took this off the blocking wires the night before the judging. Close!

This was the felted Grand Champion. It demonstrates wet felting, needle felting, and probably other techniques I don’t even know about. Exquisite.

This felted entry used Jacob wool, which I thought was brilliant.

This embellished knit coat was also knit from handspun. I loved the detail in it. The pattern is by Anna Zilboorg from her Splendid Apparel book. I took this class with Anna just before her book came out.

Saturday I taught Favorite Shawl Shapes in the morning. So much fun! I’m planning to teach this class again, but I may give it a better name. Shawl Design 101? What would sound even more enticing?

I taught Brioche Pastiche in the afternoon. It was interesting that many had tried brioche before but not succeeded. I’m glad to help make new successful brioche knitters! Most had a good grasp of 2 color brioche rib in the round by the end of class.

I’ve just made a video tutorial of brioche increases and decreases. These are the ones used in the hat, but handy for all brioche.

Sunday I went back to shop and play! The weather was perfect.

My favorite purchase? This yarn chicken pint glass from JaMPDX. Yarn chicken is my life!

I also picked up this gorgeous yarn set from Knitted Wit. It’s Victory Sock in Pollen, plus two Sixlet gradient sets in Carbon. Plus two more mini skeins in Ghostly, but I may not need them. I’m knitting one more version of my Lucky Star Shawl, but with two Sixlets instead of one for a deeper, wider shawl. It’s going quickly; I hope to be done knitting by the end of this week.

More eye candy from Sunday:

Stacey’s Fierce Fibers booth, including a splendid version of my Rosaria shawl. Look at those gradient cakes! We’re using her yarn for our Nymphaea Retreat in November.

Speckled gradient cakes from Boss Kitty. I bought some of their cat-eared stitch markers. Mine glow in the dark!

I loved this rug on display with one of the vendors in the main pavilion.

And of course there were animals. Goat? Sheep? I’m never sure. Cute, though. (Goat.)

Bunnies are easier to recognize, yes?

Alpacas!

And humans. Amanda and Margaret representing Puddletown Knitters Guild. Hi, ladies!

A very fun weekend. Now I’m back at home working. More knit fun to follow. How was YOUR weekend? Welcome, fall!

Knitting for the near future

I’ve been knitting up a storm.

Here’s a sneak peek of my newest shawl, coming soon. It’s called Lucky Star. You may now have a Madonna song running through your head. You’re welcome.

You know that hump that happens at the center neck of top down crescent shawls? I didn’t want that on Lucky Star, so I’ve worked on minimizing it. I’m making a tutorial on how to do that. It’s coming soon, too. I’m debuting it in my Favorite Shawl Shapes class at Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival this Saturday morning.

I’ve been knitting little samples for class, too. We’re going to have fun talking about shape and design.

You can still register for this class on-site. You can knit these little shapes, too!

What are you knitting now?

Introducing: Concentric Cowl

Every in a while, a design idea comes together so easily, it just jumps off the needles.

This is the Concentric Cowl. I designed it in a wink, and the only thing that took any time at all was that I ripped it out when it was half done, because I wanted to add a secret between the purl welts.

There’s a tiny bit of lace in there.

It adds just a bit of mystery.

The cowl is knit in the round with 150g/277 yards of worsted weight yarn. I used a 150g cake of KnitCircus Ringmaster Panoramic Gradient in the Fig and Prosciutto colorway. The scrunchy rings capture warmth around your neck.

You can also unscrunch the rings and wear Concentric like a hood. The 150g jumbo cake of yarn makes it long enough to do so.

This pattern pdf is available through Ravelry; pattern page is here. It’s a quick and easy gift knit, even if the gift recipient is yourself! As always, newsletter subscribers have a coupon code for 20% off.

I’m teaming up with KnitCircus to do a kit for the Concentric Cowl in October, but if you can’t wait you can shop their ready to ship 150g Ringmaster Gradient cakes here. So gorgeous!

On the cusp of fall

Oh, Labor Day! Farewell summer, welcome fall…

I ran away with my knitting last week. Good thing I brought more than one project; I lost at yarn chicken on this Mitered Crosses Blanket square. I just needed 2 more green garter ridges, probably about one yard of yarn. I considered using the red as an accent stripe, but it would have been too much. One garter ridge, yes. Two garter ridges? Christmas! I had to finish at home.

This is for a group blanket project through Mason Dixon Knitting. #mdkteamblanket2

My other project is a slipper sock. I’m using 4 50g balls of KnitCircus Ringmaster Panoramic Gradient (worsted weight), colorway Thanks for all the Fish, to double strand the socks. They are glorious. (Picture from KnitCircus site, since I forgot to take a picture before I started knitting.) I finished the first one at the coast. Good thing it was time to go home; I was out of knitting!

No real sneak peek on the sock yet; the excitement is on the cuff! I knit mine using the magic loop technique, and Biscuit thought that was pretty interesting when I tried it on. I’ll be looking for test knitters soon. Would you like to knit slipper socks? They’re really quick! This one took me one day.

Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach

It wasn’t all knitting last week. I love walking on the beach. This one was a solitary walk, just me and the seagulls.

Lone sea star at Chapman Point

I saw a lone sea star. Five years ago, there were hundreds of sea stars here. Sea star wasting disease killed many of them, but they’re starting to come back. I’m glad.

Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach

It was a perfect getaway.

Now I’m swinging into knitting season! I have several new designs coming soon. The first is this cowl, which is also designed with KnitCircus Ringmaster Gradient, this one in Fig and Prosciutto. Look for it later this week.

Fall brings more teaching opportunities, too. I’ve got my schedule mostly set at Twisted and For Yarn’s Sake; you can see it here.

There’s still room in my Favorite Shawl Shapes class at Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival (pre-register by Sept. 8).

And a few knitters’ spots left at our Nymphaea Fall Retreat (Nov. 9-11).

What are you knitting this fall?

Flock and Fiber? Yes Please!

Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival is just around the corner! This local fiber festival has something for everybody: yarn, fiber, classes, animals, cooking, shopping, and more.

I’m teaching two classes this year. Brioche Pastiche is sold out; I’m really looking forward to introducing more knitters to two color brioche in the round!

There’s still room in my Favorite Shawl Shapes class. We’ll make mini samples of four of my favorite shawl shapes, and talk about how to incorporate your design ideas into them. You’ll have a better understanding of how shawls are made, and a good basis for designing your own. Come join me on Saturday morning, September 22. Registration link is here; pre-register by September 8 to make sure you get the class info you need.

I’m judging the knitting entries at OFFF again this year. It was educational for me last year, and I hope my comments on lasts year’s entries were educational for the knitters! You can enter your knit, crochet, felted, woven, and other fiber projects at OFFF, as well as spinning. Last year’s winners were stunning, and all of the entries were worthy of praise.

One more class! A reminder that registration is happening now for the Nymphaea Shawl Retreat that I’m doing with Laurinda Reddig at Quinn Mountain Retreat in the Columbia River Gorge (near Camas), Nov. 9 – 11. There are only 4 knitter’s spots left. Come get a jump start on knitting or crocheting this beaded shawl with us! Gradient yarn by Fierce Fibers and beads are included in the registration price. Registration link here.

Fall is coming; make plans to get your knit on!

Piano and Pinot 11.0

My home was filled with gorgeous music on Saturday evening. The eleventh annual Piano and Pinot Fun-Raiser brought together three musicians, 16 guests, and wine and dessert. I don’t play my piano much these days, so it’s nice to hear it played by someone else. For this event, I’m in charge of the venue, a freshly tuned grand piano, and dessert.

We had two intermissions; the first one featured this simple dessert:

Mini blueberry cheesecake shooters. I adapted The Pioneer Woman’s Cherry Cheesecake Shooters recipe, and topped it with my blueberry compote. These mini wine tasting glasses hold just enough, and look fabulous. Updated recipe is at the bottom of this post.

The second intermission featured a buffet of lemon bars, shortbread, fruit salad, and my favorite sensational dessert, a flourless chocolate cake with chocolate glaze.

Untitled

This cake is so good that the gluten free status is just a bonus. This is easy, elegant, and delicious! Recipe is also at the bottom of this post.

Biscuit was very well behaved.

Yadi wanted lemon bars. I had to put him in the back room where he sang along(!).

It was a lovely evening among friends.

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Blueberry Cheesecake Shooters
adapted from the Pioneer Woman’s Cherry Cheesecake Shooters

Make the blueberry compote the night before, and refrigerate.

For the blueberry compote:
2.5 cups frozen blueberries, unthawed
1/3 C sugar
1/3 C water
1 T fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp pectin plus 1 tsp sugar

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. That wasn’t thick enough for me, so I stirred in a tsp of pectin combined with a tsp of sugar at the very end and cooked for another minute. Perfect. Cool, then cover and refrigerate.

For the cheesecake (same day, or night before):
1.5 cups finely crushed graham crackers (12 whole crackers, crushed)
4 Tablespoons butter, melted
2 8 ounce packages cream cheese
1 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup sliced almonds

I used graham cracker crumbs, already crumbly, which is a great time saver.

Place graham cracker crumbs in a large mixing bowl. Gradually add the melted butter and mix until crumbs begin to cling together. Spoon this “crust” into serving dishes: mini wine glasses, wine glasses, whatever you’d like.

Combine cream cheese,sweetened condensed milk, and vanilla extract in the bowl of an electric mixer. Whip until fluffy. Place mixture into a resealable plastic bag, cut off a corner and pipe mixture over graham cracker crumbs.

Spoon blueberry compote over the cheesecake mixture. Top with sliced almonds just before serving. Enjoy!

Yield: 24 servings in mini wine glasses, fewer if you’re using larger dishes. I used two sets of Libbey’s mini wine tasting glasses. They’d also be cute in little half cup canning jars.

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Flourless Chocolate Torte with Chocolate Glaze

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 19 minutes

Ingredients:

6 ounces coarsely chopped semisweet chocolate
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
3/4 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 cup cocoa
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla

Glaze:
2 ounces coarsely chopped semisweet chocolate
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 teaspoon milk
1 1/2 teaspoons Agave syrup or honey
1/8 teaspoon vanilla

Fresh raspberries for garnish, 1/2 pint (about 30 berries)

Preheat oven to 350°F
Line the bottom of a 9 inch round cake pan with parchment paper and spray the paper with non-stick cooking spray.

Melt 6 ounces chopped chocolate and butter in a saucepan over medium low heat. Stir until chocolate and butter are melted and smooth.

Add sugar and salt and reduce heat to low. Cook while stirring for about one minute, until sugar starts to dissolve.

Remove pan from heat. Whisk in eggs, one at a time. Whisk in vanilla.

Use a mesh sieve to sift cocoa into mixture. Whisk until batter is smooth.

Pour batter into prepared pan and bake in preheated oven for about 19 minutes. (I check mine at 15, first.) The center of the cake should be just firm to the touch; do not overbake.

Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Invert cake onto serving plate.

Glaze:
Melt 2 ounces of chopped chocolate and 1 1/2 tablespoons of unsalted butter in a small saucepan. Remove pan from heat. Add milk, agave syrup OR honey, and vanilla and stir until smooth. Cool glaze for about 5 minutes.

Pour glaze in the middle of the cake. Spread over the cake, allowing glaze to run down the sides of the cake. Garnish with raspberries around the edge.

Serves 16

adapted from http://glutenfreecooking.about.com/od/dessertsandsweets/r/flourlessgfcake.htm

Nymphaea Retreat registration is OPEN!

Registration is open for the Nymphaea Shawl Retreat! The event is November 9-11 at Quinn Mountain Retreat in the beautiful Columbia River Gorge. It’s a small retreat, so you’ll get lots of attention as you start your Nymphaea Shawl. Register soon, because there are only 16 spots, 8 each for knitters and crocheters.

You can choose to knit or crochet your shawl; my knit version or Laurinda Reddig’s crochet version. We designed these shawls as a collaborative project with Bead Biz.

The retreat fee includes a jumbo skein 150g/645yards of Fierce Fibers Abyss (50/50 merino/silk) in a continuous gradient. Choose your main color: Surf and Sand, Dragonite, Hummingbird, or Tide Pod (clockwise from upper left). You’ll also get 50g of a coordinating color for the contrast bands. And beads from Bead Biz, specially selected by Laurinda and me.

You’ll get your shawl started, and learn different ways to add beads to your knit or crochet, how to change colors, knit or crochet edgings, and blocking, which is essential for lace.

Cost for the retreat is $225, which includes yarn, beads, 2 days of breakfast, lunch, and instruction. But don’t worry; there will be free time for you to explore, too. Register with Recrochetions, link here. If you’ve purchased a Nymphaea kit from Bead Biz, there’s a discount for the retreat. More information at the link too, including lodging options.

I hope you can make it!

Madrona Farewell

As you may know, Madrona Fiber Arts Festival is one of my favorite events of the year. I’ve been going to Madrona for many years, and teaching there since 2016.

Last week, founder Suzanne Pedersen emailed to let the Madrona community know that 2019 will see the 20th Madrona Festival, and it will be the last. She and co-founder Cornie Talley will be retiring this beautiful event.

If you’ve never been to Madrona, please make plans to join us in February! Madrona is more than a festival; it’s a community. There are classes, amazing speakers, a well-curated market, a teacher talent show that raises funds for charities, and lots of places for people to just hang out together and share knowledge and joy.

Last year at Madrona, I met Sarah Hauschka (inventor of magic loop!), and she taught me linked double knitting: brioche knitting holding a color in each hand, which meant all stitches could be worked in the same row. Astounding. She showed me as we sat in the Rotunda, just hanging out. My brain was too full to really take it in (and no pictures, darn it), so I introduced her to my friend Pamela Grossman, who took to it like a duck to water. This is an example of the happy sharing that is part of the Madrona experience.

The spirit of Madrona will live on, as we continue to share our love of the fiber arts. But this will be your last chance to have the Madrona experience in person. Mark your calendar for February 14-17. It will be a very special weekend.