iPhone photography workshop review

Gale Zucker, knitwear photographer extraordinaire, was in town last weekend for TNNA. We worked out a way for her to do a workshop here through the Puddletown Knitters Guild. It was great!

I’ve taught iPhone knitting photography before, and wanted to take Gale’s class to see what more I could add to my toolbox. I’m pretty good with basic photography and composition, and adept with the editing apps. But she’s got a GREAT eye, and that comes from talent and years of practice. I’ll keep working at it!

We practiced making a flat lay, and also went outside to practice on each other. Here’s the evolution of my flat lay.

First, just laying it out with a sheer background.

I added a Bullet Journal for interest, keeping the limited color palette.

She said to throw in something that you might think was ridiculous, and these pompoms were ridiculous. But something about that color pop was intriguing.

So I added this color contrasty fake succulent. And I liked it. Except for the hole in the middle.

Here’s the finished, edited picture. I like it much better than the picture that is currently on the Concentric Bed Socks pattern, so I’ll be changing that up, eventually.

I’ll be incorporating new tips into my iPhone knitting photography class. The next one is scheduled for March 24 at For Yarn’s Sake in Beaverton. Come play!

By the way, Knit Circus has just put together a yarn kit for Concentric Bed Socks. They have several color options, too. These are fabulously luxurious, absolutely gorgeous gradients combined with a semi-solid for heels and toes. Lovely.

Check out this Love is Love and Bedrock combo. Sweet!

Hope you’re staying warm and toasty! We’re having a little snow event here in the Pacific Northwest. I hope it doesn’t mess up my Madrona plans next week. Fingers crossed!

Happy Lunar New Year!

Gung hay fat choy! It’s the year of the Boar (or Pig, but I think boar sounds nicer somehow).

Red envelopes with lucky money for the kids. Traditional foods…some friends asked me for this recipe, so I’m stashing it here. It’s pretty much a stew of different fungi! Feel free to mix and match according to your tastes and what you can find.

Jai
(Usually vegetarian but my Mom likes oysters and chicken broth in it)

1 oz dried lily flowers
1 oz shredded fungus (the ones we use looked like sliced black/gray leather strips)
4 bean curd sticks (dried)
10 black/shiitake mushrooms
8 red dates (dried. I don’t like them, but Mom does)
1/4 c fat choy (dried. Looks like black steel wool)

Soak the above ingredients for 2 hours or overnight.

2 T oil
1 Or 2 slices fresh ginger
3 oz fermented red bean curd (nom yee) (comes in jar)
3 oz fermented white bead curd (foo yee) (comes in jar)
3 C water
3 C chicken broth (or you can use all water)
12 oz canned gingko nuts
5 oz sliced water chestnuts (small can)
2 T brown sugar
3 T oyster sauce
3 T white wine
2 C shredded nappa cabbage
2 oz bean thread (dried)

Two 8 oz jars fresh small oysters (optional)

Presoak the first set of dry ingredients, separately, 2 hours or overnight. Rinse well. Cut and discard any hard portions. Cut bean curd sticks into 2” lengths.

Pour boiling water over bean thread to soften. Drain and cut into 3” lengths.

Heat oil in a large pot. Add ginger and bean curds; saute for a minute or so. Add 2 C water and break up bean curd. Add the rest of the water and broth. Add all other ingredients except oysters.

Simmer for one hour. Add drained oysters and simmer for another 10 minutes.

Makes a lot! Serves at least 8. Enjoy!

Back with knitting soon.

Planned Pooling, now with Yarn Chicken!

I finished my Planned Pooling cowl. It was an adventure!

I started by trying to stack the colors exactly. Then I loosened my gauge for a bit to get the colors to veer to the right (because the colors were starting earlier than before). Of course I had to veer back to the left, by knitting a little tighter for a bit. You don’t have to change gauge for the whole round, just enough to get the first stitches of the previous stacking to change. But you do have to keep checking to see what your colors are up to. Eventually I decided to stop paying attention and just let the colors dance, since I knew that they would more or less stack.

If you want matching cast on and bind off edges, you can use a provisional cast on, and then use your favorite bind off on both edges. The bind off colors won’t match the knitting exactly; binding off uses more yarn than a regular round of knitting. Since the colors weren’t going to match, I didn’t feel that fussy, so I used a long tail cast on and the usual bind off.

I ran out of yarn before the end of the bind off. Oops. I did have a little extra yarn left over from an overly cautious long tail cast on, so that saved the day.

Biscuit helped.

What can you do in real life if you run out of yarn, and there isn’t more? If you don’t need a stretchy edge, you can bind off without knitting. I know, wut? Slip the stitches instead of knitting them, like this.

Slip one stitch knitwise. *Slip another stitch knitwise. Lift the right stitch over the left stitch and off the right needle. Repeat from * to last stitch. Using a yarn needle, run a piece of yarn through last stitch and sew in ends.

This would have worked fine for my cowl, since a small area of of less stretchy edge wouldn’t have been too troublesome. But I wouldn’t have wanted it for the entire bind off. Not bad in a pinch, though!

Final thoughts on planned pooling. Well, it’s interesting! It’s kind of like a dance. I’m used to deciding what the yarn is going to do. Even when dancing, I’ve always been a back-leader! In planned pooling, the yarn is the leader and decides the size of the project because of the color repeat. This cowl is 32″ in diameter, which is kind of an in-between length for me. It’s 6″ tall, because that’s what one skein of this yarn made.

(DH and I are in a social swing dance class; he’s learning to lead and I’m learning to follow.)

I’d love to try making argyles, but realistically I know that I like to multi-task while knitting. That means I don’t like looking at my knitting all the time to make sure my tension is even and the colors are stacking properly. But it was a fun experiment. I’m thinking of designing a class on simple planned pooling. What do you think? Do you want to know just a bit about it? I think of it as party trick knitting! I do like knowing a little bit about a lot of techniques. Planned pooling was on my bucket list for this year, so I’m starting off with a bang!

For now I’ll say thank you to my project (very KonMari), and get on to my next project, which is…brioche!

Brioche knitting for all!

I’m teaching three beginning brioche knitting classes at Northwest Wools. The classes are full, but I’m also teaching it at Twisted on Saturday March 23. This class features my Petite Brioche pattern, which you can download for free here.

I love teaching, and I love brioche knitting. I think two color brioche is easier to learn than one color brioche, and knitting it in the round is easier than knitting it flat. No sliding back and forth.

Look at all the new brioche knitters!

Everyone was off to a good start. We diagnosed and fixed some mistakes, too. Learning to read your brioche knitting is a valuable skill.

Being around all that brioche knitting kick started me into more brioche.

This is my first foray into designing with flat two color brioche. I’m starting with a half-pi shawl construction, because there aren’t any increases in the brioche field, so I can just figure out what’s happening at the edges. I like it so far! I have a plan for the rest of it, too.

I’m knitting with Knit Picks Hawthorne Fingering. It’s a fabulous workhorse yarn for design experimentation; I knit nearly an entire shawl with it for a design submission last summer because it was so fun I couldn’t stop at the little swatch sample. It doesn’t mind frogging, either, which is good. Trial and error, knitting and frogging are part of my design process! At 357 yards it’s a bit shorter than my usual 400 yard/100g skeins, so I’m not sure I’ll use it for the whole design. We’ll see how things go.

What’s exciting you in the knitting world? Do you want to learn something new? What’s on your bucket list?

Last night’s lunar eclipse, in the clouds. Not as exciting as the solar eclipse, but very pretty. Did you see it?

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!

@@@@@@@@@@

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?