Knit Picks Reflections interchangeable needles

Recently, Knit Picks sent me some new needles to try, before they became available to the public. They sent me two sets of their new Reflections stainless steel interchangeable needles, one in US sizes 4-11, and a new lace and sock set in US sizes 0-4. Borrowing this picture from their website because I forgot to take pictures!

My usual go-to metal needle is the Hiya Hiya stainless steel interchangeable. The new Reflections needle tips are very similar. The points are perfect, not too pointy and definitely not dull. I love them! The join between the cables and the needle tips are very smooth, and that’s important for me when I’m working stitches with multiple yarn overs.

Right now all my projects are on US4 needles, so I did a deep dive on the US4 from the lace set and the regular set. The points are the same (perfect). The lace set and the regular set have differently sized cables, because the lace set has smaller sized needle tips. US 4 needles are in both sets, with different cables/joins; this is where the sizes overlap. I prefer the skinny cable on the lace set to the heavier cable on the regular set because it feels more flexible. Since my work is topping out at a US 4 right now, I can choose between the two.

The 24” cable for the regular set combined with the longer needle tips made the circle of the circular feel a little tight, because it doesn’t curve right at the join. Like the cable on my 16” US 7 Chia Goo needles, it wants to make a pear shape instead of a true circle. The 24” cable for the lace set was paired with a shorter needle tip, and it’s a pleasure to work on.

The new regular sized Reflections needles will work with all of Knit Picks’ regular interchangeable cables. In which case I’d probably use the nylon cables from my other KP wooden interchangeables rather than the newer coated stainless ones. I’m glad I have choices.

When I sent my feedback, I asked if KP would consider making cables for a 20” interchangeable circular. Apparently that’s my new favorite length! I’m doing a lot of 20 to 22” cowls, and they’re just a little too small to fit on a 24” needle. Same for hats for big headed people. I know I can knit these items on a 16” needle, but I like having a little more room to stretch out. And yes, they’re considering it as an option for separate purchase. Yay!

Do you have a favorite needle? For me, it depends on what kind of knitting I’m doing. Sometimes I need to balance a slippery yarn with a more grippy needle, in which case I’ll use wood. But when I want my stitches to fly, I really like stainless steel.

Hello December!

It’s been a busy month since I last posted. Lots of teaching, and lots of fun. I’ve been sitting in on Shaina’s and Keith’s brioche sessions in Brioche Buddies

and tonight it was my turn. I taught about fixing mistakes, and increases and decreases. Here’s the aftermath on my desk with three swatch samples plus Deep End cowl and hat (and my little cork buddies)

and the aftermath of samples next to me

as I kept pulling more things out of the dresser where I keep some of my samples. Next week is the last week, and we’re having a cast on party, woot!

I also did a couple more rounds of tea towels.

Okay, this may have been overkill; that’s a lot of work for each towel!

I love these pine cones with gradient shading; they have more depth than the plain brown ones I did before. I’ve learned a lot and am still learning more.

And I’ve been knitting! More on that in the next post…

Block printing redux

I’d been promising all year to teach my sister Sharon how to block print tea towels. When she saw my friend Sharyn’s bee block, she was ready to make her own!

So she did. But I also wanted her to have the full experience, from carving her own block, to mixing color, to printing.

She chose to carve a hibiscus blossom, plus a contrasting pistil and stamen.

I chose to carve a more stylized bee, to go with the flower block I made last month.

We ran out of time, so I still need to add my flowers to my bee towels.

But Sharon finished hers!

A fun afternoon, making beautiful and useful objects. Because who couldn’t use more tea towels?

Seafoam Latte Scarf

My lovely book, Brioche Knit Love, celebrated its birthday last month. Now I’ll be making some of the patterns available individually. First: Seafoam Latte Scarf. This was the first piece I designed for the book. In my head, it was called Beachcomber Scarf, before the great theme renaming. Seafoam Latte works!

The Seafoam Latte Scarf is a two color brioche scarf, knit flat. Regular increases and decreases create the rhythmic wave pattern. Syncopating the third wave highlights the crest of the wave. I’m looking forward to using this pattern in brioche classes.

Pattern requires two balls of worsted weight yarn in contrasting colors. Knit to the length you like. Gauge is not critical. I knit mine with 2 balls of Knit Picks Chroma Worsted in Surf’s Up and Bare.

The pattern is now available through Ravelry and Payhip; click either of those hyperlinks to purchase.

Knit on!

New Lantern Moon needle

Old friend, new friend.

New needle above, old needle below

I loved my old Lantern Moon ebony needles, from the very first stitch. The wood was warm, and smoother than bamboo. The needles had enough grip for my stitches to slide, but not descend into chaos. The tips were just pointy enough for me. I even loved the *sound* of the needles gently clicking.

The only thing I didn’t like? The join between the cable and the needle. There was a distinct gap where the swivel cord came into the brass connector. It wasn’t a big deal, until I started designing with a lot of fancy stitches that required multiple yarn overs. It was hard to scoot my stitches and yarn overs from the cable onto the left needle so I could work them with the right needle. That eventually drove me to another needle, which turned out to be the Hiya Hiya stainless (regular point, rather than sharp). It’s nice to have a variety of needles for different projects; each needle has a purpose.

When I found out that Lantern Moon had been sold to Knitters Pride, I wanted to try the new needles to see if they had a cable join more to my liking. Sally at Close Knit ordered a needle for me to try out.

New needle above, older needle below. See how the taper on the new needle connector comes down to meet the cable? No hard bump between cable and connector for stitches and yarn overs to catch on. And it’s still a swivel cable, which is nice. Will the lovely lettering stay put after years of knitting? Maybe not, but it’s not a deal breaker. I have many needle gauges.

I took the new needle with me to Knit Maine, to use for my YO? YO! Fun and Fancy Elongated Stitches class, which is all about the multiple yarn overs!

lantern moon ebony knitting needle in knitting

Verdict? A very smooth swivel join. It was a pleasure to knit with these (US6 24” circular) needles. No problem moving my stitches and yarn overs up to the needle! I also knit a brioche cowl on these with worsted weight yarn. At some point I’d love to try the interchangeable needles too; they offer both a fixed join and a swivel join. And that would give me a chance to compare joins at different needle sizes, too. Someday!

Red Alder Fiber Arts Retreat 2023

Registration for Red Alder opens Sunday!

Red Alder Fiber Arts Retreat is scheduled for February 16-19 in Tacoma, Washington. Classes are listed on the website now, as well as registration information. Registration begins November 13 at 10 am Pacific time.

I’m teaching four classes:

Petite Brioche, which is a quick start to 2 color brioche in the round,

Whale Watch Cap and Cowl, which is all about brioche increases and decreases

Planned and assigned pooling

Sheepy Steeky Coasters (cutting your first steek)

There are classes for knitting, spinning, weaving…more? Check out the website, choose your classes, and register beginning Sunday. The event is at the Hotel Murano, which is a beautiful venue full of glass art. Come knit with me!

Chihuly glass at the Federal Courthouse in Tacoma

Block Party!

I’ve been printmaking with a group of friends for several years, and our library of blocks keeps getting bigger. It’s really fun to get together to make stuff! This weekend’s retreat included tea towels, aprons, pennant banners, and cards.

Prints from four of the new blocks

My new block this year. It was a last day addition, so I haven’t printed it yet, but someone else did!

I was smitten with these bees. I’m going to carve another bee block to play with.

Into the groove! So much fun to play with color, and to be a bit more multi-craftual. What, no yarn?

We were outside Rhododendron, near Mount Hood. The leaves are beginning to turn.

Still pretty green, though. Happy November!

Symmetry for Cosette

It’s the little things…

I wore Cosette last weekend at OFFF and it was everything I wanted it to be: pretty, easy to wear (doesn’t fall off), not too warm and not too cool.

But I love symmetry, and it reminded me that I’d be happier if the flowers in the cowl portion centered better with the spine of the shawl-ish part. The spine centers with the bottom point of the shell lace motif, but not the flower lace above.

A little bit of math, and the spine will now center between the “fans” of the shell lace, AND either the flower of the flower lace, or between flowers, depending on which size you’re knitting. No, I’m not going to re-knit mine, but I’m happier knowing that it’s *possible* to be more symmetrical!

I’ve updated the pattern on Ravelry and Payhip; if you’ve purchased this pattern you should be able to download the updated file (and if you bought it on Ravelry, you’ll get an email with that information, too).

Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival 2022

Or OFFF, as we fondly call it. We missed 2020 and 2021, and lost our venue at Clackamas County Fairgrounds. This year found us at the Linn County Expo Center in Albany, Oregon. It feels a lot further away, 66 miles vs 20 miles, but I was glad it happened.

It was great to see so many fiber friends! (There were more, just not all pictured)

Scarlet, Kirbie, Seth, Rachel, Mary, Stefania, Shannon, Alice, Wanda

Lots of animals, and 450 fleeces for judging, and then for sale.

Upper left: Valentino, Breed Champion Romney, Topaz (Icelandic), lower left

Beautiful prize-winning knitting (4194 beads in the purple shawl, in 2 colors)

Both gourd art and coiling were new to me, but coiling is an old indigenous technique.

Gourd art + Coilng = WOW from Jane A. Wilson
Felted dolls by Carolyn St Clair Hibbard

This weaving by Jane Herbst features wool from 131 different sheep breeds.

I taught Petite Brioche, and the classroom was a definite upgrade! This is how I like to teach since the pandemic: Overhead camera so everyone sees my hands demo at the same time, and then I get to go around the room to fine tune with everyone.

You can see all of my OFFF pictures in this Instagram album here. There are a lot!

The other nice upgrade: All the vendors were indoors, in climate controlled splendor. Not quite as charming as being out on the lawn, but the possibility of being overtaken by a monsoon doesn’t exist, either. The weather was gorgeous this weekend, but that’s not always the case for OFFF.

Loot!

I don’t generally buy yarn until I’m ready to use it. That keeps my stash tidy, and is moth avoidant, too. So I generally buy other goodies at festivals. I came home with dryer balls (what pretty colors!) from Compass Moon Creations, an RBG-themed notions bag from Kirbie at Change Your Fate Creations (love that I can see what’s in it), a notions tin from Miss Purl so I can give it away as a bead tin at my Embellishment Cowl class at Vogue Knitting Live NYC in February, and a cute sheep necklace from Sheep Lady Charms (she was with Valentino the Breed Champion Romney, above).

I also bought this bookmark/bracelet loom from Craft Emporium PDX (Shannon and Lorajean). It’s a very teeny way of experimenting with weaving. In my copious spare time. But I’ve been dreaming about it ever since I saw it last month!

I did bring home a little yarn. It’s a slippery slope, isn’t it? At least it’s not yarn support, which sits around making me feel guilty that I haven’t designed with it yet. This was just a trade (and I think it will be a little brioche confection). Or just something to dream with! Carolyn mentioned she wanted to learn brioche, so I traded her a copy of my book for this set of minis.

Speaking of my book, Brioche Knit Love is one year old today! Happy birthday, baby!

Have you been to any fiber festivals this fall? What was your favorite thing?

Coming soon: Brioche Buddies!

I’m teaming up with Shaina Bilow and Keith Leonard to bring you Brioche Buddies! We’ll spend a month exploring the loveliness that is brioche. Weekly classes will be via Zoom, and are limited to 40 participants. Registration went live yesterday, and there are 18 spots left. If you want to be part of this brioche extravaganza you should register now.

Classes will be recorded, and you’ll have access for a year. We’ll also have an option for recorded classes only. That’s a great option if the schedule doesn’t fit your schedule, or if the Live Zoom classes are sold out.

For the Brioche Buddies event, I’ll be teaching fixing mistakes,

and brioche increases and decreases, which is how we get the lovely patterning in 2 color brioche rib.

Shaina and Keith are engaging, experienced teachers. I met Keith at VKLive Columbus in 2019, and I met Shaina at VKLive Seattle 2022. Shaina and I taught at Knit Maine last month, and that’s where I learned that they’ve been buddies ever since she taught Keith to knit. All three of us will be teaching at VKLive NYC in February 2023. I’m thrilled to be joining this dynamic duo!

If you’re brioche-curious, and want to really get it down, this series is for you. You’ll have plenty of time to practice during the week between classes, and just keeping it rolling will help you gain the muscle memory for the rhythm of brioche. I hope you can join us!