Category Archives: cat

Clara Parkes was here!

Clara Parkes came through Portland last Friday on a tour for her new book, Vanishing Wool. We saw her at Powell’s, our lovely independent bookstore.

While waiting for Clara, I noticed that Mary Mooney, our friend who works for the Oregonian and used to keep a knit blog there, had a blurb on the back of the book jacket. Go Mary!

Clara gave a great introduction musing on the changes in the American wool industry post-World War II. It’s a little sad, but it’s also uplifting to know that there are those of us who care about it and want to support good wool. Her book chronicles her Great White Bale project, when she bought a bale of unprocessed Saxon Merino wool and used it to learn the process of yarn production. The bit I’ve begun has me captivated already; I’m looking forward to reading the rest.

As soon as Biscuit lets me have it back. We’re also sharing the Goodwool Ambassador pin.

Nymphaea Shawl FO number 3!

I started this shawl for the Nymphaea Fall Shawl Retreat last year, and set it aside sometime after my last post about it in November 2018. Other design projects were calling my name. You can see my progress up to that point in the previous blog post, with lots of thoughts about color and beads.

So when the Bead Biz ladies asked if they could borrow my sample for their shows, I decided now would be a good time to finish!

I was already on the 10th repeat of the ZigZag Lace pattern, and that was about where I wanted to end up. There’s enough yarn left for at least another partial repeat, maybe a half? But deadlines are deadlines, so I finished the 10th repeat and went on to the edging.

I was planning to use the dove gray pearl beads on the edging, but the yarn in the Soft Kitty colorway was tabby striping, and the beads weren’t really adding anything to the story. So I ripped back and changed to peacock beads, to pick up the teal from the last repeat. I love it.

The finished shawl is so beautiful; can I really stand to let it out of my custody to go to west coast shows with Bead Biz?

Sure, as long as it comes back soon. The yarn is from Fierce Fibers, her Abyss base (with silk!) in the Surf and Sand gradient. I’m really pleased with how it turned out. Finally!

The original shawl was knit with a mini skein gradient.

The second shawl was knit with 2 435 yard semi solid skeins from Bumblebirch. (Lots of CC left over.)

And this third shawl was knit with a 650 yard gradient from Fierce Fibers, plus a 50g skein of contrasting yarn.

I love them all!

Crafty Moms Weekend 16.0 (2019)

One more time! We had a spectacularly beautiful weekend on the Oregon Coast. Great weather, beautiful sunsets, camaraderie and crafts. I’ll put the scenic photos at the end. Yarn and other craftiness first!

Brioche and Bellini breakfast

I brought three knitting projects, but I only worked on one of them. I spent a day trying different ways to reverse the colors on the new section, and I’m finally happy with how it’s working out. It was a technical challenge.

Now it’s just a matter of finishing it! I may have to set it aside for a bit; another project has a deadline and needs to get underway.

Laurie was crocheting unicorns. So cute!

Sharyn brought supplies for block printing on tea towels. I brought some of my previous blocks, and carved a new flower block. I purchased these bags last year in Sisters during the Lantern Moon retreat, but hadn’t gotten around to printing them yet. Done!

This is pretty easy, and lots of fun. I see more of this in my future!

This was our 16th year at Rockaway Beach. The house looks right over the water so it’s perfect for any weather. But this year it was sunny all weekend.

Twin Rocks

This cloud bisects the sun

This one does, too

We stayed Friday afternoon through Monday morning. It would have been hard to go home on such a gorgeous day, so I didn’t! I had a free night expiring soon at Tolovana Inn in Cannon Beach, so Carole and I headed north for an overnight there. It was so warm that I bought a sundress and walked barefoot on the beach.

Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach

The afternoon low tide was perfect for tide pooling.

We only saw two sea stars; I hope they’re coming back.

The anemones look pretty healthy!

The moon was nearly full, and the early morning moonset was gorgeous to behold.

It clouded over as the day went on, but that made it easier to head home. It was a perfect weekend!

Bisquee missed me. A lot.

And today (Friday), we brought this guy home. He’s 2 years old. His shelter name was Frumpkin. That’s got to go. But I don’t know what to call him yet. Working on it…

The fun never stops around here!

Missing our Yadi

We lost our Yadi last week after a brief but devastating illness. He was two (two and a half?) years old. He came into our life last summer, July 25, 2018, from Purringtons Cat Lounge.

We got him as a companion for Biscuit. They got along famously, almost always in each other’s orbit.

Bisquee was teaching him to be a blocking supervisor.

He could also supervise knit design work on his own.

He loved denuding tinsel balls, and wandering around with them, sounding like Chewbacca.

He loved getting up on the kitchen counters, so we never left anything out. He still had to check to make sure, though. And he was Naughty Yadi at Piano and Pinot last summer, craving those lemon bars.

I finally gave him his own Instagram account, @yadiyadayada in January, after having him share Biscuit’s account, @thebiscuitreport.

We all miss him terribly. He was sweet (Captain Cuddles) and funny (Naughty Yadi) and a great friend for Biscuit. Seven months is a short time to have a cat, but long enough for them to capture your heart.

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?

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!

Coming soon: Concentric Bed Socks

It’s a race to the toe!

It’s a pleasure to knit these single strand worsted weight socks with Knit Circus Ringmaster Panoramic Gradient. The yarn has held up perfectly after frogging the Concentric Slipper Socks. The added bit of contrasting color for heels and toes means that I can make the cuff as tall and scrunchy as it needs to be. The pattern will have three sizes. It’s off to tech editor and test knitters now.

You’ll note that I’m back to magic loop. The Flexi-Flips were nice, but when I picked up the stitches for the gussets, I had more stitches than I felt comfortable with having on the short Flexi-Flips needles, and was afraid they’d go sliding off. I’m back to a 32” circular, and very happy. If the Flexi-Flips were just a bit longer, or if they came in a set of four, they would have been fine. Oh, well, they’ll be great for fingerless mitts!

I have quite a bit of knitting help here, from the helpful knitting cats.

Yadi wants to chew the cables.

Biscuit has become quite a lap cat.

Hope your Saturday is going well!

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

Summer knitting reckoning: Knit, or not?

Oh, the siren song of a new project! It’s so easy to be seduced away from the current ones, isn’t it?

I like to have two projects at any given time. One is usually a design project I’m working out, and it stays at home. The other is a simple knit that I can take to social occasions, or traveling. Usually the design project turns into the take-along knit, because that’s the kind of thing I like to design. Simple but elegant.

Right now I have five projects on my needles. That’s probably too many, so here are my reasons for not working on them…

This is the Nymphaea shawl sample that I’m knitting for our fall retreat. It’s a simple, rhythmic knit with beads every fourth row. This was great travel knitting on a trip to St. Louis last week; it’s simple enough to knit on planes, even with beads. I was planning to finish it in time to use as a promo for the retreat when registration opens August 1, but clearly it won’t be done by then.

I have a non-gradient sample of it already, so I could continue to knit this gradient version at the retreat, using it to demonstrate techniques. I made a spreadsheet to figure out how to distribute my three different sets of beads (I love spreadsheets!), so it’s all planned out. Check!

This is a shawl that I was knitting for a design proposal. It’s simple and lovely and fun to knit. I was just going to make a swatch, but it was so much fun that I didn’t want to stop knitting it. I got all the way to the bottom edging, where I need the stitch markers. Note my symmetrical marker setup. This, plus the aforementioned spreadsheet, probably tells you a lot about the way I think! This design didn’t get chosen, which means I don’t need to finish it right now. Check!

This is the beginning of a white linen top that I’m making up as I go. I want it to have a lace pattern at the hem, a split back, and otherwise be a pretty basic T shape. But honestly, I don’t know if I have the time or inclination to actually knit an entire top in fingering weight linen right now. I don’t think it will be finished for this season, so I’m declaring it a backup project…for next year. Check!

The blue/brown shawl I was knitting in Scotland? It’s in permanent time out. I didn’t like how the design was turning out, but I’ve frogged this single ply yarn twice and it is definitely looking a little ragged. I’m going to take some of those ideas and re-work them with the yarn I bought from Ginger Twist Studio in Edinburgh.

I ordered the gray to go with the blue; the mint was too exciting for me. It’s not here yet, so I don’t have to think about it for a bit. Check!

This is what I’m working on right now. It’s a fall/winter cowl in Knit Circus Ringmaster Panoramic Gradient, 150g. The color is Fig and Prosciutto. The yarn is round and bouncy and fun to knit. I was about a third of the way through when I decided it needed a little something more than what it was, so I ripped it back down and am enjoying the yarn just as much the second time. It won’t take long to finish, and it’s a great multi-tasking knit.

So really, it looks like I have ONE project that I’m actually working on. And several (Nymphaea, linen top, miscellaneous shawl) that I can work on at my leisure. See? I’m a monogamous knitter, whether intentionally or not. There are a few other design ideas knocking around in my head, too, and I’ll pick one up as my thinking project at home, while one of these other projects turns into the mindless project.

What’s on your needles? How many projects are you actively working on? Helpful knitting cats wanna know! Speaking of which…

We’ve added this little guy to our household. He’s two years old, and he’s charming. His shelter name was Gerkin, but we think he’s going to be named Yadi, for Yadier Molina, the St. Louis Cardinals catcher. We have had several baseball-themed cat names, including Mookie (Wilson) and Jess (Jesse Orosco). We adopted Yadi from Purringtons Cat Lounge, alma mater of Biscuit, Gator, and Mis Mis.

He has a tiny white spot on his chest, and a tinier one on his belly that we didn’t know about until after he came home.

Biscuit is occasionally hissing at him, but mostly getting along. This picture is from introduction day, which was Day 3 in our house. Much calmer than the introduction to Gator (son’s cat who was visiting for 2 months). Maybe she thinks Tyler is going to come take this one away, too?

Now to see if Yadi is ok with yarn. My studio door stays shut while I figure this out!

What hump? Better crescent shawl garter tab cast on

I’m back! We took a wee trip to Scotland. And Barcelona. And St. Louis! More on all of that when I get myself sorted. I did manage to visit one yarn shop while I was away, Ginger Twist Studio in Edinburgh.

Jess’ shop is tiny and packed with beautiful yarn, much of which she dyes herself. I bought only one skein, this lovely British BFL fingering; the color is Pappy’s Garden.

I wish I had bought a coordinating color, but I needed the bag and yarn to fit in my purse because we were hiking the Salisbury Crags that afternoon after a visit to the Scottish Parliament. Packing in the fun! (The bag is wrinkled from being crammed into my purse, true story.)

I took a new shawl design project on this trip. I didn’t have a lot of knitting time, but it kept me occupied on planes and trains. When I got home, I decided I didn’t like how the later stitch patterns were playing with each other. Or were not playing with each other, really.

I asked Biscuit what she thought. “To the frog pond!” she squeaked. I agreed, but not before tackling another issue that was bugging me.

My first try at this had a hump in the middle. Sometimes these block out, and at the beginning of my knitting it looked like it might.

But it seemed to look worse the further I got. Since I was going to frog it anyway, I wanted to try to avoid the hump on the next version.

This is so much better. The difference? A much longer garter tab cast on.

My first one was very short, because the numbers worked. But there were so many stitches concentrated right there at the beginning, and a short, unyielding garter tab. Hump! Even worse, when I tried to straighten it, it folded over.

Besides the longer garter tab, I added YOs between the picked up stitches along the edge of the garter tab. This serves two purposes. It adds a stitch between the picked up stitches, which gives a little more stretch. And it mimics the YOs that are going to continue along the edge of the shawl.

I’m back on track, and it’s flying along.

Do you ever feel like you need a vacation after a vacation? Catching up!

Drum roll…the winner of the Delicate Details e-book is Terri Oliver. Thanks to everyone for commenting and playing along!

Coming soon…puffins!