Category Archives: Knit

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.

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!

Just Enough Lace, and ebook giveaway

Introducing Just Enough Lace, my shawl in the new Delicate Details book from Knit Picks.

Just Enough Lace is an asymmetric bias triangle which begins at the small end and grows to a sweeping finish. It’s knit flat and the body of the shawl and the edging are knit simultaneously. No separately knit on border here! I designed it with four 50g balls of Gloss Fingering (70/30 merino/silk), but really, you can make it as big or as small as you like.

The simple leaf lace edging and eyelet stripe in the stockinette stitch body of the shawl are just enough lace to keep the knitting engaging, but not so much as to overwhelm a new lace knitter or an experienced multi-tasker.

Beads are optional on the leafy lace edging, but I really like them for sparkle and a bit of weight for drape.

I had my beaded purple sample at the Knit Picks Knit Pick-nic on Saturday for a sneak peek. Several people asked about how the beads are added, and I’m happy to say they’re bead as you go. No pre-stringing here! A lovely thing about this shawl is that it’s just enough beads, too. You never have more than two in any given row, so it’s a nice project for a first time beader.

Edge detail and original submission swatch

You can add beads with a very small crochet hook, but I prefer using a Bead Aid. I split the yarn much less often this way. Here’s a blog post from 2014 about putting beads in your knitting.

The Delicate Details book is full of lace accessories that are appropriate for newer lace knitters, or lace knitters that like a relaxed knitting experience. You can purchase the book or e-book from Knit Picks here, and you can also purchase the patterns individually. Here’s a Ravelry link to all the designs.

I’m giving away a copy of the Delicate Details e-book. To enter, leave a comment here on the blog by June 28. If you’d like an extra chance to win, subscribe to my newsletter and reply there, too. (Subscription link here. If you’re already subscribed, you should receive the newsletter today.)

Good luck!

And a reminder that my summer knitting pattern sale runs through June 20; 15% off with coupon code SUMMER. For newsletter subscribers, the discount is 25% off; that code will be in your newsletter. All patterns and ebooks which are available from me through my Ravelry shop are eligible; there is no limit but the code is good for a single use only.

Two more bits of eye candy: First off, finished hats from my Petite Brioche class at Stash in Corvallis. I love it when you send me pictures of your FOs. Thanks to Peggy, Cassandra, and Deb!

Second, some yarn in my stash that is calling my name, rather loudly! I hope what it’s telling me is what it really wants to be.

Happy knitting!

Summer knitting extravaganza

Do you knit year round? I do. My needles have been very busy! I designed two cowls in May, which I can’t share just yet, but I love them both. They’re simple, and the yarn makes them sing, or vice versa. No peeking!

I also knit a cute top from the Mason Dixon Field Guide, Transparency. This is the Shakerag Top, designed by Amy Christoffers using Jade Sapphire Sylph, a delicious blend of cashmere and linen. Despite my deep love for both of those fibers, I decided to knit mine out of stash…because I could!

I used Sincere Sheep’s Agleam, a 50/50 merino/tencel blend in Bare, and Sincere Sheep’s Shimma, which is laceweight mohair and silk, in St. Barts. You can see my notes on my Ravelry page here. I loved knitting this; it’s mostly very mindless stockinette in the round, which is great for multi-tasking and traveling!

I’m currently knitting my Nymphaea shawl with this lovely gradient from Fierce Fibers; the color is Surf and Sand, with Serenity as the contrast band. The brown beads have less pop against the teal than I was anticipating, but I think I like them. I could also start over and use the green beads on this part of the gradient, which would be even less pop, but more my style. What do you think? I may have to swatch that…

I have three sets of beads for this project and I’m not sure where the color transitions will happen yet, so I don’t think this is going to be my on-the-go knitting. I can handle beading on the go, but not if I don’t know which ones I’ll need when. That makes it less portable. I’m working on designing something a little simpler for anytime knitting.

This is Malabrigo Mechita in Cielo y Tierra (sky and earth), and Tosh Merino Light in Antique Lace. They’re both fingering weight singles. I’ve mapped out my anticipated progression with an Excel spreadsheet; I hope it’s as pretty as it is in my head! There’s a part of me that is really happy when the repeating elements all fit into an elegant framework. Nerdy geeky fun!

I also started a Brioche Pastiche hat while I was teaching this class down at Stash at the beginning of the month. I’m not in a hurry to finish it; I’m using it as a demo in subsequent classes (August 4 at Twisted, September 22 at Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival). But Peggy from class finished hers in less than a week; she’s a superstar!

What are you knitting this summer? Or winter, if you’re down under! Simple, or complicated?

To inspire your summer knitting, I’m having a pattern sale through June 20: 15% off with coupon code SUMMER. For newsletter subscribers, the discount will be 25% off; coupon code will be in your newsletter which comes out tomorrow, I hope! (Click here to subscribe if you haven’t already). All patterns and ebooks which are available from me through my Ravelry shop are eligible; there is no limit but the code is good for a single time use only.

Maybe some nice Over the Rainbow Cuffs for June?

Happy knitting!

Introducing: Brioche Pastiche

It’s been done for a while, and I finally, finally took pictures for the pattern. All it took was a tripod, a camera, and an iPad to operate the camera via remote control. Whew! I could have asked DH to take pictures, but it’s hard to describe exactly what I’m looking for.

“Show the hat. Don’t show the compost bin behind me. And don’t make me look weird. What do I mean by weird? Nevermind.”

This is Brioche Pastiche. I love it. This is the hat I designed specifically for brioche classes. Pastiche means a mash-up, usually as an homage. I combined the plain ribbing of Clematis Seed (easiest to learn, so that’s where we start), the leafy goodness of Heliotrope (introducing one increase and two decreases), and a kissing cousin of Clematis Seed’s spiraling crown (four sections instead of six).

I’m teaching a brioche hat class at Stash Local in Corvallis on June 2, and this is the pattern I’m using. If you’d like to come, register at Stash; here’s the link. I’m also teaching my Tink Drop Frog: Fixing Lace and Cable mistakes. Fun!

The Brioche Pastiche pattern is available on Ravelry for $6. (Newsletter subscribers get 20% off all new patterns.) It’s also part of my Brioche Hat Trick e-book. If you buy the collection, you’ll have four fun brioche hat patterns, and two cowl patterns. If you already have the collection, Brioche Pastiche will show up as an update in your set.

I’m looking forward to heading down the highway to Stash next month. Sonia has a lovely shop, and her Stash Enhancers are a great gang to hang out with!

Lace, blocking, SSK

I always say that blocking is magic. Especially with lace. But even then, I’m always astonished at the transformation.

Here’s my Nymphaea shawl, right off the needles, no blocking, no weaving in the ends. It’s pretty small, 48 inches across the top eyelet edge, 20 inches at the wide end, not including the lace edging in either measurement.

I wet blocked it; it pinned out to be 60 inches across the top eyelet edge, and 30 inches across the wide end, just above the lace edging. Where it was once thick and chunky, it’s now ethereally and diaphanously lovely. It’s almost as big as the sample I knit last fall with the mini skein gradient kit, just nine repeats instead of ten.

Zigzags 4 evah

Lacy border, this time with beads

I knit this in Bumblebirch Heartwood, 75/25 superwash merino/nylon. The colors are Atlantic and Hellebore, the same colors in my Tumbling Leaves, but reversed. I love it, and I love the beads, too. Depending on how you look at them, they’re blue, or green. Perfect.

I’m going to knit one more of these, a sample with a Fierce Fibers 650 yard continuous gradient, and a semisolid contrast color. This is in preparation for our Fall Shawl Retreat in November. Registration opens August 1, and the price will include yarn and beads for a knit or crochet version of Nymphaea.

While knitting this shawl, I started thinking about my personal rules for SSK. When I first learned SSK, I did them conventionally, slipping both stitches as if to knit. The result is a left leaning decrease, exactly the same as SKP: Slip one (knitwise), knit one, pass slip stitch over. The passed stitch could sometimes be stretched out and unsightly; Barbara Walker invented the SSK as an improvement on the SKP.

Eventually, Elizabeth Zimmermann figured out that slipping the second stitch purlwise instead of knitwise made this decrease lie flatter, and mirror the right leaning K2tog better. It’s less zigzaggy. I learned this from her daughter Meg Swansen in a class oh so long ago, and adopted it as my go-to SSK. For me, it’s quicker to execute (don’t have to pull left needle out of the second slipped stitch before ktbl).

But! When I was designing my Meander Cowl, I noticed that this SSK looked wide and bumpy when it met up with a YO on its left side. It’s because the right leg of the stitch shows a bit more prominently behind the left leaning stitch on top. Subtle, yes, but there.

So, my personal SSK rule: Slip the second stitch as if to purl when working stockinette. But if there’s a YO to the left of the SSK, slip the second stitch as if to knit. Try them both, if you like. You’re the boss of your knitting; as long as you get the result you want, you’re doing it right! Here’s a video on the whole thing.

How do you SSK?

36 hours in Ellensburg

One catch up post!

I spent 36 hours in Ellensburg, WA to celebrate a friend’s birthday the weekend before Knot Another Fiber Festival. It was quick but we packed in a lot of fun!

Saturday was LYS Day. I wasn’t near my LYS, but Ellensburg has a very nice shop, Yarn Folk. Ann Miner’s shop has lots of high quality yarns and is full of inspiring shop samples. I didn’t need any yarn (do I ever?), but I needed a shawl pin so I picked up this leaf pin by One of a Kind Buttons. (More about the book in a bit.)

There was a sheep to shawl exhibit by Thorp Mill at the rodeo grounds, and I met this sweet lamb, as well as some spinners and weavers.

In the afternoon Vickie and I took a beyond basics block printing class at Gallery One. Every time I play with block printing, it gets a little better. So much fun!

This particular class was about chine collé (like collage, adding contrast papers in the printing) and puzzle blocks (cutting your carved block into pieces so you can put it back together while using different colors for the different parts). In three hours we sketched and carved blocks, and tried these two new techniques.

Pictured above, top row: Carved block (it’s been cut and put back together), original test print. Bottom row: Chine collé bird print, and puzzle block print. I’m looking forward to playing more with this block, or even re-doing it now that I know what I want it to look like.

In the evening we went to the college rodeo. Why yes, this was my first rodeo! It seemed about time my boots went to one.

Waiting

Birds on a wire

Matched set

I came home Sunday to teach a class, and picked up the new Mason Dixon Field Guide, Transparency.

I love the look of this Shakerag Top. (Thanks, Biscuit, for helping with the picture.) It’s knit with one or two strands of yarn to create the striping, but the yarn is all the same. This particular yarn is Jade Sapphire Sylph, a blend of cashmere and linen. I love linen and I love cashmere. It’s a little spendy, so I have to decide if I’m really going to make it. Also, deadlines! We shall see.

Knit on!

Knot Another Fiber Festival!

A little recap here. I spent the weekend at Knot Another Fiber Festival. Sarah Keller of Knot Another Hat (LYS in Hood River, OR) puts on her fall Columbia Gorge Fiber Festival in The Dalles, and now this new spring festival at the Oregon Garden in Silverton, OR. She does a great job.

My collection of events: The market preview/happy hour on Friday, an all day brioche class with Andrea Mowry, and the banquet on Saturday evening with the always delightful Clara Parkes. The garden itself was pretty awesome too, even in the rain.

My biggest mission this weekend: To get over my aversion to flat brioche knitting. I love, love, love brioche in the round, but I had a problem remembering what happens at the selvage edges of flat brioche. It was way simpler than I was making it out to be. That CC yarn? “Let it go!” Wherever it is. Or in my songbook: “Leave It There!” Hmmmm. There may be lyrics coming out of this.

Andrea Mowry is a fabulous teacher: Patient, kind, thorough. She makes good use of technology, too; her projected diagrams were excellent. And she has a good sense of humor.

When I noted how three-dimensional the increases and decreases made the sample piece, we had a good time dreaming up the bustier we could design. Too funny.

I saw friends old and new in the market.

I love a wall of Hazel Knits! Their color palette is very pleasing to my eye.

Black Trillium‘s gradient minis never cease to thrill me. And she had a lovely green sample of my Twin Leaf Crescent in her booth.

Melanie showed me the result of her new dyeing method, Cloud Layers, which places the dye just on the surface. The back of the strand may not be the same color as the front of the strand. This is variegated and speckled and all those things. I’d love to pair this with a semi-solid, because that’s how I roll.

Despondent Dyes’ tagline made me giggle. And her color names are equally humorous. I fell in love with one of Kathy’s mini-skein packs, so it will have to turn into something wonderful because it followed me home. In honor of the weekend, I think it will need to be brioche.

This is Lydia of Abundant Earth Fibers. She mills and spins the loveliest yarn, very natural. But she also sells Tinctures, packets for dyeing that natural yarn. My friend Lisa and I both bought yarn, and we are going to have a dyeing day soon. Color? That lovely blue green on the top right corner.

I spent a lot of time in the Fierce Fibers booth. Not to visit my Go Tell the Bees (this one knit by Tami in the Titan colorway), but to pick colors for this fall’s Nymphaea Shawl retreat with Laurinda Reddig (Recrochetions).

We picked beads from Bead Biz, too.

I think I’m knitting my sample shawl in this combination:

Surf and Sand gradient, accent color is Serenity, beads are Copper Lined Diamond, Spring Mix, and Metallic Green-Lined. The yarn is Fierce Fibers Abyss, a merino/silk blend. Lovely! Now to decide if I want my beads to blend, or contrast, with the yarn.

It was a lovely weekend, and my head is full of new ideas and techniques. Let’s go knit!

And don’t forget: If you’d like to enter to win a copy of the 9 Lives pattern collection, leave a comment on the previous post. I’ll draw a winner at the end of this week.