Category Archives: Knit

Katie’s Kep, encore

I had my first Katie’s Kep class on Sunday for For Yarn’s Sake, and we had a great time. We started off with a chat about size and gauge. I think that’s especially important with this project, which is prescribed to be 22” around. You can see how much smaller my second kep will be, and you can also see how lovely the fabric is after blocking. Blocking is magic, both for this yarn and for stranded colorwork in general.

Even though I’m reducing the circumference, the top will still have this lovely six pointed star. Math!

The hat pattern is free from Shetland Wool Week if you’d like to make your own. Also, I’ve added a third stranded colorwork Zoom class through For Yarn’s Sake on February 28 for this project. Register here, if you’d like to start your kep with me and a small group of knitters. We’ll talk about sizing, gauge, how to manage your yarns, yarn color dominance, and more! If you need yarn, For Yarn’s Sake also has kits for this project in 5 colorways. I found that very helpful!

Shetland Wool Week also has patterns for a cowl and fingerless gloves that coordinate with this hat; you can purchase them here.

I find the small color pattern repeats in each round to be very soothing, meditative knitting. Not a bad thing in these turbulent times. So far, 2021 is on a pace to outrun 2020. Yikes.

Katie’s Kep: FO! and VKL class winner

I just finished knitting Katie’s Kep, the free Shetland Wool Week pattern from 2020.

The crown is definitely the star of the show. Absolutely gorgeous. Both of these pictures are pre-blocking.

I didn’t knit to gauge, but I’m not willing to knit a hat on smaller than US3 needles. The hat is supposed to be 22” but mine is 23” instead, and 9” tall. I don’t swatch for hats. I go by Meg Swansen’s maxim that the hat will fit *someone*! My first hat is a great big gauge swatch.

I’m knitting a second hat, with one fewer repeat of the body stitch pattern. My kit from For Yarn’s Sake has enough of all the CC yarn for a second hat, if I buy an extra ball of the main color, which I did. (There are 5 colorways to choose from.)

I’ve adjusted my cast on, too. I know how to get the crown to work out, based on my reduced number of stitches. Math tells me that my new hat will measure 19”, which gives me some negative ease to help keep it on my head. I might try to remove a few stitches to make it a bit shorter…or not. When it stretches out to accomodate my 22.5” head, that will also make it shorter. Fabric has to come from somewhere! My hats are generally 8” tall.

I’m teaching a Zoom class for For Yarn’s Sake this Sunday, and again later in the month, based on this pattern. (Classes are full. Should we schedule a third class?) We’ll start the class with a discussion on gauge! We’ll also talk about swatching, or not, and ways to adjust the size of the hat. I’m really looking forward to it!

In other class news, I’ve picked a winner for a free class with me at January Vogue Knitting Live. It’s Lauri T! I’ll email her and let her know that she’ll be in my YO? YO! Fun and Fancy Elongated Stitches class. I’m pretty excited about that one, too. I just re-vamped the handout for class, adding more fun stitches. We won’t get through them all in 2 hours, but the handout is a good reference and jumping off point. Congratulations, Lauri!

What new knitting skill do you want to learn in 2021?

One thing leads to another…

Leafy Origami test knitter Debbie Braden told me that she was wearing her small cowl like a pony tail hat. Hmmm, I thought. It would be super easy to close up the top and make a hat. So I did.

But I didn’t love it. It looked a bit bucket-like, and it was a little too big. It felt like it wanted to slide off my head. I turned up the bottom, and lost a good deal of visible leafiness. Humbug! Fixable? Challenge accepted.

If I removed a 24 stitch repeat, it would be too small. So I reduced the size of the pattern repeat to 20 stitches to make a smaller leaf, which removed 16 stitches overall. It was still going to be a little small, so I went up a needle size to change the gauge. Close enough!

Of course, removing 4 stitches meant removing 4 rounds per leaf, which meant the hat would be too short. So I added one more vertical repeat. More leaves! I had to finesse a bit at the beginning of the hat to end up with approximately the number of rounds I wanted, and it worked. It was a balancing act, and it was fun to puzzle it out.

The fit is definitely better. I think the added leaves make it easier to see them on your head, even if you turn up the brim.

So what began as a simple addition of a closing to the original Leafy Origami cowl pattern ended up being an entire re-chart/re-write. I finished it on the last day of 2020. It goes to the tech editor this week to kick off 2021. I’m looking for a couple more test knitters who are up for some challenging brioche!

I looked back at my Ravelry project page and see that I finished 28 items in 2020. Many of them were multiples for design projects and KALs: 3 Half the Knit Sky shawls, 3 Minerva cowls, 2 Deep End hats, 2 Deep End cowls. And 3 Love Note sweaters! I definitely knit a lot last year.

This year? I have several design ideas percolating in my head; we’ll see what comes of them. And I’m still knitting away on DH’s sweater, and my Katie’s Kep. Did I tell you I started that one over? My stitches were so much more even after I changed to a new needle, I decided that it would be worth it to start again. Here’s to new beginnings in 2021! Happy new year!

Multiple WIPs, oh noes!

I usually have one or two projects at a time; that’s plenty for me. I work better when I’m a bit obsessive. But my two current projects are both stranded colorwork (Dreyma and Katie’s Kep), and that means paying attention to a chart, all the time. Sometimes that’s not possible.

So here we are with brioche again, a perfect multi-tasker project for me. I decided I hadn’t had enough of this color combo yet; Malabrigo Rios in Volcan and Azul Profundo. I gave two friends the previous cowls in this color combo, and I decided I liked it so much I wanted to use it again.

Debbie Braden, one of my Leafy Origami Cowl test knitters, said she was wearing the small cowl as a hat with her ponytail coming out the top. Hmmm. I think I can actually make this close up on top, gracefully. I’ve gone so far as to chart it, and now I have to see if it works in real life. If not, I’ll rip off the top, and finish as a cowl for Mom-in-law. It’s a winner, either way.

Here’s another non-charted project from the weekend. I made a little bow with my other 32 ft strand of fairy lights. US 9 needles, again. I made a stitch holder for the live stitches, using a piece of guitar string. After that I realized that I probably have a stitch holder somewhere that would have worked! Oh well, it’s all good.

I’ve got a lot of food gifts to make in the next few days, which will be a good changeup from knitting. My forearms are still reminding me that I knit too long on Dreyma last week, so it still looks like this:

DH wore the hat over the weekend, so I guess we’ve done our gifts early! (Mine is the board in the leafy hat-to-be picture.)

Are you a mulit-WIP or monogamous knitter? Are you scrambling this week, or completely chill?

Dreaming of Dreyma

I was putting away my blocking the other night, so I checked my gauge on the newly blocked Gauge Hat. It did relax just a bit, and where I had 20.5 st and 26 rounds/4 inches, I now have 20 st and 26 rounds/4 inches. I can work with that! The row gauge is spot on. The prescribed stitch gauge is 19 st/4 inches, so I’m choosing a size (43.75”) that will give me the size I want (41.6” at my gauge).

And since I did the math for the sweater, I accidentally cast on. I wasn’t planning to start yet, but you know how it goes. I used the German twisted/Old Norwegian cast on, for a little extra heft (but still flexible) at the neckline. (Little plug for my HiyaHiya interchangeables: I now have this on a combination of the 40” cable plus the 16” cable. It grew too big for the flat lay picture before I realized it! The yoke includes body and sleeve stitches, which makes it bigger than 40 inches.)

So here’s hoping my gauge swatch hat didn’t lie to me! But I can always adjust the body circumference up or down 8 stitches, after the yoke is done. (8 stitches because of the pattern that goes before the bottom ribbing is a multiple of 8; you can see it on the hat.)

This is a reminder: Put down your knitting and stretch! I knit a lot on this last night (just one more, one more, one more round of patterning, so seductive) and realized that my forearms were feeling a bit achy due to tendinitis. Something about the way I hold this particular project, I guess. Knitting with fairy lights bothered my elbow after a time. Kay Gardiner of Modern Daily Knitting shares her thoughts, via shoulder injury, in a post this week, too. It’s going around. Listen to your body, so you don’t get an injury that takes a long time to heal!

I’m about to start the last contrast color on the yoke. Not right now, though. Break time!

Gauge hat, free recipe pattern

What’s this? It looks like a hat, and it is. But more importantly, it’s a gauge swatch. Double dipping here!

Dreyma cover page in KnitCompanion

I want to knit a yoked sweater for DH. I’m planning on Dreyma by Jennifer Steingass. I’ll change the neckline to ribbing rather than the rolled one. Maybe I’ll even learn a tubular cast on. Maybe. There are some short rows on the back, after the yoke patterning, so I’m set for that after the short row classes I took this weekend!

I chose this yarn for DH, Berroco Vintage Worsted, because it’s machine washable, 57% acrylic/40%wool/8%nylon. I want him to get maximum use out of it, without waiting for me to hand wash it on a regular basis. Know your gift recipient! This is slightly lighter in weight than the specified yarn, so my gauge is going to be a little off. I can adjust for that. A hat is a great way to make a gauge swatch. (Yes, I know that Vintage comes in a bulky weight, but I think worsted is more versatile for indoor wear.) And yes, I bought an extra skein of yarn for swatching, and just in case I run out of yarn. Better to have too much than too little for a sweater.

Of course, a gauge swatch for a sweater should be washed and blocked. Treat your swatch the way you plan to treat your FO! Bisquee is helping with the blocking train here.

Hats are pretty simple. Here’s a recipe. Measure your head. You want your hat to measure 1-2“ less than that. Negative ease keeps your hat from sliding over your eyes. Take your estimated gauge (I’m relying on the ballband guess of 5 sts/inch on a US 7. Multiply that by the number of inches you want (20” in this case). That gives me a cast on of 100 sts. I wanted to add this colorwork pattern from Dreyma, which has a repeat of 8 sts, so I cast on 104 instead of 100 (13 x 8 = 104). That would make the hat between 20 and 21”, which is fine. I could have used 96 instead, which would make the hat 19.5”. Same same. I’m using a 16” circular needle.

I like a K2P2 ribbing on the edge, which means my cast on should be a multiple of 4. 96, 100, and 104 are all fine for that. Use a needle 2 sizes smaller than the needle for the body of the hat (US 5 in this case). Knit K2P2 ribbing to desired height. Change to larger needles and knit stockinette until piece measures 5.5” from the cast on (I tried 6.5” first, based on the common wisdom that a hat is as tall as your hand before you start the crown shaping, but it was too tall. 5.5” is plenty.)

Start crown decreases. I like a crown divided into 8 wedges. Ooh, look, my cast on was a multiple of 8! Perfect. (If you don’t have a multiple of 8, decrease some stitches on the first decrease round so that you do.)

I have 8 sections of 13 sts each. I’ll decrease with a k2tog for the last 2 sts of each section.

Rnd 1: *K11, k2tog, place marker, rep from * to end. (You’re just knitting the last 2 stitches of each wedge together to decrease.)

Rnd 2: Knit all sts.

Rnd 3: *K10, k2 tog, slip marker, rep from * to end.

Rnd 4: Knit all sts.

Keep decreasing every other round, until 8 sts remain. Move work to dpns or magic loop or 2 circulars when it gets too tight on the circular needle. (Don’t knit the final plain round after the last decreases. Pointy.) Cut yarn, use a yarn needle and run yarn tail through all sts, twice. Drop yarn to inside of hat, cinch up tight, sew in ends. Done!

When the hat is dry, I’ll check my gauge to see if it changed after washing and blocking. It’s the post-blocking gauge that decides the ultimate measurements of the sweater. But you also have to know the pre-blocking gauge, which you’re going to match while knitting. Measure twice, knit once! Apologies to This Old House.

If you’d like an easy to print pdf of the Gauge Hat pattern, click here.

I don’t get this picky about gauge for cowls and hats; they’ll fit someone. But a sweater is a much bigger commitment of time and yarn, so it’s important to get it right. Ask me how I know.

I knit this sweater for DH, twice! Once in 2006, then completely frogged and reknit the next year. I had made a tiny gauge swatch the first time, and of course it lied to me. The finished sweater was HUGE. The entire sweater served as a giant gauge swatch, and the second knit was a success.

Need to knit a quick gift? There’s still time to knit a hat!

December VKL: That’s a wrap!

I had a whirlwind of classes with Virtual Vogue Knitting Live, both as a teacher and as a student. I took the morning after to knit in bed with the cats.

They didn’t seem to mind.

I taught four classes, and took three more. My first class was Exploring the Japanese Knitting Stitch Bible with Gayle Roehm. I’ve used Japanese stitch dictionaries for years, but it’s so great that Gayle has translated some of Hitomi Shida’s books into English (no more guessing, or avoiding the stitches I couldn’t figure out). And learning about the Nihon Vogue Knitting Dictionary app with stitch definitions? Priceless. But it’s free. Look for Nihon Vogue in the app store, and choose the one with knitting needles.

Knit Companion on my iPad was a perfect way to see and enlarge the class handout, so I didn’t have to squint or juggle pieces of paper. You can open any PDF in Knit Companion, and the basic app is free for iOS and Android. I use it for knitting patterns all the time.

My second class was Short Rows with Bristol Ivy. She’s very detail oriented and nerdy about symmetry, which is perfect for me. We stacked 5 kinds of short rows: No action (holes!), wrap and turn, yarn over, Japanese slipped (with locking stitch markers), and German short rows. I liked the German short rows the best. And this is a sign that I’ve watched too many episodes of CSI: When I hear GSR I think “gunshot residue” before I think “German short rows.” Ha!

I took a second class on short rows with Ana Campos. I wanted to master these silly things that I’ve been avoiding! Bottom to top: Yarn over short rows, wrap and turn short rows, German short rows. All look pretty tidy from the front.

From the back it’s another story. You can definitely see the yarn overs and wraps on the bottom two. The German short rows are tidy, front and back. They take a little adapting when substituting them in a pattern, but that’s manageable. If both sides of the knitting are going to be visible, this is the way to go. If not? I’d be perfectly happy with wrap and turn.

I finished the weekend by teaching a Log Cabin Knitting class. I had a couple students that I know in real life, so that made it even more fun! Now it’s on to Hanukkah and Christmas and New Year’s projects. I have more fairy lights to knit, some baking to do, and calendar and cards to order from Shutterfly. Just keep swimming!

Knits happening downtown

Christmas tree at Pioneer Courthouse Square, Portland

It was sunny and cold today, so we took our favorite bridge walk along the Willamette River, with a side trip to Pioneer Courthouse Square. I brought a couple hats with me, and wore my Dissent Cowl.

Golden Chain hat, pattern by me

We stopped by my favorite otters along the way.

Golden Chain and Hunter Hammersen’s Presage (I test knit this summer)

This statue is called “Allow Me.” He usually has an umbrella in his right hand, but it had been damaged, so the city took it off for repairs. I felt he needed something over the umbrella handle sticking out under his hand. And then I left these two hats for someone who needs them. I hope they will help keep someone warm. Umbrella Man has a history with hand knits; crafters used to photo bomb the downtown statues for the holidays. He had a very nice sweater one year, but it was stolen. So I decided to leave hats that are meant to be taken. They even have notes pinned inside, offering warmth and well wishes.

They did at least provide some amusement. Or bemusement. Or both.

I love that DH is willing to go along with my plans
Ours was not the only selfie!
Oh, deer! Dissent Cowl, pattern by Carissa Browning
Mayor Vera Katz; the Dissent Cowl suits her

I took a couple more pictures on the way back home. And then I taught Brioche Increases and Decreases for Virtual Vogue Knitting Live.

Today’s class

A very fun day. One more class tomorrow, Log Cabin knitting, and that’s it for December! I have a ton of things to get done for the rest of Hanukkah and Christmas. Onward…

Introducing: Leafy Origami Cowl

large cowl

The Leafy Origami Cowl is a 2-color brioche cowl, knit in the round from the bottom up. It features a stitch pattern that falls into mountain and valley folds, just like origami. The result is a delightfully three dimensional fabric. It’s knit with 2 colors of worsted weight yarn; I used Malabrigo Rios.

small cowl

The beginning of the round moves forward and backward on several rounds to keep the center vein of the first leaf as the first stitch of the round, making this a challenging brioche pattern. The results are worth it! I’ve made several video tutorials to guide you through the increases, decreases, and moving the markers. The stitch pattern is adapted from the Under Dutch Skies stitch pattern in Nancy Marchant’s book, Knitting Fresh Brioche.

A better view of all those leaves

This pattern is available through Ravelry and through Payhip for 10% off through December 16, 2020 with coupon code FOLDS. Newsletter subscribers, see your special offer in your inbox.

large cowl

Thanks to tech editor Meaghan Schmaltz, and test knitters Ann Berg, Debbie Braden, Elizabeth Forester, and Wendy Sakai.

small cowl, with colors reversed

I hope you enjoy knitting this as much as I did! Four cowls later, I’m still smitten. You know I love leaves, and you know I love brioche. This is a perfect combo for me.

This is my last pattern release for the year. 2020 has been strange, but ultimately productive. Hunkering down and knitting has had some benefits. I hope you’re making the best of 2020, too. Carry on…

On the needles: Katie’s Kep

I’m knitting away on Katie’s Kep, a free pattern from Shetland Wool Week. Anne Lindquist at For Yarn’s Sake put together 5 different color kits, based on the ones in the pattern. This made it really easy for me to choose my colors without agonizing over what goes with what. Thanks, Anne!

I’ll be teaching a stranded colorwork Zoom class with this pattern in January for For Yarn’s Sake, twice! Both classes are sold out already. Should we add another one?

I’ve been struggling a bit with this project. It’s not a pattern problem; the pattern is well written and easy to follow. The charts are great. The problem is my needle; the stitches keep getting caught on the join between the cable and the needle of this 16” ebony circular. Yesterday I decided I’d had enough, so I walked up to Close Knit and purchased a new needle. I wanted a wooden needle, hoping to avoid gauge changes when swapping. The old needle is ebony, and the new needle is from the Knitter’s Pride Ginger line. The smooth join makes knitting this project much more enjoyable!

While I was swapping needles, I took the opportunity to measure for gauge and try on the hat while the stitches had room to spread out. It’s definitely big enough for my biggish head! The hat is supposed to measure 56 cm, which Alexa says is 22 inches. And that’s pretty much what I have. (I love that I can ask Alexa to do my conversions for me, so I don’t have to look it up and do the math.)

You might wonder how I got so far without checking gauge. I mostly don’t do gauge swatches for hats, knowing that I don’t usually wear hats, and that the hat is a sample and will fit *someone*. By the time you cast on enough stitches to knit a gauge swatch, you may as well have jumped into the hat project, if you’re willing to rip if it’s way off. And so I do. (Hint number one from class.)

Also, stranded colorwork always looks lumpy and bumpy before it’s blocked. Fear not; things will calm down. Clearly, I haven’t washed and blocked my swatch (for looks nor for gauge), since I didn’t knit one. I’m fine with that. Again, you have to assess your own risk tolerance. (Hint number two from class!)

I may order one more ball of the background color; the pattern doesn’t use much of the patterning color, and with one more ball of background I think I could get a second hat. Eventually. When I catch up with myself! (The kits have 2 balls of the background color, but you won’t use all of the second ball.)

Have you knit stranded colorwork? Did you enjoy it? Have you *cut* your stranded colorwork?

Oh! I’m also teaching a class on cutting your first steek! Homework is knitting a simple coffee coaster, in the round. We reinforce the steek and cut and finish during class. February 21 through For Yarn’s Sake. Cutting a coaster is much less fraught than cutting your first steek on a sweater you’ve knit for months!

Log Cabin blocks

And! I’m also teaching Log Cabin knitting on February 7 for For Yarn’s Sake. Easy-peasy garter stitch knitting.

Okay, back to my knitting. Actually, I have to take one more picture, and then I can publish my Leafy Origami pattern. So many (figurative) hats to wear: Photographer, knitter, designer, publisher, teacher… At least they don’t mess up my hair. Onward!