Category Archives: Knit

By Hand Serial: Puget Sound

It’s out today! And now I can show you my new design, Puget Sound, which is in the current issue of By Hand Serial. (All photographs from this issue by Karen DeWitz, courtesy of Andrea Hungerford.)

I put together my favorite things about Puget Sound: Sunshine and waves, seagulls, the Olympic Mountains, and a little bit of rain. I’m very pleased with the positive/negative seagulls; they are my favorite part.

Puget Sound is a half-pi shawl, a half circle that wraps you in a hug. I used Hazel Knits Entice MCN in Hoppy Blond and Splish Splash, and it is decadently glorious.

Andrea Hungerford, the creator of By Hand Serial, knit her version in blues, Twilight and Frost. I love the monochromatic shading here.

This issue of By Hand features makers in the Puget Sound area of Washington, where water meets earth meets sky. It’s a big issue with lots to love, including some of my favorite yarn makers: Hazel Knits, Spin Cycle, and YOTH. Tolt and Churchmouse Yarns and Teas are two of the featured shops. You can order this issue online, or find it at select yarn shops. I know my usual haunts Twisted and For Yarn’s Sake are carrying it here.

I love this Fern and Feather sweater by Jennifer Steingass. I hope I can squeeze in some time to knit one for me. But it’s a little busy around here. I have a design out for test knitting, a design out for tech editing, two presentations to work on, and I’m judging knit entries and teaching this weekend at Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival.

There’s still a little room left in my classes. Saturday morning’s class is the advanced version of my Tink Drop Frog class; this one features fixing mistakes in lace. You can sign up on site (pre-registration is closed), but there’s a bit of homework. If you’re interested, let me know and I can send you the homework assignment.

Sunday afternoon’s class is on Elongated Novelty Stitches; stitches that are made with extra yarn overs and other manipulations. I’ve added the honeybee stitch from my Go Tell the Bees shawl to the class. No homework! Register at check in.

OFFF also has animals in the barn to admire, classes and demonstrations, exhibits, and lots and lots of vendors to visit. Hope to see lots of fiber folk there!

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Eclipse 2017: Path of Totality

Well that was stellar! And lunar. And solar…definitely awe inspiring!

Pinhole camera made with knitting needle and paper on hand

I trekked down to Salem to view the eclipse from Willamette Valley Vineyards. They were in the path of totality; Portland was at 99%. That tiny, tiny 1% makes a big difference.

DH stayed home; he’s not as geeky about these things as I am. I wanted the sun to disappear completely. It did not disappoint.

It was so uplifting to share this awe-inspiring event with an enthusiastic group of people. So much positivity. We wrote and sang “Path of Totality” to the tune of Age of Aquarius. Fun and funny.

Of course I brought my knitting. Bag by Chicken Boots (Saremy), needle keeper by A Needle Runs Through It (Maria), bead needle by Bead Aid (Sarah), bead tin by Miss Purl (Danielle), yarn by June Pryce Fiber Arts (Cheryl), beads by Bead Biz (Jean)! It’s like another group of friends beyond the ones I was actually sitting with.

People’s phones kept going off with emergency alerts. Turn off your ringers, please! Yes, rock climbing. Check out this link for an amazing photo; it’s not mine so I don’t want to publish it here. Rock climber silhouetted by eclipsed sun at Smith Rock.

I don’t pretend to have a camera good enough to get a picture of what it really looked like; I’m leaving that to the professionals. This is what it looks like from an iPhone.

So cool to see Venus out during the day. The sun is completely eclipsed here, but the phone camera can’t catch it. It was a dark circle surrounded by intense twinkling light. It was easy to tell when totality hit; a collective gasp went up and our eclipse glasses didn’t let any light through. It was equally easy to tell when it was time to put the glasses back on. So bright! Those two minutes of totality went by all too quickly. Just a tiny sliver of sun seemed like complete daylight.

The sun was about halfway back for this picture. Hard to tell.

Traffic home was a bear. But it was worth it. Biscuit and I caught up with Game of Thrones the next day. She likes dragons; I think because they sound like her. Kind of raspy and squeaky. Bisqueak!

Did you chase the eclipse, too?

Gradient yarn, planning ahead

Next design project: A shawl with this gradient kit. With beads!

The yarn is from June Pryce Fiber Arts, 7 100 yard mini-skeins of MCN. The beads are from Bead Biz; I’ve met them several times at Madrona.

I want to use two minis as contrast to five skeins used as gradient. I thought about using the two darkest as the contrast, but I don’t think there’s enough tonal contrast between either of those and the third darkest skein. (You know this trick, right? Use the “tonal” filter on your phone camera to check for tonal contrast.)

But if I take the two lightest skeins for contrast, both of those look great across the rest of the gradient range.

If there’s enough of the darker of the two light ones, it can be contrast to all of the five gradient series, and the lightest skein can be a ruffle at the very end.

Knitting away over here, and awaiting the eclipse!

And I’ve updated my Snowflake Christmas Stocking pattern with new motifs and uploaded it to Ravelry. Christmas is just around the corner, right?

Sneak peek: Tumbling Leaves Shawl

At least that’s what I think I’m calling it. Let me know if you have a better idea!

This is a wide crescent shawl, knit from the top down with two skeins of Bumblebirch Heartwood Fingering in Hellebore and Atlantic (75/25 Superwash Merino/Nylon, 100g/463 yards each).

I love the way the blue eyelet rows squiggle, and I love, love, love the leaves.

Remember the stripe swatch? I think the one I chose (second from the top) worked out perfectly!

The pattern is off to the tech editor, and I’m looking for a few test knitters. I’m hoping I can get this out in September, which is knitting season! Of course it’s always knitting season at my house. But this last week, especially. Hot and hazy out (thanks, Canadian wildfires), so I’ve just been hiding out at home. Knitting!

How about you?

Christmas is just around the corner…

It’s August, and it’s hot. I’m thinking of winter’s chill, and big fat yarn.

pdxknitterati christmas stocking

This is my Snowflake Christmas stocking. It’s one of my earlier patterns; I first published it in 2009. But I designed this stocking way before that. My original chart says 1997 on it, charted in Excel!

It was eventually joined by stockings for the rest of our family.

I’m upgrading my Snowflake Christmas Stocking pattern to include some additional motifs. I’ll have the dancers, and these birds. And a blank-ish chart if you want to chart your own adventure.

The pattern is currently available through Ravelry for $5 USD. The upgraded pattern will be $6 USD, but if you’ve purchased the pattern before the upgrade, you’ll get the updated pattern for no extra charge. I should have it done by Friday, August 18.

I’m teaching a class with this pattern at For Yarn’s Sake in Beaverton on Sunday, November 12. We’ll turn a tiny practice heel, and learn to work simple stranded colorwork in the round. If you haven’t knit socks before, a Christmas stocking is an ideal first sock! You only have to knit one (no second sock syndrome), and it’s quick with big yarn and big needles. I wanted to have more motif options for class, so that’s what’s driving this pattern upgrade. Coming soon!

Are you dreaming of Christmas? Not yet?

A peek into my knit design process

While I was knitting my Go Tell the Bees KAL shawlette this month, I was also designing another shawl.

This is Hazel Knits Entice MCN fingering, in Splish Splash and Hoppy Blond. Two of my favorite colors in one of my favorite yarns. This yarn is soft and not splitty, and not over or under twisted. It falls absolutely straight from my needles to the ball while I’m knitting. And that bit of cashmere makes it sooooooo lovely to knit with.

I can’t show you the shawl until September, but I’m really happy with it! It took me a while to get there. When I was about 2/3 done with the first prototype, I decided that I didn’t like a couple things about it (proportion between elements and lack of simplicity for writing the pattern), so I got more yarn and started over. I didn’t want to rip the first one until I was sure the second one was a go! Gotta have a backup handy, right?

The more I design, the more I realize that what I love is a pattern that is simple but interesting to knit. Stitch patterns that are easily memorized so I’m not tied to a chart. And it has to be pretty when I’m done! I think this one is a winner on all those fronts.

I used the leftovers to swatch some stripes for the current piece I’m designing. The piece will have have lacy sections divided by a stripe of some sort. I tried a couple of my favorite elongated stitches on my first prototype, but they weren’t quite what I was looking for. Time to swatch!

I put this up on Instagram, and received some good feedback. I really love the bottom stripe, but those are bobbles in there, and I don’t want to make 60 bobbles in a row. Ever.

I liked the way the top CC stripe is set off by the MC garter stitch above and below it, but wasn’t sure it had enough gravitas to hold things together.

So I tried that heavier eyelet stripe with a garter stitch offset (new top stripe) But all that garter stitch made the eyelets look smaller. Nope!

This one is the winner. I’m using Bumblebirch’s Heartwood fingering weight. I love this yarn; it’s a joy to knit with and it is standing up well to my knit/frog/reknit design process.

These colors, Hellebore and Atlantic, are a gorgeous combination that makes my heart sing! Thanks to Bumblebirch dyer Sarah Kurth for picking them for me.

And I’ve mathed my way into a simple and elegant design. (Wish I had done the math the first time…) I knew I was on the right track with this design when I couldn’t stop smiling. Looking forward to sharing this one with you soon.

Go Tell the Bees KAL: That’s a Wrap!

And lovely wraps they are…

The Go Tell the Bees KAL has wrapped up. We had a lot of fun in the Ravelry group! Here are some of the newer FOs.

Clockwise from top left: Shawls by Cassiopia, nibbleknitter, chaos1, sciencegal, and knitacat (two!).

PNWBookGirl is currently knitting her fifth (!) Go Tell the Bees, so I think she deserves a collage of her own.

She test knit both sizes for me, knit two during the KAL, and just started one more. She’s knitting one for each of the ladies in her SCA house, the House of the Golden Bees. Very fitting!

Terriko’s rainbow is stunningly beautiful.

I finished mine, too. Thanks to Ella for modeling!

Winners have been chosen, and prizes have been sent. I still see bees everywhere…

Thanks to all who knit Go Tell the Bees with me!

Blocking is magic! As ever…

I just bound off my Go Tell the Bees shawlette, KAL version. It’s blocking in the shade of the bamboo in the backyard.

So pretty! I’m using flexible Inspinknity Ultra-Fine Blocking Wires for the top curve, and pinning out each point. I measure to make sure the points are the same length as they are paired (center two, next two out, etc). I suppose I could run a wire around the pointy edge, too, but if I’m measuring out each point, it seems like it would be redundant.

I love how quickly blocking dries outside. But precautions are necessary.

I have a piece of screen door mesh over my shawlette. Why? Once upon a time, a bird pooped on my blocking. Lesson learned.

This should be dry in a couple hours. By then, I’ll have another shawl bound off, and hope to block that this afternoon. Progress!

What’s your summer knitting?

Cut! My knitting? Grafting adventure!

I love being the boss of my knitting, even to the point of cutting it up to make it behave. Steeking had been on my bucket list for years, and I took a class from the fabulous Mary Scott Huff several years ago to force me to actually do it. As you probably know from my blog, I embraced it and ran with it, and even teach classes using my Bucket List coffee accessories pattern.

I’ve also cut off sleeves that were knit bottom up but ended up being too long. Knitting ravels down, not up, so rather than removing the sleeve from the body to shorten the top, I snipped one thread of the sleeve at the new wrist length and then picked up the freed stitches and knit a new cuff downward. Not so scary, as long as you plan the right location for the cut.

One technique I tend to avoid is grafting, or kitchener stitch. I’ve done it a few times, but don’t love it, and will usually use 3 needle bind off to duck it. So I was a little horrified when I realized there was no way out of it this week.

I had sent a project out for test knitting, not realizing there was a math error on my part. The home decor item in question came back twice as long as it was supposed to be. It was…okay, but definitely not what I intended.

I would have offered to re-knit it myself, but I’m working on another deadline right now. How could I fix it? I could think of only one way out. I suggested cutting it, frogging it to a more reasonable length, and then grafting it back together. Great, they said; can we send it to you to do it?

Uhhhh, sure…

So armed with Google and a swatch to practice on (complete with the same stitch pattern so I could plan where to place the cut and graft), I tried it out. I wasn’t sure if the stitches would be a half stitch off as they are when you’re grafting end to end. It shouldn’t be, since both pieces were knit in the same direction, but I wasn’t taking any chances. So where would you place the cut and graft?

I decided to put it at the beginning of the section before the dot pattern began, so there would be no chance for the dots to be out of register with each other. I’d replace one of the plain stockinette rows, no grafting in two colors for me!

I snipped a thread 2 rows below where I wanted the graft at the end of the project, so I could pick out the stitches one at a time to get them back on the needle. I was a bit shocked to find that I could tink out that last row, even though it was in the wrong direction; I was raveling up! (I’ll have to think about that later; I didn’t think that was possible.)

The other half of the work was easy to frog, raveling down to remove excess fabric.

I found this video of grafting in the round from KnitPurlHunter to be very helpful with the beginning and end of my grafting round. In case you ever need it.

And I found that using previously blocked yarn makes it really easy to adjust the tension of your grafting, because the yarn is pre-kinked into the right size and shape for the stitches.

I’m sorry I don’t have a picture of before and after. Even if I did, I couldn’t show it to you yet. But the project turned out fine, and I’ll show you this fall!

What’s the biggest knitting mistake you’ve had to fix? This was the most time-crunchy scary, but I should let you know: That sweater pictured above? That’s verison 2. Version 1 was way too big (swatching, heh), so I took out all the seams, frogged the entire thing, and then re-knit it the next year (2008). Yes, I’m the BOSS of my knitting! And I’ve learned a lot since then.

Go Tell the Bees KAL progress

The Go Tell the Bees KAL is halfway done, and FO’s are rolling in!

Photo by chainstitcher on Ravelry

Photo by BlossomWorks on Ravelry

Photo by BlueberryHill on Ravelry

Photo by knitcrazycpa on Ravelry

Photo by maybaby24 on Ravelry

Photo by knitacat on Ravelry

It’s not too late to join the KAL; it runs through July 10. Prize drawings for participants every week, and a special drawing for finishers at the end.

It’s also not too late to snag the discount for newsletter subscribers on the pattern, and on Fierce Fibers’ gradient yarn. Both of those discounts run through the end of June. (Hurry!) If you’d like to subscribe to the PDXKnitterati newsletter, let me know in the comments. It’s not the same as subscribing to this blog.

I’m making progress on my KAL shawl, too. I spent a very pleasant few hours in the air with a free movie (thanks, Alaska Airlines!), prosecco, and knitting. Because it was the 20th anniversary of the first Harry Potter book, I chose Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, and was amused that there was a Dumbledore knitting reference in it! ⚡️

I’m finished with my short rows, so it’s on to the top edging.

My favorite view flying is Mt. Hood and the Cascade range. Here are the views outbound last Saturday

And inbound last night

I love the blue sky and the peaks of Hood, Jefferson, and the Sisters, but the texture of the clouds with Hood and Jefferson is even more interesting.

We had a great weekend celebrating mom-in-law’s birthday, and now I’m back home knitting, knitting, knitting. Designing and deadlines!

How was your weekend?