Category Archives: Knit

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.

Advertisements

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?

Cast on tricks, fixing mistakes, and classes at OFFF

The Go Tell the Bees KAL is underway, and we’re having a grand time chatting over in the Ravelry thread. It’s not too late to join the KAL; we’re knitting at our own pace and just having fun. Some of the tips that have come out of the cast on thread are particularly helpful, so I thought I’d share them here.

I chose the cable cast on for the beginning of this project, which starts at the lower edge. Why not use a long tail cast on? Because the cast on is huge, 350-400 stitches. I’d hate to run out of yarn just before my goal.

Why not use the two ended long tail cast on? Because I’m using a gradient/ombre ball of yarn, which means that the other end is a different color. I thought it might be pretty that way, but I tried it and it wasn’t at all pretty.

Also, the first row after a long tail cast on is the purl/bumpy side, which is part of why it wasn’t pretty, for this particular pattern. The first row after a cable cast on is the knit/smooth side, which is what I wanted.

The tip for any long cast on is to use markers to help you count. You can place them after every 20, or 50, or whatever number of stitches, and then not have to count all the stitches at once after you’re done. Much better than long counting, and coming up with a different number several times.

If you think ahead while you’re casting on, you can place the markers at your stitch repeats. Figure out how many stitches are outside the repeat and add them to the first section, then place the following markers to note your repeats.

A very common error is either missing or dropping a YO. You don’t notice until you’re on the next right side row, when you don’t have enough stitches between markers to work your repeat. I posted this in the last post, but I think it bears repeating. Here’s how to fix it:

I once took a class in fixing mistakes, and that teacher said you should count on the WS rows to make sure you have the right number and kind of stitches. Me, I’d rather relax on those WS rows and deal with mistakes on the next RS row. Both ways work, but I use those WS rows for reading or chatting!

I’m going to be teaching two of my favorite classes at Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival in September. This year’s festival runs from Friday Sept. 22 (classes only on Friday) through Sunday Sept. 24. The theme at OFFF this year is lace, and you know I love that!

I’m teaching Tink Drop Frog, Fixing Mistakes: Lace Edition on Saturday Sept. 23 from 9:30 to 12:30. We’ll be learning ways to fix lace mistakes when you’ve noticed them in the same row, a row or two later, or even later than that! This is an empowering class; you are really the boss of your knitting when you can use these techniques.

I’m also teaching Be Manipulative, Elongated Novelty Stitches on Sunday Sept. 24 from 1:30 to 4:30. The honeybee stitch from Go Tell the Bees is just one of the stitches we’ll be practicing. If you like the lacy look of these stitches, come learn them with me!

Rescuing a dropped YO at WWKIP Day

It was a jam packed weekend! I was a guest designer at the Knit Picks WWKIP Day Knit Pick-nic, where I worked on my Go Tell the Bees KAL.

I love how my mannequin Lacey has my yarn ball tucked into her decolletage. I’m knitting with Knit Picks Stroll Gradient in Ice Sculpture. The project is well under way. While I was knitting, I noticed an error because I was one stitch short in one of my repeats. Usually this happens because I dropped a YO while purling back on the wrong side row. I don’t count stitches on the WS rows; this is my time to chat or watch tv or read. I find the mistake on the next right side row.

Do you have to rip/tink back two rows to fix this? NO WAY. I’d never get anything done. I made a video of this easy fix. It was a chilly day here in PDX, so I’m wearing my Beanstalk/Trellis Vines mitts sample, trying to get warm.

Hope this helps!

The rest of the weekend was a whirlwind. We saw Ira Glass (This American Life) at the Schnitz, I had my Go Tell the Bees KAL party at Pearl Fiber Arts, and I sang with my harmony singing class at a benefit for Artichoke Community Music. Whew!

How was your weekend? Did you knit in public?

WWKIP Day, KAL party, non-yarn chicken

It’s shaping up to be a knit-packed weekend here in Portland, Oregon! Knit Picks is having a WWKIP (Worldwide Knit in Public) Day event this Saturday, June 10. I’ll be one of the guest designers there; come say hi if you’re local! It’s from 1 to 3 p.m. at Overlook Park. Refreshments, door prizes, and yarn sampling!

I’ll be knitting with this Knit Picks Stroll Gradient cake in Ice Sculpture; it’s my Go Tell the Bees KAL knitting. (Click for Ravelry link)

And I’m having a a Go Tell the Bees KAL party at Pearl Fiber Arts on Sunday June 11 from 1 to 3. Fierce Fibers dyer StaceyKok will be there with some of her lovely gradient cakes, too. Again, if you’re local, come knit with me! (RSVP to Cindy at the shop; space is limited.)

And here’s a recipe that I’d like to share; we had this on Memorial Day. It’s a family favorite. (Hey, look, chicken that’s not YARN CHICKEN on the blog!)

Vietnamese Chicken Wings or Drums

Ingredients

Marinade
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup nuoc mam (Vietnamese fish sauce) I use 3 Crabs brand. Red Boat is also good, and it’s gluten-free if that’s an issue.
1 cup white vinegar
3/4 cup rice vinegar
2 heaping tablespoons minced garlic
1 rounded tablespoon red pepper flakes

1 large flat of chicken wings (about 20 wings), cut into 3 sections, discard tips, or 1 flat drumsticks (about 16)
2 tsp cornstarch, combined with 2 tsp cold water
1/2 bunch cilantro

In a quart-size jar with tight-fitting lid, combine marinade ingredients. Seal and shake until sugar is dissolved.

Marinate wings/drums in sauce about 4 hours in refrigerator.

Grill wings/drums on medium-low temp to brown and cook through, turning every 5 minutes. Drumsticks take about 25-30 minutes. I’ve never used wings, so you’re on your own for timing. They’re traditional, though.

While grilling, put about half the remaining marinade into a sauce pan and bring to boil.

Add cornstarch/cold water mix to thicken a bit, I used about 2 teaspoons of corn starch.

Chop up fresh cilantro.

When wings/drums are done, put in large bowl, pour in some thickened glaze and stir. Arrange on platter and garnish with cilantro.

Enjoy!

Introducing: Go Tell the Bees, pattern and KAL

And we’re live! My Go Tell the Bees pattern is now available through Ravelry. (If you’re a newsletter subscriber, don’t forget to use your coupon code for 20% off. If you’re not a subscriber and want to be, let me know in the comments.) This shawl was inspired by the title of the upcoming book in the Outlander series, “Go Tell the Bees That I Am Gone.” I’m not sure who’s gone, but the title is highly evocative.

This crescent shawl begins at the lower edge and features lacy honeycombs and bees. This is the 645 yard shawl version above.

And this is the smaller 430 yard version. You’ll definitely want at least 430 yards; I used nearly every scrumptious bit of mine.

The pattern has been tech edited and both sizes have been test knit. We’re having a KAL beginning June 11; you can sign up for the KAL in my Ravelry group here. I hope you’ll knit along with me! I’m having fun picking prizes for it already.

If you’d like to use the same yarn I did, you can order Renai in many colors from Fierce Fibers. This is a lovely single ply fingering weight yarn. Stacey is offering it at 10% off through June 30, 2017 with coupon code MICHELEBEE10.

I’ve been very impressed with the color and non-kinkiness of Stacey’s gradient yarns, so I asked her about her process. Here’s what she had to say:

I started looking at the various decisions a dyer needs to make in order to create a good quality gradient. The obvious requirements were that the color change can’t be abrupt, there can’t be white spots and there can’t be any kinkiness to the yarn. Solving these problems really fired up my inner engineer and after months of development I started releasing a small set of gradients in the fall of 2016. I dug deep and bought the best equipment I could afford so I can make my own knitted blanks. This means I can make any yarn into a gradient and I’m not limited to blanks from a manufacturer. I can make my blanks to any yardage, any gauge and any width I choose (which if you can believe will affect the “fade” of your gradient).

Getting rid of the kink took considerable work. Frogging the blanks immediately while wet is a whole other set of possible failure modes that had to be solved. I also discovered that after some time, no matter what you do, certain yarns just have too much memory and can’t be straightened without herculean effort. Anyone who also spins knows there’s just a point where the yarn you’ve made, can’t be undone. So believe it or not, my blanks have a “fresh by” date!

Here’s Saigon Cinnamon just after dyeing, before drying and being wound into a cake. I thoroughly enjoyed knitting with Stacey’s yarn for these shawls.

Let’s knit!

Busy as a bee

Buzz! I’m watching my test knitters’ projects develop on the Go Tell The Bees projects page on Ravelry, and planning for a fun KAL. Pattern coming June 1, KAL begins June 11.

I found some cute bee stitch markers that will make a sweet prize.

I’m working on a design to coordinate with a crochet friend, and Biscuit is marginally impressed. She helped with the math.

I’m dreaming of a shawl in blue and yellow yarns. Which blue? Which yellow? I don’t know yet. What do you think?

And after changing my mind several times on how this combo will play out, I think I have a plan.

I’ll just be over here in my corner with lots of graph paper!

And in the middle of all that, I spent the weekend out at Edgefield for my friends’ wedding. No wedding pix; I was hopping busy that day! But I was blessed to sing with my beloved Pie Birds during and after the wedding. So much fun.

Note the red boots and newly finished second Red Zephyr Shawl!

We made good use of the soaking pool, and my MDK tote.

Wine tasting on the balcony. Cheers!