Category Archives: Knit

Crafty Moms 15.0, plus FlexiFlips needle review

This past weekend was the 15th annual Crafty Moms weekend at the Oregon Coast, whoa. Fifteen years of friendship and fun.

Fifteen years of beautiful sunsets and walks on the beach, and projects we may or may not remember.

I’m putting the rest of the pretty scenic pictures at the end of the post, so I can talk knitting at the beginning.

I started Anna on her first brioche project. Petite Brioche, of course! Funny how her colors match her clothes. Everyone has a palette, right?

I finished my green brioche design project (no pix yet) and went back to my Nymphaea Shawl. This one is in Bumblebirch Heartwood, Atlantic and Hellebore. The colors might seem familiar to you; I used them in my Tumbling Leaves Shawl, too. It’s a very different look when you feature the blue instead of the green.

(Love this view)

Unfortunately, I forgot to bring the rest of the beads, so I didn’t get very far. Oops.

The blue/brown yarn is Malabrigo Mechita in Cielo y Tierra (Sky and Earth). Perfect name.

I sketched and charted an idea for this yarn combo, but it wasn’t cooperating in the swatch, so I set that aside, too.

I’ve been wanting a pair of worsted weight socks, and I’ve been wanting to try Skacel’s new FlexiFlips needles. They come in a set of 3; these are US5. They’re like dpns except they’re flexible in the middle. One end has an Addi Rocket tip, and the other has an Addi Turbo tip, so you can choose your desired pointiness. I like the pointier of the two tips.

The idea is that you hold the work on 2 needles, like using 2 circulars or magic loop. The third needle is the working needle. This means you have one fewer needle than when working on dpns, and no flappy needles as in 2 circulars, and no loopy ends as in magic loop. I don’t mind dpns, but one fewer interruption in the knitting is nice. And I don’t mind magic loop, but that gets a little dicey with brioche and the YOs.

Verdict: I like them! I cruised through most of a cuff down sock, pausing only to puzzle out how I wanted to arrange the heel/gusset stitches. What I’m not loving is that this blue yarn is leaving dye all over my hands. I look like a Smurf.

The dye washes off my hands pretty easily, but now that I’m home the project is in time out. According to my dyer friends, I should treat the yarn with a good bath and some citric acid and heat.┬áIt’s a pretty big skein; I could:

  • Finish knitting the socks and then treat them
  • abandon this sock and just reskein and treat the rest of the yarn, hoping there’s enough for a pair
  • or frog the sock and reskein and treat all of it, then knit

What would you do? I’m afraid to wash some but not all of the yarn; there’s a good chance I’d end up with two different colors.

I also tried a small brioche sample with the FlexiFlips, and I liked them for that, too. Mmmm, brioche. I don’t know that I’d want to buy a set in every size; they’re $24/set. Maybe one more set in a reasonable sock size? This is breaking my 5 year sock knitting hiatus!

Now that I’m home, I’m back to knitting Nymphaea. This is the shawl for the Fall Shawl Retreat with me and Laurinda Reddig in November. I want to have a sample in semi-solids; the original is in gradient mini skeins. I may want one in a continuous gradient, too. It’s a pretty simple and zen knit!

As promised, more pictures below.

What’s wrong with this picture?

When you don't have an iron, you make do. #justlikethepioneers

A post shared by Michele Lee Bernstein (@pdxknitterati) on

We didn’t have an iron

Sunset

Gorgeous Monday morning

Nature signs her handiwork with a flourish

Leftovers for Monday morning breakfast. Here’s to friends!

Catching up! RCYC, Lantern Moon Retreat

Still catching up…March began with a trunk show at For Yarn’s Sake to kick off the Rose City Yarn Crawl.

I took two whole pictures. But I had fun! It’s a group trunk show at For Yarn’s Sake with Knitted Wit (Lorajean Kelley), Shannon Squire, and Debbi Stone, and it’s become a tradition, with bubbles.

I didn’t go yarn crawling; instead I packed my bags to head out for the Lantern Moon retreat in Sisters, Oregon on Saturday.

It snowed a little at the beginning of the week, just enough to be pretty but not a problem.

Is showing up at an event wearing the same sweater the same as showing up in the same gown? Nah, it’s way more fun. This is Virginia in her Stopover, and me in mine. (Pattern by Mary Jane Mucklestone.)

I taught a version of my Tink Drop Frog: Lace Edition to two lovely groups of knitters, and also gave a blocking lesson. Susan B. Anderson taught a shawl design class, and a sock class.

Artist Kathy Deggendorfer (left) was our speaker on Monday evening. She told us about her process when painting with watercolors (color first, then lines come after), and how she uses those images on other products or in other media (clay tiles, for example). She opened her studio for us the next day and showed us what she was working on (shhh, it’s a secret). Karin purchased this original watercolor of chickadees, and I went home with a chickadee tile.

Wednesday I had the opportunity to join the retreat students for a block printing class with Valori Wells at the Stitchin’ Post.

I had chickadees on my mind, so I traced a photo off my phone and made a chickadee block for printing.

I was really happy with how it turned out. This was my fourth experience with block printing, but my first with fabric instead of paper. And each time is a little better as I figure out positive/negative space.

The gift baskets were amazing. Here’s a sampling of what was in them, but not everything!

This soap is a work of art, and smells divine.

We had afternoons off to relax (hello, spa!). On Wednesday afternoon I went on my favorite walk in the woods with my friend Becky, who moved to Sisters with her family 2 years ago. Becky is one of my Pie Birds; I love singing with her and Claudia.

Looks like cake

Madrone

Scars of last summer’s Milli fire

Putting this here so I know what to call it next time I’m trying to explain how to find it!

It was a fabulous retreat. If a small (about 30 people), luxurious knit-focused retreat with lots of time to relax is what you’re looking for, you should definitely check this out next year. Thanks to Lantern Moon for inviting me to teach!

Madrona wrap up, fall shawl retreat coming

It’s been a wildly knitterly month, and I’m just now coming up for air. Madrona Fiber Arts Festival, Rose City Yarn Crawl, Lantern Moon Retreat, and a side trip to Skamania in between, whew!

Back to the beginning: Madrona!

Lovely as usual. I took one class and taught three.

Above, my swatch from Tuck, Twist, and Roll with Candace Eisner Strick. Lots of fun bits to add to dress up your knitting. I especially liked the twisted cast on, a little different than the one I’ve used before.

I taught a class with my Athena Entrelac Cowl, and mini classes on sassy novelty stitches and blocking. I love designing knits that are relaxing and zen to knit, with just enough excitement to keep your interest. Dressing up knits is fun!

But Madrona is more than classes, much as I love them. I saw glass artist Carol Milne in the Rotunda, and she was finger knitting with wax loops, the first step in her knitted glass pieces. I saw how she first wrapped the wax around a knitting needle to form the loops, then looped them together to form knitted fabric. From there it’s cast in plaster, wax melted, glass poured, and then broken out. It’s quite a process, but the resulting work is so beautiful.

I was really looking forward to picking up my new project bag from ChickenBootsUSA. This size, the Double Double, is great for a 2 cake project, and I love the Blue Kitty fabric. The clear bottom means I can tell which project is in the bag (I’m a big bag swapper). The interior pocket keeps my notions separate from the knitting. Perfect. This is my fourth, but probably not last, Chicken Boots bag.

I got to visit my Nymphaea Shawl at the Bead Biz booth. I designed this for Bead Biz last year. Laurinda Reddig designed a crochet Nymphaea at the same time.

Side note: Laurinda and I are teaming up for a Nymphaea Fall Retreat, Nov. 9-11 in the Columbia River Gorge. Come knit or crochet your own beaded shawl with us! Details at this link.

Back to Madrona, also very striking in the market: Tammy Burke’s scarf using planned pooling. What a cool thing to do with a variegated yarn! Briefly, you make a swatch to see how many stitches you get from each color in your repeat, and then plug the numbers into this planned pooling website. Play around with it and figure out how many stitches to cast on to make your colors pool into an interesting pattern. Tammy’s scarf is crocheted, but you can also do this with knitting. We’ve been having an interesting discussion via Instagram. I love the connections made at Madrona, and how they carry through during the year.

Someday (hopefully next year) I want to take a class from Galina Khmeleva, Orenburg Lace master. She is both funny and wise.

Kate Larson was one of our speakers, and she shared her journey of art, fiber, and farming. She shared some of her Border Leicester locks with me; they just want to jump into being yarn!

We had a grand time! I love dressing for Madrona, too. Having the right things to wear with your knits is important. And no, I’m not taller than Franklin Habit, but I was trying to capture his legs. Extra legs. (He brought them to show off some new leggings he designed for Skacel.) I do love his sartorial sensibility, too.

OK, back to my knitting. More blogging soon. Have you been to any knitting events lately?

Log cabin pick up lines, Rose City Yarn Crawl

No, it’s not about dating in the pioneer days! (Hey baby, wanna go for a buggy ride?)

I taught a log cabin knitting class last month, and I wanted to revisit how I pick up my stitches along the selvage edges before class. I had recently read a post describing how to pick up and knit these stitches, and it wasn’t how I was doing it.

This new-to-me way involves picking up in the edge stitches with a separate needle (slide it through the last horizontal clam shell), and then knitting them off. My edge stitches of the previous square are stretched out and distorted, making them look straight instead of like the purl bump clamshells that we know and love. See it on the red edge stitches? And the white pickup area where I picked up the new green block is also pulling on the diagonal.

So I did a little experiment.

Section 1 is picked up in the edge stitches with a knitting needle, then knit through the front loops. It pulls on the diagonal.

Section 2 is picked up in the edge stitches with a knitting needle, then knit through the back loops. Not so diagonal, but still distorts the stitch.

Section 3 is picked up and knit under the single strand between garter bumps.

Section 4 is picked up and knit under two strands between garter bumps. This leaves a bigger ridge on the back, but it matches the bigger ridges of the pickups along the bound off edges. You know to pick up in the front half of the bound off edge, right? If you pick up in the back half, the front half of that bound off stitch leaves a line on the front of your work.

Result: I still like picking up under the thread between garter bumps, whether under one or two strands.

Is this incredibly fussy of me? Yes. Would you notice it if I hadn’t told you? Maybe. But sometimes fussing makes me happy.

Your mileage may vary; part of it depends on how tightly or loosely you knit. I recommend experimenting to see what looks best with the way *you* knit. Remember, as long as you get the result you want, you’re doing it right!

Here are my finished Log Cabin Mitts, this time in Noro Taiyo Sport. They’re adorable. The pattern is free from Karen Templer of Fringe Association. I made them for the #logalong on Instagram.

And Rose City Yarn Crawl is upon us! Click the link for details on ALL the fun. It runs Thursday through Sunday. I’m having a group trunk show with fellow local designers Shannon Squire and Debbi Stone, and dyer Lorajean Kelley (Knitted Wit) at For Yarn’s Sake on Thursday (tomorrow!) from 10 am to 4 pm. Come by and say hi! I love seeing what you’ve knit (I know you’ll be wearing it!) and I’ll have my newest designs with me for you to squish.

You know there will be some brioche. I taught my first Petite Brioche class last week, and everyone was well on their way by the end of class. Team Brioche is growing!

Wishing you a very yarny weekend, whether you’re yarn crawling, or not!

New patterns: Brioche Hat Trick!

Well all that brioche knitting had to turn into something!

These are the three hat patterns in the Brioche Hat Trick e-book, available through Ravelry as a pdf download. I went for a botanical theme, so they’re Clematis Seed (the swirly seed pod), Golden Chain (Laburnum tree), and Heliotrope (heliotropism is the directional growth of a plant towards sunlight, and the leaves on this hat are seeking the sun.) Clematis Seed is the simplest of the three; it’s plain brioche rib until you get to the swirly top. Golden Chain and Heliotrope are great next steps with a bit of simple increasing and decreasing to form the stitch patterns.

I wasn’t planning to write up the cowls, but I was halfway there already. The Brioche Hat Trick e-book has patterns for three hats and two cowls. The patterns are $6 each, or the whole e-book of five patterns for $16.

If it’s just one stitch pattern you’re in love with, the Heliotrope Hat and Cowl patterns are available as a set for $9, and the Golden Chain Hat and Cowl patterns are also available as a set for the same price.

These are all knit with heavy worsted/Aran weight yarn. I used Malabrigo Worsted for everything except the Heliotrope Cowl; that piece is made with Malabrigo Rios and Wisdom Yarns Poems Silk Multi. I’ve been wearing it constantly since it came off my needles last week.

As part of this pattern release, I made a video tutorial! There’s a link to it in each of the patterns, and I’ve also updated my free pattern Petite Brioche to include the link, too.

I’m not sure I’m ready to return to lacy fingering weight shawls. Perhaps a fingering weight brioche detour is in my future! But not until after Madrona this weekend. Back to prepping for classes!

Re-introducing the Puget Sound Shawl

The Puget Sound Shawl is a two color half-pi (semi-circular) shawl, knit flat. It features sunshine and rain, seagulls, the Olympic Mountains, and waves lapping the shore. The magic of slipped stitches creates two-color motifs in the sunshine and seagull sections, but only one color is worked in each row.

This was my shawl for By Hand Serial’s Look Book #4, Puget Sound. Publication rights have returned to me, and I’m pleased to offer this pattern on Ravelry. The pattern page is here.

If you’re a newsletter subscriber, check your email next week for a special offer. I’m nearly ready to publish the brioche hat patterns, and want to put it all into one newsletter on Monday.

My favorite part of this shawl? The seagulls. You may remember that I used them again in my Cannon Beach cowl and mitts.

It’s the motif that keeps on giving! Happy Friday!

At loose ends seeking new project, and a book winner

First of all: Drumroll! The winner of the Japanese Shetland Lace Knitting book is…carrotmusic, aka Karen. Congratulations!

I just bound off my last (for now) brioche project. It’s the cowl I started before I took the deep dive into the brioche hats. (Hats are currently being test knit, and the pictures coming in are lovely.)

I’m looking forward to wearing this cowl. Although Biscuit thinks that it belongs to her.

There *is* precedent for cats and cowls! (Mookie in my Sakura cowl, 2016.)

My needles are currently empty, and I’m not sure what to knit next. I need to get back to my beaded 2 color version of my Nymphaea shawl (shown here in a lovely purple gradient from June Pryce Fiber Arts, available from Bead Biz.)

I’m knitting it in green and blue, the same colors as in my Tumbling Leaves, but with Atlantic as the main color and Hellebore as the contrast color. Yes, I loved these colors in Bumblebirch’s Heartwood so much that I’m using them again! But I don’t need this shawl until Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival in September when the pattern returns to me, so it’s not urgent.

I was hoping to do a Snowy Woods Log Cabin blanket for the #fringeandfriendslogalong, but that was derailed by my brioche obsession. It’s late in the logalong game, but I’m tempted to knit a pair of Karen Templer’s Log Cabin Mitts (free pattern, just published on her Fringe Association site). After knitting the log cabin blocks, there’s a mitered square thumb, which looks cool. I haven’t done a log cabin block with a mitered square in it yet, so that would be exciting. I just looked in my stash, and this may be do-able. Either 3 shades of Knit Picks Wool of the Andes, or a single color shifting skein of Noro Taiyo (which isn’t very soft…).

Or should I be restrained and just knit some log cabin washcloths from the Mason-Dixon Knitting Field Guide #4? They’ve elaborated on their pick up method a little bit since the blankets in their original book, which is where I learned to log cabin. I need to see if I like the new way better. Only one way to find out!

What’s on your needles? Inspire me!

Re-introducing Athena

I’m teaching my Athena Entrelac Cowl at Madrona Fiber Arts Festival in February. I love entrelac; it makes a knitter feel ever so clever! It’s even easier when you have a slow color changing yarn to make the color choices for you. And the work just kind of pulls you along; you want to knit just one more square, and then another, and another.

The original Athena is all in the round. I’ve taught this class a lot, and it’s easier to teach entrelac in the round. But learning to knit entrelac flat is good, too. It just requires two more units, the left and right edge triangles. Too much at the beginning of a class, but it’s not hard.

So I’ve just updated my Athena pattern with an optional split ending; there’s just a little smidge of those left and right edge triangles to try after getting comfortable with the left and right leaning rectangles.

If you’ve already purchased Athena through Ravelry, you can download the update there. If Athena is new to you, I’d like to entice you to try entrelac with a 10% discount on the pattern through February 5. No coupon code needed.

If you’re a newsletter subscriber, there will be a 20% discount code in your next newsletter. You can subscribe to the newsletter here.

In other news, the brioche hat patterns have gone out to test knitters; I’m looking forward to feedback on those. I did re-work the top of the plain ribbed hat. Twice. It wasn’t pretty enough the first two times. Now I’m in LOVE.

I’m teaching a beginning brioche class at Twisted on Thursday, February 22. I’m using my free Petite Brioche pattern as the basis. If you’re local and want a kick start to your brioche knitting, come join us!

What’s on your knitting bucket list? Entrelac? Brioche? Steeks? Do tell!

Two steps forward at the coast, one step back at home

I finished this hat on Saturday evening, but changed my mind about the crown shaping. About to start that again.

In other news, happy birthday to DH! I decided to get cases for his autographed baseballs. They’ve been rolling around in a drawer for 30 years, so it’s about time we did something with them. Top to bottom: 1984 Portland Beavers (AAA farm team for the Phillies back then, and DH’s first job in baseball); 1986 World Champion NY Mets (DH’s first year working in Major League Baseball); 1968 St. Louis Cardinals (boyhood home team).

My Saturday stranded colorwork class was full, and my Sunday class was cancelled, so I ran away to the coast overnight.

Sasquatch lives! The ocean was rough, and the wind was intense, but the coast always clears my mind and brings me joy.

What’s bringing you joy this winter? I’ll have more joy when these hats are done!

January purge, book giveaway

I just looked up, and January is half over. Whoa!

I’m doing a deep toss of my studio office. Lots of dumping and recycling going on, and I’ve moved more of my knitting books in, and more of my kiddos’ books out. I now have three shelves of knitting books. The top three shelves are mine, and the middle shelf of the three is the powerhouse; it has all my reference books.

I also found this lone mitten. Once upon a time, I made 8 pairs of these, with Bugs Bunny buttons, for eldest son’s third birthday. Pretty swank party favor! I knit these flat and seamed them, because I didn’t know how to knit in the round yet.

January feels like it’s time to tidy up! My studio is also the guest room, so it will be much nicer for guests to not be drowning in my yarn and papers.

I found duplicates of several books, so I want to have a giveaway. First, I have this book, Shetland Lace Knitting, in Japanese and in English (funny story here). I bought the book at Kinokuniya and decided I wanted to read the rest of the text. I found out that the original book is in English, so I bought that, too.

If you can work from charts, this book has lovely stitch patterns and edgings that are accessible to you. I’m having a drawing to give the Japanese copy away. Leave a comment below and let me know you’re interested! USA readers only this time, please. (I just sent a book to Canada last week, and it cost more than the book itself to send it, ouch.) I’ll pick a winner on January 31.

If you’re a newsletter subscriber, you can also reply to the upcoming newsletter for a second chance to win. (Newsletter coming out in a day or two.) Not a subscriber? You can subscribe here.

Last fun thing: I worked as an extra last summer on TNT’s The Librarians. Season 4, Episode 8 is now out there, and I can say that I saw myself very briefly!

(ETA: Video unavailable. Glad I got the screen shot while I could.)

The original call was for knitters, but they eventually changed the knitters into quilters, and I ended up being a townsperson, and not a needleworker at all! It was an interesting experience.

If you don’t blink, you can see me walking by in my Garland Shawl! So many hours for a tiny bit of screen time.

The Purple Hat ad we did at Twisted last year is airing again locally. That was much more fun to film, and had actual knitting in it. Here’s the backstory on that, if you missed it.

Back to my knitting!