Category Archives: Knit

Enabling your inner knitter

Looking around the blog universe, Facebook, and Instagram, it’s clear that I’m not the only one who feels euphoric about September knitting. Social media is full of posts about new cast ons. I’m here to enable you! I love teaching people to be the boss of their knitting. I’ve filled out my teaching schedule at Twisted and For Yarn’s Sake here locally; you can see my classes on my teaching page here.

pdxknitterati braided wristlets

I’m also looking forward to teaching at Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival on Saturday, September 24. We’re making braided wristlets, with several kinds of braids worked in, as well as lessons on color and yarn dominance, and managing your yarn for stranded knitting. Class description is here; “out of stock” just means that pre-registration is over. You can sign up on-site at OFFF; class starts at 9:30 a.m. Come a little early if you want to pick up yarn from Knitted Wit for this project; she’ll have these colors kitted up for you.

And I’m really excited to be teaching at the Sheeper than Therapy retreat in Fresno, CA, at the end of the month. We have a full slate of fun classes for the weekend: Log Cabin Squares, Braided Wristlets, the Tilt Shift Wrap, and Photography with iPphone/iPad. Looking forward to it!

All in all, September is a knitting whirlwind. I love it! What’s on your needles? Are you going to OFFF?

On your mark, get set, September!

happy birthday

I love September. It’s my birthday and wedding anniversary month. Lots of good celebrations are ongoing.

September is also the beginning of knitting season. I knit year round, but somehow September knitting feels more special. And I’ve been quite inspired this past couple weeks, finishing two shawls and charting out two more. The two finished shawls are variations on a theme. I noted that the bind off was too tight on the first of these in a previous post, so I had to tink the entire edge after the shawl was dry, and re-knit the bind off. I still need to re-block the shawl.

frogged bind off

I want to share my favorite elastic bind off with you; this bind off makes your edge as stretchy as the rest of your knitting.

Elastic Bind-off
K2. * Insert left needle into fronts of these 2 sts from left to right and knit them off together through the back loops (like making an SSK). One st bound off. K1; repeat from * until one stitch remains on right needle. Cut yarn and fasten off.

I’ve already used this on my second shawl, and blocking went much better! Tight bind offs haven’t been an issue for me previously, but the new-to-me construction of these two shawls requires a really stretchy finished edge. As I’ve said elsewhere, I make the mistakes so you don’t have to.

The next two shawls use another new-to-me construction. I’m almost done swatching the first chart, and I’m in love. I’m not quite sure how I want to publish these four pieces yet, which is why you haven’t really seen them. The two finished ones are out on a design submission, and the two planned ones will be out on another submission. If they aren’t chosen I’ll self-publish them in October, either individually or as an e-book collection, maybe? What do you think? I’m looking forward to sharing them with you no matter how I do it!

Biscuit BellaTrix

To distract you in the meantime, here is a picture of Biscuit/Bisquee/BellaTrix with something polka dotty on her nose. Litter, maybe?

Knit on!

Do you listen to that little voice?

The one that says, “That bind off may be a little tight.” Or, “I don’t think that bump is going to block out.” Or whatever.

That little voice knows best. Sometimes It takes a while for me to pay attention to it. A lot of times I don’t listen because it often pops up when I’m nearing the end of a project, second-guessing myself.

frogged bind off

I should have listened about the bind off. It was too tight, and it really showed when I was blocking my garter stitch project. I tinked the bind off after the shawl dried, all 470 or so stitches. Ouch. Now I have to re-block the whole thing to get the edging right. But it will be gorgeous.

not quite it

And recently, I frogged this.

airplane knitting

Airplane knitting, and a knitter across the aisle! I had worked on it all the way to St. Louis and back earlier this month, and the more it grew, the less I liked it. That hump at the center neck was becoming more and more pronounced, and it was never going to block out nicely. I listened to the little voice, but I should have listened much sooner. Oh, well. All frogged, and working up nicely in a different design. Or at least I think it is.

This is pretty much my process. It starts with an idea, and I plan it out. Start knitting, see what I do or don’t like, and adjust as I go. Trial and error. I make the mistakes so you don’t have to!

Does that little voice speak to you? Do you listen?

Garter stitch mania

I’ve knit a lot of garter stitch during the past week. 800 yards of fingering weight yarn is a lot of knitting! I’ve really enjoyed it.

garter mania

Of course, there was that moment when I was 80% done, and I thought, “But what if I do it a different way?” So there will eventually be another version, a variation on a theme. I think I’ll like them both. I’ll let you know when I get closer!

Biscuit and her nerf dart

This little minx is feeling much better this week. Thanks for all your good thoughts. She’s still not 100%, but she has plenty of joie de vivre at 85%. I have now ordered sturdier new fireplace screens and hidden all the toilet paper.

She’s the smartest cat we’ve ever had. But definitely not a snuggly lap cat. Oh, and I think we’ve finally figured out her name. Again. Biscuit. Pronounced “BiskwEE” because it’s French. Really.

Garter stitch as worry beads

purple garter crescent

I’m working out a new design idea, and it’s fairly mindless. Garter stitch makes a great worry bead. I love these two colors together; they’re from Lorajean at Knitted Wit. The variegated is Rose City (I think it was a special for the Rose City Yarn Crawl?) and the purple may be Her Majesty (label long gone, if I ever had one).

Rows and rows of garter stitch, so soothing as I wait by the phone.

gray BellaTrix

I was startled to see that BellaTrix was going gray last week. Her brilliant white fur was changing color. Apparently she got into our bedroom fireplace (screens are not enough barrier), and spread it around when she tried to groom herself. This made her sick, so she has been to the vet several times this week.

BellaTrix lamp

Although she wasn’t feeling well, she was still pretty active and chipper at times, but not eating. Yesterday she had an x-ray. No blockage. But her liver is only 20% of normal size. She’s back at the vet today for more tests, and I’m worried.

BellaTrix nerf dart

Please send good thoughts her way. Meanwhile, I’ll keep knitting.

purple garter st

Introducing Tridacna Cowls and Necklace, KAL?

Tridacna? It’s a clam. It’s an inspiration!

tridacna cowl pdxknitterati

The scalloped edges of the elongated stitches in the Tridacna cowls and necklace mimic the fluted edges of the Tridacna clam’s shell. This cowl can be knit as a long infinity loop, a short cozy cowl, or a simple necklace. The longer cowl features yarn specially dyed by Hand Maiden Fine Yarn for A Good Yarn in Sarasota, Florida, in colors inspired by the Tridacna clam. The short cowl and necklace are shown knit in two colors. Knitter’s choice! The pattern is written for DK weight yarn. Silk enhances the drape of these pieces.

tridacna cowl pdxknitterati

The long cowl can be worn in a variety of ways: Long, doubled, keyhole style.

tridacna necklace pdxknitterati

Not ready to knit an entire cowl? The necklace is a great introduction to this fun elongated stitch. There’s a link to a video in the pattern, too, if you need help with the stitch.

This pattern is available for $6 via pdf download through Ravelry. Pattern page is here. Use coupon code CLAM for 20% off through August 10, 2016. Do you want to do a KAL beginning August 20? Let me know through blog comment, Facebook, Instagram, or Ravelry.

tridacna clam

This is the photo that inspired the yarn that inspired the cowls. Murray Post took this underwater photograph of a Tridacna clam in Fiji. He’s the husband of Susan Post, the owner of A Good Yarn in Sarasota Florida. The Posts asked hand Maiden Fine Yarn to create a custom colorway, Clam, based on this photo. When I saw the photo and the yarn, I knew exactly what the yarn wanted to be.

Murray says:
“I took this picture is of a Tridacna, or giant clam in Fiji. They are quite beautiful, with a fleshy mantle that extends out of its shell. The small black dots around the rim of the mantle are primitive eyes, that sense light and shadow. As you approach, they retract their mantles and close their shell, though once they’re any size, the shell can’t close all the way. Tridacna means 3 bites, and they were once farmed and consumed only by the village chiefs. The largest I’ve seen was over 5 feet wide. This guy is bit larger than a football.”

Thank you to the Posts for the beautiful yarn and inspiration!

Larger photos are on my PDXKnitterati Tridacna pattern page, here.

Braided Wristlet class at OFFF in September

pdxknitterati braided wristlets

August already?! My thoughts are turning toward fall. I’m looking forward to the 20th annual Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival in September. The theme this year is braids and bands, so I’m teaching my Braided Wristlets class on Saturday, September 24. I designed this pattern to be a workshop in herringbone and other braids, two color stranded knitting, and color dominance, all in a manageable little package for your wrist. Come knit with me! Registration for this class is here.

OFFF is always a big part of my September. Classes, shopping, and visiting the animals in the barn…heaven!

Shawl shapes, Bellatrix, Lacey

I’m playing along with the 5 Shawls, 5 Days challenge. Each day, we knit a mini shawl to explore the different shapings. It’s not too late to join, I think.

Of course, I can’t just follow directions. I have to play with them; I’m a designer!

winged triangle

The first day’s shape is the top down triangle shawl. I’ve knit this shape before, and if my yardage is limited, I like to knit the winged triangle (longer ends via additional increases on the WS rows). This way the shawl grows wider faster than the traditional triangle shawl, and is shallower. Great for not pointing directly at your butt, and it also gives you enough width to get a nice wrap around your neck or shoulders before running out of your single skein of precious luxury yarn.

The second day’s shape is the 3/4 shawl. It’s three triangles instead of the usual two on a traditional triangle shawl. I don’t love this shape, so I didn’t knit it. But many years ago I did a frankenstein version of this shape, with the extended ends of the winged triangle on the outer two triangles.

failure

It was a big fail (my fault, completely). Here’s a picture so you can laugh, and here’s a link to the blog post I did at the time, Big Cup o’Fail. Don’t worry; it got better. I frogged the whole thing and ended up designing the Zen Rain Shawlette.

zen rain shawlette

This would be a winged triangle, but with a center panel to automatically add some width and avoid a pointed center. See how much you can play with shawl shapes?

The third day’s shawl shape is a crescent. I have designed several crescent shaped shawls, but they’ve all been from the bottom up.

crescent shawl shape

I like it! It’s a lot simpler than short rowing from the bottom up. I’m using this particular swatch to play around with striping, and I want to play with an edging, too, so it’s still on the needles.

Two more shapes coming. I’ll keep you posted.

Bellatrix(fuzzy low light picture of her sticking her tongue out. sassy!)

In other news: The cat formerly known as Trix has a name! In the end, she wasn’t a Biscuit, either. DH said, “Maybe her name is Trix.” That was her shelter name, but I thought it was too short. She’s pretty tricksy, though. So her name is now Bellatrix. It means female warrior. It’s also the left shoulder star in the constellation Orion, one of the two constellations I can identify in the night sky. I’m calling her Bellatrix or Trix most of the time, and it seems to fit. “Trix” also sounds like the litte squeak she makes when she tries to meow. She doesn’t have a voice! She may have lost it when she was sick; I’ve never heard her meow.

Lacey

Also, this is Lacey! Thank you for all your suggestions, for both the mannequin and the cat. Random.org says that commenter number 3 is the winner, so Chris Pugsley will be getting a copy of Aura. But Paula Johnson actually suggested Lacey, so I’m offering her a choice of one of my PDXKnitterati patterns via Ravelry download. Bonus prize!

Keep knitting, and here’s a picture from yesterday. Ahhhhhh.

spinnakers on the columbia

What’s in a Name? and name contest

A cat has no name. (Apologies, Game of Thrones.) It’s hard getting a name to stick to this one. She was Trix when we adopted her, and since then she’s been Coco Pele (homages to Pele the Hawaiian fire goddess, Pele the soccer player, and Kokopelli), and Clio Petra. None of them stuck. I call her Mooper a lot, but that’s not her name. The kids like Unagi (eel, because she’s so twisty/slippery), Mochi, and Biscuit. Biscuit?! Hmmm, all food names.

Late night entertainment. #catsofinstagram #purringtonsalumni

A video posted by Michele Lee Bernstein (@pdxknitterati) on

Well, she does like the kitchen. At just one year old, she’s a lot busier than our 16 year old Mookie was.

refrigerator cat

Yes, she tried to get into the refrigerator. Picture courtesy of Son1, and the Prisma app. (Have you played with Prisma? Free, and interesting! And you can remove the watermark in the corner, easy peasy.)

piano cat

I’ve also found her on the piano, and *in* the piano. Apparently she’s a lot sassier now that she’s feeling at home, and healthy. (She had giardia and a respiratory infection when we adopted her. Messy!)

sleepy cat

I kind of like her when she’s asleep, and not trying to bite my knitting.

cat knit helper

Anyway, I’m sure we’ll come up with a name, soon. It may even be Biscuit.

mannequin lace

Here’s another new addition to the household. I found her at Home Goods yesterday, quite by accident. She needs a name, too. I’d been thinking of getting something like this because Bobbi, my fabulous model, is off to college this fall.

mannequin dress

I gave her one of my old dresses, a black velvet mini T-shirt dress. Very demure. She’ll be introducing my newest design soon, including the necklace she’s wearing here. At least the design has a name!

Let’s have a little fun. Suggest a name for my new mannequin, and I’ll do a random drawing for a winner (but I’m too chicken to pick her name at random!). You can also suggest a name for my cat. Winner gets a copy of this book, Aura: 2016 Spring Collection from Knit Picks. Click the link to see the designs.

Aura

My Trellis Vines Poncho/Wrap is in it, along with many other breezy patterns for lightweight yarns.

I’ll pick a winner July 27. Ready, set, go!

New beginnings

I love casting on. It’s a new beginning, and everything is possible.

just enough long tail cast on

A perfectly guessed long tail cast on is encouraging.

tridacna beginning

And the first bit of beauty encourages hope for the possible.

The news cycle is so awful right now. I don’t have the right words to express my feelings, but I’ll try. We need a new beginning, where we all see each other as people with hopes and dreams and reasons for believing what we do. We need to acknowledge that there is so much good in people and the world, and try to honor that, too. Fear-mongering, othering, demonizing, and killing has to stop. I want love to win over hate.

So I’ll keep trying to add a little beauty to this world, and do my best to make it a better place.

Peace.