Category Archives: pattern design

Introducing: Minerva Entrelac Cowl/Scarf and KAL

Minerva is an entrelac cowl or scarf, knit flat. She’s a twist on my Athena Cowl, which is knit in the round. You can choose your pricing; see below.

Why knit a round cowl flat? To learn all the elements you need to know for any entrelac project, and to avoid a huge game of yarn chicken on a long scarf or loop cowl knit lengthwise! Entrelac looks like it’s woven, but it’s just a lot of squares and triangles, knit one at a time. You’ll want to knit just one more square…

Knit to the length you like! Samples shown in worsted weight yarn, but I’ll be knitting one in Huckleberry Knits American Dream DK for a KAL.

Short cowls, steam or wet blocked

100g/200 yards will give you a short cowl.

Noro Silk Garden, 115 g (2.3 balls)

I used 115g of Noro Silk Garden for the longer cowl. 200g/400 yards of Noro will give you a 60″ scarf or cowl.

Test knitter Paula Sadler’s Minerva Scarf, 4 balls of Noro Silk Garden

I’m planning a KAL during this time of social distancing due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Come knit with me at a distance! I’ll be posting the updates here on my blog. I’ll also be posting pictures on social media; I’m @pdxknitterati on Instagram, and PDXKnitterati on Facebook. Use #minervakal2020 and #pdxknitterati on Instagram. I’ll help you through the tricky spots!

Choose your price for Minerva Entrelac Cowl or Scarf (Ravelry link) using these coupon codes through March 31, 2020. Edit: Extending coupon codes to April 7!

Full price: no coupon code
25% off: MINERVA25
50% off: MINERVA50
75% off: MINERVA75
Free pattern: MINERVAFREE

I know that many of us are experiencing financial impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic, so I don’t want the cost of a pattern to keep you from participating, or even just having a soothing knitting project. We’ll get through this together! Let me know if you’d like to learn entrelac with me. I’ll post soon about choosing yarn and getting started.

Thanks to tech editor Meaghan Schmaltz, and test knitters Kristine Alcade, Ann Berg, Anne Fields, and Paula Sadler.

Minerva and KAL coming soon!

I’ve decided that this version of my upcoming Minerva Cowl is as long as I want it to be! I like my cowls to be about 34” long; they fall well on me there. Right now this is 35”, but I couldn’t resist that last color I was knitting. I’m ready to give it a little steam block, and then seam it with a 3 needle bind off. I started with a provisional cast on, so that will be easy.

I know there’s not enough yarn to get to 56”, which is what I’d want for a double loop cowl, so I’m stopping now!

I’ll be releasing this pattern soon, with free and paid options, and having a virtual KAL via social media. Would you like to learn entrelac? It’s really fun, and looks really clever. Stay tuned for more info!

Aspen Leaf backstory

I think it’s fun to document how I get from an initial idea to the finished product when I design. Here are some pictures along the way to my Aspen Leaf scarf.

I knew I wanted a series of leaves, so I started out playing with some Hazel Knits DK Lively that I had purchased on a whim. It was a bit lightweight for a scarf. I also decided it needed to not be 2 semi-solid colors together; that would be a lot of knitting the same thing over and over again. (I do love the yarn, just not for this particular project. Back to the waiting bin it goes.)

I picked these two colors of Malabrigo Worsted. At first, I used the variegated for the MC, but the color speckles made it so that I couldn’t “read” the leaf. So I flipped it and made the orange the MC. I decided this leaf was going to be too long and skinny.

Also, the skinniest point between the leaves was going to be too narrow compared to the rest of the scarf, so I started planning for a background of syncopated color reversal on each side of the leaf.

I tried making the leaf shorter and more compact overall, but all those decreases stacking so closely together meant that the top of the leaf pooched out, like a bra cup. THIS IS NOT A BRA.

The syncopated color reversal wasn’t a bad idea, but it had too much visual weight and was taking attention from the leaf, which should be the star of the show. I’d have to make it narrower.

Short bottom, tall top. Halfway to success! I like the leaf, but the syncopated background was now too narrow. I knew what I needed to do.

This sample is in Malabrigo Rios, a superwash plied worsted weight yarn. I liked it! Happy leaf, happy background, which serendipitously looked like butterflies. I would have knit it up, but I thought it would be more fun if the main color for the leaves could be a gradient.

I went to Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival looking for the perfect worsted weight gradient. No luck, but this DK weight gradient from Huckleberry Knits was too pretty to pass up. Scarlet was happy to find a coordinating color for my background.

Since I already had it planned out, this was perfect vacation knitting for me last December. The pattern is pretty easy to memorize.

And I love how it turned out! You can see this one in person at my Rose City Yarn Crawl trunk show at For Yarn’s Sake in Beaverton, Thursday March 5. Scarlet (Huckleberry Knits) will be there with it on Friday, March 6, too.

I did knit a worsted weight version, eventually. This is Knit Picks Chroma Worsted in Pegasus and Natural. I seem to be having a thing for rainbows. Again, fairly mindless travel knitting for me in January and February. (Still not blocked yet; I’ll get there eventually! Then the lines of the last blue leaf will straighten out a bit.)

And the Malabrigo Worsted? I didn’t want to frog that a fourth time, so I used the rest of it for a Dotty Cake hat sample. And after photographing it, I gave it to my Mom-in-law for Christmas, because she admired it at Thanksgiving. Perfect.

And that’s the story!

A Tale of Two Decreases

I just made a video tutorial for an alternate version of a left leaning brioche decrease.

The center decrease shown is a right leaning decrease. The one on the right is a left leaning decrease, and it’s fine for most purposes. But it shows a lot of the dark colored wrap of the stitch that is passed over. Most of the time, this doesn’t bother me.

But sometimes, like in my Aspen Leaf scarf, I want the left and right leaning decreases to mirror each other more closely.

The Brioche Unwrapped Decrease moves that wrap out of the way before passing the slipped stitch over. Very tidy! Thanks to Xandy Peters for dreaming this up. I’ve made my own video tutorial, because I want to make sure it will always be available when I link to it in a pattern.

Brioche Unwrapped Decrease tutorial link

Here you go! If you don’t like the unwrapped decrease, you can always use the other left leaning decrease. You’re the boss of your knitting!

Introducing: Aspen Leaf

Aspen Leaf is ready to rock and roll!

Aspen Leaf is a leafy brioche scarf. Butterfly wing-shaped wedges are introduced in syncopated brioche as the leaves narrow and widen. The leaves are especially glorious in a gradient main color, and a speckle or semi-solid makes a nice background. The leaf pattern repeats 10 times using two 4 oz skeins of DK weight yarn. You could easily substitute two 4 oz skeins of worsted weight yarn for a slightly wider scarf with fewer repeats.

Sample shown in Huckleberry Knits DK Gradient (Practical Tactical Brilliance) and Huckleberry Knits American Dream DK (When You Said Hi, I Forgot My Dang Name). Gauge is not critical in this stretchy fabric, but it can affect size and yardage requirements. Work for a gauge that gives you a pleasant fabric, not floppy nor tight. Knit as many leaves as you like, depending on how much yarn you have.

This was my relaxing vacation knit in December. Brioche, relaxing? Yes; once you’ve knit a leaf or two, the shaping is easy to remember. You should have experience knitting brioche before knitting Aspen Leaf.

I took it to VKLive NYC last month.

We had a good time!

I’m knitting one more for myself in Knit Picks Chroma Worsted; it’s a little wider and will have 8 leaves, according to my yarn scale. No yarn chicken here!

This pattern is available through Ravelry. It’s 10% off through February 14, 2020 as a valentine to you. Happy knitting!

Syncopation encore, and VKLive NYC

I finished a third version of my Syncopation shawl just before VKLive NYC. I wanted to wear it there, and I did!

This version is a size/shape between the original shawl and scarf, so a bit wider/less deep than the original shawl, and not as long and skinny as the scarf. I scrunch it a bit at the neck so the point will fall at center front; rolling the scrunch means that some of the reverse color from the other side shows at the neck, which I love.

I’ve added instructions for this size/shape to the pattern, which is available on Ravelry. If you purchased the pattern, you should have received an email letting you know about the update so you can download the latest version. Or if you’re one of my new brioche students, you can just buy it now…

I wore it a lot! I was wearing it when I met up with Ann and Kay from Mason Dixon Knitting in the Knitty City booth, and when I saw Lorajean and Shannon in the Knitted Wit booth, and when I was teaching on a slightly snowy Saturday. It’s a good travel companion, easy to put on and wear.

Bright lights, big city! The NYC show was BIG, with a very different feel than the Columbus show. We were at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square, with classes all over and a market on TWO floors.

Here’s a view from the balcony; take this and multiply by two. It was packed with product, and with shoppers.

I taught 5 classes to great students. And I gave my lecture, Blocking: It’s Magic. Once I figured out that the computer wasn’t touch screen, my PowerPoint presentation went very smoothly! (So used to my iPad; I forget…)

This sign was going up during the day, and I decided the question needed to be: Who’s Afraid of PDXKnitterati!

This is my new Aspen Leaf Scarf (pattern coming soon). The colors from Huckleberry Knits have Hamilton-themed names: Practical Tactical Brilliance and When You Said Hi I Forgot My Dang Name.

This picture is as close to Hamilton as my scarf was going to get.

On a whim, I tried to get a ticket to Hamilton in the cancellation line. I got THISCLOSE; they ran out 2 people ahead of me. But it was fun hanging out for a bit, chatting with people from Atlanta and Honolulu who were hoping to get in.

I wasn’t on the hunt for yarn this weekend, which made my limited time in the marketplace a little more manageable, but I really wanted a knitty souvenir. I bought this swatch necklace from Porterness Studio; it’s perfect! I’m wearing it all the time.

Happy tired teachers at the end of the last day. And more random photos below.

Mochimochiland

Carol Milne glass art

GettingPurlyWithIt Nancy

IndieUntangled

Safiyyyah, aka DrunkKnitter

I stayed overnight, and took a walk in Central Park and down Fifth Avenue the next morning before going home. Such a gorgeous day!

Wollman Rink

Carriage Ride

Ice rescue ladders

Down gown in the Bergdorf window. I could have used this; it was cold!

Oh, here are a couple flyover pictures that I love:

Jack Frost artistry

Cloud shadows over a great lake

And now, on to the next thing…let’s GO!

Both Sides Now, backstory

I started designing Both Sides Now last winter, even before the Knit Picks call for submissions for a brioche collection.

This was from January 2019. I knew I wanted brioche, and a half-pi shawl.

February 2019: I played around with some stitch patterns. The little round leaf pattern didn’t thrill me, and I cogitated for days on how to make that twig pattern bend to my will. Once I figured it out, I contacted Knit Picks to see if they had more of these colors. Nope, discontinued. But they sent me some glorious blues to play with.

I was playing with this at Crafty Moms weekend in March last year.

There was definitely some trial and error and learning curve involved. And then there was a call for submissions for a brioche collection. Perfect! I was halfway there already!

When I blocked and photographed the shawl, I discovered that there really was no wrong side. Both sides looked great. Voilà, Both Sides Now.

I found it fascinating that the twigs on RS and WS faced opposite directions, down and up. And when you look at it closely, the lower sections look like light veined leaves between dark outlines on the RS (left half), but they don’t look that way on the upper section of the WS. Clearly, it’s not an exact reversal of color and texture.

Usually KnitPicks writes their patterns for MC and CC, but I requested that we use DC and LC designations (dark color and light color) because I wanted to make sure those lower veined leaves were reproducible. They’re especially nice if the yarn colors are very tonally contrasty.

After I finished the blue shawl, I went back and finished the purple version as a shawlette to see how far the yarn would go. I used almost every last bit of yarn, one skein of each color.

The leaves show up really well here, too. Instructions for both sizes, shawlette and shawl, are in the pattern.

Here’s the Knit Picks sample, same side as the purple above. In the top section, the light colored twigs point downwards. With less tonal contrast in the greens, the leaf veins in the lower section don’t pop as much as they do in the blue and purple versions. Still very pretty, just different.

This was a lot of knitting that I couldn’t show you last year! Now all has been revealed.

For a chance to win the YO: Brioche Knits ebook, visit the first Both Sides Now blog post and leave a comment there. I’m drawing a name at the end of the weekend. Good luck!

Aspen Leaf scarf in progress

I finished my syncopated brioche Aspen Leaf scarf. It was perfect vacation knitting; the leaf pattern repeats over 10 leaves, and once you understand how the leaves widen and narrow, it’s pretty easy to memorize. This sample is in Huckleberry Knits’ DK Blue Faced Leicester; the gradient is Practical Tactical Brilliance, and the speckle is When You Said Hi I Forgot My Dang Name.

I’ve just finished the pattern and sent it to my tech editor. I’m looking for a few test knitters; let me know if you would like to test knit. Testers should already have experience with syncopated brioche knitting.

I’m also knitting another one in worsted weight, but I haven’t decided if it’s going to be in Knit Picks Chroma Worsted (single ply) or Malabrigo Rios (plied). Swatching now, and the Chroma may be winning…

Knit on!

Both Sides Now, and Window Pane

Have I set an earworm for you? Joni Mitchell or Judy Collins? Read to the bottom for a giveaway opportunity!

My Both Sides Now shawl pattern is on the cover of the new book, Yarn Over: Brioche Knits from Knit Picks! I’m really pleased.

Both Sides Now is a brioche half pi shawl. Both the “right side” and “wrong side” look good. The cover photo is what I think of as the wrong side. The second photo above is what I consider the right side.

My blue version has contrastier colors, so the lower section really pops, and looks like veined leaves. On this side, my right side, the twigs point downward.

But the back side of it is pretty awesome, too. The twigs point upwards on this side, just like on the book cover. The upper section doesn’t show as leaves quite as much, though. I love that you can wear it either way, according to your mood.

Oh! I have TWO patterns in this book; the other is my Window Pane Scarf. It was my first foray into syncopated brioche; I was going to use it as a teaching piece but then I had the opportunity to use it here. So I designed Hopscotch for my teaching piece, and Syncopation after that.

But I love this, too, and it would be a great learning piece for syncopated brioche!

The Yarn Over: Brioche Knits ebook has simple and complex projects in a variety of yarn weights. There’s something for everyone, from beginner to expert.

To celebrate these new designs, I’m giving away two copies of the Yarn Over: Brioche Knits ebook. One will go to a commenter on this post, and the other will go to a PDXKnitterati newsletter subscriber. I’ll be drawing a name on or around January 12. Good luck!

Dotty Cake backstory: Evolution of a hat

Just a reminder, today is the last day of the introductory sale for my Dotty Cake pattern. It’s 15% off through midnight tonight on Ravelry, no coupon code needed.

I’m really happy with Dotty Cake. But it took a while to get there!

I knew I wanted to use the Dotty stitch pattern I developed for the Dotty Cowl that I designed for Knit Picks last year. And I loved the Chroma Worsted combination of Natural and Pegasus, so I wanted to use that again, too.

I cast on a guesstimate of stitches, based on my gauge from the cowl. The number seemed a bit big, but not totally unreasonable. I have a big head.

I knew I wanted a herringbone braid for the bottom edge of the hat, but I was going to have to be canny about it. I had planned to use it for the cowl, but when I was knitting the braid last year, the soft, single ply low-twist yarn wanted to drift apart in the first row of the twisty braiding process. I figured a hat had fewer stitches, so maybe it wouldn’t have enough time to drift apart.

And that’s when I finally realized…if I made the braid point in the opposite direction, I’d be tightening the twist on the first row, and then loosening it back to normal on the following row. Problem solved.

I finished the braid and began the Dotty stitch pattern, which is simple and easy to memorize. The shifting color was mesmerizing, too. This was great mindless travel knitting as I went to Vogue Knitting Live in Columbus. But as I knit, I started wondering how the heck I was going to finish the top of the hat. The Dotty stitch pattern wasn’t going to play well with my usual swirly crown decreases.

What about a pointy Santa-style stocking cap? I kept knitting as I pondered how to make that work nicely with the Dotty stitch pattern. I wasn’t inspired.

Well, what about a straight up cylinder, kitchener stitched across the top, and then bringing the two corners together like an envelope fold? I kept knitting to get the extra height I’d need, but I started to think that an all Dotty stitch hat with that much height was boring.

And then I tried on the hat and realized it was too big, even for my big head, and needed to be frogged. I had 9 inches of knitting when I finally realized this. Blergh.

So I ripped it all out.

I added more braids to the second version of the hat to make it more interesting, and that’s when I noticed that it looked like a layer cake. That was a happy accident!

Still, the crown shaping had to be addressed. And it needed to work for two sizes. The diretionality of the swirl was giving me fits, so I decided to go with paired decreases for each section of the hat. Perfect!

I needed to knit a smaller size for heads smaller than mine, so I could make sure the crown decreasing would work for that, too. I used the Malabrigo Worsted that wasn’t working for the brioche project I was playing with earlier this fall.

Sometimes a design jumps right off the needles. And sometimes you wrestle it to the ground. Dotty Cake took a while to work out, but I’m so glad it did. Happy knitting!