Category Archives: yarn

Highland Games, Harris Tweed

When we decided to meet Tyler in Scotland, highland games were high on my list of things to see. The Lorne Highland Games are pretty small, but going to Oban meant we could take the train from Edinburgh and not have to drive. Also, puffins! (Still not over them.)

Admit it, you’re not over them either.

These games were small but fun, and included most of the things you’d expect.

Highland dancers, Lorne Highland Games

Highland dancing.

Mull & Iona Pipe Band

Piping. This is the Mull and Iona Pipe Band.

Scotland the Brave! Of course.

Track and field events, and the heavies. Heavies? Hammer throw, heavier hammer throw, stone put, throwing a weight over a high bar, and caber toss. (Like tossing a slim telephone pole.)

It’s cool to watch kilted men and women make the hammers fly!

Unfortunately, we had to leave to catch our train to Glasgow before the caber toss. I’m guessing caber toss comes last because it’s like a finale, and also because it must really tear up the field! This just means I need to go back to Scotland for more games.

I did come home with an awesome souvenir, though. It even involves wool!

Harris Tweed bag

This is my new knitting bag. It’s certified Harris Tweed. What does that mean? The wool has to be sourced in the UK, and it’s spun and woven on the Isles of Harris or Lewis in the Outer Hebrides. The fabric has to be woven in a crofter’s home, on a human-powered loom (not electric). Some weavers weave for Harris Tweed, and some are independent weavers designing their own cloth that will be certified as Harris Tweed, but not sold by Harris Tweed. The woven fabric goes back to the mill for washing/finishing (*see below for historical sidenote) and inspection. Independent crafters can purchase this fabric for their designs.

Harris Tweed bag by Thistle Fairy Designs

This bag is made by Shona of Thistle Fairy Designs. I love the colors of this tweed; it’s so vibrantly pinky purple!

Harris Tweed bag by Thistle Fairy Designs

The fabric lining features Highland cattle (hairy coos!), stags, heather, and pheasants? grouse? All very Scottish.

It was a pleasure meeting Shona and talking to her about Harris Tweed. Her work is exquisite. I love my new bag!

*Woolen fabric used to be finished by hand, and this was called waulking the wool. It involved stale urine(!), rhythmic beating, and usually singing to pass the time. More info here (this is the singing group I wanted to see at Auchindrain on our Oban weekend, but it was too far and we didn’t have a car). Nowadays this finishing is done by machine at the mill, using ammonia rather than urine. Thank goodness.

A taste of wool waulking

Now I’m home, catching up, trying to decide if I like my current design project enough to continue with it. So far, it’s not blowing my kilt up. No pictures! I’m also trying to perfect that no-hump crescent shape I mentioned earlier, so I can make a tutorial, as requested.

And I’m dreaming of more Sheepish Sock yarn from Ginger Twist Studio in Edinburgh.

I have the blue in the center, Pappy’s Garden. I wrote to Jess to see if I could get a coordinating color so I could design a shawl. She suggested either Dove on the left, or Breakfast with Ginger on the right. What do you think? So far Dove is trending on Instagram and Facebook!

Lace, blocking, SSK

I always say that blocking is magic. Especially with lace. But even then, I’m always astonished at the transformation.

Here’s my Nymphaea shawl, right off the needles, no blocking, no weaving in the ends. It’s pretty small, 48 inches across the top eyelet edge, 20 inches at the wide end, not including the lace edging in either measurement.

I wet blocked it; it pinned out to be 60 inches across the top eyelet edge, and 30 inches across the wide end, just above the lace edging. Where it was once thick and chunky, it’s now ethereally and diaphanously lovely. It’s almost as big as the sample I knit last fall with the mini skein gradient kit, just nine repeats instead of ten.

Zigzags 4 evah

Lacy border, this time with beads

I knit this in Bumblebirch Heartwood, 75/25 superwash merino/nylon. The colors are Atlantic and Hellebore, the same colors in my Tumbling Leaves, but reversed. I love it, and I love the beads, too. Depending on how you look at them, they’re blue, or green. Perfect.

I’m going to knit one more of these, a sample with a Fierce Fibers 650 yard continuous gradient, and a semisolid contrast color. This is in preparation for our Fall Shawl Retreat in November. Registration opens August 1, and the price will include yarn and beads for a knit or crochet version of Nymphaea.

While knitting this shawl, I started thinking about my personal rules for SSK. When I first learned SSK, I did them conventionally, slipping both stitches as if to knit. The result is a left leaning decrease, exactly the same as SKP: Slip one (knitwise), knit one, pass slip stitch over. The passed stitch could sometimes be stretched out and unsightly; Barbara Walker invented the SSK as an improvement on the SKP.

Eventually, Elizabeth Zimmermann figured out that slipping the second stitch purlwise instead of knitwise made this decrease lie flatter, and mirror the right leaning K2tog better. It’s less zigzaggy. I learned this from her daughter Meg Swansen in a class oh so long ago, and adopted it as my go-to SSK. For me, it’s quicker to execute (don’t have to pull left needle out of the second slipped stitch before ktbl).

But! When I was designing my Meander Cowl, I noticed that this SSK looked wide and bumpy when it met up with a YO on its left side. It’s because the right leg of the stitch shows a bit more prominently behind the left leaning stitch on top. Subtle, yes, but there.

So, my personal SSK rule: Slip the second stitch as if to purl when working stockinette. But if there’s a YO to the left of the SSK, slip the second stitch as if to knit. Try them both, if you like. You’re the boss of your knitting; as long as you get the result you want, you’re doing it right! Here’s a video on the whole thing.

How do you SSK?

Wool Tinctures, cats, Nine Lives

It was a busy weekend!

Remember the dye project we bought from Abundant Earth Fiber? We loved meeting Lydia Christiansen and learning about her milling and spinning on Whidbey Island. Lydia’s entire inventory was stolen, along with her trailer, on her way to Stitches West, and she is working hard to get back up to speed. We wanted to support her business, and get to play with color, too!

Saturday was the day. My yarn is worsted weight domestic merino, and Lisa’s is DK weight 80/20 merino and Rambouillet.

I love how tidy this whole setup is. This plus yarn plus hot water.

Why yes, I’m dyeing my yarn in a Lego bucket. It’s usually the wastebasket in my studio. Lisa is classier, and is using a ceramic bowl.

This dye is exhausted!

My yarn is slightly semi-solid. Because I dunked one end in first? Insufficient stirring? It’s pretty, though.

Lucy approves! Thanks to Lucy and Lisa for hosting the fun.

It was a cat filled weekend. I was catsitting for both my kids, who were away on two different trips. This is MisMis. She’s very friendly…with people. She’s a great only cat.

And this is Gator. He’s very handsome, and very amiable, too. Gator is coming to live with us for a while, if he and Biscuit can get along. We’re just starting a slow introduction.

There’s been some growling and hissing on Biscuit’s part, but we’re not getting them face to face for a few days. Wish us luck!

Gator is currently chilling in my studio.

And! Speaking of cats, it’s time for the drawing for the Knit Picks Nine Lives Collection. The winner is: Margo! I’ve emailed her for her addy so I can send her the book. Thanks to Knit Picks for their support for Knitters with Kitters at Purringtons, and thanks to you for reading and playing!

Knot Another Fiber Festival!

A little recap here. I spent the weekend at Knot Another Fiber Festival. Sarah Keller of Knot Another Hat (LYS in Hood River, OR) puts on her fall Columbia Gorge Fiber Festival in The Dalles, and now this new spring festival at the Oregon Garden in Silverton, OR. She does a great job.

My collection of events: The market preview/happy hour on Friday, an all day brioche class with Andrea Mowry, and the banquet on Saturday evening with the always delightful Clara Parkes. The garden itself was pretty awesome too, even in the rain.

My biggest mission this weekend: To get over my aversion to flat brioche knitting. I love, love, love brioche in the round, but I had a problem remembering what happens at the selvage edges of flat brioche. It was way simpler than I was making it out to be. That CC yarn? “Let it go!” Wherever it is. Or in my songbook: “Leave It There!” Hmmmm. There may be lyrics coming out of this.

Andrea Mowry is a fabulous teacher: Patient, kind, thorough. She makes good use of technology, too; her projected diagrams were excellent. And she has a good sense of humor.

When I noted how three-dimensional the increases and decreases made the sample piece, we had a good time dreaming up the bustier we could design. Too funny.

I saw friends old and new in the market.

I love a wall of Hazel Knits! Their color palette is very pleasing to my eye.

Black Trillium‘s gradient minis never cease to thrill me. And she had a lovely green sample of my Twin Leaf Crescent in her booth.

Melanie showed me the result of her new dyeing method, Cloud Layers, which places the dye just on the surface. The back of the strand may not be the same color as the front of the strand. This is variegated and speckled and all those things. I’d love to pair this with a semi-solid, because that’s how I roll.

Despondent Dyes’ tagline made me giggle. And her color names are equally humorous. I fell in love with one of Kathy’s mini-skein packs, so it will have to turn into something wonderful because it followed me home. In honor of the weekend, I think it will need to be brioche.

This is Lydia of Abundant Earth Fibers. She mills and spins the loveliest yarn, very natural. But she also sells Tinctures, packets for dyeing that natural yarn. My friend Lisa and I both bought yarn, and we are going to have a dyeing day soon. Color? That lovely blue green on the top right corner.

I spent a lot of time in the Fierce Fibers booth. Not to visit my Go Tell the Bees (this one knit by Tami in the Titan colorway), but to pick colors for this fall’s Nymphaea Shawl retreat with Laurinda Reddig (Recrochetions).

We picked beads from Bead Biz, too.

I think I’m knitting my sample shawl in this combination:

Surf and Sand gradient, accent color is Serenity, beads are Copper Lined Diamond, Spring Mix, and Metallic Green-Lined. The yarn is Fierce Fibers Abyss, a merino/silk blend. Lovely! Now to decide if I want my beads to blend, or contrast, with the yarn.

It was a lovely weekend, and my head is full of new ideas and techniques. Let’s go knit!

And don’t forget: If you’d like to enter to win a copy of the 9 Lives pattern collection, leave a comment on the previous post. I’ll draw a winner at the end of this week.

LYS Day on Saturday!

Do you have a local yarn store that you love? We have nine (ten?) lovely yarn stores here in the Portland metro area; we are blessed! A local yarn store is a little bit of heaven, a place where you can see and touch and sniff the yarn before you buy it. A place where you can take classes or get a little help. It’s in our best interest to keep these shops in business!

Saturday April 21 is LYS appreciation day, and shops all over the country are planning special events and offers to lure you in. If you are in the Portland area, Mary Mooney of the Oregonian’s knit blog is doing a great job of keeping track of who’s offering what. Check here!

I’m doing a little promotion with the two shops where I teach. At For Yarn’s Sake in Beaverton, if you purchase 2 skeins of Worsted weight yarn to make my Cannon Beach Cowl, you’ll get a coupon code to download the pattern from Ravelry for just $1. For Yarn’s Sake carries Woolfolk Får, the luxuriously soft chainette yarn that inspired this design. Another great choice is Manos Maxima, which is a fluffy single ply. Go shop and see!

At Twisted, if you purchase 2 skeins of fingering weight yarn to make my Fibonacci and Fan shawl, you’ll get a coupon code to download the pattern from Ravelry for $1. I used Knitted Wit’s Victory Sock for this version. Twisted has a whole wall of indie dyer sock yarn; what better way to support your LYS than buying local yarn?

I know that not all of you are local to Portland. I’d like you to support your local yarn shop, too. If you’re not in Portland and you’d like to participate, email me a copy/phone pic of your receipt dated April 21 for either of these two offers, and I’ll send you a coupon code, too. Share the love! My email is pdxknitterati (at) comcast (dot) net. You know the drill!

I’m leaving DH and Biscuit in charge here this weekend; I’m going to visit a friend for her birthday. But I’ll be stopping at the LYS in her town to do a little shopping, too!

Re-introducing: Trellis Vines Stole/Poncho

Just in time for spring!

Trellis Vines StoleIt’s a stole!

Trellis Vines ponchoIt’s a poncho!

Trellis Vines stole poncho detailIt’s lacy and gorgeous!

I designed the Trellis Vines Stole/Poncho for Knit Picks two years ago. This was a year after I designed my Tilt Shift Wrap (I was afraid to call it a poncho, shades of the 1970s), and I wasn’t sure how long ponchos would be popular. So I hedged my bets and designed it as a stole that could be laced up into a poncho.

Trellis Vines Stole
Interestingly, Knit Picks only photographed it as a stole for their book, Aura: 2016 Spring Collection.

But it does make a lovely poncho. You can hedge your bets, too. If fashions change, you’re covered either way! The pattern is now available from me through Ravelry, as well as through Knit Picks. It’s on sale for 10% off through April 9 on Ravelry, no coupon required, or 20% off with coupon code for newsletter subscribers.

Trellis Vines is knit in two pieces with sport weight yarn, and joined with a three needle bind off at the center of the piece. Working it in two pieces gives each end a zigzaggy edge.


Trellis Vines Mitts can complete your look. The pattern is available from me through Knit Picks for $3.99, or as part of my Beanstalk Scarf and Mitts set on Ravelry (10% off on Ravelry through April 9.

I knit Trellis Vines with Knit Picks Galileo, a yummy sport weight 50/50 Merino/Bamboo blend. I’d recommend a yarn with some rayon/bamboo/tencel/silk in it, for great drape and swing. This medium weight yarn gives you enough warmth for spring days without being overbearing.  Happy spring!

Introducing: Cannon Beach Accessories Collection

I’m so pleased with my newest design, the Cannon Beach Cowl. It just rolled off my needles because the yarn knew what it wanted to be. I love it when that happens!

And then there were fingerless mitts too, because why not?

Both the cowl and mitts are knit in the round from the top down in worsted to Aran weight yarn. The patterns are available individually, or as an e-book collection that includes both patterns. The pieces feature two slip stitch patterns, one resembling seagulls, the other resembling waves. Cannon Beach, Oregon, is one of my favorite places on earth, and the cozy cowl and mitts are just right for a stroll on a breezy beach.

The cowl was inspired by the loveliness of a yarn, Woolfolk Får. This is a beautiful merino wool chainette yarn. When I saw it I knew it wanted to be a very soft cowl featuring a stitch pattern with long floats to show off the construction of the yarn.

The pattern is also pretty but very different in more conventional yarns like single ply Malabrigo Merino Worsted, or a plyed yarn like Malabrigo Rios.

The cowl instructions include three sizes, from a cozy 22″ neck warmer to a larger 24″ cowl. The circumference and height of the cowl are easily adjusted.


Small cowl shown in Malabrigo Merino Worsted


Medium cowl shown in Woolfolk Får


Large cowl shown in Malabrigo Merino Worsted

The mitts are written for one size, 7.5″ in circumference, and will stretch to fit an 8″ palm. Because of the large number of stitches in the seagull and wave stitch pattern, sizing should be altered by changing needle size.

The patterns are available for $6 for a single pattern, or as an e-book of both patterns for $10. Ravelry page link is live!

Subscribers to my newsletter will receive a coupon code for 20% off the single patterns or the e-book. Not a subscriber? Subscribe by clicking this link, or letting me know in the comments below.

Thanks to tech editor Amanda Woodruff, test knitter Ann Berg, and model Erin Hocraffer.

Sunset at Haystack Rock, Cannon Beach…a little chilly, needs a cowl!

Coming soon: Cannon Beach Cowl

I fell in love with some yarn recently. It begged me to take it home from Knit Purl.

This is Woolfolk Får, a very soft worsted weight merino wool with a chainette/icord construction.

Look at that chainette! Yarn doesn’t always talk to me, but this one did, loud and clear. It said, “Design something with slip stitch and long threads showing on the right side, so you can see the chainette!” Well, of course.

This cowl knit up in a flash. It features seagulls and ocean waves.

See the chainette yarn structure? So lovely. So soft, too. It’s perfect in this cowl. But do you have to use this yarn for this project? Knitter’s choice! I love it, but I’m also knitting up a sample in Malabrigo Merino Worsted.

I’m curious about how it would look with a plyed yarn. More swatching is in order.

I’ve written up the pattern, and it’s off to the tech editor and a test knitter. Meanwhile, I’m still swooning. I love these stitch patterns; you know how I love elongated stitches. The pattern will be out soon. Do you subscribe to my email newsletter? Newsletter subscribers get discounts on newly released patterns. Comment below if you’d like to subscribe. (You can also subscribe to this blog, which is a separate thing.)

I think I have my Thanksgiving knitting cut out for me! When I’m not cooking…

Happy Thanksgiving to all who celebrate it. I’m thankful for family, friends, and fiber! And gravy. Mmmmm, gravy. What are you thankful for? (Or, more properly: For what are you thankful?)

Introducing: Tumbling Leaves

Finally ready for prime time!

This is Tumbling Leaves, a wide crescent shawl. I designed this sample with Bumblebirch Heartwood, a lightweight 75/25 superwash merino/nylon blend. It was a delight to knit!

The shawl is wide enough to wear wrapped once, as shown above, or twice, with both ends in front.

The pattern is available for $6 USD through Ravelry as a PDF download. As usual, subscribers to my email newsletter will receive a coupon code for 20% off new releases. Not a subscriber? Let me know in the comments, and I’ll add you to the list. Yes, someday I’ll automate that. But I’m too busy designing!

This has been a summer of shawls. I designed four new shawls (and knit one of them 3 times) this summer, and more design work is on the way. So many ideas to knit!

And! We have a winner for the Merry Knitmas book: Joelle! I’ll be sending her a pdf copy. Congratulations! If you’re not Joelle and you’re dying to get this book; you can get it in softcover or as a PDF download from Knit Picks. Thanks for playing along!

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?