Category Archives: yarn

OFFF 2018 weekend and brioche inc/dec tutorial

It was a glorious transition into autumn. What better way to celebrate than with a fiber festival? Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival is done for another year.

I spent Friday afternoon judging the knitting entries. This piece was the winner of several awards, including the top award for the festival.

It’s handspun from Jacob wool (this year’s featured breed), hand knit, with 1300 beads, and perfectly blocked. I loved everything about it. (Shawl pattern is Moon Shadows by Romi Hill.) I found out afterward from the knitter that she had lost at yarn chicken the week before, and had to spin more yarn to finish. She took this off the blocking wires the night before the judging. Close!

This was the felted Grand Champion. It demonstrates wet felting, needle felting, and probably other techniques I don’t even know about. Exquisite.

This felted entry used Jacob wool, which I thought was brilliant.

This embellished knit coat was also knit from handspun. I loved the detail in it. The pattern is by Anna Zilboorg from her Splendid Apparel book. I took this class with Anna just before her book came out.

Saturday I taught Favorite Shawl Shapes in the morning. So much fun! I’m planning to teach this class again, but I may give it a better name. Shawl Design 101? What would sound even more enticing?

I taught Brioche Pastiche in the afternoon. It was interesting that many had tried brioche before but not succeeded. I’m glad to help make new successful brioche knitters! Most had a good grasp of 2 color brioche rib in the round by the end of class.

I’ve just made a video tutorial of brioche increases and decreases. These are the ones used in the hat, but handy for all brioche.

Sunday I went back to shop and play! The weather was perfect.

My favorite purchase? This yarn chicken pint glass from JaMPDX. Yarn chicken is my life!

I also picked up this gorgeous yarn set from Knitted Wit. It’s Victory Sock in Pollen, plus two Sixlet gradient sets in Carbon. Plus two more mini skeins in Ghostly, but I may not need them. I’m knitting one more version of my Lucky Star Shawl, but with two Sixlets instead of one for a deeper, wider shawl. It’s going quickly; I hope to be done knitting by the end of this week.

More eye candy from Sunday:

Stacey’s Fierce Fibers booth, including a splendid version of my Rosaria shawl. Look at those gradient cakes! We’re using her yarn for our Nymphaea Retreat in November.

Speckled gradient cakes from Boss Kitty. I bought some of their cat-eared stitch markers. Mine glow in the dark!

I loved this rug on display with one of the vendors in the main pavilion.

And of course there were animals. Goat? Sheep? I’m never sure. Cute, though. (Goat.)

Bunnies are easier to recognize, yes?

Alpacas!

And humans. Amanda and Margaret representing Puddletown Knitters Guild. Hi, ladies!

A very fun weekend. Now I’m back at home working. More knit fun to follow. How was YOUR weekend? Welcome, fall!

Introducing: Concentric Cowl

Every in a while, a design idea comes together so easily, it just jumps off the needles.

This is the Concentric Cowl. I designed it in a wink, and the only thing that took any time at all was that I ripped it out when it was half done, because I wanted to add a secret between the purl welts.

There’s a tiny bit of lace in there.

It adds just a bit of mystery.

The cowl is knit in the round with 150g/277 yards of worsted weight yarn. I used a 150g cake of KnitCircus Ringmaster Panoramic Gradient in the Fig and Prosciutto colorway. The scrunchy rings capture warmth around your neck.

You can also unscrunch the rings and wear Concentric like a hood. The 150g jumbo cake of yarn makes it long enough to do so.

This pattern pdf is available through Ravelry; pattern page is here. It’s a quick and easy gift knit, even if the gift recipient is yourself! As always, newsletter subscribers have a coupon code for 20% off.

I’m teaming up with KnitCircus to do a kit for the Concentric Cowl in October, but if you can’t wait you can shop their ready to ship 150g Ringmaster Gradient cakes here. So gorgeous!

On the cusp of fall

Oh, Labor Day! Farewell summer, welcome fall…

I ran away with my knitting last week. Good thing I brought more than one project; I lost at yarn chicken on this Mitered Crosses Blanket square. I just needed 2 more green garter ridges, probably about one yard of yarn. I considered using the red as an accent stripe, but it would have been too much. One garter ridge, yes. Two garter ridges? Christmas! I had to finish at home.

This is for a group blanket project through Mason Dixon Knitting. #mdkteamblanket2

My other project is a slipper sock. I’m using 4 50g balls of KnitCircus Ringmaster Panoramic Gradient (worsted weight), colorway Thanks for all the Fish, to double strand the socks. They are glorious. (Picture from KnitCircus site, since I forgot to take a picture before I started knitting.) I finished the first one at the coast. Good thing it was time to go home; I was out of knitting!

No real sneak peek on the sock yet; the excitement is on the cuff! I knit mine using the magic loop technique, and Biscuit thought that was pretty interesting when I tried it on. I’ll be looking for test knitters soon. Would you like to knit slipper socks? They’re really quick! This one took me one day.

Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach

It wasn’t all knitting last week. I love walking on the beach. This one was a solitary walk, just me and the seagulls.

Lone sea star at Chapman Point

I saw a lone sea star. Five years ago, there were hundreds of sea stars here. Sea star wasting disease killed many of them, but they’re starting to come back. I’m glad.

Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach

It was a perfect getaway.

Now I’m swinging into knitting season! I have several new designs coming soon. The first is this cowl, which is also designed with KnitCircus Ringmaster Gradient, this one in Fig and Prosciutto. Look for it later this week.

Fall brings more teaching opportunities, too. I’ve got my schedule mostly set at Twisted and For Yarn’s Sake; you can see it here.

There’s still room in my Favorite Shawl Shapes class at Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival (pre-register by Sept. 8).

And a few knitters’ spots left at our Nymphaea Fall Retreat (Nov. 9-11).

What are you knitting this fall?

Nymphaea Retreat registration is OPEN!

Registration is open for the Nymphaea Shawl Retreat! The event is November 9-11 at Quinn Mountain Retreat in the beautiful Columbia River Gorge. It’s a small retreat, so you’ll get lots of attention as you start your Nymphaea Shawl. Register soon, because there are only 16 spots, 8 each for knitters and crocheters.

You can choose to knit or crochet your shawl; my knit version or Laurinda Reddig’s crochet version. We designed these shawls as a collaborative project with Bead Biz.

The retreat fee includes a jumbo skein 150g/645yards of Fierce Fibers Abyss (50/50 merino/silk) in a continuous gradient. Choose your main color: Surf and Sand, Dragonite, Hummingbird, or Tide Pod (clockwise from upper left). You’ll also get 50g of a coordinating color for the contrast bands. And beads from Bead Biz, specially selected by Laurinda and me.

You’ll get your shawl started, and learn different ways to add beads to your knit or crochet, how to change colors, knit or crochet edgings, and blocking, which is essential for lace.

Cost for the retreat is $225, which includes yarn, beads, 2 days of breakfast, lunch, and instruction. But don’t worry; there will be free time for you to explore, too. Register with Recrochetions, link here. If you’ve purchased a Nymphaea kit from Bead Biz, there’s a discount for the retreat. More information at the link too, including lodging options.

I hope you can make it!

Summer knitting reckoning: Knit, or not?

Oh, the siren song of a new project! It’s so easy to be seduced away from the current ones, isn’t it?

I like to have two projects at any given time. One is usually a design project I’m working out, and it stays at home. The other is a simple knit that I can take to social occasions, or traveling. Usually the design project turns into the take-along knit, because that’s the kind of thing I like to design. Simple but elegant.

Right now I have five projects on my needles. That’s probably too many, so here are my reasons for not working on them…

This is the Nymphaea shawl sample that I’m knitting for our fall retreat. It’s a simple, rhythmic knit with beads every fourth row. This was great travel knitting on a trip to St. Louis last week; it’s simple enough to knit on planes, even with beads. I was planning to finish it in time to use as a promo for the retreat when registration opens August 1, but clearly it won’t be done by then.

I have a non-gradient sample of it already, so I could continue to knit this gradient version at the retreat, using it to demonstrate techniques. I made a spreadsheet to figure out how to distribute my three different sets of beads (I love spreadsheets!), so it’s all planned out. Check!

This is a shawl that I was knitting for a design proposal. It’s simple and lovely and fun to knit. I was just going to make a swatch, but it was so much fun that I didn’t want to stop knitting it. I got all the way to the bottom edging, where I need the stitch markers. Note my symmetrical marker setup. This, plus the aforementioned spreadsheet, probably tells you a lot about the way I think! This design didn’t get chosen, which means I don’t need to finish it right now. Check!

This is the beginning of a white linen top that I’m making up as I go. I want it to have a lace pattern at the hem, a split back, and otherwise be a pretty basic T shape. But honestly, I don’t know if I have the time or inclination to actually knit an entire top in fingering weight linen right now. I don’t think it will be finished for this season, so I’m declaring it a backup project…for next year. Check!

The blue/brown shawl I was knitting in Scotland? It’s in permanent time out. I didn’t like how the design was turning out, but I’ve frogged this single ply yarn twice and it is definitely looking a little ragged. I’m going to take some of those ideas and re-work them with the yarn I bought from Ginger Twist Studio in Edinburgh.

I ordered the gray to go with the blue; the mint was too exciting for me. It’s not here yet, so I don’t have to think about it for a bit. Check!

This is what I’m working on right now. It’s a fall/winter cowl in Knit Circus Ringmaster Panoramic Gradient, 150g. The color is Fig and Prosciutto. The yarn is round and bouncy and fun to knit. I was about a third of the way through when I decided it needed a little something more than what it was, so I ripped it back down and am enjoying the yarn just as much the second time. It won’t take long to finish, and it’s a great multi-tasking knit.

So really, it looks like I have ONE project that I’m actually working on. And several (Nymphaea, linen top, miscellaneous shawl) that I can work on at my leisure. See? I’m a monogamous knitter, whether intentionally or not. There are a few other design ideas knocking around in my head, too, and I’ll pick one up as my thinking project at home, while one of these other projects turns into the mindless project.

What’s on your needles? How many projects are you actively working on? Helpful knitting cats wanna know! Speaking of which…

We’ve added this little guy to our household. He’s two years old, and he’s charming. His shelter name was Gerkin, but we think he’s going to be named Yadi, for Yadier Molina, the St. Louis Cardinals catcher. We have had several baseball-themed cat names, including Mookie (Wilson) and Jess (Jesse Orosco). We adopted Yadi from Purringtons Cat Lounge, alma mater of Biscuit, Gator, and Mis Mis.

He has a tiny white spot on his chest, and a tinier one on his belly that we didn’t know about until after he came home.

Biscuit is occasionally hissing at him, but mostly getting along. This picture is from introduction day, which was Day 3 in our house. Much calmer than the introduction to Gator (son’s cat who was visiting for 2 months). Maybe she thinks Tyler is going to come take this one away, too?

Now to see if Yadi is ok with yarn. My studio door stays shut while I figure this out!

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!