Category Archives: yarn

Minerva KAL: Choosing your yarn

Let’s talk about yarn. For the Minerva samples shown here, we’ve used worsted weight yarns with a long slow color change. The colors are constantly shifting, but not as quickly as in a variegated yarn. The show color shift makes each block look like a separate color. But the yarn has done all the work; you don’t have a million ends to sew in. (Side note: Today is Calvin’s Gotcha Day anniversary; he’s been part of our family for one year. He’s a love bug!)

These two cowls are knit with Knit Picks Chroma Worsted. Chroma is a mirrored gradient, so the color change in one direction, and then back, around a central color.

This cowl is knit with Noro Silk Garden, a worsted to Aran weight yarn. Noro yarns have delightful color changes. Other options are Berroco Millefiori, Cascade Melilla, and Plymouth Gina.

If you don’t mind sewing in more ends, you could choose two or more colors, and knit each tier in stripes of color. You could even knit an entrelac rainbow! But you’d have a lot of ends to sew in.

For the KAL, I’m planning to knit with a slightly lighter weight yarn, Huckleberry Knits American Dream DK in the Practical Tactical Brilliance colorway. This is the same colorway I used for my Aspen scarf, and I love how it transitions in a continuous rainbow. I won’t get individually colored squares, but I’m hoping for a shimmering rainbow progression. We shall see! The DK yarn will give me a slightly narrower cowl (my worsted version is 8” wide) but I’ll be perfectly happy with that.

What yarn are you choosing for your Minerva? Cowl or scarf? See pattern for yardage information. You can find the Minerva pattern here on Ravelry, and choose your own price from full price to free through March 31, 2020. Edit: Extending coupons to April 7, 2020!

Next up: cast ons!

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!

More cancellations and more knitting

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Not spring yet! #pdxsnow

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The world seems a bit crazy right now; COVID-19 and social distancing, and SNOW in Portland this weekend!

I just found out this morning that April’s Yarnover in Minnesota is canceled. VKLive Seattle was postponed from this weekend, with no new date yet. I’m very sorry that these events aren’t happening, but staying healthy and safe is more important. For me and other teachers, this means losing a significant amount of teaching income. I know the stakes are even higher for the organizers of these events, and for the vendors who invest in creating product to sell at these events. These costs have already been incurred. If you can be supportive of these small businesses, please do.

I canceled the local classes that I was going to have at the church yesterday. Worship services have been canceled for the next two weeks, and it didn’t feel right to carry on with my classes. We’ll try again later.

I was planning to go on the Lantern Moon retreat in Ashland next week, but that’s been canceled, too. No gatherings of more than 250 people in Oregon, so plays and concerts are NOT happening. All public schools in Oregon are closed until April 1, and our county libraries are closed, too. Definitely time to be home and knit.

I’m currently knitting a Noro version of my upcoming Minerva cowl. This is an in-between size; I’m using 3 50gm balls of Noro to make a 32-34” cowl, which is my current favorite length.

I’m still planning to knit a DK weight cowl with a Huckleberry Knits DK Gradient, but the Vivace I bought at yarn crawl doesn’t have a quick enough color shift. Scarlet is dyeing more DK in Practical Tactical Brilliance, the same colors in my Aspen Leaf scarf. I think the extra colors in that gradient will make a stunning statement! I’m saving the Vivace for another project later. And this, my friends, is how a non-stasher acquires a stash. I only buy yarn for planned projects, but sometimes it’s not a perfect match, and the yarn becomes stash. But the right project will come along…eventually.

What are you knitting? Are you staying home? Here’s a great article on social distancing. Let’s flatten the curve, and stay healthy! If not for ourselves, then for the most vulnerable among us.

Love Note playdate

I stopped in to see Bonne Marie Burns, and we happen to be knitting the same sweater: Love Note by Tin Can Knits. It’s a super speedy knit on US 10 needles, but the most interesting thing is that you carry two yarns together as you knit. If your colors are very similar (my wheelhouse), you know what to expect, but when your colors are wildly different, the results can be surprising!

You know mine will be purple, because purple + purple = purple. But notice how the cool purple fingering weight yarn is warmed up by that warmer purple mohair.

Bonne Marie’s screaming yellow is toned down to a rather gorgeous ochre by the gray mohair. I never would have thought to combine gray and yellow into a single yarn, but it works. Grellow for the win! That’s the power of having stash to play with, too. I only had purple and purple for my adventure.

Bonne Marie pulled open her buffet drawer and I had to laugh. Of course it’s full of yarn. What’s in your buffet? Mine has china, table linens, and flatware. But I did empty out one cupboard to use as a pie safe so Calvin can’t eat our baked goods!

I’ve split for the sleeves on my Love Note, and now I’m knitting a few rounds so I can try it on. I’ll frog it if I need to change the size. I noticed that Bonne Marie had an orange version in her buffet drawer, and she had frogged it back after swatching. She just wound the two yarns up together around the ball because she was going to re-knit them together anyway. Brilliant.

That solves my frogging problem. I was afraid to swatch too far because I have a limited amount of the purple mohair, and I was having a hard time separating the two yarns after frogging. But I’m committed to this color combination, so there’s no reason to try to separate the yarns if I’m just going to re-knit them together anyway. Perfect!

What color is your knitting this week?

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!

On the needles: Love Note

The week before Red Alder, I went to St. Louis to visit DH’s mom. She moved to assisted living in January, and we wanted to do a check-in. I’m pleased that it’s been a fairly smooth transition, and that things are going well.

I finished my Chroma Worsted Aspen Leaf scarf on the plane home (FO pix soon). I’ve been working on sample knitting in the new year because I needed mindless knitting during a lot of travel: St. Louis, VKLive NYC, New Orleans, St. Louis again.

When I finished Aspen Leaf, I had a bit of a dilemma. I’m a fairly monogamous knitter, and I had nothing else on the needles.

I couldn’t go to Red Alder without knitting. And I didn’t have the mental bandwidth to design something to work on at that very moment.

I’ve been inspired by Instagram pictures of Love Note sweaters. It’s always fun to knit someone else’s design; it’s like a knitting vacation when I don’t have to dream up every detail. The pattern calls for two yarns held together, so I poked around in my limited stash, and came up with two purple yarns. One is this Lion Brand Silk Mohair that I won as a door prize at the one and only History Unwound Retreat in Colonial Williamsburg in 2015.

The other is Hazel Knits Artisan Sock in the Rogue colorway; I think that means that it’s a one off. I have 2 skeins from my gift basket from the Lantern Moon Retreat that I taught at in 2018. (Click the links for blog posts about these two retreats; they were stellar.)

Would these two yarns play well for a Love Note sweater? The pattern requests a single ply fingering weight paired with a laceweight mohair. The Artisan Sock is a plied yarn, but it’s what I have. I looked at projects in Ravelry, and others have used plied yarns, so why not? And I’m kind of tickled that both these yarns are retreat souvenirs. It would be great to use stash yarn for this project!

I did a half, um, hearted gauge swatch, figured it was close enough, and cast on so I’d have something to knit at Red Alder. I didn’t want to use too much mohair in my swatching, because it’s really hard to frog, especially when held with another yarn! And my yardage is *just* enough to make this sweater.

So we’ll see if I like the fabric; the jury is still out. So fuzzy! And we’ll see if the gauge I’m knitting results in a reasonable sweater. Did I wash and block my swatch? No; do as I say, not as I do! But the pattern recommends anywhere from 4 to 12 inches of positive ease, and I’m pretty sure my knitting will result in ease somewhere in that very wide range. It’s modeled with 7 inches of ease in my size.

I’ve finished another lace repeat since the picture above, and I’m almost to the sleeve division. But I’m not going to work on it for a few days.

I cut my thumb on broken glass, and it was deep! No stitches needed, though. We added a splint on top of all of this to keep me from bumping/using it. I’m hoping I can unsplint to teach classes all weekend. I’m trying to write instructions and knit a swatch for a new class for my Syncopation shawl/scarf. Wish me luck!

Re-introducing: Parquetry

I designed Parquetry last spring for The Fiber Gallery for the Puget Sound Yarn Tour. It’s just come back to me, so I can now introduce it here.

I designed it to be a simple and easy knit. Garter stitch and simple brioche stitches combine to form the checkerboard pattern, like a parquet floor.

Knit cowl with cat in reflection

I used two coordinating colors Of Hazel Knits Lively DK. I think this was the first time I used their DK, and I liked it so much I used more of it for my Soldotna Crop. It’s great yarn to knit with. But you can use any heavy DK/worsted yarn for your Parquetry. Just adjust your needle size to get a fabric you like.

The pattern is now available on Ravelry, link here. And it’s 10% off through October 11, 2019, no coupon code needed.

Happy knitting!

Nymphaea Shawl FO number 3!

I started this shawl for the Nymphaea Fall Shawl Retreat last year, and set it aside sometime after my last post about it in November 2018. Other design projects were calling my name. You can see my progress up to that point in the previous blog post, with lots of thoughts about color and beads.

So when the Bead Biz ladies asked if they could borrow my sample for their shows, I decided now would be a good time to finish!

I was already on the 10th repeat of the ZigZag Lace pattern, and that was about where I wanted to end up. There’s enough yarn left for at least another partial repeat, maybe a half? But deadlines are deadlines, so I finished the 10th repeat and went on to the edging.

I was planning to use the dove gray pearl beads on the edging, but the yarn in the Soft Kitty colorway was tabby striping, and the beads weren’t really adding anything to the story. So I ripped back and changed to peacock beads, to pick up the teal from the last repeat. I love it.

The finished shawl is so beautiful; can I really stand to let it out of my custody to go to west coast shows with Bead Biz?

Sure, as long as it comes back soon. The yarn is from Fierce Fibers, her Abyss base (with silk!) in the Surf and Sand gradient. I’m really pleased with how it turned out. Finally!

The original shawl was knit with a mini skein gradient.

The second shawl was knit with 2 435 yard semi solid skeins from Bumblebirch. (Lots of CC left over.)

And this third shawl was knit with a 650 yard gradient from Fierce Fibers, plus a 50g skein of contrasting yarn.

I love them all!

Color is a funny thing

Color is a funny thing. I learn a lot about it by trial and error.

I bought these two skeins of of Malabrigo Worsted to play with some more brioche ideas. I wanted the multi-color to be the main color, and the Polar Frost to be the contrast color.

But the multi doesn’t really stand out here, or look very organized.

The back side is a little more cohesive; you can tell where the stitch columns are. This made me think that the semi-solid should be the MC, and the multi should be the CC. But this combination doesn’t really have much spark.

So I bought more yarn. This is how a non-swatcher accumulates a stash, by the way.

Now we’re cooking! I like this orange on the right side.

And because of the contrast with the bright orange, the multi-colored wrong side looks more cohesive, too.

What am I making? I’m just playing with a couple brioche ideas right now. We’ll see how it turns out!

Introducing Syncopation shawl and scarf!

Syncopation adds so much to music, and to brioche knitting, too!

My Syncopation is a brioche asymmetric triangle shawl or scarf, knit from narrow end to wide end. The interplay between the dark rib and light edging is enhanced by the playful dance of the leafy border. It’s knit in fingering weight yarn in 2 coordinating colors, one skein of each.

I designed the shawl first. It’s a deep triangle, slightly off center due to its asymmetry. Gravity makes it feel like it’s knit on the bias, with that lovely bias swing.

After I finished the shawl, I wanted to design a scarf with the same yardage, so it could be longer to easily wrap twice around my neck. Making it longer means it’s also narrower/shallower because it doesn’t grow in width (depth) as quickly.

I wasn’t sure how it would wrap until it was off the needles and blocked; it’s so long and skinny for much of it. But it does exactly what I wanted. I love it when that happens.

I’m really happy with both pieces!

Size is easily adjustable, simply by using more or less yardage. I used Hazel Knits Entice MCN for both shawl and scarf.

Options are given for plain or fancy endings; I love the syncopated rib ending with the single leaf point at the corner. Knitter’s choice!

Syncopation is a great way to take a next step in brioche knitting. This pattern is available through Ravelry, link here. It’s 10% off through October 3, no coupon code needed.

Thanks to tech editor Meaghan Schmaltz, and test knitters Ann Berg, Tami Hawes, Jacqueline Lydston, Eden Scheans, and Jardee Worcester.