Category Archives: yarn

Sneak peek: Tumbling Leaves Shawl

At least that’s what I think I’m calling it. Let me know if you have a better idea!

This is a wide crescent shawl, knit from the top down with two skeins of Bumblebirch Heartwood Fingering in Hellebore and Atlantic (75/25 Superwash Merino/Nylon, 100g/463 yards each).

I love the way the blue eyelet rows squiggle, and I love, love, love the leaves.

Remember the stripe swatch? I think the one I chose (second from the top) worked out perfectly!

The pattern is off to the tech editor, and I’m looking for a few test knitters. I’m hoping I can get this out in September, which is knitting season! Of course it’s always knitting season at my house. But this last week, especially. Hot and hazy out (thanks, Canadian wildfires), so I’ve just been hiding out at home. Knitting!

How about you?

A peek into my knit design process

While I was knitting my Go Tell the Bees KAL shawlette this month, I was also designing another shawl.

This is Hazel Knits Entice MCN fingering, in Splish Splash and Hoppy Blond. Two of my favorite colors in one of my favorite yarns. This yarn is soft and not splitty, and not over or under twisted. It falls absolutely straight from my needles to the ball while I’m knitting. And that bit of cashmere makes it sooooooo lovely to knit with.

I can’t show you the shawl until September, but I’m really happy with it! It took me a while to get there. When I was about 2/3 done with the first prototype, I decided that I didn’t like a couple things about it (proportion between elements and lack of simplicity for writing the pattern), so I got more yarn and started over. I didn’t want to rip the first one until I was sure the second one was a go! Gotta have a backup handy, right?

The more I design, the more I realize that what I love is a pattern that is simple but interesting to knit. Stitch patterns that are easily memorized so I’m not tied to a chart. And it has to be pretty when I’m done! I think this one is a winner on all those fronts.

I used the leftovers to swatch some stripes for the current piece I’m designing. The piece will have have lacy sections divided by a stripe of some sort. I tried a couple of my favorite elongated stitches on my first prototype, but they weren’t quite what I was looking for. Time to swatch!

I put this up on Instagram, and received some good feedback. I really love the bottom stripe, but those are bobbles in there, and I don’t want to make 60 bobbles in a row. Ever.

I liked the way the top CC stripe is set off by the MC garter stitch above and below it, but wasn’t sure it had enough gravitas to hold things together.

So I tried that heavier eyelet stripe with a garter stitch offset (new top stripe) But all that garter stitch made the eyelets look smaller. Nope!

This one is the winner. I’m using Bumblebirch’s Heartwood fingering weight. I love this yarn; it’s a joy to knit with and it is standing up well to my knit/frog/reknit design process.

These colors, Hellebore and Atlantic, are a gorgeous combination that makes my heart sing! Thanks to Bumblebirch dyer Sarah Kurth for picking them for me.

And I’ve mathed my way into a simple and elegant design. (Wish I had done the math the first time…) I knew I was on the right track with this design when I couldn’t stop smiling. Looking forward to sharing this one with you soon.

Introducing: Go Tell the Bees, pattern and KAL

And we’re live! My Go Tell the Bees pattern is now available through Ravelry. (If you’re a newsletter subscriber, don’t forget to use your coupon code for 20% off. If you’re not a subscriber and want to be, let me know in the comments.) This shawl was inspired by the title of the upcoming book in the Outlander series, “Go Tell the Bees That I Am Gone.” I’m not sure who’s gone, but the title is highly evocative.

This crescent shawl begins at the lower edge and features lacy honeycombs and bees. This is the 645 yard shawl version above.

And this is the smaller 430 yard version. You’ll definitely want at least 430 yards; I used nearly every scrumptious bit of mine.

The pattern has been tech edited and both sizes have been test knit. We’re having a KAL beginning June 11; you can sign up for the KAL in my Ravelry group here. I hope you’ll knit along with me! I’m having fun picking prizes for it already.

If you’d like to use the same yarn I did, you can order Renai in many colors from Fierce Fibers. This is a lovely single ply fingering weight yarn. Stacey is offering it at 10% off through June 30, 2017 with coupon code MICHELEBEE10.

I’ve been very impressed with the color and non-kinkiness of Stacey’s gradient yarns, so I asked her about her process. Here’s what she had to say:

I started looking at the various decisions a dyer needs to make in order to create a good quality gradient. The obvious requirements were that the color change can’t be abrupt, there can’t be white spots and there can’t be any kinkiness to the yarn. Solving these problems really fired up my inner engineer and after months of development I started releasing a small set of gradients in the fall of 2016. I dug deep and bought the best equipment I could afford so I can make my own knitted blanks. This means I can make any yarn into a gradient and I’m not limited to blanks from a manufacturer. I can make my blanks to any yardage, any gauge and any width I choose (which if you can believe will affect the “fade” of your gradient).

Getting rid of the kink took considerable work. Frogging the blanks immediately while wet is a whole other set of possible failure modes that had to be solved. I also discovered that after some time, no matter what you do, certain yarns just have too much memory and can’t be straightened without herculean effort. Anyone who also spins knows there’s just a point where the yarn you’ve made, can’t be undone. So believe it or not, my blanks have a “fresh by” date!

Here’s Saigon Cinnamon just after dyeing, before drying and being wound into a cake. I thoroughly enjoyed knitting with Stacey’s yarn for these shawls.

Let’s knit!

Busy as a bee

Buzz! I’m watching my test knitters’ projects develop on the Go Tell The Bees projects page on Ravelry, and planning for a fun KAL. Pattern coming June 1, KAL begins June 11.

I found some cute bee stitch markers that will make a sweet prize.

I’m working on a design to coordinate with a crochet friend, and Biscuit is marginally impressed. She helped with the math.

I’m dreaming of a shawl in blue and yellow yarns. Which blue? Which yellow? I don’t know yet. What do you think?

And after changing my mind several times on how this combo will play out, I think I have a plan.

I’ll just be over here in my corner with lots of graph paper!

And in the middle of all that, I spent the weekend out at Edgefield for my friends’ wedding. No wedding pix; I was hopping busy that day! But I was blessed to sing with my beloved Pie Birds during and after the wedding. So much fun.

Note the red boots and newly finished second Red Zephyr Shawl!

We made good use of the soaking pool, and my MDK tote.

Wine tasting on the balcony. Cheers!

Scenes from a Yarn Crawl

Another Rose City Yarn Crawl is in the rear view mirror. I had a great time, even though I didn’t make it to all 13 shops.

I started out at For Yarn’s Sake on Thursday in a group trunk show with Lorajean Kelley of Knitted Wit, and designers Shannon Squire and Debbi Stone. Such a great way to kick off the crawl. A big thank you to Anne Lindquist for having us!

Marlene and Terri came by to show off their Tilt Shift Wrap and Fern Shawlette.

Leigh Anne wore her Fibonacci and Fan, knit with Knitted Wit’s Cedar and Snowy Cedar in Victory Sock.

Tami and I compared our Braided Wristlets.

And Sunday came by with her heavily modified RCYCMKAL cowl that matched her hair. Cool!

I made it to 3 shops on Friday: Twisted, Close Knit, and The Naked Sheep.

JaMPDX and Knitted Wit had a trunk show in the Twisted Annex, across the street from the shop. This space is also Twisted’s classroom space, where I teach.

The Knitted Wit wall in the shop was quite the rainbow.

At Close Knit, I swooned over colors with Sarah Kurth of Bumblebirch. Plotting and planning!

And I checked out Lisa Carney-Fenton’s clever designs that hide yarn ends inside an i-cord edging.

The pompom window at The Naked Sheep!

Sharon Spence of Stitch Jones showed me her new merino/silk worsted weight single ply. Scrumptious.

I visited two shops on Saturday: Wool ‘n’ Wares and Northwest Wools. I’d say I was slowing down, but there was a lot going on at Wool ‘n’ Wares!

The theme of this year’s yarn crawl was Portland Pastimes. And raising chickens in your yard is one of those pastimes. I loved the feathers on this partridge cochin hen.

There were five trunk shows inside Wool ‘n’ Wares, including Hula Hut Yarns (Cathei Baynes)

Scarlet Tang of Huckleberry Knits (love this Mithril and Bigger on the Inside combo)

Sivia Harding with her latest shawl design, which uses beads with several different shapes/finishes.

Not pictured: Miss Purl (I did buy her stitch markers and cute tin, picture later in post), Carl Herndon Woodworking (I love his seam rippers and his tabletop swifts), and the Aurora Colony Handspinners Guild. Full house!

Fellow Pie Bird (singing buddy) Claudia was working at Northwest Wools, so we had a quick catch up. She tried on my new SeaScape Scarflette, and it looked smashing on her.

On Sunday I went back to For Yarn’s Sake for Sincere Sheep’s (Brook Sinnes) trunk show. I fell in love with her new silk/merino lace weight. The blue (St. Bart’s) called my name, very loudly, and then the green followed.

I put it all together with this gray Cormo, but now that I have it home, I realize that I forgot to check for tonal contrast. I blame the yarn fumes. I think the wonder fluff needs something either darker or lighter; this gray is too close.

No worries; for now I just like looking at the glowing colors.

I finished my crawling at the Knitting Bee, but I forgot to take a picture!

Here’s most of what came home with me. Biscuit approves.

Yarns from Sincere Sheep, Hazel Knits, Knitted Wit; lidded pint glass from JaMPDX, Dumpling bag from Binkwaffle (my third!), stitch markers from Miss Purl, and more needles and locking stitch markers. Wait, more project bags and needles? Yes, this normally monogamous knitter has more design projects than usual, which means I need more tools to corral them.

Next year’s Rose City Yarn Crawl will be March 1-4, 2018. Mark your calendars!

In other news, I’ve picked a winner for the Rain Chain Shawlette giveaway. Friday V will get a pdf copy of the Little Luxuries e-book, and 2 balls of Knit Picks Gloss Fingering in Clover. Congratulations, Friday!

Introducing: SeaScape Scarflette

Introducing my SeaScape Scarflette, a summery accessory knit in sport weight linen. Is it a scarf? A shawlette? You decide.

SeaScape long

This long narrow asymmetric triangle features a lacy edge inspired by the curl of the waves off Maui.

SeaScape

It can be worn long, loosely knotted, double wrapped…so many ways to add a little pizazz to your outfit.

Euroflax minis

The scarflette was inspired by a set of Euroflax Sport linen mini-skeins from Mason-Dixon Knitting. As soon as I saw this color set, I knew what it wanted to be. I took it to Maui in December and worked out the design while enjoying the view of Molokai from the lanai.

Euroflax minis in mason jarHand winding the balls three times made the yarn softer!

Linen gives this fabric a lovely hand and sheen. I highly recommend it! With mini-skeins, part of the fun is deciding in what order to use your colors. The longest, narrowest section is at the beginning, and features the most waves. The last section is short and wide, and features the bubbly eyelet pattern.

SeaScape 1

My first sample had pale green at the far end; the design sample has the mid-gray. I took the sample to Nashville to meet Mason-Dixon Knitting’s Ann Shayne, and she called it “deliriously pretty.” Thrilling!

SeaScape

The mini-skein set has 325 yards. You could also knit this with a single skein of Euroflax Sport, which is 270 yards. (I used about 300 yards of the minis, due to placement of color joins.) Test knitter Sarah Peery used Juniper Moon Farm ZOOEY, a 60/40 Cotton/Linen blend. It also blocked beautifully.

seascape-sarah-cropSarah’s SeaScape before blocking, photo by Sarah Peery

The pattern is available through Ravelry; the pattern page is here. It’s 10% off through March 10, no coupon code needed. If you’re on my mailing list, you’ll receive a coupon code for 20% off. Want to join the list? Let me know in the comments.

More linen minis

I’ve fallen in love with linen, so there’s another linen mini-skeins design in progress. Come see a sneak peek; I’ll have the SeaScape Scarves and the new project with me at my trunk show at For Yarn’s Sake on Thursday, March 2 for the Rose City Yarn Crawl!

Madrona 2017 bliss

Another Madrona Fiber Arts Festival has come and gone. As usual, it was wonderful. This is a picture heavy post, and the pictures are only barely edited, but I want to get this out before I jump into the Rose City Yarn Crawl, which starts on Thursday! I’ll be at For Yarn’s Sake all day Thursday sharing a trunk show with indie dyer Lorajean Kelley of Knitted Wit and designers Debbi Stone and Shannon Squire. Come say hi!

I took two classes at Madrona this year, and they were oddly related. The first was double knitting with Lucy Neatby. Double knitting involves working a double sided fabric that can look different on each side. The result is a squishy thick warm fabric.

double knitting sample

We worked this sample in the round. On the left you can see the front and back sides of the outside of my circular knitting. On the right is the inside, which in this case is a mirror image of the outside that’s shown on the left. But it doesn’t have to be, as you can see from the lower edge. We started with some ribbing, then moved into double knitting with one color (the white) on the inside and outside, and then moved to two colors. A logical progression.

Here’s an example of one of Lucy’s pieces; the inside and the outside aren’t exact mirror images. Her color choices are exquisite, too.

Lucy Neatby piece side A

Lucy Neatby piece side B

One side thing that was interesting was exploring how conventional purl stitches take more yarn than knit stitches, because the yarn travels diagonally across the needle instead of parallel to it. (Pythagorean theorem, hypotenuse!) This could cause your inside and outside fabrics to grow at different rates. In this case, using the Eastern combined knitting style would give a more even fabric and no “rowing out” on the purl rows. That makes sense.

But you could also purposely make the inside and outside fabrics grow at different rates; you can do more rows on one or the other and come up with some interesting corrugation. I’m looking forward to exploring that more, later. Thanks to Lucy for a really fun and thought provoking class!

Lucy Neatby

The second class I took was brioche knitting with JC Briar. I’vve been meaning to try brioche for over a year, and signing up for a class meant that I was really going to do it!

Brioche knitting

Brioche is also two sided knitting, and really squishy. This is the front and back of my class piece. We started out with single color brioche, and then moved on to two color brioche. I had tried single color brioche earlier this year, so that part was easy.

Adding a second color meant thinking a lot harder! When worked flat, it means working each row twice, first with one color, and then the other. You always start with color A when both yarns are at the same end. If they’re not at the same end, you need to catch up color B to color A. I found that it was easier for me to read my knitting than to read the written instructions. I hope that doesn’t come back to bite me later!

The addition of increases and decreases (which must be done two at a time) makes gorgeously striking patterns in brioche. You can see from my class sample that I barely started them, but they’re working. They really cause the width to suck in!

JC’s handout shows what standard charting looks like; it’s not well suited for brioche. She also charted the classwork with her non-grid Stitch Maps system, which made it clear which stitches flowed into which stitches. It’s not really set up for brioche yet, but it was very helpful for class. Registration to use Stitch Maps is free, and a basic subscription is only $15/year, so I’m going to go ahead and sign up. I do love charts, and this could be a very helpful next step.

JC Briar brioche scarf

This scarf pattern is in our handout, and I’ll be working at least part of it to try to perfect my 2 color brioche technique. I enjoyed this class, and just wish it had been an hour longer! Or all day…

Elongated stitches

Novelty stitch class

I also taught three classes at Madrona. My students were all great; they came well prepared and eager to learn. Rock stars! I taught a class on one of my favorite knitting techniques, knitting with elongated novelty stitches. We knit up this little sampler in class, using double and triple wrapped stitches and manipulating them into interesting patterns. These little gems can really dress up your stockinette!

Tridacna class

I taught a mini-class on the novelty stitch in my Tridacna Cowl.

Katey's Tridacna

Katey showed me her completed edging the next day. Nice work!

Blocking class

And I taught my blocking mini-class again. I love this class because it gets hands on, and really makes a case for blocking! (Photo by Gail Wasberg)

But Madrona isn’t just classes. There’s hang out time with other knitters/crocheters/spinners all over the hotel, and there are free demonstrations and workshops in the rotunda. The teacher talent show for charity helped raise over $12,000. And the market…

market finds

I came home with two treasures. The first is a little dish from Charan Sachar of Creative with Clay. He makes beautiful things, and I couldn’t resist. His vases and mugs are also whimsically lovely, like little cardigans complete with buttons.

The second treasure is a skein of red yarn from Abstract Fiber. I compared this red across four yarn bases, and the gray undertone of the yak base made this Lotus fingering (20/60/20 Yak/SW Merino/Silk) an even more perfect match for my red boots. I’m knitting another Zephyr because my sister really wants one!

Red Zephyr and boots

Spinning lesson

Carla McCoy from Pocket Wheels is a great spinning teacher. This is post-banquet; Anne Berk (Annetarsia) is getting her first treadling lesson. I’ve only spun on a drop spindle; I figured Anne could try this out. But the next day I tried it in the Pocket Wheel booth, and suddenly I was making yarn. So cool! And the little wheel fits in a tote bag.

Untangling

Madrona is a place where complete strangers help untangle each other’s yarn. This did get resolved, in about 20 minutes. Miraculous. The yarn was actually left over from these slippers, designed by Mary Scott Huff and worn by the happy knitter.

Mary Scott Huff slippers

I found that Sally Melville has a love for boots too. Check these out:

Boots on the ground at Madrona

I’m going to close this post with more pictures to tide you over until next year. See you at Madrona?

Franklin Habit is ninja photo bomberFranklin Habit as photo bomber. Kilroy?

Canon Hand DyesCanon Hand Dyes booth

Galina KhmelevaWhen Galina comes over to help you choose your tahkli spindle. “This one dances too much!” With Pamela Grossman and Dusty the wonder pup.

Weaving shuttlesWeaving shuttles by Joel Grinstead

Turkish spindleAnd Turkish spindles, too

Creative with ClayCreative with Clay

young scotsmanYoung Scotsman with hand knit kilt hose

Madrona Rainier sunriseRainier at sunrise

New: Rain Chain Shawlette, ebook and yarn for you?

Back from Madrona, but it’s going to take a few days to be ready to properly blog about it. In the meantime, here’s something I’ve been wanting to tell you about for months!

Rain Chain Shawlette KP

I’ve been dying to wear this new piece for the last year, but I had to wait until it was published this month. This is my Rain Chain Shawlette.

Rain Chain Shawlette KP2

The shawlette is a sideways crescent triangle, one of my favorite shapes. It features a rain chain detail at the top edge, and spring flowers on the lower edge.

Rain Chain Shawlette in Velveteen

My prototype version features beads that look like raindrops both in the rain chains and in the flowers and edging, to add sparkle and drape. Instructions for bead placement are in the patttern.

Rain Chain Shawlette bead detail

The Rain Chain Shawlette is knit with Knit Picks Gloss Fingering, a 70/30 blend of merino wool and silk. The silk gives it a drape and a bit of a shine. This shawlette is in the new Knit Picks book, Little Luxuries, which is available as a physical book, and also as an e-book. The single pattern is also available from Knit Picks.

I”ve enjoyed looking through the book that just arrived; it includes 23 patterns for beautiful accessories such as shawls, cowls, hats, and mitts. All patterns use less than 100g of yarn.

I’m giving away a pdf copy of the Little Luxuries e-book, and 2 balls (100g total) of Gloss Fingering in the winner’s choice of color. Leave a comment and let me know which color you want to knit your Rain Chain Shawlette; color choices are here. I’ll pick a winner on Monday, February 27.

Rain Chain Shawlette gradient

The prototype before the prototype was knit with an end to end gradient from Alexandra’s Crafts.

Fibonacci and Fan

And now finally! The winner of Knitted Wit Victory Sock yarns to knit Fibonacci and Fan is Rhea Kohlman. Her pick? Snowy Woods, which is the color that launched the entire snowy line. Good choice! Rhea, I’m emailing you to get your addy.

So many things to knit! So many things to blog. Back soon, I promise.

Nashville and knitting

Catching up with myself here…DH and I went to Nashville for a few days of fun last week. He was on his way to Bowling Green, KY for a project, and had to pass through Nashville, so why not?

I met up with Ann Shayne at Mason-Dixon Knitting world headquarters. I’m so impressed by how she and Kay Gardiner have developed MDK from a longtime blog between friends to this new creation. They’re dabbling in all sorts of knit-related fun: publishing booklets, blogging, community forum, YARN.

MDK wall of yarn

This is the wall of yarn. My Euroflax mini-skeins used to live here, and now they’re all grown up.

SeaScape

It looks great on Ann! It’s a long skinny…scarf? Shawlette? Scarlette? What would you call it? Ann called it “deliriously pretty” in an Instagram post; I was pretty chuffed by that. Pattern coming soon.

 

These are samples of the Breton Cowl from Field Guide Number 1. The Shibui yarn is heftier than I thought (quick knit!), and really pretty. The favorites queue is getting longer! Thanks to Ann for a fun morning of knitting and chat.

Breton Cowl

I made a quick trip to Craft South the day before in search of yarn to swatch for a design idea. This is a sweet shop that carries fabric and a small but exquisite selection of yarn.

Craft South entry

Craft South yarns

While I was there I met Hannah Thiessen, @hannahbelleknits on Instagram. So fun to meet online knitting friends in real life!

Hannah at Craft South

And Craft South is near a Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream shop, so I got to introduce DH to his first Jeni’s experience.

Jeni's

I may have acquired some red boots that day, too. But it wasn’t an all knitting trip. We saw Sister Sadie, an excellent 5 piece bluegrass band at the Station Inn, and A Prairie Home Companion at the Ryman Auditorium. Nashville is a fun city; I’d love to visit again.

At the Ryman
Those stained glass windows at the Ryman!

Red Zephyr and Biscuit

Right now I’m knitting away madly on a red Zephyr Shawlette to go with my new boots. This is Hazel Knits Entice, Vamp colorway.

Zephyr and boot

I love how the Zephyr arrow echoes the heart on the boot. I’m trying to finish this to take to Madrona next week. Knit like the wind…a zephyr!

New: Fibonacci and Fan Shawl, yarn giveaway

It’s a snow day here…time to knit! It started snowing last night and we’ve got about 10 inches of snow at my house.

Snowy Tree

I loved knitting my Ships in the Night shawl, but as I was finishing it, I thought: What if I arranged the Fibonacci stripes differently? Once the idea was in my head, I had to find out.

Fibonacci and Fan

And I love it! More geeky numbers! This time, the stripes grow at the same rate, and look like ripples in a pool of water.

Fibonacci and Fan is my new top down crescent shawl. It features garter stitch stripes in an increasing Fibonacci sequence, and ends with a scalloped Old Shale lace edging, which is sometimes called Feather and Fan. The knitting is simple and very zen. I knit mine with two coordinating skeins of Knitted Wit’s Victory Sock yarn in Cedar and Snowy Cedar. Two skeins of 4 ounce/420 yard fingering weight yarn will get you on your way.

Like its sister shawl, Ships in the Night, Fibonacci and Fan is fun to wear. Worn on the shoulders, the ends hang down nearly to my knees. It’s like a great big garter stitch hug.

Fibonacci and Fan 2

Worn scarf style, it feels luxuriantly engulfing. Ella is much taller than I am, so it’s not quite as engulfing on her. Your mileage may vary. You can also wear it bandanna style, with both ends hanging in front.

To make this launch even more fun, Lorajean Kelley of Knitted Wit is offering 2 coordinating skeins of yarn to one lucky winner, in the winner’s choice of color plus the “snowy” version of that color. Leave a comment by January 18 telling me which color calls your name, and you’ll be entered in a drawing for the yarn. These are the snowy colors:

Snowy Colors

It’s hard to tell on these little cards, but you can get a better idea of the snowy colors by looking at the Snowy Hat collection on Ravelry that we did in 2015. (The pictures are not mine, so I’m not posting them here.)

I can’t give yarn to everybody, but the pattern is available through Ravelry, and is 10% off through January 23, no coupon code required. If you’re a subscriber to my newsletter, you’ll have a coupon code in the next newsletter for 20% off. Not a subscriber but want to be? Add that to your comment and I’ll get you signed up.

Talk to me! I’m snowed in and waiting to hear from you. So is Biscuit. She’s not impressed with snow, or the snowman I brought her.

Don't you bring #pdxsnow to your #cat @thebiscuitreport is not impressed.

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