Category Archives: yarn

River and sky #4catbordhi

I’m trying to get excited about my emPower People bandana, but I’m just not. I think it’s even frowning at me! I had hoped to finish it and use it for special election Tuesday next week, but I’m just not feeling the love. I’m going to put it aside for now.

I need to work on my Half the Knit Sky KAL; I’m trying to finish by the end of August. I have a sneaking suspicion that there’s a lot more knitting than I expect, because the yardage on this Huckleberry Knits gradient is so much longer than on my original KnitCircus gradient.

I love how subtle the color shift is.

If you’re knitting along, please post a picture on Instagram or Ravelry so you can be in this week’s prize drawing. I’ll pick a winner over the weekend.

My Rio Calina #4catbordhi is calling my name. I love how quickly this river moves along, big stitches, bold cables. I’m trying to be random with the cables and go with the flow, but those two long lines heading to the left are just begging for an intervention!

What is your knitting telling you to do?

Onward!

New on the needles: Rio Calina

Well, I didn’t find 2 skeins of worsted in my small stash, but I did find 2 skeins of fingering weight that I could use doubled, for a roughly worsted equivalent.

This is Knit Picks Hawthorne Fingering Multi in their Springwater colorway. One of them seems more purple than the other, but that just means that the blend will be that much richer.

The pattern for the Rio Calina cowl is a gift from Cat Bordhi. The cables are meant to be random, like a river. I’m not very good at being random. I like rules; that’s how I design. I’m trying to be intentionally random here, which is testing me a bit, but for Cat Bordhi, I’d do it. Thank you, Cat, for encouraging me to go with the flow.

I cast on while Carole was visiting for wine o’clock in the backyard; she was working on a quilt while I was knitting. It would be sweet to knit this only when I’m with friends, either in person or in virtual Zoom knit nights. But that may not work during our pandemic social distancing. We’ll see how strong the pull of the knitting is. I now have 3 projects on the needles, so I can rotate…randomly?

Cat Bordhi is such a shining light; I’m so sad that the knitting world will soon be without her. If you missed her grace-filled post, it’s here.

Do you want to knit along? You can see posts with #4catbordhi on Instagram and other social media. I’ll be knitting, over here.

Sneaker Wave! Coming soon…

Earlier this spring, Knit Picks gave me the opportunity to try out a new yarn, Chroma Twist Bulky. I love Chroma Worsted, so I jumped at the chance. I chose this color, Narwhal.

I knew I wanted to make some bulky mitts, based on a recipe I dashed off on a piece of paper for my friend Vickie back in 2012. I thought it would be a fairly simple process of reverse engineering the picture she sent me back then.

Reader, I knit the first mitt 4 times, fussing with needle size, cable frequency, cable placement, thumb gore increase options (lifted/m1/other) and rate of increase, and more. Sometimes designing is more engineering than art. But after that, the second mitt was easy. Behold, a vertically centered cable that is neither too tight nor too loose.

I asked for 2 skeins, knowing I wanted to design a matching hat. It was going to be a basic ribbed hat with a single cable as a feature, but the cable didn’t look nearly as impressive on the bigger field of a hat, compared to a single cable on a mitt. MORE CABLES, PLEASE.

And thank you.

I’m really pleased with the finish on the crown.

I loved knitting with this yarn; it’s big and chewy like bucatini pasta. It’s plied rather than a single ply, which gives it more durability than my beloved Chroma Worsted. And it knits up fast! The color is a gentle gradient back and forth; I played around a bit to make sure the mitts had some shading, because the first one I knit was all one color, no thank you. It went to the frog pond and I started from the other end of the skein for the next attempt.

I also played with my hat so that it would begin with the darker shade next to my face, because that’s the shade I liked best.

I’m just going to make these as one size fits most, which is not my usual. Both the hat and the mitts are very stretchy because they’re basically just ribbing. If I add more stitches, it will throw off the perfect symmetry. If you really wanted to change the size a bit up or down, you could do it by changing the needle size. I liked the fabric best on US 9, but US 8 made a great fabric, too. The ball band recommends a US 10, so it’s all covered.

I’ve written the pattern, and it’s been tech edited already, too. I’m looking for a few test knitters for the hat, or mitts, or both. Drop me a line if you’re interested. The hat takes 100g/127 yards, and the mitts take the same. And they’re quick!

Tonal contrast and dye lots

I accidentally finished my pink Love Note before Monday’s Zoom knit nite, so I was desperate to put something else on the needles. This is the downside of being a monogamous knitter.

I poked through my tiny stash, and decided to cast on a second Half the Knit Sky, just to see how far 2 400 yard skeins could take this. The original only has 388 yards in the gradient sparkle skein.

You know the mono tonal contrast camera trick? Put your camera phone in monotone to see if your colors have tonal contrast. Based on this picture, it looks like the speckled yarn would show up well against either of the two blues I have here. I opted for the lighter of the two, because I had tried the darker before and I thought the colors looked muddy together.

But you really don’t know until you try it. Where are my stars?

I think the issue is in the dye lot. The one I’m using is in the upper corner. It looks like the speckles are longer/heavier than the speckles on the one in the lower corner, which is leftover from my Both Sides Now shawl. The light background of the speckle is an ok tonal pop with the background color, but the big star stitch stars are getting lost because there’s too much of the speckle dye in them.

I only have half a ball (44g) of the older version, not enough to do the whole shawl.

I really like the way the older speckle yarn pops off the dark background. When I swatched the dark yarn before with the new speckle, I thought it was a bit muddy. Whyyyyy?

The other difference between these two speckled yarns? The older one is whiter, and the newer one has a more natural/cream background. This isn’t a knock on the yarn; dye lots can vary quite a bit. It’s only when you have your heart set on a particular vision that it becomes problematic.

I do think the darker background is the better choice.

What to do? I think I can make this work if I use the whiter yarn for the single stars and the tall star stitch rows, as well as the final border. I can use the creamier, more heavily speckled yarn in most of the star trail rows (the long white lines). That would be like natural variation in the sky, and it would also vary the perceived length of the lines.

As with most knitting, I’ll have to try it and see. I just have to decide whether to rip back to the beginning of the second set of star trails, or let those bright trails stand. What do you think?

Knit Circus The Night Sky

This showed up in the mail, just before the stay-at-home order took effect. Isn’t it gorgeous? It’s from Knit Circus; the sparkle gradient is The Knit Sky, and the speckle is Mistress of Myself.

I bought these with an idea in mind, something I’ve been dreaming about for a year or more. I’m finally ready to play with it. My initial swatching looks promising. A shawl, and it’s *not* brioche. I know, unbelievable!

More later. Gotta go knit.

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.

Next up: cast ons!

Edited to add:
All Minerva KAL 2020 posts:
Introducing Minerva Entrelac Cowl/Scarf and KAL
Minerva KAL: Choosing your yarn
Minerva KAL: Casting On
Minerva KAL: Base Triangles
Minerva KAL: Tier 2
Minerva KAL: Finishing Tier 2

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!