Minerva KAL home stretch status check

I finished the knitting on my Minerva KAL cowl this week. I used my yarn scale to maximize my yarn usage; I wanted to use as much of this glorious gradient as possible.

Minerva entrelac knitting

First, how much yarn does it take to knit a rectangle unit? A triangle? And then multiply by the number of remaining units. Some quick math told me I had enough yarn to knit that last set of left and right leaning tiers before finishing, but it still felt like yarn chicken at the end.

It’s easiest to block Minerva before seaming. I steam blocked it to relax things a bit, but I didn’t want to completely flatten it. This went from 31” long to 33” long, and stayed at 7” wide.

The next step was to remove my provisional cast on. I love how the crochet chain provisional cast on unzips.

Next up: Seaming my cowl into a loop using 3 needle bind off. You could also kitchener stitch/graft your seam, but I always have to look up the instructions, and I’m feeling lazy.

Did you enjoy the hedge trimmer sound effects in the background? With everyone home for the coronavirus shutdown, and a gloriously beautiful day, there was bound to be some shared sound in the neighborhood. Oops.

Finished pictures coming soon. I ordered a Tiny Shawl Belt from IndigoDragonfly for this project, and now I can’t find it! I may have to photograph with something else in the meantime.

How are you doing with your Minerva? I see projects on Ravelry and Instagram, and some blogs, too. I’m going to let the KAL play out through the end of April, and then give away some prizes. You don’t have to be completely finished to receive a prize, but finishing is sweet.

Please show your projects on Ravelry or Instagram (or both!) if you’d like to be included! Make sure your Ravelry project page is linked to the pattern so I can find it. Tag your Instagram posts with #minervakal2020 and #pdxknitterati so I can find them there, too.

Have I tempted you enough? It’s not too late to cast on, if you’d like to join the KAL. Here’s everything you need to know:

Previous 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
How’s your Minerva KAL progress?

Petite Brioche Zoom class May 2

Petite Brioche: It’s my gateway project into brioche knitting. Brioche rib has such a simple, soothing rhythm to it; it’s a perfect technique to learn during this pandemic lockdown. The Petite Brioche pattern is free here on my blog, but sometimes you want a little more guidance, right?

Blue brioche headband

I’m offering a virtual class via Zoom on Saturday, May 2, 1 to 3 pm PDT. I’ll help you get started with your 2 color brioche rib headband. Price is $25. Class size is limited, as we figure out the ins and outs of this new way of teaching and learning. Come knit with me!

Leave a comment if you’re interested. Hoping to introduce you to the joys of brioche!

Sweet Love Note success

I finished knitting my Love Note sweater the other night. I would have finished sooner, but I couldn’t decide how long I wanted my sleeves. I finished them several times.

Magic loop

I didn’t enjoy knitting the sleeves using magic loop; I’m not sure why not. Maybe because I had a 40” cable, and it might have been more comfortable with a longer cable or 2 circulars? With coronavirus lockdowns, it would have taken longer than I wanted to get more needles, so I just slogged on.

The pattern has the sleeves ending just below the elbow, but that made everything congregate visually around my waist. No thank you! I tried 3/4 length (mid-forearm) but DH said it just looked like my sleeves were too short. I eventually settled on bracelet length, ending above my wristbone, not quite full length. Short sleeves might have worked, too, but I wasn’t going to rip them all the way back; those sleeves were hard earned.

Love Note sweater

I finished at 1 a.m. Then I put it on, and ended up reading ‘til 2 a.m. because I didn’t want to take it off to go to bed. I think that’s a win!

Love Note sweater with helpful knitting cat

Calvin and I took careful measurements because I wanted to wet block it and still have it be exactly the same size when it was done. Superwash yarn is notoriously stretchy when wet, but in my experience it generally bounces back to the same size when dry. You just have to not freak out when you see how big it grows when wet!

I didn’t make a real swatch for this sweater, but I started it 3 times, which means I really made two huge swatches before knitting this sweater. I didn’t wash and block a swatch though, so I didn’t really know how it would turn out, although I could make an educated guess. Do as I say, not as I do! As long as you’re willing to live with the consequences, it’s knitter’s choice.

I definitely got familiar with the fabric on different sized needles! I used a US 9 for the upper body and lace, a US 10 for the stockinette body and sleeves, a US 8 for the bottom ribbing and sleeve ribbing, and a US 7 for the neck because it was above the US 9 lace. A US 8 probably would have been fine for the neck; I just didn’t think of it.

Love note sweater blocking outdoors

It was nice enough to block outdoors, so I took full advantage. And it did stretch when wet. I patted it carefully into approximately the right size. It was about an inch longer than I wanted, but it did bounce back perfectly when dry. Whew!

Finished sweater is 40” around for 3” of ease; I was knitting the 41.5” size. No hi-low hem, just cropped. I love the way it fits; the recommended 7” of ease would have been ridiculous on me. I take patterns as a general suggestion, a starting point for negotiation. This is a great pattern by Tin Can Knits.

Love Note lace detail

The mohair makes the lace a bit fuzzy, but it’s pretty anyway. Now I have to find something to wear it with. I’m glad I found a project for these two retreat souvenir yarns!

I’m almost finished with Minerva; soon I’ll have nothing on the needles again. But I have a couple ideas…

Are you feeling more productive with social/physical distancing, or less? I was feeling pretty scattered for a few weeks. I could manage tasks that were already planned out, like knitting something designed by someone else, or even designed by me that was already on the needles, or making videos for Minerva, or sewing face masks, or baking from recipes. But I couldn’t wrap my head around something that requires a big burst of creativity, like designing something new.

I hope that finishing these projects will give me enough head space to spark creativity. If not, I could always knit…another Love Note. In DK. Yes, I love it that much.

Love Note update: Neckline, and Sleeve Island

I finished the body of my Love Note, guessing on length based on my Soldotna Crop. I wanted it to be one inch longer than that. (I love my Soldotna Crop, but wasn’t willing to buy a whole skein of yarn just to knit one more inch.) I am opting to not do the short row shaping at the hem; I just want the sweater to be the same length all the way around.

I decided to finish the neckline before moving on to the sleeves, for two reasons. The first reason: I want to know just how much yarn I have left for the sleeves, in case I have to make them shorter than the pattern suggests. Yarn chicken is a common game around here.

The other reason: I wanted to know exactly how long my sweater is, and I couldn’t know that without finishing the neck, because everything hangs from there.

The first time I finished, I realized I hated the round crew neckline around my neck! It made me feel claustrophobic. No thank you! I don’t even have a picture; I frogged that back in the middle of the night.

I thought about how comfortable the provisional cast on was when I tried it on for length. The instructions have a round of decreases, and then on to the ribbed neck.

Waiting with provisional cast on

I ripped back to the neckline decreases, so it’s still not as wide as it was with just the provisional cast on, but a reasonable width. Then I worked 7 rounds of stockinette on the smaller needle. This rolls *away* from my neck, and is a little wider than the ribbed neck (ribbing pulls in more), which makes me very happy. This is basically the same treatment I gave my Stopover sweaters. Winning!

Purple Love Note sweater

I weighed my remaining yarn, and now I’m knitting down the first sleeve.

Purple Love Note in progress

I’m at the point where it reminds me of “The Wild Swans” by Hans Christian Andersen. Do you remember that story, where the last sweater isn’t quite finished, and the last brother has one wing and one arm?

What are you knitting right now?

Bagels, no yeast, no wait

Yogurt bagels

I wanted to bake bagels again this past weekend, but I’m short on yeast. An Instagram post by @minibagelmom mentioned something called yogurt bagels. And right down the rabbit hole I went!

Apparently there are 2 ingredient bagel recipes, which use just self-rising flour and greek yogurt. Self rising flour is just flour with baking powder and salt added, so that’s a 4 ingredient bagel at our house. Why buy and store self-rising flour separately? I have a tiny kitchen.

I looked through a lot of yogurt bagel recipes online; most made 4 bagels. That’s not enough bagels to turn on the oven. Doubling it would require 2 cups of greek yogurt, which I didn’t have. But! The recipe on the Fage Yogurt page only needed 1.5 cups of yogurt, and claimed to make 8 bagels.

And it did. There’s no rise time for these bagels, just mix, knead a tiny bit, and shape. No boiling, just bake. They’re not a perfect bagel, but a darn good substitute if you are short on yeast and time. DH liked them, and I’d make them again. Recipe here.

Note: Definitely shape them as directed; my usual way of making a ball and poking my thumb through made a very unattractive sticky ring. Rolling into a rope and making a circle looked much better, so I reshaped my originals.

We’re eating at home a *lot* with an occasional take-out meal to support a favorite restaurant. Other delicious things we’ve had recently:

Quinoa bowl with brussels sprouts and eggplant
Quinoa bowl with roasted brussels sprouts, eggplant, and tahini, recipe from NYTimes/Melissa Clark.

lentil and spinach soup
Instant Pot lentil and spinach soup from Kitchen Treaty.

What’s your favorite thing you’ve cooked recently? Are you being more adventurous in the kitchen?

Maskmaker, maskmaker, make me a mask…

Oh, why not just break into song?

Pfaff sewing machine

My lovely old Singer 306K still needs service, and it would take 2.5 weeks to get it back. So I borrowed my mom’s sewing machine. Sewing masks is a lot more fun when my thread doesn’t break every six inches.

An IG friend gave me some elastic, so I got back to work. Check out these fabric combos. Most were just languishing here in my stash, from when I thought I wanted to quilt.

Face masks blue stars Chinese scriptChinese script and blue stars

Face masks purplePurple florals

Fabric samples Music!

Fabric samplesMartinis and stars, a trade from friend Sharyn for some elastic

I had enough elastic for 50 masks. I’m making 20, and I shared elastic with my mask-making friends. They’re going to family, friends, and nurses. Many hands make light work!

I’m still using the Deaconess mask pattern, but I’ve changed my dimensions to make them a little taller based on fit on DH. I’m now cutting my fabric to be 6.75” (.75” taller) x 9”. When I run out of elastic, I could start making masks with ties, or I could just get back to my knitting.

Also Covid-19 related: Have you heard about Going on a Bear Hunt? It’s a way to engage families who are out walking. Leave a bear in your window! We saw many bears on our walk last night.

Going on a bear hunt

Bisquee is guarding the house with Tedward and Dr. Bear.

Teddy bears

Dr. Bear’s mask is on point!

How’s your Minerva KAL progress?

I haven’t been knitting a lot; I got sidetracked by sewing face masks this weekend. More on that later.

Minerva KAL progress

But I love how entrelac gives me a little feeling of victory, each time I finish a rectangle or triangle. Progress! I can tell as I cycle through my colors that I’m getting somewhere. And I love seeing what’s to come, too. My Huckleberry Knits DK Gradient is knitting up into a shimmering rainbow, rather than individual squares, just as I envisioned.

How are *you* doing with yours? Do you have any questions? The pattern is meant to stand on its own, but my little video tutorials can help light your way.

If you’ve downloaded the pattern, please do give Minerva a try. I offered special introductory pricing as a way to help in these troubling pandemic times. I’d love to know that it’s helping you! Please post your projects on Ravelry or Instagram and let me know. Use hastags #pdxknitterati and #minervakal2020 so I can find them on IG.

The Minerva Entrelac Cowl or Scarf pattern is available through Ravelry. Come knit with me!

Previous 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

Stay home, save lives, sew masks

You’ve probably seen the slogan, “stay home, stay safe.” But that’s not strong enough. It’s not all about us. “Stay home, save lives” is a stronger statement, and addresses the greater good.

But what if you *have* to go out for that rare trip? Grocery shopping? Pharmacy pickup? Or if your work has been deemed essential? I think a face mask is in order. Even if it doesn’t protect *you* from everything, it helps protect *others* from us. And it makes us all remember to keep a distance, and not touch our faces. I’m in.

Face masks

I spent a recent afternoon sewing masks using this pattern. It’s simple, and it works. They’ve added a version with ties, since elastic is in short supply these days. Also, people who have to wear them for long periods say that the elastic can be irritating behind the ears. I experimented with elastic and ties.

Face masks

Top to bottom: Elastic, beading cord, ribbon ties.

Elastic: I cut 1” elastic lengthwise to make 1/4” strips. It frayed a bit, but I think it’s done fraying. I’ll put a few drops of Fray Chek on the edges, but not all over because it has to be able to stretch. This is the only elastic I had in the house, and now it’s all gone.

Beading cord: I have a small supply of this. If you make knots at each end, there’s a better chance it won’t slip out of your seam. And if you cut the pieces a little long (7.5” between knots) the wearer can tie a loose knot in the cord to shorten it up to the right size. Too short, and it will be uncomfortable, so it’s nice to be adjustable.

Ribbon ties: I tried this before the second pattern was added to the website, so I just put ties at the corners. I used 14” lengths, but 16” is going to be better as far as having enough to comfortably manipulate the ties. I don’t advise lightweight ribbon like this, though; it wants to tangle. This ribbon was from when Son1 went to camp, 24 years ago. I had to put his name inside his clothes!

Singer sewing machine and catHow do you use this thing?

I don’t think Bisquee had ever seen the sewing machine before! I don’t sew much.

Face mask model

Success! But my sewing machine is having tension issues, so I’m going to have to figure out what’s going on inside the tension knob. YouTube to the rescue!

More on this lovely old sewing machine in this blog post here.

Edited to add: the 6” x 9” masks are fine on me, but short on DH, so I’m increasing the size to 6.75” x 9” for a little more coverage. Onward!

Baking for fun and comfort

I spent some extra time in the kitchen this weekend. I had a hankering for bagels, and we didn’t have any.

homemade bagels

I’ve used this bagel recipe before, adapted to use some whole grain flour, with good results. Here’s my version of the recipe, in a previous blog post. I was a bit worried, because my yeast had a “best by” date of February 2019, but it worked just fine. You know at the beginning of the process, so no problem.

The bagels are delicious! Fabulous straight from the oven, but I actually like the slightly chewier texture the next day.

I’ve seen on the interwebz that lots of people are stress baking during this COVID-19 stay-at-home order. Apparently there’s been a run on flour and yeast at the grocery stores. I don’t think I’m stress baking; I just like to bake! I’m not ready to use more of my dwindling flour supply yet, but that didn’t stop me from making dessert.

Peanut butter cookies

I baked some flourless peanut butter cookies, using a mashup of The Nashville Food Project’s 3 ingredient peanut butter cookies from Judy’s Chickens and Smitten Kitchen’s 5 ingredient version. The 2 extra ingredients? A splash of vanilla, and some coarse sea salt sprinkles. Those two extras make my day.

Peanut Butter Cookies (makes about 18 2” cookies)

7/8 cup peanut butter (just a little less than a full cup)
7/8 cup packed light brown sugar, or a mixture of light brown and white sugar
1 egg
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
coarse sea salt, for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (no mess to clean up!)

Whisk sugar(s) and egg together in a mixing bowl. Whisk in vanilla, then peanut butter, until smooth. Use a mini ice cream scoop to form balls, and place on cookie sheet. Criss cross slightly flat with a fork. Sprinkle with sea salt.

Bake 12-15 mins, or until lightly browned at edges. Let them cool slightly, then move to wire rack to finish cooling. Store in airtight container, if you don’t eat them all immediately!

If you used a full cup of sugar, and a whole cup of peanut butter, it would still be fine. I used all brown sugar this time, but I’ve used half brown and half white before. This is not the time to stress over your baking!

How are you managing? Are you staying at home? Baking? Knitting? Cleaning house? OK, that last one isn’t high on my to-do list!

Minerva KAL: Finishing Tier 2

Oh, that last bit, the right edge triangle. It sounds a little tricksy at the end, but it’s not hard. Just keep following the directions, to the end, which is a slightly tricky part. Here’s a video for you:

Then it’s on to Tier 3, which is a piece of cake! 🍰

When you’re finishing Tier 4, with another right edge triangle, picking up the last stitch can be a little tricky. I like to pick up here, in the outside of the first V on the outside edge, so the corner of the triangle doesn’t stick out as a bump on the lovely straight edge.

Now it’s just a matter of knitting away and watching your colors change. Have fun!

Entrelac knitting

You can find the Minerva pattern here on Ravelry. Come knit with me!

If you’re on Ravelry, please make a project page for your Minerva; I’d love to see them there. Ravelry makes it so easy to find them all together. And post on Instagram using #minervakal2020 and #pdxknitterati too. I love seeing your progress.

Just keep knitting…

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