Lazy Sunday? Learning Sunday!

I love that our (grown) kids love to cook. Their Christmas gift for us was eggs Benedict with smoked salmon, and of course mimosas. We moved it to this weekend so it wasn’t squished between Hanukkah brisket and Christmas prime rib. Ryan brought J. Kenji Lopez-Alt’s book over; he likes his science-based approach to cooking and wanted to try emulsifying!

We learned to make Hollandaise sauce, and how to properly poach eggs. It was all delicious.

Calvin got right up into my lap to check it out.

And Bisquee (Biscuit) was not far behind.


Color pooling yarn

Calvin was very interested in this box, even before I opened it. Did it smell like freshly dyed yarn? Or did it smell like Teddy, Keith Leonard’s orange tabby cat? (Keith AKA Yarn Snob)

Inside the box: 16 skeins of A Wondrous Worsted in the Times Square colorway. Keith usually dyes his pooling colors on fingering weight, but I like worsted for teaching. The knitting goes more quickly, so we can cover more in class. I find this worsted to be a little lighter in weight than the worsteds I usually knit with, more like a DK, which is great.

This yarn is meant to pool! I bought it for my Jump Into the Pool! Planned and Assigned Pooling class at Red Alder Fiber Arts Retreat next month. All students will begin a skein of this yarn, so we can have a successful pooling experience together. I’m about to knit up a sample cowl using assigned pooling, and then write up a pattern that will work with any color pooling yarn.

Cabana Boy yarn

I had Keith dye Cabana Boy with a longer center color for my Knit Maine class last September. I wrote up instructions specifically for this hat and headband and this yarn, but I want to write more general instructions for a central colorburst of varying lengths.

There are a few spots left in my class. Red Alder Fiber Arts Retreat is in Tacoma, Washington February 16-19, and this class is on Friday afternoon. Come knit with me!

Barbie Barbie Barbie

With a new Barbie movie coming out this year, I thought it would be fun to revisit my Barbie blog posts, originally posted in 2009, 2015, and 2019. Here’s a mash-up:

In 2019, my pilot friend Dave Worth saw an exhibit at SFO, San Francisco International Airport. They always have interesting exhibits there. The current one was on 1950’s consumerism. This picture he posted on FB caught my eye. (Barbie was introduced in 1959.)

The Knitting for Barbie canister featured a 2 piece skating outfit for Barbie. It says: Step by step instructions, especially designed for young beginners.

I was wondering just what kind of skating outfit was in that Knitting for Barbie canister, so I googled “knit 2 piece barbie skating outfit” and found this pattern page on Ravelry. It’s a 1962 pattern for a sweater and skinny pants. There’s a picture of the printed pattern, and more googling found a copy of the pattern posted on an old blogspot blog.

The instructions are extensive and quite bossy, with a header that says DO ONE STEP AT A TIME — DO NOT READ AHEAD and a footer that says DO NOT PUT YOUR WORK DOWN BEFORE YOU FINISH THE ROW YOU’RE WORKING ON. The pattern is aimed at beginners, with instructions for ribbing that include moving the yarn back and forth between the needles for knits and purls. I wonder how many of these outfits were knit, and how many were abandoned?

Maybe it wasn’t that hard. At least it was small; the cast on for the back is only 14 stitches.

This is the top half of the skater’s outfit that my Aunt Vivian knit for my Barbie. It’s a completely different outfit from the one in the canister. More on this from my 2009 blog post below. (I’ve been blogging for a while!)


I’ve had this booklet/magazine that’s been on my knitting shelf for what seems like forever.

This one is a 1965 reprint of a magazine originally published in 1952. It belonged to my Aunt Vivian, who gave it to me when I was in high school. I remember knitting these slippers!

My Thrumbelina Thrummed Slippers have a very similar super simple shaping.

thrumbelina thrummed slippers

Check out this dress:

Aunt Vivian used to make clothes for our Barbie dolls. Does this look familiar?

The sash is long gone. I found this dress, along with some other treasures, at Mom’s house. The other items are from more doll clothing booklets, and I have those, too. Check out what a fashionably dressed Barbie was wearing in the late ’60’s and early ’70’s. Stylish sheath dresses, worn with negative ease on very curvy Barbie.

Mohair winter coat, scarf, hat:

A sequined shell:

And this half of a skater outfit. I love the mohair edging on this. I remember the fabulous flared skirt. I always wanted one just like it for me. I remember sewing dresses with full circle skirts with my Aunt Rose when I was 10; I loved twirling in them. In college I made a dress with a full circle skirt with a drawstring waist and drawstring neckline…out of a bedsheet! No pattern needed.

Check out this elegant skirt.

Especially the waist shaping. No drawstring waist here! Based on the ribbing at the waistline, I’m guessing this was knit from the waist down, so those would be increases for the shaping. Sleuthing!

Aunt Vivian loved to knit and crochet. She made lots of clothes for our dolls, and vests for us. In her later years she knit many, many hats for the homeless. Aunt Rose taught me to knit when I spent the summer with her when I was 14. How lucky was I? Two aunts with crafty skills, one on each side of the family.

Who taught you to knit?

Top Nine 2022

A fun thing to do at the end of the year: check out my top nine Instagram posts!

  1. Whale Watch, the crown of the cap
  2. “How I style” collage: basic black with a pop of color! With Wailin’ Jennys and BRUUUUUUCE
  3. On the Norwegian Breakaway for the Vogue Knitting Cruise
  4. Cherry blossoms on Portland waterfront
  5. What I wore at Red Alder Fiber Arts Retreat
  6. Sheepy Steeky Coasters class at VKLive Seattle
  7. Closeup! Elongated stitches on Half the Knit Sky
  8. Key lime pie that naughty cat Calvin sampled (we ate the unsampled part)
  9. PeaceKnitLove demonstrates winding on the KnitMaine bus!

You can check yours out at TopNine. Interestingly, it’s a collection of photos rather than a collage, so you’d need to take a screenshot because it’s nine individual pictures. I also tried BestNine, but it never finished gathering.

Happy new year!

Coming soon, Ebb and Flow

I didn’t frog; I finished!

And I love it with the lighter color on top. I’m so glad I didn’t frog it. Sometimes you have to tell that little voice to just go away. Blocking went fine, whew! But I think it will become less crisp the more I wear it; it’s 50/50 baby yak and silk.

This is the first one I knit while designing. It has a taller neck, and less down in the triangle. I think I like them both! This one is 85/15 superwash wool and nylon. The fabric has more body to it, which I also like.

What I really like is how the math works so elegantly for the increases in the triangle, so that each section is created in exactly the same way. Very satisfying for my inner nerd.

This shape is one of my favorites; it doesn’t fall off when you wear it. Do you have a preference on the neck/triangle options? I like having options! If you have a lot of yardage, you could have both a taller neck and a longer triangle.

On to test knitting and tech editing! This will be out in 2023. I’m looking forward to the new year. I hope you’re having a joyous holiday season!

Finish or frog?

I started this on vacation a couple weeks ago, and I was closing in on the end yesterday. Have you ever been knitting a gradient, and all of a sudden you begin to think that maybe you should have started at the other end? And that thought keeps buzzing around in your head?

Go Tell the Bees Shawl

This is my Go Tell the Bees, which is not what I’m knitting, but it’s the same colorway, with the deepest color at the top, and the lightest as the edging. I think it looks great that way, but I’d forgotten all about it. My current project is a top down cowlish thing, and the light color is at the top. I’m at the last 12 round repeat using the darkest part of the gradient, and I nearly frogged it yesterday.

I finished it this morning, put it around my neck, and the color was fine. Glad I didn’t frog it! It’s currently soaking so I can block it, and then comes the next test. I’ll find out if it was a mistake to not wash and block a swatch with this new to me yarn base of baby yak and silk. Fingers crossed!

Happy Hanukkah and Merry Christmas! And happy solstice, too. (Pic from a previous year; we’re not that far into the holiday yet!)

Best laid plans, volcano edition

The news that Mauna Loa was erupting when we already had plans to be on Hawaii kicked my planning instinct into high gear. Kīlauea has been erupting since September 2021 (it stopped in 2018, and started up again), so we hoped to see Kīlauea and a distant glow from Mauna Loa if we drove from Kona over to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and stayed overnight.

I booked an AirBnB in Volcano (the town) for Saturday night so we could drive over on Saturday, bask in the glow Saturday night, and come home on Sunday.

We scoped out the overlook on the Crater Rim Trail so we’d know where we were going to go after dark, planning a viewpoint that would include both Kīlauea and Mauna Loa. Halema’uma’u (the crater inside Kīlauea) was smoking that afternoon

and looked beautiful at sunset from Volcano House. (Although suspiciously less steamy?)

I spoke with a park ranger, and she pointed out Mauna Loa’s steam in the distance, but said that things had quieted down quite a bit. (Steam from Kīlauea’s Wahinekapu steam vents in left foreground.)

We went down Crater Rim Trail to the overlook after dinner, and this is what we saw. Yep, nothing. No lava glow from either Kīlauea or Mauna Loa. Too dark to see steam (the moon wasn’t up yet). I guess Madame Pele (Pelehonuamea, the volcano goddess) has her own timetable, which didn’t coincide with ours! But I have to say that the sky was stunning, with more stars than I’ve ever seen at once.

We rose before dawn to see the sunrise (in the rain) over Halema’uma’u from the Kīlauea Overlook. (We picked a different overlook, because there was no need to try to get Mauna Loa in the same view.)

No lava glow, but it was beautiful anyway. It looks like both Kīlauea and Mauna Loa are now taking a break. I think Pele is laughing at us! (If you’d like to see more glow from a previous visit in 2015, see this post.)

Of course I took a picture of my knitting with the volcano. I didn’t actually knit…it was rainy, windy, and cold. This is the little sample I’d be using the next day to review increases and decreases for the Brioche Buddies cast on party.

The nice thing about getting up before dawn is that there was nobody on the Chain of Craters Road, and we were the only people looking at the Hōlei Sea Arch before 8 a.m.

The arch in 2013 and 2022. It’s 90 feet tall, and was formed 550 years ago. You can see by the angle that they’ve moved the viewing overlook; heavy surf in July made the cliff less stable. The heavy surf also took some chunks out of the arch leg; at some point it will fall into the sea.

It was a beautiful, quiet, windy morning.

I’m glad we took this road trip, even if we didn’t get to see hot lava!

Sometimes you just have to chill out and go with the flow…

On the needles, blue and pink…

I’ve been working on a design project with this lovely yarn from Moss Fibers. The colorway is The Maine Event, and this was in our goodie bags at Knit Maine. It’s really nice; the color is evocative of our event, and the yarn is wonderful to work with.

After several false starts, I knew needed to simplify; there were too many ideas trying to fit into this single skein project. I started again, and frogged it again after I realized there was a more elegant way to arrange my chosen stitch pattern. It now flows seamlessly, and that makes me happy.

This is a 2 part cowl, like Cosette, with a round cowl and then a bandana cowl at the bottom. Now that I’ve finished the project, I’ve decided that it’s not as wide as I want it to be at the bottom. Because it’s a one skein project, if I want it to be bigger at the bottom, it will have to be shorter at the top. Does that mean I’m going to frog the whole thing? Nope. It may become a size option; we’ll see.

Now I’m knitting option number 2. A little wider to begin, and on we go. This yarn is BosSi from Fierce Fibers in the Plum Gradient colorway. She’s not dyeing on this base any more (50/50 baby yak and silk), but it’s very lovely, and was one only two options in my limited stash when I suddenly wanted a gradient. Beautiful!

Ummmm, I just realized that I haven’t knit with this particular fiber base before. I didn’t knit and block a swatch before beginning, and I can’t just stop in the middle of the gradient and make a swatch. I hope that doesn’t turn around to bite me later! I mean, I guess I could knit a small swatch from the other end of the ball, but why take the blocking chicken fun out of the game?

Knit faster, find out sooner…

Knit Picks Reflections interchangeable needles

Recently, Knit Picks sent me some new needles to try, before they became available to the public. They sent me two sets of their new Reflections stainless steel interchangeable needles, one in US sizes 4-11, and a new lace and sock set in US sizes 0-4. Borrowing this picture from their website because I forgot to take pictures!

My usual go-to metal needle is the Hiya Hiya stainless steel interchangeable. The new Reflections needle tips are very similar. The points are perfect, not too pointy and definitely not dull. I love them! The join between the cables and the needle tips are very smooth, and that’s important for me when I’m working stitches with multiple yarn overs.

Right now all my projects are on US4 needles, so I did a deep dive on the US4 from the lace set and the regular set. The points are the same (perfect). The lace set and the regular set have differently sized cables, because the lace set has smaller sized needle tips. US 4 needles are in both sets, with different cables/joins; this is where the sizes overlap. I prefer the skinny cable on the lace set to the heavier cable on the regular set because it feels more flexible. Since my work is topping out at a US 4 right now, I can choose between the two.

The 24” cable for the regular set combined with the longer needle tips made the circle of the circular feel a little tight, because it doesn’t curve right at the join. Like the cable on my 16” US 7 Chia Goo needles, it wants to make a pear shape instead of a true circle. The 24” cable for the lace set was paired with a shorter needle tip, and it’s a pleasure to work on.

The new regular sized Reflections needles will work with all of Knit Picks’ regular interchangeable cables. In which case I’d probably use the nylon cables from my other KP wooden interchangeables rather than the newer coated stainless ones. I’m glad I have choices.

When I sent my feedback, I asked if KP would consider making cables for a 20” interchangeable circular. Apparently that’s my new favorite length! I’m doing a lot of 20 to 22” cowls, and they’re just a little too small to fit on a 24” needle. Same for hats for big headed people. I know I can knit these items on a 16” needle, but I like having a little more room to stretch out. And yes, they’re considering it as an option for separate purchase. Yay!

Do you have a favorite needle? For me, it depends on what kind of knitting I’m doing. Sometimes I need to balance a slippery yarn with a more grippy needle, in which case I’ll use wood. But when I want my stitches to fly, I really like stainless steel.

Hello December!

It’s been a busy month since I last posted. Lots of teaching, and lots of fun. I’ve been sitting in on Shaina’s and Keith’s brioche sessions in Brioche Buddies

and tonight it was my turn. I taught about fixing mistakes, and increases and decreases. Here’s the aftermath on my desk with three swatch samples plus Deep End cowl and hat (and my little cork buddies)

and the aftermath of samples next to me

as I kept pulling more things out of the dresser where I keep some of my samples. Next week is the last week, and we’re having a cast on party, woot!

I also did a couple more rounds of tea towels.

Okay, this may have been overkill; that’s a lot of work for each towel!

I love these pine cones with gradient shading; they have more depth than the plain brown ones I did before. I’ve learned a lot and am still learning more.

And I’ve been knitting! More on that in the next post…