At loose ends seeking new project, and a book winner

First of all: Drumroll! The winner of the Japanese Shetland Lace Knitting book is…carrotmusic, aka Karen. Congratulations!

I just bound off my last (for now) brioche project. It’s the cowl I started before I took the deep dive into the brioche hats. (Hats are currently being test knit, and the pictures coming in are lovely.)

I’m looking forward to wearing this cowl. Although Biscuit thinks that it belongs to her.

There *is* precedent for cats and cowls! (Mookie in my Sakura cowl, 2016.)

My needles are currently empty, and I’m not sure what to knit next. I need to get back to my beaded 2 color version of my Nymphaea shawl (shown here in a lovely purple gradient from June Pryce Fiber Arts, available from Bead Biz.)

I’m knitting it in green and blue, the same colors as in my Tumbling Leaves, but with Atlantic as the main color and Hellebore as the contrast color. Yes, I loved these colors in Bumblebirch’s Heartwood so much that I’m using them again! But I don’t need this shawl until Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival in September when the pattern returns to me, so it’s not urgent.

I was hoping to do a Snowy Woods Log Cabin blanket for the #fringeandfriendslogalong, but that was derailed by my brioche obsession. It’s late in the logalong game, but I’m tempted to knit a pair of Karen Templer’s Log Cabin Mitts (free pattern, just published on her Fringe Association site). After knitting the log cabin blocks, there’s a mitered square thumb, which looks cool. I haven’t done a log cabin block with a mitered square in it yet, so that would be exciting. I just looked in my stash, and this may be do-able. Either 3 shades of Knit Picks Wool of the Andes, or a single color shifting skein of Noro Taiyo (which isn’t very soft…).

Or should I be restrained and just knit some log cabin washcloths from the Mason-Dixon Knitting Field Guide #4? They’ve elaborated on their pick up method a little bit since the blankets in their original book, which is where I learned to log cabin. I need to see if I like the new way better. Only one way to find out!

What’s on your needles? Inspire me!

Re-introducing Athena

I’m teaching my Athena Entrelac Cowl at Madrona Fiber Arts Festival in February. I love entrelac; it makes a knitter feel ever so clever! It’s even easier when you have a slow color changing yarn to make the color choices for you. And the work just kind of pulls you along; you want to knit just one more square, and then another, and another.

The original Athena is all in the round. I’ve taught this class a lot, and it’s easier to teach entrelac in the round. But learning to knit entrelac flat is good, too. It just requires two more units, the left and right edge triangles. Too much at the beginning of a class, but it’s not hard.

So I’ve just updated my Athena pattern with an optional split ending; there’s just a little smidge of those left and right edge triangles to try after getting comfortable with the left and right leaning rectangles.

If you’ve already purchased Athena through Ravelry, you can download the update there. If Athena is new to you, I’d like to entice you to try entrelac with a 10% discount on the pattern through February 5. No coupon code needed.

If you’re a newsletter subscriber, there will be a 20% discount code in your next newsletter. You can subscribe to the newsletter here.

In other news, the brioche hat patterns have gone out to test knitters; I’m looking forward to feedback on those. I did re-work the top of the plain ribbed hat. Twice. It wasn’t pretty enough the first two times. Now I’m in LOVE.

I’m teaching a beginning brioche class at Twisted on Thursday, February 22. I’m using my free Petite Brioche pattern as the basis. If you’re local and want a kick start to your brioche knitting, come join us!

What’s on your knitting bucket list? Entrelac? Brioche? Steeks? Do tell!

Two steps forward at the coast, one step back at home

I finished this hat on Saturday evening, but changed my mind about the crown shaping. About to start that again.

In other news, happy birthday to DH! I decided to get cases for his autographed baseballs. They’ve been rolling around in a drawer for 30 years, so it’s about time we did something with them. Top to bottom: 1984 Portland Beavers (AAA farm team for the Phillies back then, and DH’s first job in baseball); 1986 World Champion NY Mets (DH’s first year working in Major League Baseball); 1968 St. Louis Cardinals (boyhood home team).

My Saturday stranded colorwork class was full, and my Sunday class was cancelled, so I ran away to the coast overnight.

Sasquatch lives! The ocean was rough, and the wind was intense, but the coast always clears my mind and brings me joy.

What’s bringing you joy this winter? I’ll have more joy when these hats are done!

The beat goes on: More brioche, more entrelac!

First, if you’re looking for the Shetland Lace book giveaway post, click here. *After* you read this post, of course!

I’m almost done knitting the third of my three brioche hats. Silly me, I started with the most complicated stitch pattern of the three, and now I’m doing the simplest. It’s plain two color brioche rib, and will be deep enough to turn up the bottom edge. You, dear knitter, can choose how deep to make yours; you don’t have to cuff the bottom if you don’t want to, or if you don’t want to knit endless brioche rib! I’m getting close…I think. I’ll be looking for a few test knitters for these lovelies; leave a comment if you’d like to knit one!

I’m also prepping an update of my Athena entrelac cowl pattern. I’ve added an option for a split ending (Athena has split ends!), which introduces a bit of flat entrelac. I’m updating the yarns used (the original is discontinued), giving more gauge options, and including this video tutorial on purling back without turning your work. It’s great for entrelac and for lace edgings, too. If you’ve already purchased Athena, you’ll be notified of an update which will include both options, soon.

Why the update? I’m teaching Athena for an entrelac class at Madrona Fiber Arts Festival, and the split end option gives you a chance to try a little flat entrelac after you have some experience with entrelac in the round. It’s not hard, but it’s too much to learn at the beginning of a 3 hour class, so now the option will be there at the end. Are you going to Madrona? There is still room in some of the regular classes, and the mini class schedule is up now, too. I’m teaching two minis, blocking and novelty stitches. Hope to see you there! It’s such a great event; the market is fabulous and there is always a lot going on besides the classes.

And! Do you know that Columbia Gorge Fiber Festival has added a spring event? It’s the Knot Another Fiber Festival at the Oregon Garden Resort in Silverton, Oregon, April 27-29. Check out the link here. I’m taking an all day class with Andrea Mowry on my favorite new technique, BRIOCHE! Always lots more to learn, right?

Knit on…and on. Have a great weekend!

January purge, book giveaway

I just looked up, and January is half over. Whoa!

I’m doing a deep toss of my studio office. Lots of dumping and recycling going on, and I’ve moved more of my knitting books in, and more of my kiddos’ books out. I now have three shelves of knitting books. The top three shelves are mine, and the middle shelf of the three is the powerhouse; it has all my reference books.

I also found this lone mitten. Once upon a time, I made 8 pairs of these, with Bugs Bunny buttons, for eldest son’s third birthday. Pretty swank party favor! I knit these flat and seamed them, because I didn’t know how to knit in the round yet.

January feels like it’s time to tidy up! My studio is also the guest room, so it will be much nicer for guests to not be drowning in my yarn and papers.

I found duplicates of several books, so I want to have a giveaway. First, I have this book, Shetland Lace Knitting, in Japanese and in English (funny story here). I bought the book at Kinokuniya and decided I wanted to read the rest of the text. I found out that the original book is in English, so I bought that, too.

If you can work from charts, this book has lovely stitch patterns and edgings that are accessible to you. I’m having a drawing to give the Japanese copy away. Leave a comment below and let me know you’re interested! USA readers only this time, please. (I just sent a book to Canada last week, and it cost more than the book itself to send it, ouch.) I’ll pick a winner on January 31.

If you’re a newsletter subscriber, you can also reply to the upcoming newsletter for a second chance to win. (Newsletter coming out in a day or two.) Not a subscriber? You can subscribe here.

Last fun thing: I worked as an extra last summer on TNT’s The Librarians. Season 4, Episode 8 is now out there, and I can say that I saw myself very briefly!

(ETA: Video unavailable. Glad I got the screen shot while I could.)

The original call was for knitters, but they eventually changed the knitters into quilters, and I ended up being a townsperson, and not a needleworker at all! It was an interesting experience.

If you don’t blink, you can see me walking by in my Garland Shawl! So many hours for a tiny bit of screen time.

The Purple Hat ad we did at Twisted last year is airing again locally. That was much more fun to film, and had actual knitting in it. Here’s the backstory on that, if you missed it.

Back to my knitting!

Fiendishly simple? And aloha!

A hat is a fiendishly simple thing. It’s a tube, closed at the top. Easy peasy, right?

I’ve been playing with this hat project all week. It’s been a Goldilocks experience. Too tall? Too short? Just right? The top of this pink hat has been reworked a couple times, but I can’t complain about the view.

The pink version is snug and a little (but not too) short; it’s a cute beanie.

The blue version has 12 more stitches than the pink one, and at the same height it doesn’t feel quite secure on my head. I’m re-working it to be a little taller so it can come further down over the ears, or folded up at the bottom.

I’ll be knitting one more for a size in-between. Who said hats were simple? There’s a lot of planning going on here!

Oddly enough, it’s been very comfortable knitting with this wooly yarn in Hawaii! I brought a fingering weight shawl project, too, but I’ve been so smitten by this brioche I can’t stop playing with it.

We’ve had a great week. We came over on December 26, and now it’s time to go home. But here are some pretty pix from the week.

Beautiful He’eia Bay is just around the corner from our condo.

Lots of honu (green sea turtles) at Ai’opio Beach, Kaloko-Honokohau National Historic Park.

More turtles at Kiholo Bay, and we saw this petroglyph at the water’s edge.

When Hualalai erupted, these shells were caught in the lava. They’re being revealed through erosion. They look like frosting!

Kiholo Bay

We went night snorkeling with the mantas! (Picture from the Eka Canoe Website; I highly recommend this.) There were at least five of these magnificent creatures swimming with us, somersaulting and backflipping, close enough to touch (but you’re not supposed to. One brushed by DH; he said it felt like a shoe.

My favorite bird, the yellow-billed cardinal.

And favorite guy, on our morning walk.

Moonset in the morning (January 2)…

Sunsets in the evening…bliss.

Aloha!

Plus de brioche

The brioche knitting continues. I’m smitten!

I knit this cowl for my sister. She’s a big University of Oregon Ducks fan, and the swirling circles made perfect O’s. After the perfect mirror symmetry of plain brioche rib, I was startled to see how different the front and back sides of patterned brioche are. Cool!

I ripped down this beginning of a brioche cowl; it wasn’t wide enough, and I wanted the leaves to be taller. But it all got sidetracked anyway…

because I wanted a hat. With those taller leaves.

I’m currently playing yarn chicken while trying to decide how to close the top. This is yarn left over after 3 Petite Brioche headbands. We’ll see if there’s enough to finish this hat. I hope so!

Is brioche knitting on your bucket list? Am I getting to you? Take a dip in the brioche pool with my free Petite Brioche headband/earwarmer pattern! It’s a gateway…

Once more, food gifts with spirit(s)

First, if you’re looking for the free Petite Brioche knitting pattern, see this post.

I’m back in the kitchen today, making some quick gifts. Of course they are boozy. These were on my blog last year at this time, but are still just as quick, easy, and delicious.

Irish cream

Last year’s big hit: DIY Irish Cream, adapted from Smitten Kitchen. This comes together in 5 minutes, and makes three of these cute 8 ounce bottles. (You get 30 oz of liquid, but I barely filled three of these 1/4 liter (8 oz) bottles the first time I made this. No worries; just adjust your expectations accordingly.)

1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup (235 ml) heavy cream
1 (14-ounce or 415 ml) can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
9 oz Jameson’s Irish whiskey (original recipe calls for a cup, but 9 oz fills the bottles just a little better, and yum)

In a small bowl, whisk cocoa powder and a spoonful of cream into a paste. Add more cream a splash at a time until the paste is liquid enough that you can whisk in the rest of the cream. Transfer to a pitcher, and whisk in condensed milk, whiskey and vanilla. Bottle for gifts. Keep refrigerated for up to two weeks. Seriously, how long do you think this will last? Give it a good shake before using; the cocoa wants to sink, and the cream wants to rise to the top. Of course!

P1060593

My aunt sent me pears again this year, and in return she’ll get some cranberry pear bourbon jam. I get jam, pear tart, and pears for eating fresh. A good deal for both of us!

Cranberry/Pear/Bourbon/Ginger Jam

4 cups cored and chopped pears (I left the skins on)
4 cups fresh cranberries
3 cups sugar
1/2 lemon, juiced and zested
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup water
1/4 cup bourbon
1/4 cup chopped crystallized ginger (optional)

Combine chopped pears, cranberries, sugar cinnamon, lemon juice and zest, and water in a large pot. Stir to combine and let it rest until the sugar has begun to dissolve, about 10 minutes.

Place the pot over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat simmer for 15-25 minutes or longer, stirring regularly, until it thickens. Add bourbon and ginger, and continue cooking until jam coats spoon without running off.

Ladle jam into prepared jars. Wipe rims, apply lids and rings and process jars in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

Makes 5 half pints. (If you need more thorough instructions for processing, go to Food in Jars! I’m assuming that you know how to jam.)

Bourbon caramel sauce

And I’m not currently making this one, because I still have some in my fridge to use on dessert. But you might need to make some, so here’s the recipe: Bourbon Caramel Sauce, recipe from Danielle Centoni. I’ve made this many times, and it always gets raves. We’ll be having some with ice cream on a pear tart tonight. My only warning on this one is don’t get greedy when caramelizing the sugar. It can go from perfect nut-brown to burnt in a blink. Brown enough is brown enough! This makes 2.5 cups; I usually gift it in little 4 ounce jars, because a little goes a long way.

Merry Christmas to you! Did you make food gifts this year?

Free Pattern: Petite Brioche

This is Petite Brioche, a little headband/earband to keep the chill away. It’s also a great introduction to two color brioche rib in the round. It’s a quick little project, and you can still whip one out for a wee Christmas gift! Or save it for learning a new technique in 2018.

You can download the Petite Brioche pattern pdf here Petite Brioche.

I used Malabrigo Merino Worsted for the purple version. Mmmmm, Malabrigo!

Happy new year!

2017 Year of Brioche?

It started in January, with a scarf.

This is the Never Fail Scarf, a free pattern from Mason-Dixon Knitting. Really fast, and a great learning tool for single color brioche knit flat.

Of course I had to figure out how to make that work in the round, for a timely pink-ish hat.

Then in February I took a brioche knitting class with JC Briar at Madrona. We worked flat samples, with selvages.

I forgot all about it, until this past week. After birthing my Cannon Beach Cowl & Mitts by knitting 3 cowls and 2 sets of mitts, I needed something fairly mindless to knit. Two color brioche in the round fit the bill.

And like Cannon Beach, it’s still only one color worked per round! I found this to be much simpler than two color brioche knit flat. No selvage stitches, and no way to choose the wrong working yarn. It was quick. So quick I had to get yarn to knit one for a friend.

And there you go. Do you want to try it? I’m writing up some instructions that make sense to me, link coming soon.

And because mental vacation is over…I’m playing with patterning. More on that later.

Do you brioche? Do you wanna? So zen!