Scotland vacay within vacay

We had a great vacation last month. Our older son was on a two month sabbatical trip through Europe, and we caught up with him for a week in Scotland near the end of his trip, spending time in Edinburgh, Oban, and Glasgow.

Oban was our vacation within a vacation. It’s a sweet town on the water, and a hub of the Caledonia MacBrayne ferry system. I picked it for the Lorne Highland Games going on that weekend, and for its proximity to Iona and Staffa, two islands that I wanted to visit.

Kilchrenan House

We arrived on Friday afternoon and settled into Kilchrenan House.

Dunollie Castle

It’s just down the road from Dunollie Castle. We walked up to the castle, but it was closing by the time we arrived. No worries; it was time to head for our tour at Oban Distillery.

No pictures allowed in the distillery, but here’s one of the whiskies we tasted.

I quite liked it. We also tasted the Oban 14, which is smokier/peatier. Who licked the ash tray?!

On Saturday we took the Three Isles Tour with West Coast Tours. It was spectacular. We took the ferry across to Craignure on Mull, then a scenic bus tour across Mull to Fionnphort to take a smaller ferry over to Iona. We spent two hours walking on Iona, the birthplace of Christianity in Scotland.

Nunnery ruins on IonaMedieval nunnery ruins

St. Oran’s Chapel on IonaSt. Oran’s Chapel

Iona Abbey

Iona Abbey is ancient and beautiful, but that was not our destination. We were looking for the beach at the end of the road, and we found it.

North Beach, Iona

Next time we’ll climb Dun I, but two hours isn’t enough to do everything. Iona is a most bucolic place. Peace abounds.

We saw this rounding up of sheep on the walk back.

Good dog! or dogs.

From Iona we took an even smaller ferry to Staffa, home of Fingal’s Cave, and a puffin colony that comes ashore to nest in the summer.

If you sit very quietly, the puffins will come to you.

This was my favorite part of our entire vacation.

Tyler’s too! We spent about half an hour with the puffins, and then decided to hurry down to see Fingal’s Cave before our hour ran out. The hexagonal basalt columns are very cool.

Fingal’s Cave on Staffa

(as seen from the water)

We made it back to the boat with one minute to spare before the appointed departure. I was the last person to board. Do you think they would have left without me? (They were counting the passengers as we boarded, so I hope not.)

It was a perfect day. And on Sunday, we attended the Lorne Highland Games. More on that in the next post. I’m trying to give you something a little wooly in each post, and there’s a Harris Tweed story in the next one!

What hump? Better crescent shawl garter tab cast on

I’m back! We took a wee trip to Scotland. And Barcelona. And St. Louis! More on all of that when I get myself sorted. I did manage to visit one yarn shop while I was away, Ginger Twist Studio in Edinburgh.

Jess’ shop is tiny and packed with beautiful yarn, much of which she dyes herself. I bought only one skein, this lovely British BFL fingering; the color is Pappy’s Garden.

I wish I had bought a coordinating color, but I needed the bag and yarn to fit in my purse because we were hiking the Salisbury Crags that afternoon after a visit to the Scottish Parliament. Packing in the fun! (The bag is wrinkled from being crammed into my purse, true story.)

I took a new shawl design project on this trip. I didn’t have a lot of knitting time, but it kept me occupied on planes and trains. When I got home, I decided I didn’t like how the later stitch patterns were playing with each other. Or were not playing with each other, really.

I asked Biscuit what she thought. “To the frog pond!” she squeaked. I agreed, but not before tackling another issue that was bugging me.

My first try at this had a hump in the middle. Sometimes these block out, and at the beginning of my knitting it looked like it might.

But it seemed to look worse the further I got. Since I was going to frog it anyway, I wanted to try to avoid the hump on the next version.

This is so much better. The difference? A much longer garter tab cast on.

My first one was very short, because the numbers worked. But there were so many stitches concentrated right there at the beginning, and a short, unyielding garter tab. Hump! Even worse, when I tried to straighten it, it folded over.

Besides the longer garter tab, I added YOs between the picked up stitches along the edge of the garter tab. This serves two purposes. It adds a stitch between the picked up stitches, which gives a little more stretch. And it mimics the YOs that are going to continue along the edge of the shawl.

I’m back on track, and it’s flying along.

Do you ever feel like you need a vacation after a vacation? Catching up!

Drum roll…the winner of the Delicate Details e-book is Terri Oliver. Thanks to everyone for commenting and playing along!

Coming soon…puffins!

Just Enough Lace, and ebook giveaway

Introducing Just Enough Lace, my shawl in the new Delicate Details book from Knit Picks.

Just Enough Lace is an asymmetric bias triangle which begins at the small end and grows to a sweeping finish. It’s knit flat and the body of the shawl and the edging are knit simultaneously. No separately knit on border here! I designed it with four 50g balls of Gloss Fingering (70/30 merino/silk), but really, you can make it as big or as small as you like.

The simple leaf lace edging and eyelet stripe in the stockinette stitch body of the shawl are just enough lace to keep the knitting engaging, but not so much as to overwhelm a new lace knitter or an experienced multi-tasker.

Beads are optional on the leafy lace edging, but I really like them for sparkle and a bit of weight for drape.

I had my beaded purple sample at the Knit Picks Knit Pick-nic on Saturday for a sneak peek. Several people asked about how the beads are added, and I’m happy to say they’re bead as you go. No pre-stringing here! A lovely thing about this shawl is that it’s just enough beads, too. You never have more than two in any given row, so it’s a nice project for a first time beader.

Edge detail and original submission swatch

You can add beads with a very small crochet hook, but I prefer using a Bead Aid. I split the yarn much less often this way. Here’s a blog post from 2014 about putting beads in your knitting.

The Delicate Details book is full of lace accessories that are appropriate for newer lace knitters, or lace knitters that like a relaxed knitting experience. You can purchase the book or e-book from Knit Picks here, and you can also purchase the patterns individually. Here’s a Ravelry link to all the designs.

I’m giving away a copy of the Delicate Details e-book. To enter, leave a comment here on the blog by June 28. If you’d like an extra chance to win, subscribe to my newsletter and reply there, too. (Subscription link here. If you’re already subscribed, you should receive the newsletter today.)

Good luck!

And a reminder that my summer knitting pattern sale runs through June 20; 15% off with coupon code SUMMER. For newsletter subscribers, the discount is 25% off; that code will be in your newsletter. All patterns and ebooks which are available from me through my Ravelry shop are eligible; there is no limit but the code is good for a single use only.

Two more bits of eye candy: First off, finished hats from my Petite Brioche class at Stash in Corvallis. I love it when you send me pictures of your FOs. Thanks to Peggy, Cassandra, and Deb!

Second, some yarn in my stash that is calling my name, rather loudly! I hope what it’s telling me is what it really wants to be.

Happy knitting!

Summer knitting extravaganza

Do you knit year round? I do. My needles have been very busy! I designed two cowls in May, which I can’t share just yet, but I love them both. They’re simple, and the yarn makes them sing, or vice versa. No peeking!

I also knit a cute top from the Mason Dixon Field Guide, Transparency. This is the Shakerag Top, designed by Amy Christoffers using Jade Sapphire Sylph, a delicious blend of cashmere and linen. Despite my deep love for both of those fibers, I decided to knit mine out of stash…because I could!

I used Sincere Sheep’s Agleam, a 50/50 merino/tencel blend in Bare, and Sincere Sheep’s Shimma, which is laceweight mohair and silk, in St. Barts. You can see my notes on my Ravelry page here. I loved knitting this; it’s mostly very mindless stockinette in the round, which is great for multi-tasking and traveling!

I’m currently knitting my Nymphaea shawl with this lovely gradient from Fierce Fibers; the color is Surf and Sand, with Serenity as the contrast band. The brown beads have less pop against the teal than I was anticipating, but I think I like them. I could also start over and use the green beads on this part of the gradient, which would be even less pop, but more my style. What do you think? I may have to swatch that…

I have three sets of beads for this project and I’m not sure where the color transitions will happen yet, so I don’t think this is going to be my on-the-go knitting. I can handle beading on the go, but not if I don’t know which ones I’ll need when. That makes it less portable. I’m working on designing something a little simpler for anytime knitting.

This is Malabrigo Mechita in Cielo y Tierra (sky and earth), and Tosh Merino Light in Antique Lace. They’re both fingering weight singles. I’ve mapped out my anticipated progression with an Excel spreadsheet; I hope it’s as pretty as it is in my head! There’s a part of me that is really happy when the repeating elements all fit into an elegant framework. Nerdy geeky fun!

I also started a Brioche Pastiche hat while I was teaching this class down at Stash at the beginning of the month. I’m not in a hurry to finish it; I’m using it as a demo in subsequent classes (August 4 at Twisted, September 22 at Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival). But Peggy from class finished hers in less than a week; she’s a superstar!

What are you knitting this summer? Or winter, if you’re down under! Simple, or complicated?

To inspire your summer knitting, I’m having a pattern sale through June 20: 15% off with coupon code SUMMER. For newsletter subscribers, the discount will be 25% off; coupon code will be in your newsletter which comes out tomorrow, I hope! (Click here to subscribe if you haven’t already). All patterns and ebooks which are available from me through my Ravelry shop are eligible; there is no limit but the code is good for a single time use only.

Maybe some nice Over the Rainbow Cuffs for June?

Happy knitting!

Alphabet soup! WWKIPD, LM, GDPR

Worldwide Knit in Public Day is this Saturday, June 9. I know that for most of us, every day is Knit in Public Day; it’s just part of what we do. But it’s fun to make a party out of it, even if it’s just once a year. There are many events going on in Portland, and all over the world. To find an event near you, check the WWKIPDay website. For a great list of local WWKIPDay events, check the Oregonian’s knitting blog here.

I’ve spent the past couple WWKIPDays with Knit Picks at their Knit Pick-nics. I’ll be doing the same this year, with a little trunk show again.

These events are always fun, and the swag is amazing: Goodie bags and raffle baskets. Come by and say hello if you’re local!

One other knitting related event in Portland that day: Lantern Moon is having a closeout sale. They’ll have mostly needles, some baskets, and other small items. The sale is June 9, 9 am to 1 pm, local sales only (no online), cash only. The address is 3324 NE 32nd Ave. Lantern Moon is closing their business; Sharon and Joel are moving on to new adventures. I have loved knitting with their ebony needles from the moment I tried them. If you love their ebony and rosewood needles, too, this is your chance to stock up. I used to blog for Lantern Moon many years ago; they will be missed! I’m hoping the retreats will continue.

I had a great time at Stash in Corvallis last weekend, teaching Tink Drop Frog for Lace and Cables, and my new Brioche Pastiche hat.

I’m teaching Brioche Pastiche again at Twisted in Portland on August 4, and then at Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival on September 22. I love brioche knitting!

Just so you know…I’ve updated my privacy policy regarding my blog/website, newsletter, Ravelry, PayPal, and LoveKnitting, which is now on my blog/website here. Thanks, GDPR!

Where are you knitting in public on Saturday?

Introducing: Brioche Pastiche

It’s been done for a while, and I finally, finally took pictures for the pattern. All it took was a tripod, a camera, and an iPad to operate the camera via remote control. Whew! I could have asked DH to take pictures, but it’s hard to describe exactly what I’m looking for.

“Show the hat. Don’t show the compost bin behind me. And don’t make me look weird. What do I mean by weird? Nevermind.”

This is Brioche Pastiche. I love it. This is the hat I designed specifically for brioche classes. Pastiche means a mash-up, usually as an homage. I combined the plain ribbing of Clematis Seed (easiest to learn, so that’s where we start), the leafy goodness of Heliotrope (introducing one increase and two decreases), and a kissing cousin of Clematis Seed’s spiraling crown (four sections instead of six).

I’m teaching a brioche hat class at Stash Local in Corvallis on June 2, and this is the pattern I’m using. If you’d like to come, register at Stash; here’s the link. I’m also teaching my Tink Drop Frog: Fixing Lace and Cable mistakes. Fun!

The Brioche Pastiche pattern is available on Ravelry for $6. (Newsletter subscribers get 20% off all new patterns.) It’s also part of my Brioche Hat Trick e-book. If you buy the collection, you’ll have four fun brioche hat patterns, and two cowl patterns. If you already have the collection, Brioche Pastiche will show up as an update in your set.

I’m looking forward to heading down the highway to Stash next month. Sonia has a lovely shop, and her Stash Enhancers are a great gang to hang out with!

Lace, blocking, SSK

I always say that blocking is magic. Especially with lace. But even then, I’m always astonished at the transformation.

Here’s my Nymphaea shawl, right off the needles, no blocking, no weaving in the ends. It’s pretty small, 48 inches across the top eyelet edge, 20 inches at the wide end, not including the lace edging in either measurement.

I wet blocked it; it pinned out to be 60 inches across the top eyelet edge, and 30 inches across the wide end, just above the lace edging. Where it was once thick and chunky, it’s now ethereally and diaphanously lovely. It’s almost as big as the sample I knit last fall with the mini skein gradient kit, just nine repeats instead of ten.

Zigzags 4 evah

Lacy border, this time with beads

I knit this in Bumblebirch Heartwood, 75/25 superwash merino/nylon. The colors are Atlantic and Hellebore, the same colors in my Tumbling Leaves, but reversed. I love it, and I love the beads, too. Depending on how you look at them, they’re blue, or green. Perfect.

I’m going to knit one more of these, a sample with a Fierce Fibers 650 yard continuous gradient, and a semisolid contrast color. This is in preparation for our Fall Shawl Retreat in November. Registration opens August 1, and the price will include yarn and beads for a knit or crochet version of Nymphaea.

While knitting this shawl, I started thinking about my personal rules for SSK. When I first learned SSK, I did them conventionally, slipping both stitches as if to knit. The result is a left leaning decrease, exactly the same as SKP: Slip one (knitwise), knit one, pass slip stitch over. The passed stitch could sometimes be stretched out and unsightly; Barbara Walker invented the SSK as an improvement on the SKP.

Eventually, Elizabeth Zimmermann figured out that slipping the second stitch purlwise instead of knitwise made this decrease lie flatter, and mirror the right leaning K2tog better. It’s less zigzaggy. I learned this from her daughter Meg Swansen in a class oh so long ago, and adopted it as my go-to SSK. For me, it’s quicker to execute (don’t have to pull left needle out of the second slipped stitch before ktbl).

But! When I was designing my Meander Cowl, I noticed that this SSK looked wide and bumpy when it met up with a YO on its left side. It’s because the right leg of the stitch shows a bit more prominently behind the left leaning stitch on top. Subtle, yes, but there.

So, my personal SSK rule: Slip the second stitch as if to purl when working stockinette. But if there’s a YO to the left of the SSK, slip the second stitch as if to knit. Try them both, if you like. You’re the boss of your knitting; as long as you get the result you want, you’re doing it right! Here’s a video on the whole thing.

How do you SSK?

Wool Tinctures, cats, Nine Lives

It was a busy weekend!

Remember the dye project we bought from Abundant Earth Fiber? We loved meeting Lydia Christiansen and learning about her milling and spinning on Whidbey Island. Lydia’s entire inventory was stolen, along with her trailer, on her way to Stitches West, and she is working hard to get back up to speed. We wanted to support her business, and get to play with color, too!

Saturday was the day. My yarn is worsted weight domestic merino, and Lisa’s is DK weight 80/20 merino and Rambouillet.

I love how tidy this whole setup is. This plus yarn plus hot water.

Why yes, I’m dyeing my yarn in a Lego bucket. It’s usually the wastebasket in my studio. Lisa is classier, and is using a ceramic bowl.

This dye is exhausted!

My yarn is slightly semi-solid. Because I dunked one end in first? Insufficient stirring? It’s pretty, though.

Lucy approves! Thanks to Lucy and Lisa for hosting the fun.

It was a cat filled weekend. I was catsitting for both my kids, who were away on two different trips. This is MisMis. She’s very friendly…with people. She’s a great only cat.

And this is Gator. He’s very handsome, and very amiable, too. Gator is coming to live with us for a while, if he and Biscuit can get along. We’re just starting a slow introduction.

There’s been some growling and hissing on Biscuit’s part, but we’re not getting them face to face for a few days. Wish us luck!

Gator is currently chilling in my studio.

And! Speaking of cats, it’s time for the drawing for the Knit Picks Nine Lives Collection. The winner is: Margo! I’ve emailed her for her addy so I can send her the book. Thanks to Knit Picks for their support for Knitters with Kitters at Purringtons, and thanks to you for reading and playing!

36 hours in Ellensburg

One catch up post!

I spent 36 hours in Ellensburg, WA to celebrate a friend’s birthday the weekend before Knot Another Fiber Festival. It was quick but we packed in a lot of fun!

Saturday was LYS Day. I wasn’t near my LYS, but Ellensburg has a very nice shop, Yarn Folk. Ann Miner’s shop has lots of high quality yarns and is full of inspiring shop samples. I didn’t need any yarn (do I ever?), but I needed a shawl pin so I picked up this leaf pin by One of a Kind Buttons. (More about the book in a bit.)

There was a sheep to shawl exhibit by Thorp Mill at the rodeo grounds, and I met this sweet lamb, as well as some spinners and weavers.

In the afternoon Vickie and I took a beyond basics block printing class at Gallery One. Every time I play with block printing, it gets a little better. So much fun!

This particular class was about chine collé (like collage, adding contrast papers in the printing) and puzzle blocks (cutting your carved block into pieces so you can put it back together while using different colors for the different parts). In three hours we sketched and carved blocks, and tried these two new techniques.

Pictured above, top row: Carved block (it’s been cut and put back together), original test print. Bottom row: Chine collé bird print, and puzzle block print. I’m looking forward to playing more with this block, or even re-doing it now that I know what I want it to look like.

In the evening we went to the college rodeo. Why yes, this was my first rodeo! It seemed about time my boots went to one.

Waiting

Birds on a wire

Matched set

I came home Sunday to teach a class, and picked up the new Mason Dixon Field Guide, Transparency.

I love the look of this Shakerag Top. (Thanks, Biscuit, for helping with the picture.) It’s knit with one or two strands of yarn to create the striping, but the yarn is all the same. This particular yarn is Jade Sapphire Sylph, a blend of cashmere and linen. I love linen and I love cashmere. It’s a little spendy, so I have to decide if I’m really going to make it. Also, deadlines! We shall see.

Knit on!

Knot Another Fiber Festival!

A little recap here. I spent the weekend at Knot Another Fiber Festival. Sarah Keller of Knot Another Hat (LYS in Hood River, OR) puts on her fall Columbia Gorge Fiber Festival in The Dalles, and now this new spring festival at the Oregon Garden in Silverton, OR. She does a great job.

My collection of events: The market preview/happy hour on Friday, an all day brioche class with Andrea Mowry, and the banquet on Saturday evening with the always delightful Clara Parkes. The garden itself was pretty awesome too, even in the rain.

My biggest mission this weekend: To get over my aversion to flat brioche knitting. I love, love, love brioche in the round, but I had a problem remembering what happens at the selvage edges of flat brioche. It was way simpler than I was making it out to be. That CC yarn? “Let it go!” Wherever it is. Or in my songbook: “Leave It There!” Hmmmm. There may be lyrics coming out of this.

Andrea Mowry is a fabulous teacher: Patient, kind, thorough. She makes good use of technology, too; her projected diagrams were excellent. And she has a good sense of humor.

When I noted how three-dimensional the increases and decreases made the sample piece, we had a good time dreaming up the bustier we could design. Too funny.

I saw friends old and new in the market.

I love a wall of Hazel Knits! Their color palette is very pleasing to my eye.

Black Trillium‘s gradient minis never cease to thrill me. And she had a lovely green sample of my Twin Leaf Crescent in her booth.

Melanie showed me the result of her new dyeing method, Cloud Layers, which places the dye just on the surface. The back of the strand may not be the same color as the front of the strand. This is variegated and speckled and all those things. I’d love to pair this with a semi-solid, because that’s how I roll.

Despondent Dyes’ tagline made me giggle. And her color names are equally humorous. I fell in love with one of Kathy’s mini-skein packs, so it will have to turn into something wonderful because it followed me home. In honor of the weekend, I think it will need to be brioche.

This is Lydia of Abundant Earth Fibers. She mills and spins the loveliest yarn, very natural. But she also sells Tinctures, packets for dyeing that natural yarn. My friend Lisa and I both bought yarn, and we are going to have a dyeing day soon. Color? That lovely blue green on the top right corner.

I spent a lot of time in the Fierce Fibers booth. Not to visit my Go Tell the Bees (this one knit by Tami in the Titan colorway), but to pick colors for this fall’s Nymphaea Shawl retreat with Laurinda Reddig (Recrochetions).

We picked beads from Bead Biz, too.

I think I’m knitting my sample shawl in this combination:

Surf and Sand gradient, accent color is Serenity, beads are Copper Lined Diamond, Spring Mix, and Metallic Green-Lined. The yarn is Fierce Fibers Abyss, a merino/silk blend. Lovely! Now to decide if I want my beads to blend, or contrast, with the yarn.

It was a lovely weekend, and my head is full of new ideas and techniques. Let’s go knit!

And don’t forget: If you’d like to enter to win a copy of the 9 Lives pattern collection, leave a comment on the previous post. I’ll draw a winner at the end of this week.