Signs of Spring: Birdwatcher and Cherry Blossoms

The Birdwatcher (pattern by Casapinka) is underway. I moved up to a US5 needle, knit for a while, and steamed it to get an idea how wide this will be. It’s approximately 39” and I’m aiming for 40”. I’m hoping that the stockinette portion will be just a tad wider than the chevroned edge, and I think it will be. Or not! Again, do as I say, not as I do. I like the fabric I’m getting, and it may just have a little less ease than I was planning. I don’t want to go up another needle size, and I don’t have enough yarn to go up another size in the pattern.

There are supposed to be 4 repeats of that chevron pattern, but I stopped at three. The bottom of the sweater is supposed to be 12” to the armhole, and I want it to be 9. I don’t want chevrons halfway to the armhole; I want it to be more of an edging. I think three repeats will be enough! Also, I was ready to stop paying attention. Now it’s just stockinette to the armhole, which is gives me room to think about other things. I’m glad I’m alternating skeins every 2 rounds; I can definitely see a bit of stripeyness as I’m knitting the stockinette section.

My log cabin wrap is done and blocked! I took some pictures in the back yard, but the modeled pictures are coming soon. My sister modeled for me, and we were lucky to catch the last of the cherry blossoms on a neighborhood street. We went downtown, too, but the trees there were no longer very pink!

Just not the right look for the photo shoot. I really have had cherry blossoms on my mind, so I think this pattern will probably be called Cherry Blossom Wrap. Look for it at the end of the week! For now, let me share pictures from a couple weeks ago downtown. This was the hoped for backdrop for our photo shoot, but I wasn’t ready when it was ready.

What are you knitting this spring?

Adventures in knitting math

I finally sat down and finished my second Katie’s Kep. This is the free (for now, until the next Shetland Wool Week pattern is released later this month) pattern by Wilma Malcomsen for Shetland Wool Week. I reduced the stitch count by 15%, one 24 stitch repeat, and it came out to 19.75” unblocked (above). After wet blocking, it’s a perfect 20”, or 85% the width of my first hat. My first hat was a great big gauge swatch!

The first one was 23” after blocking. I gave it to a friend for her birthday, so that worked out perfectly. The second one is the lower one in the picture. On to the next project!

And what was that blue swatch in the first picture? I had a ball of Juniper Farms Zooey, and I wanted to see if it would work for Casapinka’s The Birdwatcher sweater that I posted before. Yes, it could knit to gauge. No, I didn’t like the fabric; it was going to be denser than I wanted for this easy breezy top.

So Rio Calina did get frogged. I had knit about 12” before losing interest. Frogging 2 strands held together and rewinding is a bit of a pain, but it got done.

After frogging, I have 2 100g balls that are 357 yards each. The Birdwatcher pattern calls for 2 400 yard balls. Hmmm. The pattern calls for knitting 12” to the armhole, and it’s about 20” tall overall. My cropped sweaters are usually 9” to the armhole. The missing 3” would be about 15% of the total sweater; backwards that means that my sweater would be 85% of the required yardage. 85% of 400 is 340; my skens are 357…so close. Should I?

Well, it would be an adventure. Adding to the adventure is that the two balls are slightly different in color, so I want to alternate balls every other round. Why not every round? Because it’s worked in the round bottom up to the armhole, and then splits to work flat. I’d be changing every other row at that point, not every row, so it makes sense. I think.

One more piece of adventure: I didn’t really swatch. I cast on to see how I’d feel about that every other round change, knit 10 rounds, and found that I had twisted at the join. Even though I checked 3 times! Ugh. When I took it off the needles, I found that it was a little small (pretty lazy gauge swatch) so I cast on again with a larger needle, and metal instead of wood to make it even looser. We’ll see what size that ends up being in a bit. As you know, I don’t mind ripping things out.

Do as I say, not as I do! A sweater should really have a reasonable gauge swatch, if fit is an issue. But this sweater is meant to be worn with 4-6” of ease, so fit isn’t too critical. As long as it’s not too small, it should be okay. The complicating factor is my limited yardage. But I’ll keep playing with this until I figure out what my next design project is. I think better when my hands are busy!

I say I don’t do math, but it appears that I do…

Knit on!

Eeek! Steeks!

Back in 2012, I took a steeking class with Mary Scott Huff at Columbia Gorge Fiber Festival (blog post here). It was fabulously fun, and I learned 3 ways to secure my steek. My favorite was the crocheted steek, so that’s what I use. I’ve been thinking of ways to fine tune them, though, so I decided to sit in on Mary’s class yesterday morning via Bazaar Girls Yarn Shop. It did not disappoint.

Top picture, going around from right to left: One full stitch in the center with slip stitch crochet reinforcement through the two stitches on each side of it; half of each center stitch reinforced with slip stitch crochet through the stitch next to it; and half of each center stitch reinforced with single crochet to the stitch next to it.

Bottom pictures are a closeup of the single crochet reinforcement going through half of the center stitch and half of the stitch on each side.

Here’s what I found: Leaving a whole stitch in the center means messier ends. But it also means security. I’m a belt and suspender kind of knitter, I want to make sure things won’t fall apart. Today’s exercise showed me that it won’t fall apart. Probably. Heh. There are many ways to secure a steek, and none of them are wrong if you get the result you want! I’ve seen a one stitch steek on an Icelandic sweater, and I’m too chicken to try it.

What I was really wondering about was the bulkiness of my crocheted steek, since I’ve been working with worsted weight yarn. Best answer? Use a lighter weight yarn to crochet the reinforcement, like I did with these swatches. If I pick a coordinating color, single crochet makes a lovely finished edge without any more fuss (bottom 3 pictures on collage above). If I’m trying to minimize bulk, like maybe behind a zipper, slip stitch crochet works well. Picking up a ribbing or other edging in the column of stitches a couple stitches away from the cut edge forces it to turn back, like a seam allowance, and all the ends are hidden either way.

But enough about my crochet steek fussiness. Here’s a new one (I had previously read about it in Modern Daily Knitting). A needle felted steek! Look at this: all business on the front…

Fuzzy party in the back! It holds beautifully. I’d probably want to do something to make that edge look more finished, though.

What a fun way to spend a morning! But now it’s on to other tasks…still knitting away on the log cabin wrap; I have 4 more logs to knit, and then I’m done. Tech editing is done, too. I’ll check in with my test knitters, but look for it mid-April.

Onward!

Spring cast on aka Finish or Frog

I’m nearing the end of my log cabin wrap (pattern soon), and that means I’m daydreaming of what’s next on the needles. I’m tempted by cute little sweaters that I see in my Instagram feed, so I’ll probably cast on for one, to increase my teaching wardrobe. You know we have to look good from the waist up on Zoom! I want to knit from my accidental stash (yarn that didn’t work out for something else, usually). Here are two contenders.

photo by Kay Hopkins

This is the Leaves Shell by Kay Hopkins, Knit for the Soul (Ravelry link). It’s a linen knit, and it will be swingy and drapey. It’s knit top down, and it has a leaf motif going down each side “seam” which is very pretty. I have a good amount of Quince fingering weight linen, back when I was deciding between fingering and Aran for what eventually became my Kittiwake (Ravelry link), Aran weight.

Kittiwake, by me
photo by Casapinka

This is The Birdwatcher by Casapinka (Ravelry link). It’s knit from the bottom up. I have to go poking into my fingering weight stash; I’m not sure I have two skeins of any color! Well, I do have this…

I don’t think I’m ever going to finish my Rio Calina; the moment has passed. I was using 2 skeins of fingering to approximate a worsted weight yarn. I’ll probably frog it no matter what. The yardage is a little short for The Birdwatcher (two 357 yard skeins instead of two 400 yard skeins). On the other hand, I’m a little short, too, and would knit this to 9” to the underarm, instead of the 12” called for. Is that enough to offset the difference? I’d hate to run out of yarn before finishing the neck.

Of course, I could get creative and begin with a provisional cast on at the underarm, work the top, and then pick up and work downwards and knit until I’m out of yarn. Oh, but wait. The lace, how would I know when to begin the lace?

I could begin with that provisional cast on, work the top, and then work from the bottom up until I’m almost out of yarn. And then KITCHENER STITCH/GRAFT the two parts together. Would that be just too much excitement?

Actually, a better plan would be to begin with the provisional cast on, work the top. Then work the lace. Then work stockinette down from the provisional cast on until almost out of yarn. And finally graft the two parts together, so if my grafting isn’t perfect, it will be at a natural transition point to the lace, and it won’t be as obvious.

Or, I could just use a different yarn. Maybe even the linen. But that has a much different look and feel.

This is what runs through my head while I’m working on something else…

Are you dreaming of spring knits?

Dreaming of Spring

I’ve been haunting the Portland waterfront this month, waiting for the cherry trees to bloom.

The top picture is 2 weeks ago, and the bottom is from March 31, 2019. Hoping next weekend is peak!

This color palette is on point!

Here’s a peek at what it’s becoming. I’m so pleased with this. After my adventure with the Pythagorean Theorem and the hypoteneuse, all is well! I don’t regret frogging those 11,000 stitches at all. I’m just over halfway done with this. Pattern coming soon.

I didn’t get much knitting done this weekend because I was teaching for Vogue’s Virtual Knitting Live. I debuted my new Darn It! class, which was really fun! Mending and even more visible mending. This all started with that sock mending project for a friend; it was so much fun I wanted to share my new skills. I’m teaching it again through For Yarn’s Sake on April 25, registration on this page, soon.

And we also launched Brioche Doctor. This covers reading your brioche knitting, and fixing mistakes. I love that it’s different every time, depending on the questions from my students. We can make this as calm or as crazy as you want! I like having several samples so we can play with it different ways.

April classes are booked; I’m looking forward to teaching Brioche Doctor, Tink Drop Frog, Syncopation, and Log Cabin Knitting for Vogue in April. Sign up for their newsletter so you can be notified when registration goes live.

I’m also teaching a slightly longer Syncopation/Syncopated Brioche class for Bazaar Girls Yarn Shop on April 3. I’ll walk you through flat brioche instead of assigning it as homework, before getting to the syncopated brioche. Class is a little longer than the VKL classes to accommodate this. Register here!

I have classes with Twisted and For Yarn’s Sake in April, too. Sign up for my newsletter for the most complete list of classes, plus knitting news, tutorials, and the best discount on my new pattern releases. I try to keep my Workshops and Classes pages updated here on the blog, but there’s no way to let you know about updates on that.

Knit on!

Rose City Yarn Crawl starts today!

Rose City Yarn Crawl, Portland’s premier yarny event, begins today, March 4, as usual. But it’s not business as usual, because the crawl is going virtual this year, with an extended crawl March 4-14.

I usually kick off the crawl at For Yarn’s Sake with owner Anne Lindquist, Knitted Wit dyer Lorajean Kelley, and designers Shannon Squire and Debbi Stone (Ravelry link). This year we toasted virtually in a Zoom we recorded last night. You can see our chat online on the For Yarn’s Sake RCYC page here. And you can find our trunk shows for the crawl on the same page. I’m featuring 7 designs. Six are new this past year, and Lucky Star is an older favorite that Features Knitted Wit’s yarn.

My Half the Knit Sky design is being offered as a yarn kit with gradient yarn from Huckleberry Knits, another Pacific Northwest dyer. Quantities are limited, so if you want a kit, now’s the time for action! These colorways are Practical Tactical Brilliance and Made you Blush (shop exclusive for For Yarn’s Sake). Pattern is sold separately from the kit through Ravelry and Payhip. Many of our trunk show items are in the shop so you can see them up close, too.

Check out the Rose City Yarn Crawl site for ways to participate and win prizes. And you can even visit the stores in person; it’s just not required this year. This may be the first year in a long time that I’ll be able to visit all eight participating shops, if only virtually!

Best laid plans…

I’ve been knitting along in a dream state with these pretty yarns, thinking of how to make the shawl that I see in my mind. This is Hazel Knits Artisan Sock, in Ticklish, Cherry Blossom, and Fresh Cut.

A lot of my designing is trial and error, so there’s a lot of ripping and re-knitting. But I learn something every time I rip. I’ve been knitting away, thinking, and it was time to figure out how how big this would be. I used the Pythagorean Theorem. When’s the last time you thought of that? The hypotenuse is the magic number here.

It turns out I had made the beginning way too big. I wouldn’t have enough yarn to finish if I kept going. So I frogged the 11,000 stitches that came after this. Which was fine, because I used those stitches to map out what I want to do, see how things would fit together, and decide what the stitch patterns should be. And it was a really big gauge swatch, too. I took a lot of notes along the way, and now I’m well on my way. At least I think I am!

My current workspace is not too shabby.

Are you a ripper? I really don’t mind it, if I get what I want, eventually.

Half the Knit Sky, again

I’m having a trunk show at For Yarn’s Sake as part of this year’s Rose City Yarn Crawl. We’re featuring kits for my Half the Knit Sky using gradients from Huckleberry Knits.

This colorway is called Made You Blush, and it’s an exclusive at For Yarn’s Sake. It’s paired with Manos Alegria in Pewter in the kit. You can start your gradient ball at the white end, or the pink end, knitter’s choice! Test knitter Ann is now a sample knitter, and she sent it to me for blocking. You may recognize my fence.

The other kit features the Practical Tactical Brilliance colorway, which is a favorite of mine. Scarlet says that she made the new batch a little bluer than this at the end, to be even more like the aurora borealis. I can’t wait to see it. The contrast color in this kit is Madelinetosh Twist Light in Stormborn. Both kits go on sale on March 4.

Rose City Yarn Crawl begins on March 4, and runs through March 14. I’ll pop up another post with a link to my trunk show when it goes live. There will also be a recorded Zoom interview with my other trunk show buddies, Knitted Wit (Lorajean Kelley), Shannon Squire, and Debbie Stone. I just wanted to show you the pretty pink shawl!

Introducing: Leafy Origami Loop Cowl

Oh, brioche leaves, I just can’t quit you. After the original Leafy Origami Cowl, and then the Leafy Origami Hat, I just had to do one more. A longer cowl (which is really how I like to wear them), with a smaller leaf pattern that I worked out for the hat, which means more leaves on the cowl. This is the Leafy Origami Loop Cowl, and I love it.

Do you like your leaves big and bold, or smaller and…more numerous? Do you like your cowl as a small neck warmer, or a long loop? So many questions, so many options. The new Leafy Origami Loop Cowl can be anywhere from 20” to 36” in circumference, using the smaller leaves that I worked out for the Leafy Origami Hat. But that didn’t seem fair to the first cowl, so I updated that pattern to be from 18” to 32” using those bigger leaves.

This cowl is 32” long.

And this one is 36” long. I love how leafy they are.

Calvin approves!

The Leafy Origami Loop Cowl pattern is now available through Ravelry and Payhip. Use the code LEAFIER for 15% off through March 3, 2021. If you previously purchased the Leafy Origami Cowl pattern through Ravelry you’ll receive an update to that pattern for a longer loop (check your email or Ravelry messages), along with a coupon code for a free copy of the new Leafy Origami Loop Cowl pattern, now that there are more options.

Don’t forget, there’s a Leafy Origami hat, too.

Snow day

And now my dreams are turning from winter to spring…

New Classes: Darn It! and Brioche Doctor

I’ve been having so much fun mending my knits, I decided to develop a class to share the love. Darn It! There’s a Hole in My Knitting makes its debut at the March Vogue Virtual Knitting Live. Registration for VKL is now open:

I’m also teaching Brioche Doctor: Fixing Brioche Mistakes, another new class. And I’ll be teaching Petite Brioche and Syncopation, and giving my lecture on Blocking: It’s Magic! A full slate of fun for me, and for you, too.

I had a great time teaching Petite Brioche for Bazaar Girls Yarn Shop on Saturday, so much brioche success! My next class in the series is Deep End: Brioche Increases and Decreases on Saturday March 6, which is coming right up. You can choose your project: Deep End Hat, Deep End Cowl, or Madrona Cowl, and the pattern is included in the class fee. Register here.

So much going on around here. Onward!