Introducing: Go Tell the Bees, pattern and KAL

And we’re live! My Go Tell the Bees pattern is now available through Ravelry. (If you’re a newsletter subscriber, don’t forget to use your coupon code for 20% off. If you’re not a subscriber and want to be, let me know in the comments.) This shawl was inspired by the title of the upcoming book in the Outlander series, “Go Tell the Bees That I Am Gone.” I’m not sure who’s gone, but the title is highly evocative.

This crescent shawl begins at the lower edge and features lacy honeycombs and bees. This is the 645 yard shawl version above.

And this is the smaller 430 yard version. You’ll definitely want at least 430 yards; I used nearly every scrumptious bit of mine.

The pattern has been tech edited and both sizes have been test knit. We’re having a KAL beginning June 11; you can sign up for the KAL in my Ravelry group here. I hope you’ll knit along with me! I’m having fun picking prizes for it already.

If you’d like to use the same yarn I did, you can order Renai in many colors from Fierce Fibers. This is a lovely single ply fingering weight yarn. Stacey is offering it at 10% off through June 30, 2017 with coupon code MICHELEBEE10.

I’ve been very impressed with the color and non-kinkiness of Stacey’s gradient yarns, so I asked her about her process. Here’s what she had to say:

I started looking at the various decisions a dyer needs to make in order to create a good quality gradient. The obvious requirements were that the color change can’t be abrupt, there can’t be white spots and there can’t be any kinkiness to the yarn. Solving these problems really fired up my inner engineer and after months of development I started releasing a small set of gradients in the fall of 2016. I dug deep and bought the best equipment I could afford so I can make my own knitted blanks. This means I can make any yarn into a gradient and I’m not limited to blanks from a manufacturer. I can make my blanks to any yardage, any gauge and any width I choose (which if you can believe will affect the “fade” of your gradient).

Getting rid of the kink took considerable work. Frogging the blanks immediately while wet is a whole other set of possible failure modes that had to be solved. I also discovered that after some time, no matter what you do, certain yarns just have too much memory and can’t be straightened without herculean effort. Anyone who also spins knows there’s just a point where the yarn you’ve made, can’t be undone. So believe it or not, my blanks have a “fresh by” date!

Here’s Saigon Cinnamon just after dyeing, before drying and being wound into a cake. I thoroughly enjoyed knitting with Stacey’s yarn for these shawls.

Let’s knit!

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Bagel bliss, high tea, and yarn!

There is something wonderful about mastering a skill and getting repeatable results. I’ve been on a bagel quest for the last couple of months, turning out batch after batch in search of the perfect multi-grain boiled bagel texture.

I did a lot of reading, experimented with a couple recipes, and ended up with a heavily modified version of this Easy New York-Style Bagel recipe from the Oregonian. Here’s my take.

Bagels

Ingredients
1 1/4 cups warm water, divided into 1/2 cup and 3/4 cup
(you may need up to 1/4 cup more)
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 cups bread flour
1 1/2 cups whole grain flour; I’ve tried spelt, and now kamut
Extra bread flour for kneading
2 1/4 teaspoons salt
Optional toppings: coarse salt, poppy seeds, or sesame seeds

Instructions
In an 8 ounce measuring cup, add 1/2 cup warm water. Pour in the sugar and yeast, stir to combine. Let it sit for 5 minutes to get the yeast going.

In a large bowl, mix the flours and salt. Make a well in the middle and pour in the yeast-sugar mixture. Add an additional 3/4 cup warm water into the well. Mix and stir in the rest of the water as needed to form a moist, firm dough. You may need to add more water to get this texture.

On a well-floured countertop, knead the dough for 5 minutes, working in additional flour as needed. Your finished dough should be firm and stiff. (Other recipes have you knead for 10 minutes, but this is too much time for whole grain flours.)

Brush a large bowl with olive oil. Add dough and turn it so that it is coated with the oil. Cover the bowl with a damp kitchen towel and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour. A perfect warm place is your microwave! Before putting the bowl of dough in, heat a large mug of water for 3 minutes. Move the mug to the back corner, add your covered bowl. When the dough has doubled in size (about an hour), punch the dough down and let it rest, covered with the towel, for another 10 minutes.

Divide the dough into 9 equal pieces. Form your bagels by gently rolling each piece into a ball, flatten a bit and poke your thumb through the middle and make a good sized hole. (The hole will shrink.) Place bagels on a lightly oiled baking sheet, or an unoiled Silpat. Cover the bagels with the damp towel and let them rest for 10 minutes.

While the bagels are resting, bring a large pot of water to a boil and preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Reduce the heat to a low boil. Working in batches of 4 or 5 bagels, use a slotted spoon to lower the bagels into the water. Simmer for 2 minutes, flip, simmer for 2 more minutes. Remove the bagels to a wire rack to drain.

Add toppings while bagels are damp, just out of the pot, if desired.

Return drained bagels to baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes, until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.

Yield: 9 lovely bagels

It’s been a food heavy weekend. Carole and I put on a tea for a lovely group of graduates.

Besides scones, we had savories

and sweets.

The moms served the scone and savory courses, and then we had them sit so we could serve the sweet course, and serve the moms the whole tea menu plus mimosas.

Here’s to moms, grads, friends.

The knitting continues, too!

Biscuit and I are testing out ideas for this lovely yarn from Bumblebirch. I think I know what it’s going to be. Biscuit is still dreaming.

And I’m narrowing down my blue/yellow choices, too. Hazel Knits Splish Splash with Midas? Or Hoppy Blond?

Knit on!

Busy as a bee

Buzz! I’m watching my test knitters’ projects develop on the Go Tell The Bees projects page on Ravelry, and planning for a fun KAL. Pattern coming June 1, KAL begins June 11.

I found some cute bee stitch markers that will make a sweet prize.

I’m working on a design to coordinate with a crochet friend, and Biscuit is marginally impressed. She helped with the math.

I’m dreaming of a shawl in blue and yellow yarns. Which blue? Which yellow? I don’t know yet. What do you think?

And after changing my mind several times on how this combo will play out, I think I have a plan.

I’ll just be over here in my corner with lots of graph paper!

And in the middle of all that, I spent the weekend out at Edgefield for my friends’ wedding. No wedding pix; I was hopping busy that day! But I was blessed to sing with my beloved Pie Birds during and after the wedding. So much fun.

Note the red boots and newly finished second Red Zephyr Shawl!

We made good use of the soaking pool, and my MDK tote.

Wine tasting on the balcony. Cheers!

Coming soon: Go Tell the Bees

Remember this cake of gorgeous gradient yarn?

It grew up to be this shawl. This is Go Tell the Bees. It was inspired by the title of the upcoming book in the Outlander series, “Go Tell the Bees That I Am Gone.” I’m not sure who’s gone, but the title is so evocative, I had to do something with it.

This crescent shawl begins at the lower edge and features lacy honeycombs and bees. It is knit with either 430 or 645 yards of fingering weight yarn.

Here’s the smaller 430 yard version. Why yes, those are the ends hanging out. I should sew them in soon!

The pattern has been tech edited and is being test knit. I’m planning to publish it on June 1. We’re having a KAL beginning June 11; you can sign up for the KAL in my Ravelry group here. I hope you’ll knit along with me! I’m having fun picking prizes for it already.

If you’d like to use the same yarn I did, you can order Renai in many colors from Fierce Fibers. Stacey is offering it at 10% off through June 30, 2017 with coupon code MICHELEBEE10.

If you’d like to be notified when the pattern is published, subscribe to my email newsletter. You’ll get a special discount on the pattern, too. Just let me know in the comments, and I’ll add you to the list.

Looking forward to June!

Catching up with May

How did half of May fly by so quickly? I see that I last posted here on May 1, but I’ve been having fun over on Instagram. It’s so easy to post a quick photo with a short caption. I’m pdxknitterati over there, too; here’s a link to my profile if you’d like to follow me there.

So to catch up here:

I’ve been madly knitting gorgeous gradients from Fierce Fibers, designing a crescent shawl in two sizes. More about that in the next post.

I picked the winner of the linen mini-skeins for the Linden Leaf scarf. Congratulations Sharon Brown! I’m sending you an email to get your addy.

And I love it when you send FO pictures! I had the pleasure of teaching at the Sheeper than Therapy retreat in central California last fall. One of the classes was for my Tilt Shift Wrap. Ann Berg sent me this picture of several successful finishers. Thanks, Ann!

On the non-knit side, I’ve been obsessed with baking bagels. I’ve been experimenting with whole grain and different amounts of yeast/kneading/boiling times, and now I’m getting the size and texture I want. Yay!

And I had the opportunity to sing with my fellow Pie Birds in church, and will be singing with them in a wedding soon, too. Here’s a recording of us singing Bird Song, written by Heather Masse.

Cheers!

Introducing Linden Leaf Scarf

Spring is definitely here, and Linden Leaf is a warm weather accessory knit in sport weight linen. Something between a scarf and a shawlette, it’s a welcome way to dress up your spring/summer wardrobe.

Like its sister SeaScape Scarflette, Linden Leaf is a long narrow asymmetric triangle. This one features a lacy edge of tumbling leaves.

It can be worn long, loosely knotted, double wrapped…so many ways to add a little pizazz to your outfit.

Linen gives this fabric a lovely hand and sheen. I highly recommend it! I used a Euroflax mini-skein set in the Forest colorway from Mason-Dixon Knitting. The mini-skein sets are back in stock, and new color sets have been added. Just in time for a quick summer knit! And single color Euroflax Sport linen can be found at many LYS’s and online.

The mini-skein set has five 65 yard skeins totaling 325 yards. A single skein of Euroflax Sport, which is 270 yards, will also make a nicely sized scarf. (I used about 300 yards of the minis, due to placement of color joins.) Test knitters Ann Berg and Rachel Nichols used Juniper Moon Farm ZOOEY DK, a 60/40 Cotton/Linen blend, 284 yards. It also blocked beautifully. The linen is slightly crisper, and a bit more open.

This pattern is available through Ravelry, Linden Leaf pattern page here. It is 10% off through May 7, 2017, no coupon code needed, or 20% off for PDXKnitterati newsletter subscribers. Not a subscriber but want to subscribe? Tell me in the comments!

Linden Leaf is a sister pattern to my SeaScape Scarflette. The construction is the same; the difference is in the edging. Leaves or waves? Do you love both? I’m offering special combination pricing: 20% off for bundle of SeaScape and Linden Leaf with coupon code BUNDLE.

If you’ve already purchased SeaScape, the appropriate bundle discount will be applied so your net price will reflect the proper amount.

And now that you’ve read to the end: I’m giving away a Euroflax Sport mini-skein set in the same Forest colorway to one lucky newsletter subscriber. Not a subscriber but want to be one? Leave me a comment and let me know. I’ll pick a winner after May 7.

Thank you to tech editor Amanda Woodruff and test knitters Ann Berg and Rachel Nichols.

Book winner, upcoming new designs

Thanks for all your well wishes for Biscuit. After a month of not feeling well, and bloodwork and followup on Saturday, she woke up Sunday and was her sassy old self. Hungry, playful, active. It’s like someone flipped a switch. We’re very happy that she’s feeling better.

The random number generator says that the winner of By Hand, Portland ME edition is Tami H. I’m emailing her so I can send her this beautiful book! But not the cat, who looks alarmed at the suggestion.

New and coming: I’m really enjoying knitting with this beautiful gradient, Saigon Cinnamon, from Fierce Fibers. I’m almost done with the first sample, 600 yards of Renai fingering weight. I’ll also be working up a 400 yard version so there will be options.

This shawl features lace and this very fun honeybee stitch, an elongated novelty stitch. So much impact for very little work! I’ll be looking for a few test knitters soon; leave a comment if you’re interested in test knitting, and I’ll fill you in on details.

Also coming, even sooner: Linden Leaf, a linen scarf featuring a pretty leafy edge. Test knits are done, tech edits are done. I just need to do the photo editing and tidy up the pattern. Later this week, perhaps? I’ll have a little discount here on the blog, and a bigger discount for email newsletter subscribers. Not a subscriber and want to be one? Leave me that info in the comments, too, and I’ll add your name to the list.

Onward!

By Hand Serial: From Portland to Portland (review)

I’ve been savoring a new book series, By Hand. This new venture features maker communities around the country.

Author Andrea Hungerford writes:

In this day and age, many of us are searching for community–a sense of belonging, a feeling of unity, a desire to share our passions with others. As a sense of community becomes ever more elusive, we look for ways to build our own. A community of makers–those who find joy in creating with their hands, minds, and hearts–gives us a chance to share and celebrate our ideas and passions.

Thus we have “making communities”–areas areound the country where makers with a common ethos work and, in turn, are inspired by each other–and we are “making communities,” even where physical proximity isn’t possible, by sharing our stories and journeys and images with each other.”

I love this concept. Although Andrea has a strong knitting focus, not all the makers featured in the books are fiber artists. The first lookbook focuses on Andrea’s home town of Portland, Oregon, which is my home, too. Some of the featured makers are:

  • Indie dyers Amy Lee Serradell of Canon Hand Dyes and Sarah Kurth of Bumblebirch
  • Yarn companies Woolfolk, Brooklyn Tweed and Shibui Knits
  • Other non-fiber artists including ceramicists JaMpdx (Jenn Gauer and Megan Radick, pastry artist Anna Henrick, and paper artists Tess Darrow and Kara Yanagawa of Eggpress Design and Letterpress. And more!

A visually stunning visit to Timberline Lodge was a non-fiber highlight for me. This whole book felt like a visit with friends, some of whom I have not yet met. The book also includes 3 knitting projects, a fabric project, and a recipe. I’ll be spending more time with these.

Andrea’s second book focuses on the other Portland, Portland and mid-coast Maine. There is so much fiber and textile history in that part of the country, and it is also the home of a resurgence of the industry. I wondered if I would like this book as much as the first Portland book, since I’ve never been to Portland, Maine. This did not disappoint.

The table of contents reads like a who’s who of fiber all-stars; designers that you know and love, and yarn companies that you recognize from your LYS. Hannah Fettig (Knitbot), Clara Parkes, Bristol Ivy; and yarn companies Swan’s Island and Quince and Co. There are instructios for 6 knitting projects, 2 sewing projects, and a family recipe for Cinnamon Swirled Orange Bread. Yum!

Andrea is working on her third book, which will visit Nashville, Tennessee. You know I love Nashville. I am really looking forward to purchasing this issue!

I’d like to thank Hannah Thiessen, whom I met in Nashville at Craft South, for putting me in touch with Andrea Hungerford here in Portland, and thank Andrea for the review copies of By Hand, too. I’d also like to share the fun. Who would like my review copy of Lookbook #2, Portland, Maine? Let me know in the comments. I’ll pick a winner after next Sunday, April 23.

Thanks also to my helpful assistant, Biscuit. She’s been under the weather for the past two weeks; we don’t know what’s going on with her, but she’s had many visits with our favorite vet. Send good thoughts her way?

Disclosure: Andrea Hungerford provided these review copies for me. All opinions are my own. I loved them!

Technique Tuesday, and new yarn

It’s been quiet around here, but things are moving along behind the scenes. Sometimes if I haven’t posted for a bit, I just need a jump start, so here’s an increase that I ran across recently.

If you’ve ever used KFB, knit in the front and back of a stitch, you know it’s an easy way to increase. It’s easy, and great for garter stitch where the bump from the increase doesn’t show. In stockinette, it does show, and you have to decide if that bump is a bug or a feature. But I recently ran across YarnSub’s post on Knit Front Slip Back (KFSB), which avoids the bump, and thought it was worth sharing. You can click the link for pictures and a video, but basically it’s knit in the front of the stitch, go into the back of the stitch as for KFB, but just slip that back of the stitch to the right needle without working it. Voilà!

It does have a directional lean to it, though, so if I wanted paired increases with one leaning the other way, I’d choose my favorite left and right leaning lifted increases. My other favorite paired increases are M1 (make one) increases by working into the back (right leaning) or front (left leaning) of the bar between stitches.

So many ways to get things done! What’s your favorite increase method?

Currently on the needles for a design project, this drop dead gorgeous 600+ yard gradient cake from Fierce Fibers. This color is Saigon Cinnamon, but every time I look at it, I think of Thai iced tea. I’m through the hard thinking on this project, and about to hit cruise control. Ahhhhhh. It’s a crescent shawl, with conventional lace and a fun new lace motif made with elongated stitches. I’ll work up a 400 yard version, too. Details soon.

What’s on your needles?

Organizing via project bags, Crafty Moms weekend 14.0

Last weekend was the 14th annual Crafty Moms weekend at the coast. It was pretty laid back, with some crafting, and some not! But great to get together with this group that met because our kids were in elementary school together, a long time ago.

I brought several projects to work on, because knitting is both work and play for me. Design projects, books for review, mindless knitting…and I shared some quick lessons in crochet, magic loop, and magic knot.

Lately I’ve been using Binkwaffle bags, one for each project, and then piling the collection into a larger bag or basket for transport around the house or out for travel. I like the smaller Dumpling bags for one or 2 skein projects, but last week I bought one larger Dumpling bag for a 3 skein bulky project (done and ready for secret pattern writing!). It’s too big for most days, but it came in handy this weekend.

These fabric bags are squishable but still have enough body to stand up by themselves while I’m working out of them, and the loop handle is great if you want to walk and knit at the same time. The large grommet for the handle to loop through means no yarn snagging. And the reversible fabrics are fun.

Guess which one Biscuit likes best?

I brought a couple mindless projects, which are great for social knitting. I finished a Kilter hat and started my replacement red Zephyr shawlette; I gave the original red Zephyr to my sister for her birthday. It was better than having her wait for me to knit the eventual replacement; this will be done…someday.

I spent some time reacquainting myself with the brioche stitch that I learned from JC Briar at Madrona. I had planned to knit only a couple repeats of this scarf pattern from the class handout, just to learn how to work the increases and decreases, but it’s really pretty and kind of addictive. I’ll just keep knitting as long as it’s engaging.

Dark side of brioche knitting

I can now tell where I am in the pattern, and don’t have to think so hard about the selvedge edges any more. I know that the increases and decreases only happen on the light side of the fabric, with the light yarn. But I’m operating a lot on instinct rather than reading the pattern, and can’t explain why it works. So I’ll keep going for a while!

My selvedges were wonky for the first few rows, and there’s one dark strand of yarn crossing where it shouldn’t, but otherwise things are looking pretty good. Onward!

The Oregon Coast is one of my favorite places on earth. Watching the waves clears my mind, and walking on the beach makes me look at everything with a different eye. I’ll close with some pretty pictures, so you can feel like you were there, too.


This dog wandered into my picture and made it infinitely better. Serendipity!

A gift from the sea.

Transportation for sea life!

These pelagic gooseneck barnacles caught a ride on this tree. They’re a little dried out, not as spectacular as the ones I saw a couple years ago.

It was stormy when we arrived, so the next few days saw the beach littered with these pyrosomes, pelagic colonial tunicates. Weirdly pretty, but apparently no longer alive.

Wouldn’t this make a great gradient yarn?

Spectacular sunset this evening. #craftymomsweekend

A post shared by Michele Lee Bernstein (@pdxknitterati) on

And here’s your nine seconds of Aaaaaaaahhhhhhhhh. Looking forward to the 15th annual Crafty Moms Weekend next year!