Madrona 2016: Class reviews

A little more Madrona. If you missed the Fun and Games edition, you can see it here. (Market, extras, a song.)

I took two classes this year: Latvian Fingerless Mitts with Beth Brown-Reinsel, and A Sense of Proportion with Franklin Habit.

latvian mitts

The mitts class was a full day affair, and packed with related technique and information. Sure, we were making a mitt, but at the same time we had a review of Latvian tradition, yarn dominance in stranded knitting, how to manage 2, 3, or 4 colors, half braids and herringbone braids, and the afterthought thumb. I had a passing acquaintance with all of these techniques, except for braids, which I loved. Kudos to Beth for excellent instruction and a very comprehensive handout.

latvian mitt

Here’s my class piece. Excuse the errors; this was more of a technique learning piece and color combo audition. Someday I’ll actually knit the mitts…

Franklin’s class was, as always, enlightening. He is always well prepared, and a great presenter. This class started with body proportions (think of da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man, or Vitruvian Sheep per Franklin’s illustration), and then related them to proportions in three common knits: Hats, mittens, and socks. Example: Hats are generally worked until they are as tall as your hand (wrist to fingertip) before crown shaping begins. Second example: Your palm is a square, and the thumb hole on a mitt is halfway up the palm. I knew the first example, but not the second. I’ll be using that soon…

franklin speed swatch front

We talked about speed swatching in the round. Your gauge knitting flat isn’t always the same as your gauge knitting in the round. I knew this when I swatched for my BangOutASweater Stopover, so I swatched magic loop because I wanted to try two different color combos, front and back. But if you don’t need that much knitted real estate, you can speed swatch for gauge, color combinations, or new techniques. Basically, you work only the front half, and just carry the yarn across the back. (Make sure you leave enough slack so you can block the piece flat, or you’ll have to cut the yarn, which means you can’t re-use it.)

franklin speed swatch back

Clever, yes? I’ve used this technique before, but then Franklin added the step beyond: He mentioned using it to swatch just a wedge of a hat, to figure out vertical motif placement. I tend to think of swatching for stitch gauge, but it totally makes sense to use it to also make use of the row gauge. If you’re trying to center something vertically, you can know without knitting the whole hat first. Time saver!

So now I’m home, and taking my braids to the next level. What happens if you carry the yarn over the previous one? Under the previous one? Use the same color or opposite color for the braid? Follow the braid row with the same colors? Opposite colors? Only one way to find out…

braid speed swatch

Of course, I’m speed swatching my way through all the options.

braid speed swatch back

Thank you Beth and Franklin, for two great classes. I highly recommend them.

It was a joy and a thrill to take classes AND teach a class at Madrona this year. I hope I can do both again next year.

glass dress at murano

chihuly bridge of glass

A little more ambiance from the weekend…

Madrona, fun and games edition

Madrona was, as always, a magical experience. This was my first time teaching there. My blocking class was full, and my students came ready to learn about swatching, washing, and blocking all the knits. It was fun!

I took two classes, but I’ll write about them in a later post because I’m using new knowledge from both classes on a little project, and I want to put all of it together for you. Curious? Watch this space! This post is about everything else. To tide you over, here’s a link to the class I took with Evelyn Clark last year.

Last Wednesday I was packing for Madrona, and I caught myself thinking, “Don’t buy any more fingering weight yarn.” (The bin is full.) And then I heard myself say out loud, “Unless it’s gradient!”

Sincere Sheep

So apparently I had to buy some gradient yarn. This is from Sincere Sheep. I bought just the gradient on Thursday, and the next day went back for a coordinating solid. And two days later I found myself buying beads from Bead Biz to go with them! This will be a fun design project.

Janine Bajus FeralKnitter

Janine Bajus was our speaker on Friday night. Very inspiring. As she wrapped up her talk, I was compelled to write down these 3 ideas, plus the big question.

You get to do what YOU want.
There is no one right way to do it.
You won’t know if it will work until you swatch.

What is holding you back?

I chatted with her on Saturday about her strikingly beautiful shawl, which actually isn’t finished yet. She wore it on Friday, the steek cut but not edged. Holding just fine! Now that I think about it, it would be cool to leave it that way, as a representation of the journey.

Carol Milne

I met glass artist Carol Milne. She’s well known for her knitted glass sculptures. Her current project is a glass entrelac dress. Glass entrelac? Yes. She knits the squares with wax cord, and makes a clay molds which are used to make the glass pieces.

knit wax for glass carol milne


New buddy Pamela Grossman tried on the beginnings of the dress. Pretty cool! You can sponsor a glass entrelac square, and when the June exhibit is over, Carol will send it to you. I want one! Check out her Facebook page for details. (It’s not up on her website yet.)

GS Mini

What else? I had a fabulous hotel room with a great view. And a fainting couch! I brought Minerva, my GS Mini, as a diversion. Last week when my #BangOutASweater gauge swatch lied to me, I started writing lyrics in my head. It’s to the tune of Blowing in the Wind. I’m sharing them with you here. If you use them anywhere, please credit them to me. And yes, I used the singular “they.”

Knitter’s Lament
Michele Lee Bernstein, PDXKnitterati

How many times must a knitter cast on
Before the swatch doesn’t lie?
How many swatches must one knitter frog
Before they break down and cry?
How many swear words will one knitter say
While knitting the umpteenth try?

The answer my friend, it’s all about the gauge
The answer is all about the gauge

How many binges must one knitter watch
On Netflix, to finish a sleeve?
Second sleeve, second sock, second mitt, second cuff
Our boredom must be relieved
How many times do we itch to cast on
Before our ends have been weaved?

The question my friend: What’s next in the queue?
What project is next in the queue?

How many times have you given a gift
And were told, “But wool makes me itch”?
How many gifts have been tossed in the wash
To felt, and shrink each precious stitch
Yes, but how many times have you given a gift
And seen the lives you enrich?

The answer my friend: It’s for the love of yarn
We do it for the love of yarn.

How many ways can a knitter make socks?
Up from the toe… Or down from the cuff?
How many ways can we learn to cast on
Before we know all the stuff
How many classes will we knitters take
Before we call it enough?

The answer my friend: It’s time to confess
At Madrona, we are obsessed.

As you can see, I had a fun time at Madrona! I’m knitting away on the little project I want to show you, using Latvian braids (from Beth Brown-Reinsel’s class) and speed swatching and proportions (from Franklin Habit’s class). Stay tuned for a class review! Here are a couple peeks out my window while you’re waiting…

Friday sunrise

Rainier peeking Friday

Bang Bang BangOutASweater!

stopover knitting done

I finished all the knitting on my Stopover last night! Monday to Monday, and done. Except for the color pops. I’m waiting for my swap of color pops to come in the mail, and I’ll duplicate stitch them when I choose a color!

stopover rolled neck

Mods: I made a rolled neck edging because I don’t want Lett-Lopi ribbing at my neck. I skipped the last row of colorwork, knit a round with my neck color. Changed to smaller needles (US9) and knit 7 more rows (so 8 rows total). No neck decrease, just kept the stitches left over from the colorwork section. Bound off with larger needle (US10.5). It makes a lovely rolled edge, and the neck hole is not tight around my neck.

I knit the whole thing one size larger, to compensate for my difference in gauge. I used the sleeve cast on number for the next smaller size, and continued the increases until I reached the right number.

Still need to graft the underarms, weave in ends, add color pops, wash and block. But I’m calling this 99% finished. All the knitting is done!

This was a quick fun knit. Sweater is 40.5 inches around, a nice sweatshirt-y fit. Now that I know what it’s like, I can see making one more fitted, but not too fitted. But I have other things to work on right now.

I’m getting ready for Madrona Fiber Arts Festival. I’m teaching a mini-class on blocking on Thursday. You KNOW I love blocking! Are you going to Madrona? Hope to see you there!

New pattern: Meander Cowl

Pattern launch! Introducing the Meander Cowl. Read down for Ravelry coupon code…

In between banging out a sweater and pillow and poncho, I’ve also been blocking and finishing Meander Cowls. Remember this from last month?

meander cowl collage

I also knit a fingering weight version of it, this time in Delicious Yarns Sweets Fingering, Green Tea colorway.

Meander Cowl fingering weight single

Meander Cowl fingering weight doubled

It’s even airier than its sport weight cousin. I love them both.

These elegant infinity cowls are knit flat with one 100 gram skein of fingering or sport weight yarn, then seamed to form a loop which can be worn single or doubled. The lace and cable pattern meanders back and forth along the length of the cowl, creating zigzag edges.

Meander sport weight single

Meander sport weight doubled

The Meander Cowl pattern is available for $6 as a pdf download through Ravelry. Meander Cowl link here. To celebrate its release, I’m offering 20% off with coupon code MEANDER through February 22, 2016. I hope you knit one! It’s light and airy and perfect for winter or spring.

Meander cowls

Sweets Fingering and Two Sweets Sport from Delicious Yarns feature a pop of color that wanders across the lace and cables. Blocking brings out the best in the airy zigzag lace. This cowl would also be gorgeous in a semi-solid color. Each skein of Delicious Yarns is dyed by hand, and is unique. My original cowl is on the bottom of the picture below, and my test knitter’s cowl is on the top. So very different, but both are gorgeous.

Delicious Yarns Sweets Fingering

Here’s the Green Tea, before winding. So pretty!

stopover sleeve and prosecco

It’s starting to feel like spring here. Yesterday I was banging out a sleeve in my back yard! I wore the green Meander, and it was perfect. No coat. Odd for February, but the sunshine was a pleasant surprise. How’s your weather?

Banging out Sleeves

I knit a sleeve yesterday. An entire sleeve. This is quick knitting, I tell ya! I’m on the second sleeve now.

stopover bangoutasweater one sleeve

I could have knit both sleeves yesterday; they’re that fast. But I took some time out to seam this pillow.

snowy woods log cabin trees

snowy woods log cabin firs

It’s another Snowy Woods Log Cabin Blocks pillow. I made it with Knit Picks Wool of the Andes Superwash Bulky for the Knit Picks IDP program. The pattern will be for sale on the Knit Picks site, as well as the the version that’s already up on Ravelry. More Snowy Woods! More Log Cabinning!

I also took time out to make these pillows. (Whoa. Just noticed they’re the same color as the log cabin pillow. We have a palette here.)

cat pillows

I was inspired to make these when I saw the cat pillows over at Mason-Dixon Knitting last month. The fabric was printed by Spoonflower. Now my grown kids can have their own cats at their respective abodes!

cat pillows with cat

I’m not sure what Mookie thinks of them. But I’m sure I’ll never get that little top hat on her again.

Apparently yesterday was a very Mason-Dixon Knitting day. The #BangOutASweater KAL, the cat pillows…and I learned to log cabin from the first Mason-DIxon Knitting book. I made this blanket way back in 2008-2009.

log cabin blanket

So thanks, Ann and Kay! You’ve changed my life!

Back to the sleeves…some people are already finished with their first KAL Stopovers, and starting a second one! I’m looking forward to starting the yoke patterning. Just have to power through this sleeve, first.

Banging along…obsessed

I was trying to balance my projects, but this #BangOutASweater KAL has me obsessed. Sometimes you have to give in to the momentum. I’ve been knitting like a fiend for the past couple of days. I’m feeling a little twitchy without this in my hands. I may have knitted at a few stoplights. Or not. I’ll never tell. But I finished the waist shaping on Tuesday.

latte bang

I was out and about on Wednesday, but managed to knit over post-gym coffee, and then in the evening. The body is done!

stopover sleeve begins

On to the first sleeve. The cast on looked enormous, and I have small wrists, so I started with 4 fewer stitches (next smaller size). It will catch up as I go; I’m making the longer sleeve length.

winter is coming bang out a sweater

This picture is from Kay Gardiner’s Instagram account. Check out the hashtag #BangOutASweater to see all the Stopovers in progress.

#bangoutasweater instagram

I’m pdxknitterati over there, too. Knit on!

Knitty knitty bang bang

Having fun so far with the #BangOutASweater project. Sometimes planning and dreaming is the most rewarding part.

green lopi pop

I didn’t love the spring green Lopi that I chose for my color pop when I swatched with it. Through the magic of duplicate stitch, I auditioned several other colors to see if I could find something I liked better. I used six different Malabrigo worsted colors that were leftovers in my stash.

malabrigo color pops

Purple, yellow, red (actually Brown Sheep Lamb’s Pride)
Moss, orange, apple green

I’m leaning towards the yellow, so I tried that by itself.

yellow malabrigo pop

Maybe. Maybe just a little too much? I also like the moss, which is almost the same color as the original Lopi, but maybe a bit softer.

I asked for opinions on Instagram, and they’re all over the map! Some people liked the idea of using All THE COLORS, which could be fun, too. I may just knit the MC and not put the pops in, and then duplicate stitch them in afterwards. That would have two advantages: One fewer color to manage on that row, and I could swap out colors whenever I wanted to, like a necklace. Crazy? Maybe not!

With all this prep, how could I go wrong? I cast on yesterday morning. The contrast color borders were looking disconcertingly pastel, but all was well once I got to the main color. It looks like a blue valentine!

Lopi Valentine

But it was also looking suspiciously small. My gauge had dropped to 14 st/4″ rather than the perfect 13 st/4″ on my swatch. Grrrrr. I frogged it. I think my gauge swatch is laughing at me from downstairs. Swatches lie!

Lopi frog pond

I don’t want to use a bigger needle, so I’ve cast on the next size up. That will compensate for the difference in gauge, and it should come out the size I originally intended. Hopefully my gauge doesn’t switch back! But it’s looking pretty steady, and the fabric is neither too dense nor too holey. I’m on my way to banging out this sweater.

It’s a good thing it’s not a race, because I’m also in the middle of banging out a poncho. More knitting, more fun! I’m designing with this gradient set from Three Fates Yarns.

Three Fates Eponymous Sock Time Lapse

It’s pretty wild having a project in Aran weight and two projects in fingering weight at the same time. (I’m leading the Black Trillium Fibres Twin Leaf Crescent KAL this quarter, too.) But I’m enjoying them all. Knit like the wind and bang out all the knits!

Bang Out A Sweater next week?

When I saw that Kay and Ann over at Mason-Dixon Knitting were starting a #BangOutASweater KAL with Mary Jane Mucklestone’s Stopover pattern, I tried to resist. I have several projects already in the works, and don’t really need one more.

But if I did decide to knit along, what colors would I use? I played with some colors online. Just looking, you know. As one does.

Lett-Lopi colors

I wondered what they would look like in real life? I went to the Knitting Bee to check. And then I bought the yarn. Oops. But Létt-Lopi isn’t very expensive on the yarn continuum, so I didn’t feel too guilty. I could put it away for later when I have more time, right?

My friend Claudia came over to bake bagels and sing with me the other day. (She, Becky, and I sing as the Pie Birds.) The bagels turned out great.

bagels with Claudia

I told her about the BangOutASweater KAL, and she was all in. She went from my house to Dublin Bay to get yarn. I’m such an enabler! (And can I say just how lucky we are in Portland to have 15 yarn shops in the area, and TWO that carry Lopi?) She sent me this picture.

Létt-Lopi for Claudia

I guess this means I should knit along with her now, instead of later. I swatched yesterday (in the round! and wet blocked!) and also sampled color placement. The size didn’t change when I blocked it, but the yarn fuzzed up marvelously and filled in the gaps at this loosely knit gauge. Perfect.

Stopover color sampling

I like the top sample better; the gray and blue pop against each other at the bottom of the peacock feather. The green and blue are too similar in value to each other and mush into each other in the bottom sample. Here it is in monotone; you’ll see what I mean.

lett-lopi monotone

So I’ll run with the color placement in the top sample, but I’m not excited about the green as the accent color pop. I may use cherry red. Or sunshine yellow. Hot pink? It’s only used in that one row, so I’ll check my stash of leftovers (Brown Sheep Lamb’s Pride) to see if I have anything that works. Otherwise, back to the yarn store. Oh, darn.

How about you? Do you want to bang out a sweater with us? It will be quick. And fun! Check it out here on the blog, on the Mason-Dixon Knitting blog, their Ravelry group, and Instagram, where the hashtag is #BangOutASweater.

Snowy Woods Log Cabin Blocks mashup

It’s a mashup of two of my favorite things! My Snowy Woods Log Cabin Blocks are based on the classic Log Cabin quilt block. The center squares feature motifs adapted from my Snowy Woods Cowl: two entwined trees, and three fir trees. Two log cabin blocks will make a 16” pillow that knits up quickly in bulky yarns such as Knit Picks Wool of the Andes Superwash Bulky or Berroco Vintage Chunky. They require just one 100g/135 yard skein in each of three colors for the two blocks. Knit a matching throw with more blocks; you’ll get 2 coordinating blocks from each 3 skeins of yarn.

Snowy entwined trees log cabin

Entwined trees

Snowy Firs Log Cabin

Three firs (These remind me of the three Douglas firs in my back yard, the Three Graces)

After the center squares are knit, the “logs” are easy knitting in garter stitch. It’s perfect for knit nite, multi-tasking, or travel. I knit my second block while playing yarn chicken with a volcano.

volcano knitting

The pattern is available through Ravelry as a pdf download. Use the coupon code CABIN for 20% off through January 31, 2016. Make something pretty for your home!

For those of you local to Portland who want to learn how to knit log cabin squares in general, I’m teaching a class at For Yarn’s Sake on Sunday, January 24 from 1 to 3:30 p.m. I’ll be teaching this class again at Twisted on February 6 from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Contact either shop to sign up.

CLICK for Babies/Purple Hats

Last month, I had the opportunity to hang out at Twisted in the company of other knitters, knitting purple hats for the Click for Babies campaign. The hats are given to newborns through Legacy Emanuel Hospital to remind parents about the period of PURPLE crying, to prevent Shaken Baby Syndrome. We were there on that particular day to film a commercial for Legacy. It started airing a couple days ago, on TV and Hulu, too.

It’s not currently hat collection season, but you can knit hats all year and turn them in later. I knit a hat that day, and have another one that I finished after I went home. Thanks to Twisted’s owner Emily Williams for a fun project for a worthy cause!

click for babies

Do you have favorite charities you knit for? Here are details on purple hat requirements, if you choose this one. Hat collection begins again later this year.