Goodbye 2015; Hello 2016!

We had a great vacation in December, and coming back to rain was tough! Missing this:

mauna kea sunset

But we brought a little aloha home with us.

spam mac nuts

It seems like looking back on 2015 is the thing to do this week, so here’s mine.

2015 design collage

I published 12 designs in 2015 (up from 9 in 2014). I began the year playing with a fun stitch pattern, and designed 4 accessories with them: The Criss Cross hat, beret, mitts, and cowl. It was also the year of the poncho, and I had two, Tilt Shift and Summertime Blues. Snowy Woods came back as a hat, and there’s more Snowy Woods in my future. I ended the year going down the gradient rabbit hole with Lobelia (Knit Circus yarns) and the Twin Leaf Crescent for Black Trillium Fibres.

There’s more in the pipeline, and lots of ideas rolling around in my head!

Are you on Instagram? You can find me there under the name pdxknitterati. There’s a cool end of year thing going on over there, #2015bestnine where you can see your nine most liked pictures. And everyone else’s, too. Here are mine:

2015bestnine

All knitting related except for a lone camellia, seen on a walk. The Rose City Yarn Crawl is represented twice, and my lovely Edin Cardigan (design by Bonne Marie Burns) is also there twice.

I hope your 2015 was good to you, and that 2016 is even sweeter! Cheers!

hau tree cocktails

Knitting with a volcano

Last week I went to knit with Pelehonuamea. Pele, the fire goddess. Her home is in the Halema’uma’u Crater in the Kilauea Caldera. I was afraid that we wouldn’t see the volcano at all; it was rainy and misty when we arrived. We were encouraged by occasional glimpses that afternoon.

Kilauea

yarn chicken with Pele

I lost this game of yarn chicken, and I didn’t even care. The view was worth it! We booked just one night at the Volcano House, because we’ve visited the volcano several times, but never at night. (Previous visits here and here, if you like scenery.)

Halema'uma'u at Kilauea

The clouds eventually cleared, and we watched the quarter moon set over Kilauea.

moonset at kilauea

moonset over kilauea 2

The morning glow just before dawn was stunningly beautiful, but hard to photograph. Don’t try to focus on the glow; it’s vapor.

kilauea morning

Morning brought more rain, and a double rainbow.

double rainbow

The Meditation Room at the Volcano House was a great place to knit!

meditation room volcano house

Ripping and re-knitting. I want this piece to be knittable with 1 skein each of 3 colors, not 1.2 skeins. Plotting and planning.

volcano knitting

How’s your knitting? Where’s the most unusual place you’ve knit?I know I said I don’t gift knit, but I have one tiny thing to finish before Christmas. Onward!

Gift knitting deadline looming near

Are you still trying to knock out last minute gifts for Christmas? (It’s too late for Hanukkah this year; all the candles have been lit.)

menorah and christmas stockings

Solstice? That’s even sooner than Christmas!

I don’t do deadline gift knitting; I don’t like the pressure. But I’m shopping through my ever-growing stash of knitted design samples for some very nice gifts.

If you’re the kind of knitter who thrives on holiday gift knitting, don’t forget about the Indie Design Gift Along. You can win prizes for participating, which is a bonus on top of getting your gift knitting done. The GAL/KAL/CAL runs through the end of the year; check out the action on Ravelry.

And here’s a very cute “T’was the Knit Night Before Christmas” to keep you amused…

Beads and Bead Aid giveaway, twinleafKAL2016

Have you signed up for the Twin Leaf Crescent KAL? Dyer Melanie Dilworth of Black Trillium Fibres tells you how in this post.

Twin Leaf wingspan

The KAL begins January 1, 2016, and runs through March. But we want the fun to begin earlier than that, so join us in the Black Trillium Fibres group on Ravelry for discussion and fun.

We’ll be giving away beads from Fire Mountain Gems to two lucky participants, and a set of Bead Aids to three lucky participants before the knitting begins. What color yarn and beads do you want to knit with? I generally stick with clear beads, but if contrast is your thing, go for it!

Lower edge detail

Special thanks to Sarah Lajoie, the maker of Bead Aids, for donating these for the giveaway. They make beading so much easier.

I’ll be knitting my Twin Leaf Crescent in Mallow, which is shades of mauvey-pink. I guess I should say I’ll be re-knitting it. I’ll be ripping out my original prototype so I can make it perfect.

twin leaf prototype

We had fun comparing these at knit nite last week. The gauge on this was too loose, I had a lot more decreasing in the lace section which made it narrower at the top than I envisioned (not enough wrap around), and the lovely top edging wouldn’t stand up. But I wasn’t ready to frog it all until I knew I had a better version. Melanie was kind enough to send me the Periwinkle gradient so I could work things out. Now I’m happy, and I can frog and re-knit the first one.

So join the KAL and knit along with me in January. It’s selfish knitting month. Or if you’re feeling unselfish, give the yarn/pattern combo as a gift to a very good knitting friend. Everybody wins! Details on the KAL are on Ravelry in the Black Trillium Fibres group. Sign up by December 22 to be in the beads and Bead Aid drawing. Are you dreaming of colors? Go!

Twin Leaf Crescent KAL: Sign up now!

Introducing….my new Twin Leaf Crescent Shawl.

Twin Leaf front

I designed this for Black Trillium Fibre Studio’s Q1 2016 Knit Along. It’s knit with Melanie’s gorgeous Lilt Sock gradient yarn, 85% Superwash Merino, 15% Mulberry silk. This yarn is heavenly to knit with, and the drape and hand of the knitted fabric is amazing. Beads are optional, but highly recommended, for additional drape and sparkle.

Twin Leaf back

This shawl is knit in the periwinkle colorway, five gradient shades of the loveliest blue-purple. The gradient kit is 165g, 675 yards, which makes a lovely large shawl that you can get cozy in. You’ll want to check out all the available colors; I had a hard time choosing.

Twin Leaf wingspan

The leaves on the lower edge…

Lower edge detail

are echoed at the top of the shawl. A ribbon of shell lace is set off by a garter stitch frame.

Twin leaf detail

The pattern is available exclusively through Black Trillium Fibres for the KAL that runs from January 1 to March 31, 2016. Check out the Ravelry page for info on the KAL, or the Black Trillium Fibres page for more info on ordering the yarn and pattern. Fun and prizes await. Treat yourself in the new year!

Lazy Sunday knitting: mega Kilter hat

I’m taking a cue from Kay and Ann over at Mason-Dixon Knitting, and having a Lazy Sunday. (If you don’t read MDK, you should. They’re back in force after a hiatus, and have been blogging DAILY. Delightful.)

I’m sitting in bed knitting and reading, with cat, at 9:45 a.m. Or I was, until I felt the need to make this post. I’m closing in on the top of a worsted weight version of my Kilter Hat, and winning a game of yarn chicken.

Kilter

It would have been a more exciting game if I hadn’t already finished once, and decided the hat was too short. I figured out via yarn scale and math that there was enough yarn to add one more section before the decreases. But I never trust the math until I’m really done.

kilter worsted

Done! But I had started wih a short skein of Malabrigo Rios (93g instead of 100), so this hat ends with a knit center instead of purl. I’m not even sure 100g would have given me one more section; it’s too close to call and I’d hate for the knitter to run short. But I like the way it looks! I think it will be knitter’s choice.

Why do I want a worsted weight Kilter? I taught a Kilter class at Twisted recently, and it was fun. But a worsted version would make for a quicker knit/less homework between class meetings, and would also make it more likely for the student to have a completed project at the end of the second class (fewer rounds to decrease in class). Everybody wins! I have a couple things to work out, and then I’m planning to update the pattern to include both weights. (And before you ask, I think bulky weight would be too…bulky.)

How was your Sunday? Lazy? Not? I hope it was lovely, either way.

Happy Thanksgiving

The turkey is in the oven, stuffed. The rice for the other stuffing (rice/oysters/Chinese sausage/water chestnut, my Dad’s recipe below) is cooking. The stock for gravy is simmering. It smells wonderful in here.

So I’m taking a moment to say thank you for reading! And for knitting, especially if you’ve ever knit one of my designs or taken a class with me. I love what I do, and love being able to help you knit, too.

Kilter Indiecita

I’m currently knitting a worsted/Aran weight version of Kilter. This is Malabrigo Rios in Indiecita. Loving it so far.

Hoping your day is full of family and peace, whether or not you celebrate Thanksgiving.

Baba’s turkey stuffing

2.5 cups uncooked rice (i like brown medium grain, but whatever you have is fine)
3 Chinese sausage
2 8 oz jars of fresh small shucked oysters, drained and cut in half if they seem large
3 stalks celery, sliced 1/4 inch on diagonal
1 onion, chopped
1 can sliced water chestnuts, drained
3 eggs, scrambled (if you want it to be prettier, cook separately before adding so you have ribbons of scrambled egg)
1 tbsp soy sauce

Pre-cook rice, along with sausage. (Lay the sausage on top of the rice when you turn the heat down after it boils; they will be perfect.) When rice is done, remove sausage and slice 1/4 inch on diagonal.

Now it’s time to really cook!
Saute sausage, onion, and celery in 1 tbsp oil. When onion is soft, add oysters and cook until they are just barely done (there will be a lot of moisture in the pan). Add water chestnut and eggs; cook ’til eggs are done. Beginning adding rice, one cup at a time, working it in. You may not use all the rice. When you have enough rice worked in (so that the ratio of rice to goodies looks right), add a bit of soy sauce for color (go lightly!). Salt and pepper to taste. Stuff the turkey, or not!

This is basically fried rice, with oysters and chinese sausage. yum….

How to use yarn dominance to your advantage

I finished the quilted lattice band of the Heladas Hat that I’m knitting for the Indie Design Gift-A-Long, and moved on to the pinstriped body. The stripes are made with a combination stranded colorwork/slip stitch technique. But I noticed that the lovely stripes were sinking into the stockinette stitch so that they were barely visible. Hmmm.

I thought about yarn dominance in stranded colorwork, so I decided to change how I was carrying my yarns. I usually carry two colors in my right hand, and the position of the yarns doesn’t make much difference as long as they keep their relative positions. But it was making a difference in this case, so I switched. I had been carrying the main color in my favored (usual) throwing position, and the contrast color above because it doesn’t get used as often. Swapping them made all the difference. You can see that the first stitch of the contrast color stripe is kind of buried in the stockinette stitch, and above that they pop out. Yay!

heladas yarn dominance

I don’t particularly like carrying the MC in my non-favored throwing position; it’s a little more cumbersome. So for this project I’m carrying the CC in my left hand and picking it continental, which still puts it in the lower position, and lets the color pop.

Do you know about yarn dominance? It’s a fun fact and useful thing to know. Your particular knitting technique may end up making the upper yarn dominant instead of the lower; you’d have to check and see. But after you decide which one is dominant and like it that way, keep your yarns in the same relative postion as you knit your colorwork. Have fun!

And don’t forget that the pattern sale for the GAL ends on November 27 at midnight; the coupon code is giftalong2015. The knitting/crocheting/prizes continue until the end of the year.

Blocking, belatedly

I recently found this sweater at the back of my closet, mostly unworn. I finished this Heather Hoodie at Crafty Moms weekend in February 2011. It was designed as a vest, and I adapted it to include sleeves, because a jacket makes more sense to me than a bulky vest. This is one big bulky sweater, 9.5 skeins of Brown Sheep Lamb’s Pride Bulky, which means 950 grams, or 33.25 ounces, or nearly two pounds. I think it felt too chunky for me to want to wear it often.

hoodie back

I recently blocked my Edin cardi. I wore it yesterday, and I’m completely happy with it. It’s a perfect fit. The fabric relaxed a bit and it feels like I’m wearing a cloud. Modeled pic someday!

But it gave me a brainstorm: What if I could get the monster cables on this Heather Hoodie to relax a bit, too? I just looked up the Ravelry page to get the link, and it says, “The cable pattern pulls in as you knit, but will relax upon blocking.” I can’t believe I never blocked it, but it was knit at a time before I became a blocking evangelist. Into the sink it went. It soaked up so much water (and ran some excess dye, too), it was really heavy when I hauled it out. I couldn’t just roll it in a towel and expect to get most of the water out, so I put it in my washing machine on delicate and spun it for 30 seconds at a time, rearranging often so it couldn’t stretch out.

heather hoodie blockingblocking

I patted it out to size, and immediately it felt smoother, nicer, more relaxed. The cables no longer pull in. Blocking is magic. Three days later, it’s finally dry, and it fits so much better. What? Two new (ish) sweaters to wear this season?

honey cardi wip

I’m feeling empowered. Maybe I should rip back the almost complete first sleeve on my abandoned Honey cardigan and make them the way I want them (fitted, not belled), and then I’d have three new sweaters…

Go me!

Indie designer: Yarn Intercept Designs

Heladas Hat

Last night I cast on my first Indie Design Gift-Along project, the Heladas Hat. I love the clever 2-color quilted lattice stitch on the wide band. A very fun stitch that adds a lot of interest!

Heladas

The Heladas (frost) Hat is designed by Beverly S, yarnintercept on Ravelry. I’ve followed Beverly’s blog for many years; back in 2011 she even interviewed me for her blog!

Beverly is a middle school math teacher who also designs knitting patterns. She’s not afraid to use math in her design work! She designs accessories: hats, mitts, socks, and shawls. Her asymmetrical Bricktown Shawl is a very appealing use of slipped stitches and eyelets using two complementary yarns.

Bricktown

Bricktown

I had been planning to cast on Beverly’s Frozen Spires Cowl. This lovely cabled cowl would be perfect for the extra skein of Malabrigo Merino Worsted that’s left over from my Edin cardigan. Even better, I have an extra 1/5 skein from the sweater, so I can make this cowl one repeat bigger and even squishier than the original seen here.

frozen spires

And I still may. But right now, the hat is humming along. I’m using Malabrigo Arroyo in Purpuras and Borrajas, and I love the way it looks.

Malabrigo Arroyo purpuras y borrajas

Check out these designs and more on Beverly’s Ravelry designer page. And stock up during the Indie Designer Giftalong sale!

(All photos by Beverly S/Yarn Intercept Designs, except my cast on.)