Saturday, December 29, 2012

Quick Scarf

My mom called me not that long before Christmas, and asked me if I would please make a scarf for a friend who did her a really big favor. Anyone else and I would have said absolutely not, but I have a soft spot for mom.

I didn't stop me from using chunky yarn and big needles though. Since mom said she'd get the materials (it's not that big a soft spot) I got some luscious Misti Alpaca Hand Paint Chunky. It's 100% baby alpaca and so great to touch. At the shop when we're slow sometime I wander over just to feel this yarn.

Next I grabbed a Barbara Walker stitch dictionary, and this is what I came up with.


All of the photos are terrible. Sorry. I almost forgot to take them at all until we were getting ready to take mom back to the airport. I slung the scarf around my neck and snapped a few shots. The lighting was terrible and I was trying to take pictures of my own neck. Forgive me.


I had thought about writing this up and putting it on Ravelry, but I don't have a single good photo of it. Hard to sell a pattern that way. Maybe I'll make it again, it did go very quickly.


The colorway I used is called Shiraz. It's not represented particularly well in any of those photos, but I'd say the middle one is the closest. Two hanks of the Misti Alpaca yielded a scarf about 5 feet long. Not super long by scarf standards, but since alpaca grows and grows and never really bounces back, I figured starting short was better than starting just right and having the scarf stretch down to the floor eventually. 

Friday, December 28, 2012


Every year I try to knit something ridiculous for my brother. There has been the enigmatic Jayne Cobb Hat, the bearded hat with interchangeable moustaches, a demon balaclava, a cthulu balaclava, an Elmer Fudd style deerstalker, and good old Zoidberg.

Thankfully, Ravelry keeps me supplied with endless inspiration for weird stuff to knit. This year, when I saw the SkullKerchief pattern by Knitty or Nice, I knew it had to be for Adam.


I do harbor a slight fear that he will one day take all these masks and pull some sort of super heist and I'll be taken down as his accomplice because no one will believe that you would knit these just for fun...

The knitting on this only took the better part of one day. It's a 40 row chart and you are decreasing to make the kerchief shape as you go, so it's VERY fast. I do remember finding a few typos in the pattern, but can't remember what they were. (The result of waiting to bolg... sorry!) I do know that the context around them made it really easy to see that there was a typo and the "solution" was obvious. It's hard to hold it against a pattern that is free.


The yarn is Patons Classic Wool Merino in Black and Aran. I do not splurge on nice wool for Adam since the chance of him taking good care of this are about 0 to 0.001.  Usually he doesn't even get wool, it's acrylic all the way, but I had this in my stash already with no designated project so that is what he got.


I apologize for the picture quality. In Portland this time of year there's really no such thing as "natural light." Expect the photo quality around here to remain low until... oh I'd say April.  

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Major Fail

Did you get any awesome yarn-y things for Christmas? I know some of you did because there was a parade of husbands/children/siblings through For Yarn's Sake in the past few weeks picking up gift cards and fun treats.

I got a very generous gift card to the shop from Ryan (THANK YOU). I will use it to pay for a very large order of Madelinetosh that I had special ordered in a moment of "order it now, figure out how to pay for it later" weakness. The Dana Cowl Pullover will be mine!

My brother is not one for shopping. I discovered long ago that if I want presents from him, I have to buy what I want and invoice him. It works out pretty nice. When he grumbles about the bill I just say "next year you can come with me to the yarn shop and..." and about that time he reaches for his checkbook. This year, from him, I picked myself up a skein of Malabrigo Rasta in Azul Profundo and the new Malabrigo 4 book.

I expressly did so because I wanted to make the Uroboro cowl that Stephen West designed for the collection. Here is what it looks like in the book.

I love the deconstructed look and the giant cables. How glamorous I would look in that cowl I thought to myself. And it only takes one skein of Rasta. How perfect. (Can you hear the "dun dun dun"?)


Mistake number 1: I cast on using the crochet cast on. While it's normally a very serviceable cast on, it totally ruins your project if you use it for this. You see, you dorp you stitches when you get to the end of this to make those long floats and you let them drop all the way through the cast on. Well, stitches can't drop through a crochet cast on because the crochet chain is locked in place. This means you have an unstreatchy crochet chain ringing the bottom of your cowl. The only solution is to start over. Of course, you don't realize this until you are completely done with all the knitting.

Mistake number 2: Thinking that because the pattern said it could be done with one skein of yarn, it could be done with one skein of yarn. Two thirds of the people who have made this on Ravelry have commented that they ran out of yarn. I was so excited to get my awesome cowl that I didn't read the Ravelry comments. I ran out of yarn with 4 rows and the bind off left to do. I decided I could live with it being 4 rows shorter at the top and bound off early. Which is of course when I discovered mistake number 1.


Mistake number 3: Not thinking critically about the pattern picture. Look at it. The model is literally holding the cowl up! That's because with so many dropped stitches it has no structure to hold itself up. When you wear it it collapses in on itself and you can't see the lovely cables. All you see are the loose strands. It looks like you just wrapped an unknit skein of yarn around your neck.

I love Stephen West, but this design gets one star from me. My goal for the evening is to find a suitable replacement pattern for my lovely new skein of yarn. 

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

White Christmas

Hello all! Are you having a good Christmas? Did you have a good christmas if you live in one of those far-away time zones? Christmas is just starting here and I'm waiting for the fam to show up in a few minutes.

There's no chance that today will turn into a white Christmas here in the Pacific Northwest, but there's still snowflakes in my apartment. See:

That, my friends is a double knit hot pad. TPHPE to be exact (the prettiest hot pad ever.) The pattern, by Heather Zoppetti, is free on Ravelry. It's basically just a chart though, don't expect instructions on how to do double knitting.

The cool thing about double knitting is it makes reversible fabric. Those two pictures are actually the two sides of the same hot pad. On one side your color A is dominant and your color B is the background. On the other side it is reversed. Don't believe me?

See. Pretty cool. I made this because I was scheduled to teach a class on double knitting. Sadly the class didn't happen, but it was good practice anyway. I used two colors of Rowan Handknit Cotton, a DK weight 100% cotton yarn. The colors I used are the creatively named 239 and 347.


Hope you have/had an awesome Christmas/holiday. Did you have real snowflakes?

Sunday, December 23, 2012


Were you bitten by the Lucy bug? When the Winter 2012 issue of Knitscene magazine came out this year everyone I know went absolutely gaga over the Lucy Hat by Carina Spencer. We had people calling the shop for months to order the two colors of Madelinetosh Vintage that the hat is pictured in. I succumbed and knit one straight away.


Pretty darn cute eh? A few notes about the pattern. I knit the small size and it fits the circumference of my 21" head perfectly. However, for the small size the pattern says to knit until it is 5" deep. I found this to be too shallow. I think 5.5" is much better since I like hats that cover my ears, not brush the top of them.

Also, the directions for the short rows are written confusingly. The patterns says "Knit to two stitches past the last wrapped stitch, wrap the next stitch." The designer has since made it clear that when she says "Knit to two stitches past" she doesn't intend you to knit the second stitch, you are just knitting up to it. This means you are wrapping the second stitch after your last wrapped stitch. Many people misunderstood and wrapped the third stitch. (The designer's clarification on this point was really snarky. It totally had the tone of "If you were stupid enough to misunderstand, I'll spell it out for you." That pretty much ensures I'll never pay for one of her individually downloadable patterns.)


I knit this one out of the new and absolutely luscious Madelinetosh Pashmina Worsted. It's 75% merino, 15% silk, and 10% cashmere. Because of the silk and cashmere it takes the dye a bit more muted than their pure merino lines. I used the colorway Hickory for the body of the hat and Betty Drapper's Blues for the band. 


This one was knit up as a sample for For Yarn's Sake to show off the pattern and the new yarn line. At least once a day someone takes it off the shelf and asks about the pattern or the yarn. Can you blame them? A hat this cute is pretty eye-catching.


Friday, December 14, 2012

A lame project

I feel a little silly even showing this to you guys. It's really sort of a nothing project. But, I figure, I made it and it's an FO, so, in the interest of full knitting disclosure, here is my coffee cozy.


I made this back in late October (I know, I know, that was now 2.5 months ago, I'm behind) when I taught a class at For Yarn's Sake on how to do intarsia. The pattern is Junkies Java Jerkin by Marjorie Walter.  I wanted a project that was small so as not to scare people off, but also one that involved using a fair number of bobbins to really give people a chance to get into the technique. 

This little gem uses 9 bobbins, which is a lot to manage, but it's only 15 rows tall so it's not going to take forever to do. I think this guy took about 3 hours.


There are actually two argyles on the cozy, one on the front and one on the back. I have a picture of each, though, as I'm sure you've noticed they are identical. There are two, I swear.

I'm not sure what yarn this is made from. I just grabbed scraps from the bin of scraps we keep at the shop. They are all worsted weight and probably all wool, but I can't tell you brand information.

Overall it was a cute little project and a good way to practice intarsia if you've never done it before. I use a reusable insulated mug for my coffee, so this guy lives at the shop on display. 

Other people might have bigger, more interesting FOs over at Tami's

Friday, December 7, 2012

He's a good man, I swear

He just wanted a Slytherin scarf. I can't explain it. Everyone knows Slytherins are a bunch of jerks. I mean aside from Voldemort, the entire Malfoy family, Bellatrix Lestrange, etc. there's the likes of Pansy Parkinson who constantly torments Hermione and Marcus Flint who cheats at quidditch.

Even knowing all that, Ryan still asked for a Slytherin scarf. Maybe he just knows he looks good in green. I don't think it's because he hates mudbloods.


The backstory: In For Yarn's Sake we have a shop sample of a Gryffindor scarf. Ryan came to take me to lunch one day and saw the scarf. He really liked it and asked if I could make one. (Incidentally, it's a stockinette tube. Yes darling, I can make that.) I told him I'd be happy to make him one. He asked for Slytherin colors. Who am I to say no. 

His good side

I didn't follow a pattern for this because, um, it's just stripes. I cast on enough stitches to go around a 16" needle (50) and worked my first green stipe until it was as long as I wanted. That turned out to be 17 rows. Then I did 2 rows silver, 2 rows green, 2 rows silver. Repeat forever, ending with a big green block. Flatten the tube into a big long rectangle. Add fringe. Ta-Da! 

His other good side

The yarn I used was Cascade 128. A 100% superwash merino that knits up nicely to a bulky gauge. I used size 10 needles and got a fabric that drapes but is still dense enough to keep the cold out. The colors I used were silver and army green. It took 3 full balls of the green (I used up every last scrap making the fringe) and just over half a ball of the silver. 


Ryan gave me some nice model poses for a while.


And a silly pose or too.


But eventually he tired of sitting in the cold listening to me direct him on how to sit and how to wear his scarf, and the shoot deteriorated. 


Ah, true love. 

Friday, November 30, 2012


Don't be fooled. I know I've shown you a long list of finished projects recently. This may lull you into believing that I am some sort of super knitter, able to crank out projects at an envious rate. Untrue. I just have a stockpile of old things that have been done for a while but haven't show up here yet.

Case in point. My Roam Cowl by Jennifer Dassau. I started this baby over a month ago but never got around to mentioning it.


I'll be honest, when I first saw this in this year's KnitScene Accessories I wasn't that taken with it. Then one of the other teachers at the shop taught a class on the mobius cast on using this as the class project. The class was completely full and everyone loved it. It was so popular, it was offered a second time and I snagged a seat in the class. The mobius cast on is certainly unique. I doubt I could have picked it up from just the drawings in the magazine.


The mobius cast on results in knitting your cowl from the center out. Half of the cowl shows the front side of the knitting, and half of the cowl shows the back of the knitting. This is why it is very important to chose a lace pattern that looks good from the back as well as the front. In the picture above, the backside is on the right. I think it looks great.

The only thing I really don't like is that it curls like crazy. There is no way you could get this to lie flat and open, which sort of defeats the purpose of all the lace. 


The designer put a very frustrating note in the pattern regarding the required yardage. She basically said that the sample was knit with 400 yards but it was close, so you might need more yarn. This is frustrating since the yarn she recommended comes in 400 yard skeins. (She recommended String Theory Caper Sock, one of my favorite sock yarns.) 

I read a lot of project notes of people who ran out of yarn in the last few rows, so I decided not to use the String Theory. Instead, I opted for Malabrigo Sock which comes in 440 yard skeins of 100% merino wool. That gorgeous bright pink colorway is called Light of Love. 


I almost always wear long cowls like this looped double around my neck, both for warmth and to give me more range of movement. Doubling it up tends to obscure the lace anyway, so the fact that it curls isn't really too annoying. Plus, new scarf for the winter. Of course, what I really need are hats and gloves since I have many many scarves and shawls, but such practical considerations mean nothing to my knitterly whims. 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Friday Slipper

That's slipper, singular, not slippers. I only knit one. You guessed it. It's a sample for the shop. These uber-cute slippers were in the last issue of Knitscene. You know, the issue that was so popular that it's completely sold out in North America. That issue.

The Friday Slippers by Kristen TenDyke are super cute and very fast to knit up. They are designed to be knit with super bulky yarn and size 9 and 13 needles. The smaller-than-average needle size makes nice dense slippers that feel like they have some substance to them. They really do wear more like slippers than socks. 

That button is from my button jar. I think it might have been the spare from an old sweater, but I can't be sure. I love the contrast of the orange and blue. 

I made this sample with Spud & Chloe Outer in colorway Cedar. The super bulky yarn is 65% wool 35% cotton. It's very soft, but feels like it will be very strong. I did find it difficult to knit super bulky yarn (especially one with so much cotton) on size 9 needles. It was hard on my wrists and I had to take frequent breaks.

I cut it really close on yardage. I wanted to get one slipper (in the smallest size) out of a single skein--60 yards. I was so close that I literally could not bind off the last two stitches. I ended up having to thread my tiny tail through the last two stitches and tack it down. I think I hid it well. If I had had 61 yards I would have been golden.

The soles are worked in a variation of the linen stitch meaning they are double thick and nice and strong. 

There are lots of short rows in this project, so if you have never done them before this would be a great low-commitment project to practice on. Especially because you never have to unwrap your wraps (the trickier part of short rows.)

Once again things have ballooned out of control here and I am staring down the barrel of 12 WIPs with signs that more will be added soon. Help?

Saturday, November 24, 2012


Hello all. Are you just now coming out of your turkey-induced food haze? I ate so much on Thanksgiving (at about 4:00) that I wasn't even hungry until about 2:00 the next day. Delicious.

My dad came up from southern Oregon and he, my brother, and I went to the house of some family friends. There were 28 people and a 30 pound turkey.

I also got almost all of my gift shopping taken care of. Dad and I went the day BEFORE Thanksgiving and the mall was deserted. Perfect. I don't care if I overpaid. There were no lines, no crazy people, no disgruntled employees. Perfect.

In knitting news, I still have a lot to show you to catch up. At the beginning of the month I taught a class called "It's Hot!: Hats." Our store does a whole "It's Hot" series where we base classes around patterns that are "Hot right now" on Ravelry (it's one of the search filters, check it out.) The hat I chose for the class was Molly by Erin Ruth. Here's my sample:


Just the right amount of simple but textural with a fun drape. My class focused on how to read a pattern where there is more than one thing going on at once. In this pattern the cable repeats every 8 rows, and the background texture repeats every 3 rows. It also was a nice refresher on cables since most of my students had done them in the past, but not recently. 


I knit my sample from a hearty wool yarn from Knitted Wit. The yarn line is called Cypress Hollow, it's 100% Rambouillet wool and all of the colors are named for the characters from the Cypress Hollow novels by Rachel Herron. The color I used was called Cade. (I have never read her novels, but I have read her book of short stories and they were cute and entertaining.)


This one was made as a store sample so it lives at the shop now. I get many requests to model it so that customers can evaluate the amount of drape. Some people are very picky about wanting a hat that is "drape-y but not too drape-y."

Once I pull myself out from under the holiday knitting avalanche, I think I will make one for myself.


Saturday, November 17, 2012


I had been eyeing the Freja mittens by Emmy Petersson ever since they were released in the Winter 2011 Knitty. When I decided to teach a stranded knitting class at For Yarn's Sake, I chose it as one of the patterns my students could pick from. Naturally, I had to make up a sample.


Notice how I'm strategically hiding my other hand? That's because I only made the one mitten. It's going to live at the shop and the sad truth is that if we make pairs of things they tend to get stolen. (Let me know if you want to hear my some-people-are-jerks rant.) Single mittens, socks, slippers, etc. have a much longer shelf life.


The yarn is Spud & Chloe Fine 80% wool 20% silk in colorways anemone and lipstick. If you're thinking you've maybe heard me mention the yarn before it's because you have. I love it. It's soft, got great sheen, comes in some amazing solid colors, and is hands down the sturdiest fingering weight yarn I've come across yet. 

This single mitten whipped up in about 6 days of off and on work. If I had been dedicated I could have easily finished the pair in one week. 

I'm trying to put some love into a lace project that has been languishing on my needles for far too long. Hopefully I will be able to show it to you soon.  In the meantime I have several more one-offs for the shop I can show you to make it look like I'm being productive.

Friday, November 9, 2012


According to Ravelry this has actually been off the needles since October 15, but it's been hard to schedule a photo shoot in the daylight with my photographer (Ryan.) We did manage to find a not-rainy day last week, so, without further ado, I present to you Calliope's Odyssey by Romi Hill.


This was mostly extremely fun to knit. I say mostly, because I actually hated the two-color part. The two color part is done with slipped stitches so that you don't actually have to carry both colors across a row. This is nice, except you sometimes are slipping 5 stitches which makes it very difficult to keep good tension. Especially on the purl side. And especially when you have to take into account the stretch  that will occur during blocking. Luckily there are only 32 rows of the two-color section and the rest of the shawl is an absolute delight.


I used Sincere Sheep's fingering weight yarn called Agleam. It's 50% merino wool 50% tencel and 100% awesome. I would happily make many more shawls from this yarn. The tencel gives it a sheen and drape that is to die for. The merino means that its very warm even though it's light weight. The colors I used were Sakura and Winter's Night. 


In looking at pictures on Ravelry, I decided that I tended to like the projects of people who used their lighter color for the lace on the bottom and the darker color on top. I decided to do mine that way. Plenty of people have made theirs with the lighter color flowing into a darker border. To each her own. I may have also been influence by the fact that I look horrible with pale pink next to my face, so if I wanted to use it, it had to be down on the border.


This was the knit-a-long project at For Yarn's Sake for September. The fact that I finished by mid-October is actually very impressive for me. I still have the original knit-a-long project from May 2011 on my needles somewhere. Don't judge.