Fire Thief KAL!!

April 29, 2015 - 3:33 pm

Fire Thief is getting popular on Ravelry again. I was so afraid I had muffed it when it went viral early, but it seems like the pattern is recovering well. I’m also getting an education in online social marketing, but I won’t bore you with those details now. 🙂 Maybe after the release is passed, if folks are interested.

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I’m starting a KAL on Ravelry for Fire Thief. Here are the details:

  • I’m going to cast-on Friday, May first, and try to knit it out in a month, but you’re welcome to cast-on now if you’d like.
  • I’ll pick a random winner when I finish mine from everyone who posts FO photos of their project in the thread.
  • I’ll pick a second random winner from everyone who casts on.
  • Winner will receive a care package including yarn to make a nice Fire Thief.

I encourage you to try different ways of using the charts. They’re all modular and designed so they can be put together in different ways. If you have an idea and aren’t exactly sure how to make it go, ask me! I have all sorts of thoughts on modifying this pattern. For instance:

  • It could be a circular shawl
  • Or as a Curl without the circular start
  • It’s possible to knit out a smaller version by stopping the central motif after round 22 and beginning to Curl at that point.

Have fun and be creative with it!

Ok….. GO!!

Fire Thief Release Party!

April 28, 2015 - 2:38 pm

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It’s alive!!!

I have so much to say about the process of designing, testing, revising, and releasing this pattern. It’s been at least 50% of my working time for the past month and some. But it’s done and out in the world! I’m going to dinner and a show with a friend tonight to celebrate. 🙂

So the Ravelry page has a discount for the next week, or you can join the newsletter for an even better deal. More tomorrow, I promise. 

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Fire Thief Stitch Maps

February 19, 2015 - 3:39 pm

I’d love to have a pretty progress picture for the Fire Thief, but you’ll just have to imagine it looking sort of like half of what I showed you yesterday. Well, two thirds, maybe. I have ripped back to where I start the first purl column and am going to re-knit again, again, again.

This time I decided not to try to “work it out on the needles,” because that clearly wasn’t a winning technique. Instead I fired up JC Briar’s site stitch-maps.com where I can enter the pattern and visualize the knitting better. This is the new center motif chart:

Fire Thief Stitch Maps

Just for giggles I also entered the expansion chart

Fire Thief Stitch Maps

I encourage everyone to go have a look at JC’s site. It REALLY helps me understand what’s going on with the knitting. The data entry is a little tedious, but nothing compared to hours of frustration from ripping and re-knitting. I’m now confident I have the chart correct, and I can just knit it out.

I’m going to sign off and do just that. 🙂

Fire Thief

February 18, 2015 - 4:01 pm

I am working on a new pattern. I’ve decided to try something different, and rather than hide it under a bucket during the design phase I’m going to blog freely about the design. If you like the idea and enjoy watching my process drop something in the tip jar over there —>

I’ll also be looking for a test knitter or three when I get this sorted. Let me know if you’re interested.

Hunter’s Curls are my favorite thing right now. I have one completed and a second on the needles and they are fantastic. I asked her how she would feel about me designing a Curl of my own, and she was enthusiastic. So! Here we go.

I decided I wanted to design to commercial yarn this time, and picked the Abstract Fibers colorway Bonfire on the base Temptation. It’s truly lovely. Look: 

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Bonfire is a great name for this colorway. I wanted a stitch pattern that was evocative of flames and worked with the yarn’s color changed instead of fighting them. I decided I needed big yarn-overs in every row in order to show a lace pattern, so came up with this swatch I posted a couple days ago: 

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I worked it on US 8’s, and it opens up nicely and the little three to four stitch runs occasionally stack to make little snaps and flashes of color. Perfect! 

You might notice there’s something going on towards the top of the swatch. There’s a line of faggotting that pops up in between the pattern repeats. That’s because I want to enhance the curliness of my curl, so the stitch pattern will expand as it’s worked by getting spaced out by more and more columns of faggotting. I worked up this chart:

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The idea is that you start with the bottom eight rows and repeat them a few times, then knit the blue transition row and move into the second set of eight, and so on. I haven’t decided how many a “few” is yet. 

The other idea I want to pull into this is something I’ve been playing with for a while, which is making two-sided scarves. I don’t like having a right and a wrong side to my neckwear. I don’t want to have to think that hard when I get dressed. 🙂 So I reworked the pattern to have an A and a B chart, with knits and purls: 

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Looking at the key there you’ll see notation for beads. Because, well, beads are fun! so there will be beads in the faggotting as well. 

The other notion I’ve been playing with in some pattern starts that may never see the light of day is having a circular start that at some point breaks free by having some number of stitches cast-off and the remainder getting worked into a rectangular shawl. I personally prefer long shawls to triangles or circles. 

When I saw Hunter’s Curls I immediately started thinking about how to work this into the start of a Curl shape instead of a rectangle. I am still not sure exactly how the circle will transition into the Curl— I’ve got some ideas but they will require testing. For the moment I’m focussed on getting the circular start done correctly.

I found a fabulous circular motif that was recently published by the inimitable Franklin called the “Laura Star.” It isn’t quite right for this project, however. I want it to flow nicely into the zig-zags. So I’ve added a lot of rows and inserted some columns of k2tog, yo to break it up into 4 st columns like the motif for the body has. You can see them starting to develop below:

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I’m setting them up as alternating knit/purl sections to flow into the flame pattern properly, and that has been the task of the day. Because there are so many increases and decreased it’s damned difficult to chart this out properly. I want the purls to start where they need to start and end where they need to end for the pattern to work out correctly. That means I need to count backwards from where I want to end up to where I need to shift from knitting out of the yo’s to purling out of them, and that turns out to be HARD, at least for me, at least today.

I have found out the hard way that I can’t rip this motif and then put it back on the needles, not even in little sections— if I screw up I have to tink back stitch by stitch and row by row, unless of course I want to start over from the cast-on. Which I have done twice. I have lost count of the rows I have tinked.

That tangle of yarn at the top? yeah. That’s the start of the next tinkage. I’ve dropped stitches down to where I need to rip- four or five more rows. 

The good news is that I’m working all of this out in beautiful charts, so it will be easy for *you* to knit once I’m done. Or, as easy as knit/purl lace that has no resting rows can be. 🙂 This is not going to be sleepy knitting. 

I’m jazzed about this design, and everyone I waved swatches in front of at Madrona was interested as well. I think Susan at Abstract Fiber and I may do a knit-along once I have something ready for the rest of the world.

This, by the way, is what you pay for when you buy a knitting pattern. Done well they are gorgeous and simple for the knitter to use. All of the work that goes into making that simplicity is invisible in the finished product, just like we don’t see the hours of practice when we watch a figure skater or a gymnast perform a flawless routine. Trust me, there’s more going on behind the scenes than you might imagine.

This is perhaps 10% of the way to having a pattern ready to ship— if I’m lucky and don’t hit an impossible problem. I’m not offering advanced sales yet because I know I may not find clean ways to solve some of the problems I see in front of me. How exactly am I going to Curl this circle? Stay tuned and we can find out together.

In the meantime, this is the song I took the pattern name from: 

Thanks so much to Hunter, Franklin, and Susan for their inspiration.

Using My Beading Tool

September 19, 2014 - 7:42 pm

This will be the last post in the Viburnum series, and it’s about the tool I use to bead lace.

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Shortly after I joined Ravelry I developed and posted about a tool I made for beading lace from a guitar string. Folks have been regularly requesting a video on using the tool ever since.

That day has arrived! Here is the video:

 

Making Lace

September 18, 2014 - 12:33 pm

The third Viburnum sample in Knitty was the lace weight one. It’s an interesting “coming full circle,” since the piece I developed the initial pattern with was also lace weight. 

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That first sample was knit in Art By Eve’s “Anne,” which is a 70% Alpaca/ 30% silk yarn. It’s beautiful and drapey and deliciously soft and warm against the skin of my neck. The fiber blend was pretty close to perfect. That sample has now gone to live with Amanda, as a thank you for modeling in the Knitty article.

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I knew I wanted to spin something similar, but nothing in my stash called to me. I had some delicious kid mohair and some alpaca, but I wanted something colorful that would look good on the page with the lavender DK weight wrap, and nothing I had in my stash was going to work with those requirements.

Then I thought of Terry at Rainbow Farms Pygora. She makes the most delicious batts blending pygora with other fibers. Her batts are done in small lots from fiber she dyes in crockpot sized batches, and each one is built by hand on her drum carder. I’ve worked along side her in her studio and was impressed with her process and artfulness.

Fortunately I had this thought about a week before we were scheduled to get together at the Black Sheep Gathering in Eugene, OR. I went straight to Terry’s booth when I arrived and had a delightful time with her picking out a complimentary batt to go with the DK sample. I settled on a deep purple. 

I also splurged on a new supported spindle from Spindlewood to spin the batt up. I have a number of spindles including representatives from most of the major artisan spindle makers, but Steve’s are my favorites. And Connie is such a delight to talk to— if you ever make it to a festival where they are selling you should drop in. 

I wanted to make sure the yarn I spun up was strong and fine enough to carry beads well. Being at Black Sheep I remembered a couple years ago when I took a class from Galina Khmeleva on Orenburg lace spinning. One of the things she stressed over and over that made me chuckle was “You can eat butter with your butter, but why would you?” She was referring to plying fine handspun singles with silk or cotton thread instead of spinning two singles of the same fiber together. It is the practice in Orenburg to ply the cashmere singles with drawn silk. That gives strength and a bit of sheen to the finished yarn, keeps the final yarn quite fine, and makes the single go twice as far! 

I checked the SkaSka booth for a plying thread that would go with the purple batt, but they didn’t have anything I liked in stock. Just down the aisle, though, was the Fiber Addict, who had hand-dyed 60/2 thread that was the perfect color.

So here are my tools and the yarn in process:

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I love support spindling. I find it’s the best way to make a fine, soft single, because the single doesn’t need to be strong enough to be wound on through the orifice of a wheel and doesn’t have to support the weight of a drop spindle. It seems to me the fibers stay relaxed and a little fuzzy because they don’t get that extra tug in the spinning.

To spin this I tore off handfuls of the batt and spun from the tips of the fiber rather than from the fold. I experimented with both methods, but the single was finer and more consistent spun from the tips. Terry’s batt spun like magic! I had an ounce spun up in a couple hours. 

To ply I went to my go-fast wheel. I am fortunate enough to have a lovely Canadian Production Wheel that’s about a century old:

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It’s made for spinning fine and fast. I plyed straight off the bobbin, after winding the thread onto a card:

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The spindle is in a tall water glass with a point protector on the tip, and the card with the silk is in a mug. I wanted to make sure the yarn didn’t become a boucle in the finishing, so I tensioned the spun single while letting the silk glide into the orifice with no tension. That way when the single relaxes it won’t form loops:

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After plying it was time for the finish! Still in the mood to avoid a boucle, I opted for a steam finish. Into the steamer basket with the yarn!

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Onto the stove over a frying pan of steaming water:

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And aaaaaah. Nice relaxed yarn:

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The photos don’t show how much of a change a little steam wrought. The yarn went from being kinky and unbalanced to being smooth.

Beauty shot on the porch:

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And then I set straight to knitting. I love how moebius scarves on the needles like to make heart shapes: 

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Next to the cowl is my beading tool. More on that tomorrow!

Viburnum becomes a pattern

September 17, 2014 - 10:36 am

Shortly after I completed David’s neck warmer, mentioned in the last post, I got an email from Knitty about submissions for the upcoming issue. They were specifically looking for small things, gift sized, and themed for winter wear. 

I mulled over what I might have to submit, and it occurred to me that the pattern I had now knit in two weights could be knit in more or less any weight of yarn, and could be sized up or down as desired to match gauge and style. 

I decided I needed one more size to make my point, so I grabbed a skein of Manos wool and silk and started knitting. I adore the little neck warmer that came out:

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It has been given to my Aunt Lynne as a gift. 

I wrote up the pattern and submitted it. On a whim I sent it to Knitty Spin since one of the three samples was handspun. I was pleasantly surprised when Jillian accepted it— provided I knit all three samples from handspun!

The acceptance note arrived shortly after Spinzilla. I spun for Team Storey, as I have several friends with books published through them. One of the yarns I spun up for the contest was a light purple fulled single from merino/silk top my friend Heidi dyed. It’s the skein in front on the right:

End of Spinzilla

The final yarn was much less kinky— this is the freshly spun picture. 

This style of yarn is one of my favorites. I first made it in imitation of the Malabrigo and Manos worsted singles I adore, and have knit several sweaters and other smaller projects from it. The yarn is quickly and lightly spun, and then heavily fulled to get it to hold together and to balance out the twist. I find this yarn doesn’t pill as badly as a two or three-ply yarn from the same fiber that’s finished less roughly. It will only work with non-superwash blends that are made mostly of feltable wool.

To make it I spin a middling sized single using a supported long backwards draw from the end of top. I spin it only to the point that the single loses the stretchy taffy-like feel, and then run it into the orifice and onto the bobbin.

Pull back, treadle a couple times, run the yarn in. Slide my fingers back down the top a bit, pull back, treadle, run in. It’s as soothing as a rocking chair. The rhythmic motion helps me maintain consistency in the single, and I can spin up a sweater’s worth of yarn in a couple afternoons. Delightful!

Once it’s spun I skein it off on a swift, tie it up well, and beat the living daylights out of it. I wrote up a tutorial a few years ago on learning to spin long draw and finishing a single with a hard fulling wash. There are bigger pictures in my flickr stream, and I think these two capture the spirit and vigor of the finishing: 

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I swish the single in boiling hot water fresh from the kettle with a bit of soap, then dunk it in an ice bath, and move the yarn back and forth again and again until it shrinks and hangs limp in the skein instead of curling up. To finish the yarn I “thwack” it vigorously against a wall or the edge of a basin. The photos show me doing it in the kitchen sink, but that makes a big splashy mess. Most of the time I use the wall of the shower. This action further “sets” the yarn, helping the fulling process along.

Once the yarn dries I put it back on the swift and re-skein it, gently separating the strands where they have stuck together. Generally I have to adjust the swift in several pegs from where it was originally skeined up because fulling causes the yarn to shrink in length and bloom in diameter.

The end result is a soft fuzzy yarn that is, nevertheless, as solid as a hard twisted multiply plied yarn, for a fraction of the effort. It doesn’t have the glossy sheen of a worsted yarn, but it’s lighter and warmer. It’s generally a bit uneven in diameter, but that disappears in the knitting. 

The end result is the neck warmer I wear the most: 

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Yummy.

Viburnum origins

September 16, 2014 - 1:48 pm

Viburnum began as a small take-along summer holiday project. It has origins in conversations with Sivia and Cat about the sorts of patterns that work well in a Moebius design. I am fortunate to have such friends. 

The issue with a moebius is they are knit in two directions at once, so the pattern must look the same from the top to the bottom or the bottom to the top. They are also single sided, with the “front” and the “back” flowing into each other, so the pattern has to be the same on the front and the back.  Cat has many designs which meet these criteria. Sivia has the Harmonia’s Rings pattern, which I had just come through knitting into a sweater when I cast on what was to be the first Viburnum.

After a lot of iterations I ended up with a chart and a swatch that made me happy. It took less time to knit out the first one than it had to design:

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At about the same time I was finishing up the first cowl, I ruined a fleece.

David’s Viburnum was made with some gnarly handspun:

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I botched the washing job on a lovely Romeldale fleece by letting it cool too much in the bathtub. In my defense I was a bit distracted for several hours because the bathtub drain had sprung a leak and was showering my basement with sheepy water. By the time I determined what the problem was and drained the tub the grease had redepositied, and removing it required harsh treatment that was fulling the wool.

Instead of rewashing the whole thing, which I had planned for some colorwork and had painstakingly sorted, alas, I set it aside a bit sticky.

David asked for a neck warmer to cover the space between his bike helmet and his jacket for commuting in the Seattle winter muck, and I pulled out some of this tacky fleece because (I reasoned) it would throw off rain and drizzle better than a properly washed one.

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It performs beautifully in that role, but processing and spinning a fine and sticky fleece into a yarn doesn’t produce a smooth or consistent single, that is certain!

I opened the locks with a flicker, and then ran it through my Pat Green Big Batt carder, and pulled the batt through a diz to get a hand pulled roving. This is a picture of dizzing a wool/silk batt for another project:

pulling roving from the batt

The resulting yarn is fluffy and warm, but … rustic. You can no doubt see the thick and thin bits, as well as the neps and other messy bits. What you can’t see is that I had to pry it apart fir this photo because the lanolin had pretty much glued it together. Nevertheless, it knits up nicely.

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Once I had the yarn I went casting about for a pattern. After some talking and thinking we figured out David wanted a moebius so it would fit high on the back of his neck but down under his chin. I realized I could use the same stitch pattern as my beaded lace cowl, minus the beads, and I knit him one that evening. This pattern is so very fast to knit in bulky weight!

I haven’t decided if I will process and spin the rest into a sweater for him, or let it languish. I did use some to stuff pin cushions, in the thought that greasy fleece would be a nice way to keep sewing pins.
Anyway. I encourage you to knit with your yarn. I have learned so much about spinning by actually working with the yarns I make!

Viburnum in Knitty

September 15, 2014 - 9:15 am

Some of you may have noticed I have a pattern in the latest Knitty!

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It’s called “Viburnum.” It has been shown in three weights of yarn: lace with beads (above) DK:

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and Bulky:

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It’s a moebius cowl, based on the Cat Bordhi moebius patterns from A Treasury of Magical Knitting. I designed it with hand spinners in mind, because the pattern can be easily adapted to any weight of yarn and desired size of knitted neck warmer, from a neck wrap to a shoulder wrap to a double loop infinity scarf. The stitch pattern scales gracefully and always complements the moebius structure.

I’ll write articles each day this week, explaining how to use my Beading Tool and how I spun each of the yarns used. 

Enjoy!

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Morning stretches

April 28, 2013 - 6:51 am

New lace scarf giving its all

It’s 7:30am. Showered, puttered, tea made, meditated, and now writing.  Check!

The puttering this morning took rather a long time, because I was blocking the ends of a scarf I’ve been knitting on the machine. I blocked the body before vacation, but decided it wasn’t finished enough, so created a border chart. I knit the first end, which is on the right in the picture below, by hand. The second end last night by machine. I definitely could have knit the second end faster by hand than by manipulating the stitches on the machine, but I learned a lot, so perhaps it was worth it. I certainly now have more motivation to figure out how to use the lace carriage!

New lace scarf giving its all

When blocking lace I believe a harsh blocking is best, no matter how the lace screams, particularly when blocking silk.  This is Handmaiden Sea Silk in colorway Boreal. The iPad camera doesn’t do it justice; photos later when it’s off the rack. Note the hand weights to help keep the mat flat- it’s not really blocking if I don’t need at least 10 lbs. This one used 18, but I probably could have gotten away with a little less. 😉

Also, pro tip: when pinning on the dining table, be VERY CAREFUL that the pins don’t go through the mat. Perhaps avoid this all together in the future, and pin on the floor, then check for pins sticking through before moving the lace to the table for photos.

There are some errors in the pattern on the machine knit side, but I declare it Good Enough.

Yesterday was spent continuing to get acquainted with my wacom tablet, working on the Illustrator course on lynda.com, and napping, glorious napping. I feel more well rested today. David and I also took photos of some FO’s I need to post, including the sweater I finished at the Visionaries retreat and a skirt I made on the knitting machine.

Today there will be more illustrator class, and writing. I’ve cleared all the nagging UFO’s out of my backlog in the past week or so, but am not starting anything new until the documentation is complete.

We are also having an extreme low tide again, so may take a little jaunt down to the beach with our cameras for that.

Finally, I’ll be taking advantage of David being home to complete the sorting and rearranging of Stuff on the main floor of the house.  The remainder of what needs to be sorted is joint property, and I want to be certain the putting away of Stuff is satisfactory to all. I’m determined the dining table will be empty of clutter 100% of the time. I like sitting here looking out over the bay, and I like having a nice table for eating, rather than plopping down on the couch as has become our habit.

Next up: exercise! Yesterday I had to abort the morning routine after an upper body twisting stretch triggered some sort of stomach spasm that had me heaving for half an hour or so. I’m working on strengthening and mobilizing my scalenes. The stretches I’ve found to help are uncommon yoga poses that I don’t know the names for. If anyone has suggestions, please share.

And there’s a goldfinch on the bird feeder.  It really is spring.

Rejoining My Tribe

February 16, 2013 - 7:38 am

For the past week and a half I have been by turns deeply engaged in conversations with knitting designers, working flat out at my job, and collapsing unconscious. I’m full to overflowing with inspiration and ideas, and the intention to carry this forward into action.

First was the Visionary retreat on San Juan Island with Cat Bordhi and twenty-odd knitters who were drawn together by her for the better part of a week. We discussed our individual ideas as well as plans for collaboration in the upcoming year. It was intoxicating; I may hav OD’d on creative inspiration.

The time was made even more amazing by the Lakedale Lodge location, and the cooking of Deb Nolan. The only way I can thank these people for my time in that place is to follow through on the work they have enabled and inspired.

Anyone who wants to make or take a retreat in the Pacific Northwest should consider Lakedale. It’s sumptuous, with a delicious breakfast and a variety of accommodations ranging from hotel-like with fireplaces and jacuzzi tubs to detached cottages with full kitchens, fireplaces, and a shared hot tub to (I understand, though I haven’t seen them) tent cabins and camping spots.

It’s just disconnected enough to make access to the outside world inconvenient. Email gets through in the lodge house, but web surfing is extremely slow. It’s possible to take care of essentials in this connected world, and access needed online resources, but in the inviting surroundings and amazing company the lure of the Internet dims to a minor annoyance. Perfect for a retreat.

There is a lake, with swans and diving ducks. There are the beautiful towering trees of the Pacific Northwest sheltering the enchanting mosses and plants of the understory. Walking, or just being outside is a sensory delight. I gush. I drool. I dribble. Would that I could spend a week a month there.

Deb’s cooking. If you ever have the chance to experience it, say yes. She delights in cooking food that is not just delicious but also healthy and nurturing for the people in her care. She is mindful of dietary limitations, and makes sure there are delicious options for all; in fact most of the meals she prepared were gluten free and largely vegetarian to support those of us with limits, but she fed us in a way that didn’t feel limited. Beautiful and delicious food that drew raves from everyone. Again with the gushing and the drooling. I wish I had thought to take photos of some of her meals.

Cat is inestimable. Many knitters have had the pleasure of taking classes form her; probably most of the knitterly folks who will see this post. She is a dynamo of inspiration; she spins through the world throwing off sparks that set fire to imaginations. I have been feeling a bit dull and drab for months now, without ideas or even desire to find ideas. I stopped writing in my journal, stopped spinning, all but stopped knitting. I felt empty.

Now I am awake and alive and in touch with my creativity again. The only words that come close to expressing how that feels are: “Thank you.” Dearest Cat, You have returned me to the core of my self, lit and nurtured my creative spark, and turned me out into the world inspired to share the light you’ve awakened in me. I didn’t know how much I needed that this year. Thank you, thank you.

And let me not forget to thank the generous and inspirational yarn donations from Claudia’s Handpaints, Blue Moon Fibers, and Vain. I will need to blog about them later, but I’ll add one teaser pic. I have a new mitt pattern completed and mostly written up from Claudia’s yarn, two more in development, and one from Blue Moon. Did I mention overflowing with inspiration?

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But the Visionary retreat was only the beginning. After a few days being distracted by that work I do for money, it was time to come to Madrona.

I’m writing this on Saturday morning from my hotel room, with two more days of wonderful awaiting me. I will be taking spinning classes from Sarah Anderson and Amelia Garriopoli; sadly I will not be taking my scheduled classes from Jacey Boggs due to a death in her family. I’m looking forward to learning wonderful stuff, and having my spinning inspired as well as my knitting.

Right now though, the classes feel like a distraction from the community I’ve been savoring since Thursday night. Being with my tribe is something hard to explain. I suspect those of you who have communities that come together for gatherings a couple times a year understand. every moment is precious. Sleep is an annoying distraction. There is not enough time, there is never enough time. Things are left unshared, connections missed, plans fall through and time is so short. I have two days left and it doesn’t feel like enough; I’m already thinking forward to Black Sheep, and maybe Rhinebeck this year.

But it is enough, and more than enough. I’m full to overflowing with plans and ideas. I have found my heart and center again, and am determined to follow through. I’ve set some goals and they feel attainable.

Last year I was gifted with a Surprise! sabbatical immediately after this time, and the opportunity to do whatever I wished for a while drew me away from my plans to create in fiber. I learned about 3D printing and met a local community who have become my friends and had glorious adventures, but I lost this. I am back now. There will be more. Fiber is where my heart lives, and this community is my tribe.

Beamish

December 23, 2010 - 8:12 am

Beamish close-up

PDF here: Beamish

‘And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
Oh frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!’

–from “Jabberwocky” by Lewis Carroll

This scarf is a tale of two knitters, a Ravelry love story, and a spat over stash.

I met David online two years ago today, in the Ravelry forums. We immediately struck up a long distance friendship, soon met in person, and later fell in love. During the same period of time I went through some life changes that necessitated a move to Seattle. This summer, David decided to join me here.

As part of the moving preparations, I flew down to Texas to help him get organized: the fun part was sorting his stash! During that process he told me I could have anything I wanted, since he was approaching SABLE and felt guilty for all of the lovely yarn languishing in his care.

Moving interrupted his work on a pair of kilt hose he had promised for a wedding, so when he arrived he was too far behind to meet the deadline. I picked up one of the hose, and ended up working about half the project for him. There were many late nights. He ran out of yarn about half an inch too soon. Pawing through his stash for a substitute, I found this skein of Jabberwocky. Between remembering the earlier offer and in light of the work I was doing for his deadline, I asked for it.

It turns out this particular skein was very special, having been purchased on a trip several years before we met. Much hilarity ensued. Finally, we agreed the yarn could live in my stash, and whoever picked it up to knit first could have it, so long as they didn’t let the WIP languish.

Of course I cast on the next day.

I wanted to create a scarf that would be a quick, interesting knit and would use exactly one skein of flashy hand-painted yarn. (Don’t we all have a couple of those in our stashes?) It needed to showcase its wild colors without flashing and pooling, in a firm, thick fabric that wouldn’t roll. In other words, it had to be perfect. I looked at a lot of patterns, swatched about a dozen different stitches, and finally came up with this pattern. It’s worked longways, giving it the stripes of pattern along its length.

Every time I put down the project and worked on something else, David would threaten to rip it, or to start knitting from the other end of the skein. I talked about wearing the scarf and never letting him so much as touch it, and about giving the FO away to various people. But in the end, for David’s birthday, I gave him the finished scarf wrapped around a new skein of Jabberwocky. Love is a frabjous thing.

Beamish present

FINISHED MEASUREMENTS
6 x 60 inches

MATERIALS
Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks that Rock Heavyweight [100% superwash merino; 350 yds / 7 oz skein]; color: Jabberwocky; 1 skein

1 32-inch US #8/5 mm circular needle
a second 32-inch US #8/5 mm or smaller circular needle to use for grafting

notions required:
waste yarn
row counter
yarn needle
chocolate

GAUGE
25 st = 3.25 inches in horizontal herringbone stitch (washed and blocked)
25 st = 3.5 inches in linen stitch (washed and blocked)

PATTERN NOTES
Crochet Cast On:
Using waste yarn, work a crochet chain several sts longer than the number of sts to be cast on. Starting 1 or 2 sts in from end of chain and using working yarn, pick up and k 1 st in the back loop of each ch until the required number of sts have been picked up. Later, the chain will be unraveled and the resulting live sts picked up.

Linen stitch:
This fabric has a knit side and a purl side. You will work every other stitch on each row. The slips and the knit sides of the stitches always face the right side of the fabric, and the backside is just purl bumps. The edges are a single column of garter.

Row 1 (RS): k1, *sl1 wyif, k1; repeat from *, k1
Row 2: k1, *sl1 wyib, p1; rep from *, k1

Horizontal Herringbone stitch:
This fabric also has a knit and a purl side, but you work two stitches at a time. There are several tutorials on YouTube for this stitch pattern if you get lost.

Row 1 (RS): k1, *sl 1, k1, yo, pass slipped stitch over both the new stitch and the yarn over; repeat from * to last stitch, k1.
Row 2: *p2tog, then purl first stitch again, slipping both stitches off the needle; repeat from * to end of row.

The cast-off in this pattern is completed using Kitchener Stitch (grafting). An article about this technique can be found here.

Beamish in Seattle

PATTERN
The cast-on and cast-off for this pattern give matching edges that are firm without being tight. Done correctly, they will look identical.

Tubular Cast On
Using waste yarn, crochet CO 190 sts.
Using working yarn, work as follows:
Row 1 [WS]: K1, [k1, yo] to last st, k1.
Row 2 [RS]: [Sl 1 wyif, k1] to end. [380 sts]
Row 3 [WS]: Sl 1 wyif, k1, sl 1 wyif, p to last 3 sts, sl 1 wyif, k1, sl 1 wyif.
Remove waste yarn; the edge will not unravel.

Body
Work Linen Stitch for 8 rows.

Work Horizontal Herringbone for 6 rows.

Repeat these two sections two more times, so that you have three stripes of Linen, and three stripes of Herringbone, alternating.

Finish with 10 rows of Linen Stitch.

Tubular Cast Off
Last row (RS): k1, *sl1 wyib, k1; repeat from *, k1

Using working needle and second needle, slip across, moving every other stitch to the second needle, so that the stitches worked on the RS are on one needle, and the stitches worked on the WS are on the other.

Now comes the grafting. Get your chocolate and your yarn needle. You will need a yarn tail about 3 times the length of the fabric, or you will need to join on new sections of yarn as you work.

There is one option that avoids joining on several times and subsequently weaving in lots of ends. It is to fold the entire length of yarn you will need to complete the graft in half and half again, and pass the loops through the eye of the needle. This way you are pulling several thicknesses through each stitch at once rather than having a very long piece of yarn to pull through. You will work only one thickness of yarn in the graft just as you ordinarily would; but this technique lets you pull the tail through more easily.

Kitchener across the edge from the two needles until all stitches are bound off, applying chocolate liberally as needed.

FINISHING
Weave in ends.
Wash & block; the pattern opens up nicely when you take the time to pin it out!

Beamish close-up

Macho Ficchu

February 20, 2009 - 11:51 am

Macho Ficchu Fichus need to be beefier in the mountains of Peru. This one is made of dense cables, and shaped with short rows. Materials

  • Malabrigo Chunky in colorway “Cinnabar” 3 skeins (104 yds / 100 g per skein)
  • size 11 needles
  • stitch holder

Plus 3 Dragon Skin Gauntlets of Warming

February 19, 2009 - 8:38 pm

Introduction:
These are vorpal gauntlets of warming because of the tight knitting gauge and the alpaca.  They might only be plus 1’s if you knit in worsted wool, but they will still be cozy and fun!

These gauntlets are an introduction in heavier weight wool to techniques you need for sock knitting.  There are short rows, a sewn bind-off, a couple Kitchener stitches, and a chart to read.  They are also an exercise in understanding the various m1 increases, left and right leaning, as well as knit and purl.  Since you’re working in larger yarn on larger needles, it’s easier to see how the yarn is moving, and understand how these techniques work.

Materials:

  • about 150 yds of Aran weight yarn.  I used Alpaca, for the +3 warming factor.
  • tapestry needle
  • size 6 dpn’s, or weapons of your choosing for working your yarn in the round.

Gauge:

  • across the 15 pattern stitches: 2.75″
  • in unstretched ribbing: 6 st/inch
  • in stockinette: 18st / 4 inch (4.5 st/in)

Notes:

  • m1t – make 1 twisted. (Make one through back loop) Lift the running yarn between stitches in the row below from front to back, so that it sits like a knit stitch, and knit through back loop.
  • m1r – make one reversed.  Lift the running yarn between stitches in the row below, lifting it from back to front, so that it sits backwards on the needle.  Knit through the front leg.
  • m1tp – make 1 twisted, purl.  (Make one Purl through back loop) Lift the running yarn between stitches in the row below from front to
    back, so that it sits like a knit stitch, and purl through back loop.
  • m1rp – make one reversed, purl.  Lift the running yarn between stitches in the row below, lifting it
    from back to front, so that it sits backwards on the needle.  Purl
    through the front leg.

*** NOTE: I know how I make these increases, but my knitting style is … idiosyncratic.  I don’t know exactly how other people make them.  If you don’t know what I mean by these, ask me: jennigma@gmail.com

Directions:
Cast-on 41 with a stretchy cast-on.  I used the long tail.

I recommend dpn’s, with the first 15 stitches on the first dpn and the remainder distributed more or less evenly, but do as you like.  I divided them as 8-10-8 on my 4 working needles.  You could also do 12-14 if you prefer 4 dpn’s.  Shouldn’t matter.  Working on two circs is also nice; in that case I would put the pattern stitches on one set and the ribbing stitches on the second.

round 1: place marker, k15, place marker, (p2, k2)6 times, p2.
No markers needed if you’re keeping the first 15 on their own dpn.

round 2: k2, p11, k2, (p2, k2)6 times, p2.
This gives a garter edge to the pattern, keeping it from curling and helping it look nice.  🙂

round 3: begin following chart over first 15 st, continue the remainder in ribbing as set.

Work until you have two complete repeats of chart.

Thumb increases:
NOTE: Continue pattern stitch as set on the first 15 st. Directions below are for the ribbing stitches only. If you’re working on two circs, shift the stitches a bit so
that you make the thumb on the pattern stitch needle– otherwise you will end up with too many stitches on the back needle.  If you work
two at a time this way, you would shift the outer stitches on each
gauntlet to the front needle, so that you get a right and a left
gauntlet.

Right glove:
1: p2, k2, m1t, p2, m1r, (k2, p2)5 times.
round 2 and all even rows: work stitches as established.
3: p2, k2, m1t, k1, p2, k1, m1r, (k2, p2) 5 times.
5: p2, k2, m1tp, k2, p2, k2, m1rp, (k2, p2) 5 times.
7: p2, k2, m1tp, p1, k2, p2, k2, p1, m1rp, (k2, p2) 5 times.
9: p2, k2, m1t, (p2, k2) 2 times, p2, m1r, (k2, p2) 5 times.
11: p2, k2, m1t, k1, (p2, k2) 2 times, p2, k1, m1r, (k2, p2) 5 times.
13: p2, k2, m1tp, (k2, p2) 3 times, k2, m1rp, (k2, p2) 5 times.
15: p2, k2, m1tp, p1, (k2, p2) 3 times, k2, p1, m1rp, (k2, p2) 5 times.

Left glove:
1: (p2, k2) 5 times, m1t, p2, m1r, k2, p2.
round 2 and all even rows: work stitches as established.
3: (p2, k2) 5 times, m1t, k1, p2, k1, m1r, k2, p2.
5: (p2, k2) 5 times, m1tp, k2, p2, k2, m1rp, k2, p2.
7: (p2, k2) 5 times, m1tp, p1, k2, p2, k2, p1, m1rp, k2, p2.
9: (p2, k2) 5 times, m1t, (p2, k2) 2 times, p2, m1r, k2, p2.
11: (p2, k2) 5 times, m1t, k1, (p2, k2) 2 times, p2, k1, m1r, k2, p2.
13: (p2, k2) 5 times, m1tp, (k2, p2) 3 times, k2, m1rp, k2, p2.
15: (p2, k2) 5 times, m1tp, p1, (k2, p2) 3 times, k2, p1, m1rp, k2, p2.

Knit 4 more rounds, or until the gauntlet edges wrap around the base of your thumb, and easily touch.

Removing thumb stitches
Slip the increased stitches to waste yarn, so that there is a purl stitch on either side of the opening, and rejoin the round.  You will have p1, (k2, p2)x3, k2, p1 on the waste.  PULL THE STITCHES TIGHT as you work past the join the first couple times.

Work until you have 4.5 pattern repeats, and check length.  I worked 5 repeats in the initial pair, but others are finding 4.5 is a better fit.  Continue until the gauntlets are desired length.  You can either work a finishing row of garter across the pattern stitches and bind off, or make the short row knuckle guard, below:

Optional knuckle guard:
NOTE: Start this when the palm side of the glove is the desired length.  It’s better, but not essential, to start after an odd row in the chart rather than an even row.  If you start after an even row you will either have to work the increases and decreases from the purl side of the work, or work an extra plain row to get back on track.  It’s ok to do that– it won’t visually disrupt the pattern enough to notice.

Knuckle Guard set-up

  • Work the 15 pattern stitches one more round as set.
  • p2, k2, then bind off 15 stitches.
  • Move all remaining stitches to a single needle, preparing to work back
    and forth.  You will have k2, p2, 15 pattern stitches, p2, k2 on the
    needle.
  • k2tog so that the last bound off stitch doesn’t interrupt the ribbing, but merges into it.  19 st. total on your needles.

From here on, you will not work the increases in the pattern, but continue to work the decreases.

Short Rows
If you stopped on an even row instead of an odd, this is where you insert an extra row.

row 1: Work 18 stitches in pattern, excluding the increases.  The two decreases will reduce the stitch count. 
Turn your work to the purl side; you will have one stitch on the first needle from the previous row that you didn’t work. (17 st. total; 1 resting)
row 2: YO, and then work back 15 stitches across the purl side of the knuckle guard in pattern.  Turn your work. (17 st. total; 2 resting)
row 3: YO, work the pattern, excluding the increases, for 14 st.  Turn your work.  (15 st total, because of two decreases; 3 resting)
row 4: YO, work the purl side for 11 st.  Turn your work.  (15 st total; 4 resting)
row 5: YO, work the pattern, excluding the increases, over 10 st.  Turn your work.  (13 st total; 5 resting)
row 6: YO, work the purl side for 7 st.  Turn your work. (13 st total; 6 resting)
row 7: YO, work the pattern, making only one decrease over 6 st.  Turn your work.  (12 st total; 7 resting)
row 8: YO, work the purl side for 4 st.  Turn your work.  (12 st total; 8 resting)
row 9: YO, knit the 4 stitches, then pick up all of the resting stitches by knitting a YO together with each one.  So you will knit through the stitch left from row 7’s wrap, and then knit the YO with the stitch from row 5, etc, until all stitches are worked.  (12 stitches; 4 resting)
row 10: turn, and purl back across the row, picking up the short rows at the other end of the knitting.  (12 stitches)
row 11: turn, and purl back across the row, creating a garter ridge.

Bind off.

Here’s a chart that may help and may confuse:


Thumb:
This is where you start Kitchenering.  It’s intimidating, but not hard.  Deep slow breaths.  Chocolate.  Wine, if you like.  It’s only a couple stitches– honest.  🙂  There are several reasons to work the thumb in this manner.  The first is that it mimics the shape of your hand better.  There is space between the thumb and the palm, and closing off some stitches makes for a better fitting glove.  The second is related to the first– your thumb is smaller around than the base of your thumb, so you needed to increase more stitches to get to the thumb comfortably than you actually need to work to make the thumb itself.  The third reason is cosmetic; it’s hard to start a finger in a glove without having a little gap at the base where you join on the new yarn.  Picking up and kitchenering makes for a seamless join at that point.  Strictly speaking you don’t have to Kitchener; you could just work all the thumb stitches as set and have a sort of loose thumb that’s too close to your palm.  But you’re up for the challenge, aren’t you?

Pick up the first two live thumb stitches on either side of the opening on dpn’s, removing them from the waste yarn.  You want to have two stitches from the palm side on one dpn, and two stitches from the pattern or back side of the gauntlet on the other.  There will be a purl stitch close to the hand, and a knit stitch close to the thumb.

See, that wasn’t hard, was it?  Now for the tricksy bit.

Using your main yarn, starting with the stitches closer to the thumb, working towards the hand, you’re going to Kitchener off these 4 stitches, in pattern if you feel adventurous. 

You’ll end up with a loose tail near the palm, and live yarn ready to work the thumb.  So you’re using the free end of the yarn, with a tapestry needle, to Kitchener, and then after you finish the Kitchenering, you’ll work in the other direction and start knitting as usual off the ball of yarn.  Hopefully this has clarified what I mean rather than muddied it further.

To Kitchener:
There are many sites with tutorials.  Here are a few:


The goal is to sew the loose stitches together.  You are doing this in a way that mimics the path yarn takes through a knitting stitch, so it appears seamless.

### I need to test knit and write instructions

Now pick up the remaining stitches from the waste yarn, and work in the round until thumb is desired length.  I worked 8 rounds on the original, but 6 worked better for test knitters.  Try it on to see what works for you!

Sewn Bind-off
Once you have enough length on the thumb, you will cast-off with a sewn bind off.  Sewn bind-off’s are great because, when worked properly, they are nicely stretchy.  The first one I ever worked was impossibly tight, though.  The trick is to leave a fair amount of slack when you work it, so that you’re not distorting the stitches you’re binding off at all, just sort of looping yarn through them to keep them from raveling.  Not too tight, not too loose, just enough to hold them.  A good way to test is to work a couple, and then stretch your knitting.  If there are big loops when it’s stretched tight, you are leaving too much slack.  If the bind-off is less stretchy than the knitting, you’re working too tight.  Adjust your tension as needed.

Cut your yarn.  Leave yourself lots of slack.  Thread end of yarn on your tapestry needle.

You need to work about 3 inches, probably, to get around your thumb.  Technically you need at most 4x that, or 12″, to work the sewn bind off.  I would cut two feet of yarn.  maybe three.  Running out mid bind-off is annoying, to say the least.

Looking at the stitches you have to work, imagine numbering them from the first stich on the needle: 1, 2, 3, etc.

  1. Sew through stitches 1 and 2, working in the direction you are knitting.
  2. Sew back through stitch 1, in the opposite direction, back towards where you started.
  3. Drop stitch 1 off the needle. You’ve bound off one stitch!  this is what you repeat for each stitch, but I’ll go thorugh it once more:

  4. Sew through stitch 2 and 3, working in the direction you are knitting.
  5. Sew back through stitch 2, in the opposite direction.
  6. Drop stitch two off the needle.

Repeat for remaining stitches.

Now that wasn’t so hard, was it?  🙂

Finishing:
Weave in tail left from the Kitchenering so that it closes up any hole at the base of the thumb.

Weave in other ends, and enjoy!

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