Sylvan Cowl

I’ve had some handspun that I finished several months ago burning a hole in my stash for quite a while.  The fiber was a merino silk blend heathered with misty grey, blue, and gold.  The finished yarn was very heathered and had a “rustic”look to it.  While the color gave it a rustic feel, the fiber blend made the yarn buttery soft and I knew I wanted it up by my face to snuggle in when it’s cold outside.

I could not find the right pattern.  Lace didn’t seem to go well with the rustic look of the yarn.  Too much texture, like cables, took away from the beauty of the yarn itself.  Plain stockinette was too boring.  I decided to play around and invent my own pattern.  Here was my solution.

I call it Sylvan Cowl.  It’s an infinity scarf that can be worn long as pictured above or wrapped around the head twice for a snug fit up around the neck.
It’s a mixture of simple textures and simple eyelets that is just enough to give some interest to the project but allows the yarn to do its thing and show off its inherent beauty.  I want to make another one in a tweed yarn, I think it would be perfect.
Currently the pattern is being test knit.  When testing is done, I’ll have the pattern for sale on Ravelry and here on the Designs tab.  The pattern takes about 250 yards of sport weight yarn and US 7 needles.  If you are interested in test-knitting for me, shoot me an email before January 12 and I’ll send you the pattern for free so long as you can get my your feedback by the 16th.

100th project

According to Ravelry, I completed my 100th project this month.  I know that there are a few small projects (charity hats, blanket squares, etc.) that I didn’t log as projects, but everything substantial has been entered into Ravelry since I began knitting in 2007.

Unlike many more veteran knitters I have never been a knitter “without” Ravelry, and honestly I don’t know if I would love it as much without having such an amazing source of information and inspiration constantly available to me.  It’s so fantastic that if I’m struggling with a pattern I can instantly find tons of other people who have worked through it before and help me out.  I can choose a pattern and instantly know if there are errata.  Wonderful.

Here is my 100th project.


This is Sharktooth.  It’s the first pattern from the Stephen West Westknits Shawl Club.  Have I mentioned before that I have the most amazing boyfriend in the world?  For Christmas and my birthday (which fall way too close together for my personal enjoyment) he splurged and signed me up for a membership in the club.  For 5 months (starting in December) I will receive one pattern every month along with the yarn required to make the pattern.  Overall there will be 9 skeins of yarn meaning some of the shawls will take more than one skein.  All of the patterns AND the yarns have been designed by Stephen exclusively for the club.  I have always loved Stephen West’s designs and his color sense has always appealed to me so I’m super excited to be in the club.
The yarn for the first installment was Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light in a colorway aptly named “Stephen loves Tosh.”  It’s impossible to capture the subtle nature of the colors of this yarn.  The predominate color is sort of a rust or bronze color but there is blue ranging from very dark navy-black to cobalt in some places.  Of course, being Tosh Merino Light, it’s buttery soft.  However, it does kink back up on itself a lot making it a pain to work with at times.  It’s a problem common to single ply yarns and it’s so soft and so beautiful that I mostly forgave it for the hassel.
The club installments are shipped on the 14th of every month and I have given myself permission to tear into the packages and cast on immediately as each one arrives even though on of my goals for the new year is to finish up as many of the projects that have been lingering on the needles as I can.
I have my reservations about the way the club is being run.  I feel that the yarn store Stephen West has chosen to coordinate the club (because he is living in Europe) is not necessarily dealing fairly with the club members.  They have come out and said that there have been “mistakes” on their end and that it’s all due to the fact that the club is large and hard to coordinate.  I will wait until the end of the club, trying to give them the benefit of the doubt, before I make a full evaluation of their level of service.  I do hope they have managed to work the “kinks” out and that it really was just a matter of organizing a large shipment for the first time.

Fastest Scarf Ever

A few weeks ago I knit the fastest scarf ever.  It was during finals and I needed a quick project to take the edge off.  Crystal Palace’s Tutu yarn was just the right thing.  In two half-afternoons I had this scarf.


If you follow the yarn link above you can see the unusual nature of the yarn.  You knit through small openings at the top of the ruffle-y strand and the rest of the ruffle hangs down creating the texture of the scarf.
I didn’t follow any pattern, I simply cast on nine stitches and knit every round until I was out of yarn.  I followed the cast on and bind off instructions provided at the link above.  Start the finish the scarf took about 5 hours.  Lots of the ladies in my knitting group were whipping them up for holiday gifts because they go so quickly, and I decided to jump on the band wagon.  (Mine, of course, was for me and not a gift.)
I’ll admit I should wait until my hair is dry to take pictures, but my photographer (Ryan) is, sadly, not available to take pictures for me at my every whim.
I’m not too big a fan of the variegated colorways, but I think this yarn looks really nice in solid colors and creates a unique scarf unlike most other knit projects.

Speed Knitter

I love working with bulky yarn.  I think chunky things are so cozy and I think big fat stitches are adorable.  Plus there’s the added bonus that whatever your knitting feels like it knits up at warp speed.  Especially if you’ve been working with finer yarn for a long time.

I’ve been working a very complex sock for a long time and haven’t even turned the heel on the first sock yet.  *sigh*.  When Irina Heemann asked for testers for her Bulky Rhombus Shawl Shoulderette, I jumped at the opportunity.   I mean, a whole shawl in less than 200 yards of yarn?!  Perfect relief from sock-knitting hell.  In three short evenings I had produced this:


Beautiful, no?  The pattern is basically just a chart, there’s not much written instruction at all.  That being said, I found the chart very easy to follow (all wrong side rows are purled straight across.)  We testers did find a few errors in the chart, but hopefully this means they’ve been cleared up for all future comers.


The pattern, as written, doesn’t have the pointy edge around it.  That was my own addition.  I was worried that the edges would curl under, even after blocking, if I left them “raw” so I crocheted the peaked border on after I finished the knitting.  I used this Triangular Edging which worked like a charm.  I didn’t do any calculations before hand (dangerous!) I just started in one corner and it just happened to “fit” the shawl perfectly.


I used some Knit Picks Swish Bulky left over from this monstrous blanket.  The colorway is called Hawk.  I think it’s the perfect neutral grey to go with my black winter jacket without clashing with any of my clothes.  I’ve said before how much I love this yarn, but I’ll reiterate again that it’s so plump and soft and smooshy and one-hundred-percent pleasant to work with.  It does pill a little, it’s merino, buy a sweater stone, get over it.  (Also, it’s superwash.  If you make a garment with it and you put it through the washer, it will come out huge.  Instead of freaking out, throw it in the dryer for 30 minutes.  It will pop back into shape just fine.  Have faith.  Throw it in the dryer!)

I love the magic of blocking.  Here it is just off the needles/hook:


And here it is stretched out tight to block:


It went from a bunchy ugly mess to the lovely flowy drapy shawlette you see modeled above.  Blocking = Magic.  Have you blocked anything lately?

A gift

When My mom came to visit Portland in December, she spent Christmas Eve with me at Yarnia since I had to work.  While we were there she decided that she wanted to make some special yarn to be knit into a cowl/hood for her friend Nancy who will turn 60 this year.  My mom used to be a knitter, but had forsaken the craft for cross stitching years ago (heresy, I know!)  When I asked her if she was going to get back into knitting to complete the gift, she said “oh no, I’d have you knit it.”  Oh. I see.  I’ll knit it.  Great.

This is the yarn my mom created:


It’s one strand plum-colored alpaca, one strand pink-purple wool/nylon blend, and one strand lavender rayon.  The yarn is very pretty, but I don’t think it went with the pattern my mom picked out very well.


The pattern is Wavy Feathers Wimple by Caryll McConnell.  It’s written for either a fingering or lace weight yarn, I did the fingering weight version.  The pattern is not charted, which for me is a bummer, but it could be charted pretty easily if you really need to work from a chart.

I don’t think the yarn and pattern go well together because I think the lighter strand of rayon makes the yarn too tweedy to show off the lace pattern.


It also doesn’t help that there’s really no good way that I can think of to photograph a lacy cowl.  It’s either laying flat so the double thickness obscures the lace or scrunched up around your neck.  If you have suggestions let me know.


This puppy is now taking it’s chances with the USPS to get to New Mexico where it can meet it’s new owner.  The pattern is easy enough to memorize as the majority of it are plain knit rows.  I would consider making it again, but I do wish it were charted.

Love/Hate Hat

First off, what do you think of the new look?  I’m still deciding.  It’s a much happier look than the old brown.  It makes me smile, but doesn’t that sort of counteract the grump-theme that is my blog/life?  Weigh in.

Second, Spring Breeze, which I introduced to you last time, is live on Ravelry!  I debated whether or not to charge for it.  Part of me thinks that no one will want such a simple project designed by me, a totally unknown loser-hack.  The other part of me got all indignant at those thoughts and told myself that I worked hard to put it together, spent time considering each element, carefully wrote out the instructions, tried to lay them out in a way that would be accessible to any knitter (as opposed to the indecipherable scribbles I knit my test version from), organized a test-knit, charted, graphed, and did math… that’s got to be worth something.  I settled on $2.



Even if you don’t have a Ravelry account, you can buy it by clicking this link and using paypal.

Third, the love/hate hat.


This is my second Jacques Cousteau Hat, the first is here.  I hate knitting this hat.  The pattern is totally fine, there’s nothing wrong with it, it’s easy to follow, it’s exactly what you’d expect to find from a ribbed hat pattern.  The hatred is entirely personal.  Also, possibly my fault.  Both times I’ve knit this pattern, which calls for DK weight yarn, I’ve used worsted weight but continued to use the recommended size 4 needles because I wanted a “dense” fabric… Read “dense” and finger-numbing, wrist-pain inducing, impossibly tight stitches of death.  I know, I did it to myself, but it still created an intense feeling of hate.

I knit this one holding two strands of Pattons Kroy Sock held together.  The colorway is called “Gentry Grey.”  I would call it “Nothing-Speical Grey” but maybe that’s just the hate from the project carrying over.

The reason this hat holds such sway over more than 2,000 knitters is probably the way the decreases spiral at the top.  (That, and it qualifies as “manly.”)


The decreases are worked by knitting two stitches then passing one stitch over the other.  The stitch that has been passed over then strangles the other stitch making it nearly impossible to knit on the next row.  Normally I love doing increases/decreases because they break up the monotony of straight knitting, but I dreaded each of these.

Where is the love? you ask.  The hat is for Ryan.  He’s even modeling it, which is why you get so much hat and so little model in the picture… camera-shy that one.  Ryan loves this pattern.  I knit it for him once before.  He wore it non-stop during the end of winter/beginning of spring last year, then sadly lost it just as fall was turning to winter this year.  (Yes, I totally still measure my time in school years.  I can’t comprehend the beginning of the year being in January, my new years start in September thank you very much.  Such is the life of a perpetual student.)  He was very sad about the loss.  To cheer him up I went to the stash, dug out some more gray yarn and cast on.  There’s the love.  I hate this pattern, but Ryan’s a pretty wonderful dude and I’d knit it for him again and again. (With a bit of under-breath muttering.)

My first pattern!

Hi all.  I’m really excited to show you this today!  It’s the first pattern I’ve designed!  I call it Spring Breeze Shawl.


I designed it because Yarnia is going to start offering a class on knitting triangle shawls and I’m going to teach it.  I can’t tell you how excited I am about this! (Though the exclamation points might be giving you a clue.)  I kept the pattern mostly stockinette because the class will be focusing on basic construction elements.  This would be a great first shawl/lace pattern because it’s geared toward beginners.


This sample will be living at Yarnia, hopefully generating interest in the class.  It was knit from less than one cone of one of the Yarnia house blends called Noni.  The yarn is two strands gray merino, two strands soft almost-white-but-really-seafoam-green merino, one strand lavender rayon, and one strand lurex to give it a little sparkle.


I’m currently looking for people to test knit the pattern, so if you’re interested leave me a comment and I’ll shoot you a free copy of the pattern for you to check my work.  It takes ~ 350 yards of fingering weight yarn (any cone of Yarnia sock yarn should work) and size 8 needles.  The finished shawl is about 48″ wide by 22″ deep.  I think the big swath of plain knitting would be good for variegated yarn because the stitch counts across the row change so fast it should combat pooling and the lace at the bottom is simple enough that it wouldn’t be overpowered by a strong yarn.


Once this has been tested and I’m fairly sure there are no glaring mistakes I’ll put it up on ravelry and come back and add a real life pattern link.  SQUEE!


This project was very nearly frogged back into a pile of kinky and forlorn yarn. Not because it’s not pretty. Look at it!


This is Damson by Ysolda Teague. Her patterns are so adorable. I’ve also made her Ishbel shawl (who hasn’t.) The yarn is String Theory Caper Sock in colorway Didgeridoo. This yarn is a luscious 80% merino, 10% cashmere, 10% nylon blend. And the colors, as you can see, are amazingly deep and complex.


Why then, you ask, would I come so close to frogging this? Because I ran out of yarn on the second to last row. You see, the patterns calls for one skein of Malabrigo sock yarn. I took this to mean that any 100g of fingering weight sock yarn should be sufficient. WRONG. Malabrigo Sock has 440 yards per skein. Caper Sock has 400 yards per skein. Those 40 yards matter. Don’t be arrogant! If you are making this pattern, make sure you have all yardage required.


How is it that I managed to finish, you ask. Did I lay down $25 for another skein? No. That would, in effect, make this a $50 scarf, and I’m not OK with that. I went on ravelry and looked at all the projects that had been made with this yarn. Then I narrowed the search to just this colorway. Then I contacted people who had recently completely projects with this colorway and begged for their yarn scraps. CraftyPancakes totally came through for me. She made these super cute socks and had some leftovers, which she kindly sent me. It was just enough to get me to the end. I love her this week.


Here it is all pinned out. I mostly wear it like in the second picture–wide part in front, tails pulled around the back and hanging down the front. It’s so soft and squooshy that I love having it up against my neck/face. It even smells good (that may be the SOAK.)


I just think this picture’s pretty.

Interesting Construction

I love projects that have interesting construction. Things knit on the bias like the Delancey Cardigan; things folded origami-style to get the finished object like the Baby Surprise Jacket; Things knit sideways like the spread spectrum socks… Coming up with a cool new colorwork or cable pattern is awesome, but coming up with a whole new way to make something is particularly amazing to me. That’s why I loved knitting up the Kinetic Cowl over the past week.

Photo on 2010-12-14 at 22.30

The pattern is by Amy Polcyn and it’s in the Winter 2010 Interweave Knits.This has a very fun construction. It’s knit in one 116 inch strip and then the strip is seamed together in a big coil to make the cowl. The strip is only 8 stitches wide (and knit on the bias!), so I found that I could knit about a foot while watching a 1-hour TV show. Knitting this was great for working on at Yarnia because it was easy to pick up and put down as customers needed help.

Photo on 2010-12-14 at 22.31

The yarn is Coos Bay from Yarnia 72% Bamboo/Nylon 28% Wool. The bamboo/nylon has really long color repeats, making it a great choice for this project. My cowl ended up a lot drapier than one pictured because of the bamboo. It makes a nice fall/spring cowl, but it wouldn’t be good for the really cold temps. Also, if you make this pattern, be sure to crochet very very loosely when you do the seams, otherwise you’ll never get it over your head. I thought I was being very loose, but it was still a tight squeeze until I steamed it.

Happy Holidays!


Recently, I cast off another store sample for Yarnia. I made Akimbo since we carry most of Stephen West’s patterns in our shop. All of his patterns are fabulous. This is the second one I’ve made (the first was Botanic) and it is well written and well charted.


The pattern calls for a fingering weight yarn, but I made mine in a DK to give it some more weight/size. I created the yarn at Yarnia. The main color is one strand of spice colored silk, two strands of pumpkin colored wool, and one strand of variegated cotton that changes from Dijon yellow to spice to rust to brown. The contrasting color is one strand warm brown alpaca, one strand reddish brown wool, one strand cold brown rayon, one strand warm brown rayon, and one strand cold brown silk.


I used size 6 needles instead of size 4 because of the heavier yarn I chose. The shawl grew about 20% after blocking which was surprising, I didn’t expect plain garter stitch to grow so much.


This was a really fast knit, it only took me so long because I was mostly working on it in Yarnia when things were slow. Right now it’s on display there to help give people some fall/winter knitting inspiration. It will come back to live with me in the Spring.


I would definitely recommend this pattern to anyone who wants to try a basic triangular shawl without also having to keep track of a lace pattern, or someone who likes to be warm, but doesn’t like the look of lace at all. I am anticipating knitting many more of Stephen West’s great patterns.