Happy Birthday…and other things

I finished two hats this week.  There is nothing quite like hat knitting after finishing the World’s Largest Sweater to give one a sense of extreme achievement.  Three FO’s in one week – hooray for me!


First, the Modjeska Hat…I saw this on display at Stitches last year at Imagiknit and I *had* to have it.  I love the combo of variegated and solid, and I think it’s rather clever that the solid is the contrast color.  Malabrigo Rios.


Second, the Brooklyn Tweed Easy Travel Hat.  Not a real pattern, just a basic hat I threw together with left over BT Shelter from my Vibranium project.  I knit this while traveling to and from Seattle for Christmas.

And the last bit of info…  Today (Dec 30) is my birthday, so all of my patterns are 50% off today on Ravelry.  Yay!  Use the coupon code HAPPYBDAY36.



Oh my stars, I wondered if this day would ever come.  But it has, and it’s glorious!  I have finally finally finished Rich’s Christmas sweater, *in time* for Christmas (albeit one year late).

Elizabeth Zimmerman shines once again in this clever pattern, the Shirt Yoke Pullover (not on Rav, for some reason – but it’s WG #89).  Spatially, I had a hard time imagining how the saddle would work, but it was simple, intuitive and really lovely.  I used Canadian Regal wool in dark grey, and at the gauge needed for the sweater, I didn’t love working with it.  Too stiff.  It is going to be wonderful for the wearer, however, and will last forever.

IMG_1250 IMG_1248 IMG_1251  IMG_1249

I really love the hem too, I’ve never done a sewn hem before.  Looks very polished.  I love how the contrast color peeks out along the edge.

IMG_1253  IMG_1252

Now I need to block it and I think it will take at least a few days to dry, as this is one dense FO.

Hooray for an out-of-hibernation finished sweater!  Merry Christmas!

Rich’s “Christmas” Sweater


I cast on for this sweater last October, telling Rich I was knitting him a sweater for Christmas.  Thankfully, I wasn’t specific as to which Christmas, so I’m still on schedule.

I finished the body last year sometime and then got hopelessly bored with the project.  I set it down for what became months, then finally got up the gumption/discipline to FINISH IT.  I cast on the first sleeve and was quickly reminded of why I set the project down in the first place: I don’t love working with this yarn.  No doubt, this is fantastically sturdy, warm, heirloom quality wool, and it’s going to make a great sweater.  But it’s not a great knitting yarn.  Hope that makes sense.

Well, I’ve finished that first sleeve (after an eternity) and am on to sleeve #2.  Now that I’m on a long and cozy stay-cation, I do think I’ll be able to finish this before the New Year (while on Christmas break so it’s still a “Christmas” sweater (ahem)).

This Week in Knitting: Nov 8

The weather is finally (finally!) turning in NorCal and even though we’re having a warm weekend (upper 70s), Fall is definitely in the air.  The leaves are turning, the evenings are longer and the nights are cold.  This is translating to more tea and even more knitting.

I’ve recently finished a couple of hats.


The first is Ysolda‘s first pattern from her Knitworthy collection, Bronntanas.   I used the super soft, super squishy Anzula Cricket (80% merino, 10% nylon, 10% cashmere).  The pattern was simple but interesting, and allowed me to refresh my “cabling without a cable needle” skills so I felt quite clever with this project.  I’m pleased with how it turned out.


The second is Eppleby from Rachel Coopey’s recent book Toasty.  I used the recommended yarn, baa ram ewe’s Titus (50% wensleydale longwool, 20% bluefaced leicester, 30% UK alpaca) in the recommended color Chevin.


Titus is a fingering weight yarn, and the pattern is knit with small needles (3.0mm), so it took a long time (for a hat).  Here’s the bugger: I didn’t love Titus.  (?!!)  Based on the reviews, recommendations and hoards of positive popular press it has received, I thought I would be crazy for this yarn.  The problem for me is that it’s rather splitty.  Coopey’s pattern is an excellent one, but the yarn doesn’t do it justice.  The  twisted stitches don’t pop as much as they should, and you almost lose a little bit of the pattern after blocking as the yarn’s halo really appears.  The jury is still out for me re: Titus, I would like to try it in a looser gauge with a pattern that’s not all about texture.  I think I would like to try Eppleby again too, but with a yarn with great stitch definition.

As for what’s currently on my needles, I’m working on Shannon Cook’s Onward from her book Journey (co-authored with Jane Richmond).  This is a KAL with my sister and we are both excited not only to be knitting this project, but also to soon be wearing this project.


Perhaps the best part about this project is the yarn we’re using, YOTH Yarn’s Big Sister (80% merino, 10% nylon, 10% cashmere).  It’s very similar to Anzula Cricket but I think I prefer Big Sister for its twist, as it seems to be slightly better spun than Cricket.  My sister and I picked up this OOAK colorway when we were at Tolt Yarn and Wool this summer.  The color is masterfully dyed, it is the most perfect shade of silver grey I’ve ever laid eyes on.


This week on Ravelry has seen some lovely new patterns.  Hilary Callis Smith‘s Adama is definitely queue-worthy, as are all the yoked sweaters from Kate Davies‘ new book Yokes (forthcoming).  I didn’t participate in Stephen West‘s Mystery Shawl KAL, but it’s been fun watching the WIP photos appear.  Speaking of Stephen, I recently queued his sweater pattern Reis after seeing Malia Mather’s finished version.  And even though it rarely gets cold enough in NorCal to wear mittens, I would really like to knit Tin Can Knits’ Grayling for myself.

In other news, sign ups for Tanis Fiber Arts’ 2015 Year in Color Club just opened.  I did that a few years ago and enjoyed it.  Also, Strickmich’s 2015 Club sign ups start the week of November 16.

That’s all for this week.  Happy Stitching!

A few of my favorite things

These are a few of my favorite things.

1. Best teacup ever.  Tea tastes so much better in it, I think it has something to do with the width (seriously).



2. Houseplants and urban deck plants.  I can’t have enough green.





3. My birds. Oh, they are so sweet, so full of hilarious personality. Especially Mr. Chicken.



4.  The view out my kitchen window. That tree.



5. My knitting spot, the center of all peace/calm in the universe.



5. Yarn and finished projects.



6. Old, beloved books.



7. Memories of home.


What is it about water?

I love water.

I grew up in the Seattle area, living near the water, and most days I saw this view from the house I grew up in.

Olympic Mountains Above the Sound

Blue water in the summer, steel grey water during the rest of the year, ferry boats and the sounds of fog horns most mornings.  You never know how wonderful something is until you don’t have it anymore.

Now I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, specifically in the dry, hot (and very urban) East Bay.  Most days, my view looks like this.


OK, so this is a different kind of beautiful (the natives say), but there just isn’t enough green for me.  Definitely not enough water, EXTRA definitely not enough rain.

Yes, this is the Bay Area, so yeah there is a bay of water – and a pretty large one at that.  But, for me, it takes a Major Effort to get to the water, and the water that is closest to me is actually pretty undesirable.  (Do a Google image search for “the SF Bay Delta” and you’ll know what I mean.)  The ocean (yes, the Pacific Ocean!) is just on the other side of San Francisco, but it takes a Herculean Effort of Mass Transit Magnitude for me to get there.  Bottom line is, I was really spoiled to grow up with the Puget Sound in my backyard, and only now do I truly feel the impact of that fact.

At this point in the year, my husband and I make our annual pilgrimage to some water-place, somewhere that’s not too crowded, where the water is the dominant feature of the landscape, where the sound of ocean/river/etc fills your ears louder than the birds/wind/etc.  [Ideally, rain is also a part of this pilgrimage but that rarely happens (sigh).]  I start to go crazy in late August/early September.  At this point in the year, it has been so long since I’ve seen or heard real rain (calm.com app is great for fake rain), since I’ve felt that cool fresh breeze come up off the water, since there was just ONE stinking cloud in the sky…I feel wholly parched.  Total soul dehydration.  The pilgrimage helps restore me with views that usually look like this.


When I’m there (above, Pacific Grove CA), I am full of calm and creativity.  Food tastes better.  Breathing seems easier.  Impending deadlines and work stresses seem completely manageable.  Absolutely nothing my husband does is irritating.  So, what is it about water?

This article in today’s Huffington Post touches on some of the reasons.

Interestingly, sitting by a real, crackling fire can also induce a lot of the brain effects mentioned in the above article.  Water and Fire: two very raw pieces of earthly existence.

For me, I think, I love water (and fire) for the same reason I love knitting.  It’s repetitive simplicity *and* mind-blowing complexity all in one.  The waves hit the shore over and over, but consider what is within the wave: energy, microscopic life, a whole little world unto itself.  A fire’s flames leap and crackle somewhat predictably, but within each flame it’s a combustion chemistry field day.  Likewise, a simple stockinette hat is about as soothing as a knitting project can get, and yet consider the finished object: what makes the yarn (the material, the animal, the land), the needles, and the hands that made each stitch.  I do the same thing over and over and over to make this hat, but I can’t look at the hat without a flood of thoughts entering my mind about what went into dreaming of and making that hat.  (Which makes gift-giving a trifle hard for me.)

They are simple and not-simple; things in which anyone can participate, but no one can ever master.



Already thinking about my next project…this fantastic shawl (Onward)…



from this fantastic pattern collection…



using this fantastic yarn I picked up at Tolt last month.

Photo 2014-08-24 02.06.36 PM


Is it just me, or is it impossible to focus on just your current WIP(s)?  I’m always planning/scheming what’s next….

PNW Adventures

Back now, safe and sound, from a lovely adventure back to the land of my people in the Pacific Northwest.  

I enjoyed hours admiring my grandfather’s garden.


My sister and I went CRAY-ZAY at Tolt Yarn and Wool in Carnation, WA.


The lavender fields smelled like the spa.


And lots and lots of other wonderful things of which I neglected to photograph.  Strangely, I didn’t knit much on this trip (yes, it *is* hard to believe), so now I have much catching up to do.

Knit on!  (and kettle on, too)

EZ Swatching

Like most knitters (I think), I don’t especially love to swatch. When I start a new project, I always go back and forth as to whether I really *need* to swatch, and if I do, how small of a swatch can I get away with.

And on nearly every skimpy-swatching occassion, I end up with a garment that doesn’t fit very well. Argh.

So, I’m starting a new sweater project (a KAL with the lovely Espino) and here I go again debating if and how much I should swatch. The Devil on my shoulder says, “oh just make a little square, back and forth, it’s close enough.” The Angel on the other shoulder says “you better make your swatch in the round or you *know* it won’t be accurate!” And then Elizabeth Zimmerman walks up behind me, swats the Devil/Angel off my shoulders, and says “why not knit a swatch cap?” Oh you wise and wonderful woman.

I’m not sure why – but the swatch cap doesn’t *feel* like a swatch. It’s a hat! I’m not knitting for calibration (which really isn’t a bad reason to be knitting), I’m knitting a future finished object that will have a practical-wearing use. And, I’ve also learned the hard way, if you don’t block your swatch, then why on earth did you even bother knitting a swatch?? The swatch cap is a perfect little blocking garment too (dries fast).

So, I’m half way through my Merle/BT Loft swatch cap and I’m so glad I listened to EZ. Granted, I’m going to take a little longer to get to the sweater (sorry, Espino, I’m knitting as fast as I can), but I’m confident that this sweater is going to fit me (and not the poor person I gift it to because I can’t bear to see this beautiful sweater just sitting in my closet).