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 ( 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.



The Yarn Blob

The Yarn Blob

I cast on for a triangular shawl, got bored with it, increased like a mad-woman, joined the round, through in eyelets wherever I felt like it, switched between st st and garter st and st st and more garter st, and now here she is. I have no idea what this “will be” after I cast off, but I’m not sure that it really matters. Did I mention I have yet to throw in two more colors?

Sometimes knitting needs to be beyond pattern free.


I’ve been obsessed with Martina Behm’s Hitchhiker pattern lately.  I love the simplicity of the pattern, but even more so, the way this pattern brings out the best in every variegated yarn.  I have three versions on the needles this week.


Tanis Fiber Arts Purple Label, Lucky Penny, US 4



Tanis Fiber Arts Purple Label, OOAK colorway (can’t remember name), US 5



Regia Jacquard, Color 07204, US 3 – and my first attempt at using Hitchhiker with a self-striping yarn.  I think the result is going to be incredible!


New Pattern – Vibranium

New Pattern - Vibranium

Captain America goes nowhere without his Vibranium Shield; you will go nowhere without your Vibranium Shawl. Knit using Brooklyn Tweed, this shawl is tough enough to deflect villain super powers. And you’ll be very stylish while doing so.

400 yds Brooklyn Tweed Shelter or other worsted weight yarn in three colors (130 yds each)
(Colors postcard, camper, faded quilt shown in picture.)
US 8 needles, 32” circular

60” wingspan / 16” height at center

15 sts / 34 rows = 4” in garter stitch

This was a fun, simple project that was really hard to put down! Shelter is a wonderful material to work with, everything about it is a wool-lover’s dream.