American Wool Series

Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 Wrap-Up

This year flew by. I made some really big changes in my life that have made some things seem much easier and other things seem much more difficult. First off, I'd like to address my goals from the beginning of the year:

1. Knit Local.

Mission accomplished! I did not purchase much yarn this year until October and November and then I went on a mini-spree and picked up items for my birthday and from Knit Fit! Most of my purchasing dollars went to local dyers, some of whom use local wool for their yarn, or to companies like Quince & Co, who use North American wool and have it milled in the U.S.

2. Knit more colorwork garments.

This is a bit womp womp. I knit two garments with colorwork accents and three accessories. 

This is my Prussian Glitter Cardigan. I've still got plans to grade this puppy and publish the pattern and that's on the list for 2016. 

The other garment is this Welcome to the Flock sweater. Knit in a baby size with some stash sock yarn, it was featured on the front page of Ravelry and got a ridiculous amount of love. Thanks!

The other accessories are hats and one isn't totally finished as it needs a good steam block and a pom pom.

3. Participate in Me Made May. 

Done! I petered out a bit some time in the middle of the month (taking selfies every day is difficult when you get up at 5am) but I did participate. Go me!

And Me Made May really brought me back into sewing and concentrating on creating a handmade wardrobe. There are a lot of social justice issues surrounding the clothing industry and I don't want to contribute to an industry that's concerned with making a $5 t-shirt (it's bad for most of the people involved in the supply chain, yo). 

Ravelry tells me that I only knit about 10k yards this year, which is inaccurate, because some of my yardage for samples and SECRETS haven't been added; I'd say it's more in the 20k arena. Overall, I knit less this year than in past years but I'm much happier with many of my FOs this year than I have been in the past. Go figure. As per usual, I have a huuuuge list of things I want to knit and some things I have to knit. For now, I'll be concentrating on that handmade wardrobe and coordinating new pieces that work together. Now, what should I cast on for New Year's Eve?

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Gift Knitting

I won't say how many days there are before Christmas but I will say that my needles are clicking away at rapid speed. Luckily, projects are jumping on and off my needles at a satisfactory rate and all of the finer gauge projects are complete.

 Meditate by Elizabeth Doherty came off the needles in just under two weeks. It makes for excellent social, commute, and tv knitting. I knit the narrow and long version using an entire skein of Shalimar Yarns Paulie in the Land Katie Scarlett color.

Mr. B's annual Christmas socks took a couple of months to complete ( I started them late October) but I only knit them on the bus and at my Friday night knitting group. The yarn is Hazel Knits Artisan Sock in a Rogue color that I picked up during my birthday yarn-buying spree. I made this pattern up but it's basically a 72 st vanilla sock with a little band of seed stitch just under the cuff.

Aaaand then there are five hats in different states of completion as of yesterday morning. Two are very close to being done - a thermal check pattern that I made up in some Cascade 220 Superwash and Father Cables in YOTH father (which I decided to keep!).

I added a new person to my gift knitting list this year, mom to a friend of Little A's, and decided that my favorite hat pattern and some luxury yarn was the way to go. If she doesn't like this gorgeous combination there is absolutely no hope for her as a knitwear recipient and I can quietly remove her from THE LIST. This will be the third time I've knit this pattern and Shalimar Yarns Paulie will be an excellent combination with the texture on the Bristol Hat. I have two more hats that are complete and these five to complete and my gift knitting will be completely done.

I hope.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Knit Fit! 2015

A few weeks have passed since Knit Fit and I finally feel recovered from all of the socializing that attends volunteering and chatting with fellow knitters, vendors, and teachers. This year I spent quite a bit of time in the market compared to other years and purchased items that I had been thinking about over the course of the year. Honestly, the market gets better and better each year and I went a little bonkers this year.

My big purchase this year was one of Dave Yocom's hand-turned wood yarn bowls. Talk about a marriage of beauty and function; all of Dave's yarn bowls are natural wood and showcase the grain of the wood with no added dyes or stains. I chose a medium bowl in sapele mahogany with spalted maple inlays. Also pictured, a skein of Spincycle Dyed in the Wool in Devilish Grin. I have cast on plans for this skein - a Fandangle hat by Andi Satterlund - which I would like to finish by Christmas. 

A new vendor this year was Cedar House Yarns. This is a skein of Sapling Sock in Bark. Jenn and her husband are super nice and they've got a lovely color palette in their yarn line. The yardage is also really great in the sock yarn; 463 yards of superwash merino and nylon. 

Oh, Bumblebirch. Sarah was at Knit Fit last year but I was on a super duper tight budget at the time so I could only daydream about her yarns. This year I knew I wanted to purchase from her and I had such a difficult time choosing since I wanted ALL of her colors. In the end I picked up two different weights to try out. At bottom is heartwood, a fingering weight yarn (463 yds!), in the color Wednesday. At top is forage, a 4-ply worsted weight, in the color Honey. Wednesday is calling my name and is on the docket to be cast on post holiday knitting. 

Tweed yarn never looked so good. Intrepid Otter was missing from the market last year due to an unexpected illness but I was glad to see her back this year with this shiny new tweed sock yarn. I picked this bright, slightly scummy green to knit myself a pair of socks. Chubby Cloud was also back at the market with her awesome print bags. This year, I chose a zipper pouch in a great orange and yellow stockinette print with an olive green geometric floral print on the inside. 

Finally, (told you I went bonkers this year) I spent a good deal of time at the YOTH booth because WOW. Danny and Veronika have gorgeous yarns and introduced new colors to their palette, as well as a new yarn base. 

At bottom is the new 100% American sourced and milled worsted weight yarn, Father, in the Caviar color. This stuff is light and lofty and will make a fantastic hat. The upper two colors are both Big Sister, a dk weight yarn in sw merino, cashmere, and nylon, in rosemary (blue-gray) and mango (yellow). Mango comes from the new Juicy Palette, featuring various shades of yellow, orange, and green.  I also purchased a couple of gifts but I can't share those, sorry!

I love that the Knit Fit! market features so many local independent dyers and businesses. Putting my money back into the local economy makes me feel good about my purchases and that I'm supporting people who love the knitting industry as much as I do. I'll see you at Knit Fit 2016!

Sunday, November 22, 2015


Hello, friends! I took a much-needed hiatus from most social media and internet-type stuff for the last month or so; I needed to recharge my batteries so I could finish this year up right. I have exciting knitting-related news to share early next year and lots of news to share right now. 

First, I've been knitting things in pretty much the same color palette. 

Lots of burnt oranges, dk blues and teals, and autumnal yellows. There's also been a lot of green yarn in the mix but I'll share that in another post. 

I volunteered at Knit Fit! this year and had a great time hanging out with knitters and crafters and vendors.  The marketplace gets better every year and it's a wonderful thing to see so many returning students and shoppers, teachers and vendors. 

Speaking of the market, I had several favorite booths but I only took pictures of two: Hazel Knits and Bumblebirch. I've got another post coming on my market haul since I went a little bit crazy this year.

Sarah, the dyer behind Bumblebirch, totally got me with her color palette.  I had a really difficult time choosing just one (so I got two). 

Wendee at Hazel Knits had a gorgeous display of knit sweaters, shawls, and other accessories. I just purchased some yarn of hers as a birthday present to myself in October but I went ahead and purchased enough for a sweater because who doesn't want to knit a fingering weight sweater in a color named Lichen? I also spent a great deal of time at some other booths, chatting with other knitters and with dyers, too. 

Now it's almost Thanksgiving and I've got oodles of gift knitting to do. And pies to bake. And parties to attend. And another year to wrap up in what I hope will be a nice-ish leisurely sort of way but will probably be more like a frantic sprint.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Fall Faves: Sweater Weather!

This is something of a 2-in-1 post. I love sweaters! A lot of the reason why I love fall is that the weather cools down enough that I can start wearing my fall/winter uniform of sweaters with skirts or dresses and tights with boots. Seriously. I pretty much live in that combination of clothes for about 9 months out of the year and only give up on my tights and boots when absolutely necessary. 

I recently finished Chuck after having some misfires on choosing a size and being able to knit two sleeves alike. But it all worked out! Looky there!

Pattern: Chuck by Andi Satterlund
Yarn: Cascade 220 in Palm
Needles: US # 7 (4.5 mm) Hiya Hiya Sharp Interchangeables
Mods: This is yarn frogged from Myrna so my stitches look a bit wonky but most of that will block out after repeated wear and wash. I didn't do a gauge swatch since the two sweaters call for the same gauge and thankfully that worked out just fine and dandy. I knit the size L (41) to the underarm cast on and then switched to the XL (45) for the rest of the body after knitting the entire thing in size L and deciding that I didn't like the fit of 2 inches of negative ease through my waist. The second sleeve got knit twice since the first time around I started the cap shaping in the wrong spot so the sleeve cap was off center. Phew! 

I'm so happy with this new sweater! Chuck sat in my knitting queue for a long time since I couldn't decide if a cropped pullover would suit my body type. I think it looks just smashing with my fit and flare dresses and will be a go-to piece this fall and winter. 

What's your favorite sweater? Do you have a uniform that you wear in the fall?

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Fall Faves: Records!

If you've been a long time reader of the blog you'll know that I am a bit of an audiophile. I recently got rid of about 90% of my cds ( I have a small selection in my car) to make room for more vinyl. I'm not a huge fan of stuff but one of the few things I collect are records and my little collection has grown over the time I've lived in Seattle.

 My taste is pretty eclectic.

When fall hits I usually have the urge to listen to records all the time, maybe it's a throwback from high school and college where I'd go listen to music at a friend's house while we did homework? I don't know. What I do know is that records are in heavy rotation lately and I love it.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Fall Faves: G&T

I love gin. During the summer months I usually stick to hard cider and wheat beers but when the weather starts to grow chill I crave something a little stronger. My preferred combination is Bombay Sapphire Gin with lots of ice and extra lime to go with a bit of tonic. There's something about being bundled up and cozy while drinking a refreshing gin & tonic that does wonders for my outlook on life. Do you have a favorite cold weather cocktail?

Friday, October 2, 2015

Fall Favorites: Color

Welcome to October! This is absolutely my favorite time of year and every year I use the month of October to think about the things I love and am grateful for. It's my birthday month so I find that it's a good time to reflect on the past year and what I've accomplished. It's sometimes difficult to give yourself a nice pat on the back and recognize that you've done a pretty darn good job at whatever it is you do - whether it's work or family or knitting or all of the above. The past few months have felt particularly difficult to me so I'm starting off with a kicker! This video is one I shared last year and it's a goody. I can, and have, watched it over and over and over. Enjoy!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

WIP: Vanilla Commuter Socks

Well, that was an unexpected break. I looked down for a few minutes and it turned into a month; where does the time go? Honestly, there has been a ton of knitting happening but I can't share some of it year-ish. That's not at all fun for you all so I do have a project I can share with you - more stripey socks! 

I cast on my usual 64-stitch vanilla socks on a US #1 (2.25 mm) hiya hiya needle and knit about an inch of 2x2 ribbing. I'm using waste yarn to mark my afterthought heel placement and I'm using my Zombie Hello Kitty socks as my guide since I'm using the same yarn. 

The yarn is Canon Hand Dyes Charles Self-Striping Sock in "I am all astonishment", a  Pride & Prejudice colorway that Jessica picked up for me at Madrona this spring. I love this yarn base and Amy's colors are totally great. Early in the summer I decided to knit up the self-striping yarns from my stash by the end of the year and this is the second of those pairs. I'm fairly certain I have three (maybe four) more skeins of self-striping yarn so I'm not sure I'll get them all done by the end of the year but I'm going to try!

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Start to Finish: Channel Cardigan

The Channel Cardigan begins with casting on stitches for the entire body of the sweater; for my size that is over two hundred stitches to cast on. Rather than trying to estimate the amount of yarn needed to long-tail cast on that many stitches I used both ends of my wound yarn to cast on. 

However, if you've wound your yarn into balls, or can't find both ends, you can generally estimate one inch of yarn per cast on stitch for worsted weight yarn. To test how much tail you need, you can cast on a stitch, mark the beginning and end of the yarn you just used, pull out the cast on stitch to see the length of yarn you used and multiply that length by the number of stitches you need to cast on. I like using the two-end method because I don't need to estimate anything and that's worth having an extra tail of yarn to weave in at the end. 

Since I took this project on vacation with me I was able to get quite a bit done. Unfortunately, I was having such a nice time that I didn't realize that I neglected to  change the needle size after the ribbing and had to rip out about 8 inches of knitting. After throwing a little tantrum I ripped out the necessary length and got the sweater back on the correct needle size. 

There is a lot of texture knit into this cardigan and it's slow going at first but once the stitch patterns are established it's quite easy to keep track of where you are in the pattern.  

I'm just past the waist decreases and, as I mentioned in my previous post, I'm skipping the belt so I omitted the eyelets used to make the belt loops. The next section of the pattern includes waist increases and front shaping decreases for that large shawl collar. As soon as I reach the part of the pattern where the fronts and back are divided for the raglan sleeves I'm going to stop knitting and figure out the math for converting this to a set-in sleeve cardigan.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015


Last Thursday I left on an almost week long vacation to the Oregon Coast for a family reunion. Mr. B's family lives in Seattle so I see them very often but it has been at least three years since my side of the family has gotten together. They all drove up from California and we drove down from Washington and had a rollicking good time on the Oregon Coast. 

We stopped on the Washington side of the Columbia River to stretch our legs at a spot called Dismal Nitch where the Lewis and Clark expedition was stuck for six days during a storm before sighting the Pacific Ocean. I thought it was rather lovely but I had the benefit of a car and a trunk full of snacks. 

We camped the first night and got rained out but pulled through the next morning for a visit to Tillamook before driving the rest of the way down to our beach house.

This is where I spent a good portion of my vacation while the kids built sandcastles and layered themselves in sand and ocean water, or flew kites, depending on the kid. I had a good book in my tote bag and some knitting needles close at hand and was generally in a state of happy relaxation. 

Each night the family gathered on the sand dunes to watch the sun go down over the Pacific before trundling inside for board games and general hilarity. I laughed so hard I cried, made fun of my siblings (and my mom), hung out with my nieces and nephew, and went to bed each night with my hair full of sand. It was glorious.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Start to Finish: Channel Cardigan

Last year I did a series called Start to Finish with my Pomme de Pin Cardigan that went through my decision making and knitting process and I've decided to repeat the process for my next sweater project.  I belong to a wonderful group on Ravelry, My Sister's Knitter, and the current KAL is Brooklyn Tweed patterns. Sounds like fun, right? After a whole lot of back and forth - should I join? should I not? - I decided to knit Channel Cardigan. 

The cardigan calls for Brooklyn Tweed Shelter, a worsted weight yarn that is woolen spun and therefore very light and lofty. I've knit with Shelter in the past and liked it but I didn't want to break the bank since my size calls for 14 skeins, so I went to Ravelry and looked at what other knitters used for their cardigans. Cascade 220 is a top yarn in that list so I decided then and there that I would use Cascade 220; a yarn with a ton of color options, great stitch definition, and is a reasonable price. The downside to using Cascade 220 is that the finished sweater will be heavier since it isn't woolen spun, but I'm okay with that. There are already several modifications that I want to make: removing the belt, making sure the shawl collar is big enough to snuggle into, and possibly adding another button hole. I'm also contemplating changing the raglan seamed sleeves to set in sleeves since raglan cardigans always slide off my shoulders. I knit my swatch at knit night on Monday.

Guess what? Perfect stitch and row gauge on the recommended needles. It's a knitting miracle! I used a US #7 (4.5 mm) needle and knit my swatch in moss stitch as listed in the pattern and it's approximately 5 inches by 6 inches. A good general rule is to knit a swatch big enough that when you measure over four inches you don't run into selvedge stitches; your stitch count will be more accurate since those selvedge stitches sometimes behave a little wonky. This project is now ready to cast on!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

OAL 2015: Finished Outfit

I finished my Outfit-along outfit before the deadline! Hooray! I'm super happy with the results and I've gotten so much wear out of my dress that the pattern is going to be a sewing staple. I sewed New Look 6223 and knit Tambourine by Julia Farwell-Clay.

Let's talk about the dress first, shall we? 

I chose a dark blue eyelet cotton blend and lined it with a light blue daphne - the eyelet is a mid-weight cotton and the daphne is very lightweight so between the two I get a dress with nice weight and drape that feels very summery but won't blow up around my head at every breeze. I did my first ever full bust adjustment following this tutorial and love the result. 

This dress has pockets, soft pleats at the waist, and comes to just above my knee. I can see myself making a ton of dresses from this pattern in various fabrics - I might even try one in wool! 

 On to the knitting! Tambourine is a pattern by Julia Farwell-Clay from the Spring 2015 issue of Pom Pom Magazine. I loved this sweater at first sight and knew that it would be perfect in orange. Earlier this year I frogged a sweater that never fit quite right and while the color was perfect, French Marigold by Miss Babs, the gauge was all wrong.

I took my gauge swatch and plugged the numbers into the schematic numbers to see if I could follow another size to get the fit I wanted with my yarn. I followed the size 43, which is my full bust measurement, with my smaller DK gauge to get a nice fit through the shoulders and added extra increases for my bust. The other thing I had to factor into the row gauge was the stitch pattern along the front of the sweater but this ended up working out with my gauge - six repeats of the pattern fit perfectly into the front of the sweater without having to adjust anything. 

I knit the entire sweater on US #5 (3.75mm) needles. Besides the gauge modification, my biggest change to the pattern was to knit the sleeves from the top down following Barbara Walker's method in Knitting from the Top. You may have noticed that my sweater doesn't have buttons and that's because: 1) I haven't found the perfect match and 2) I almost never button my cardigans. As soon as the weather cools down a bit I'll be sporting my new outfit pieces together, for now I'm settling on wearing my awesome new dress.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

WIP: Prussian Glitter Cardigan

A couple of weeks ago I was experiencing a bit of knitting ennui. I was between projects and wasn't quite sure what to start next. My Ravelry queue seemed a bit lackluster so I decided to take a different approach and start with the yarn and work the other way round. Guess what? It worked! I dug out four skeins of Malabrigo Arroyo - three in Prussian Blue and one in Glitter - and swatched my little heart out. 

I used a US #4 Hiya Hiya Interchangeable and loved my stitches! See? That little bit of knitting isn't even blocked and it's so beautiful! After washing and blocking my swatch I went back to my Ravelry queue and nothing quite fit the bill. I knew I wanted a cardigan with a contrast yoke and maybe a teeny bit of color work for interest. Could I find it? Nope. I sketched out a cardigan idea and pulled out all of my knitting reference books and decided to go rogue. 

And looky there! That's the right front of my cardigan all done and ready for the rest of the sweater. A few details about my Prussian Glitter Cardi: it's knit in pieces, has four rows of colorwork, is all in stockinette stitch, uses the same needle throughout, and has 1x1 twisted ribbing at the edges. 

I decided to knit the sweater in pieces because superwash yarns seem to behave themselves better when they're given some structure, especially in larger projects like sweaters. The sleeves are picked up around the armhole and knit down toward the cuff with a little bit of colorwork just before the ribbing starts. I'm incredibly happy with how my sweater design project is coming out and I have tentative plans to grade the sweater and release it as a published pattern. Woot! This whole working backwards from the yarn to the pattern is working out pretty well, I'll have to do it again!

Monday, July 20, 2015

FO: Commuter Vanilla Socks

I finished my vanilla socks! I knit these socks pretty much solely during my commutes to and from work and they took just under a month to knit. I'll be honest, I don't always knit on my way home because sometimes I'm just too tired (or the bus is incredibly full).

The yarn blocked just beautifully and I'm sure I'll be purchasing more Desert Vista Dyeworks in the future. 

Pattern: 64 Stitch Vanilla Socks with the OMG heel by Megan Williams
Yarn: Desert Vista Dyeworks in Zombody It's Cold Outside 
Needles: US #1 (2.25 mm) Hiya Hiya Fixed Circulars

I have a loose goal of knitting all of my self-striping sock yarns by the end of this year; this is a great start.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The State of Things

Have you ever been in an in-between place with your knitting? I finished Tambourine except for the buttons, which I have yet to purchase, and my commute socks are just this side of being done. I need to do some planning for my next project, which I usually love to do, but instead I'm just swatching random yarns and playing with them.

 Not that it's a bad thing, but there's no real progress toward casting on a project. I'm still debating sweater ideas but accessories are looking pretty good too. And then I can't decide if I want something easy-peasy or something challenging. Should I buy new yarn? Should I use stash? A combination, maybe? I just can't make a decision and that's very unlike me. One thing I do know is that I like this combination of yarn colors (and for the record the pinky red and browny green are new yarns).

Sunday, July 12, 2015

On the Radar

I'm so close to finishing my Tambourine sweater and my vanilla commuter socks that I'm starting to daydream about my next project...or projects. Swatching is playing a big part in my evening knitting time and I hope to continue that trend since I've finally learned to enjoy it, but I want to cast on a couple of things that I don't have to think about too hard.

I certainly have sweaters on the brain, in particular lightweight, multi-season cardigans that I can wear about 3/4 of the year in the Pacific Northwest. In no particular order:

Ysolda just published Ishnana which is making me a drool a little.
Gudrun Johnston has the lovely little cardigan, Belmont, in her second book.

But the crux of the problem is that I'm trying to work out of stash and my stash, well, the sweater quantities in there are just not exactly what I want to knit with right now. Certainly there are lovely yarns and a couple of them are just right for multi-season cardigans but... but. Apparently I need to daydream a little more and actually dig out some stash and hold it and pet it and ruminate a little on it before I make a final decision.

And some of you might be thinking, "but she said something she didn't have to think too hard about" and to me a sweater is just that - after a swatch and a little planning a sweater is just the right kind of project for me to work on without thinking too hard about the actual knitting. It's the choice of pattern and yarn that's the difficult part.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

WIP: Vanilla Socks

Every morning I commute downtown to my office job and then back home again in the late afternoon. What does that mean? It means I have about an hour of knitting time while other people stare at their smart phones or talk (too loudly) to each other on the bus. It also means that I always have a simple knitting project for on-the-go time.

I currently have a pair of vanilla socks on the needles. This is a self-striping yarn by Desert Vista Dyeworks in the Zombody It's Cold Outside color. It's hard to see the light gray stripe up close but it's more visible from far away.

I'm using a US #1 (2.25 mm) Hiya Hiya Sharp 32" circular needle and the OMG Heel by Megan Williams. I haven't really found an afterthought heel that fits me like I want but it's hard to fiddle with heel flap and gusset socks with self-striping yarn; I end up breaking the yarn and joining it to keep the stripe sequence. How about you? Is there a heel you like to use with self-striping yarns that fits well and doesn't throw the stripes out of whack?

Saturday, July 4, 2015

WIP: Sock Hat

I'm taking a brief break from some slightly complicated knitting I have going on to knit  a nice simple sock hat. I grabbed a US #3 (3.25 mm) and three coordinating balls of leftover sock yarn and cast on. 
 The yellow is Lichen in Hazel Knits Piquant Lite, the variegated is Leading Men Fiber Arts Show Stealer in Anne's Story, and the lavender is BMFA STR Light in Bleck.

This is a great project for resting my brain from complicated projects and wonderful for social knitting. 

I chose a random stripe sequence to break up the variegated yarn and I really like how it's turning out. My color palette reads fall and that's probably a direct reflection of the warm weather we're having in Seattle at the moment; in the 80s most days. Fall is my favorite time of year and summer always seems to linger longer and longer just to spite my love of crisp, frosty mornings and my ability to wear wool sweaters again. This is definitely a wishful thinking kind of project.