Here’s a peek at the Pi Shawl I’ll be teaching in a three-week workshop this July at Knit-Purl in downtown Portland. Geared towards newbie lace knitters, we’ll start at the beginning (with a new take on the Disappearing Loop Method that I developed for my book), then cover all the bases of lace-making: yarn-overs, increasing, decreasing, keeping your place by reading a chart or reading your knitting, lifelines, blocking, and how to modify the pattern for a design of your own. Sound like a lot to take in? That’s why we spaced it out as multiple short classes over three Sundays. Even if you’ve never knit a yarn-over before, I hope you’ll become a lace addict like me by the time we’re through!
I’ve had quite a few requests as my photos of this project have gone out – yes, there will be a stand-alone pattern for this design, too. Look for it in early July.
Egads, I haven’t posted here in waaay too long. In case you didn’t notice on the rest of my website, here’s what I was up to for pretty much all of 2011. Knitting from the Center Out: An Introduction to Revolutionary Knitting is at the printer and available for pre-order!
Ever since I designed my first baby blanket when my niece Hannah was born, I’ve been obsessed with the magic that happens when you start your knitting in the middle and work from the center out. Baby blankets and circular shawls are just the beginning – you can start hats at the top for a perfect fit without even stopping to swatch, and what about starting your mittens at the thumb, or your socks under the heel? And did I mention sweaters and toys?
It was a huge journey, and it’s going to be a big, beautiful book. I can’t wait to hold it in my hands.
One of the surprises for me from the very beginning of the project was how much fun it was to choose the yarns and palette. I dug through my stash this week, and made this chunky godseye with a couple dpns and some of the leftovers. May it be a talisman of good mojo!
At Fiber Camp in Maine last summer, my friend Rachel led a workshop on natural dyeing. We dyed yarn with indigo and cochineal, and also foraged for colors in the fields and forest around the retreat center. Blooming goldenrod gave us a wonderful deep yellow, queen anne’s lace a light brown, and lichen we scraped off the fence a wonderful pale greeny brown. Lichen also makes the yarn wonderfully soft and great smelling – as Rachel said, “Like a woodsy man!”
Ever since, I’ve been having recurring, vivid dreams about magical lichens – giant green puffballs with stickers like sweetgum pods, or mottled like the stinky, brain-shaped horse-apples of an osage orange tree, and powerful as snargaluff pods.
It’s lichen season here in Portland, (though as my friend Victoria says, it’s lichen season all year round here) and the stuff is everywhere. Every time I get home from a walk I find my jacket pockets stuffed with green fluff. Here’s yesterday’s haul, foraged on a rare rainbow-weather day after a sodden grey week. When I’ve gathered enough dyestuffs I’ll cook up some colors in my kitchen. And in the background – pomegranate skins! You’d guess pink, but they turn things yellow.
And also, what the heck are these?
I found them on a fallen evergreen branch in my ‘hood – is that why they call them pine cones?
Because walnuts are under-loved, and molasses is good for you.
I’ve been going through a major pie-baking phase since I moved to Portland. The first one I made was this walnut pie recipe I found in an Amish community cookbook I found on a visit to Lancaster County with my folks, and it was good enough to make twice. It’s like pecan pie’s sophisticated older brother – with walnuts instead of pecans and molasses instead of corn syrup. Totally delectable and perfect for a rainy winter afternoon. Here’s what’s in the filling:
- 1 cup molasses
- 1/4 cup water
- 3 eggs
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/8 t salt
- 2 T melted butter
- 1 T flour
- 1/2 to 3/4 cup milk or cream
- 1/2 cup (or more!) walnuts
Mix water and molasses, beat in the eggs, then add everything else. Add the walnuts last. Pour into a pie shell and bake at 425 for 10 minutes, then 350 for 35 more minutes or until it’s set.
Thank you, Mrs. Annie Fisher, wherever you are!
And so we remember that this is a knitting blog, here’s the corner of a little swatch I was working on while the pie was in the oven. The yarn is Blue Sky’s Suri Merino that I had left-over from a project for the book. It’s a dream to work with – strong, single, with a gorgeous halo, and absolutely scrumptious to touch.
I’m kind of in awe of my friend Stacey. She’s a crocheter who makes super cute crocheted stuffed animals. I crochet about as well as I tap dance, so I always thought of Stacey as that interesting person on the other side of the great yarn-craft divide. I really sat up and paid attention to her work a couple years ago when she posted in the Designers forum on Ravelry, “How do you guys keep all your patterns straight? I’ve published so many they won’t fit on my homepage!” She’s got patterns for cuddly creatures for almost every letter of the alphabet – clams, mosquitoes, lemons, you name it!
And now she’s just put out her second book - Crocheted Softies gives you step by step instructions for eighteen of the cutest amigurumi creatures from around the world. There’s everything from aliens to owls in here, and an adorable pair of microbes to boot! And I’m particularly fond of Milton, the Slowpoke Snail.
And not content to just wow us with cute creatures, Stacey also packed her book with good mojo, using organic, low-impact, and ethically sourced yarns from around the world. From organic cotton, undyed alpaca and recycled silk to low-impact, high-tech yarns made from bamboo, milk, soy, and bananas, she chose the good stuff — yarn you’ll want in your hands, that you’ll want to give to your loved ones. Can’t lay your hands on banana silk? She’s also provided suggestions and tips on substituting.
Now for the give-away: I said before that Stacey had created softie patterns for almost every letter of the alphabet – let’s give her a few suggestions! Leave a comment before Monday December 12, naming an amigurumi creature, character, or thing you’d like to see Stacey make starting with the letter X, Y, or Z. I’ll pick an answer at random and send the winner a signed copy!
Can’t wait to see if you won? Pick up your copy here from Stacey’s website!
Last week I had a dream that I was at Sock Summit with a few hundred knitters, waiting in a classroom for Cat Bordhi to arrive. Unlike the usual windowless convention center meeting room set-up, though, we were all in a handsomely furnished sitting room that reminded me of the upper floor of the Explorers’ Club in NYC where all of Teddy Roosevelt’s hunting trophies stare spookily back at you. Someone came in and started the class, but it wasn’t Ms. Bordhi — who was she? I asked the student next to me and she said “Oh, Cat’s so famous now she sends impersonators to teach her classes, like Andy Warhol used to.”
Okay, was that enough of a mash-up for you? And what a more interesting world if would be if Cat Bordhi was famouser than Andy Warhol.
In waking life, I was lucky enough to take Cat’s Moebius class at TNNA last month. She taught us the moebius cast-on with a mnemonic about dolphins and turtles, and we explored the intricacies and wackinesses and magick-y-nesses of Moebi-ae. Cat’s the kind of teacher that I’d like to be one day – she thinks a lot not just about the knitting techniques she’s getting across, but about how to share the discovery and excitement and magic that knitting and learning hold.
Another thing I took away from the class is the difference between a 720-degree faux-bius and a real live Moebius. In short, “A fauxbius is like a moebius the way a chicken is like a donkey.”
With that in mind, I’ve got Moebius and Fauxbius news for you! My Listing cowl (a super simple faux-bius in a stretchy biased stitch) will be in next year’s Knitting Pattern a Day Calendar. Brain Coral against Breast Cancer will be making an appearance too.
And that lovely purple twist above is a genuine Donkey (or is it a Chicken?) I contributed to the first book of Cooperative Press’s Fresh Designs series — 10 innovative scarf patterns from 10 up-and-coming designers. The books will be available in both print and e-book format – you can see the rest of the designs and download the book here - Ravelry only for now. I’m thrilled to be a part of it.
This weekend I’m heading up to rural Maine for a week of teaching, learning, knitting, fiber, swimming, scrabble, and all manner of related goodness. I’m SO excited to see old friends and make new ones, and create the Hive of Industry on Camp Medomak’s front porch. If last year was any guide, I’ll be back next week refreshed and re-inspired – Whoosh!
If you haven’t discovered it yet, Downtown Yarns is an awesome shop – it’s a tiny space absolutely crammed to the gills with wonderful yarns. Like a well-curated bookstore, you won’t find any junk in here – just loads of value and integrity, and some wonderful surprises.
I love these old images of Shepherds knitting perched on a tripod of stilts as they tend their flocks.
Found on the super awesome NY Public Library picture gallery.
It’s been a while since I’ve had new projects that I could talk about, but soon I shall! Here’s a preview of a whole bunch of what I’ve been up to.
The 10 Secrets
I’m really excited to see Vicki Stiefel and Lisa Souza‘s new book The Ten Secrets of the Laid Back Knitters. If you pay attention to knitting on Twitter ever, at all, you probably already know Vicki as the face behind @knittingnews. The 10 Secrets is a whole bunch of things in one, with knit lit, knitter profiles, and advice all backed with a bunch of laid back patterns (including a circular pillow by yours truly) – as the review in the latest Knitty said, “come for the patterns, stay for the chat.” Stay tuned for more on this one – it hits the bookstore shelves May 10.
The inimitable Shannon Okey (she of Knitgrrl, Stitch Cooperative, and Knitgrrl Guide fame) is putting out a whole bunch of new titles this year on her new imprint, Cooperative Press. I’ll have designs in three of CP’s Fresh Designs books, and here’s a peek at the cabled wrap I did for the Shawls series.
Each book in the Fresh Designs series will feature the work of ten different designers, and the business model is way different than other anthologies and magazines – each of us Fresh Designers are sharing the wealth. Shannon’s doing a Kickstarter campaign to raise some of the capital, and the kickstarter video doubles as a preview of the whole Fresh Designs series – watch to the end and you’ll see my contribution to the Scarf series – it’s the purple one!
AND: Shannon will be in NYC this weekend! Saturday she’s doing a meet & greet at KnittyCity (I’ll be there, too!), and Sunday she’s teaching sweater design at Brooklyn General.
Order Knitting from the Center Out!
Purchase a signed copy of Knitting from the Center Out, direct from the author - $27.50
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You can also request the book at your favorite local yarn shop or independent bookstore, or order a copy online from:
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