Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Twisted Sister

I love when I get custom orders for a project, and I was super flattered by a request from a lifestyle blogger I love to read, Rachel, of From Faye. I was hooked on her blog from the moment I read her post about getting comfortable with liking being a 'homemaker' while she was still blogging under the name Frugal Faye.

She sent me a photo of a cardigan she loved and wanted two of them to create a capsule wardrobe for her girls. I found the pattern Rajani Cardigan by Kasia Lubinska and altered it to fit her needs. Knit from washable and soft CotLin by Knit Picks and embellished with wooden buttons bearing my logo that I had made a couple years ago, these simple creamy cardigans have a cable and bobble placket that makes them just a touch more special than your average sweater.

These were a touch more tedious than I anticipated only because I took for granted how accustomed I've become to (and love) knitting sweaters in the round, which doesn't translate to a cardigan, unless you steek it and I'm too chicken. So, a lot of purling, and I've become a princess.

Here they are; two super cute cabled cardis. (Fingers crossed the fit, and are beloved by the recipient!)

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Steel Cut Oats

After finishing Stella's sweater (Camilla Babe knit with a YOTH ooak gradient stick) for this year's SSKAL with Shannon Cook, I decided to cast one on for myself. I'd been eyeing the pattern for a long time (actually I love all of her patterns; check out Jane's blog) and you can't beat the instant gratification of a bulky weight sweater. Now, in the interest of full-disclosure, I don't love the look of a bulky-weight sweater on my frame, but this is a fitted sweater and I love the ribbed detailing and wide neckline, so I still made it. I sized up so that it wasn't too too fitted and wish I hadn't, but I still like it. My 'real' camera had a dead battery and if you refer back to instant gratification, waiting's not my thing so I took my iPhone to the garden for some selfies and I think you get the gist.

Worked up in Quince & Co's Puffin in the colorway Kittywake, Jane Richmond's Oatmeal Pullover practically knit itself over the course of a week of evening knitting. Because it was so simple, I also got to binge-watch Friday Night Lights. #texasforever

I love that it's a super moody grey and so dependent on the lighting.

but first, a selfie.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Paper Tigers

photo via press kit at
Last night I had the opportunity to screen the new documentary Paper Tigers. Directed by Jamie Redford, this film delves into the lives of several students at Lincoln High, Walla Walla's alternative high school. In the last five years, the school has shifted to a model of non-punitive discipline structure that works with a trauma-informed staff and administration who are armed with research about Adverse Childhood Experience(s) (ACEs) and the affect that living in an environment of chronic stress and compound trauma has on the brains of children. It followed several students over the course of a year, graduating in 2013. It is astounding to me the differences that have been the result of this pardigm shift over such a short period of time. Watch the trailer by clicking here.

Coming from a child welfare background, it was already a subject that was interesting to me, and I've been a bit of a docu-junkie lately watching almost every documentary available on Netflix revolving around our penal system, drug wars, food insecurity, substance abuse, immigration...all of which seem to tie back into generational poverty and stress. As one documentary ends and I go to choose the next, I find myself thinking about all of the social implications, but then not sure of concrete ways I could apply what I've just seen to my own environment. After finishing last night, it was almost more overwhelming because it is my environment that I just spend the last two hours watching. I lay in bed with my mind turning over ideas and thinking about the kids and teachers in the film (Hey! She went to bootcamp with me; hey! I know her!).

So, back to what we can do. Immediately. Without special training. Be kind to each face you see walking around town. Give grace freely and without patronism, even when you know a person, you don't know all that they struggle with. Know someone that works at Lincoln? Support them. They're willingly taking on an enormous emotional load by working with a high-risk student body. You can love the kids and your work, but it still takes a toll. Donate to the attached Health Center- they have a wishlist with items as easy as picking up an extra box of band-aids or granola bars the next time you go grocery shopping. They also have an extensive list of volunteer opportunities for everything from spring cleaning at the clinic to stuffing envelopes for mailers to volunteering your time as a healthcare provider or mental health professional. I hope that the list of ways we can support only grows from here.

The only misgiving I had about it was that a lot of the shots were of the most barren parts of town (empty railroad tracks, highway underpasses, etc). I totally understand why this was done from a theatric/cinematic standpoint, but I felt like in order to get a full picture of the community, it's almost more dramatic to see the stark contrast between wealth and poverty in this little town, and that they all exist within blocks of each other, often within the same block. It makes the work that Lincoln High is doing so well even more important.

If you didn't get a chance to attend the screening (both showings were sold out), I know that there are several people interested in organizing screenings and I hope to take on organizing one for later this fall. After a few months, it will be released to the educational sector and then in Spring of 2016, it will be released for individual purchase on platforms like iTunes and Amazon. There is so much to be said about this topic and the film that I can't even seem to gather my thoughts. It's a great conversation starter, and I know it will result in more schools in the nation making a shift to this model where they can. I hope that in our community it raises awareness, and support of, the amazing things that can result from tireless educators, counselors, law enforcement and healthcare providers who are a source of unwavering support and stability to the kids who need it the very most.

Mr. Sporleder, Lincoln's principal, has since retired and is working with the Children's Resilience Initiative 'Resilience Trumps Aces' and travels for speaking engagements and education throughout the country. The results from Lincoln's implementation of the trauma-aware protocols have gained national attention.

During the Q & A last night, Mr. Redford said that Paper Tigers' follow-up Resilience is in the works, and it sounds like it'll be another good one to watch.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Qwist of Fate

This yarn. This pattern. They were meant for each other. A beautiful halo that just makes you wanna reach out and touch it. Then the texture? When you do reach out and touch it, because you couldn't help yourself, you're gonna keep running your hands back and forth over it. It's borderline inappropriate.

The just debuted pattern Qwist by one of my faves Melanie Berg, on the new base Sno by Woolfolk Yarns in color 1/2 is such a beautiful marriage. 1/2 a very low contrast marled colorway, and the stronger contrast ones may lose a bit of the visual on the texture. I had just ordered the yarn and then the pattern collection Texture is the New Black was released serendipitously within days. I can't wait to knit a few of these up in Pepperberry cashmere.

The pattern is designed for Malabrigo Yarn Finito, but I have loved Woolfolk since I first got my hands on a skin of Får about a year ago, and it was already in my stash. Barely.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Peanut Butter Oat Bars

When I had Stella I was overwhelmed by the number of friends who dropped by with a meal or a treat, along with their company, outside of the schedule arranged by the local mom's group. One afternoon my friend Carol came over to meet Stella and brought with her an after-school snack for the kids in addition to dinner. Those granola bars were so tasty, and I'm sure more so because I was so recently post-partum and I was starving constantly, both for food and contact with my friends. For the uber-health conscious, it should be disclosed that these are more treat than snack. Just the way I like it. Be glad they don't have corn syrup. (except in the m&m's).

Today was the first day of school for the big boys, so I pulled out my recipe binder when I got home from dropping them off, hoping I still had the card. I've tweaked the recipe each time and I think I nailed it today. Originally from the food blog, Garnish With Lemon, these chewy granola bars with peanut butter easily satisfy that craving for sweet with a hit of salt. I'm listing my rendition; for the original, click the above link.

Peanut Butter Oat Bars

Spray 8x8 or 9x9 pan with nonstick spray

3/4 c. peanut butter (heaping)
3 T coconut oil
1 1/2 T butter
1/2-3/4 tsp salt (depends if your pb has salt in it)
1/3 c. honey
3 T brown sugar
1 t vanilla
3 c. old fashioned oats
3T m&m candies (mini's would be perfect, but I have the big daddies in the hopes that I'll eventually get to use them as potty training rewards for Jackie John Jones; #diapersforlyfe )

mini chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, (reese's pieces would probably be fantastic!)

Pulse 2 c. oats in a blender or food processor until finely ground and add to a bowl with the remaining 1 c. oats. (I like this ratio better than the 1:2 ground:whole in the original). In a saucepan over medium heat combine peanut butter, oil, butter, salt, honey and brown sugar until melted, remove from heat and stir in vanilla.

Pour mixture over oats and stir until combined. There should be no dry oats outside of the liquid mixture. Add your optional treats (or leave them out for a marginally healthier treat) and press firmly into pan. Chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Run a knife around the edge to loosen and turn out onto a cutting board. I cut mine into 20 portions by making three cuts vertically and four horizontally. With the age of my kids, not all of them need a full bar when added to fruit or whatever else we have after school. The originally recipe simply cuts them in half and then makes five cuts for twelve (12) servings.

Store in the refrigerator, at room temperature, or in your belly.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Fringe Hatalong No. 4 Laurus

The fringe hatalong has been a fun way to find new hat patterns and use yarns from my stash that have been waiting for the perfect project. It's a series of free patterns, using different techniques and a great way for a beginner knitter to get support in trying something new, or for practiced knitters to change things up. With a pretty huge stash to dive into, it's been fun to see what a difference changing up the suggested yarn in a pattern can do. 

Last night I fell down the rabbit hole of the Amazon show Transparent, and by the end of a few episodes I was casting off my Laurus! It's a simple colorwork hat that can be knit fitted or slouchy and with three different brim sizes. A beautiful intro to chart reading, it's a six-stitch repeat, and only 7 rows long. The rest is ribbing for the brim and then straight stockinette, followed by a really clean decrease.  So, if you've been anxious about trying colorwork, this is the one. 

I used YOTH yarns Big Sister in Poppy Seed for the main color and the darkest green from an OOAK gradient stick for the contrasting color.

Dianna Walla of Paper Tiger designed this hat for the hatalong, and her blog provides so much information on colorwork. When I knit the Pinebough Cowl last year (also by her) the one piece of advice that she offers that is really helpful, is which color to hold in which hand. If you hold your contrasting color in the left hand, that color will sit on top and the colorwork will pop instead of sinking back into the fabric and getting lost. 

Monday, July 6, 2015

Bradway MiniKAL

She's done it again. Shannon Cook of Very Shannon published another pattern that I loved knitting. A couple weeks before she published the Bradway Shawl she put out a couple of teasers with yarn requirements and a mini knit-along that would be launched on the day the pattern went live. I saw the call for Brooklyn Tweed and I was sold.

I had been itching for a chance to try Brooklyn Tweed yarns since I learned they were moving back to the PNW. Aside from having loved his patterns for some time, it's fun to have a local connection.  Jared Flood is a Portland native who started Brooklyn Tweed as a blog in 2005 when he was a newer knitwear designer and had just moved to, wait for it, Brooklyn. Brooklyn Tweed yarns are the result of a passion for American wool from sheep to skein and is a targhee-columbia blend from ranches in Wyoming. I love to use really soft and luxurious yarns, but I was so incredibly impressed with the experience of knitting with Shelter. It's a rustic wool yarn, minimally processed so you do have to pick out the occasional piece of 'salad' (bits of hay, grass and other flora) from the finished yarn as you knit, but it knits up into a fabric that is both sturdy and soft and the color options are absolutely gorgeous.

Sap, Fossil and Nest make up the trifecta of color for my Bradway shawl
The textural changes throughout Bradway serve only to enhance the hand-feel of this yarn and I can't wait to cast on another. One thing that I love about Shannon's patterns is that they're very accessible. From the graphic lace of Schwimmen to the chunky texture of Bradway the results are stunning, but the instructions are clear and concise and I think that advanced beginners could knit any one of her patterns. I started on Monday morning and bound off Sunday at lunchtime. I even took it with me to knit poolside when it was 112 degrees out, and I am the sweatiest of sweaty girls, so you know it was an addictive knit!
texture for days...

I'm waiting on blocking wires to get the final result, but even without a soak to make the fibers bloom and blocking to define the stitches, I love, love this shawl. I can't wait for these 100+ degree temps to drop so that I can wrap up in it! What are you working on right now that makes you dream of cooler days?

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Me and My Arrow

I can't believe I didn't post about my test knit for Hometown Knits! In my defense, baseball is in full swing and the days have seemed awfully short and speedy. After alluding to it in my last post, I left you hanging...since I know you were waiting with bated breath. Anywho; Me and My Arrow is another pattern with the gorgeous combination of Pepperberry Knits and Spincycle Yarns.

I got to choose my color combination and I love how they look together; Granny Smith (PBK) and Kimono (SY) were the perfect balance to each other and it almost makes me want to speed through summer to the crisp fall days when I can be swathed in cashmere. 

Knit in the round and grafted together with kitchener stitch to finish, this knit is seamless. It's also more than a little bit hypnotic. I've found that I really enjoy colorwork, and the best part-no purl stitches

I had already purchased yarn to make her colorwork cowl Dynastid, so when Simone sent out the call for testers, I jumped on it! 

Hop on over to my ravelry page for more photos, but here are a few. I really, really love it and hope you cast on too! 

whoops! See on the left that I forgot to put the extra rows in the last repeat? 

I LOVE the color changes of Dyed in the Wool!

I have some more goodies in the works right now, and will try to share them in a more timely manner.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Testing The Waters

I love the undulating color changes-here she is in all her glory.
I have been able to test knit a few patterns now and I've said it before, but I'll say it again-it's so fun being in on it! I've either gotten very lucky, or most designers have their stuff locked down because I haven't really found huge errors on anything I've tested. Melanie Berg is a designer whose aesthetic I really appreciate. Clean lines and modern designs with just a touch of lace thrown in to make a piece feel feminine or dressy.

Testing The Joker and The Thief was a joy, so I thought I'd post some photos that I took after weaving in the ends and giving it a light blocking.

The minty green and soft seaglass were my two favorite colors in this piece. Taken on their own, they may have been too soft for my taste, but together with the sandy beach silk yarn and the darker tones of a carribean sea they were glorious.

I loved the detail of the Indian Cross Stitch. Switching to sharper ChaioGoo Red Lace needles made that one a breeze.

I've got another test that's just about off the needles that I'm really excited about and I'll share more when the pattern goes live this weekend. It involves some of my favorite yarns to work with and a fun colorwork scheme!

Sunday, April 5, 2015

My Three Sons

Each time I'm knitting something, it never fails that one of the boys will ask me 'Is that for me?' The answer has always been no .There are loads of adorable patterns for kids, an entire ravelry group devoted to people who knit for their kids and even knit for their male children. I felt like a loser. All this time spent making knots with two sticks and never anything for my own chitlens.

Through a random string of instagram likes (Hello, Big Sister Cardigan KAL), leading to pattern searches, led me to Kate Oates of Tot Toppers. I have seen her 'Gramps' cardigan everyeon, and it has been in my queue for ages, but this one, Boys Can Wear Pink, is T'Shirt style with raglan sleeve shaping, and knit in the round with nothing but a little underarm grafting in the way of seams; I knew I was on to something. A quick glance at the calendar showed Easter as being a few weeks away. I definitely had time to knock out  three sweaters for them. I know myself well, I am quick to jump to the 'Meh, not enough time. I can do these for another event.' So I told the boys and let them pick from some color options and from there I had a lot of fun playing with making the colors work both for the pattern yardage needs and for their personalities.  I made their current clothing size (10, 6 and 4-yes, Jack often wears 4's already...) and all three of them fit perfectly. The yardage requirements were correct and I made zero modifications-that in itself is pretty awesome.

This all kind of started with purple sparkly Toms. Charlie desperately wanted them when they went up on Zulilly because they were purple. Wouldn't you know, it's hard to find things that are purple for a six year-old boy that weren't 'designed' for a girl. I was talking about it at bookclub and a friend who knows Charlie said 'What about purple Chuck's?' Yes. That was the ticket. Those were also found in the 'girl' department, but nobody would ever know, so there was no risk that someone would hurt his feelings. It's a fine dance to honor who your kids are while protecting them the smallest bit. Some kids wouldn't care what others think, but Charlie does, and I know that. I happened to have some Violet colored Cotton-Ease that I called 'Dusky Purple' to appeal to his fashion sensibilities and the most fun and funky hand-dyed yarn from Republic of Wool in the colorway Wanderlust (hailing from Portland) for the tie. (And they matched his purple shoes to boot)

Henry and Jack are much more subdued, and their sweaters were as well. Utilizing two of my coveted YOTH ooak gradient sticks (with an added skein of Big Sister in Hazelnut for Henry's in order to meet the yardage requirements) for them was perfect. I love the finished hem and sleeves, which was also super simple but makes for a really clean-edged finished piece.

 Paired with button-downs they already had in their closets, twill pants and Chuck Taylors, they were perfectly presentable for the country club brunch and egg hunt and now I have the itch to make lots more fun and funky pieces for my kids. Usually having an itch isn't an awesome thing, but in this case I'ma scratch it.
why yes, that is a tattoo on his face...isn't that where all moms want their kids to put them?

Because I'd been so fixated on finishing their sweaters, I realized yesterday that I hadn't put much thought into Stella's outfit. I went out to the six month bag and found there were several adorable spring dresses. Sadly, I didn't realize until today that I have zero pairs of tights for her cold legs. Girl mom fail. She didn't even have a bow in her hair. Ah well. Baby steps.

always a sweet smile from Miss Stella June
Thanks to Kate for such a fun and simple pattern that leaves loads of possibility in customizing for personalities. Next up, I have some fun sweaters by Tin Can Knits up for Miss Stella and Mr. Jack for next Fall and Winter and even the remainders of this spring. Check out their new Max and Bodhi collection, the first release is adorable. These also count as sweaters 1-3/12 for Twelve Sweaters in 2015.

Happy Easter, all!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Rose City Yarn Crawl 2015: My Bag Overfloweth

Now that I've told you all about it, what did I buy? (Answer: probably too much, but what's a fiber-lovin' girl to do?) I did try to keep to the parameters of locally made, hard to find, or interesting fibers. The two zauberballs are really the only exceptions, but I'd never purchased one before so I'm calling it good.

I was super excited to finally meet 'The Spinsters' behind Spincycle Yarns at For Yarn's Sake in Beaverton on Saturday afternoon. I've been stalking following their instagram since I participated in the Pine Bough KAL and just love their yarn, colors and process. Those three skeins of Knit Fast Die Young are slated for a macro lace shawl, but I may find something else I love more between now and then. The two skeins of Dyed in the Wool in the colorway July, July won out over Salty Dog only because it's my birthday month. They'll be paired with some Pepperberry to make the Dynastid cowl...I don't love bugs, but for whatever reason, this beetle-laden cowl is asking to be made.

Yarntastic in Sellwood was our other Friday night stop, and I picked up This cushy single ply by Abstract Fiber in the colorway Lichen, and a skein of sock yarn by Nerd Girl in the colorway Grimm. Fun Portland connections all around.

 This loop pouch, hand-made by Portlander Queen Bee, is a heavy duty canvas project bag. Along with some Blissfull Knits sock yarn in the color way Chamber of Secrets (50/50 silk and wool, and so luscious) and a Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks that Rock in the colorway Saturday Market-I left Twisted a happy girl.

 Pearl Fiber Arts located in, you guessed it, The Pearl was hosting a couple of local artists so it was really fun to chat with them about their process. This coral gradient kit by Thoroughly Thwacked will look beautiful knit up into the shell-patterned cowl feautured in their front window. Alexandra of Alexandra's Crafts was there and I had a great time talking with her about her color process. This sock yarn is Black Butte in Stained Glass, but she also has a line called La Grande, which was a fun connection to my hometown. I love that they really are targeting tourists and people who want to knit something with yarn made by a local artisan. Their inventory was very heavy with Northwest yarns.
Close Knit on NE Alberta was a cute shop, and I picked up the yarn to go with the Yarn Crawl pattern for that store. Extra, by Blue Sky Alpaca will make the fun, striped Kumori Cowl.

In Multnomah Village, we went to Northwest Wools and I picked up these two skeins of Autumn Winds by lotus yarns in a pretty purple and grey to make this sweet dress for baby Stella. She was a fairly good traveler...for a three month old.

Black Trillium fibers were featured in a trunk show at Knitting Bee in outer SW Portland (Washington County) and it is just beautiful! That skein of charcoal grey laceweight was a whopping 1450 yards-enough to make a shawl with just one skein. And a Crazy Zauberball for good measure. With the Trillium, I'm planning on a color block or striped shawl using the two different weights (fingering and lace). There are tons of patterns online for the zauberball, so I'll tackle that when I get there.

At Dublin Bay in the Pearl, I found Hedgehog Fibers Sock Yarn and Solstice Camel-Silk blend. See that beautiful golden halo? Camel. And it's so soft. Some 'Wool Fat' soap and dpn's rounded out that stop.

 At Happy Knits, I saw two bags I'd been looking at online for awhile, so it was time... Fringe Supply Co. and Knit Picks are the sources online but it was nice to see them in person first.
My stop at Knit Purl on Friday night yielded this bright pink lace-weight (looks more red in the photo) skein of 100% silk.  It was definitely the most special (some might say expensive, but that's just a word, really...) yarn I purchased. The colorway is Torchere. Because giving it a fancy french name makes you feel less guilty about the cost. I love the trend toward neon colors. This Merino Light hand-dyed is Madeline Tosh's 'Edison Bulb'.

Have you ever participated in the Yarn Crawl? What were some of your most treasured finds? How did you strategize? Any regrets? (I have none) I did make myself completely address and organize my stash before heading out, but that's for another post.