Friday, October 02, 2015

Balla Mara & Lambda

Boy, that was a long time to be away from the blog, huh? I've been traveling and working on projects and didn't raise my head from all that until the past couple of weeks.

But now I'm back, to let you know...
No, I cant really shake 'em down, but I can show you some new patterns!

This episode all started one morning last spring when I woke up with a very clear, persistent image in my head of a wave carried up a length of scarf. I don't usually try to make dream images come to reality, but this one would not leave me be. 

First I had to chart it.

When I was making this wavy chart, I did some research and found out that the lambda symbol is used in physics to denote "wavelength." That's when I knew I had my scarf name. Science and a word with "lamb" in it? Too much goodness.

I made the Lambda Scarf from that first chart, but I could not leave well enough alone. This thing needed to be something much, much more!

Yeah, I was obsessed, alrighty. I spent months on this whole thing. Charting and charting and tweaking and tweaking. I taped sheets of graph paper together and charted out the entire thing as a triangular shawl. Not just once, but twice! Working with the fabric so much helped me to see that the cables look like bricks and the eyelets look like bubbly sea waves crashing up against it (or was that another dream I had?) Loving Gaelic, I looked to see what the translation might be. Sea Wall Shawl sounded too garbly in the mouth, you know. Lo, and behold, I found a Gaelic translation that anyone could pronounce (rare thing), so Balla Mara it became.

Then came all the brain-charring transition from chart to written instructions. Thanks to a very good tech editor and a couple of testers, it finally all came together this past week.

I give you the Balla Mara Shawl!

And the Lambda Scarf!

Now for some yarn info. I saved the best for last. 

When I was tumbling this thing around in my head, I knew the shawl would be great worked up in Mrs. Crosby Satchel, because it is a lofty single fingering and the simple stitch patterns would definitely hold up to some hand-dyed yarn. Mrs. Crosby sent me some of her yarns to play with last year, so I had swatched with this lovely stuff and knew I wanted to use it. I put in a request for some Satchel in Submarine, because why not keep this whole thing about the sea, right? The nice folks at Mrs. Crosby sent me the two skeins I requested and I was off for a lovely time knitting this shawl up. I hope you'll try both my shawl and Mrs. Crosby's yarn Satchel. You won't have a moment of sorry.

The Lambda Scarf is knit with Manos del Uruguay Fino. I have loved Manos yarns for a while now, but when I found this skein of Fino in Delft at Town Square Fabrics and Yarn in Burien, I knew it would become something in my design line, too. It's just lovely. The colorway in the photo above is called Birdcage. I ordered it from Little Knits, and it looks like Mano has discontinued it. You can still get the Delft, though, for sure.

Okay, y'all! It's a wrap! 
And I hope you'll wrap yourself in your Balla Mara and Lambda FO's soon!
I know. Corny. You can count on me for that.

See you soon for some info about a couple of little designs of mine in current publications.
Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

PNW Yarn Crawl 2015

For someone who loves yarn so much, and thus, yarn shops, it's seems incredible even to me that I've never completed a yarn crawl. Sure, I've done partials, but never one entire crawl. The LYS Tour of the Seattle area is just too big. It frightens me. There are 26 shops in a 115-mile long by 79.3-mile wide area! Sure, it's a five-day event (road trip!) but I just could not invest that much time this year. Besides, I wanted my husband to come with me, and as much as he respects my yarn fixation, the only way I'm going to get him on a five-day road trip is if there is beer involved (pub crawl!)

So when I learned that the PNW Yarn in my south Puget Sound area had been reformulated, I decided to do it all. With only seven shops involved, we could do it in one beautiful, sunny, spring Saturday. 
On May 2, I printed out our passports to keep us on track and we made our plan. I filled the water bottles, packed some snacks, and made sure to bring a large tote bag for the acquisitions.

Rainy Day Yarns, Gig Harbor, WA
We decided to start the loop by heading down to Gig Harbor to visit Sherri Hazen and her Rainy Day Yarns shop located right on Pioneer Way just before you hit Harborview Drive. Sherri stocks lots of American-made yarns and tools, some of which are local to our area. That's the best part. She also stocks major brands and has the largest inventory of machine washable fibers I've seen. I got some Plymouth Homestead and CEY Canyon for design design swatching while there. If you haven't been to this shop, plan to spend a few hours in Gig Harbor, and if you don't spend all your bucks at RDY, I recommend going to Tides Tavern for lunch. 

Amanda's Art-Yarn, Poulsbo, WA
Our next stop was a new one for me, and a chance to discover a Viking town! Amanda's Art-Yarn is located in Poulsbo, WA, a lovely little village on Liberty Bay with the nickname "Little Norway." I had to shield my eyes as we drove into town, because I saw about fifteen little shops, bakeries, and restaurants I wanted to peruse. We had no time for that, though. It was all about the crawl! When we walked into Amanda's shop, I was aghast. First I looked over all the other yarns she stocks and found myself some Imperial Yarn Columbia in sage green and some CEY Tiverton Tweed--two yarns I've yet to try. Then...then, people...I found Amanda's yarn! And that's what the majority of this shop is filled with and with good, good reason! That's Amanda Richardson herself in the picture above posing proudly with just a small sampling of the gorgeous yarns she dyes. Such a great talent. I also had a short talk with her about designing and so wished I could have stolen her away for more. But we had to get on with the crawl!

From Poulsbo we enjoyed the lovely drive over to Allyn, WA, to finally see Lois Henderson's new Allyn Knit Shop space. She has so much room and so much lovely yarn! I tried to focus and do something I'd been dreaming of--having a bunch of Jamieson's Shetland Spindrift in front of me to choose some colors for Fair Isle! I was so mesmerized with the Jamieson's and all the other beautiful yarns Lois stocks that I didn't notice my husband getting schooled on spinning by Lois herself. He's always wanted to learn and she was so nice to show him both on the drop spindle and the wheel. He bought some fleece. Will he spin it? Stay tuned!

After more chatting with Lois, we were on our way to the next stop on the crawl.

And that was to find another shop that is new to me, Fancy Image Yarn! It's in the cutest little house in Shelton packed with the colorful creations of Myra Garcia. I warn you not to go near this yarn paradise without some bucks--you will want several of her skeins. It's amazing that she can fill an entire store with just her fingering and DK hand-dyed yarns. She will even custom dye for you and specializes in school colors. I also loved Myra's sweater--it reminds me of Wanda Nell!

Our next stop was in Puyallup to see Milly at her new store, My Yarn Heaven. She's just getting set up, but she chose well for a starter inventory, like this nice selection of Lorna's Laces! I picked up a skein of my favorite Brown Sheep Nature Spun Sport and Llambrosia by Frog Tree. I will be sure to check back in on her soon to see her stock and her business grow. I urge you to pop in there yourself and support Milly's new business!

A trip back down to Fife was just what we needed at this point. We were getting kind of weary and needed a breath of fresh air. When we found Leanna and Greg Stidham's Firwood Farm Alpacas, we were so glad to head out back and watch her little herd as they languished in the sun. She has chickens, too! Leanna came out and told us more about her animals and we learned that some of them were rescued from farms gone bankrupt where the poor animals were just left to go wild and breed willy-nilly. They are much happier animals now. I found a nice handspun skein of her fiber for my souvenir of this lovely visit. Read their story on the site and then head over for your own visit with the alpacas!  

Saving one of the best for last and to see some old friends, we wound our way back to Tacoma and to Fibers, Etc. to see Roberta Lowe. We found her in the large classroom in the back of her space, where she had relocated some of her inventory. You may have heard that her shop is very tiny and filled to the ceiling with yarn in very tight spaces. You heard right! It was good to see some yarns aired out in the sunny back room, but I love her shop as it is. It's like a curious collector's closet where you wind around and find treasures at every turn. Roberta stocks all the best, too. There's all the Cascade and Brown Sheep and Malabrigo and MadelineTosh and Classic Elite and even Habu. That's just one-tenth of all you'll find here. I was monetarily tapped, so I bought nothing that day. I know I can always pop down to Opera Alley and not only find whatever I'm looking for, but receive Lois' expert help in doing so. 

Here are all the lovely yarns and free patterns I collected on our first-ever entire yarn crawl. Now to start saving up for the next one!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Linen Rib Tank aka Weltie!

I wanted to tell you about this design when it came out in early spring, but life had other plans. Better late than never, as they say! This gets wordy, so bear with me. I guess all the blog silence has left me with a brain buildup.

About a year ago, I got a call for designs from knit.purl magazine, the new version of knit.wear from the Interweave folks. I've admired this publication since it first came out in 2011, so it's been a little dream of mine to have a design accepted in this magazine. Each issue has inspired me with its interesting and artistically-structured garments, smart styling, and great information. 

The Spring 2015 design call included four themes, but the request to use ribbing and welts together topped the list for me. I have an overindulged interest in playing around with ribbing, especially ribbing and cables. I had also recently been intrigued by welting, even though I had not, as yet, designed with them.

Picturing the play of ribs and welts, I grabbed some DK cotton/silk blend from my swatching yarn bin and did some sketching.
Then I worked out some small-scale numbers and cast on.

Before I knew it, I had a tiny doll crop-top!

I envisioned the ribbing parting ways at front and back center just as the armhole shaping begins to allow for a section of welting at the front and an open V at the back. The adverse action of the contracting rib and the expanding welting create a slight drape with the use of the right yarn. My swatching yarn did a pretty good job of providing this characteristic, so I continued on with it.

I prepared all the documents and sent them off, releasing them into the world to do what they wanted. Unfortunately, I had sent them into the wrong direction of the world, because the Interweave offices had changed location just weeks before all of this business and addresses had not been updated on correspondence. The package got stuck in a meaningless loop between Denver and Loveland and then finally to Fort Collins, CO, where it should have been all along. And since the Interweave folks are always so on the ball, I was in communication with someone about it the whole time. So nice. Of course, this entire fiasco caused my submission to be late, so my hopes were cut to about 10% at this point. Still, I kept my thoughts upbeat.

But I was still happily surprised when Lisa Shroyer, editor, contacted me to tell me that the Weltie had been accepted for the Spring 2015 issue of knit.purl! Yarn was decided upon and ordered, I received said yarn, and I started right up...

...only to be rewarded with aching hands and bad drape. The yarn was just not right. Not only did I not enjoy working with it, the fiber was creating a heavy, unpleasant fabric. After making a six-inch ribbed tube, I gave up and sent Lisa a request to switch to Quince & Co Kestrel, the yarn I should have chosen initially. The yarn was ordered, I received it pronto, and I even more happily plunged in. 

The design is so basic and the yarn is so perfect that this was honestly the easiest garment pattern I've ever had the pleasure of writing and knitting up. I added a few notes to the e-mail when sending, got a quick thank-you from Joni Coniglio, tech editing queen, and then never heard from her again. That is a freelance designer's dream. I can't tell you how many times I've had to cram my brain into whatever the heck I was thinking back several months earlier when I wrote stressful, deadline-frenzy-compromised pattern draft when the poor tech editor has had to write asking what the heck I did mean (and they always ask nicely, is the thing). Thank goodness not this time did Joni even have to ask. 
She just worked her magic.

After a few quick shots of the finished garment in our unglamourous dining room...

Well, almost finished...I see some ends to tidy!
...I sent her in and felt good about it all. It was on time and everything--despite all the glitches.

Months later, I received another e-mail with the galley to look over and lo and behold, although Joni had not needed to contact me with any questions, she had made my pattern so much better! All the confusing parts had been ironed out and some of the maneuvers had been much better explained and reorganized. Pure expertise.  

Then in late March, the digital version was released and they sent me this picture to promote the design. So  nice!

Linen Rib Tank, knit.purl, Spring 2015

Then the hard copies started arriving in April and I received my complimentary issue. 

You can still grab one, too, because this issue is still on the newstands. If not in your area, you can always order one from the Interweave store. After that, it will be available as a single pattern from the same place. I hope you'll try the Linen Rib Tank, and if you do, I highly recommend the Quince & Co Kestral. It's 100% Belgian linen in a ribbon yarn and gives a beautiful fabric that is cool to the touch. Perfect for hot weather!

Thanks for taking in this long design story. I'll be back in a couple of days with a report on one of our local yarn crawls. Fun!

Monday, June 22, 2015


I am here with a quick apology and a sincere promise.

It was early May before I noticed that April had swooped by with no word from me here. Since the plan was to post at least a couple of times a month, I set up two posts with images...and then they sat there...waiting.

This week I promise to add the words to the numerous images already loaded and tell you about what happened during those two months! Well, not everything, but at least about two very yarny happenings.

The non-yarny things include...
...finally finding this place and its great treasures...

...and finding these and cooking so many wonderful dishes!

That stack went on my wish list.

We grew and harvested our first radishes! The rest of the garden is going great, too!

Otherwise, there was a scarf pattern and a shawl pattern that had me so perplexed that I had no more words with which to blog. 
two scarves and two shawls
The scarf pattern is ready to release except for pictures, the shawl pattern is with the tech editor, and the testing will probably get started this week.

Pssst...I could use another tester for this shawl, too. Let me know if anyone's interested. It takes 740 yds of fingering on US size 4 needles and has a light cable (seen above) and eyelet stitch pattern that merge and flow against one another. The edging is worked as you go. No finishing!

At present I am deep into lots and lots of squares. This is in preparation for a new Fundamentals pattern that will have tutorials and will be great for stash usage--even tiny bits!

Happy Summer Solstice (yesterday) to you and I hope all your projects are going well.
I'll be back in a couple of days with those long-overdue posts!