Synchronicity with the yarn whisperer

in which Clara Parkes and I have a mind-meld experience with a yarn.

Since I am on this sweater kick, I decided to go ahead and swatch for the one I am making for Allison – my cousin’s daughter who is having a baby later this month. We agreed that I would make her a Fancy Card – an overlapping cardigan that can be flexible for size when one is dealing with a postpartum body that will be nursing.

The yarn is new to me: Holst Garn Coast – a lovely wool/cotton that namoriwesa on Ravelry used for a test knit of this pattern (project link – only Rav members can see). I ordered some from The Yarnery and it came licketty split. Then it sat.

On Easter evening, when I woke up from the extra-long pastor nap, I started swatching to Jesus Christ Superstar (omg, it was such a great production. You don’t have to be Christian to love it!). It’s a dry yarn, and not a lot of twist, but it knit up easily – although it looked pretty holey even though gauge-wise I was ok.

It says you can machine-wash gentle, cold water, so I threw the swatch in for a warm-wash short cycle (live dangerously!), with a cold rinse. It came out a completely different yarn!

The resulting fabric is soft and drape, yet cozy and with some halo – absolutely lovely.

And just as I was thrilled by my discovery, the yarn whisperer aka Clara Parkes, posted about the very same experience. We had pretty much the same opinion, she writes:

"I love yarns that surprise you in the wash. They make the whole knitting experience much more fun, forcing you to wait until the final blocking for the big reveal."

I’m now pondering a DK-weight summer cardigan, using the yarn doubled – I might even use two different colors held together? I know, yet another sweater.

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It is risen (the dough)

Last week was Holy Week, a big week if you are a pastor, like I am. Things went well!

Christ is risen.

He is risen indeed!

Monday, I took off as my reward for being busier than usual – and while I initially had plans to wander to Santa Cruz, I woke up somewhat low energy, so I didn’t, which is a luxury too. Instead I wandered through Guadalupe River Trail – which cuts right through San Jose, and it is the site of where the first Europeans put down their stuff and started interacting with the Ohone people.

Some photos:

What I am not showing you is the fact that because we have terrific housing shortage in San Jose, and extremely high rents, we also have a large homeless population. The City doesn’t like this, and they try to do things like tell churches not to give out food at public parks because that encourages them to stay there (there are not shelters with oodles of spaces around, where are they supposed to go?), although they will not arrest church people for doing that because it’s a really bad look for a city that wants to be seen as progressive. Anyway, the homeless who are trying to find a little peace camp out along the river. I get it, and to be honest, I felt bad seeing their tents, like I was intruding. At the same time, I was wary when I met the mostly alone guys who look like they’re camping on the river. But I was alone, and I didn’t feel like I could take the chance to do more than a simple acknowledgment of their presence.

Dough news: I am back making sourdough after about a 3 year hiatus. I dropped making it when I moved to Fresno, because I didn’t plan ahead to bring my starter with me (you can travel with it, generations have, I just didn’t know I could). In the years since then I had the leg issue which cut down drastically on my cooking, and now I’m back in the Bay Area and it felt right to start again.

My first loaf was kinda sad:

Yeah, pretty flat, and the taste was a little off. I ran through a couple of more cycles

and this most recent loaf showed me that I am back to my previous sourdough skills:

Maybe not coincidentally, that loaf was made the day after Easter!

If you’re interested in how I do mine, I’ve combined some techniques from these website pages – it’s really not that hard once you get the hang of it!

Sourdough Baking Basics

Exploratorium Museum Basic Sourdough recipes

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Bending to the siren song of sweaters

I haven’t made a sweater in a while – in fact, other than a shell I made that didn’t really turn out all that well, it’s been over a year!

There have been a couple of stall outs along the way. I bought a bunch of Miss Babs Yowza to make this cardigan from Knitty, called Wisteria, because it was a triple-threat for me: a cardigan, with set-in sleeves and a shawl collar (!), but after looking at the Ravelry projects, it turns out that many people had trouble getting their sweaters to fit, so it sat for a long time, and I decided to frog it and think a while.

Then I got the idea to make Copperplate, a lovely top down, set-in sleeve open front cable pattern, and I was going to make it part of the Ravellenic Games (aka the Knitting Olympics. I even copied all the pages of the pattern in the lovely book by Elizabeth Doherty, but other than putting everything into a project bag ready to swatch and start (my previous swatch was on gauge), well, nothing has happened.

In the meantime, I started thinking about the people for whom it is worth it to me to knit sweaters (a stunningly small universe because of all the time involved). They are all relatives, in case you wanted to get in line. Ha-ha! I told my cousin Marie about this – and she said she wanted a drapey kind of sweater, which is fine. And her daughter, Allison, who is due to have a baby next month, will need a sweater than is flexible size-wise.

And then I had bought that sweater kit with yarn I wasn’t using, so I needed to find something to knit for me as well.

In the deep dive into my pattern library and the general Ravelry contents, I’ve come with:

  • knitting another Sara Lace Cardigan for me – I really liked how the first one worked. My skeins of yarn are two very different dye lots, so I am alternating every two rows – there’s a slight stripe-effect, which I am ok with. Current progress: finished the yoke and working on the body…

  • knitting a Fancy Cardi by Joji Locatelli for Allison – it has fronts that can drape or be over-lapping, which seems to be the best for flexible sizing and nursing coverage. The yarn I’m going to use is Coast by Holst Garn. I love me a wool/cotton blend, and since this is washable, it’s good for a new mom(have yet to swatch). It’s also very reasonably-priced, so if I like it, I’m going to get more of this! I’ve also considered knitting this pattern for myself too – we’ll see once I’ve knit this for Allison. Here’s what the yarn looks like:

Either of these patterns would be possible for Marie, but I’m seriously considering the Hitofude cardigan because I think it would flatter Marie’s cute figure, and it looks good on people of our height. I’ve made two of them, in quite different yarns! We’ll see, I don’t have yarn yet, so this is theoretical at the moment.

So, what sweater patterns are beckoning you with their siren song?


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What did I do with those Stitches purchases

Going to Stitches can be an overwhelming experience – it is a sensory rich event, with yarns of all textures, colors, fibers and weights squished into one humongous room for your buying pleasure.

My early attempts at purchasing yarn there definitely had mixed results. I bought a really cute baby sweater kit that turned out great, and the pattern is still one of my go-to patterns. Other times I would get home and realize I had fallen in love with the color of the yarn but had no earthly idea of what to do with actual yarn. Sometimes it took many years to figure it out.

I like to think that I’m better about using the yarn I buy at yarn shows, but let’s take a look at what I bought in 2015 at Stitches West.


In this photo, up at 12 o’clock, and going clockwise we have: a gradient yummy 2-ply mini-skein set from Miss Babs, Thin Mint Girl Scout cookies (yum!), a couple of random mini yummy-2-ply skeins to add to the mini-skein set, a skein of Anzula Nebula, a skein of fingering weight rainbow yarn from White Birch Fiber Arts, and a sweater kit bag from A Verb for Keeping Warm with 4 skeins of Even Tinier Annpurna yarn, plus a pattern, and a shawl pin.

Total amount of yarn – probably about 4,000 yards. While I still love all the yarn, the reality is that in 3 years I’ve only used a fraction of it, but I now have specific plans for much of it!

What I Did Use

  •  a gradient yummy 2-ply mini-skein set from Miss Babs and a couple of random mini yummy-2-ply skeins to add to the mini-skein set

It took a bit of figuring out, but on my trip to Paris and Munich I ended up making an On the Spice Market Shawl, subbing out a couple of the colors of the gradient

I went with the bottom set of colors, minus the variegated yarn:

There were some leftovers that are bagged with a couple of purchases from the most recent 2018 Stitches awaiting inspiration (new stuff shown):

  • Thin Mint Girl Scout cookies (yum!) – eaten within days if I held to form. Yes, I have absolutely no resistance to them
  • a skein of Anzula Nebula – This past fall I finally broke into this loveliness for a shawl, Ametista, that’s part of a pattern club from Janel Laidman called the Armchair Traveler’s Club. I still have leftovers from it, so someone else will get sparkly yarn!

Future Plans (This year!)

  • a skein of fingering-weight rainbow yarn from White Birch Fiber Arts:

I’m surprised that this has marinated in the stash this long. It’s really fun and makes great socks (except I probably wouldn’t wear them, and I can’t figure out who would). The longer term plan was a baby thing, and since there is a baby on the way, perhaps its use is coming very noon.

  • a sweater kit bag from A Verb for Keeping Warm.The big yardage was in the sweater kit which was an end of the day impluse purchase. There was a lovely kit and sample from two of my favorite vendors: Rosemary Hill and A Verb for Keeping Warm, and I talked myself into thinking I’d make the sweater, which really is better on taller, more straight bodies, and not the shorter, curvier body I actually have.

I did start knitting the sweater, but bogged down pretty quickly. So, at this Stitches, I bought another skeins of the olive green yarn, and will probably make a flow light cardigan out of the color ways. The yarn is wound, stay tuned!


Well, I managed to knit about 1/2 of the yarn, which isn’t too bad considering the major error on the sweater kit. Hopefully I get through that yarn this spring and I’ll be doing better.

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Needles and Blades: the Ravellenics

The Blades

I might like figure skating a whole lot. Ok, I’m one of those superfans. It’s legal in most states, thank goodness.

You can imagine then, how seriously I take the Winter Olympics, which has not only the for individual competitions that we get every year – mens, women (aka Ladies in the US), Pairs and Ice Dance, but also something that began in Sochi four years ago – the team event!

In a way, it’s like getting two competitions in one. The top ten countries battle it out against each other, which means that many (not all) of the top contenders skate first for their team.

By one week in to the games, I was exhausted from watching skating literally every evening. But so much drama and a lot of great performances.

The Needles.

I’ve participated in every one of them and have all the pins to prove it.

This year, I signed up for three projects with Ravellenics: baby booties, short socks, and a cardigan.

Shortly into the games, I realized that I didn’t have the bandwidth mentally to make the cardigan. I’m always adapting the patterns to fit me, and I knew it wasn’t in the cards.

The baby booties you’ve already seen and only took two days to finish:

and then I finally used some commercial Yarn I bought in Munich on my trip in 2016. I love the colorway:

The pattern is a heel called the Thumb-joint hat-top heel from Sock Architecture. It’s actually done as a fore-thought heel and works nicely with variegated yarns.

That’s it for this year! Next stop: 2020 in Tokyo.

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Stitches West (by Light Rail)

It’s been three years since I went to Stitches West; the last time was in 2015. In that adventure, I took 2 classes, had lunch with friends, and still did major financial investing in my fiber future. Wow!

This year, after a 2-year hiatus living in Fresno, I had the opportunity to do Stitches West as a true local – I got there by the VTA Light Rail this time. I literally live about 3 blocks from a station on the right line, and the VTA drops you off across the street from the main entrance to the convention center. It took about 45 minutes, but that’s time spent gazing in the distance and strategizing for the marketplace.

Yes, this year I didn’t take any classes, partly because lot’s of thing had been filled, but also because I feel like I want to live out trying some of the techniques I’ve learned in the past. Even though I arrived an hour after the marketplace had opened, there was still a hefty line to get the 1/2 price tickets with coupons, but it moved quickly and it was fun to chat with those next to me. One woman was attending her first Stitches ever, so I tried to give her first-timer advice.

It reminded me that my first Stitches was over 20 years ago while I was in seminary, and the event was at the Oakland Convention Center. Since then, I’ve attended a number of them, in the past decade it’s been like every 2-4 years, mostly because there are now other yarn events that I’ve gotten to attend, like Vogue Knitting Live and the New York Sheep and Wool Festival (aka Rhinebeck).

Just before entering, I spied members of my old knitting group – they had already gone through the marketplace and were heading to lunch already. They looked great!

Having taken a couple of years off, it’s always interesting to note the changes in the marketplace. Yarn Barn from Kansas is now MIA, the WEBS booth is a fraction of its former size, and Knit Picks had a booth with their higher-end yarns. But there were some new to me vendors, and a lot of familiar faces.

One essential stop was at Miss Babs, where I got some Yummy 2-ply – a full skein in a charcoal color, and some mini-skeins:

And I found some organic cotton in a gender-neutral color way for a future baby sweater:

My good spindle dealer vendor Ken at KCL Woods had a new set of spindles could not be ignored:

and my purchases were complete with some odds and ends – a couple of shawl pins that I wear with my open cardigans, a small travel LoLo bar in lavender, some stitch markers for a friend who couldn’t come, and a deal on highlighter tape.

A final humorous note about my return trip on VTA. I sprang out of my seat at my stop, went just onto the platform when I realized I forgot the bag holding my purchases. Fortunately there was time to rush back to my seat and get them out before the doors closed!

Coming soon: What did I do (or not) with those 2015 Stitches purchases. I’ll review the photo, talk about the projects finished and frogged, and about repurposing.

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Baby Baby

It’s an exciting time at Casa del Revknits – there’s a baby on the way! Obviously, as a knitter this is an exciting time.

I got to the stage of “I must favorite all the cute baby patterns on Ravelry” fairly quickly, and then realized, this new member of the family will be around for hopefully a very long time. So, pacing the knitting is in order.

One thing that is quite helpful to new parents are baby blankets – because you need multiples. You need one at home, another for the car, etc.  I looked in Ravelry at a few patterns: this, this, and this. Aren’t they all cute? The one that captured my attention, and would end up being the one knitted is this: Op Art Baby Blanket.

A lot of knitters have made this, and they are wonderful, check them out here. I did get inspired by the rainbow-colored ones with black contrast, because I don’t know the baby’s gender, but I do know that inclusive thinking is high with this couple. I did a test swatch and sent the photo to the mom-to-be to make sure she was ok with all this color:

It was also appropriately kitty inspected as it was knit:

I’m really happy with the result:

This is somewhere between the small and large size – but it is pretty big! You can check out the colors and amounts that I used here on my Ravelry project page.

Once the blanket was finished, I wanted to knit all the baby things, but remember, it’s about the pacing. So I decided to go the opposite of the very big knit and make very small things: a newborn hat and booties set:

The hat is a free one, pom-pom added! It’s out of two colors of Koigu PKKK, labels lost to history, alternating every two rows. It’s a clever design, because with the large brim folded as in the photo, it’s perfect for a newborn, but you can unfold it over time and it will stretch up to 16 inches, the size of a toddler’s head!

The booties are the Churchmouse Yarns and Teas Stay-on Baby Booties – I really like this pattern because you can make them out of different weights of yarn.

I’ve made others  before:

and they always look cute!

So, these were delivered yesterday at the baby shower, and they were appreciated by the couple. Now to hold off until the baby needs more things…or not.


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Preparing for the Games, Knitting-wise.

In a little less than two weeks, the winter Olympics will begin in Pyeongchang, South Korea. As a super fan of figure skating, this is an exciting thing, and as a knitter, I need to make preparations for plenty of knitting while watching the skating.

Ravelry has been sponsoring what has now become known as the Ravellenic Games (aka knitting olympics but don’t say that too loud or the USOC will come to take all your money). I’ve participated in every one of them, and have the pins to show it:

I not only know my quad lutzes from triple axels, I also know that finding inspiration is important for a short-term deadline project like this.

This time, I had trouble at first finding the group on Ravelry – totally weird – but now I have (Ravellenic Winter Games 2018) and am making plans. At first I was going to add in a pair of socks for a friend, but I have a business trip ahead of the games, so I think they will be the portable project that I can take with me. They are mens’ big socks, so they should hold me for the days I’ll be away.

The yarn will be fun:

It’s called Whose Sock from Purl’s Yarn Emporium in Asheville NC. The color is creatively called “eighth.”

But that is a digression, since they will be started before the games begin. It got me to thinking about a sweater I had started back in July – a shawl-collared sweater from Knitty called Wisteria.  At the time, this seemed perfect – I love shawl collars on sweaters, and the pattern was free I bought a bunch of Miss Babs Yowza yarn in the Franklin color way, and began:

And then it was put away, because July in Fresno is not the time to knit a big woolly thing. Since then, I’ve seen comments that there might be fit issues with the sweater, and then I realized I was basically re-knitting a version of my Dark and Stormy (seen here with the Custom Fit gals at Rhinebeck):

which is in perfectly good shape, so maybe I don’t need another one.

There’s a book on my knitting shelf called Top-Down: Reimagining Set-In Sleeve Sweaters that I bought a while ago, and there’s a beautiful open cardigan called Copperplate – with a big traveling stitch pattern on the front bands, and lovely shaping. I checked yardage – yes, there’s enough! I checked gauge, and this is spooky – I have the exact gauge for the sweater!

The copying of the pattern is done. I have the directions for an even better way to do the top-down sleeves from Vera Sanon (check her stuff out – she’s great. She raises horses on a ranch and teaches in public school, so she’s not doing the expo circuit, but she’s every bit as good). The project is entered and tagged in Ravellenic games.

Now the waiting and anticipation begins!

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With the major gift-knitting season behind me, I’m feeling the gratification of knitting for those in my life who are “knitworthy” – which for me means one is appreciative of hand-knitted things.

This year, there were several appreciative responses to my knitting. I made dishcloths for all of the staff, and one of them came into my office, and he said, “You made this, didn’t you?!” Why yes I did.

Others provide responses without words. My cousin Allison immediately put on the cowl that I had knit for her. Another friend wore the shawl I made her to her father’s memorial service.

Sometimes friends respond with their own handmade gifts – some brave ones will knit for me (I can be intimidating with that, I know), others give me homemade jellies and jam, and this Christmas, a colleague gave me her homemade cards with special photos from her trips around the world.

Other times, it’s a small note that makes your day. Another friend, Curtiss, always sends me a note after getting his hand-knit pair of socks, which have become an annual Christmas present for him. Emails, etc. work as well, and of course, the actual photos are really appreciated. My friend Nhien sent this:

Here’s another example. My friends Wil and Aimee loved the hats I made them:


The striped hat is a basic beanie with some ribbing and a pom-pom. The one on the right is Koolhaas by Jared Flood – knit in Shelter from his yarn line Brooklyn Tweed.

When I visited them, we had a great time and they took me to visit local sites, like this;


[After we saw this, we took a horribly described walk that should have been flat walking for a couple of reasons: for me, my leg was giving me issues some after spraining my ankle a few weeks before, for their dog ET, who is blind and has a bad hip. Let’s just say it was a tragically funny  kind of experience. We now have a code phrase “it’s an easy walk.”]

Wil admired my hand knit socks, so we chatted about how wonderful handmade socks are (because they are amazing!). Will has worn his hat pretty much about every day (I can’t believe I don’t have a photo of that!), but he had mentioned that socks sounded pretty interesting to him, I sent him a gift note, saying that I could make him either a hat or socks, depending on what he wants. Aimee says that he’s all excited about thinking about the options. I await his response!

In the meantime, Aimee sent along a photo of her wearing the fingerless mittens (the pattern is Dendritic, a free pattern on Knitty):

See, this is how you remain knitworthy – it is a positive reinforcement kind of thing.

So, what kinds of responses have you appreciated when you gave something you made?

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What I knit in 2017

Ok, I’m back to the blog. In truth, while my last post said I was on knitting rest, I actually did start knitting small things for Christmas presents. Like these:

The Holidays went well, and as the new year started I had a bit of vacation attending the US National Figure Skating Championships – and I had fun with friends joining me and meeting some other highly dedicated fans from years past and made friends with fans who came from Japan (!).  My seats were right near the NBC broadcast booth with Terry Gannon, Tara Lipinski, and Johnny Weir among others. There was a fun exhibit with life-size standing posters of some of our highly talented skaters:

2017 in Review

Each year, I like to review my Ravelry notebook projects to figure out what I knit in the past year. Hint: this is easier to do when you tag each project with the year tag “2017”, and so on.

2016 was a relatively low yardage year: I knit 12,640 yards of yarn, and I’m happy to report this year that I’m closer to my average output at 15,020. Considering that I only knit one sweater with sleeves this year, that’s not bad. There weren’t many socks (only 3 pairs), partly because knitting for Afghans for Afghans is on hiatus, but overall gift knitting was high because of my knitting for Knitted Knockers, and dishcloths for friends and employees.

Socks –  3 pairs, two of which are shortie socks for bed for me, and a pair as a gift. I frankly wasn’t wearing them all that much in Fresno, so most of the sock knitting will be for others in the near future.

Shawls – 5, 2 for me, and 3 of them for others.

Hats – 8, a few as gifts for charity and a couple for friends

Knitted Knockers – 55! I have a bunch more that will be donated soon. Check out the Knitted Knockers website.

Dishcloths – 19, and my favorite one is probably the Eiffel Towel – which I gave away and now need to make one for me!

Sweaters – 2. Wow, only two this year, a shell using Colourmart yarn, and a cardigan that I really like!  I said last year I wanted to knit more sweaters, which I didn’t do, obviously, although I do have one on pause in the WIP bin.

Fingerless mittens – 2 pairs – one pair for my cousin and another pair for a gift

Miscellaneous – 1 scarf (to practice brioche knitting), a poncho from a knitting retreat project, and a prayer blanket for a sick family member.

There will be more to show shortly because there is a lovely thing I am making for a special family member, right now, I’m only doing to show a little bit:


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