Monday, December 29, 2014

Looking Back on 2014

2014 was a productive year, although not when it comes to my goals for the year. I don't know why I bother with goals. Lets take a look and see how I did: , Galapagos, Double Brioche Scarf, Tequila Sunrise and several other woven scarves
2014 Goal What I actually did
Use up some of my sock yarn. I'm going to start knitting simple mitts for gifts and charity to use up some of that yarn (Stash Mitt-down) I knit 3 pair of mitts, but I envisioned at least 6 pair.
Use up some of my leftover sock yarn. This is yarn used to make other items, but not enough to knit another pair of socks. I'll use it to make small stuffed items, striped socks and striped mitts (Mouse Invasion) I completed 7 mice and have some more waiting to be finished (eyes, nose & attach ears) I also worked on mini socks and knit 5. I would have liked to have finished more. I did however work up a mini sock pattern and am in the middle of a mouse pattern
Use up some of my worsted & bulky stash. I don't really use yarn of this weight, so I need to use it up. Well, I knit a few mice out of leftover worsted. I finished Harbor Lights
Organize my stash!!! I need to get all of the yarn into named bins and record that information in ravelry so I can find my yarn more easily Well I managed to get most of it into bins and about half of the bins are labeled. I didn't get anymore than 20% labeled in Ravelry
Learn how to size a sweater to fit me well. Didn't do this
Learn how to calculate appropriate yardage requirements for a sweater I took a class and learned the trick for calculating yardage, but it requires a swatch first.
Use my sweater knowledge to adjust and knit the central park hoodie or a similar sweater Didn't do this one.
Make use of my newly acquired brioche knowledge to knit up some scarves and / or hats I knit one scarf
Complete the Master sock class book. I have 3 pairs of socks to go, so I need to finish them I still have 3 pairs of socks to go.
Publish some more patterns, including a stranded sock or hat pattern On the plus side I completed 4 patterns. On the down side, I didn't complete a stranded pattern.
Master tension when knitting continental style Didn't do this

It looks like I actually completed about 35% of my goals.

What else did I do this year?

  • Complete 11 pairs of fingerless mitts + 2 pair of mitts that I can't share as they are for a friends pattern
  • Complete 6 knitted scarves/shawls, two of which were lace shawls.
  • Complete 12 pairs of socks (one published pattern, 2 patterns written but not published).
  • Completed 4 hats
  • Figured out double brioche and published a pattern
  • Knit 15 mini socks and published pattern
  • Started a stash reduction social experiment
  • Bought a rigid heddle loom and learned to weave. I wove 13 scarves on the rigid heddle
  • Knit 2 sweaters this year. I normally manage 4, but not this year
  • Knit some baby stuff, 2 softies, a soaker, booties & pee pee tee pees.
  • Took a dyeing class and dyed 3 skeins of yarn
  • Took a class with Cat Bordhi to learn here versitilde technique
  • Started a 4-shaft weaving class. Class will finish in mid-January
  • Although I didn't do so well with my goals, I had a productive year. I completed many finished objects and I learned to weave and dye.

    Outside of my year, we did loose a few things.

    We lost a local yarn shop, Yarns by the Sea in Aptos. It was a nice little shop with a good following. They had a water pipe break and their shop flooded. They couldn't recover from this. Add this to last year's loss of The Knitting Room in San Jose and Yarn Dogs in Los Gatos; a lot of shops lost in my area.

    Several yarns I like went away this year:

  • Pagewood Farms went out of business
  • MadelineTosh lace was discontinued
  • Shibui Heishi was discontinued
  • Ella Rae Lace Merino Worsted was discontinued.
  • We also lost Knitting Lab from San Mateo. I know Knitting Lab is continuing elsewhere, but it was wonderful to have it within an hours drive. Now I would need to fly to its location, and I'm just not willing to do that. Its a shame Sock Summit went away as I would travel for that.


    Prairie Willow can be found on Ravelry at noliegirl. Prairie Willow is an avid knitter and jewelry designer. My jewelry can be found at Prairie Willow Jewelry;

    Photos copyright Prairie Willow Knits. .

    Monday, December 22, 2014

    Knitting up the Morristown Mitts

    I decided to add a quick photo tutorial for those doing their first pair of mitts.

    Cast on 48 using German twisted cast on. Start with a slip knot and about a 36" tail. Join to work in the round being careful not to twist.
    Begin knitting 2x2 rib. If you want to adjust the length of your cuff, try on the cuff, bringing it up to the bottom of your wrist.
    Complete cuff; knit 18 rounds 2x2 rib or desired length. Knit setup round placing thumb gussset markers. Since I'm knitting on 2 circulars, the first marker is actually at the end of the first circular needle. I will place that one on the first round of the thumb gusset.
    Thumb gusset: knit rounds 1-8 twice and then rounds 1-4 one more time.
    Knit hand setup round. You will knit in pattern to the marker and the M1R. Remove the marker and then slip the thumb stitches to a holder. Remove the end of thumb gusset marker. M1L and finish knitting the round in pattern.
    Knit 18 rounds 2x2 rib or desired length. Try the mitt on to get the length right for you. Bind off using Jeny's surprisingly stretchy bind off in pattern.. If you don't know this one, try it - its very stretchy and works well with ribbing.
    Return thumb stitches to needles.
    Knit the setup round. the round starts by picking up a stitch, knitting in pattern to end of round and then picking up another stitch.
    Knit 7 rounds in pattern and bind off using Jeny's surprisingly stretchy bind off.


    Prairie Willow can be found on Ravelry at noliegirl. Prairie Willow is an avid knitter and jewelry designer. My jewelry can be found at Prairie Willow Jewelry;

    Photos copyright Prairie Willow Knits. .

    Monday, December 15, 2014

    Learning to Dye

    I took a class in dyeing yarn at Purlescence Yarns. Dyes were premixed by the instructor and set out on a plastic table cloth covered table. The dyes were acid dyes from Louet. Unfortunately, I don't know which ones exactly.

    Colors we had to work with: Madder orange, logwood, coal, avocado, indigo, raspberry. There was also a yellow, a teal and a red purple, but the names elude me at the moment. The dyes were in quart jars down the center of the table with a baster in each one. There were a collection of measuring cups available. We used 100% wool yarn.

    1. open skein
    2. add extra butterfly ties to the skein
    3. soak in 6% citric acid solution
    4. Lay out a piece of plastic wrap long enough for the skein
    5. Put on rubber gloves.
    6. Pull out skein, squeezing out excess citric acid solution
    7. Lay skein out
    8. Using basters, transfer dye into the a measuring cup. If we wanted to adjust the color we could add water or we could mix two colors together.
    9. Pour color on yarn as desired. work color into yarn with your hands. Check underside of yarn to make sure you are getting good coverage.
    10. Pick another color and repeat the process.
    11. Where the colors meet, work them together to get a slight blending effect, if desired.
    12. When done, sop up the excess dye on the plastic wrap with paper towels.
    13. wrap the yarn tightly in the plastic wrap and put in a gallon ziploc bag.
    14. once home, place the yarn in a container (one that won't be used for food again). Keep it wrapped in the plastic wrap and the ziploc bag. Place in a microwave, ideally one that won't be used for food again. The dyes we used were non-toxic, but it isn't a good idea to do this in a microwave used for food. Run the microwave for 3 minutes full power, rest 1 minute and then run 3 minutes full power. This depends on the microwave being used. You do not want to melt the plastic wrap. We were using 100% wool yarn, so we didn't have to worry about any other fiber content.

    For skein 1, I used 3 colors: tealy blue, green and a purple that I mixed (my goal was to get a blue purple. While it is bluer than the provided purple it doesn't look purple in the skein). I alternated the colors around the skein in very short chunks.
    For this skein I simulated kettle dyeing. I filled a large measuring cup with the madder orange and some of the raspberry. I put the skein of yarn in the cup and squished the dye through the yarn. I removed the yarn and then layed it out. I then filled in any light spots with the yellow and splattered the brown on the skein.
    I didn't have much time for this one, so I did halve of the skein in green and then 1/4" in the blue and 1/4 in the red.

    Am I going to continue? Yes. I decided to go with dyes by Dharma Trading Company since they are in San Rafael, CA, about an hour and a half away. I have most of my supplies. Now all I need is time.


    Prairie Willow can be found on Ravelry at noliegirl. Prairie Willow is an avid knitter and jewelry designer. My jewelry can be found at Prairie Willow Jewelry;

    Photos copyright Prairie Willow Knits. .

    Monday, December 8, 2014

    Knitting the Framiens Sock Pattern

    When the Framiens sock pattern was released, I queued it right away. Luckily the GPY sock club decided to knit this sock for October-November. I decided to have the MC & CC the same for both socks. I also chose to use the same cuff, heel and toe for both socks. Each socks leg and foot pattern run in the opposite direction. While not a difficult knit, the pattern is tricky so I thought I would go through the steps.
    The pattern starts with a provisional cast on. I used the crocheted provisional cast on to start, using US 2.0 (2.75 mm) needles. (I wouldn't recommend using US 2.0 (2.75 mm) needles since it creates a loose chain edge for pickup. Live and learn.) The cuff is knit sideways with the first picot. The picot is knit as follows: Cast on 2 using the knitted cast on then bind off 2. You will have 15 stitches at the end of the picot. I chose to knit the 12 round repeat pattern.

    To choose your cuff pattern, first determine which color is your main color and your contrasting color. I chose the purple (my dark color) as my main color. If your dark color is your main color then choose one of the cuff charts from the MC = Dark Color, CC = Light color charts.

    I finished the cuff on the 10th row of the 12th chart repeat. (Basically, just stop on the 10th row of your last repeat.) I knit the length of the cuff per the pattern directions since the size of the sock provided by the pattern worked for me. If you need a larger leg, you will need to knit a longer cuff. Increasing the length of the cuff first starts with your choice of cuff chart. You will have 1 slipped stitch chain for each garter ridge. This means that for the 12 row chart, each chart repeat adds 6 slipped stitches or 6 picked up stitches around the circumference of the sock. Here is a quicky chart to give you an idea of how to increase the stitch count of the sock:

    12 Row Chart
    Row RepeatsStitch Count
    10 60
    11 66
    12 72
    13 78

    20 Row Chart
    Row RepeatsStitch Count
    6 60
    7 70
    8 80

    You'll notice that once you increase the number of chart repeats, the resulting stitch counts between the cuff charts no longer line up. If the stitch count is close, you can correct the count by either decreasing or increasing stitches as appropriate. Otherwise, you will need to use the same chart for both socks. Also note that you will need to adjust the leg charts to add additional stitches. Hopefully this is enough info for you to give sizing a try. I'll try it the next time I knit this sock.

    At this point graft the cuff together using the Kitchener stitch for garter. I cheated and did a standard stockinette kitchener from the wrong side to get a purl bump on the right side. I ended up with a purl ridge that contained both the green and purple. If you are a perfectionist, graft in garter.
    Now pick up the appropriate number of stitches. I picked up 60. Purl the next round. If you have changed the size of the sock and need to adjust stitch count, do it in the purl round. Choose your two charts (one for front of sock and one for back, again based on whether your MC is dark or light) and knit your cuff to the desired length, ending with a CC chart row & a MC garter ridge. If you have adjusted the size of your sock, you will need to adjust the chart to add the extra stitches.

    (Note: I changed to a US 1.5 (2.5 mm) needle after round 6 and completed the sock using that needle.)

    I modified the pattern a little when putting in the heel place holder. I actually wanted the heel on the other side of the sock. Paying closer attention when starting the sock would have avoided this, but it doesn't really matter. I just turned the sock around and knit the place holder on the back side. Starting at the midpoint, in my case the start of needle 2, K knit 31 stitches in my place holder yarn.
    Now continue knitting per the pattern. Knit one garter ridge. You'll notice that the heel placeholder stitches are between the garter ridges.
    At this point you need to to choose 2 more charts based on your MC, making any necessary size adjustments. I chose a 16 and 20 row chart. Since I chose a zigzag chart for the front of my leg, I chose the opposite zigzag chart for my foot. I knit one chart repeat of the 20 row chart and stopped to move back to my heel. I do not like fitting heels after the sock is complete. Its too hard to get a good fit. So, after having 20 rows knit, I had enough to stabilize the foot so I could start the heel.
    Thread a needle through the stitches on either side of the place holder stitches, picking up the stitches on either side of the placeholder. Begin picking out the placeholder. Watch carefully, in case you missed a stitch. If a stitch was missed grab a removable marker and thread it through the stitch to hold it.
    Once the placeholder has been removed, adjust your stitches on the needles, picking up any stitches which were missed. Count your stitches. I had 31 on each side, instead of 31 + 32.
    Adjust your stitch count on the next round. You should end up with 32 stitches on each side. Knit the round, picking up a stitch in the gap. The tricorner technique is designed to use up any extra yarn in the gap between front and back of heel so you won't have to stitch it up after the fact. If you don't understand the tricorner technique, use whatever technique you know and if you have a gap, close it up when weaving in ends.

    Choose a heel chart based on your MC (on the last pattern page) and complete the heel. I changed the heel a little. The pattern calls for knitting through round 31 and then knitting across the front needle before grafting. I completed round 21 and then turned the sock inside out and did a standard stockinette kitchener so I had a garter ridge on the end of the heel. (Are you sensing a pattern here?)

    Go back to the foot and complete the foot to your desired length. (Hint: The heel chart is 31 rounds long. The toe chart is 33 rounds long. You can use the heel to help determine when you are ready to start the toe.) Remember that you must end the charts on a CC row and knit one more garter ridge in your main color.
    Complete the toe. I used the same trick for closing the toe as I did for the heel.

    My project can be found on Ravelry at Amiens.


    Prairie Willow can be found on Ravelry at noliegirl. Prairie Willow is an avid knitter and jewelry designer. My jewelry can be found at Prairie Willow Jewelry;

    Photos copyright Prairie Willow Knits. The "Framiens" pattern copyright by Natalia Vasilieva..

    Monday, December 1, 2014

    Morristown Mitts Pattern Available on Ravelry

    I found this lovely skein of Ella Rae Lace Merino Worsted in the sale bin at Green Planet Yarn. The yarn has been discontinued; yet another yarn I like to knit with going away :-(. I bought a skein (i actually bought more, but we won't talk about that!) with the intention of knitting up a simple pair of ribbed mitts. I toyed with the idea of knitting a pair of mitts from my friend and designer Carol Bucholz, but the pattern isn't released yet. So, I decided whip up my own simple ribbed mitt pattern.

    As you can see, I knit the pattern using the Ella Rae, but since it has been discontinued, its unfair to make a pattern available using that yarn, so I knit a few more pairs in some yarns that are more available. The pattern has been tested using SweetGeorgia Superwash DK, MadelineTosh Tosh DK, and Cascade 220 superwash.

    The mitts are knit in a simple 2x2 ribbing (including the thumb) so they have a great deal of stretch and will fit most hands.

    You will need one skein of DK or light worsted weight yarn for these mitts. Look for a wool yarn with about 220 to 260 yards per 100 grams. Small differences in gauge will not substantially affect the fit of these mitts.

    In addition to yarn, you will need knitting needles to knit in the round. I used 2 circulars for these mitts, but the pattern does not depend on this and you may choose the circular method of your choice. You will also need markers and a tapestry needle.

    Techniques Used

  • 2x2 rib
  • knitting in the round
  • M1R, M1L and M1P
  • picking up stitches
  • German twisted cast on
  • Jeny's surprisingly stretchy bind off

    There are pointers to the cast on, bind off and purl side M1 on my resources page.

    The pattern is available for free at Morristown Mitts.


    Prairie Willow can be found on Ravelry at noliegirl. Prairie Willow is an avid knitter and jewelry designer. My jewelry can be found at Prairie Willow Jewelry;

    Photos copyright Prairie Willow Knits. .

  • Monday, November 24, 2014

    Inside Out Sock Pattern Published on Ravelry

    Inside Out is a simple pair of socks suitable for both men and women. One of my goals with this pattern was to design a simple, easy to remember pattern that worked well with variegated yarns. I decided to go with a simple broken rib. Broken rib results in a pattern that works on both the right side and the wrong side making the socks reversible. You can wear them right side out, inside out or one of each. The pattern makes use of the Broken Rib heel stitch for a nice cushy heel.

    The sock starts with a 1x1 ribbed cuff, moving into the broken rib pattern. The heel continues the broken rib by using the broken rib heel stitch, and finally the sock ends with a 1x1 ribbed toe.

    The following techniques are used in this sock:

  • German Twisted cast on or other stretchy cast on
  • Knit & Purl
  • K2tog, SSK, P2tog
  • M1
  • Slip Stitch
  • Pickup and knit through the back loop
  • Broken Rib Heel Stitch
  • Kitchener
  • The pattern can be downloaded for free at Inside Out.


    Prairie Willow can be found on Ravelry at noliegirl. Prairie Willow is an avid knitter and jewelry designer. My jewelry can be found at Prairie Willow Jewelry;

    Photos copyright Prairie Willow Knits. .

    Monday, November 17, 2014

    Knitting a Pair of Simple Mitts

    I wanted a pair of Halloween socks. I knit like mad to finish them before Halloween. Once complete I realized that I had enough yarn for a pair of matching mitts. So, I added this to my Halloween knitting. In order to insure I would complete them by Halloween, I created a simple pattern with a ribbed cuff at my wrist, in other words, they are short. I knit these using Canon Hand Dyes "Double Double Toil & Trouble" for the hand and MadelineTosh Sock "Curiosity" for the cuffs. I chose to knit these with US 1.0 (2.25mm) needles as I have small hands. The size can easily be increased by using a US 1.5 (2.5mm) or a US 2.0 (2.75mm) needle. My gauge using a US 1.0 (2.25mm) needle is 9 stitches / inch for these mitts.

    Here's how I did it:

    Cast on 52 stitches using German twisted cast on. Join to work in the round. Knit 16 rounds 2x2 rib
    Change colors and knit 4 rounds stockinette.
    Gusset Setup: K25, PM, M1R, K1, M1L, PM, K to end of round. Round 1: Knit to end of round; Round 2: K25, SM, M1R, K to marker, M1L, SM, K to end of round. Repeat rounds 1 & 2 until thumb contains 25 stitches.
    Knit 4 rounds
    K25, move thumb stitches to a holder, K26
    K25, M1, K26. The hand now has 52 stitches. Knit 12 rounds stockinette or to your desired length. Change color. Knit 10 rounds 2x2 rib. Bind off using Jenny's Super Stretchy Bind Off, in pattern. Put thumb stitches back on needles. Using hand color, starting at inside of thumb, M1, K to end M1, M1. Stitch count is now 28 (divisible by 4). Knit 1 more round in stockinette or to your desired length. Switch colors and knit 6 rounds in 2x2 rib. Bind off using Jeny's Super Stretchy Bind Off.

    You can see my mitts at Double Double Mitts Too and my Halloween socks at


    Prairie Willow can be found on Ravelry at noliegirl. Prairie Willow is an avid knitter and jewelry designer. My jewelry can be found at Prairie Willow Jewelry;

    Photos copyright Prairie Willow Knits. .

    Monday, November 10, 2014

    Yarn Substitutions

    Ever have a problem determining an appropriate yarn substitution for a pattern? A knitting friend of mine introduced me to a this interesting web site: yarnsub.com. Try it. I think its going to be a useful resource.


    Prairie Willow can be found on Ravelry at noliegirl. Prairie Willow is an avid knitter and jewelry designer. My jewelry can be found at Prairie Willow Jewelry;

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    Monday, November 3, 2014

    Mini Sock Pattern Released on Ravelry

    One of my goals this year has been to use up leftover bits of yarn. I knit a lot of socks, so I have a lot of leftover sock yarn. One of my social experiment rules allows me a 1:1 replacement for yardage used in this leftover category, hence the creation of this pattern. The pattern contains instructions for 4 different socks: a plain sock, a contrast heel/toe/cuff sock, an athletic style sock and an elf striped sock.

    So have fun this Christmas and decorate your tree with mini socks. Here are some pictures of the socks I have created so far:

    The pattern is available from Ravelry at Mini Socks


    Prairie Willow can be found on Ravelry at noliegirl. Prairie Willow is an avid knitter and jewelry designer. My jewelry can be found at Prairie Willow Jewelry;

    Photos copyright Prairie Willow Knits. .