New Pattern: The Galahad Scarf!


I just released the Galahad Scarf pattern on Ravelry! Knit in Shelter by Brooklyn Tweed, the pattern is written in two different sizes: Large (shown above in Soot), and small (shown below in Old World).



This pattern was so fun to write. I used StitchMastery for the charts, and while it's definitely buggy on the OS platform, it got the job done. It makes nice, tidy charts, simple to read and follow. While it has some kinks that will need to be ironed out in future updates, Cathy was very responsive and helpful.




I'm really happy with the way the stitch pattern turned out; it's not often that an idea in your head plays out so well in the physical realm. Shelter was an absolutely perfect choice for the yarn: it shows the stitch definition of the grid, and the tweed adds a classic touch. The woolen-spun yarn (100% American made, I might add) makes for a scarf that's as warm as it is lightweight. It's an easy accessory to wear, perfect for a crisp autumn day.




Next up is the Galahad Hat pattern, I'll post here once that's ready for release. If you have any questions about the scarf, you can find me on Ravelry as kerryrobb, or head to my Contact page for email info. Hope you enjoy this pattern!

Photo Shoot for the Galahad Scarf Was a Success!


                    

I've been hard at work on the Galahad Scarf pattern, and the photo shoot with the finished samples was on Wednesday morning. I couldn't be happier with the results! I've worked with the InHouse team for my photo shoots so far, and they've made the best photographers and models (and in some cases, both!).

The photo at the top of this post shows Kevin wearing the large size scarf. This sample was knit with four skeins of Brooklyn Tweed's Shelter, shown here in Soot.

The photo below shows Brandt wearing the small size scarf. This sample was knit with three skeins of Shelter, shown here in Old World.

                    

The InHouse crew has done such a fantastic job on the shoots so far, they're such a talented bunch. The shoot for the Galahad hat is coming up soon, and after that I'll give these guys a much-deserved break from all things knitting related. Promise. 

All photos by Elise Beavers. You can find her on Instagram as @elise_lebeav.



Working on the Galahad Scarf: New Pattern on the Way!



I've been spending my summer test knitting a large project for a designer whom I respect, and I've been so thankful for the opportunity to do so. While I've been knitting, I've been listening to the audiobook version of one of my most favorite books: The Mists of Avalon. It's the legend of Arthur as told from the perspective of the female characters, so often relegated to the status of "witch" or "temptress" in most tellings of the Arthur tale. Marion Zimmer Bradley wrote such an engrossing and beautiful tale, and I'm thoroughly enjoying story's unfolding all over again. I first read the book a decade ago, and it's stuck with me so fastly that I feel like I'm revisiting old, dear friends.

While knitting and listening to the book, I've become inspired to design a men's scarf pattern that's a modern interpretation of chain mail. Named for Lancelot's son, Galahad (which was also the name given to Lancelot in Avalon), this scarf will be written for two sizes: The large size will be a wider scarf, meant for wrapping in a classic fashion. The small scarf will be thinner and a bit shorter, for those men who prefer to knot their scarves.

The geometric grid pattern is made using just knit and purl stitches, and creates a satisfyingly gridded fabric that's masculine and modern. Knit with Brooklyn Tweed's Shelter, the woolen-spun American yarn is the perfect pairing with this pattern: traditional tweed meets a thoroughly modern palette. I love the way Shelter handles stitch definition; it shows stitch patterns so well, while the woolen quality softens the stitches a bit. The grid stitch pattern is softened and accentuated all at once.

I'm hoping to have this pattern finished and ready by August, which is reasonable considering I'm still giving the bulk of my knitting time to that large project I mentioned before. Galahad will have both charts and written instructions, and it's a great knit for those knitters who love a project with enough variation to hold their interest, but not so complicated that they can't travel with it. I'll keep you updated as the work comes along; until then, wish me luck in my test knitting!

The Ravine Cowl



Seed stitch: so simple, so beautiful. Anything but basic, seed stitch is a wonderful way to show the natural beauty of Hinterland's luscious Ravine yarn. Made from a blend of some of my favorite sheep fibers (Targhee, Rambouillet, and Columbia) as well as alpaca raised on Vancouver Island, BC, Ravine is the epitome of rustic yarn at its best.

Seed stitch cowls are not uncommon on Ravelry (with the Gap-tastic cowl amongst one of the most popular knits, and Jane Cochran's Thirty Eight one of the loveliest), so I'm absolutely not trying to reinvent the wheel here. I'm providing this free "pattern" as a way to share my favorite cast on and bind off tricks for seed stitch in the round, as well as a starting point with stitch counts for two different cowl sizes made with the wonderful Ravine yarn.

If you'd like to learn more about this beautiful yarn from Hinterland Farm, I highly recommend you listen to Episode 24 of the Woolful podcast. In this episode, Ashley interviewed Hinterland's Hanahlie Beise, and it was great to be able to hear about how Hanahlie came to raise (and shear!) her own alpacas. The wool in Ravine was all sourced from Canadian farms, supporting the Canadian fiber industry. It's such a treat to be able to listen to the podcast about Hinterland while knitting with the yarn!

The Ravine Cowl can be made in two sizes: small and large (see below for more info on each size). The stitch counts are subjective, you can make changes to the finished size of the cowl by adding or subtracting stitches to the total count. The beauty of seed stitch in the round is that as long as you use an odd number of stitches, you're good to go.



Here's a breakdown of the both sizes stated in the pattern:

Small: A single-wrap cowl, just the right size for slipping around your neck when you need a bit of warmth. The small cowl adds a little bit of texture to any autumn outfit, without overheating you on those not-too-cold days. Knit to 27" in diameter and 9" tall, blocks to approximately 29" in diameter and 8" tall. The small size cowl is shown in white.

Large: A perfect length to wrap around your neck twice. With more warmth than the small cowl, the large size really shows off the rustic beauty of the Ravine yarn. Knits to 50" in diameter and 8.5" tall, blocks to approximately 52" in diameter and 7.5" tall. The large size cowl is shown in tan.




I'm a very loose knitter (thank you, continental style!), so the needle sizes I've recommended are a bit larger than what I used in the sample knits. (You can see my own version of these cowls on my Ravelry project page.) I definitely recommend swatching so you don't end up with a cowl that's too big or too small. Feel free to ask questions if you've got 'em! I hope you enjoy this "pattern." :)


The Ravine Cowl

Two sizes: Small (Large)

SUPPLIES:
1 (2) skeins of Hinterland Ravine (purchasing info below)
One 24" (32") circular needle, size US 10/6mm (or whatever gives you gauge*)
One 24" (32") circular needle, size US 11/8mm** (for cable cast on)
Several stitch markers
Two point protectors
Tapestry needle

GAUGE:
Before Blocking:
12.5/13 sts and 24/25 rounds per 4 inches
After Blocking:
11.5/12 sts and 25/26 rounds per 4 inches


*You can use two separate needles for this pattern, or do what I do: one interchangeable cable, and two different size tips. It's easier to just exchange tips on the same cable, if you already have the interchangeable; otherwise, two different needles will work just fine.

**I used needle size US 10.75/7mm for my cable cast on. My knitting style does run loose, so I've recommended you use a size US11/8mm for the cast on; but use whichever size achieves the results you want. The cable cast on is fairly firm (but not tight!), in comparison to a long tail, for example. I've chosen it for use in this pattern because it produces such a beautiful edge, and I prefer the firmness of the cable cast on for the upper edge of the cowl (while worn); just be sure it's loose enough to allow the cowl to stretch for wrapping around the neck. A cable cast on that's too tight will be very disappointing when you go to wear the cowl.

Knitters in the US can purchase Ravine in Tan or White from the Woolful Mercantile; Canadian knitters can purchase directly from the Hinterland website. Ravine is available in either white or tan; I used tan for the large version of this cowl, and white for the small. (Note: There is a Ravine available in black, but that's a 2-ply worsted weight. For this pattern, you want the 3-ply aran weight Ravine.)

One last note on the yarn: I used nearly every yard of each skein, in both sizes. I did have slightly more left over after finishing the large size cowl; I had about 16 grams of usable yarn left after weaving in my ends. The small, though, used pretty much all of the yarn. If you're unsure about yardage, I recommend buying an extra skein for insurance.

Also, this yarn has quite a few knots in each skein. The good news is that Ravine joins beautifully using the spit splice; the bad news is, you'll have to account for the knots when calculating yardage. Normally a knotty skein would turn me off from using any particular yarn; but I promise, the Ravine is worth it. :) If you decide to play yardage chicken, go for it! I did the same with the small size cowl sample, and it worked out great (though I did have to tear out my swatch for the yarn to finish the cowl with). And if you decide to purchase an extra skein, you won't regret it; it's truly lovely stuff. You'll have plenty left over to make a Beau the Bunny (or two)!


DIRECTIONS

Using your larger needle and the cable cast on method (see Knitty or The Purl Bee if you've never used this cast on before), cast on 86 (156) sts.

I use a simple trick for counting cast on stitches: Place a stitch marker every 20 sts. I like to use a neutral color for the counting markers, and a single bright marker at the beginning of the round; that way, when I remove the counting markers during the first round of knitting, I don't accidentally remove the beginning-of-round marker along with them.

To join in the round, first be very sure that your stitches aren't twisted. The cable cast on produces a lot of very twisty stitches, so take extra care when straightening them out for joining in the round. I like to fold the cable and start at the bend (putting point protectors on the needle tips first; you don't want to lose any of your cast on stitches!), straightening out the stitches from the folded point outward toward the needle tips as I go. I double- and then triple-check as well, since I really despise going back to fix a twisted cast on. (I've had to do just that more times than I could count, unfortunately.)

See? Twisty!

                    


Once you're sure your stitches aren't twisted, join in the round like this: Hold your two needle tips next to each other, because you'll be swapping the very first and last stitch in the cast on from one needle to the other. Make sure the edge of the cast on (the side with the bumps) is facing up toward your face, with the loops facing downward.

First, take the stitch at the very end of your left needle (bump side up, loop side down), and carefully pull it off of the left needle on place it onto the tip of the right needle. Take extra care to make sure that the stitches don't become twisted at this point, and avoid twisting the individual stitch as you swap which needle it's on. The goal is to slip it purl wise.

                    


Second step: Now you'll be pulling a stitch from the right needle, as if to swap needles, just like you did in the previous step. Locate the very first stitch you casted on using a slipknot; it's on the right needle, directly underneath the stitch you just moved from the left needle to the right. Find this stitch, and pull it up and over the previously swapped stitch. But instead of swapping this one, just let it fall off and hang in between the needles. This extra stitch will help fill in the gap that's created when using cable cast on in the round, and it will make your cast on edge prettier once you've woven in the ends.

                    


At this point, I put the point protectors back onto the needle tips, and check the stitches one last time to ensure they're not twisted. It may seem excessive, but a little extra time spent checking for twisting can save you a whole lot of headache later!

Now your stitch count is at the proper amount for knitting the cowl: 85 (155) sts. Be sure to place your beginning-of-round marker now.

If you've added or subtracted stitches to the stitch count according to your preferences, just be sure that the original cast on has an even number of stitches, so that you're left with an odd number once you drop the stitch off of the right needle while joining in the round.

Now, on to the knitting! Remember to remove the counting markers as you knit the first round, but leave the beginning-of-round marker in place.

                    


Switch to your smaller size needle (or swap your larger interchangeable tips for the smaller size tips). You'll use the smaller gauge needle for both the cowl knitting and the bind off.

ROUND 1: *K1, P1* around to last stitch, K1
ROUND 2: *P1, K1* around to last stitch, P1

Repeat these two rounds for the entirety of the cowl until it's 9" (8.5") tall.

Feel free to make mods to the cowl height (width) as desired; just keep in mind that after blocking and wear, it will stretch in length, and narrow in width.

Once the cowl is as tall as you'd like, you're ready for the bind off!

I use Jeny's Surprisingly Stretchy Bind Off (JSSBO) when knitting seed stitch in the round, because it's so unbelievably flexible, and it makes a nice edge. If you're unfamiliar with this bind off, or need a refresher, here are some resources for you:

Cat Bordhi's YouTube video tutorial on JSSBO
A written JSSBO tutorial (with photos) on Knitty
JSSBO on Ravelry (read comments & forum posts)

Keep in mind that this bind off is so stretchy because of the extra yarn in between each bound off stitch, in the form of the reverse YO. So, you'll need to leave more yarn available for the bind off than you might with a traditional knit bind off. For the small size, I began the BO with 4g of yarn left, and had 33" of yarn left after trimming for weaving in the end.

I make one special mod to JSSBO for this cowl: before beginning the bind off round, I make one reverse YO (exactly like you do during JSSBO, but without any knitting) and leave it on the right needle. This extra reverse YO will travel around the needle as you bind off stitches, and as you come to the end of your bind off, you'll treat this reverse YO as the final stitch to be bound off. When you go to knit the stitch, it will seem twisted; just knit into the front loop as if it's a normal stitch. This extra reverse YO stitch will fill in a gap that's created by binding off in the round. When you go to weave in your end on this edge, you'll be left with a much easier (and prettier!) join in the bind off.

                    


Once you're finished binding off with JSSBO, you'll weave in your ends. On the bind off edge, you'll be mimicking the rest of the bind off in order to fill in the small gap left from the beginning & ending of the bound off stitches. Thread the end through a tapestry needle, and loop it through the open stitches on the left. (Don't aim for the closest "v" loop; aim for the loop one stitch to the left. The goal is to stitch the edge so that the cast off stitches line up with the seed stitch bumps below.)

                    


Then take the end down through the purl bump below and to the right, pulling the yarn through to the inside of the cowl. Be sure not to pull too tightly, your goal is to mimic the tension in your knitting so that the cowl doesn't have any tight spots from where you wove in the ends.

                    


Continue to weave your end in as invisibly as possible, since this cowl is reversible. Once your end is secure, snip it carefully and make sure it's tucked in well.

When weaving in the end from the cast on edge, you'll also be mimicking the cast on stitches, and your goal is invisibility here, too. But the stitches in the cast on were formed differently, so take a minute to look at how the yarn traveled in the surrounding cast on stitches. Do your best to mimic the stitches in the existing fabric, also taking care here to not pull too tight. Again, the goal is to match the tension in the knitting. Continue to weave the end in as invisibly as possible, and once it's secure, carefully snip and tuck it away.

Voila, you're finished knitting! Now, to block your cowl. I prefer a good (but gentle) wet blocking for this yarn, because the blend of alpaca and wool fibers bloom so beautifully once they've been washed. A good soak in some Eucalan will really soften up the yarn; I prefer to use the lavender version. Any appropriate wool soak will do, though.

As for blocking, I prefer not to pin my cowls while they dry. (A pattern with lace would be an exception.) I simply lay it flat on a clean, firm surface, and shape the stitches and edges into place. I get a little bit nuts about cowls while they're drying; I dislike leaving them in one position for too long, because they will get a crease at each folded edge. So, I shift the cowl's positioning every couple of hours, reshaping each time so the cowl is folded at a different point. It's kinda crazy, but it works!

I hope you enjoy this cowl, it's a fun knit that's perfect for traveling, since there's no real "pattern" to have to refer back to. Seed stitch can be tedious after a while, it's true, but it's the perfect stitch for TV knitting: not too boring, not too complex. After a handful of evenings of watching your favorite show (or listening to the Woolful podcast!), you'll have a lovely, simple piece for your wardrobe, made from an incredible natural yarn.

Happy knitting!


Ravine Cowl on Ravelry



Photo Shoot for the Ravine Cowl!

Yesterday was the photo shoot for the Ravine Cowl, and I was so pleased with how it went. Elise Beavers and Ashleigh Rudolph work at Ted's office, and I'd asked them to be the models. (Lily Borgeson was also an adorable model, but I don't have a photo of her on hand right now... Lily, you'll be on the pattern page!) They did an absolutely fantastic job, which isn't surprising; they're both adorable and have great personal style. They chose their own outfits and couldn't have done a better job. Aren't they amazing?

                    

Also amazing was Kevin Ellison, who was our photographer for the shoot. He's worked for Ted's media company for a number of years and is also a longtime friend of ours. I've been able to watch him grow as a photographer in the last several years, and I knew the shoot was in good hands with Kevin at the helm. He did such a great job, I can't wait to share the photos with you, both here and on Ravelry!

                    

Olivia was at camp all this week (her first time), and so I had Owen with me. I had to strap him to my body in a mei tai, which at the age of three is not his favorite thing. It worked out, though, and I'm thankful for his (adorably reluctant) cooperation. 

I'm going to release this simple yet beautiful pattern this coming week. I hope it does justice to the lovely Ravine yarn, and I hope you enjoy knitting it! :)

New Pattern in the Works!

I love the Woolful podcast, and recently decided to place an order in the Woolful Mercantile that included a few skeins of Hinterland Ravine. I added them to my order on a whim, intrigued by the blend of mule-spun alpaca and wool fibers. When the package arrived, I instantly fell in love with this amazing yarn. I ended up buying more Ravine, in every color available. And then the next Woolful podcast, Episode 24, was released, and guess what was the subject of that week's podcast? Hinterland! Once I got over the surprise, I decided to embrace the serendipity as a sign that my skeins of Ravine were destined to be something.

Ravine has a lot of rustic charm, with loft and warmth that would make for cozy garments and accessories. I sat down to make a handful of swatches, curious to see how the mule-spun yarn knits up. I knit one swatch after another, enjoying the feel of the smooth, aran-weight yarn as it moved through my fingers.

Once the swatches were done, I blocked them to see how Ravine changes after washing. The swatches all showed a lovely softening, with the alpaca content really shining through in the yarn. Each swatch did lose a lot of stitch definition after blocking; I wouldn't choose this yarn for a highly textured knit, since I love to let texture shine when I've taken the time to knit textural stitches. A lot of the swatches did decent justice to the beauty of the Ravine yarn, but one of the swatches in particular just sung out to me: seed stitch.



I set to work on a pattern for a series of seed stitch cowls, all worked up in Hinterland Ravine. I'll be posting the pattern here, it will be a free release. It's not lost on me that I'll be releasing a pattern for big, cozy cowls right at the beginning of summer; but I'm a year-round knitter, and I tend to knit with wool all year long. (God bless air conditioning.) So, you may not want to wear a big cozy cowl right now, but you may want to knit one. And with yarn as yummy and special as Hinterland Ravine, I don't know how you could resist.

I should be done with the new pattern in a couple of weeks, it will be available on this blog and also on Ravelry. Knit a Ravine Cowl (in the size of your choice) now, so you'll have a beautiful, cozy cowl ready to wear in the autumn!

Field Trip! Visiting New Barn at Cooking for Solutions

This past weekend, I drove down to Monterey to join the crew of my husband's (and his partners') new almond milk company, New Barn, for the Cooking for Solutions event held at the aquarium. I've been to a lot of food shows over the years, and this was definitely one of the loveliest, at least in terms of location.


The kids were crazy with excitement, they both proudly wore their New Barn t-shirts to the aquarium. Both Olivia and Owen wanted to help out at the booth; Olivia was actually helpful, charming booth visitors and explaining which samples were unsweetened, and which were sweetened with maple syrup. It was totally a "big girl" moment. (Big thanks to Matt and Lily, seen below, for letting Olivia feel included in the action.)


Owen was... not so helpful. His idea of "help" was to chug one sample cup after another. I think he must have gone through half a bottle's worth of almond milk. Good thing he's cute!


Once the kids had their fill of helping at the booth (in Owen's case, literally), I took the kids to see the aquarium exhibits. We went along with Lily's daughter, Mesa, and her husband, Jeff, while Lily worked at the booth. Olivia has been pen pals with Mesa for a few weeks, sending each other the most adorable "letters" I've ever seen. (Markers, kid-style spelling, and sometimes glitter are involved.) So it kind of blew Olivia's mind to be able to spend an entire day with Mesa.



Olivia was kind of a turd, though; she's a bit older, and Mesa sweetly followed Olivia from exhibit to exhibit, often holding hands. I repeatedly asked Olivia to let me know if she was leaving an area, because it was crowded mayhem in there, and it would have been all too easy to lose a kid in the craziness. But Olivia decided that she was too excited to listen to me, and so she'd jet off in the pitch dark to look at a new habitat that had caught her eye. This meant that Jeff and I spent a lot of time running after the girls, which was decidedly not fun. Less fun, though, was chucking a screaming Owen over my shoulder because he totally lost it going up the stairs in one corner of the aquarium. That happened not once, not twice, but THREE. TIMES. Like I said, good thing he's cute.

I was very impressed with Jeff's evenness while we toured the aquarium. Like, amazing levels of zen. Maybe I just don't handle loud crowds very well? (I most definitely don't handle loud crowds very well.) Jeff is like the sensei of staying calm amidst a throbbing mass of sticky kids. Next time I'll be sure to take notes.

Overall, it was a great trip (misbehavior aside). The kids got to see some ocean creatures, they got to help out at the New Barn booth, and they got to see their parents kicking ass at the Cooking for Solutions show. I was really glad to have been able to come support Ted in what he's doing, and I'm so proud of the New Barn crew.


Photo by Matt Welty: Lawyer, family man, and New Barn stud.

Navajo Churro Lopi Slippers. Yes.

Say it with me: Navajo. Churro. Lopi. Slippers.

I can't say enough about this yarn, Cabin from Hinterland Farm on Vancouver Island in BC, Canada. I purchased one skein from the Woolful Mercantile, with the intention of making a pair of California Comfortable slippers by Andrea Mowry (dreareneeknits on Ravelry). I follow her on Instagram, where I saw that she was making her own pair in this yarn; I couldn't help myself from following suit. And once I got my hands on this unexpectedly great yarn, I bought two more skeins. It's that good.

                   


This is nothing like "Churro" as you think of it; it's much more lofty and soft than I was expecting. It's mule-spun, which means that the fiber is spun from bobbins that move back and forth in a way that mimics hand spinning. The result is a lofty, rustic yarn that's soft and squishy, and I just love it.

This pattern, this yarn, these slippers: this is knitting heaven.

                   


These slippers feel like you're walking on a woolly cloud. Warm, cushy, and cute, they're the ultimate slipper. Thank you to Andrea Mowry for designing such awesome slippers!

For project details, check it out on Ravelry.

My First French Broom Adventure

French broom (Genista monspessulanamakes a lovely natural dye. The yellow blossoms yield a rich buttery color, while the green stems make for a nice, slightly acidic green. I hadn't tried dyeing with broom before, and so when I saw large patches of yellow broom blossoms growing along the side of a quiet road near our home, I decided to get out the pruners and bring some home with me. (What, doesn't everybody keep a basket of garden tools in the trunk of their car?)

I'm normally an avid practitioner of responsible wild harvesting in respect to the plants, but broom is classified as a highly invasive, noxious weed. It grows along roadsides and in other recently disturbed or developed land, and can grow out of control very quickly, pushing out native species more beneficial to the local ecosystem. It also catches fire very easily, which adds to the fire hazard present during this historical California drought. Needless to say, I wasn't careful about preserving any of the broom plants I harvested from. 

               

After bringing my broom bounty home, I separated the blossoms from the green stems. It was painstaking, but worth it. I placed the blossoms in an enameled pot, and the stems and leaves went into a vintage enameled pot with cracked enamel and rusty spots. I love this rusty old pot for adding iron to dye baths; and I chose it for the stems so it would hopefully enrich the green tones.

It took a good couple of days to really being out the broom's color into the dye bath, particularly the yellow in the flowers. I found that slow and low were best here; of i had a slow cooker devoted to dyeing, I would have opted to use that. Same went for imparting the dye to the fibers; a good amount of time over medium low heat, plus a day or two of rest in the dye, yielded beautiful results. 

               


 My favorite thing about dyeing with the yellow broom blossoms (besides the beautiful creamy yellow yarn) was the smell! I did this dyeing at our home, and the whole kitchen smelled like honeysuckle blossoms, but earthier. The yarn has the same smell as well, I can't stop huffing it.

               


The green pot turned out okay, perhaps less green than I'd hoped; but I still managed to achieve a nice yellow-green color. I think next time I'll use an iron mordant, and see what difference that makes. 

               

Overall, I loved dyeing with broom. I can't wait to get my hands on more of it!

Welcome to my New Blog!

I decided to set up a space where I can talk about my personal work, which includes my knitting, spinning, dyeing, weaving... Basically, anything fiber related. I love working with wool and other fibers, transforming a pile of fluff in to yarn, teasing color out of plants, and creating fabrics that are knit or woven with care. Materials matter to me, and I'm often in search of good sources of local, ethical, or otherwise sustainably produced fiber or yarns.

I hope you enjoy my work!