Sunday, June 28, 2015

Blurred Lines Bandana Style Shawlette from Yarn & Stitches--Day 5

For Whom?

It’s not hard to see where this is going.  The sections are repeating themselves.  In many ways, that’s good—familiar territory makes for stress free knitting.  I’m at a conference, absorbing new material, pausing here and there to write down important notes and ideas, and I like an easy knitting task for this situation.  I like that everyone knows I’ll be knitting—nay, expects me to be knitting—in a lecture setting.  I break out my old lines: 

Knitting is socially acceptable fidgeting.”

I’m not knitting because you are boring me—I’m knitting so I can pay better attention to you.

Everyone here gets it.  Still, I am a speaker/author by profession, and I take extra care to let the person at the podium know I’m connecting with him or her.  Smiles, nods, taking notes—all these things are how a well-mannered knitter lets her teacher know attention is indeed being paid.

I like the pattern.  It’s just the right balance between intriguing new stitches and repetition—engaging, but not overwhelming; simple, but not boring.  I can see there’s a brand new stitch coming at the end, and I’m looking forward to it as a gratifying finale.  The yarn has a nice spring and a pleasant texture.

But I’ll be perfectly honest:  I can’t get past the colorway.  Not many things in life feel “too young” for me, but this project will likely find its way to a little girl in my life.  I like pink, but I definitely skew toward the lighter, more pastel pinks.  And I do like rich, vibrant purples.  I just can’t get myself to embrace the combination here.

Thats the thing about knitting, however--I don’t have to.  My knitting never has to be all about me.  I can enjoy the process even if the product doesn't turn out to be my cup of tea.  

Sure, this may never grace my neck (although, to be fair, I refuse to pass judgement until this is blocked), I have NO doubt whatsoever that life will shortly introduce me to someone for whom it is absolutely perfect.  It happened with my whimsical cow bag.  It’s happened numerous times.

So for now, I just keep stitching in happy anticipation of discovering who that someone will be.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Blurred Lines Bandana Style Shawlette from Yarn & Stitches--Day 4

Are the lines really blurred?

Ah, purple.  My eyes feel glad to have a gentler color, if darker, color to knit.  

I have to confess to a few misgivings, however, on the color change. In many of Vice’s colorways, the shift between colors is gradual and flowing.  Here, I feel like we were traveling down Pink Street and just made a hard left onto Purple Avenue.  Some of that may be due to the size of the rows—the shift between pink hues at the very top where the rows were shorter is more gradual.  Down here in section 5, it’s closer to self-striping.  And rebellious little blotches of purple show up before I want them to, as if they’re cutting in line. My, but I seem to be generous with my similes and metaphors today!

I have knitted long enough to know that what I feel now may not be what I feel later.  I have had doubts about works-in-progress before, only to be thrilled with the completed project.  It’s just the same in my writing—the middle is no place to pass judgement on an effort.

One thing I do know for sure is how VERY glad I am to have Continental Style knitting in my toolbox while I’m doing all this switching back and forth between knits and purls.  This would be tortuously tedious in American Style.  Just like in ribbing, alternating knits and purls go much faster in Continental.  Yes, it takes a bit of effort to learn.  I went to a class to force myself, even though I knew the basic concept.  Next time you do color work, ribbing, moss or seed stitch, however, you will be glad you can knit Continental Style.  Think of it like learning a new software program—hard at first, but with a gratifying payoff.  

See? There I go with the metaphors again.  You’d think I were a writer or something…

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Blurred Lines Bandana Style Shawlette from Yarn & Stitches--Day 3

Pink think...

OK, enough with the pink already.  

It’s a very enthusiastic pink.  Not that I’m against enthusiastic colors—I wear them frequently, and even have a favorite cardigan in a shade as bright as this.  

But I’ve been staring at it for days. When even the camera on my iPhone is having trouble containing the color, however, you know it’s bright.  Fuchsia, even.  Hot pink.  The color my mother used to refer to as “menopause pink” although she never really explained why.  I can only assume that it’s vibrancy made it a favorite of women of a “certain age.”  A google search turned up a lot of interesting—and several disturbing—hits, but nothing to explain this phrase.

I was ecstatic, then, to spy the purple section of the yarn coming up.

Section 4 returns us to the YO-K2TOG pattern, and I can see that alternating these two stitch patterns is what is going to make up most of this shawlette.  The extremely detailed and clear directions—along with the smaller size—make this a good project for a novice knitter.  You’ll get a nice piece, as we'll as three new stitch patterns for your toolbox, in not too long a time.  And when you get to the inevitable endless finale of top-down shawl rows, it shouldn’t be too tedious—hopefully.  If you are a novice knitter, I would definitely suggest starting with the lighter color first, so that you can see the stitches clearly.  New stitch patterns are always a bit more difficult with a darker yarn.

Next up, we’ll see how the color change goes.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

June Readers Who Knit: Susan Lutz Kenyon

It’s time to meet our Readers Who Knit for June.  DestiKNITters, meet Susan Lutz Kenyon.

Susan tells me she crocheted this necklace!
Susan, whats on your needles right now?
I just finished a jacket from Sally Melvilles book, The Purl Stitch.  Using size 13 needles I knit with one boucle yarn and one chenille together.  It was finished a while ago but when I went to sew it together, I noticed a mistake with one sleeve and had to re-knit it. 

What feels like your favorite/greatest knitting accomplishment?
Learning to knit.  I taught myself to crochet in 1967 and am a charter member of Crochet Guild of America.  In 2002 I decided to learn to knit because my aunt, who had knit for me, my children, and grandchildren, was in her 90s. I wanted to show her her legacy would go forward.  Continental knitting works best for me.

What feels like the worst knitting mistake/foible/wrong choice youve ever made?
The first sweater I knit was, again, from a Sally Mellville book, The Knit Stitch.  I love the sweater but, according to the pattern, the right and left fronts are each a different length and each is different from the back length.  When I tell people this is the first sweater I knit, they usually say oooooh as that explains the uneven lengths.  I feel I should carry a picture of the pattern to show I knit it correctly but I just laugh.

Straight or circular needles?  

Metal or wood needles? 
Mostly metal but it depends on the yarn.

White chocolate, milk chocolate, or dark chocolate? 
White Chocolate

Coffee or tea? 
I drink decaf green tea every morning.  I do like decaf coffee once in a while.

Whats your favorite Allie novel? 
A Heart to Heal.  This book felt personal to me for several reasons.  I have a scar from my knee to my ankle on my left leg from a fire when I was three years old. When I was in elementary school, girls couldnt wear slacks to school so I was teased.   Currently I knit and crochet for Project Linus servicing kids in crisis. I also started a prayer shawl group at my church.

What are you reading now? 
Girl Three by Tracy March and also All by My Selves by Jeff Dunham who is a very talented ventriloquist.

Do you have a favorite knitting character from a book, movie, or television show (Allie books not included)?
Casting Off by Nicole R. Dickson is a fiction story about a woman who goes to Ireland to research a book on Irish knitting.  The back of the book says it has characters as complex and beautiful as the Irish sweaters at the heart of the story.  I absolutely agree.

Give a shout out to your favorite local yarn store:
Three Bags Full
1927 Cherry Lane
Northbrook, IL

(The store was featured in this DestiKNITions post if you’d like to know more)

Thanks to DestiKNITions and Cascade Yarns, Susan gets some nice goodies for being featured, including a copy of Saved by the Fireman, a Cascade Totebag, and ten hanks of Cascade 220 in Azalea.  Her friend gets a copy of Bluegrass Courtship, too.  

If you'd like to be featured, send an email to for application information.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Blurred Lines Bandana Style Shawlette from Yarn & Stitches--Day 2

Seed vs. Moss...

 Section three gives us a straightforward patch of K1,P1.  Essentially, you are alternating the knits and purls so that knits stack on top of purls and purls stack on top of knits.  The result is a bumpy texture that offers nice contrast to the smooth stockinette of section one and the open texture of section two—each separated by a “line” of garter stitch.  Since you’re swapping back and forth between knits and purls, this goes much faster in Continental style knitting—another benefit to being “ambikniterous.” While the designer does not name it as such, I have always thought of this stitch as the “Seed Stitch.”  

This got me thinking about seed stitch vs. moss stitch—I have always thought them interchangeable, but are they really?  High time to find out, so I did a little research.  

a black-and-white shot so you can really see texture
Seed stitch” is universally recognized as knits on top of purls and purls on top of knits, alternating every row, giving us the flexible but bumpy texture we see here.  It’s also identical on both right and wrong sides.

“Moss stitch" is close or identical—depending upon the American or British versions.  American moss stitch is different; it goes in two-row alternations. You stack knits-on-knits and purls-on-purls for two rows, then switch for the next two rows.  The effect is that your “bumps” are two rows high rather than one.  

Brits are simpler: British moss stitch is identical to seed stitch.  So, when a pattern calls for moss or seed, you ought to take a minute and consider the source material’s country of origin so you know what’s expected.   That being said, the difference is slight enough that I can’t imagine lives would be at stake should you misinterpret.

In either case, these stitches have some admirable virtues.  
  • they can add density and durability—especially useful for sock heels!  
  • they are reversible  
  • as we learned in the Celtic Princess scarf, they are very useful as a non-curling border

Here, though, they create a lovely contrast to both stockinette and more complicated stitch patterns.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Blurred Lines Bandana Style Shawlette from Yarn & Stitches--Day 1

Yeah, yeah, I know—Miley Cyrus’ twerking ruined it for all of us.  The words “blurred lines” have been forever associated with Robin Thicke’s catchy-yet-nasty tune and the phrase “what rhymes with hug me?”

Me, I’m much more fond of this cleaned-up-but-just-as-catchy version showcased on The Sing-off by University of Kentucky’s AcoUstiKats.  Just try not to smile and bob while you listen to this:

Given the nature of the fiber’s color way—long color changes slowly transforming through a series of three of four hues throughout the cake—the name makes sense.  Blurred Lines comes in a variety of weights so you can avail yourself of these lush colors for a variety of projects.  For this shawlette, I’m using a sport weight version that confines itself from pink to purple and back again.

Which posed a quandary:  Start with pink or start with purple?  Practically, it meant either pull from the center or the outside (I appreciate that they gave me that choice, by the way)?  After some thought, I decided it would be easier to match the purple with other clothing so I chose to start with pink and end with purple.  Being a “winter” in my coloring, having the bright pink next to my face didn’t pose a problem.  Give some thought to this as you choose your own cake.

This was my third time attempting the garter tab start for a top down shawl, and now that I understand the concept more clearly I met with greater success.  

Section One—the project is divided into seven sections, perfect for Chunky Method knitting—comprises a very basic stockinette to get you started.  Section Two wields yarn-overs to give you a fishnet feel but still with easy stitching.  From my cake, I didn’t see a color change until much later, so that provided a bit of anticipation to keep me going.  

Off to a bright start indeed!

Sunday, June 7, 2015

DALLAS, TX - Day Two

Dallas delights even more...

What’s for breakfast day two of our Dallas adventure?  More baked goods, of course.  In this case head for:

Stein’s Bakery
12829 Preston Rd, Ste 417
Dallas, TX 75230
(972) 385-9911

Dallas’ oldest bakery, Stein’s boasts D Magazine’s rating for “best chocolate cake.”  And their chocolate mousse cake certainly looks like it deserves the accolades.  Today, however, we’re here for another of their specialties—the petit fours.  You just don’t see these around much anymore.  They remind me of elegant, vintage tea parties, things Jane Austin would admire.  Really when was the last time you even had a petit fours, much less a splendid one like these from Stein’s?  There’s just something…dare I say…dainty about them that makes you feel refined, even if you are stuffing one in your mouth for breakfast.  Or six. Yes, gov’nor, I believe I’ll take six for breakfast.  I’ll eat them in the carriage as we go. (They do make excellent car noshing!)

Make sure you lick all that frosting off your fingers before you go touching yarns at our next stop:

Yarn & Stitches
You know a store literally rescued by loyalty will be a special place.  Current Owner Hope Logan came to Yarn & Stitches as a beginner student, just casting on a love of the craft.  When after fifteen years the store found itself in need of a new owner five years ago, Hope stepped up to the plate.   “It’s a lot of work, but we have the best customer base.  The people here are so nice.”

“Nice” is usually that word one saves up for mediocre dates, but in this case “nice” really applies.  There’s a friendly, homey vibe that makes you comfortable from the moment you walk in the door.  I was pleased to see so many young people (I’ve sworn to get a t-shirt made that reads “I was knitting before it was cool”) shopping and sharing during my visit.  

Some of the classes—which are structured in open and ongoing groups—have been meeting together for fifteen years!  I’m finding more and more shops who are transforming their class offerings from the project-focused model to open, all-level, all-project pay-as-you-go “help desk” models.  It makes sense for those of us with hectic lifestyles.  Still, if you’ve an itch to up your sock game, Yarn & Stitches boasts one of the best sock-knitting teachers in the area.  Not to mention all the inter-student help that happens in classes like this.  Friends and fiber all in one shot—brilliant.

Hope stocks the store by instinct, “I buy what catches my eye.”  And she’s got a good one.  The store has the basics we all need, plus some inventive new fibers.  What I liked most was the “Project of the Month—check the website to see recent offerings.  It’s no surprise it’s been one of the store’s most successful efforts in recent years.  I’m always admiring stores that have embraced the new possibilities the digital age has brought to knitting.

There were lots of projects to choose from, but here are a few I’d recommend:

EZ Poncha
Some projects are all about the yarn.  Take a simple stitch, rock it, and let the fiber and color do the rest.  This is the perfect project for “spring sports season,” that time of year when moms seem to spend every waking moment watching their offspring compete. Or practice.  For hours.  With a piece like this, you can keep your eye on your boy keeping his eye on the ball while you churn out row upon row of lovely undulating stockinette color waves.  Any long-striping yarn will do, but two skeins of Vice’s lovely “Blurred Lines” fits the bill perfectly here.  Easy, peasy, stylish.

Color Block Bias Wrap
Drama always has its place in knitting.  I love bold, dramatic projects.  This shawl takes two skeins each of three different colors of Crystal Palace Chalet (for a total of six skeins).  Possessing enough drape to keep it elegant, but with enough loft to keep it cozy, this piece could go from dress pants to jeans with ease.  A smart travel piece, and a statement shawl when you need one (and I always need one).

Atlanta Mesh Top
Another offering from Tahki’s latest city-named selection of patterns, this top uses 8 50g skeins of Tahki Tandem for a bold and clever garment.  Just the thing to dress up a cami and jeans.  Any teenager or young adult I know would love getting one of these.  It packs great, too—so it’s a good beach vacation piece.

Girasole Shawl
Talk about your show-stoppers—this pattern is a stunner.  If you make it in a worsted weight yarn, this is actually more of an afghan.  Do it in a laceweight—even a long stripe or tweed—and this is a spectacular shawl.  It’ll take at least a 40 inch circular, but isn’t it worth it?  I’d need to throw a party when I bound off the last stitch of this masterpiece!

Knit A Long:  Blurred Lines Shawlette
Hope makes excellent use of Vice’s Blurred Lines super-long striped yarn (truly, only a few color swaps per skein) for this exclusive free-with-yarn-purchase pattern.  Shawlettes are handy pieces—just enough to throw over your shoulders or wrap like a bandana, but not so big and drapey you feel overdressed for the farmer’s market.  Nice and portable, too—Hope was kind enough to throw in a Walker mesh holder for my knitting adventure.

Once you’ve stocked up on yarn goodies, grab an authentic Mexican lunch at:

5000 Beltline Rd Ste 850
Dallas, TX 75254
(972) 866-8900

Tacos are the way to go here, although there is a wide menu.  My sources suggested the pork tacos, but after a friendly conversation, my server steered me toward the steak tacos—I’d never had one before.  Not being a spicy food fan, I’m always adventure-shy in Mexican cuisine, but in this case my bravery was well rewarded.  The food was perfectly done, in reasonable portions (not always easy to find these days) and with delicious sides.  I came away filled but not stuffed—something I truly appreciate.

Now we head down through the city to the fun and funky neighborhood known as the Bishop Arts District. This small, highly walkable set of streets has become my favorite part of the city so far. Here are a few of the reasons why:

Wild Detectives
314 W 8th St
Dallas, TX 75208
(214) 942-0108

First, it’s a bookstore and a bar and a coffeebar and a recordstore and a giftshop - what an awesome combination!  Second, the vibe is fun and friendly, not artsy and exclusive.  I walked in to a cry of “Hey, you made it for happy hour!” and wanted to stay for hours. Open most evenings, Monday afternoon, and Sunday brunch, I could easily spend a whole day in this place.  Their mission is to “curate experiences for you”—which could sound artsy and inaccessible, but trust me, the place is quirky and welcoming.  This is the perfect, focused opposite of a big-box book store; thoughtfully stocked to explore, not overwhelm.  Even their blog makes for great reading.  Booksignings, backyard film screenings, music, the events here sound like they could introduce you to your newest favorite anything.  Isn’t that what we all want in a place like this?

Dude, Sweet Chocolate
408 W 8th St  Suite 102
Dallas, TX 75208
(214) 943-5943
Yesterday’s chocolate spot was pretty and artful.  Today’s spot is quirky and inventive.  Come in here and leave your preconceptions behind—wild flavor adventures await you.  And they let you taste just about everything.  That’s smart, because how else would I have known how delicious “Albatross" blue cheese and sea salt chocolate is?  Head-spinning and unlikely flavor combinations make this place just plain fun. 

The whole neighborhood is filled with unique, artful shops you can wander for several hours. will show you them all, but I liked:

Society Home Decor
403 N Bishop Ave
Dallas, TX 75208
(214) 942-4600

Bishop Street Market
419 N Bishop Ave
Dallas, TX 75208
(214) 941-0907

Lockhart Smokehouse
400 W Davis St
Dallas, TX 75208
(214) 944-5521
My teenage son might argue barbecue is why God gave us Texas.  This place comes close to proving the theory.  If the scent alone doesn’t draw you in, the huge line out front should clue you in as to the loyal customers.  

It can be daunting to know what to order in a place like this, so I chatted up the guy in line next to us, who offered great advice.  “Go all out for the fatty brisket, and ribs.  And the slaw—you gotta have the slaw.”  There’s something so primally appealing about a get-it-under-your-fingernails kind of BBQ joint.  Really good stuff.  Leave your sense of nutrition in the car and just go for it—you’ll be glad.

Emporium Pies
314 N Bishop Ave
Dallas, TX 75208
(469) 206-6126

Nearly every person—and both yarn shops—told me to go here.  You know me and pie; I was excited.  So excited, in fact, that I went back THREE more times.  Truly wonderful.  
One night I simply had the massive “Lord of the Pies” apple slice as my dinner.   With ice cream and coffee, of course--a balanced meal.  Then I had the heavenly, caramelly Cloud Nine on another visit, and the splendid Limelight key lime another day for breakfast (their take-out presentation is simply adorable).  

We brought the exquisite Smooth Operator—a french silk chocolate pie with a pretzel crust—to a dinner at a friend’s house and became instant heroes.  Go.  More than once.  Eat them all.

There you have it.  A fun fest of fiber and food over two days exploring Dallas.  This is by no means all there is to do or knit—I’ll definitely have to come back and see more—but a great pair of days to make any DestiKNITter delighted with Dallas!