loomKnit Purl now carries looms! After much research (we were definitely swayed by Knitty’s glowing review) we’ve started stocking 20″ Knitter’s Looms, made in New Zealand by Ashford. I have personally been fascinated with weaving ever since seeing a customer’s scarf created with hand-dyed yarns in my early days at Knit Purl. When I realized that Ravelry has a section full of woven projects, my fascination intensified ten-fold. Though I’ll always love the body-hugging stretch of knit fabric, I welcome the chance to create more stable woven fabric for items like bags, pillows, wraps, and placemats.


Perhaps the greatest appeal of weaving for me, however, is the opportunity to play with color in a new way. Have you ever been besotted with a variegated yarn in the skein, only to watch it knit up into a blotchy mess? To my eyes, weaving blends and mellows wildly colorful yarns. When warp and weft are strikingly different colors, the fabric can be nearly iridescent. I’ve also seen amazing things done with slow striping yarns like Noro and with pooling warps, which align the colors in a yarn across the width of a piece. Best of all? None of these effects require a huge, complex loom—they’re all perfectly suited to a simple and portable rigid heddle loom like those at Knit Purl. If you’re curious how it all works, Ashford has a video covering the basics. Or come by the store and try our floor model yourself! We’re starting a scarf on our loom (and we’ll be sure to share the results). What will you make?

This is the second post in our series about cables! Be sure to read the first one here.

Success with cables can rely partially on your personal arsenal of techniques and tools. Cable needles, which help you cross the stitches over each other, are often bent or U-shaped to help manipulate the stitches. Choose a cable needle close to or larger than the needles used in your project, as this will help the stitches retain their size and your gauge look even throughout. You can also use a short straight DPN or a Lantern Moon cable needle (it has awesome ridges for keeping your stitches from slipping).

KPCable1Here, I’m using an aluminum, U-shaped cable needle. Cables are often designated in a pattern by a special abbreviation. Be sure to check out your pattern’s legend to see which cable abbreviations mean which. The cable I’m showing (knit here on Stonehedge Fiber Mill’s Shepherd’s Wool Worsted) is a simple crossed cable over four stitches, with a left lean. It might be abbreviated as C2F (cable two front). This means that you slip two stitches to the cable needle and hold the needle in front. Then you knit the next two stitches with your standard needle—then knit the stitches from the cable needle to make the cross.


KPCable3I usually prefer to cable without a cable needle, as I tend to find the addition of even a short double-point distracting and fiddly. This technique, originally popularized by this blog’s tutorial, is especially handy on smaller cables that cross one to four stitches. If you’re knitting larger cables, a cable needle is generally a better choice to keep you from dropping moving stitches.

To cable without a cable needle, you want to have sharp tipped needles, so that you can slide the stitches around easily. If your tips are too blunt you’re going to spend a lot of time poking at stitches, trying to get them back on the needle. (This is also relative to your yarn choice and the cables’ complexity. I am using a slightly blunter needle, but I’m also using a worsted weight yarn.) Here’s how to do a C2F cable without a cable needle:

KPCable4First, you’ll knit up to the cable. My cable is flanked by two purl stitches, so I moved the yarn to the back of the work to prep for the cable. Since typically the next two stitches would be held on the cable needle, just skip them, and knit the next two stitches.

KPCable5This is where it gets a little tricky. You need to move the stitches around to make the cross, using both needles. Using the left-hand needle, come in front to put both of the held stitches (the ones that have not been knit) onto the left needle.

KPCable6Then, gently slip the two stitches that are on the right-hand needle off, allowing the held stitches to properly align (giving them a little room). Put them back on so that you can now knit the two stitches on the left-hand needle, completing the cross:




KPCable9For a C2B (cable two back), the process is similar, but the yarn indicates which stitches are held a little easier. You will skip the stitches like before, but keep the yarn in front. Knit the next two stitches as normal.

KPCable10Then, move your left-hand needle around to the back and pick up the two held stitches with the left-hand needle.

KPCable11Slide the right hand needle out of those stitches and the already-worked ones, then put the already-worked stitches back on the right hand needle.

KPCable12You can now knit the two unworked stitches on the left-hand needle as usual, completing the C2B cross.


KPCable14While this might seem trickier at first, it saves you time when working large cable motifs like sweaters. You can follow along on your chart without needing extra tools for those smaller cables (like those featured on the front of the Brooklyn Tweed Crosby pullover!). Practice makes perfect, so if you find yourself needing extra help, check out some of these sources:

Knitting Help – Cables without a Cable Needle

Ysolda – Technique Thursday, Cables without a Cable Needle



The Exeter cardigan is a stunning example of cables!

The Exeter cardigan is a stunning example of cables!

Whether they’re found stalking the runways, adorning an actress, or climbing along the edge of a sock, cables seem to be everywhere season after season. Cable knitting, one of the most instantly recognizable and visually impressive techniques for knitters to learn, is much easier than it seems. If you’re able to follow a chart, count, and have a fairly good grip on your needles, you can do it. Especially armed with a few facts, tips, and tricks for easy cable execution.

Before we start talking about how to make cables, let’s talk about the why and how of these intertwined design elements. Believed to have developed somewhere around the 20th century in Ireland, cable knitting was a way to adorn sweaters with notes about the person wearing them. (See this interesting wikipedia entry for more notes on aran sweaters, a fascinating knitting history subject!) Originally, many of these sweaters were made in lanolized wools that would help keep out the cold and wet of the sea while fishing and trading. Now, you’ll see aran and cable patterns adorning garments of all sizes and varieties. That said, yarn choice is important to the overall look of your cable pattern. Here are some examples of how a yarn choice might influence your pattern.


Alpaca and alpaca blends, like the swatch above knit in Shibui Maai, often blur or soften cables with the slightly raised fibers, making complex stitch patterns disappear in their halo. That said, alpaca naturally has a lot of drape, and Maai is a cabled yarn, which lends some definition that standard alpaca would not have and creates a lofty, luxurious fabric. Since cable-adorned fabrics do not easily stretch (due to the crossing-over of stitches used to form them), drapier fibers can rely on cables for structure.

In contrast, the other swatch is knit with Sincere Sheep Equity Fingering, a two-ply Rambouillet merino yarn. The extra ply and simple structure with this yarn, combined with the lack of halo, creates a rustic and bouncy cable that will help complex patterns shine.

Compare these two with the third pattern, knit in Stonehedge Fiber Mill’s Shepherd’s Wool, which shows off the cable in even, clear stitches. Smooth yarns like Shepherd’s Wool are wonderful for a variety of cable patterns, even the more complex ones.

Will your cables be soft and luxurious? Precise and exact? Or somewhere in between? Join us as we move through some notes, tips, and techniques about cables in this short blog series, next time tackling how to cable with — and without — a cable needle.


KPTut_SR_1There are so many methods for shaping knit fabrics, and designers seem to use them all! Short rows, perhaps one of the most common ways to create three-dimensional shape in a knitted fabric, are found in patterns for everything from hats to shawls to sweaters. While there are many methods for making short rows, perhaps the most frequently used is a method involving wrapped stitches that are then picked up later in the work.

“Wrap & turn” is a phrase that strikes fear into many a knitterly heart, but it doesn’t have to be! Understanding how short rows work and how to make them easily and effectively can help this multi-step process go more pleasantly, and we’re here to help with a quick tutorial. I cast on with some Shibui Staccato as the base color, and will be using some Shibui Pebble to illustrate how short rows create curves in fabric. First, I knit a few inches in simple stockinette stitch.

KPTut_SR_2Most short rows use a numbered spacing method—with the same or a similar number of stitches between each “gap” or pair of turned stitches. For my short rows, I will be grouping the stitches in pairs and working the short rows on only the wrong side of the fabric. First, I start by purling all of the stitches across until I only have three left on the left-hand needle. One will be my “wrapped” stitch, and the other two will not be worked.

KPTut_SR_3When purling, the yarn is in the front of the work. To wrap the stitch, I move the yarn to the back of the work, as if I was going to knit the next stitch:

KPTut_SR_4KPTut_SR_5But instead of knitting, I slip the next stitch (I slip purlwise, generally), and then turn the work completely around. This is the “turn” part of the wrap & turn—the wrap part occurs when you bring the yarn back to the back of the work to begin knitting the stitches. You’ll see the green strand of Pebble “wrapping” the Ivory Staccato, and you can see an example of the Staccato wrapping the Pebble below it.


KPTut_SR_7The next part is easy. You see how in the image above, gaps and pairs start to form? These will help you figure out which stitches you’ve worked, even when using all one color (and not stripes, like in these pictures.) Keep mind of your gaps and pairs, and you’ll never get lost in short rows. You can even count them to determine how many wraps & turns you’ve performed:

KPTut_SR_8After you’ve worked all your short rows, it’s time to go back and pick up the wraps. You always pick up a wrap on the same side of the fabric that you were on when you made it. That means we’ll be picking up our wraps on the purl side.

Work the stitches until you come to your first wrapped stitch. You’ll see where it is because the “bump” surrounding the purl stitch will be slightly large, and if you lift that bump you’ll see that the stitch looks like it has two bumps stacked, like in the left stitch in this green wrap & turn pair (see how it is wrapped with Staccato?)

KPTut_SR_9Next, you’re going to pick up the wrap and work it! You do this by inserting the right-hand needle into the wrap:

KPTut_SR_10And then lifting it onto the left-hand needle, where you’ll purl it together with the original stitch!

KPTut_SR_11Do this all the way to the end of your row, and watch how the fabric forms a curved shape caused by the short rows.

KPTut_SR_12Sometimes wrap & turn short rows aren’t the prettiest choice for colorwork because they show the lifted stitches on the front; but in a solid fabric they’re quite invisible, especially after a few rows of fabric or an edging are added on.


Ready to get going on some wraps & turns of your own? How about starting with Jet Stream, a pattern from Heidi Kirrmaier –  it would be lovely in Alpha B Sexy B! I’m partial to Teal Me, myself.


Especially at the height of knitting season, the world around me seems to settle into a constant state of blur. Timelines, deadlines, due dates—they rush forwards and then past, being fulfilled and crossed off the planner, pages turning like a flip book, the margins animated with notations and ideas. The knitting of samples, swatches, patterns, projects, speeds by almost as quickly. Sometimes this is okay. A project rapidly off the needles provides some sense of satisfaction, especially if I can wear it sooner. Lately, though, I have been thinking of slower knitting.

You may have heard of the “slow food” or “slow living” movements, through which people are taking a breather in their busy lives and re-evaluating. Fewer ingredients. Fewer belongings. Simple food, simple beauty, simple lives. It’s a return to the past. After all, didn’t our ancestors come up with all of this technology, all of these inventions, to make life easier? So why has it become so difficult to set aside time for ourselves, our families, our interests? We seem busier than ever.

I propose a return to the slower cycle of all things knitting. I plan on taking my cues from fiber animals, whose fleeces follow a year-long journey, culminating in a shearing, a carding, a spinning, a yarn.

In this same way, I will choose my fibers carefully and thoughtfully, selecting a project not for it’s expediency or end product, but simply to make something beautiful. I will muse over the stitches, taking pleasure in the beauty of yarn passing through my fingers to become something new. No longer will I fear a long project, or blocking, or trying a new technique. I will do this for the enjoyment of the process as much as for the project.

I vow to take time each day simply to enjoy the act of knitting—all too often, I find myself absorbed instead with a task within the task, knitting while waiting or doing something else. I will add in time just for the knitting itself.

In these simple, quiet moments, I will rediscover the meditative quality of wool and needles.



Portland has quite a few pumpkin patches nearby. Many of them with hayrides and (haunted) corn mazes, and plenty of hot cider and kettle corn.


Usually, they’re not in season until we start to see rain, and they can get kind of mucky. I happened to go after a particularly rainy week; there was plenty of mud, and subsequent mold, to be found.


This particular patch was quite busy on a Saturday morning, with a lot of enthusiastic hunters out in search of the perfect pumpkin.


After rolling over a lot of too big and too gnarled pumpkins, I found just the one: small, round, and ideal for not carving. I love carving pumpkins, but I love not carving them just as much.


Right now, this guy is on display with some other wild-looking gourds, keeping our table company through fall.

an impressive spread from the Hopeless Housewife blog

an impressive spread from the Hopeless Housewife blog

Have you ever watched one of those Halloween movies, where everyone gets together for a big party, dressed in costume? The houses are decked out in spooky skeletons, ghosts and cobwebs, and there is always a massive table, laden with caramel apples, bat-shaped cookies and a bubbling cauldron of a punch bowl. Growing up, I wanted so badly for these excessive parties to be realities — and almost as soon as the first day of October rolls around on my desk calendar, I hope that somehow, this will be the year to make them so.

While I regret to admit that there is no ghoulish bash being penciled into my 2014 desk calendar, I still want to get into the Halloween spirit by picking up a pair of needles (wooden stakes, if you prefer) and yarn in festive colors! I pulled a few of my favorite patterns from Ravelry to share with you.


If you have a year like mine where you can plan ahead, think about making an Owls sweater! This seasonal pullover is great throughout fall and winter, but especially spooky around Halloween time. In a chunky yarn, it works up pretty quickly, and half the fun is finding buttons. There’s also a child-sized version called Owlet that would be squishy and warm in Swans Island Bulky.


Did you know that Portland is ranked as one of the Top 3 Cities for Trick-or-Treating in the US? With many events throughout the city and a variety of family friendly neighborhoods to stroll, it’s no wonder that the streets of Portland are often filled with costumed children begging door to door! (Check out this list of events for some ideas.) Since Beggar’s Night can often be a chilly evening, think about taking some festive mittens along, like these Candy Corn Stranded Mittens from Emily Elizabeth, or Adrian Bazilia’s Pirate Mittens.


It’s easy to turn a favorite hat pattern into something Halloween-themed. I love the idea of knitting Stephen West’s Botanic Hat in Paprika and Eggplant Forage! Get the kids in on the fun (even ones too little to wear a costume or ring doorbells) with the festive Candy Corn Hat by Sarah Sagaser.

Of course, any kiddo’s end goal is to come tromping home with a treasure trove of candy. But who says you have to have something store-bought to carry it home in? Think long term with the Hocus Pocus Trick or Treat Bag pattern from Thea Eschliman. As soon as you get it out each year, you’ll know it’s Halloween! After all, tradition is what makes each and every holiday fun.



I recently visited my dad in Wallowa County, where I was born and lived until around 11 years old. Wallowa County is the very northeastern county of Oregon. It’s remote, high in elevation, and beautiful. The first time I took my husband to visit the county he called it Little Scandinavia, because of the picturesque alpine peaks and pastoral farmlands.

596Photo courtesy Wallowa County Chamber of Commerce

Wallowa county has always been somewhat self-reliant. Because of its distance from any metropolitan center or robust supply chain, coupled with a recalcitrant attitude towards big box stores and chains (Subway is the only chain restaurant in the entire county), Wallowa locals have always grown a lot of their own food. This trip back to my birthplace was especially interesting because the slow food and locavore trends are making a big impact in the county. I ate at the newly revamped Lostine Tavern, a local tavern that was recently crowd-funded to turn it into a farm-to-table eatery headed by Chef Lynn Curry.


Across the street from the LT I visited the Lostine Community Marketplace, a shop selling local handcrafts, from quilts and homespun yarn, to slingshots, pickles, and pottery. The Community Marketplace is staffed in volunteer shifts by those who sell their wares through it. I especially admired a collection of vintage hats on display and the tiny wood-burning stove.


The store was started by my “Auntie” June, an ideas-woman whose current project is using native plants to dye handspun yarns and fleece from her specially bred flock of Targee-Wensleydale sheep. The wool from this breed has a long staple, with no “prickle factor,” and a wavy crimp. I visited her home studio and got to bring an undyed skein still smelling of lanolin home with me.


Kitty-corner from the Community Marketplace is M. Crow & Co. General Store. I grew up buying penny candies here. The General Store has also recently changed owners and received a facelift. Now along with the same popsicles and Jiffy Pop popcorn from my childhood, you can buy Filson workwear and handcrafted wooden furniture. Three nice attractions, with a focus on local goods, in a town of 275 people. Lostine is hopping!


I also attended the Wallowa Harvest Fest on the Nez Perce Homeland grounds where my sister, dad, and I pressed five gallons of apple cider from apples we had gathered the previous day. We also picked out pumpkins for Jack-O-Lanterns and a few dozen duck eggs to bring back to Portland with us. It was a good visit to a place where “shop local” isn’t just a buzzword, but a way of life.

I’m not the most adventurous knitter. I like to experiment, but generally I stick (somewhat) close to a pattern. I need the guidance.

That said, I love swatching and designing, both of which involve a lot of free knitting. But being inspired by so many other knitters and designers, I’m not completely without that guidance.

We’ve been thinking of ways that we like to deviate from the written word a little around the store, in little ways, and in dramatic ways. Some examples we’ve come up with are changing stripe arrangements, adding colors, adding shaping, and using our experience to go off on our own a little bit.


Some of my recent experiments include the Encadre, by Julie Hoover. I altered the MC and CC in the colorwork section, and started knitting the second half first.


With Shibui’s Cliff sweater, I had difficulty getting the bottom ribbing to be tight enough, so I used smaller needles, a 2×2 rib, and a single color. It’s still a little loose, but much better. I also changed the neck ribbing to i-cord.


I started knitting Hannah Fettig’s Wispy cardi, and decided I wanted it to be a shrug. I added Cima to my Linen, and knit in garter stitch in the round for a cozy shrug that made an appearance at a summer wedding.


This hat is based on a mitten pattern Alexis Winslow designed for Brooklyn Tweed. (She’ll be here for a book signing November 1 from 2–5—you should come!) It was intended for a fingering weight; but with a little math,  I changed it to a worsted-weight hat. It’s super warm, and I don’t get to wear it enough!


Linda knit her Skipping Dots using our suggestions, but added a little purple stripe for that extra pop of color.

Two of the patterns feature in our newsletter this month,  Dessine-moi un mouton and Lucky No. 7, we did a little experimenting with stripe sequencing in our samples, too.

For the Lucky No. 7, Keli decided to use Swans Island Fingering instead of any of the recommended yarns, because it’s so wonderfully soft and she loves the natural colors. Searching the projects on Ravelry, she found 2 people who had worked the pattern in that yarn: one inspired her to use the lighter Natural colorway as the contrast color, and the other inspired her to use just one skein of each color to make an abbreviated cowl. Our sample knitter decided to knit the cowl with 14-row stripes of the main color, because she liked that the wider spacing made the white stripes look less busy.

For the French sweater, we knew we wanted to show off the Geilsk Wool Cotton, but we thought we’d go understated by picking just a few colors instead of knitting a whole rainbow of stripes. We laid out all the colors on the table and grouped those that looked especially nice together, finally settling on greens and neutrals. Again, Keli turned to Ravelry to check if anyone had worked the pattern with a dark main color.
We found this project in colors very similar to those we had just picked and thought it looked fabulous. To arrange the stripes, she scanned other projects on Ravelry to see what worked best, deciding that she liked the sweater most when the lower 3 stripes were very subtle and the most eye-catching stripes fell above the bust line. From there, Keli mixed the colors around a little to give the stripes a fun, random feel.

How have you been playing with your patterns?


I grew up on a small farm from about the age of 7 to 18. We had a beautiful garden, fruit trees, and a small collection of animals. My parents taught my sister, brother, and I many valuable tasks. However, one of the few things I didn’t learn was canning. How I missed, this I’m not sure, but I think it may have had something to do with the Super Nintendo that entered the family around age 13. Isn’t Donkey Kong the best?

Canning, right! Let’s get back to the subject, shall we?

Spicy pickles! That’s what I chose for my first canning extravaganza—a family recipe from my dear friend Heidi. The following recipe yields 10-12 jars.

What you’ll need
My dear friend Heidi  (or a sidekick of your choosing)
12 1-Quart Canning Jars
5–6 Pickling Cucumbers Per Jar
1–2 Garlic Heads
1 Fresh Dill Plant
1–3 Tsp Cayenne Per Jar
1–3 Serrano Peppers Per Jar (optional)
Large Canning Pot with Jar Dividers
Canning Tongs

Pickling Solution
10 Cups White Vinegar
10 Cups Water
1 Cup Canning Salt


I was told to put my glass jars through the hot and light loud option of my dishwasher, lids off. This way your jars are hot when you pack them and transfer them to the hot water. It’s less likely the glass will burst.


Clean the cucumbers. Prepare the canning liquid and heat to a low simmer, not boiling. Heat your large pot of water (with dividers) to boiling. Pack your hot canning jars with one head of dill, 1–3 garlic cloves, 1–3 tsp cayenne, 5-6– cucumbers and a couple hot peppers.


Next, carefully fill each jar with the steaming hot vinegar mixture to just about 1/4″ from the top of the jar. Screw each lid on just tight enough, but not too tight! Carefully drop these beauties into the boiling water between your jar dividers and cover with the lid for exactly 8–10 minutes. Pull out each jar using your handy dandy canning tongs when the time is up!


Lastly, place your jars in a clean, cool, dark, dry place and wait ever so patiently until it’s time to pop the lid and give them a taste. I think 3 weeks is the minimum to wait. My husband would tell you two weeks…. But his patience level for spicy pickles is slim to none!


Canning is much easier and faster than I thought it would be. There will definitely be more canning in my future. Hopefully with my mom! I so appreciate all her beautifully stacked glass jars I remember seeing in our cellar so much more now.