Thursday, May 30, 2013

Seattle Workshops

I'm coming to Seattle next month and will be teaching two workshops at my old stomping grounds, So Much Yarn!  

My recent design, Flow, includes lace knitting on both right and wrong sides, so I'm using it as the focus for an in-depth workshop on lace and how to do it on both sides.  

The other workshop is on finishing techniques.  Read more about both workshops here, and contact So Much Yarn to register.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

My Bicycle!

First off:

This is my bike!  Since I moved to the country last September, bicycling has become a part of my every day life.  I ride my bike almost every day because I have to get places like the grocery store, the bank, the yarn shop.  Though I started bicycling just because I needed some transportation and didn't want to drive a car, I've been surprised to discover that I actually really, really like riding my bike.  That's even more true since I got this new bike in early April.  I think it suits me perfectly.  (My wholehearted thanks go to Rob of Seattle Bike Supply for setting me up with this bike!)

This week we did a really fun photo shoot that included shots of me riding, so we took off my rack, water bottle cage, and all the other stuff that usually lives on the bike (including some neon orange duct tape that make me super high vis!).  With the bike so clean, it was the perfect time to take a few beauty shots.  

The bike is a Redline Metro Classic, and it's designed for commuting and light touring.  Mostly I commute just a few miles at a time on it, but I've also taken it on a bike camping trip, and it did really well loaded up.  The frame is steel, so it makes for a pretty comfortable ride, and there are plenty of gears to help get me up the significant number of hills we have around here.

Not only did Rob help me buy this bike, but he also made some modifications so it would fit me better. First, he switched out the handlebars to these more compact ones.  Since I'd been riding a bike with flat handlebars before, shortening the cockpit a bit made me feel a lot more comfortable.  He also switched out the seat post for a straight one for pretty much the same reason.

And he added these rad pedals!  I was told by some very enthusiastic local bike shop guys that they're way cooler than I realize because they're very old BMX pedals (like from the 80's).  I just like that they make the bike look tough, and the nasty bruises on my shins make me look tough too!

I recently got a new saddle since the stock one (shown in these pictures) was too narrow for my lady bum.  I even had my ass officially measured using an assometer.  (That's the technical term.)  And, thanks to my great local bike shop (Experience Cycling in Duncan), I got to ride around with a test saddle for a couple weeks.  It was very ugly, but riding with a wider saddle was kind of eye-opening.  It was great to be perched on my sit bones while riding!  The test saddle had almost no padding though, and while I didn't mind the firmness, I noticed that the backs of my thighs rubbed on either side, which took away from the experience.  Happily, the folks at the LBS had a slightly cushier version, the Specialized Jett Comp Gel saddle, which took care of that problem.  I haven't ridden very far with it yet, but so far, so good.

So now I am a very happy bicyclist.  Even after a couple months of ownership, every time I look at this bike I can't help but think about how beautiful it is.  Look at those slender tubes!  The clean, sensible geometry!  I'm sure it's obvious that I'm no expert on bikes, but I love this one.  

In case you're wondering about how I get my groceries, etc. with this bike, I do have a rear rack and I pretty much always carry around 
- one or two of these Basil baskets (also provided by Seattle Bike Supply).  I do occasionally have to carry more stuff than fits in the baskets (like on laundry day), so I also strap stuff to the rack using a bungee net.  
- my amazing adapted (orange!) handlebar bag by Jessie Kwak of Bicitoro (and wife of Rob from Seattle Bike Supply).  I don't carry it on my handlebars now that I have the drop kind, but it works great as a pannier, and if I'm carrying both baskets, it easily straps onto the back of one of them.  

Eventually I want to get a front rack so I can even my load out a bit, but for now, my system works.

Though I'm not very knowledgeable yet, I like talking about this stuff and would be happy to get bike-y questions and comments.  If I don't know the answer, I'll just ask Rob.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013


I recently discovered Leola's Studio.  It's just down the street from me, about fifteen minutes by bike, so  it's a bit shocking that it took me so long to stop in.  This incredible space is packed with looms and yarn, and weavers and knitters and people talking about weaving and knitting!  And, in the front of the studio there's a little section with local yarn and hand knitted and woven goods for sale.  By local, I mean that the goats live up the road, (Glenora is the name of their neighborhood) and the farmer and other creative types knit and weave right there in the studio.  Leola herself is very excited about working with and promoting Cowichan Valley fiber arts, so she invited me to design with a beautiful un-dyed mohair/wool blend from Eastwin Farm Angoras.  

The yarn has a beautiful, creamy color and creates a finished fabric with the softest, sweetest halo.  It isn't so fuzzy that it obscures lace stitch patterns; instead, it just feels cozy and elegant.  

I decided to design an unusual lace wrap.  It's as long as a standard scarf, and about as wide as one, but it has a lovely crescent shape, so it can be worn as a stole, draped around the shoulders or arms, or as a very voluminous scarf.  The stitch pattern includes a bit of cabling as well, so the texture is unexpected.  

I designed Glenora for two weights of yarn so it's extra versatile.  My local Eastwin Farm Angoras is a DK weight, and I used Rowan Kid Classic, a much-loved aran weight, for a slightly larger, thicker wrap.  (Special thanks to another local, Sian, for knitting the Kid Classic Sample!)

As is the case with most of my designs, the pattern includes written and charted instructions for the lace pattern, so you can use whichever you're more comfortable with.  (If you've always used line-by-line instructions, I suggest giving the charts a try.  Once you learn the symbols, it can be so much faster, more intuitive, and less prone to errors.  And of course, since the pattern includes both, you can always switch back to the written instructions if you find you really do like them better.)

I really appreciated getting to work with my local fiber arts community.  Leola herself will be at the 100 Mile Fleece and Fibre Sale this coming weekend, and she'll be bringing the Eastwin Farm yarn as well as hard copies of the pattern.

Pattern Info

Finished Measurements
DK (Aran) Weight Wingspan at cast on edge: 51.5 in/131 cm (58.5 in/148.5 cm)

DK Weight:: 500 yd/460 m yarn Shown in Eastwin Farm Angoras (75% Mohair, 25% Wool; 250 yd/230 m per 120g skein) Color: Un-dyed; 2 skeins
Note: Eastwin Farm Angoras is a small, independent farm located on Vancouver Island, BC. You can purchase this yarn at Leola's Studio near Duncan.

Aran Weight: 630 yd/576 m yarn
Shown in Rowan Kid Classic (70% Wool, 26% Mohair, 4% Nylon; 153 yd/140 m per 50g skein) Color: #876 Drought; 5 skeins

Gauge DK Weight: 17 sts/29 rows = 4 in/10 cm in Lace Pattern 2
Aran Weight: 15 sts/25 rows = 4 in/10 cm in Lace Pattern 2

Needles & Notions* Needle Sizes are recommendations only. Always use needle size necessary to obtain gauge.
DK Weight: US #6/4.00 mm* 60 in/152 cm circular needle

Aran Weight: US #8/5.00 mm* 60 in/152 cm circular needle

tapestry needle
place markers

working lace using charted or written instructions, increasing

Friday, May 17, 2013

Back Road Scarf

I'm on a roll this summer with Knitscene.  This year's Accessories issue is now available download and for print pre-order, including one of my designs!  Back Road Scarf is a generous, wide scarf with a delicate (and easy) crocheted edging.  I even wrote a tutorial for the edging for the magazine, so even if you've never crocheted in your life, you can get a great introduction.  

© Knitscene/Harper Point

I used two different yarn weights for the body of the scarf and the edging to keep the fabric consistent because crochet is so much denser than knitting.  Happily, Hazel Knits Artisan Sock and DK Lively work perfectly for this.  (Thanks to Kim Werker for her talk on crochet at last year's Knit City; she put the idea in my head to use a different weight yarn for a crocheted edging.)

© Knitscene/Harper Point

For a care-free, bright look, I chose Shanny Pants for the main body of the scarf and worked it in an engaging, but simple knit-and-purl check pattern that includes parallelograms.  The crochet edging is worked in three different colors - Sassafras, Nekkid, and Lichen.  

© Andrea Rangel

I love the fantastic stitch definition that both yarns have.  Even the semi-solid colors show off the stitch patterns beautifully.  The scalloped edging might be a little girly, but without it, I think this would make a fantastic men's scarf too.  

© Knitscene/Harper Point
© Knitscene/Harper Point

This scarf looks especially beautiful after blocking.  I used blocking wires to help the scallops really pop.

© Andrea Rangel

The magazine is now available for download, or if you prefer print, you can pre-order your copy.  You can see the pattern on Ravelry too.

UPDATE: Yarn kits for this scarf are now available through the Hazel Knits online store.  Check out the great color combinations available!

Pattern Info
Finished Measurements
87.5 in/222 cm long and 10.5 in/26.5 cm wide

(90% superwash merino, 10% nylon; 275 yd 251 m per 130g skein): 
Color #228 Shanny Pants, 3 skeins 

(90% superwash merino, 10% nylon; 400 yd/366 m per 120g skein):
Colors: #246 Sassafras, 1 skein (I used about 50 yd/46 m); #200 Nekkid, 1 skein (I used about 70 yd/64 m); #269 Lichen, 1 skein (I used about 50 yd/46 m)

22 sts and 33 rows = 4 in/10 cm in checks pattern, after blocking

Needles & Notions 
Size US #6/4 mm needles 
Size E/3.5 mm crochet hook

tapestry needle

following a knit-and-purl chart, crochet: single crochet, slip stitch, double crochet

Friday, May 10, 2013

Interview with Cirilia Rose

Recently Cirilia Rose, prolific designer, fashion maven, and Creative Director at Skacel, interviewed me for her blog, Bricoleur Knits, about Pacific Northwest fashion, knits in movies, designer inspiration, the business of publication, and where I'm headed.  Check it out and comment for a chance to win a copy of Woodsmoke & Ash: Knits for Men.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Grafting Using Kitchener Stitch

I've been meaning to make a tutorial on grafting for a long time because it's such a useful technique and I use it a lot in my patterns.  I didn't realize how many of my patterns feature Kitchener stitch until I was listing them under my tutorial page - 14!  And that only counts the independently-published ones.  I hope this helps you if you're new to grafting or just need a refresher.  You can also find this under the Tutorials section of my website.

This tutorial shows the technique on a sock toe, but it's useful anywhere you want to join two sets of live stitches without a seam.

Arrange the stitches so that all of the instep stitches are on one needle and all of the bottom of the foot stitches are on the other needle.

Cut your yarn, leaving a long tail (about 3-4 times longer than the width of the fabric to be grafted).  

Thread the end of your yarn on a tapestry needle and hold the project so that one needle is in front and one behind with the needle tips pointed to the right.

Set up for working Kitchener stitch:
First, insert needle as if to purl in the first stitch of the front needle and draw through.

Next, insert needle as if to knit in the first stitch of the back needle and draw through.

Now that the set-up is complete, follow these steps to graft:
1. Insert needle as if to knit in the first stitch of the front needle.  

Slip that stitch off the needle and draw yarn through without pulling too tightly.

2. Insert needle as if to purl in the next stitch of the front needle and draw through, leaving this stitch on the needle.

3. Insert needle as if to purl in the first stitch of the back needle. 

Slip that stich off the needle and draw yarn through without pulling too tightly.

4. Insert needle as if to knit in the next stitch of the back needle and draw through, leaving this stitch on the needle.

Repeat steps 1-4 until only 1 stitch remains on each needle.  Then simply slip the needles out.

I have a chant that always helps me maintain a good rhythm while working Kitchener stitch:
"As if to knit, slip off; as if to purl, leave on.  As if to purl, slip off; as if to knit, leave on."

I just repeat that mantra as I work and it helps keep me from getting confused.

And there's your sock toe!

When you finish, you may notice that the grafted stitches aren't quite the same gauge as the surrounding stitches.  Just use your tapestry needle to gently tug on the stitches, one at a time until they are more uniform.  

If you have any gaps on either side of the graft, use your remaining tail to cinch them closed while you weave it in.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

A Little Cowichan Valley Springtime

The weather has warmed up and turned sunny here.  It's perfect and I love seeing some plants and animals around that I didn't see during the winter.  I'm not sure where these donkeys and alpacas were holed up, but it was a fun surprise to see them on my regular route to the farmer's market.

I'm pretty sure they were expecting treats from me based on their excessive friendliness.

Looks like the alpacas knew better.

We have some lovely trails right in our neighborhood.  The lush greenery is back after the gray of winter.

And of course, the blossoms.

As I celebrate my local area, I'm happy to have my first workshop scheduled locally.  I've teamed up with my local yarn shop, The Loom, to give an all-day workshop on sock knitting using the magic loop method.  Check out the class page for more info and to register.

In other springtime happenings, the Hazel Knits/Andrea Rangel Knit Along has gotten under way over in the Hazel Knits Ravelry group.  Come join us for discounted patterns, camaraderie, and a chance to win free patterns and a $50 gift certificate to the Hazel Knits online store.  Lots of folks are knitting ankle socks - Hex, Wendee, and Lochside - which are all perfect for wearing with clogs or Mary Jane's in warmer weather.  They're also fun and knit up fast. 

I hope the weather where you are is as beautiful as it is here!

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