Wednesday, September 30, 2015

To Thank a House

backyard2 backyard

As September draws to a close, I find myself preparing the outside of the house for winter: sweeping a carpet of leaves off the deck, pruning the wire vine back, pulling dandelions and nightshade out of the mulch by the back fence. It occurs to me that this work will never be finished: that it moves in a wide, wobbly circle as the seasons change, each transition bringing its own tasks and trials.

In the first downpour of the year, the gutter above the kitchen window overflowed in great sheets of water into the stairwell below, and I had to pull out fistful after fistful of grit to clear it out, blind with rain and cold water funneling down my shirt front.

If this was not my house, I wouldn't have laughed. Because it is my house, I did.

And so, I remain charmed by this little house, with its cobbled-together, chicken coop roots. Each time I dig up a weed or sweep the front walk or pull English ivy off the light pole, I imagine that I am saying thank you. And in the early mornings when the weather grows cold, as I lie in bed and hear the faint click and whoosh as the heater turns on, it's as if the house is saying right back: you're welcome.

Happy Wednesday, friends.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Fireweed With Me KAL: Ravelry & Instagram Drawing Winners!

Lupine (Release Front) 2015madrona7

Hiya, KALers! Some people won some things - namely, two folks each won a copy of Lupine from my Ravelry store. Hooray!

Congrats to zanneq on Ravelry, and @chrissyknitz on Instagram - I hope you enjoy the heck out of your Lupines.

Thanks for joining, everybody, and happy Monday!

Friday, September 25, 2015

Fireweed With Me KAL: Cast On!


Hooray! Today is Cast On Day for the Fireweed With Me KAL. I'm very excited that so many of you are participating!

For folks who posted on Ravelry and/or Instagram with #fireweedkal, you still have until 11:59 pm tonight to post to either or both, and I'll be announcing the two winners of a copy of Lupine on Monday. If you're just hearing about the KAL now, feel free to join us at any time - there's no requirement to post on social media in order to play along.

Today I wanted to share a few tips and tricks that might be helpful as you begin your project.

fireweedco3 fireweedco2 fireweedco

First up, the cast-on itself. I used a long-tail or Continental cast-on for Fireweed, and I just wanted to show you a little trick I like to use for a knotless cast-on, illustrated from left to right.

1. Leave a sufficient tail for the number of stitches to cast on. For Fireweed, there are only 5 stitches, so we don't need too much extra. Keeping that tail off to the left, lay your yarn over the needle and secure it with your right index finger. This step basically replaces your slip knot.

2. Insert your left thumb and index finger between the two strands of yarn as for your usual long-tail cast-on, keeping that right index finger securely on that strand of yarn across your needle.

3. Open up your hand into the slingshot position, and cast on a stitch as usual. This will secure the strand and create your first two stitches - just like with the normal long-tail cast-on, but without that pesky knot.


Look ma, no knot!


Okay, next up is a tip that I find helpful for two-color projects in general, but particularly for this one: where to keep your yarn while you knit.

Dyed in the Wool is an energetic little yarn, which is part of what makes it so fun to work with - it has great twist and bounce, which sometimes means it likes to get overexcited and twist up on itself. Add a second color to that twisty little friend, and you might end up with a snarled mess.

The simplest answer to this problem is to keep them separated. I'm a right-handed thrower, so I like to keep the main color on my right side and the contrast color to my left, but lefties and continental knitters might find it easier to switch and have the main color on their left.

Lastly, some tips for switching between two colors. You're welcome to do it whatever way works for you, but I've found that this gave me the most consistent results, and a nice clean edge. Again, instructions are from left to right:

1. Switching Yarn (Main Color)

If you're switching to your Main Color, set your Contrast Color off to the left, pick up your Main Color, and knit across the row like usual.

2. Carrying Yarn (Contrast Color)

Once you've worked those first two rows with your Main Color, you'll want to carry your Contrast Color so you don't get long floats up the side.

To carry your Contrast Color, bring the strand up over the Main Color from the back, and lay it off to the left, just like you did when you switched. Continue knitting with your Main Color. This will secure that strand along the selvedge of the fabric so it doesn't flop around in the air or get snagged.

3. Switching Yarn (Contrast Color)

This is pretty much the same as switching to your Main Color, but you just want to be careful not to pull your Contrast Color too tight. So you set your Main Color off to the left, pick up your Contrast Color, and loosely knit those first few stitches, leaving just a bit of slack along the side. Then you knit across the row as usual. This is so that when you go to block your shawl, you have a nice, stretchy edge that won't break or pull.


Okie dokie! Thanks for reading, and I hope that helps as you begin your Fireweeds!

Also, I just wanted to mention that I'll be taking a brief interlude down to Oregon Flock & Fiber this weekend, to chill with my Issaquah Tinker friends and some adorable sheeps and llamas. If you see me there, please do say hi - I'd love to meet you!

Until next time, happy Friday, and happy Fireweeding!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

FO: Brick

blake2 blakeblake4 blake5

After a few weeks of mindless knitting, I finished up my new sample of the Blake scarf, which I'm calling Brick after this amazing colorway of Blue Moon Fiber Arts Targhee Worsted. I used almost the whole skein - about 550 yards - and it was pretty awesome to have just two ends to weave in at the very end.

When the weather turns cold, I always find that I grab the longest, widest, squishiest scarves first. So with the new iteration of the pattern, I'm making it a teeny bit wider and a lot longer, for maximum cuddle factor. The pattern will continue to be free, and I'm hoping to make it available again around November.

More details are on Ravelry here.

Happy Wednesday, friends!

Friday, September 18, 2015

Fireweed With Me KAL: Color Inspiration

fireweedkal fireweedkal2

For my new Fireweed, I wanted to choose something really cheerful and fun. I adore color, and my current favorite way to dress is to start with a neutral base layer, and give it texture and light with a colorful accessory or two. Since my original Fireweed is pretty toned-down, I wanted to go in the opposite direction and choose something really bright.

I ended up choosing Narcissus (yellow) and Venus In Furs (pink) - although I was shying away from using one of the same colors again (my other Fireweed is Venus In Furs & Robin's Egg), in the end, my pink-loving self won out. And because each skein of Dyed in the Wool is unique, I was able to find a skein that complemented my two skeins of Narcissus perfectly, without looking exactly the same as my original color choice.

For this color pairing, I was really inspired by two colors that you see in nature together pretty often: gold and pink. Both of my chosen colorways have undertones of brown, even though the overall color is very bright. I loved the contrast of the pink and the yellow, and the saturation of the colors pair very well together.


Not sure how to choose your colors? Here's a couple of things that I like to think about when I'm picking colors to use together:

Similar saturation levels. There are definitely exceptions to this, but in general, I like to have similar levels of brightness and saturation in the colors that I choose. It's okay (and even preferable) for them to have different values - for one color to read darker than the other, which you can check by viewing the colors in black-and-white. Or, you can turn it on its head by pairing a bold color and a lighter color together, which lets that bold color really shine!

Complementary colors. Some color pairings are tried-and-true favorites, and they work especially well because of their complementary relationship on the color wheel. Orange and blue! Yellow and violet! Red and green! It can be fun to explore these color relationships by playing with their tints (color + white) or shades (color + black) as well.

Color inspiration from nature, art, and photography. I really like Knitsonik's approach to color inspiration: the world around you! If you have a favorite piece of visual inspiration - be it a painting, houseplant, or dog breed - you can definitely use it to help you find a direction for your color pairings. Color is such a personal experience, and I know that I always find it most satisfying to work with colors that make my heart sing!


Here I've taken a few photos and pulled color ideas from them, then matched them up with their representative Spincycle colorways. Of course, each skein is different, so these pairings may work beautifully with some skeins but not as well with others, but they could definitely be a jumping-off point if you're not sure which direction to go in! I tried to include super-bright color combinations and more subtle ones, too.

1 / Red & Blue / Devilish Grin & Tangled Up In Blue
2 / Dark Orange & Dark Blue / Rusted Rainbow & Overpasses
3 / Green & Warm Purple / July, July! and Nostalgia
4 / Orange & Mint / End of Summer & Deep Bump
5 / Cool Purple-Grey & Yellow / Pick Your Poison & Narcissus
6 / Warm Purple-Grey & Sage / Payback & Tell-Tale Heart

I've already seen some great color pairings in your Fireweed KAL projects on Ravelry & Instagram!  I'm delighted that a bunch of folks from Art of Yarn in Kelowna, BC will be joining us on our KAL adventure as well. (Hi friends!)

You have until next Friday, September 25th at 11:59 pm to post on the Ravelry thread, or to Instagram with #fireweedkal, for a chance to win a copy of Lupine - but don't fret, you're welcome to join the KAL even if you don't make it in time for the giveaway!

Hope you all have a very happy Friday!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Making Time for Fika

coffeewip2 coffeewip

I first encountered the concept of fika on Karie Westermann's blog (which is an excellent read, by the way!) in the release post for her Fika shawl design. I've encountered the concept a surprising number of times since then - which actually makes some sense, considering that the neighborhood of Seattle where I live is heavily Scandinavian! In reality, I think fika has been around me this whole time, and it's just now that I'm noticing its presence.

And I've found that the more I learn about it, the more it resonates. Maybe because it gives a name to the quiet coffee-and-pastry breaks that I started taking in the late afternoon while I was working on my ballgown, and which I've continued in my everyday life since then, especially when I work from home. There's something that feels slow and nurturing about sitting down with a cup of coffee and staring out my picture window for a few minutes, giving myself the time and space to work through the questions of the day. As I've learned over time, taking a break can often be incredibly productive - especially when you've been fighting a problem that turns out to require a shift in thinking. And I like that fika gives a name to that moment.

Happy Wednesday, friends.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Knitalong 2015: Fireweed With Me


In the past few months, I've had some amazing feedback from you all about Fireweed! I've had a really fun time helping customers at the shop pick out their colors, and I've been hankering to knit myself another one. And then I figured, why not knit it together with you lovely folks? I'll write a bit about choosing colors and working the different techniques from the shawl, it will be super chill, and we'll have some fun prizes of yarn and patterns to sweeten the deal!

So on that note, I'm excited to announce the Fireweed Knitalong! 

The pattern is available digitally in my Ravelry store, and also in print - ta-da! - at a few lovely retailers in Seattle and elsewhere:

The Fiber Gallery in Seattle, WA
The Tea Cozy in Seattle, WA
The Knot House in Frederick, MD
 Fuzzy Goat in Thomasville, GA

Spincycle Yarns - available as a kit, online or in person

 Annnnd if you haven't had a chance to get your hot little hands on some Dyed in the Wool, this is a great opportunity. Kate and Rachel's fabulous wares - colorful, squishy, and made in the US from sheep to skein - are available both on their website and from select retailers around the US and beyond.

ETA: Here's a few Spincycle sources who are also Fireweed-friendly! 

Serial Knitters in Kirkland, WA
Art of Yarn in Kelowna, BC

So how 'bout those nitty-gritty details?
  • Anyone can join!
  • Feel free to use yarn from your stash, or treat yourself to some new squishies! I highly recommend at least one yarn with long color gradations for maximum color play.
  • Hop on over to the Ravelry group and post in the Fireweed KAL thread, or post to Instagram with #fireweedkal by 11:59 pm on Friday, September 25th, and you'll be entered to win a free digital download of Lupine just for joining. 
  • I'll be giving away two copies - one for Instagram, and one for Ravelry - so feel free to double-dip and enter both! I'll be announcing the winners on Monday, September 28th.
  • We'll start knitting Friday, September 25th, with a finish date of Friday, December 4th.
  • Post your finished Fireweed on the Fireweed KAL FO thread on Ravelry by 11:59 pm on Friday, December 4th, let's say Friday, December 11th! and you'll be entered to win some super cool prizes, including yarn from Spincycle and patterns from my Ravelry store.
Allrighty, I think that's it! Onward, friends, and happy Friday!

Thursday, September 10, 2015


pausing pausing2

Lately I've been feeling short on words. I have all sorts of projects and ideas, but they seem to be caught up in pictures, indecipherable by text. Maybe it's just that I'm tired - fulfilled but exhausted by all the work that I've just released into the world, wondering what the world will echo back to me in turn.

 Or maybe it's that the particular moment I'm in is visual: captivated by the explosion of lush color in my front yard, the tea-green glow of silk in a tub of warm water, the black lattice of coffee grounds in the bottom of my cup. In a moment when everything is changing and new all at once, sometimes the best you can do is sit back and marvel as the world sheds its skin.

In the coming months, there's promise of travel and projects and a house full of friends and loved ones. I'll find the darkness out my window sets in faster and faster each day, and I'll become more grateful for street lamps and soup and my little rat friends snuggled up in my sweater. But for now, I'm still in the leap: eyes wide open, feet in the air, hand outstretched towards the next open door.


Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The Fiber Gallery KAL: Sweet Root in Print


Just wanted to pop in and mention that the Sweet Root pattern is hot off the presses and available for purchase exclusively at The Fiber Gallery! This pattern has been a labor of love for me, and I hope that you like it as much as I enjoyed creating it. <3

Local to Seattle and interested in joining the KAL? Here's the full details:

Kickoff: Saturday, September 19th, from 4-6 pm
Support sessions: Saturday, October 10th, 3:30-5:30 pm
& Saturday, November 7th, 1-3 pm
Finale Party: Saturday, December 5th, 5-6 pm

hosted at

The Fiber Gallery
5212 Greenwood Ave N
Seattle, WA 98103

Not local, but still interested in Sweet Root? Hooray, I'm so glad to hear it! Please feel free to join us over at the indie.knits Ravelry group, where I'll keep you updated on its release in November.

Happy Wednesday, friends!

Friday, September 4, 2015

Pattern Release: Lupine

Lupine (Release Front)

I'm excited to announce that the Lupine shawl pattern is now available as a Ravelry download! Thank you to everyone who came in to the shop to check it out, and everyone who posted to Instagram & Ravelry about their Lupines. It's been so cool to hear your enthusiasm and see your beautiful projects!

If you're active on Instagram, you can tag your photos with #indieknits or #lupine, and always feel free to tag me @coryellen - I love seeing what you're up to!

For my own part, I've already knit three of these suckers, and I miiiiiight be scheming another one as we speak.

lupinefo5 Lupine (Release Back)

The pattern is available for download for $5.00, or you can check out the details on Ravelry on the Lupine pattern page.
As always, I also want to give a huge thank you to my test knitters, whose gorgeous projects and thoughtful feedback constantly inspire and inform me, both as a designer and as a knitter. You guys are the best. <3

Happy Friday, and happy knitting!