It’s a Cocoknits Thing

When I went to Vogue Knitting LIVE Los Angeles last September, among my purchases from LIVE Marketplace was Cocoknits pattern Gisela (apologies that there are no posts about my Vogue Knitting LIVE LA adventure…yet). I was in the Habu Textiles booth and there was a sample of Gisela knit-up, so I bought the pattern and some Habu yarn on the spot. And then the whole thing cooled its heels in my closet until June, when I decided I’d like to have it to wear this summer.

Meanwhile, in listening to a Stash & Burn podcast this summer, hosts Jenny and Nicole talked about going to Stitches West and visiting the Cocoknits booth and trying on some really fun samples. I was intrigued, so I looked-up on Ravelry some of the things they saw in the Cocoknits booth at Stitches and made the connection that my Gisela and the stuff they saw were all part of Cocoknits (my mind is just too filled with daily life to make connections quickly these days). In looking on Ravelry I particularly liked Maude, but was hesitant to buy it because I wasn’t sure it would look all that good on me, so I added it to my Ravelry Favorites and thought nothing more about it.

At about the same I started Gisela, I looked at the Churchmouse Yarns & Teas class catalog for this summer and discovered that one of the same classes I’d tried to sign-up for at Vogue LIVE, but had been unable to get into was being offered: Julie Weisenberger’s European Finishing Techniques. So I signed-up. It would be perfect timing, I thought, since since I’d dropped the ball last spring and hadn’t signed my kids up for enough summer camps, taking a summer class might break things up for me a bit, and all the better that it would be in August, the month in which it hits every mom that, no matter how much you love your kids, school can’t start soon enough. I was ecstatic, both at being able to take this class, and at having the chance to take a little break to Bainbridge Island, where Churchmouse is located, even if only for a few hours. I set my sights on August.

So, I continued knitting along on Gisela, and all the while, it had still not occurred to me that I was knitting a Julie Weisenberger design. Yes, yes, even though it clearly said Julie Weisenberger and Cocoknits on the pattern: I tell you, I am just too preoccupied with nonsense these days! Not until the beginning of August rolled around, when I was beginning to wonder if I would get Gisela finished in time to wear this summer, was it that I looked at the pattern made the connection between Gisela, the patterns discussed on Stash & Burn, and the Julie Weisenberger class I’d registered for. That realization was like the heavens opening up and and hearing angels singing. I also wondered if I should have my head examined for not making the connection sooner. Suddenly I realized it would be great fun to wear my Gisela to class, and really set about knitting it in earnest.

Fast forward to two nights before the class: at about midnight I finished seaming Gisela, washed and blocked it. The next morning I put it on to wear to my husband’s boss’s family day at his beach house, and discovered that one sleeve was about 5 cm (2″) shorter than the other! So I spent to the whole ride to the beach house, missing the scenery on the way, picking-out the seams of the short sleeve, ripping-out the cap and knitting up the length. Midnight before the class, I finished re-seaming the sleeve, washed and blocked it again.

The morning of the class was no picnic, as it involved taking my kids to a birthday party in Bellevue on the Eastside, leaving them there with my husband and dashing off to the ferry in downtown Seattle. This would have been easily accomplished if not for the fact that the everything was against me that day. On State Route 520, the Evergreen Green Point Floating Bridge (yes, we really do have bridges that float here, maybe because it rains so much here—I’m kidding) was closed that weekend, so what would have been a quick hop across Lake Washington by toll bridge to Seattle to catch the ferry became a detour by way of the other floating bridge, the Murrow Floating Bridge (this is the bridge that infamously sank in 1990). Once in Seattle, and not living in Seattle proper anymore, I’d forgotten that Seattle is in the midst of its very own traffic nightmare at the waterfront where the ferry dock is because the decaying Alaskan Way Viaduct is being replaced with a tunnel, got caught-up in the mess and missed the last ferry to get to Bainbridge Island in time for class (I thought I’d be at the dock 45 minutes ahead of departure). By the time I was parked in line at the dock I still had a good hour before I could catch the next ferry and stew in my frustration knowing that I would now be an hour late for Julie’s class.  My mood was not much alleviated with a brisk walk through downtown while the car sat parked in line, however I made my way to Watson Kennedy Fine Home and bought some locally made JonBoy Absinth & Black Salt Caramels, and I ate these back at the car with the gluten-free peach hand pie from Maninis I’d brought with me.  Not healthy eating, but when you miss a ferry for a knitting class, who cares about healthy.


Maninis’ peach hand pie



Having caught a later ferry, I arrived one hour late for a 3-hour class, but Julie graciously caught me up during break, and all was good.  I’m really glad I didn’t give up just because I arrived late, as Julie is one of those rare people who not only enjoys her craft, but is an enthusiastic and generous instructor, and she had lots to share with us to help us improve our craft.  Among the things she covered in the class was: long-tail cast on without running out of yarn, invisible seaming, decreasing and increasing without gaping stitches or stitches that stand-out or detract from the garment, a call for the end of “pick-up and knit x-number of sts” and replacing it with a simple, more realistic pick-up method.


invisible seaming

After class, I tried on probably half of her samples, and realized this woman is gifted with a creativity for designs that are often unique and yet feminine. In the end I bought the patterns for Maude and Veronika.

As for Gisela: I am surprised how much I like wearing it. I knew I’d like it, but I wasn’t too sure about wearing something with such an open stitch gauge, but I like the way it dresses-up a t-shirt on a summer day and gives a hint of warmth when in an air-conditioned environment. I’ve read that one or two people on Ravelry don’t like the way the collar doesn’t lie flat, but it doesn’t bother me, since I like the way it is, with it’s own character. It’s perfect for me.


Pattern: Gisela, by Julie Weisenberger
Yarn: Habu Textiles, N-80 (silk-wrapped merino), colorway 3 (green merino with black silk thread)
Needles: 5.0 mm (US 8)





My world is…

…bathed in white these days.


Thankfully, there is knitting to be worn for the occasion.


Pattern: Whitfield Shorty by Anne Hanson
Yarn: Cascade 220, colorway 9454 (purple heather)
Needles: US 2.5 (3.0 mm) and US 4 (3.5 mm)
Wearer: 7 y.o. son


My son calls it his Rainbow Sweater, owing to the multi-color effect of the heathered colorway.

Latest Activity

Knitting:  Wandering the Moor shawl

Yarn:  Berroco Ultra Alpaca Fine. Had to unwind the pull-skein I’d made of it and ball it up because it kept getting tangled.

eBay Purchase: I think I got a bigger kick knowing that it came from a small town practically at the northernmost tip of Scotland.

Movie:  Pirates of the Caribbean – On Stranger Tides (3-D).  I actually liked this more than #2 and #3 Pirates movies. My knitting companion was Wandering the Moor. Why is it I always take dark knitting projects to work on in a movie theater?

Internet Find:  London Fruit & Herb Company Green Tea & Blackcurrant.  Love this stuff!  I first bought this tea in Canada and had been meting it out carefully over 4 years until I found it available at Mark T. Wendell Tea Company.

Eating:  Gluten-free pão de queijo (pronounced something like “pow d’ kayju”) from the local Brazilian espresso/soccer-viewing joint.  I’ve been gluten-free for about 3 months now and this cheesy tapioca bread has become my guilty pleasure, and it’s “guilty” because I’m also allergic to dairy, but no where near as much as I am to wheat. Recently discovered I’m also allergic to potatoes, corn and chocolate, but I ignore those allergies for obvious reasons.  I’ll get around to trying to bake my own once I get over my funk.

Happiness: My new bright red Fermob (I think it’s pronounced sort of like, “fayr-moe”) French bistro table and chairs; even on a dark rainy day they bring me joy.

Favorite Sight: Mount Rainier from Interstate 90 floating bridge in Seattle (I wasn’t driving).

Smelling: Lilacs at the kitchen window.

Planning: A quick trip to Los Angeles for a cousin’s June wedding.

Fair Isle workshop follow-up

Well, it’s been a month since I last posted. What can I say? Except that my blogging is at an all-time low. I’ve just lost the zeal for blathering on about stuff as often as I have in the past, and I guess the writer in me is all worn out. This sounds like a break-up: “It’s not you, it me.” I’m not hanging it up yet, but blogging is definitely taking a backseat these days as my knitting time continues to get further reduced and as I work with the doctor to figure out what’s up with my health issues, and of course, there are my sweet kids and their needs. Because my knitting opportunities have been cut back I have to ask myself everyday, With the time available, would I rather blog or knit? Hands down: it’s knitting. I will still blog, but it’s looking pretty spotty these days.

Hard to believe it’s been a month since I took the 2-day workshop taught by Janine Bajus, a.k.a. Feral Knitter on Bainbridge Island and I thought I’d report on my doings there, but first, some iPhone pictures around Bainbridge.

The torrential rains I’d experienced the day before gave way to a dry, mild weekend, and even some blue skies.

When I was a kid Bainbridge was a sweet little island that didn’t have a whole lot going on.  These days the old island charm has been replaced with nice restaurants, lots of big designer houses, and the old stores one might expect to find in a small community, such as the appliance store, the mercantile, and the hardware store are long gone.  In the town of Winslow (more or less “downtown” Bainbridge) the houses are tightly squeezed together for every inch of real estate and shoreline available.  So many people have moved here from other places.   Speaking of people from other places, during my visit to Bainbridge, I discovered during a trip to the market that the worst boss I’ve ever worked for now lives on the island it seems—creepy, and it makes the place suddenly less appealing to me.

Some recent additions to the marina I noticed were these curious rock sculptures, and there were a lot of them.  Not my taste and it kind of ruins the view, in my opinion.

I guess this is T-Rex giving chase.

Looking at the sculptures I realized that people have a habit of putting everything along a shoreline in just about many of the places I can think of, and I don’t know why we can’t just leave the shoreline alone.  If we’re not putting a building right on the shore, then there has to be sculpture, because heaven forbid we have nature to look at.  Of course, in this instance, nature is all but gone anyway with the marina there, but personally, I’d rather look at the boats in a marina than someone’s artwork cluttering my view.

About the workshop:  it was wonderful and I’m really happy I went. It was such a great class, I don’t think I can even give it justice here, but I’ll give it a shot.

What I had planned to be a simple workshop on Fair Isle knitting turned-out to be a therapeutic course in self-discovery about my creativity…along with a lot of wonderful guidance into the world of colorwork creation. Janine brought her bin of over 200 different colorways of Jameson Spindrift (fingering/jumper weight) for us to play with as we learned about working with colors and creating the eye-pleasing stranded colorwork that is Fair Isle. With so many colors to choose from I found it really hard to narrow down my choices and realized that when I’m given such artistic freedom, I get lost and have difficulty getting out of the starting gate.

I so loved this bin of yarn! So much fun to be had.

Janine asked us all to bring a photo as a source of inspiration and mine was a photo I took of cherry blossoms against the backdrop of the cherry tree trunk.

With that in mind, we selected yarns that represented the overall feel of the photo and made speed swatches. Here are mine.

Colors I selected.

Speed swatch.

From there we selected a Fair Isle motif from one of two of Janine’s patterns to use to put the colors in a pattern stitch swatch.  I’d show you mine, but it’s somewhere around here and I don’t know where, but if I find it, I’ll let you know.

It was a fun opportunity to just play with color, and I made many visits to the yarn bin when I decided a certain color just wasn’t working for the swatch.  What a great opportunity that was!

Will I do any stranded colorwork design? Maybe, if I can find the time. Do I feel more comfortable about using swatches? Yes, and I’ve never liked swatching before, but I now have a greater appreciation of it now that I’ve experienced firsthand how the creative process depends on it. What was the key thing I learned from the class? That I have an highly critical inner voice that hinders my creativity.

Finally, and totally unrelated, while watching scenes from Prince William and Catherine Middleton’s wedding a few days ago, I was struck by how amazing this scene was.

I snapped it on my iPad while watching via Slingbox.  I don’t ever remember The Mall looking that spectacular for the few occasions I’ve watched on TV.  I’m not sure if it’s any different from Charles & Diana’s wedding day, but it seems to me as if the flags are bigger.  Having said that, looking online I see that those flags are always there, but somehow it just seemed so special this particular day, I had to capture the scene.  I love the contrasts of spring green against the black of the uniforms, with the splash of blue, white and red, and soft mauve of the pavement.  I wonder how this scene would swatch?

Another Scarf

I actually finished this weeks ago, but forgot to post about it. I started it June 2009 and got so bored with the slow pace of the stitch pattern, that I put it down and forgot about.  I rediscovered it this fall and finished it when I realized that I can’t comfortably wear many of my wool scarves anymore.  This has turned-out to be the softest one I have.

One might say it’s a dream to wear.

Pattern: Cashmere Neckwarmer, by Sarah Keller
Yarn: Malabrigo Silky Merino in Caribeno 474
Needles: 4.5 mm / U.S. 7

It was finished in time for the pre-Thanksgiving mini-Arctic Blast we’re having. It’s been snowing all day, and actually sticking.

I love the symmetry revealed in nature  when everything get’s covered in white stuff.

And interesting patterns appear where there didn’t seem to be any before.

The trees seem to stand taller.

And suddenly a sad blueberry bush loosing it’s leaves enjoys a final moment of glory when it’s red leaves are dusted with snow.

My So-Called Scarf saw some snow today, too.  The two scarves have very similar appearances, by the way, but the stitch patterns are different.

Birthday Escape, The Follow-Up

Here some of the few pictures I took during my two-night birthday getaway to Langley on Whidbey Island. The mornings were foggy and the days were sunny and delightfully mild.

Little did I know that the wi-fi in the place I stayed at was so sub-par, that I couldn’t post much more than I did the day I arrived.  In fact, it took all day to download a movie rental from iTunes (Four Weddings and a Funeral).  There was some knitting, and I had expected that that would be the primary focus of my time away, but I was thwarted by being unable to find the old sweater back home I was to frog for one new project, poorly calculated yarn purchase for another project, and a really bad case of indigestion (my birthday meal consisted of Tums, milk, cheese and crackers in my room).

I did visit the local yarn store, and succeeded in avoiding a reach for my wallet, which I now regret, because I want to support the locals. However, if you visit Langley, I highly recommend you check-out Knitty Purls; it’s a great little store jammed with all the temptations a yarny could ever want, including a nice selection of locally-spun yarn.

Located at the south end of Whidbey Island in Puget Sound, Langley is a great little town with a low-key pace, and activities there can be as active as kayaking or as mild as walking in and out of the shops.

Actually, just about any place you visit in Washington State has a low-key pace compared to some of the larger, more popular tourist destinations in the U.S.  This is probably because Washington isn’t high on the list of tourist destinations due to it’s lack of high-profile tourist venues and, since I think when people travel in the U.S. they think of New York City, Los Angeles, Hawaii, Alaska, Chicago, Las Vegas, Florida, Boston, Washington D.C., etc.  Tacking someplace out of the way like Washington State onto a trip to one of those places, with exception of maybe Alaska is a bit of a reach for most people’s vacation time and money.  We definitely get our share our tourism in Seattle proper, as any local will tell you when they try to find parking in downtown, but it’s not a mob scene that one often associates with other places, and the tourism in the outlying areas of the state is probably more in-state tourism, versus that consisting of tourists from the far-flung reaches of the world.  However, for those who do venture to Washington, and to locales such as Whidbey Island, you can expect a relaxing vacation, and one that doesn’t wear you out for your return to your everyday life back home.  For me, despite my bout with an upset stomach after two nights away, I returned relaxed and refreshed and felt like I’d been gone for a week.