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)






Cookie A, the one and only, was in town and I got to take her workshop on the intuitive reading of charts for cable patterns today. I was really happy to be there; I’d never met Cookie A and never thought I’d get an opportunity to take a class from her, but when the Serial Knitters Yarn Shop (Kirkland) newsletter showed-up in my email inbox recently, I jumped at the chance and got in. It was a good class and she offered some practical information on how to look at chart knitting generally used in the U.S., Japan, and in some German patterns. With her guidance, what seemed like a lot of confusion in charts, soon became something more easily understood.

Professor Cookie A at work.

It’s a funny week for me, because I rarely take knitting classes, mostly because I’m just too tired and just want to veg after the kids are in bed, and not only did I take the Cookie A workshop today, but I am also taking a two-day workshop taught by Janine Bajus through Churchmouse Yarns & Teas on Bainbridge Island at the end of the week. I’ve never taken a class from Janine either, and I first heard of her a few years ago when she lived in the Seattle area and gave a talk at the Seattle Knitters Guild.  I was mesmerized by her creative Fair Isle knitting, it was so vibrant and intricate, and I was sooo disappointed that she announced she was moving to California back then.  I also am looking forward to some serious downtime and a little break from the daily grind; it’s been a long time since I’ve been to Bainbridge, easily over a year, and with a two-day workshop I get to stay on Bainbridge for two nights. Should be fun!

New Eastside yarn store!

A few weeks ago while driving through Kirkland with my sister, she blurted out, “Yarn store.”

“Very funny, ” I muttered, figuring she was making a joke about my obsession with all things knitting.

“No, really!” she insisted.

“Oh, come on.” I grumbled.

“Really, there’s a yarn store back there—”

I pulled over and did a map search on my iPhone, and sure enough: a yarn store in Kirkland. Not wasting a moment, turned the car around and went back to investigate.

I have since visited Serial Knitters and it offers a good range of yarn and notions for all your fiber-crafting needs, and it’s great to know that all of us lost Eastside fiber enthusiasts have a place to hang-out again. Please visit Serial Knitters at 8427 122nd Ave NE, Kirkland, WA 98033 and give them a warm welcome.

As for knitting projects, I’ve been working on Kokopelli by Margaret Hubert from Simple Style, using Mission Falls 1824 Cotton in light blue (stash yarn), which I started in July and put aside while I finished Oriel Lace Cardigan. I’ve finished the back and am halfway up the two fronts.

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.

My knitting world is shrinking.

I was recently surprised when I opened my email to find a message from Hilltop Yarn East announcing the closing of its doors on June 27.  With the closing of this store, the only dedicated Eastside yarn stores I know of are Cultured Purls in Issaquah (which oddly doesn’t show up on Google Maps on my iPhone) and Main Street Yarn in Mill Creek.  Of course, there are still craft stores in the area with sizable yarn departments, most notably Ben Franklin Crafts & Frames in Redmond and Pacific Fabric & Crafts in Bellevue. On the other hand, with the demise of numerous knitting-related blogs over the past year, I’m beginning to think that perhaps the crazy phenomenon of the explosion of new knitters and interest in things knitting-related over the past decade is winding down, and that maybe it was a fantastic fad.  I rather cringe to call my beloved hobby of 25 years a fad, but it’s been a great ride. I’m here, though, still actively knitting, perusing Ravelry, salivating over the latest and greatest patterns, and blogging to a silent blogosphere.

On that point, let’s look at my latest finished project —

Frost Diamonds was a nice project, and it went pretty quickly, but then with worsted yarn it should be quick. Right?

The pattern went along well, with only a couple of confusing mess-ups.

I think I should have done three repeats of Chart B, because with the weight of the yarn, it almost seems to need to be a bigger shawl.  I have enough yarn, but not enough motivation, and will leave it alone.

I know I’ve made a lot of purple stuff, but this really isn’t purple, it’s a deep burgundy. Which I guess is kind of a purple….

Pattern Frost Diamonds, by Stephanie Japel
Yarn: Dream in Color Classy, “Gothic Rose” colorway
Needles: 6.5 mm/U.S. 10.5

If there’s yarn on Kaua’i, I’ll find it.

We’ve gone to Kaua’i for vacation, and we’ve taken some day trips around the island. We’re staying in Po’ipu at the South Shore, and drove up to the North Shore to Hanalei one day where I visited the only local yarn store on the island (not counting the Ben Franklin Crafts in Lihu’e). Hanalei Music’s Strings-Things is a small store of about 400 sq. ft. (located at 5-5190 Kuhio Highway, Hanalei, HI 96714, phone 808-826-9633)  and is split into two sections, a music store specializing in ukuleles and a yarn store. Most of the yarns carried are typical brands found in most U.S. stores, among which is Trendsetter and Plymouth. I sought the locally produced yarn, Kaua’i Botanicals, and opted for two skeins of a fingering weight in yellow, beige and white, comprised of bamboo, silk and merino, hand-dyed with ginger root and hibiscus blossoms. Yeah, yeah, I know I don’t need any more yarn, but come on, I’m in Hawaii, and there was a yarn store….

(This picture was taken using the free iPhone and iPad app. combo of Camera A – Camera B. With Camera B the iPhone camera is used to take the photo and then sends the image wirelessly via Camera A on the iPad and is added to the iPad’s photo album. It’s a great way of getting around the fact that iPad lacks a camera, although it’s a rather sketchy app set-up in it’s current format, but when it works, it’s not bad.)

Happy Ending

What a week! This week I discovered that I’m allergic to something in bloom around our house, probably a tree, and I’ve never considered myself a person afflicted with seasonal allergies before. Teary eyes, sneezing, and a nose so drippy I couldn’t keep enough tissues around me to keep up with it. By Tuesday afternoon I got my hands on an homeopathic remedy and things have been improving ever since, and by Wednesday I was actually able to put mascara on again.

Last night, in celebration of my sister-in-law’s birthday, my mother and I met her at La Taberna Del Alabardero in Seattle for an evening of Spanish food and flamenco. However, not before arriving an hour late because we live across Lake Washington, east of Seattle, and I made the unfortunate choice of the wrong bridge, and chose the one with the even more unfortunate car-flipped-onto-its-roof which meant that all lanes of traffic were down to one. The evening ended well with a wonderful performance of authentic flamenco and singing by the Jesus Montoya Flamenco Company, despite a being served a very poor example of Spanish food by La Taberna.

Any unpleasantness this week was vastly improved by the sale at So Much Yarn in Seattle, conveniently located near Pike Place Market. Yes, I broke my yarn diet, but all because I fell hard for a skein of Pagewood Farm Yukon Hand Dyed Sock Yarn in Harvest colorway. I spotted this one skein the week before the sale and kept dreaming about it all week long. Being the first customer at the sale, I was relieved to find my one skein exactly where I’d left it during my previous visit.

The other deal-breaker for me was the 3 skeins of Dream in Color Classy (worsted) in Gothic Rose colorway. I dreamed about it almost as much as I dreamed of the Yukon yarn, and, yes, I dreamed in color.

And since I was off the wagon, I added 2 skeins of Berroco Ultra Alpaca Fine in a warm golden brown.

Oh! I was so bad today… What’s knitter to do?