Testing, testing! Shawl testing in progress!


Atmen Shawl by Shannon Cook (test knit)

I’m one of those people who can not have enough shawls. I wear ’em every which way practically every day: draped over my shoulders like Whistler’s Mother (yes I’m old but I don’t actually have a rocking chair); triangles with the pointed end in front or to the side and the ends wrapped and tucked underneath, with or without a wooden shawl pin; long crescents wrapped once or twice with the ends flowing free – you name it, I’ll wear it! Sometimes I like to do the “triple-threat”: knitting a shawl while wearing a shawl and having another draped over my legs to keep extra warm.  (It’s been a cold winter and my old house is rather drafty, she whined.)

The beauty shown above is another test knit in progress for Shannon Cook. It’s a super squishy and cozy model called Atmen. The pattern calls for Brooklyn Tweed’s newest 100% Targhee Wool spun yarn Arbor and the fabric is a textural delight. Be sure to check out other testers’ projects on social media using the hashtags #atmenshawl and #soveryshannon. The stitch definition with Arbor is gorgeous!

Although I have three yummy skeins of Arbor in the vibrant Tincture shade in my stash, I’m saving those for something else as yet dreamed of. BTW, I bought those skeins at the Beehive Wool Shop in Victoria when Jared Flood himself was there for a Woolens trunk show last December. I still get heart palpitations just thinking about how fabulous it was to meet and talk with him. Plus, he signed my copies of Woolens and Olga’s Capsule, my Arbor yarn labels and my collection of BT shade cards.  Good thing they weren’t serving alcohol there. Otherwise, I probably would have asked him to sign my face, plus I’d have bought waaaaay more yarn.

Yarn Substitution

For my Atmen, I decided to use an favourite workhorse: Cascade 220 Sport. To complement the rich creamy Natural for the main colour, I chose the heathered shades of Silver Gray and Jet as my MC#1 and MC#2.  I got gauge perfectly on 4 mm needles but of course it’s a much different yarn than Arbor.

Cascade Yarns 220 Sport

Like bouncy Arbor, 220 Sport is also 100% wool but is also available in heathery shades, not just solids.  It’s not as smoothly spun and has a lovely halo but is still great for showing off stitch definition, e.g. cables, twisted stitches, lace, ribbing, etc.  I find both yarns soft to the touch and easy to wear next to skin. And trust me, in this ribbed stitch pattern, it’s super squish-tastic!

Help for Making Yarn Substitutions

Check out the awesome website yarnsub.com where you can search for a substitute when you can’t find a called-for yarn – or just for fun – it really is a kick.  But keep in mind that it’s not a definitive list of possible substitutions.  Here’s what YarnSub said about Cascade 220 Sport when I was searching for substitutions for Arbor:

Stay Tuned…

Keep an eye on Shannon’s feeds and on Ravelry for Atmen – she’ll be releasing it pretty soon I think.

Coming soon – pics of my recent FOs (including my With Ease shawl by Sylvia McFadden and, as soon as get it blocked, my stripey Theme and Variation shawl from The Book of Haps) as well as a look at yet another shawl on my needles.

Til then, happy knitting everyone!


Here Comes the Bridie – and what’s next!


My Bridie by Bristol Ivy is definitely in my all-time top 10 favourite projects.   From start to finish it hit all the sweet-spots:

  • it was quick and fun from the get-go – a great project for newish knitters and old pros alike.
  • easy to memorize stitch pattern – no need to keep an eagle eye on the charts and no cable needle required.
  • no need to count stitches because if you placed your markers between the repeats you could easily see if you made any bungles and it was super-easy to fix those on the next row.
  • it was my project for Very Shannon‘s Tops, Tanks & Tees Knit Along 2016 and for the first time ever in the history of the world, I actually finished a project before a KAL deadline!!
  • best of all, it’s gorgeous and so easy to wear!

As for ease of wearing, I had some concerns at first because, er, of my general chestal area. To put it delicately, I’m well blessed in the boobage department and most shrugs are somewhat fitted and simply serve to put the girls “on display”, as it were.  But Bridie is fairly loose fitting and if you’re a bit Rubenesque like me and choose a generous size, you’ll be ensured of a fit that (mostly) covers your backside and doesn’t bind around the front.  However, I did find that wearing it with tops with more modest necklines prevented me from feeling a bit like King Louis XV’s mistress Madame Nesle de la Tourelle in the second season of Outlander. (Google it if you don’t know what I’m talking about. But be warned, the photo is NSFW.)

In my particular case, I didn’t use the called for yarn (Kestrel by Quince & Co.) but substituted Classic Elite’s Portland Tweed.  Because of the fibre content (wool/rayon/alpaca), it has fabulous drape and is ideal for year-round wear.  I had barely enough in the stash to make the size M, which was at the low end of the size range that would fit me best, but I blocked it aggressively until it measured the dimensions of the sizes L.  I just could not love it more! 

If you’re on the fence about this pattern, I say dive in – you won’t be disappointed.


After compulsively whipping up some socks for my beloved (Susan B. Anderson’s How I Make My Socks, men’s 72 stitch version in Schachenmayr Regia Design Line by Arne & Carlos in Moon Night with Regia Solid in Ecru contrast cuffs, heels and toes), I’m a bit at sixes and sevens about what to make next while I wait for my copy of Making, Issue One to arrive in the mail.  I can keep working on a “second sleeve” but I mostly don’t feel like doing that because it involves DPNs that are juuuuust a little too short. (Ugh!! where are those interchangeable 4.5mm needle tips??)

I did start another pair of socks for Erik so that I’d have something small to work on in spare moments, but then I noticed that Sarah Pope’s sweet little Fir Cone Cap has hit the Ravelry What’s Hot Now list (the pattern is free on Ravelry!).  Sarah designed this delight to coordinate with her stunning Haro shawl (below) in Brooklyn Tweed’s Plains laceweight yarn from their latest collection, Wool People 10.  Note: if you haven’t drooled over anything lately, go there immediately!

Haro – photo © Brooklyn Tweed

Haro uses about 1½ skeins of Plains and the longest (slouchiest) length of the Fir Cone Cap (pictured) uses almost all of the second skein.  Isn’t that the most perfect thing?  I mean, who wants even a speck of that precious fibre to languish in their stash?

Fir Cone Cap – photo © Sarah Pope

Fir Cone Cap – photo © Whistling Girl Knits

What are you knitting next? Anything from Wool People 10?  I’d love to know.

Happy knitting y’all!

Tops, Tanks & Tees Knit Along 2016 and Lemon Cakes

TTTKAL 2016 – It’s on!

Very Shannon‘s annual Tops, Tanks & Tees Knit Along is underway!  It’s running until May 27, 2016 (with a possible extension).  Head over to the TTTKAL sign up page to find details, inspiration and to register.  Because prizes, dontcha you know!

If you’re on Ravelry be sure to join the fun in the Very Shannon Ravelry discussion group.  Whether you’re a newbie to KALs or a seasoned veteran, there’s tons of support and chat on the KAL thread.  On social media and Ravelry, be sure to tag your projects with #tttkal and #tttkal16 so we can all follow along with your progress and, of course, to be eligible for prizes.

My TTTKAL Project

Bridie in progress

This year, I’m making one of the sponsor projects, Bristol Ivy‘s Bridie cocoon for Quince & Co. (pictured at the top of this post).  Instead of the suggested Kestrel yarn from Quince, my Bridie is made using some of my stash yarn, Classic Elite Yarn’s (sadly discontinued) Portland Tweed in a delicious pinky-lilac shade called Rosewater.  I tend to get chilly no matter the season, so this 50% Wool, 25% Rayon, 25% Alpaca blend will be just the ticket, and after blocking is wonderfully lush and drapey and shows the textured stitches beautifully.  I think it’ll be a nice and cozy substitute for Kestrel.

This pattern knits up so fast (she’s almost finished drying and I’m about to seam the sides and knit up the garter stitch edging) that I might also be able to finish up a WIP in time for the deadline – my Liv cardigan that I’ve had on the back burner for a while. Actually finishing something (and possibly two!) by a KAL deadline will be a personal best for me. So yay for me!

I hope you’ll come and join the knit-along fun!

In other news, when life serves you lemons…

No, no, no. Not the ubiquitous Beyonce. Forget about lemonade, I’m talking about Lemon Pound Cake (recipe below) and the most adorable Mini Citrus Loaf Pan. EVAH!


First of all this pan is amazing. The end result is stunning – each mini loaf has a scalloped sides and the citrus slices on top are part of the pan’s shape.  It’s a Nordic Ware pan that I bought from the Vancouver Williams-Sonoma store on sale as a sort of pre-Mother’s Day gift to myself and the recipe is from Cooks Illustrated (the best and easiest lemon pound cake I’ve ever found).  Don’t skimp on the lemon zest and you’ll never use another pound cake recipe again.  Plus, you make it in a food processor in about 5 minutes!!!

The pan is non-stick but you need to use a baking spray (oil & flour together) to ensure that the cakes release perfectly and you get super-sharp edges.  Each pan holds 2 cups of batter (total  6 cup capacity), or one standard 9 x 5″ loaf pan recipe.  I followed the recipe exactly (including the optional glaze) plus drizzled it with a simple glaze of about 1 cup of icing sugar mixed with a little freshly squeeze lemon juice until it was just pourable.

Here’s the pic from the Williams-Sonoma site – isn’t it gorgeous! Make these and you’ll be the star of the block party or your office goodie day. Or the next baby shower, or your MIL’s birthday, or whatever.


MAKES 3 MINI LOAF PANS, or ONE 9 X 5″ LOAF PAN) serving 8
Adapted from Cooks Illustrated
Published March 2002

1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), softened
1½ cups cake flour (6 ounces)
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp table salt
1¼ cups granulated sugar (8 ¾ ounces)
2 tbsp grated lemon zest plus 2 tsp juice from 2 medium lemons
4 large eggs
1½ tsp pure vanilla extract

LEMON GLAZE (OPTIONAL, but adds moisture)
½ cup granulated sugar (3 ½ ounces)
¼ cup lemon juice, from 1 or 2 medium lemons

LEMON FROSTING (OPTIONAL, but looks so good)
1 cup icing sugar
a few tsp lemon juice to make pourable frosting


You can use a blender instead of a food processor to mix the batter. To add the butter, remove the center cap of the lid so it can be drizzled into the whirling blender with minimal splattering. This batter looks almost like a thick pancake batter and is very fluid.

  • Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees F.  Spray interior of mini loaf pans with baking spray. (Or, if you’re using a standard 9×5″ pan, butter and flour your pan in usual way.)  In medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
  • Melt butter in small saucepan over medium heat. Whisk melted butter thoroughly to reincorporate any separated milk solids.
  • In food processor, process sugar and zest until combined, about five 1-second pulses. Add lemon juice, eggs, and vanilla; process until combined, about 5 seconds. With machine running, add melted butter through feed tube in steady stream (this should take about 20 seconds). Transfer mixture to large bowl. Sift flour mixture over eggs in three steps, whisking gently after each addition until just combined.
  • Pour batter evenly into prepared pans and bake 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees and continue to bake until deep golden brown and skewer inserted in center comes out clean, about 30 minutes, (35 minutes if using a 9 x 5″ pan) rotating pan halfway through baking time. Cool in pan for 10 minutes, turn onto wire rack.
  • If using lemon glaze, while cake is cooling in pan, bring sugar and lemon juice to boil in small nonreactive saucepan, stirring occasionally to dissolve sugar. Reduce heat to low and simmer until thickened slightly, about 2 minutes.
  • After turning cake onto wire rack, poke the cake’s top and sides with a toothpick and brush on Lemon Glaze. Cool to room temperature, at least 1 hour. (Cooled cake can be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and stored at room temperature for up to 5 days.)

Optional but looks so good! – Mix icing sugar with enough lemon juice (add one teaspoon at a time) to make a pourable frosting and pour over cakes.

Enjoy and get ready for the compliments!!

Till next time!  Happy knitting and baking!

Celebrate Shawl Month with a Gorgeous Amberle!

Amberle Shawl

My Amberle Shawl

After a long break from blogging, I’m back. I may not have been writing, but I’ve been knitting – most recently test-knitting Amberle, a splendid big cushy shawl by Shannon Cook, aka Very Shannon.  The textured stitches are addictive and fun to work and you’d be surprised how quickly it knits up!  I made mine in Julie Asselin’s gorgeous Nurtured yarn in the colours Fer a cheval (MC) and Naturel (CC). Just look at Shannon’s sample in the colours Compass and Irma below.  Check out Julie’s Etsy shop to see the stunning Nurtured kits she’s put together for you to make your own Amberle.

Photo by Betsy Jo Photography





And if you’re as crazy about this shawl as I am (and everyone else who’s made one), Churchmouse Yarn & Teas on Bainbridge Island, WA is having a fun Amberle Shawl Knit-Along.  Head over to Churchmouse’s Ravelry group for info and to sign up.  For extra fun, Shannon has put together some stunning colour combos of Brooklyn Tweed Shelter – you can even buy kits of Shelter on Churchmouse’s site.

I can’t get enough of my Amberle, here are a couple more pics:

So cozy!

So cozy!

It's huge! (That's what she said)

It’s huge! (That’s what she said)

Happy knitting y’all!

Next up:  Some chit-chat about Very Shannon’s 2016 Tops, Tanks and Tees Knit-Along. Hope you’ll come along for the ride!

Book Review – Pattern Writing for Knit Designers, by Kate Atherley

Pattern Writing for Knit Designers (everything you didn’t know you needed to know)

Serenity Now!

The quality of mercy may not be strained, but the quality of a knitting pattern can make the difference between a heavenly or hellish knitting experience. It’s no fun working on a project if the instructions are confusing, the layout is illogical, the photos misleading or there’s no schematic. Conversely, a beautifully laid out, clearly written pattern that makes sense and has an overall “flow” along with pretty photos that show the details of a project will go a long way to making knitting the relaxing and rewarding occupation it should be.

When I started writing up my own patterns, I wanted my work to look professional so I studied the patterns of my favorite designers to get inspired by their layouts, language, fonts, photos, charts, white space, etc. but didn’t really know the reasons why those aspects are so important. As a fledgling designer, I can’t afford to hire a tech editor or graphic designer so I really want to learn how to translate my designs myself into patterns that really work.

My search is over! 

I have been rescued by Kate Atherley and her new book, Pattern Writing for Knit Designers. It explains in clear, step-by-step detail everything designers need to know, including, as the book’s subtitle says, what they didn’t know they needed to know. I snapped up the e-book the moment it was published and read it from cover-to-cover almost before the ink on the PayPal invoice had dried.

Who is this book for?

Everyone, from newbie to experienced designer, can benefit from Pattern Writing for Knit Designers. Whether you want to learn to write patterns from the ground up or you’re an old hand who wants to add polish to your patterns, this book is for you.

As Kate describes it, “this book specifically addresses the details of how to create complete, clear and easy-to-use knitting patterns, for any type of design, and for any level of knitter.”

What will you learn?

There is a LOT of genius information in this 162-page book. Some of the topics include:

  • what information needs to be included in a knitting pattern
  • how to properly and clearly communicate sizing and measurement information
  • what schematics are, why you need them, and how to create them
  • how to use charts and written instructions to express special pattern stitches like cables and lace
  • stitch nomenclature (especially related to cables), abbreviations, and glossaries
  • how to handle multiple sizes and versions
  • use of brackets and * to indicate repeats
  • how to establish a personal style sheet

Practical Information Galore!

Every chapter is loaded with a ton of practical information. One example is Chapter 2: “The Actual Knitting Instructions”. It explains in detail how to use consistency in language, style and formatting, includes fun “pop quizzes” that illustrate how instructions can be improved and outlines the importance of developing a personal style sheet.

There isn’t a single chapter in this book that I will not apply to my work immediately. Kate explores every topic in detail and explains not just the “how” but also the “why” of each process. Nuggets of sage advice from other experts are included throughout the book along with real-life knitters’ perspectives on patterns.

A truly invaluable resource, Pattern Writing for Knit Designers belongs in every designer’s arsenal.

What are you waiting for? Buy it now!

You can read more about Kate and purchase Pattern Writing for Knit Designers on her website at http://kateatherley.com.  (You’ll also find info there about purchasing the book from Patternfish and Webs.)

Full disclosure: I am not related to Kate nor have we ever met. I’m just a big fan and love awesome books that teach me stuff I’m dying to know! 

Happy knitting and designing y’all!


Road Trippin’ with Tin Can Knits

I love test knitting and this summer I had the great pleasure of testing a clutch of beauties for Tin Can Knits and now that their print and e-book  is available for pre-order, I can finally talk about them.  (I also did some projects for Shannon Cook and Jane Richmond but will write about those when the veil of secrecy has been lifted.) TCK’s latest book is called Road Trip and, like any good road trip, it’s awesome. According to their website, Emily and Alexa say that the book is “inspired our adventures across Canada; winding roads through mountain passes, coffee in quaint towns, and bonfires on remote beaches. With cables, colourwork and lace, Road Trip is full of delicious designs.” The three patterns from the book that I tested were two gorgeous cardigans – cable-yoked Caribou and stranded-yoke Clayoquot and a matching Clayoquot toque.  I made wee baby sizes for the gift stash (come on young, fertile friends of mine – have some more babies so I can give these a good home!) but the patterns are written for all sizes, from newborns through 4XL.

Caribou Cardigan

Caribou Cardigan

Clayoquot Cardigan

Clayoquot Cardigan

Clayoquot Toque

Clayoquot Toque

























As always, the patterns fit perfectly, are beautifully written and photographed and full of great tips and tutorials.  Pre-order here or on Ravelry and knit until the wheels come off!

Solstice Sky – or what to make with gorgeous yarn

Yes, it’s summer, but soon it will be bloody freezing again.  Here’s a little something to whip up before the chill is back in the air…

Solstice Sky













Every fall, I go to Circle Craft Christmas Market in Vancouver specifically to buy yarn from one of my favourite hand-dyers in the world, Trish Moon from Indigo Moon Yarns. She is a master of colour (mistress of colour?) and has an uncanny ability to combine my favourite colours with the squishiest, most delicious yarn imaginable.

There it was on the table in her booth, a pile of yummy worsted weight Indigo Moon Studio Edition Merino in the most delicious saturated colours. The one that jumped out at me was in an exquisite colour called Solstice Moon. Five seconds later, money flew out of my wallet and two skeins were in my bag.  Result!

This gorgeous yarn begs for cables and soon my brain sprouted an idea for a hat – a cabled beanie with a little bit of slouch. I swatched, I knit, I sketched, I sent it for testing and knit some more and, yada, yada, yada, Solstice Sky was born.












A quick-to-knit cable-panel beanie, it’s an adult size M-L knit in the round from the brim up and stretches easily to comfortably fit noggins from 19-23” (48-59 cm). The instructions for the cable are both written and charted and it uses approximately 150-165 yds (137-151 m).

The pattern is $5.00 – click the “Buy Now” button below to purchase it from my Ravelry store.  (FYI, you do not have to be a member of Ravelry to purchase the pattern, but knitting is more fun if you’re a member – it’s free!)