Archives for category: Holiday

What a wonderful holiday Thanksgiving is – one of my very favorites. Slowing down, enjoying the coziness of home with food and family (in the broadest sense of the word).

We wanted to say thank you to all of our readers and customers for your continued support and friendship.

Wishing you a special day, no matter where your table is.

I love New Years. To me there’s always a strong feeling of the collective whole taking stock of where we’re at. It’s a time of gratitude and looking forward. It feels great.

It’s been another whirlwind year for us as our little company continues to grow and refine itself. Today we’re slowing down and enjoying the quiet.

We’re so looking forward to another year of new ideas, projects and challenges. A sincere thanks to all for reading, commenting, and supporting what we do here – we’re so grateful!


A very happy new year from BT Headquarters. Thank you all so much for your continued support and inspiration this year — I am so very grateful.

Sheep Just Never Stop Being Beautiful

2010 has some exciting things in store for us and I’m looking forward to yet another year of woolly projects!

Wishing you the best for a new decade…

I was rummaging through my photos today, as I’ll often do when I’m seeking solace from stress (or when I’m just straight up procrastinating), and came across these pictures of the second version of the Montera Hat that I knit up at Christmas. After gifting this to a dear family friend, I completely forgot about the photos and hence forgot to share – good thing it didn’t quite get away from us!

Montera Part Deux

Pattern: Montera Hat by Pam Allen [Ravel it!]
Source: Classic Elite Alpaca Stories
Yarn: Classic Elite Montera in 3875 Inca Grey; Just barely under one skein (pattern calls for two)
Needles: US 7 (4.5mm) and US 10 (6mm) circulars using the Magic Loop

When: Christmas Eve and surrounding hours, stuck in an airport due to snow storms.

Montera Part Deux

It’s much the same story as the first one – aside from using a different yarn, they were both knit during snowstorm-induced airport hysteria (collective) at Christmas. Extra gift knitting, in retrospect was the silver lining of the story, if only a minor amount of silver proportional to the rest of the chaos. I’m over it though, can’t you tell?

Montera Part Deux

My gauge on US 10′s was slightly tighter than instructed by the pattern, although I like the finished product with slightly less slouch. I blocked the hat over a 10″ lid to the pot we use to boil water for pasta – it’s my go-to form for blocking the slouchy and tam-like. Cardboard circles cut from old boxes work well too. This accounts for the shaping you see, although it would fit more like a beanie without this. Knitter’s preference!

Montera Part Deux

I squeaked in at just under one skein – it was a nail biter, since I only had that one skein and limited time. If you knit one, I’d play it safe and grab an extra skein. If you end up making it with just one, you can be sure you’ll have enough yarn for another! I guess I should mention the one skein trick didn’t include the survival of my swatch – I used everything.

Montera Part Deux

Last week was “Spring Break” (term used loosely) – although I did take a day or two off for myself to knit, think, and re-acquaint myself with my spring priorities. The weather is warming up slowly but surely and the Perfect Storm of spring, as I’ve affectionately dubbed the coming season for myself is on its way. The good news is that I’m really having a light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel moment and there are some really exciting things on the near horizon – I’m really looking forward to sharing these with you, faithful friends! I’m entertaining the idea of taking summer off and knitting next to my air conditioner for three months as an effective transition into a new chapter… sounds good (and not at all irresponsible), doesn’t it?

Being on vacation allowed me to catch up on many things – one of which was photographing some of the projects that were able to sneak through the knitting gauntlet last year without ever being reported. Today’s hat, for example was knit in December and given as a Christmas gift, but never caught on camera. Until now. (No one is safe!)

Thorpe (by b r o o k l y n t w e e d)

Pattern: Thorpe by Kirsten Kapur [Free PDF] (*Ravel it)

Materials: Beaverslide McTaggart Tweed “Mountain Mahogany” & “Autumn Dogwood”

Amount: Less than one skein and a few yards of CC for half-double-crochet trim

Needles: US 9/5.5mm KP Options

Started and Finished: December 2007

Thorpe (by b r o o k l y n t w e e d)

I guess technically this could be called a companion piece to the Adult Tomten, as it was made with yarn leftovers, incorporates a healthy dose of garter stitch, uses virtually the same trim idea, and incorporates a straight-forward cleverness that I like a lot in patterns. One of many really solid patterns in Kirsten’s online oeuvre over at Through the Loops.

Thorpe (by b r o o k l y n t w e e d)

Thorpe is worked from the top down, starting with a circular cast-on and increasing regularly until the hat is the right size (the pattern offers three different sizes to choose from). Working hats from the top down, like working garments from the top down, has a lot of advantages built in, like being able to try-on as you go and tweak widths and lengths to be perfectly customized to the individual head size you’re hoping to cover.

The other thing I love about the top-down option is that it makes subbing different gauges very easy and organic. For example, I knit a dk-version last winter out of handspun, working the pattern as written but continuing increases until the size was right. I only slightly tweaked the placement of the earflaps to correspond to the new gauge – but that’s a simple adjustment.

The pattern is versatile too – male and female friends all want to wear it! I better get on making a couple more (did I mention the pattern also includes a colorwork version??)

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As far as the yarn is concerned, I’m sure I’ve waxed poetic enough about this stuff in post upon post in the past. This particular version of the McTaggart Tweeds (the 2-ply yarns) are being phased out, unfortunately, but not to worry! A new, gorgeous version is being ushered in – the gauge is the same, and yes, those amazing color choices that make Leanne’s yarn stand far above the rest are all still there (see the photo in my previous post).

Thorpe (by b r o o k l y n t w e ed)

And speaking of hats – there are more coming. I have a few new hat patterns that are just about ready to be released here, so stay tuned. More wool. More cables. More knitting fun. See you soon!

Thorpe (by b r o o k l y n t w e e d)

I guess it’s never too late to share Christmas knitting, is it? As I promised before (this long silence), I’d show a few quick little knits that were distributed under the tree this year and now live far far away. Today’s hats both reside in Portland, Oregon where wool’s water-resistant qualities are highly appreciated.

Jo's Hat (by b r o o k l y n t w e e d)

The first is an adaptation of the Thorpe pattern [PDF]. I really liked this pattern (it’s knit from the top down, and you know I love that) but knew that handspun was in order so I decided to merge the two. The yarn I had on hand was DK weight so I just tweaked the numbers a bit to work – very easy to do when knitting hats from the top down. It turned out lightweight, fluffy and rather nice for a milder climate. Stripey too.

Jo's Hat (by b r o o k l y n t w e e d)

The yarn is a 2-ply merino that I spun last fall with this particular recipient in mind. The fiber was handdyed in sunny California at Pigeonroof Studios and turned out to be a lovely little skein. I actually have enough of it leftover to knit another hat, so you may see this one pop up again in the future. Here’s the unknit yarn hanging in the window.

Lazy Daisy Drying

Hat number two was a little stashbusting creation. I had about half a skein of both Silk Garden and Cascade 220, both in neutral shades, both begging to be married. So I put them together and got this.

Ryan's Hat

The hat is just about as basic as can be, aside from maybe the crown. I really love how raglan-style decreases create a square-top on hats. I got to thinking of the stripes as circles and thought it might be interesting to throw some squares into the mix. I started thinking of this hat as squares-within-circles and really liked how it turned out.

Ryan's Hat (by b r o o k l y n t w e e d)

The photos were taken on Puget Sound at Dash Point in Washington State. While we were walking the beach we saw a whole herd (school?) pod of Orcas (thanks everyone!) jumping off the coast – something I’ve never seen in all my life. And I grew up there. It was pretty great – and you can’t beat that Puget Sound light!

Ryan's Hat

Knitting has been regretfully slow around here lately, but a few projects can pull you through almost any stress-ridden period (thank heaven for Baby Surprise Jackets!)… and when did February sneak up on us?

Okay, here’s one more picture of canoodling handknits
for the road.

Ryan and Jo

Until next time – happy knitting!

I know I said that I would be sharing small, Christmas knits with you first… but I finished this last week and have been too excited to keep it under wraps any longer. Of all my knitting projects, this one has got to be up there in my all-time favorites (despite it being my own personal Everest for the last three months). So good in fact, it’s keeping me warm while I write – it’s cold out there!

Pi Shawl Blanket (by b r o o k l y n t w e e d)

Pattern: The Pi Shawl by Elizabeth Zimmermann (on ravelry)
Source: Knitter’s Almanac (July)
Materials: Ístex Plötulopi Unspun Icelandic Wool; just uner 6 wheels (1800 yards)*
Needles: 36-Inch US 8/5.0 mm Addi Turbo Circulars
Dimensions: 78″ diameter after blocking; 64″ diameter unblocked
*See bottom of post for additional details on yarn and blocking

Start Date: 19 October 2007
Finish Date: 9 January 2008


Pi Shawl Blanket (by b r o o k l y n t w e e d)

Notes on the pattern: Of all the many genius ideas of Elizabeth’s, to me, the Pi Shawl is one of the most mind-blowing. If you aren’t familiar with the pattern I urge you to read it, for the pure enjoyment of how clever it is in all its glorious simplicity. Worked from the center out, the entire piece has no more than 6 (or 7 in my case) increase rounds total – meaning 99% of this shawl is straight knitting (save whatever lacey embellishments you’d like to incorporate) which gets major points in my book.

The other beautiful thing about the Pi Shawl is its endless potential for individuality. Spend a little time trolling the web for completed Pi Shawls (there are hundreds) and you’ll see what I mean. The beauty of the pattern is it’s blank-canvas-like nature – consecutive rings of set stitch counts (144, 288, 576, etc.) which just beg you to plug in any old lace motif that’s giving you an itch.

Pi Shawl Blanket (by b r o o k l y n t w e e d)

If you aren’t feeling all that creative, or have your heart set on one of the versions EZ suggests (like I did) – that’s just fine too. There are two beauties already laid out for you in both Knitter’s Almanac and Knitting Workshop. I have always loved the straight forward and classic beauty of the ‘consecutive YO ring’ version and knew that I wanted to give it a go. This is basically a stockinette circular shawl with a *YO, k2tog* round thrown in every 6th row. I love how these “sham rows” completely camouflage the actual organic increase rounds. The shaping is invisible in the entourage of lace rings. So great!

Pi Shawl Blanket (by b r o o k l y n t w e e d)

Elizabeth talks about how there is never a need to increase beyond the 576 stitch section, as the shawl will already be nice and big (she says something about not having a need to cover a football field?). I had a lot of yarn though, and really wanted to see how far I could push this, with the ultimate goal of having a big blanket for the couch. My calculations showed that I would have enough wool for about 22 rows into the 1152 stitch section (oh the horror), plus an attached (9-stitch) garter side-to-side edging.

Pi Shawl Blanket (by b r o o k l y n t w e e d)

The most miraculous part of the whole process is probably that I was able to keep a treacherous number of stitches on a 36″ circular needle. It got a little rough on my hands towards the end, but when that frantic finishing fever comes over you just about nothing can stand in your way, right? Having a huge round of knitting on a circular needle also makes it impossible to predict just how big the piece will be. Before working the edging, you have nothing more than a big rumpled sack of holey wool sitting in your lap that looks more like an oversized rasta cap than a lace blanket. Some days it took all my control to keep from bucking my calculations and indulging in the bind-off, just to be able to free the lace from the needles.

Pi Shawl Blanket (by b r o o k l y n t w e e d)

The edging of the shawl is the only section that got a little bit of fancy lace (not that fancy, but relatively). I think a little hint of laciness around the edge makes the simpler ring pattern really shine. After my final increase round I switched into a gull stitch pattern and worked 5 vertical repeats around before starting the attached garter stitch edging aaaaall the way around.

Pi Shawl Blanket (by b r o o k l y n t w e e d)

Some notes on yarn: Unspun Icelandic is a wonderful, wonderful thing. If you’re a fan of wooly things, you must get your hands on some (I received mine as a gift from a friend in Iceland, but you can purchase it online through Schoolhouse Press). Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a yarn you’re gonna want around your neck – it’s a far cry from merino – but it has its own unique qualities that I could go on and on about. First of all, because it’s an unspun, long-stapled wool, it’s as light as air and very warm. Even in a thin piece of lace full of holes, it works surprisingly well at trapping warmth. The blanket is huge and light and toasty -exactly the combination I was looking for. The other benefit is the yardage. Each wheel seems to go on and on and on – I made a blanket that covers a queen sized bed with less than 6 wheels of the stuff (it’s about 300 yards to 3.5 oz) on a US 8.

And if you fear knitting with something so “delicate”, you can get rid of that idea straight away. The wool staple is longer than the distance between your needle and your fingers, so while knitting it feels just like any other yarn, and if it does break coming out of the skein (rarely happened, unaided by dogs or human feet) it’s no problem. The yarn sticks to itself like velcro – so to join a break just overlap about 2 inches on each end and knit right past it. That’s the other bonus – no ends to weave in, and no spit splicing necessary. It’s like knitting an 1800 yard cone – carefree and seamless. And to dispell any rumours, the knitted fabric is just as strong as any other yarn out there on the market.

Pi Shawl Blanket (by b r o o k l y n t w e e d)
I guess this counts as my first official finished knit of 2008. It’s already taken some serious self-control to keep myself from purchasing more of this wool (the natural colors are amazing) and cast on for another. It became an immediate crowd-pleaser in my home, so another one might not be such a bad idea.

Edited to Add: The following information has been added to the post in response to questions I’ve received via e-mail about this project. I hope they are helpful.

First, more specifics about the color of the wool. I received this yarn as a gift from a friend in Iceland. She purchased the yarn there in person. Schoolhouse Press does sell this yarn, but in a limited palette – which I should have mentioned earlier – and does not currently carry the color that I used.

The color of my wool is titled Sea Green Heather and listed as product #1422 on the Istex official color card – viewable here. You’ll notice they have a lot of wonderful colors! Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

In researching, we think that the best bet for possibly acquiring this yarn by mail order would be the Handknitting Association of Iceland, but can’t say for sure. All of their contact information is available behind the link. NOTE: it seems that the colorcard listed on their site is an older version and sites Sea Green Heather as #9736.

Blocking: Yes, blocking was quite a challenge in our hardwood-floored, tiny apartment. I was hoping to be able to block the shawl on the queen-sized bed but realized very soon that this would not be possible. After some creative brainstorming, we tried a rather unconventional but nonetheless effective way of blocking – involving the box spring. The picture says it all.

And finally – a few of you asked if I worked with the unspun Icelandic wool single stranded or held it double stranded. I worked single stranded.

life has been crazy lately. dont fret… i’ve still been knitting fiercely. can’t remember a time when i wasn’t… but nevertheless.

i haven’t posted as much as i’ve planned recently, including pictures! (sorry – i know how annoying pictureless blogs are.)
i finished the malabrigo ear flap hat and have started another hat (cable cap) that i’m designing with my other hank of this blessed merino.

i hope everyone is knitting well… while i feel like i’ve been very productive over the last few weeks i still feel like i have a huge weight of holiday projects looming over my head. i hope i can get everything done before christmas!