KAL: Starting Rosemary & Bay

Have you joined the KAL yet?  This month I’m running a KAL for Rosemary & Bay, one of my favorite self-published patterns.  I’ve extended the deadline to use a coupon to get Rosemary & Bay: enter “littleturtle” before the 12th, and get 40% off!

Rosemary and Bay

Rosemary and Bay

Let me tell you why I love this pattern.  Last week I cast on for the neckline, and it was just sailing by.  I loved watching the changes in colors, I loved seeing how the garter stitch was working up, and I was anticipating the divide for the armholes.  I love that this pattern has no seaming, so the work just sails by.  Which means, if you can’t tell by the picture, I’m in a bit of a pickle… I just kept going.


I have to admit I’ve went a bit beyond the neckline, which was my goal for this week.  If you’re just joining us, let’s set a goal of picking out yarn and getting the neckline done this week.  Don’t be afraid to stash dive… how neat would this baby look in rainbow colors?  Or even more than the two I’m using here?

Later this week I’ll have a tutorial about joining the neck, since if you haven’t done this particular pattern before, that can bit a bit tricky.

But let me tell you a bit more about this knit.  It’s sized for newborn to two years old (and frankly, if you want to push it to 3 years, grab an Aran weight yarn and go up a needle size or two).  Rosemary & Bay is well suited to a single color of yarn, but also looks so darn cute in multiple colors.  (I’m planning to add shamrocks to mine – just you wait and see).  It’s great in wool or cotton, and the garter stitch keeps most of the pattern from having too much purling.

Don’t believe me?  Vmay71, on Ravelry, says this about the pattern: “She got me started on Tuesday and done by Saturday. A clear pattern that knits up quickly. What more could you ask for? ”

So come join me!  We’re going to have a bunch of fun!

And pickup the pattern here to get 40% off!  You don’t even need a Ravelry account!

News & Updates from Tinking Turtle

On Monday Mr. Turtle and I closed on a house we’ve been in the process of buying.  It seems like we’ve been in negotiations for months now.  Monday afternoon we signed the last of the paperwork, a large sum of money exchanged hands, and we got the keys to the house.  It’s official.

Over the next few weeks we’ll be moving our household from the house we rent to the house we own – over a distance just shy of seven miles.  We get to stay in an area we love.  We couldn’t be more pleased with our decision!

Next week I’ll try to get some pictures of the house and the property, but right now we’re busy with a number of tasks we want to get done before we move in… namely, some repairs, some tidying, and packing up our current household.  Big changes are afoot!


mattress stitch

Finishing: working the mattress stitch

Over the past weekend I was at Fibre Space teaching a full roster of classes.  It was a blast – some weekends you just luck out with the most amazing student.  It was the case of me being in the right mind-frame, all the students ready and prepared for the classes and… I think the fact that the store had rearranged the classrooms so there was noticeably more space.  Sometimes, when there were a lot of classes running in the store before, the noise and the room could get a mite bit squished.  With the way the store has been rearranged, the classrooms have more room to “breathe.”  It made a big difference.

I taught Finishing, and had a great group of students learn how to work the mattress stitch, weave in ends, and block like masters.  I also taught Ravelry 101 and Intarsia.

irish crochet motifs

Irish Crochet Motifs

But the class I’d been looking forward to teaching the most?  Irish Crochet.  A number of years ago I ran an Irish Crochet class that did well, but interest lagged and I wasn’t able to get another class off the ground.  Still, I pitched the class to Danielle and she thought it’d be a good idea to run it right before St. Patrick’s day.  It was a good decision.  I completely revamped the class, taking the best bits from the last time I did it and contextualizing it in a different manner.  This was definitely an unusual class: one part piratical hands-on reading charts and learning about Irish Crochet, one part how to read historical patterns, and one part planning and making Irish Crochet in the future.  the students were great, and the result was a class that blew me out of the water.

the Best Notions Box

the Best Notions Box

Meanwhile, one of my students brought to class the most epic notions box I’d ever had a pleasure to encounter.  Made by her husband from a fly fishing tackle box, it was amazing.  Above is the first side of the box, and below is the second side of the box.  Talk about a well-planned tool.

The other side of the best notions box

The other side of the best notions box

Knit-a-long: Rosemary & Bay

I suppose it was coming.  I finished off the slouchy hat, and I knew we were going to be in church, so I decided I’d grab a copy of
Rosemary & Bay
on my way out the door.  I had the remainder of a skein of Twizzle left.  I figured I’d get started on the yoke, come home, and find some suitable yarn to act as a contrast color and fill out the yardage needed for Rosemary & Bay.

You see, I’ve begun knitting for the Kiwi (little turtle).

I have the Twizzle from Mountain Colors for the yoke, hem, waistline, and accents.  And I have some leftover Willow Attire in cream for the body and the skirt.

Have I swatched? (well, I have the entire hat to act as a swatch, so yes, kinda.  I have not swatched with the Attire, recently, although I have my old swatch from designing with it, so qualified yes).

Am I getting gauge? (well… no.  But it’s for a baby, and I’m making the largest size and we’ll see how it works.  I’m going to launch myself into a mistake I can see coming.  It’s the baby fumes.)

Still, after casting on for the yoke, I’m in the swing of things here, and I wanted to invite ya’ll to knit along.  Baby clothes are always needed.  And if they aren’t needed, well that’s what a trosseau’s for, right?

Here I am casting on for this version of Rosemary & Bay.  If you’d like to get the pattern, I’ll be having it on sale from now thru the end of the month.  Simply enter in “littleturtle” for 40% off.


Update from Chez Turtle

If I haven’t already mentioned, Mr. Turtle and I are closing on a house at the end of the month, and we’ve been up to our eyeballs in packing.  Have I mentioned how much stuff we have?  Because it’s a lot.  It seems like everything is in boxes.  So it seems to me like the perfect time for an update!

Single ply fingering weight handspun, natural rainbow colors.

Single ply fingering weight handspun, natural rainbow colors.

I’ve been working on a design for Spin Off that’s due in a couple of weeks.  I’m enjoying having a span of time without a whole bunch of tight deadlines, as it seems like it was one on top of another for a while.  This design involves handspun gradient yarn, hairpin lace crochet, and seashells.  Being somewhere between a lace and fingering weight yarn, it’s going slow, but I’m certain (certain, I tell you!) the results are going to be amazing.  This is one pattern I might make a version for myself.  It’s going to be just that stunning – a real marriage of technique and yarn.

Unfortunately, I gotta keep it under wraps, so while there’s pictures, I can’t share (most) of them.  Here’s a sneak peek. Shhhh.

Still!  I actually have a finished item, made for myself, that I can share.  So that’s a good part of the update.

A few weeks ago I got a hankering for a really simple knit.  I also was looking for another hat – my original Wurm was getting ratty (though still well-loved), and my secondary Wurm was with the heavy coat.  (If you’re looking for a great pattern, Wurm is it – great slouchy, a little interest, folded over brim.) While I had a lightweight hat for indoors, I really needed something DK weight for the lighter weight coat.

And I decided it needed to be a maximum of slouchy – for the hair, of course.

Mountain Colors Twizzle, slouchy hat, own pattern.

Mountain Colors Twizzle, slouchy hat, own pattern.

Enter in a skein of Mountain Colors Twizzle that had once been another project, since fogged.  Let the yarn shine, I decided.

This is a great hat.  I cast on just over 100 stitches in size 3 needles, and knit a folded-over brim that is just slightly too tight, which means it’ll stay on my head just fine.  After knitting the brim together, increased every 5th stitch while also going up to a size 5 needle.  Twizzle, in my experience, works up right around a DK (I could look up the weight of the yarn, but I’m feeling lazy… EDIT: Apparently it is a worsted.  Huh).  It was so freeing to work without having to worry about writing a pattern or re-creating the hat, though I could, given a little bit of reverse engineering.  Still, there’s plenty of slouchy hats out there, find a pattern for one of them.  This one is for me.

This is the hat, unblocked.  Ends still need to be woven in, but I’m not worrying about that now.  It looks lovely, it’s done, and I’ll be wearing it as soon as the weather warrants it.  Details, however scant, up on my Ravelry project page.

I have nearly an entire skein left over of the Twizzle (I had 2, and only just dipped into the new one), and I’ll be sharing later this week my plans for it.

Stay tuned!

Everything’s about Socks

It seems like socks keep popping up in my life lately: specifically my favorite type – wool ones.  So I have two sock stories for you today.

My 2008 boyfriend socks – the only picture I have of them.

Back in 2008, when Mr. Turtle and I were first dating (and probably a little bit before then), I made him a pair of socks.  These were meant to be a luxury pair of socks, something simply so wonderful it would charm and wow him for years to come.  At the time we were both working at summer camps on nearly opposite ends of the country.  He was at Philmont in New Mexico, I was at Chimney Corners Camp, in Western Mass.

In the mountains of New Mexico, nights (even in the summer) can get quite cold.  I made the socks out of thick and sturdy Bulky Alpaca (called Lavish) in a masculine forest green.  And then I sent them off to Michael, with strict instructions to ONLY hand-wash these socks, and never, ever, never put them in the washer or dryer.

Now you think you’d know where this story is going, and you’d be wrong.  Michael was most dutiful, wore them for several nights and discovered how warm they were.  Hand washed them in the sink and hung them on a line to dry.  Basically, he was being a trooper with my gift.

And then he decided that they’d be perfect for a long hike he was going to take on one of his extended time-off periods.  Unfortunately, neither of us was experienced enough to think about the conditions of a hiking boot in relation to wool.  You see, wool felts and shrinks in the presence of three essential things: heat, water, and agitation. (You can actually get felting with two of the elements, but the sweet spot is all three).  Neither of us stopped to think about how hot, how sweaty, and how much friction is inside of a hiking boot.

Forest Green socks, felted

Forest Green socks, felted

He was barely able to pry the socks off his feet when the hike was done.  And when they finished drying, he found there was no elasticity in them: they had permanently shrunk.  He wrote me with chagrin – Michael felt terrible.  And I, reading the letter, smacked myself on the head – of course alpaca, which is even more prone to felting than wool, would make a terrible option for hiking socks.

Fast forward 8 years, and as we’re packing up to move in a few weeks, out comes a pair of socks I’ve never had the opportunity to see in person, after the incident.  I wasn’t even aware that Micahel saved the socks.  So here, in their much smaller glory, is a pair of felted slippers that won’t even fit me.  They’re about as elastic as a block of concrete and less comfortable.  Still, they do bring back memories!

My second story also involves socks, although this part is more of an endorsement.  As I’ve mentioned before: I love wool socks.  They’re what I wear about 80% of the year, when I’m not sporting bare feet.

And every year, like Dumbledore, I ask for wool socks for Christmas.  I almost never get them, even though they end up being the things I probably use the most.  Except for three years ago, when my brother-in-law got me two pairs of Darn Tough Socks.

My replacement Darn Tough Socks

My replacement Darn Tough Socks

If you’ve never heard of these socks, it’s okay, you’re not alone.  I didn’t know about them until that Christmas.  Turns out Darn Tough is a Vermont-based company focused on keeping as much of their process local.  They make the best and sturdiest socks I’ve ever worn.  Including my hand-knit socks.

It’s pretty typical about 2 years into things I have my first thin spots on my handknit socks.  Which is OK: I repair them and then they can keep going. (My oldest pair is going on 8 years, made the same year as Michael’s infamous failed pair of socks.)

My darn tough socks wore out about a month ago, after three years.  There was a very small hole in one sock, and the other was going thin.

Now, I will admit, Darn Tough Socks are pricey – they cost about the same as a nice skein of sock yarn.  But this is the thing: Darn Tough has a lifetime guarantee.  You wear the socks out, and they will replace them for you.  All you have to do is ship them back.

So I did.  And yesterday, I got a new pair back.

Seriously, if you’re looking into really good socks – hiking or normal, Darn Tough has so many options.  There are different heights to the cuff, different amounts of cushion and thickness, and so many different sizes.

I’m wearing a pair right now.

Wearing Wasabi Darn Tough Socks

Wearing Wasabi Darn Tough Socks

Tutorial: How to Unwind a Skein

20160212-0 Title Post

About a week ago I got a great question from Mary, one of my students and customers.  She wrote, “How do you unravel a twist of yarn? Made a mess and I am sure there is a correct way but I’m not privy it and I have three more to go….Mary.”  When Mary was talking about a twist of yarn, she was talking about a skein.  And this can be quite puzzling if you’ve never dealt with yarn stored this way.

I thought it was a great question, so I’ve put together a tutorial about it.  Since it’s a fairly picture-heavy post, I’ve put the rest of the post behind a cut so the photographs won’t slow down the loading time on the website.

But first, why is yarn stored in skeins, and not pre-wound for customers?  There are a couple of different reasons.  First, it’s generally agreed that keeping your yarn wound into balls for long periods of time can stretch out the yarn, especially if the yarn is wound up tightly. Keeping it in a skein allows the yarn to breathe a bit more.  Second, it’s easier for yarn companies to ship their yarn in skeins: they take up less space, squish better, and lie flatter in boxes.  Yarn that is in balls tends to be hard for LYS’s to store – I used to call a couple of different balled yarns “tribbles,” as they seemed to jump off the shelves whenever my back was turned.  Finally, for hand-dyed yarns, gradients and a few other yarns, skeins allow customers to see all the colors in the skein better, so they’re not surprised by a “mystery color.”

So that’s why you often may get your yarn in skeins from a Local Yarn Store.  Most stores offer balling services if you buy the yarn in the store or if you pay a small fee.  But do expect to wait – often sales clerks have to fit in the winding of yarn around their other duties!

[Read more…]

It’s Never too Early to Think about Summer Camp

Learning to spin at summer camp

Learning to spin at summer camp

It’s getting to be the time to think about summer camp, and for me, that means I’m talking about the summer camps I’ve been running the past few years!  However, Tinking Turtle has a couple of changes happening this year (spurred on, in a large part, because of our impending tiny turtle).

As I’ve talked about many times before, some of my most formative years were spent going to a summer camp in the Berkshires of Massachusetts, Camp Chimney Corners.  Summer camps are a great way to foster independence, expose children to new experiences or hobbies, and foster a different type of learning than what school offers.  And I’ve been proud, the past two years, to work with Montgomery College to bring fiberarts summer camps to the DC/Rockville area.

So it’s with sorrow that I say that I will not be running camps with Montgomery College this year.  The amount of traveling I’d do to teach the camps in Rockville, MD would be a little too much for our small family.  But it is with joy that I’m announcing that this year, I’ll be bringing fiber arts camps to my hometown, Ashland, by pairing with the Hanover Arts and Activities Center!

I’ll be hosting two camps this summer:

  • String Theory, happening August 8-12th, is a high-energy introduction to the fiberarts suitable for ages 8 & up.  It features spinning, knitting, basic sewing, weaving and dying.  Students will be working the week through on two different projects, with opportunities to customize and tailor their interests.
  • Next Step Needlecraft, happening August, offers a glimpse into some of the lesser-known handcrafts.  Suitable for ages 10 & up, this summer camp features spinning, punch-rug needlework, needle felting, crochet and dying.  Students have the option of planning and creating a variety of projects, which they will work on throughout the week.

If you live in the Ashland/Richmond area and know kids who would be interested, I’d love for you to pass my information along!  You can find out more at the Hanover Arts and Activities Website.

Techniques: Picking Up Stitches

Over the weekend I had a full schedule, teaching classes at Fibre Space in Alexandria.  One of the things I love about teaching classes is how it puts me in touch with my customer base: both for teaching and for designing.  I also love all the great questions that students shoot my way!  On Sunday I got to teach a class I haven’t taught in a while: Picking Up Stitches.

It’s a great class for showing students how many different ways there are to approach the same thing.  I love “peeling back the curtain” and showing students where designers get their numbers; and how they can “tweak” their own knitting.

Valley Log Cabin blanket by Dena Childs

As the class was ending, several of the students asked if there were patterns I’d recommend to practice picking up stitches, and I couldn’t resist putting together a Ravelry Bundle of some of my favorite patterns featuring picking up stitches that I’ve come across over the years.  You can see the entire bundle here, but I thought I’d share some of my highlights.

One of the first Patterns that came to mind was a Log Cabin blanket.  I’ve got one I work on in my (nonexistent) spare time out of sock yarn scraps.

There’s hundreds of variants of the log Cabin motif.  Essentially, you work your way from the center out, most often in garter stitch.  I’ve rapidly become a fan of Web’s Valley Yarns, and I love the color palette they offer.

I like this particular pattern for it’s simplicity: no need to mess up a good thing!

Albers Cowl by Ann Weaver

The Albers Cowl by Ann Weaver is a rather crafty variant of the log cabin concept.  This cowl features a center motif that’s slightly off-of-center, and I love the more modern feel it gives the piece.

Fibre Space carries the pattern, and both Sweet Georgia yarns and Neighborhood Fiber Company are great options to make this pattern shine.

Jewel Dragon by Svetlana Gordon

The Aranami Shawl by Olga Buraya-Kefelian is a simply stunning example of what can be done with picked up stitches.  I love
the way the colors create optical illusions with the knitting.  While done in a similar manner to entrelac, the effect is quite a bit more flowing than basket-weave.

If you like a slightly more robust challenge, Jewel Dragon by Svetlana Gordon takes a similar construction concept and turns it on its head.  I think the color choices really make this project, and several Ravelers have used rainbow yarns to great effect!

Personally, I’d love to use a long, color changing gradient, so you could see the colors shift from scale to scale.


Karner Butterfly by Jennifer Raymond

Karner Butterfly by Jennifer Raymond

My own Pattern, Karner Butterfly Socks features picked up stitches, too.

Made by working the leg of the sock first, the top cuff and the bottom sock are both worked afterwards by picking up stitches.  I love the color play in this pattern: so many of the ones I picked out to feature have similar color play, vying between two or more colors.

Do you have any favorite patterns that feature picking up stitches?  What are they?  Don’t forget to take a look at my entire bundle on Ravelry here!


On the other Side of the Snowstorm: Repairing Broken Things

fixing the toaster

Mr. Turtle fixing the toaster

One of the things I love about snowstorms is how they can sometimes function like a home-vacation: a chance to tackle all the things you haven’t quite gotten to yet.  I talked about my plan on Friday of things I wanted to tackle: darning, personal projects, starting the Piecework lace project I’ve got to get off by the end of the week.  And in that regard, it was a lovely weekend.  Little did I realize it at the time, but the theme of the weekend became repairing things: Mr. Turtle and I took turns solving problems and mending what’s broken.  There’s a lovely sort of satisfaction in that.

Saturday morning with the snow still coming down, Mr. Turtle and I got up earlier than expected.  After breakfast (and happy we hadn’t lost power during the night), Mr. Turtle tackled repairing the toaster, which had been failing to latch when you put the lever down.

Darning Socks

Mending socks with a darning needle and yarn.

It was one of those moments that made me glad that Mr. Turtle and I have different interests and things we’re good at: when a small electrical appliance breaks, it’s “broken” to me, beyond repairing.  Similarly, when Mr. Turtle’s got a hole in his socks or some textile wears out, he wouldn’t have a clue about how to fix it.

But to Mr. Turtle, the toaster was (nearly) an open book.  Meanwhile, I was busy tackling a pile of darned socks that had been building (and building and building).  Many of them didn’t need much repairing – we’ve both gotten better about “watching” our handknits for thin spots.  Much of the work was just working duplicate stitch over areas worn thin.

So while Michael tackled the toaster, I tackled the socks.  Then, it was out to do the first of two shovel efforts, a quick walk, and then a retreat indoors as the storm picked up again.

hat, mittens, gloves and scarf hanging from an unused shovel in a pile of snow.

Loosing the hats and mittens as we warm up

Sunday dawned with the news that church was canceled (not surprising), and nearly another 8″ of snow spread over our cars, yard, driveway and sidewalks.  It was not going to be a fun job to shovel – our one real snow-shovel (with a metal edge along the blade!) was out of commision.  The day before I’d bent the handle – a combination of it being an “ergonomic” handle and me being a mite bit too enthusiastic.  I was not looking forward to shoveling the driveway, sidewalks and other areas with a garden shovel.  Not only are the blades on these shovels small (so small!), but it just hurt my New England pride.

This is, again, where Mr. Turtle comes to the rescue – off he vanishes with the broken shovel, to return with the blade on a new wooden handle.  Our yard edge-trimmer (which we never use), valiantly gave up its handle to be installed on the snow shovel.  Soon we were warming up, the hats and mittens, jackets and scarves coming off as we polished off the driveway.

And because it hurt my pride not to do it, we are the sole people on the street that also cleared off our sidewalks and storm drain.  Again, raised in New England (and later upstate New York), I’m fairly certain it’s a law that you have to shovel off your portion of the sidewalks and clear out storm drains in your yard.  If it isn’t a law, then it was at least a family law in our household: you dug out the mailbox, you dug out the storm drain, and, gosh darnit, you dug out the sidewalks to ensure safe passage from the house in case of a fire.

So even as we’re living in Ashland, we did the same.

Then, it was time for another walk, this one along some of the more parklike areas of Ashland, to take pretty, artsy snow photography and enjoy the evening sun.



Snowstorm Projects

It’s grey and overcast.  Every once and awhile I see a stray flake drift down from the sky, and there’s a hushed breath feeling to the air when I stepped outside this morning.  Like any good snow-day or snowstorm, I have on a ratty sweater with penguins on it, and my favorite pair of pajama pants.  Unlike my childhood snow-days, my list is full.  Self-employment (especially when you work from home), means you get to keep working until the power goes out – and sometimes you don’t stop then.

Still, I’m planning on knocking out all my internet things this morning, and curling up with a blanket and my projects this afternoon.  Just in the time I’ve been typing this, the snow’s started to come down harder, and is starting to show up on the walkways.

So what will I be working on as the snow comes down?

Hairpin lace against a table

hairpin lace, looking like some strange creature’s spine

I’ve got a hairpin lace project I’m working on for Piecework – I have to get it off by next week.  I’ve created a lovely swatch, and now need to get cracking on the real piece.  One of the things I love about Hairpin is how it comes together so quickly, once you get the strips done.  I’ll put on an audiobook, and get a good chunk of it done this weekend.

still working on the puppy-chewed blanket

still working on the puppy-chewed blanket

This blanket is turning into the project I can really only work on for two-hours at a time – before my brain needs a rest and my back needs to stop hunching over it.  This too has to be done by the end of next week.  I’ve got one more big hole to fix, one smaller hole, and a bunch of worn places to reinforce.  I’m really happy with how this is working out, and hoping to get a good picture of it when it’s done.  This is logistically a little difficult right now, as our downstairs guest bedroom has become a staging ground for a larger home project, and the upstairs really doesn’t have a good spot.  I’ll figure something out, though.

The final project I don’t have a picture of, but it’s my near full-to-the-top meding bag.  It’s one of the larger bags by erin.lane (seriously good project bags – she doesn’t do anything revolutionary, other than having really cute fabrics, a well-lined bag, and sturdy reinforcing at stress points… but really, isn’t that all you need?), and it’s filled with hand-knit socks that need darning or reinforcing.  I made a dent in them this week, and I’m hoping to make a bigger dent in them, as I’m down to two pairs of handknit socks, and that really isn’t enough.

And now, in the simple 40 minutes I’ve been working on this, the snow has really started to pick up.  We’ve got accumulation on most of the concrete surfaces, and Mr. Turtle’s chomping at the bit to walk into town, get our snowstorm wine and cheese, and take a romantic walk in the snow.  So, I must be off!

What’s your snowstorm project?