Thursday, February 23, 2017

Fili Top Down Convertible Mitts from Unraveled Sheep -- Day 3

The bind off that doesn't (bind off, that is...)

Now we get to the ingenious part of these mitts!  

The top cuffs are finished, and it’s time to start the mitt section.  The trick here is to remember that while you use a three needle bind off technique, you’re not actually binding off.  You’re binding—one part of the mitt to the other.  I had to read through the directions a few times before that sunk in.  Once I pictured the finished mitts in my head, it was easier to see how the pieces fit together.  It feels a bit odd to be knitting the mitts from the top down—I think almost every other set of mittens or mitts I’ve done have started from the wrist up.

It was just after the ribbing was firmly attached and I was on my way that I discovered my next hurdle:  not enough yarn.  Now, were I doing these one at a time, I could use the clever tactic of weighing my first completed mitt and ensuring I had the same (or more) grams of yarn left for the second.  

Since I’m doing these two at a time, however, I don’t have that option.  I have to eyeball it.  And it’s looking like I might not have enough.  Especially since the pattern says the larger sizes require as much as 300 yards, and a skein only has 192 yards.  This isn’t the kind of thing you want to get wrong.

So I did what any smart knitter would do:  call the shop.  Order up another skein so that my push to the finish line on these mitts is a happy experience, not a stressed-out measuring nightmare.  Verla is happily mailing me out a second skein so I can knit with confidence.


...Provided my Silky Wool doesn’t get lost in the mail.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Fili Top Down Convertible Mitts from Unraveled Sheep -- Day 2

Knitting insomnia…

You may have experienced knitting insomnia.  I know it has happened to me before.  It is one of the dangers of late-night knitting. 

Knitting insomnia has a less dangerous cousin known as “just let me finish this row.” This cousin's dangers are directly related to the length and complexity of the row in question.  

Let’s face it:  many of us have stayed up past our bedtimes to get rows done.  Or tangles untangled.

But the cruelest fate of all is the discovery—right before bed—of a mistake.

Halfway through this section of the cuff (the portion of the mitt that covers your fingers when these are in “mitten mode”), I discovered I had been increasing several rows past the point where I should have stopped.  I discovered this error at the worst possible time—just as I was putting my knitting away for the night to go to bed.

It was not an easy fix—tinking several rows of two mitts on one circ is a complex process. I figured I had about an hour’s worth of rescue work ahead of me, and it was already nearly 11pm.  

“You can fix it in the morning, when you’re sharper,” I told myself as I tucked my knitting back into its bag and went to bed.

Notice I said “went to bed.”  Because I did not go to sleep.  No, I lay in bed for another 90 minutes attempting not to think about my wayward knitting. “It’s just knitting,” I kept telling myself.  “Lives are not at stake.  12:30 a.m. is not a good time to attempt a complicated knitting fix.”

Nothing doing.  You can already guess the end of the story:  Me, up until 1:45 a.m., fixing my knitting.  


So now I have “insomnia mitts” to go along with my “amnesia cowl.”  Knitting may be soothing, but it sure isn’t always peaceful.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

FEBRUARY READER WHO KNITS: Beverly Laude

It's the third Wednesday of the month, so it must be time for Readers Who Knit!  DestiKNITters, meet Beverly Laude.

Beverly, what’s on your needles right now?  
Another hat, of course!  I hadn’t done any knitting for a long time because I broke my right arm (dominant one, of course!) in Feb. 2013.  I took up crochet after it healed, but was only able to manage knitting after having one of the plates removed last year to allow more flexibility and less pain.

What feels like your favorite/greatest knitting accomplishment?  I finished a sweater that I had started years ago.  My first garment and I actually got it sewn together and have worn it.

What feels like the worst knitting mistake/foible/wrong choice youve ever made?  
Buying yarn just because I love it, then having it sit in a tote for years because I can’t find the “perfect” pattern.

Straight needles or circular?  
I have come to enjoy working with circular needles for hats & large projects.

Metal or wood needles?  
Metal….never used wooden needles!

White chocolate, milk chocolate, or dark chocolate?  
The darker, the better!

Coffee or tea?   
Coffee
What are you reading now?  
Several books, including Beyond the Ice Limit by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child and Warriors from the Reverians series by Sarah Noffke.


Do you have a favorite knitting character from a book, movie, or television show?  
Not really a favorite one, but I enjoy reading books with characters that knit.


Give a shout out to your favorite local yarn store:   

As her thank you for being featured, Beverly chose ten hanks of Cascade 220 in Fuschia, a copy of Mission of Hope, and a copy of  My So-Called Love Life for her friend.  If you'd like to be featured on Readers Who Knit, contact me at allie@alliepleiter.com.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Fili Top Down Convertible Mitts from Unraveled Sheep -- Day 1

Dig my mad new skills…

Two-at-a-time mittens with cables?? Clearly, I have a high opinion of my own knitting skills.

Well, humility’s never been my strong point, anyway.

Truly, I believe it’s good to stretch your abilities, and knitting is one of my favorite places to do that.  When I come across a pattern that is seven pages long, however, I admit to a gulp or two.

I shouldn’t really worry.  Sheila Toy Stromberg’s directions are clear and confidence-inspiring.  I confess, her mind-bending double staghorn cable makes me nervous—cables and I aren’t the best of friends.  But I yearn to improve that relationship, and the ingenious construction of these mitts has peaked my interest.

First step was to weigh the yarn so as to accurately divide into two balls.  Easy peasy.

Next, casting on for two ribbed bands at once took a YouTube video or two since it has been a long time since I’ve done a magic look two-on-one circ project.  I got it done, however, and set those aside per Sheila’s instructions.  How do they make it onto the mitts?  I’m not sure yet, but so far so good.

Now I set to learning Judy’s Magic Cast On.  A long-time fan of Jenni’s Surprisingly Stretchy Bind Off, I was delighted to learn this skill often associated with toe-up socks.  I am off and running!


Double staghorn cable, I’m up to your challenge….

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

SALT LAKE CITY, UT--Day Three

Brews, blazing, baked goods, and beautiful views...


For our final day in  Salt Lake City, we’ll take in an inventive yarn shop as well as some of the city’s iconic sites.

DestiKNITters are a flexible breed.  We like tea just as much as coffee, so today’s adventures launch from:

Tea Zaanti
1324 S 1100 E
Salt Lake City, UT 84105
801-906-8132

The owner knits—what’s not to love? This isn’t an early morning place—they open at 10am—but this very sit-and-knit-friendly establishment combines a high quality tea experience with a laid back, homey atmosphere.  Small but well-done food choices round out the menu so you can nibble while you sip and stitch. My sources recommend the cucumber sandwich (of course—how can you have tea without a cucumber sandwich?).

Just down the street you’ll find today’s yarn shop adventure.

Blazing Needles
1365 S 1100 E
Salt Lake City, UT 84105
801-487-5648

Look for the house-like structure with the large metal yarn-and-needles sculpture in the front yard.  Yes, they’re needles, and yes—wait for it—they do indeed blaze:
video

Blazing Needles is a boisterous, friendly store packed with stock and one of those back tables continually filled with chatting knitters. Owner Cynthia Mills’ love for connecting people shows up all over every welcoming, artistically stuffed room.  

Cynthia (left) and yours truly
“Best friends meet here,” Cynthia boasts, and it’s easy to see why.  “It’s a safe place for community to gather.”  Cynthia cares about how companies do business and fosters good relationships with vendors.  “It’s really all about the people, not selling yarn.”  

Blazing Needles is a flagship store—meaning they carry every yarn in every color—for Shibui, Brooklyn Tweed, and Quince and Co, with more to come.

Fun, creative launches, impromptu parties in the back garden, and community projects like teaching local 4th graders to knit are part of the Blazing Needles experience.  There’s simply no way anyone would leave this shop without something new and wonderful—with the encouragement you need to tackle a new artistic challenge.

Projects, pottery, and yarn seem to spill from every corner. Here’s what caught my eye:

Spearheads Sweater
The stunning yoke on this sweater by Jarod Flood makes a dynamic statement for either men or women. You’ll need six skeins of Brooklyn Tweed Quary in your base color, plus one skein in a contrasting color.

Easy Folded Poncho
There seem to be a million ways to knit this popular pattern, but Cynthia recommends holding strands of Habu Silk N85 and Tsumugi together on a size 6 needle to make this contemporary and elegant version.

Ingeborg Slippers
Who doesn’t adore hand-knit slippers?  Especially when they’re as beautiful as these by local designer Kristin Drysdale. A perfect project to step up (pun intended) your color work, these use 1 ball each of two colors of Rauma Strikkengarn wool.  You’ll have the toastiest toes around, or they also make a great gift for someone who travels frequently.

Knit Along: On the Spice Market Shawl
Melanie Berg’s standout design gets a new kit version with every season—and who wouldn’t want to own several of these gorgeous accessories?  Shibui Stacatto silk and wool blend combine in a palette of colors—you could pick your own, but if you’re like me you’ll know you could never outdo the brilliant kits for color combinations.

Once you’ve stuffed your adorable Blazing Needles tote with yarn and patterns, it’s time to stuff your brain with good books.  That means heading to:

The King’s English Bookshop
1511 S 1500 E
Salt Lake Cty, UT 84105
801-484-9100 
DestiKNITters know independent bookstores are essential to life!  This wonderful shop entices you with nooks and crannies just begging to be explored.  There’s a little bit of everything here.  We especially love stores committed to supporting local authors with signings and such.  Volumes upon volumes are complimented by just the right amount of gifty things and a truly splendid children’s section.  Go!  Buy!  Save the independent bookstores!

Ready for lunch?  We’re heading downtown to spend the rest of the day in Salt Lake City’s unique city center.

Les Madeleines
216 E 500th S
Salt Lake City, UT 84111
801-355-2294

Another owner who knits—hooray!  Chef Romina offers a nice variety of soups, sandwiches, and cafe fare for your lunch, but you’re mostly here for the star attraction:  the buttery, flaky pastry known as a Kouing Amann (pronounced “queen-a-mon").  There’s a debate as to whether it’s best heated or not—so get two and conduct your own test.  In fact, get a dozen to go—this place has the most adorable take-out containers I have ever seen. And not just gingerbread men, but Ginger Dudes.  Love.

Next, walk over a few blocks and explore:

Salt Lake City Public Library
210 E 400 S
Salt Lake City, UT 84111
801-524-8200

Safdie Architects photo
Yes, a library.  One look at this place and you’ll see why this Moshe Safdie design is worth a visit.  Visually stunning, the building is worth a good long wander through the cozy sitting areas, or a ride on the a snazzy glass elevator to the rooftop for a city-wide view. If you have kiddos in tow, the children’s area is great fun.

Next, no visit to Salt Lake City would be complete without taking in:

Temple Square
50 W S Temple
Salt Lake City, UT 84150
801-240-2534

The view from the top 
The 35-acre site serves as the headquarters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, often known as the LDS Church or the Mormons.  It’s also home to the celebrated Mormon Tabernacle Choir.  No matter what your theology, you can marvel at the near-perfect acoustics of the Tabernacle, enjoy the gardens (especially beautiful at Christmas or in the Spring), and maybe even catch sight of a new bride. While the temple itself is not open to those outside the faith, the Visitor’s Center has an intriguing scale model and other information. 

For dinner, head up to the top floors of the luxurious Joseph Smith Memorial Building.  There you’ll find two restaurants—the casual Garden Restaurant and the more upscale Roof Restaurant—both of which offer unparalleled views of the temple, the complex, and often all the way to Salt Lake.  It’s the perfect way to cap off your adventures in Salt Lake City.


Up next, we cast on the ingeniously constructed Fili Mitts from Unraveled Sheep.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH--Day Two

Caffeine, cupcakes, and cashmere...

Our second day in Salt Lake City starts in a coffee-bar that will bring a smile to fans of my book The Perfect Blend.  While my heroine Maggie Black opens a coffeehouse called “Higher Grounds” in Seattle, this one has the same funky neighborhood feel I’d like to think Maggie wanted:

Higher Ground Coffee
2005 E 3300 S
Salt Lake City, UT 84109
801-485-5427
A quirky rustic atmosphere combines with lots of friendly staff and inventive drink flavors, this place is everything you want in a local shop, including the obligatory free wi-fi. The outdoor patio looks like the perfect spot to spend a sunny afternoon, but the small collection of rough-hewn tables makes it a cozy spot to get your day going in winter, too.

Once the caffeine sufficiently enters your bloodstream, you’ll only have to cross the street to today’s fiber find:

The Wool Cabin
2020 E 3300th S
Salt Lake City, UT 84109
385-210-1322

KayLynn and yours truly
When owner KayeLynn Van Wagenen took over ownership of this 35-year-old business in 2016, she set a goal to create “an atmosphere of connectivity.”  The cozy fireplace, snacks, groupings of comfy chairs, and shop pup “Baloo” all contribute toward a place where any wandering DestiKNITter feels totally comfortable.  

Spend just a few minutes here and you’ll watch KayeLynn greet every customer, cheerfully wind their yarn, and offer them the chance to sit down, chat, and snack while she does.  It’s the kind of place you can just sit and knit.  But oh, you’ll definitely want to do some shopping while you’re here.

The shop is filled with a wide range of tactile goodness.  “I want yarns my customers will enjoy touching, enjoy knitting with.”  That translates to a vast selection of natural fibers, but also reasonably priced alternatives for budget knitting, “Trends are okay, but I lean towards the classics that will give a good knitting experience. I’m always looking for something delightful, something that will produce a project that will last.” She promotes local dyers like Sarah Marsden, quilt project bag producer Sherl Gillian, as well as many of the area’s alpaca ranchers and artisans.  

The store boasts numerous opportunities for social knitting as well as a Wednesday morning “help time” to get you over that tough spot or save you from that botched row you can’t figure out how to fix.  Walk in knitting on Tuesday nights offers another chance for yarny fellowship.  A crochet friendly store, The Wool Cabin is set to offer something for every fiber aficionado. 

Here are a few projects you might want to consider:

Reyna Shawlette
Available from The Wool Cabin as a kit, Noora Liavola's Ravelry pattern uses 2 skeins of Fiber Co.'s Acadia. While the designer says she designed the pattern specifically for variegated yarns, you can see it looks equally stunning in a solid or flecked fiber.  If you’re ready to move beyond basic knit and purl stitches, this is an ideal project to expand your skills.

Knit Along:  The Age of Brass and Steam Kerchief
Ravelry photo
This Orange Flower Yarn pattern takes one skein of Marsden's Intrepid Tulips hand dyed merino-bamboo blend and knits up a cozy-yet-tailored shawlette just perfect to welcome spring.  Alternating sturdy stockinette with ribbons of eyelet and garter, there’s just enough flair to keep this sensible kerchief easy to knit but not boring to wear.

Fringe Cowl Kit
Two skeins of Chunky Merino Superwash knit up in this clever accessory designed by Cia Abbott.  Finally, a place for those amazing buttons you have to take center stage!  An ideal gift for anyone you love who needs to brighten up their cold weather wardrobe.

Felted Entrelac Bag
Entrelac is something I believe every knitter should attempt.  It looks so very impressive, but is really quite simple once you get the hang of it.  Three skeins of Plymouth Yarn Gina 100% wool or Galway wool worsted get knit up big and then felted down to a perfect size bag to carry your knitting projects.

When you’re done shopping and ready for lunch, head toward the giant green dome down the street to eat at:

Ditta Cafe
1560 E 3300th S
Salt Lake City, UT 84106
801-410-4696
Known just as much for their breakfast burritos as for the green dome that makes this an easy place to find, Ditta is a lovely, friendly spot for lunch.  We had the delicious rustic potato soup, which surprises you with a hearty broth-base rather than the creamy thick texture we expected.  Hang out and make progress on the jigsaw puzzles, play a game of chess, or chat with your tot over a tasty kids’ meal.  The baked goods look yummy, but hold off—we have some serious desserts coming.

And for those desserts, we’ve got two options—try one, or both!

So Cupcake
4002 S Highland Dr
Salt Lake City, UT 84124
801-274-8300
My favorite touch was the “So Open” sign that lit up when this adorable eatery was open for business.  As a Make-A-Wish family ourselves, I loved that this bakery was born of a Wish trip for owners’ daughter Celina to visit celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse.  Fav flavors were key lime, maple bacon, and chocolate-peanut butter.  They serve mini versions so you can try more flavors!

Glaus French Pastry Shoppe
3100 S Highland Dr
Salt Lake City, UT 84106
801-486-5908
 An un-fussy, “been here since I was a kid” old-school bakery, tucked in a storefront that boasts the sign Beau Brummel Bakery (a name carried over from the restaurant the owners once had).  My sources touted the whopping eclairs and the pineapple rum cake, which you can also get in petit-fours version (try the lemon graham cracker petit-four while you’re at it).  You’ll also find breads here. 

While you’re waiting for all that sugar to settle, make the drive to Bountiful for our next yarn shop.  If timing has kept you from having lunch yet, stop at:

Plates & Palates
390 N 500th W
Ste 100 C
Bountiful, UT 84010
801-292-2425
My sources tell me the lemon tarragon chicken pasta salad is the way to go here, but I heard raves for the paninis and salads as well.  Clearly, this establishment takes the classic soup/salad/sandwich dynamic up a notch—even before you get to their legendary coconut cake.  Coconut cake?  Twist my arm…

Hemstitched Heirlooms
585 W 2600 S
Bountiful, UT 84010
801-298-8212
Hemstitched blankets are a Utah tradition I’d never heard of, but it constitutes a blanket, bib, or burp-cloth with a perforated hem that gets decorated with a crochet edge.  

This unique craft is how Hemstitched Heirlooms got their start, and you can still see a fine collection of supplies to make those treasured items.  But it doesn’t stop there—owner Shannon Rayl realized her dream in 1994 to open a full-scale yarn shop as well.

While her offerings are mostly basics with a few intriguing specialties—there’s an impressive selection of adorable “Top This” hats—the true strength of this shop is the depth of stock.  When Hemstitched Heirlooms carries a yarn, they carry “sweater and afghan volumes of nearly the entire palette.”  That means you’ll always find enough of what you need here.

As you’d expect for an establishment born of blankets, there’s a hefty focus on baby yarns and cheery fibers for children’s projects.  Another speciality—and Shannon’s preferred beginner project—is washcloths.  You’ll never run out of color and pattern options for washcloths here.  

An airy and open space, Hemstitched Heirlooms also has a darling child’s play area and a dedicated classroom.  Here are a few of the projects that caught my eye:

Brioche Cable Cowl Kit
Ski country needs a sturdy, warm cowl, and this one fits the bill.  One skein of Plymouth Galway combines with 2 skeins of multi-colored Gina to create this highly textured piece.  An eye-catcher for sure, and toasty enough to handle any snow the mountains send your way.

GAP-tastic Cowl
Here’s another beautiful cowl where the texture is the star.  Big enough to double wrap, this Jen Geighley design takes 2 skeins of Plymouth Baby Alpaca to surround you in fluffy warmth.  The simple stitch pattern lets the color be the star.

Skylark Cardigan
If you’re ready for a more complex project, consider the lovely vintage vibe of the Skylark Cardigan.  I’ve never been able to master bobbles, but this garment might lure me into another attempt.  Knit from Berroco Corsica cotton cashmere blend, this is sure to be soft yet hold its shape nicely.

Knit Leaves Sweater and Hat
Nothing beats the cuddle of an adorable, stylish baby set.  This Leisure Arts (#4577) pattern set knits up in 3 skeins of Vintage Worsted (if you’re knitting for a newborn, though, use DK weight).  So sweet!

Knit Along:  Summer Shadow Shawl
The lush colors of Zen Yarn Garden just beg to be made into a shawl, and Angela McGarrah’s Summer Shadow pattern is up to the challenge.  I especially like that it comes in two sizes—shawls often feel too small for a gal my size. While it is top down, the bottom half is knit across in a lovely, lacy leaf pattern.  Angela gives detailed instructions on how to determine size so you can feel confident you won’t run out of yarn before all that leafy goodness is done.

Once you’ve filled your yarn bag with fiber finds, feel free to check out some of the other establishments in this little shopping center.  I liked:

Hip & Humble
559 W 2600 S
Bountiful, UT 84010
801-298-3373
Snazzy little boutiques are my favorite places to shop.  This store was a pleasant collection of kitchen gadgets, jewelry, giftware, and clothing.  I loved the friendly touch of a corner playroom for little ones so mom can get her shopping done.  

By now, you’ll probably be ready for coffee.  If you just want a drive-thru, then sources tell me Sips Coffee is great for java or the flavored sodas that are so popular in this area.  If you crave sugar, then Nielsen’s Frozen Custard is nearby, and a raspberry concrete might fit the bill.  However, if you want your coffee to come with shear baked goods bliss, all you need to do is walk up the sidewalk until you find:

Parson’s Bakery
535 W 2600 S
Bountiful, UT 84010
801-298-3059
Everything looks delicious—and everything is, by all accounts—but trust me the cookie you want is the chocolate parfait. Yes, the sugar cookies are famous, and the pumpkin chocolate chip cookie is unique and tasty—but you want the chocolate parfait.  Hands down the best cookie I believe I’ve ever eaten.  You get food here, but why take up all that space with boring nutrition when you can have the chocolate parfait???

It’s been a long day.  You may just want to go home, but your feet up, and knit.  When the time comes for dinner, however, I have two recommendations—one right nearby and another that’s a bit of a drive:

Just a few door down:  
Ti Ammo Pizza
515 W 2600th S
Bountiful, UT 84010
801-294-5180
A definite notch up from the standard pizza joint, this new establishment is finding a loyal following fast thanks to the excellent food. Family owned and family friendly, the word that kept coming up in descriptions was “authentic.”  Great bruschetta (a personal favorite), too.  And gelato—if you can stand to add more sugar to your day.

A bit of a drive away:
Hoppers Brew Pub
890 Fort Union Blvd
Midvale, UT 84047
801-566-0424
Unlike evil “Doc Hopper” of Muppet Movie fame, this place got enthusiastic nods of endorsement anytime I mentioned it. The menu is classic sports pub fare, complete with a multitude of tvs for game watching—although in other sports, one person felt compelled to mention it also hosts a Pokemon GO portal/gym as well, if you’re into that sort of thing. The menu is good and what you expect from a place like this: beer, garlic fries, massive portion chicken tenders, and…beer cheese. What’s not to like?


Not a bad set of adventures for your second day in Salt Lake City.  Tomorrow, we tackle one more yarn shop and the unique sites downtown.