Thursday, May 26, 2016

Linen Stitch Bag from Unraveled - Day 2

Learning to love linen stitch...

Linen stitch on the wrong side
While linen stitch is one of the standards in any experienced knitter’s toolbox, I confess that I’ve not done much with it up until now.  It’s a sturdy stitch, giving a woven look (especially so on the  wrong side, in my opinion), and producing a thicker fabric that seems well-suited for something like a bag.  

Right side--with that pesky white line
While it’s repetitive, you do have to pay attention because a slip-up can be very tricky if not impossible to fix. Not that I know or anything (see photo—I’m pretty sure that white line isn’t supposed to be there…)

Linen stitch with one color is one thing.  Alternating with three colors?  That takes things up a notch.  Honestly, when I looked at these three cakes of yarn together, I couldn’t quite see how the rainbow one was going to play nicely with the purplish one.  I know the cream was in there to balance things out, but as I said before, color combos aren’t my strength.  In fact, it works.  I’m not sure how, but it does.

Despite the large needles, this isn’t fast stitching—all that switching from back to front.  I’m betting it goes through yarn at a greater rate than knit or purl, too—this is a dense fabric with lots of yarn inside it.  The place where the rounds join and I switch colors isn’t as neat as I’d like, but with the riot of colors going on I don’t think it matters much.


The next section is linen stitch with only one color.  I like that this project has several twists to keep things interesting.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Linen Stitch Bag from Unraveled - Day 1

Take it from the bottom...

The fiber in this project is lovely. Araucania Huasco Chunky comes in luscious color-ways and rich solids.  It boasts that sigh-worthy, lofty plushness between your fingers that makes knitting such a pleasure.  I always look at this and think, “This is what those cheaper yarns are trying to be.”  No fancy novelty tricks, just fine merino in splendid colors.

The pattern launches from the center of the bottom. You could use double-points if you had them in 10.5, but as my needles of choice are KnitPicks interchangeables, I just started with a long cable in magic loop and swapped it out to a 14” when I got to my desired circumference.  I went a bit larger than the pattern’s 6 inch diameter because I wanted the finished product to serve as a knitting bag for me.  This may mean I end up with a shorter bag, but I’m okay with that.

Right now I’m only working with one color for the bottom.  That’ll change when I start the next section, but it’s a good toe-in to the project because I’m really not at all sure how the color ways are going to combine.  Color combos really aren’t my strength, and even though I had specific help from the good folks at Unraveled, I’m feeling nervous about the results.  


Stick with me and we’ll find out together. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

May Reader Who Crochets: Juli McDermott

It's time to meet this month's reader who loves yarn as much as books. DestiKNITters, say hello to Juli McDermott!

Juli, what are you working on right now?
I’m working on a shawl for my best friend, who is going through a tough time. I want to give her something that will feel like a hug when I’m not there.  I'm using this pattern.

What feels like your favorite/greatest crochet accomplishment?
My biggest accomplishment was probably my first lacy shawl. I had mostly done baby blankets, afghans and stuffed animals before that. Intricate work felt beyond me, and I was thrilled when I succeeded. That’s the work that’s pictured, the Gathering Leaves shawl.

What feels like the worst crochet mistake/foible/wrong choice youve ever made?
My worst crochet mistake was when I lost a pattern over the side of a boat – plop into the Oxford canal. It was an afghan with a fairly simple (I thought) repeating pattern, and it was the only project I’d brought on holiday, so I just kept working without the pattern. When I got home and laid it out on the bed, I realized that I had been doing increases without matching decreases, and I had a Y-shaped blanket! I ended up ripping out more than half of my work. 

Do you have a favorite yarn you like to work with?
I recently made a cowl out of baby alpaca that was the softest, most cozy yarn I’ve used. I am all about texture.

Metal or wood crochet needles?
Metal, but with rubber or bamboo handles. I need a larger handle to grip.

White chocolate, milk chocolate, or dark chocolate?
Any or all, but dark most of the time.

Coffee or tea?
Both! 

Whats your favorite Allie novel?
My favorite so far is The Doctor’s Undoing. I really liked Ida Lee and her desire to bring more color to the world.

What are you reading now?
I’m currently enjoying a re-read of the Guardians series by Meljean Brook. I’m a very heroine-centered reader, and her heroines are wonderful.

Do you have a favorite stitching character from a book, movie, or television show?
I love Abigail from Rachael Herron’s How to Knit a Heart Back Home. She has been though trauma, and knitting is how she finds peace. I read that book when I was still a crochet novice and my father had just died, and it inspired me to use working with yarn as a way to comfort myself and others.

Give a shout out to your favorite local yarn store:
Knitterly
1 Fourth Street
Petaluma, CA 94952

As her prize for being featured, Juli chose a copy of A Heart to Heal for herself and, thanks to our friends at Cascade Yarns, 10 hanks of Cascade 220 in Glamour.  For her friend, Juli chose a copy of The Doctor's Undoing.  If you'd like to be featured on Readers Who Knit/Crochet, email me at allie@alliepleiter.com for details.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

SAN ANTONIO, TX--Day Two

More Texas treats...

San Antonio has a lot of fun things to do. You don’t want to spend your entire day having DestiKNITions adventures, but you don’t want to miss out on some local treasures, either.  Here’s a second day schedule that will still leave you a nice block of time to take in the River Walk (a very nice place to knit in public, by the way), the Alamo, or other San Antonio goodies.

Start your day at:

Sol Y Luna Baking Company
4421 De Zavala Rd
San Antonio, TX 78249
(210) 492-5777

They are known for their breads—especially the delicious Monkey Bread—but there are a variety of mouth-watering cupcakes, muffins, bars, and cookies to choose from.   There are even sandwiches if you don’t do “morning food.”  I had the massive, scrumptious bread pudding and got nearly three meals out of it!  A sweet little place (pun intended) with a friendly staff.

After that, head the short drive to:

Yarnivore
2357 NW Military Hwy
San Antonio, TX 78231
(210) 979-8255

Caryn on the left with yours truly
Longtime customer turned owner Caryn Moir took over the store with her husband Martin roughly a year ago, and her passion for inspiring people shows up strong. 

 “I was crocheting before I could read,” Caryn shares, which makes this not only a great knit shop, but a truly crochet and weaving-friendly establishment.  “We’re fiber obsessed,” she confesses—and aren’t we all?

The store boasts both a strong female and male customer base, as well as an enthusiastic staff.  “We strive to create a judgement-free zone where friends of fiber can come try anything they want.”  A regular core of classes is offered year-round while other classes rotate by season or demand.  There’s also a six-month intensive class for students seeking a comprehensive education in the craft.  

It’s an organized, welcoming space.  “I don’t want anyone to feel overwhelmed.  This place should feel like a refuge for fiber fans—we’re investing in each other,” Caryn says.  One of the store’s unique features is providing customers with a yarn’s price per yard.  “Customers looking for value love that information” she relates.

Make sure you take a look at these when you visit:

Weaving Scarves
If you’ve ever wanted to take up weaving, here’s the perfect project to get you started.  A solid warp combined with a color-changing weft teaches you not only the skill of weaving, but the basics of color theory as well.  A very fine bamboo fiber makes for a luscious accessory that feels as good as it looks.


Dawn’s One Ball Shawlette
Who wouldn’t like to crochet a rainbow for their shoulders?  Of course, it could be anything depending on whatever ball of yarn you choose, but a self-striping will give you the most cheerful results.  Crochet always makes great little trims possible, and this shawlette is no exception.

Crocodile Stitch Cowl
How much fun is this?  For best effect, grab one skein of Manos de Uruguay Fino sock weight in  a reptilian color and stitch up this eye-catching crochet piece.  Or go for a marine color and mimic fish scales?  Floral to look like petals?  Brown for a pine cone? Brightly colored mariachi ruffles? The possibilities are endless!

Yellow Rose Mitts
We are in Texas, after all, so why not join me in this knit-along project of Yellow Rose Mitts?  Any sock weight yarn (no, it doesn’t have to be yellow) will produce pretty-yet-substantial fingerless mitts guaranteed to help you embrace cooler temperatures but still text and dial (or knit?).  If you want a nice, dense fabric, make sure you use 00 needles.

Malabrigo Rasta Brioche Hat
The favorite chunky fiber of many knitters, Rasta knits up fast to create this cleverly ribbed beanie.  Go for solid, a multi-color, or school-color stripes to keep your favorite noggin toasty.


Gadget Recommendation
I’ve got pins, I’ve got blocking wires, but these Knitter's Pride Knit Blockers beauties are something in between.  Each “blocker” has a stretch of pins—either 8 or 4 pins—to keep points from showing up where you don’t want and reduce tension to any single spot on your garment.  A great tool!

Not too far away is the perfect spot for lunch:

Green Vegetarian Cuisine
10003 Nw Military Hwy, Ste 2115
San Antonio, TX 78230
(210) 233-1249

Now, I am not a vegetarian, and I confess to a bit of skepticism before I ate here.  I’d heard the dessert tray was worth the trip, but I wanted good, healthy veggie-rich food after all the meat I’d been eating. I love orange chicken from my favorite Chinese restaurant, so I took the server’s word that I’d enjoy the Sesame Chik-N meatless entree—and I did!  

The outdoor seating at this location (and also at a sister location at yesterday’s Pearl) makes the experience especially pleasant.  Dog friendly, too.  And oh, the cupcakes—my sources tell me really good vegan cupcakes are a rare find, and these were outstanding.

Travel Channel photo
Spend your afternoon taking in the River Walk or any other classic  San Antonio sites.  There are a hundred great places to eat right there on the River Walk.

If you need a shot of energy once you head away from the river, get a great one at:

CommonWealth Coffeehouse & Bakery
118 Davis Ct
San Antonio, TX 78209
(210) 560-2955
A really lovely little place with lots of charm and a great assortment of indoor and outdoor seating.  I had lunch there—the delicious CommonWealth salad with the Fondant au Chocolat cake for desert.  A great atmosphere for a chat or for getting some work done.



One last recommendation for dinner:

Max’s Wine Dive
340 E. Basse Rd Ste 101
San Antonio, TX 78209
(210) 444-9547

Okay, it’s not really a “dive,”—it’s actually in the snazzy Quarry Village shopping center—but my sources tell me this is THE place to get fried chicken.  I needed to eat bison burgers for some book research, too.  Thankfully, my helpful server arranged for me to get a bit of both—and each was tasty.  The fried chicken is perfectly crispy but not greasy, and the slightly crispy, buttery brioche buns on the bison sliders were nothing short of heaven.  What sounded like the most fun was “Bunch Before Bed,” served 10pm - 1am on Friday and Saturday nights.

These stops wrap up two days in a terrific city I look forward to revisiting as soon as I can.  San Antonio serves up some tasty adventures, charming shopping, and a pair of fabulous fiber finds.  


Next up, we meet this month’s Reader Who Knits, then cast on the Linen Stitch Bag from Unraveled.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

SAN ANTONIO, TX--Day One

I’m happy every time a conference I attend gets booked into San Antonio—whether I’m escaping Chicago’s nasty winters or braving the dog days of a Texas summer.  No doubt, the city offers loads of touristy gems, but I also discovered a pair of great local yarn shops as well.  If you find yourself in the Alamo City, here’s where to launch your yarn adventures:

The Pearl
Bordered by Avenue B, Isleta, Grayson and Newell Streets
San Antonio TX
(210) 212-7200

What once was the Pearl Brewery has now become an charming selection of restaurants, shops, residences, and outdoor space.  Even the old stable has become an event venue. Spend your morning wandering around the place, making sure you take in:

Bakery Lorraine
306 Pearl Pkwy
San Antonio, TX 78215
(210) 862-5582

Desert for breakfast is a DestiKNITions tradition, and the Snickers Tart or croissant paired with an excellent coffee and a few splendid French macarons was the perfect way to launch my day.  The Turtle Tart is just as yummy—and I won’t tell if you get both.

Properly inspired to culinary greatness, head to:

Melissa Guerra Latin Kitchen Market
303 Pearl Pkwy Ste 104
San Antonio, TX 78215
(210) 293-3983

All manner of creative cookware and gift items await you, most with a distinctive ethnic flare.  For some unusual fun, ask to see the Big Chill retro refrigerator and fantasizing about out which of the fun selection of custom colors you’d order for your own kitchen.

The Twig Book Shop
306 Pearl Pkwy Ste 106
San Antonio, TX 78215
(210) 826-6411

Be a loyal destiKNITter and patronize the cozy little book shop for a thoughtful selection of local authors, local interest books, children’s literature, and an impressive schedule of events.   “Yea Local!”—I heartily agree.

Hotel Emma
136 E Grayson
San Antonio, TX 78215
(210) 448-8300

I love to walk around gorgeous hotels, and this one is not only stunning, it’s an outstanding repurposing of a “neo-industrialized” space.  The library made me drool (but it’s only open to guests, so I just pressed my nose against the glass).  The bar, with its tables tucked inside old brewery tanks, offers an inventive place to share a cocktail.  I probably could only afford to stay five minutes in a swanky place like this, but it sure is fun to visit.

When you’re hungry, head here: 

Boiler House Texas Grill and Wine Garden
312 Pearl Pkwy
Bldg. 3
San Antonio, TX 78215
(210) 354-4644

Another gorgeously re-purposed building!  They’re known for great burgers, but I was in the mood for something different, so my friendly server talked me into the Hudspeth Ranch Lamb & Wild Boar Bolognese.  Really, how could I turn down a chance like that?  (No “knitter eating lamb” jabs, please).  It was delicious—a perfect taste combination for the unusual meats.  

Chef Jeff White also sent over his signature house chicharones & hot sauce when I mentioned I’d never had such a thing.  Yummy, but WAY too spicy for my weak northern tastebuds.  A great place for lunch or dinner, or a stand-out Sunday brunch.

Save room for desert, because we’re off to:

Lick Honest Ice Creams
312 Pearl Pkwy
Ste 2101
San Antonio, TX 78215
(210) 314-8166

Artisan ice creams are always a fun place for adventure, and this shop is the perfect place to find a one-of-a-kind treat.  My sources sent me in for the  “goat cheese and candied nut” flavor, but I confess it wasn’t really my thing.  The server let me taste a bunch of suggestions until we hit on “grapefruit with champagne marshmallows”—fabulous!  An inventive combination of sweet and tang.  The menu of available flavors rotates constantly, so who knows what new favorite you’ll discover?

Ready for yarn?  Make the drive to:

Unraveled - The Chic Yarn Boutique
815 E Rector Suite 104
San Antonio, TX 78216
(210) 951-4891

Husband-and-wife owner Kellie Lewis and Rob Thompson—both knitters—let their passion for the craft launch this newest addition to the Texas yarn shop scene.  

“We only carry fibers we’re 100% passionate about,” says Kellie.  Rob’s big on alpaca, Kellie’s a fan of cottons, so you can imagine that their selection of both (as well as linen, silk, and other warm-weather fibers) is outstanding.  Their fun, inventive style comes through all over the store and extends to the friendly, go-the-extra-mile staff as well.  

The store offers a strong selection of stock displayed by weight, and as Rob and Kellie love gift-giving projects, there are tons of great samples all over the store to inspire your generosity (or self-indulgence).

Open form classes—where you can come with any project and any skill level—are kept to a nice, intimate size.  Open knitting night happens each Thursday from 6-8.  Unraveled offers a few technique classes as well, and has joined the growing number of stores offering tatting instruction.  It’s gratifying to see this once-dying art form enjoying such a resurgence.

The shop is just the right size to be both comfy and still provide a robust selection.  With a warm atmosphere and friendly staff—as well as friendly customers—you’re sure to make new yarn buddies on your visit.

Here are a few projects I wouldn't mind casting on:

Alma Lou Shawl
All you need is one ball of self-striping yarn such as Noro Taiyo Sock or Manos De Uruguay sock to whip up this colorful wrap.  Not too lacy, not too basic, the interplay of garter and eyelet lets the yarn do most of the talking here.  The picot border adds a touch of delicacy.  A great choice for your first shawl.

Summer Escape Wrap
Crave something with a contemporary, dramatic touch that still won’t tax your summer brain cells?  Stitch up this color-blocked shawl with three balls of Berroco Modern Cotton in the colors of your choice.  If you’re like me, you’ll need some guidance for color combos, but the staff will surely lend a hand.  Perfect to keep any blasting AC from ruining your evening.

Bob’s Extra Large Stockings
Talk about unique!  Who wouldn't enjoy stuffing a stocking this size?  The photo doesn’t do justice to the fact that they’re several feet long (no pun intended)!  Felting chunky weight yarn sounds like a hefty task, but the results are clearly worth it.  You’ll need 4 balls of Borroco Peruvia Quick or 4-5 Balls of Debbie Bliss Roma and some king-size needles if you take on Bob's super-sized design.

Linen Stitch Bag
True to Unraveled’s gift-knitting specialty, our knit-along from this shop is a bag designed by Rob.  Three skeins of chunky yarn—in this case Araucania Huasco Chunky merino hand dyed—combine to make this colorful drawstring carry-all.  I’m looking forward to a quick, clever, and useful project.

When you’re done for the day, I recommend for dinner:


Beto’s Alt-Mex
8142 Broadway
San Antonio, TX 78209
(210) 930-9393

Featured on Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, this place offers “Alt-Mex,” a self-proclaimed fusion of Mexican street food and Latin American Soul Food.  

Guy favors the Chalupa Cabra, but I went for the duo of a grilled fish and grilled veggie taco and didn’t regret it. The real star of the evening was the amazing sweet empanadas in a variety of mouthwatering flavors.


All in all, a great day in San Antonio.  Next post I’ll give you a shorter day visiting another SA store—so you’ll still have time to get in all your sightseeing.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

The Clincher Bandana Scarf from Ewe-Nique Yarns - Done!

I made it!

Seriously, there was a nothing more than a grape-sized ball of yarn left over, but I made it to the end of the loop trim. And yes, the black does indeed work with the other colors.  


I expect there are about a dozen ways to wear this bandana scarf, and I plan to have fun exploring them.

Ewe-Nique Yarns, thanks for an interesting yarn adventure and one of the most unique scarfs I've knit on this blog.

Next up, DestiKNITions visits San Antonio Texas!

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

The Clincher Bandana Scarf from Ewe-Nique Yarns - Day 5

Getting loopy...

I made it!  I’ve started the fascinating I-cord loop trim that makes up the distinctive end of this scarf.

I wasn’t sure I’d like the charcoal trim on this multi-colored scarf, but I do think it works.  And when you factor in the huge amount of black and grey in my wardrobe, it’s useful.  

So color?  check.  Technique?  Eh, not so much.

This is one time I wish I had the opportunity to look over someone’s shoulder.  The directions are explicit, but like entrelac or turning your first sock heel, you’re prone to read them and go “Huh?  Wait, that cant work.”

The trick for me was making sure I did the final “knit 4” after the loop section of the I-cord.  Otherwise, you are not at the right spot to pick up the wrapped stitch and bind off where you need to for the inner loop edge.  Undoing complicated stitch-work in dark wool is always traumatic, and I confess to several nasty words while doing it the second time.  By the third attempt, I nailed it, and did a little victory dance around my couch. No, there isn’t a video.  Allow me my dignity.

I made it through the first of the dozen or so loops required.

Only now I’m stressed.  I can’t imagine how the tiny ball of yarn I have (25 yards) will make it across all the loops I need.  It looks like it can’t possibly be enough, and any restocking I’ll need will have to come all the way from Peoria.  Such is the risk of out-of-town knitting.  It’s not as if this is a problem Amazon Prime can solve, you know?


Nothing like a little creative “will I make it?” tension to give a clever project a nail-biter of a finale.  Stay tuned—anything could happen.