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January 6, 2016

Goodbye Bill

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When I was young, my parents moved from Chicago to New England to work for Digital. My mom worked there well into the 90s and in that time, developed many close friendships with colleagues and others in the technology industry. To be honest, I know very little about what my mom did when she worked there and how she interacted with the friends of hers that I met but I do know that I am extraordinarily lucky that she made friends with Janet and Bill. Janet and Bill -- that's just how it naturally flows. When I think of Janet, I think of Bill. When I think of Bill I think of Janet.

It's hard to describe how I see the two of them. Perhaps like an aunt and uncle, though that feels too hierarchical and formal. To simply call them my friends is to overlook all the ways they have subtly mentored me to be a better human and provided the sort of unwavering love and guidance I needed to survive the tidal wave of drama that was my adolescence. They have always treated me like the best version of me that they could imagine and I wanted to raise myself to their expectations. And while I feel like I fall far short of who they imagine, I never felt like I let them down. Their love for me has always been calming and accepting and warm and abundant.

So it is hard for me to completely grasp the fact that the man who took me on my first motorcycle ride and my first small-plane ride and who use to make me laugh and think and want to learn more, has died. I have a hard time accepting that there is no longer a Janet and Bill; three words that — strung together in that order — make me feel so loved and welcomed. Bill is family I got to choose and who chose me. I am a better person for having known him and I will miss him terribly.

Filed under: misc

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December 3, 2015

Twist Collective Winter 2015 Edition

I hope you've all seen the Winter 2015 Twist Collective that went live a couple weeks ago. My designs for the edition, is featured in the "I think I'll stay home" shoot which might as well be called the "Marnie's life if she were better dressed" shoot because I'm a shameless homebody who spends most of her time in her pajamas. In fact, I'm writing this post from the comfort of my big red robe and fuzzy slipper boots, right now. And, as is my wont to do, I'm sipping tea from my favorite mug that is nearly as big as my head.

See, I'm just like the shoot only, sllliiiightly less well dressed. Don't you agree?

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The shawl is a modified half-circle design, featuring just enough beads to add a little weight and drape. I love beads, but I find they slow me down when I'm working so I prefer to use them sparingly. I chose a deep aubergine shade to pop against the lilac color of the shawl, though I think gray or silver would be a really nice alternative option, for a subtler effect.

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While I include instructions for a standard knitted picot bind-off, the sample is shown with my suggested bind-off. It's worked with a crochet hook using very simple crochet stitches and some pre-strung beads. I love this option for lace because the bind-off basically cannot be worked too tightly to block the piece out well.

I'm sure I've mentioned it before, but blocking lace shawls is one of my favorite parts of the shawl-designing process. It seems like magic; turning a crumpled mass of fabric into something airy, orderly and filled with unexpected detail. Twisted stitches, beads and nupps all pop and yarnovers and decreases scallop the edges in subtle or dramatic ways. But a tight bind-off can ruin the effect and knitters often can't tell how loose the bind-off needs to be until the piece is ready to be blocked. By then, hundreds of stitches may have been bound off, the yarn has been cut and ends woven in. It can be pretty disheartening.

The crochet method joins a small number of live stitches together with loops of single-crochet chains that provide more-than adequate flexibility to block out the shawl as aggressively or lightly as desired and unlike a too-loose standard bind-off, the edge is neat and tidy no matter how lightly the shawl is blocked.

Not a crocheter but willing to give it a try? The pattern includes a tutorial but if you want more detail, I've got an article for that.

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Crochet really is my first crafting love and this season, I take you through the basics of holding the hook and yarn, and working all the basic stitches. Crochet is knitting's best friend and knowing how to do both will open new finishing and embellishing options for your projects and designs. It may take a little time to get comfortable with it, but crochet is a great tool to have in your arsenal. If you've never crocheted before, I hope you'll give it a try and if you just need a refresher, I hope the article will get you back on track. I even point you to some existing Twist patterns that already feature some crochet. You won't lack for projects to put your crochet skills to work.

And lastly, I have a companion article to last season's article on Tubular Cast-Ons.

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Just as a tubular cast-on gives those edges a professional finish, a tubular bind-offs produce flexible and attractive edges that elevate the quality of the work to a more professional level. Learn to work a standard tubular bind-off and how to adjust the bind-off for knit-two, purl-two edgings like ribbing and moss stitch.

I feel so fortunate to be a part of Twist Collective each season and I never cease to be impressed with the great articles and designs my fellow contributors bring to each edition. Even if you don't like my additions to the edition, I hope you'll flip through the magazine, read the articles and browse the shop.

Filed under: crochet , knitting , pattern , twist collective

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October 1, 2015

Two months of recap and Helios for sale

Did you all catch the eclipse? Portland weather is often cloudy and overcast so whether or not we'll get to see an astronomical event is pretty much a crap-shoot. We didn't have any luck with the last meteor shower and it with a bit of haze near the horizon, things didn't look good for the doomsday-moon event, but once it got a little darker and the moon rose a little higher, the show was spectacular.

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It's been a pretty crazy couple of months at the day job—so much so that I never got to tell you about new edition of Twist. I hope you've all seen it already, but if you haven't, I have a pattern and and article.

My pattern, Fortuna, is a half-circle shawl made up of three whole and two half repeats of a sort of free-form cable and lace pattern. Every row of the repeat is different so it's not mindless knitting, but in the DK-weight yarn, it knits up pretty quickly.

The Twist photography, as always, is stunning but I wish it were easier to capture the magic of the silk yarn I was assigned. The cables, stockinette, reverse stockinette and eyelets all reflect the light in subtly different ways and the intense sheen of silk can really play up those variances. The best example I was able to get was on my blocking board, taken at a steep angle.

This is definitely a yarn that is best appreciated in person. It was a pleasure to use. I wrote more about the shawl and offered some styling suggestions over on the Twist blog, a few weeks back. See the post here.

You can check out Fortuna in the Magazine, Shop and on Ravelry.

My article is on tubular cast-ons.


Tubular cast-ons (left) next to conventional cast-ons (right)

When used in the right places, tubular cast-ons can give garments a professional finish. Using this cast-on for cuff-down socks, and ribbed hems on sweaters, hats and other garments, produces a flexible and tidy edge. It's a great tool to have in your arsenal. Check out the whole article here.

Lastly, Helios is now available for purchase as an individual pattern download or as a printed pattern from MagCloud.

It was so great watching all the participants in the KAL, knit their piece over the past few months. A big thanks to all the members of the KAL and to Melanie at Black Trillium for her beautiful yarn and for organizing the knit-along.

Filed under: pattern , twist collective

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June 5, 2015

Knitsy Interview

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There's an interview with me in the newest Knitsy Magazine, and my interview happens to be one of the free previews, so you can hop on over here and read it, if you're so inclined.

I actually hadn't heard of Knitsy before they contacted me. It's a digital magazine that publishes monthly and has an array of articles and patterns. You can find out more about them here and subscribe here.

Filed under: misc

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June 3, 2015

Helios

Today is Leo's birthday, which he hates because he's a birthday scrooge but that's OK because I love him and his birthday, enough for both of us. So a big happy birthday to my favorite human. Here's hoping he has a zillion more of these to suffer through.

As it happens, today is also the day you can check out my new pattern, Helios. Right now, it's available exclusively through Black Trillium Fibres. Melanie is hosting a KAL with prizes to be decided. You can get all the details here. I'm pretty excited about this shawl design. I had a lot of fun designing it and the yarn is a dreamy mix of silk and merino in a fine lace weight, which always feels extra special to me.

This piece uses Zimmermann’s pi-shawl construction, starting at the center neck and working out to the borders. The pattern is entirely charted with no written-out instructions and those buying the pattern during the KAL will receive a printed pattern.

With this shawl, I really wanted to play with the way different stitches read as different shades of the yarn color. Against a dark background, the yarn overs read as darkest and least saturated, then the purl areas, then the knit until you finally reach the twisted stitches which are the most saturated and brightest. Those twisted stitches work to form an outline between stitch patterns, giving a strong line of delineation between sections.

And since the yarn is so light and airy, I added just a few beads to the hem to give it a little weight. These are added as you are knitting, using a small crochet hook. They are, of course, totally optional.

I hope that if you are interested in the design and you have the budget and time to knit the pattern and purchase the yarn, that you'll support Melanie at Black Trillium Fibres. She's a local (to me) independent yarnie and she is as great to work with as her yarns are beautiful. If new yarn isn't in the picture for you, but you like the pattern, both she and I will be selling the pattern alone, after September.

I'm looking forward to following the progress of the KAL and seeing people's finished shawls. As always, if you have any questions, feel free to let me know. See more details and photos on Ravelry.

Filed under: knitting , pattern

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Marnie's bookshelf: read

Feisty FidoFeeling Outnumbered? How to Manage and Enjoy Your Multi-Dog Household.You Don't Have to be Evil to Work Here, But it HelpsBrave New Knits: Dozens of Projects and Personalities from the Knitting BlogosphereCowl GirlsFrom Dead to Worse

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