Figure It Out Friday

The yarn over stitch for English knitters

Today is a continuation from last week’s thoughts on the series of stitches: [yo, sl1, k1, psso].  The confusion comes for those of us who are English Knitters (hold our working yarn in our right hand). This simple stitch wracks our brains! Time to break it down. The essence of a yarn over stitch is to add a stitch between two already established stitches. If you think of the mechanic of this stitch, and the fact that you are adding a stitch, SOME of the confusion surrounding this stitch can be eliminated.

The yarn over stitch is abbreviated as yo. It functions differently depending upon the stitch prior to and following the yarn over. Here are four variations:

  • Yarn Over (between 2 knit stitches): abbreviated as [k1, yo, k1] When you get to the point where it says yo, bring your yarn to the front and then proceed with the following knit stitch KEEPING YOUR WORKING YARN IN THE FRONT. This series of stitches, I feel, would be better abbreviated for English knitters as [k1, k1wyif].
  • Yarn Over (between 2 purl stitches): abbreviated as [p1, yo, p1] When you get to the point where it says yo, your working yarn will already be at the front because you just purled a stitch. Next, take your working yarn (which is in the front), wrap it over and around your right needle and back to the front again (counter-clockwise wrap). Proceed with your next purl stitch. In this case, I think of the yarn over as a wrapping of the yarn over and around the needle.
  • Yarn Over (between a knit stitch and a purl stitch): abbreviated as [k1, yo, p1] When you get to the point were it says yo, you  need to bring your working yarn to the front, and then wrap it again around the needle in counter-clockwise motion ending with the working yarn in front again. Proceed with the purl stitch.
  • Yarn Over (between a purl stitch and a knit stitch): abbreviated as [p1, yo, k1] When you get to the point where it says yo, your working yarn will be in the front of your work because of the purled stitch you just made. Keeping your working yarn in the front, simply just knit the next stitch. I feel that this series of stitches would be better abbreviated as [p1, k1wyif].

Here’s a quick video illustrating each of the above yarn over combinations. Hope this clarifies some confusion with such a bugger of a stitch. Happy Friday! Happy knitting!


Irish Eyes Are Smiling…

When Irish Eyes Are Smiling – performed by The Irish Tenors

I’ve never read the lyrics for When Irish Eyes Are Smiling until today, and feel like I’ve been cheated of something my whole life! How has this song not been a forever favorite? Reading the lyrics reaffirms that I love all things Irish:

When Irish Eyes Are Smiling, sure ’tis like a morn in spring.
In the lilt of Irish laughter, you can hear the angels sing.
When Irish hearts are happy, all the world seems bright and gay,
And When Irish Eyes Are Smiling, sure, they steal your heart away.
There’s a tear in your eye and I’m wondering why,
For it never should be there at all.
With such power in your smile, sure a stone you’d beguile,
So there’s never a teardrop should fall,
When your sweet lilting laughter’s like some fairy song
And your eyes twinkle bright as can be.
You should laugh all the while and all other times smile,
And now smile a smile for me.
For your smile is a part of the love in your heart,
And it makes even sunshine more bright.
Like the linnet’s sweet song, crooning all the day long.
Comes your laughter so tender and bright.
For the springtime of youth is the sweetest of all,
There is ne’er a real care or regret.
And while springtime is ours, throughout all of youth’s hours,
Let us smile each chance we get.

I joke on St. Patrick’s Day that I’m a total Irish-WannaBe. Things like, “kiss me, I’m the only one NOT IRISH in my family” or “I love an Irishman”.

It’s true, I love all things Irish. I enjoy good Irish beers. I make a mean reuben always paired with a mint shake. I watch Irish dancing, and feel that clogging was probably my former life’s work. I swoon at the sound of an Irish brogue. And Irish melodies melt my soul. And yet, I’m not Irish. Good thing I married an Irishman, though; to pass on these lovely traditions to my own children is a delight.

I spent the morning perusing green and orange patterns on Ravely. I don’t remember the last time I simply sat down on Ravelry and just looked. Usually, I go to ravelry looking for something specific and don’t have the luxury of just looking. What a treat this morning was! So many beautiful creations. So many fun things to knit. My inventive juices wished I had hundreds of people knitting for me, as the visions of new creations flooded my mind! Instead, I happily skimmed pages and pages of patterns, and watched as green and orange jumped out at me. Here’s what I found:

Red_red_wine_2_small2 Rob Roy by Thea Colman. I was not surprised one iota to find that Thea had designed this great hat. I’m not certain I’ve seen one design by her that isn’t beautiful. The spiced orange decorated with the contrasting poof is brilliant. Great color combination. The slouch is ideal in my book, and I’m a sucker for wider brims. It’s perfection in my book.

003_small2 Three Color Cashmere Cowl by Joji Locatelli. Again, not a surprise to find that this was again designed by Joji. I knit a great hat by her a few years ago and loved everything about it. This cowl jumped out at me due to the color and stitch combinations. It’s really a brilliant piece – something I like to call knitting ADD. Really, so often I get “bored” with larger knit projects, because it’s often the same stitch pattern over and over again. Which is great for mindless knitting, and not having to be married to a pattern for what seems like an eternity. This seems ideal to me. Just when you might be getting bored of the color or stitch, she switches it up. And the end result is a great piece full of texture and color. The green may not be exactly what I’d call Kelly Green, but it caught this IrishByProxyGirl’s eye!

Rossbeg_small2 Rossbeg by Carol Feller. This just melts my heart.  A great Irish Cable sweater for a lil’ swee pea. Beautiful color, interesting movement of cables, looks like a top-down one piece (easy knit). Love the choice for closures. I’d love this in a big-girl size!

 Leighton by Alison Green. Socks seem to be popping up all over my radar. I haven’t knit socks in, well since I knit this exact pair (these were my first sample knit for Berroco). Sometimes they took on a blue tinge, other times they were defintiely green. But again, a great accessory to show off delicate and intricate Irish Cablework. They scream to be paired with a great skirt.

 Finally, The Fisherman Stocking by Mary Thomas b1934. This is a pattern I found over 10 years ago and began knitting for our family Christmas stockings. It’s an heirloom pattern and a pleasure to knit.

Can’t wait to continue creating…Éirinn go Brách!


Here Comes The Bride…

Here comes the bride… – Richard Wagner’s Lohengrin

The tune is recognized by nearly everyone, and yet I’m guessing nearly everyone has little knowledge that this overly used wedding march actually comes from an opera! In fact, it comes from the hand of one of the most well-known opera composers, Richard Wagner. The familiar tune, “The Bridal Chorus” is tucked within a larger movement, and although you rarely ever hear the lyrics sung during a typical wedding processional, the chorus is actually sung by the women of the wedding party, AFTER the ceremony as they walk the bride (Elsa) to her chamber.  The full movement is worth a listen…

I’m not certain I’ve ever attended a wedding and felt such ease, such contentment, such joy…until this past weekend. My sister’s wedding came and went and was quite possibly the perfect day.  The entire celebration happened at Ecker’s Apple Farm; a beautiful family Apple farm near the banks of the Mississippi. Leah could have had a nice outdoor wedding anywhere, but the Ecker family made certain this was one-of-a-kind. Their complete attention to detail, their immediate response in times of need, their ability to forsee and offer suggestions before problems arose, their creative design…none of this went unnoticed. Such a wonderful group of people; looking forward to a return trip for apple picking, and beer drinking. 

Now that the wedding is over, and I can concentrate on things other than wedding flowers (if you ever contemplate doing your own flowers, do it! Super easy and financially worthwhile), I’m excited to get back to the giant king sized coverlet. I ordered my ginormous US 25 needles from KnitDesignStudio.

The wonders of modern technology – I was able to order these straight from Marina in The Ukraine. They made it to my doorstep in such a short time, all cutely tied with jute. Love supporting small business owners – even small business owners across the ocean. 

Although Bridget initially wanted a wool blend (top swatch), the synthetic (bottom swatch) won both our votes. The color, although tough to differentiate here, is a nicer neutral; has better stitch definition; better loft, thicker and heavier; surprisingly softer; just overall a nicer end result. Excited to start knitting this beast! Here comes the beast…here comes the bride!

Uff Da…

Ja Vi Elsker – Norwegian National Anthem
Ya, ya, don’tcha know. Life gets busy! A great idea quickly found itself squashed by the flittering of snowflakes and near freezing temperatures. Syttende Mai (May 17th), a celebration commemorating the signing of Norway’s constitution declaring their independence, brings excitement to our little Westby each year. My excitement heightened not only in anticipation of our family favorites: the kiddie parade, the kiddie pedal tractor pull competition, and the kiddie bike race, but this year I finally knit up some goods. I looked forward to having a small table in our yard filled with my makings , kids crafts, and scrumptious sea salt/chocolate chip cookies. Then. It. Snowed. Yes, small snow flakes flurried through the air on May 17th this year and we wore long underware, hats, and mittens. I did not have a table in my yard. The kids did not make bracelets. I did not bake chocolate chip cookies. Instead, we bundled up and braved the unseasonably crisp air for only short minutes at a time; retreating periodically back home to warm our cheeks and sip hot chocolate.

Since then, I completed another Berroco project.

Such fine fiber, and quite a delicate pattern. Not something I enjoyed knitting, but appreciative for the experience. 

I hope to begin knitting Kai sooner than later. I don’t have a local vendor who sells Indigo in store and find difficulty buying yarn online if I haven’t yet worked with it. In this case, I have worked with Indigo and surprisingly adored it’s loveliness. My hesitation; however, is color ambiguity. I can’t settle on a color. I’m torn between “cutt-offs” and “flare”. I’d love some thoughts on color from anyone who has experience with either?!

Creativity remains stagnant at the moment. May seemed to rob me of”me time”. And with that, I feel a bit removed from the usual. Perhaps this is a good thing, though, as I found myself in constant query: “What now?” “What do I want to be when I grow up?” “How can I make dreams reality?” Baby steps. I anticipate these small steps bringing great future endeavors.

And now it’s June. I have beautiful newborn baby hats knit cutely packaged. Perhaps a fall yard sale is in order…

Twist And Shout…

“Well shake it up baby, now. Twist and shout. Come on and work it on out.” – Twist and Shout by The Beatles

This isn’t the first song that typically comes to mind this time of year. Rather, on most December days you’ll hear any one of Harry Connick Jr.’s Christmas songs ringing through the house; a must for any Christmas playlist.

Funny how Christmas creeps every year. Always feels like eons away, until right about now when I realize it’s only a matter of days. This is when I kick myself for taking on extra knitting projects, for not planning knit gifts more timely, and ultimately resort to Amazon Prime for my Christmas shopping. It’s a vicious cycle and I seem to find myself trapped in it every year. This year is no different…

The other day, I got a call from a knitter friend asking for help with a project she’s ready to throw out her window. This project was supposed to be finished months ago, and so any little setback is just another headache added to her list. She assumed dropped stitch the verdict. I took a peek and coincidentally, dropped stitch remained innocent. I guessed that when she had previously torn out rows, unknowingly, she began knitting in the wrong direction causing her rows to be uneven. How does this happen, one asks?  I’ve thought the same thing, but I too have done it! This happened to me while working a piece in-the-round; somehow just picked up the piece and began knitting in the opposite direction. Easy to do when you’re tired.

I told her I’d rip it out for her and get it back to her that afternoon. I ripped it out, and as I’m putting the stitches back onto the needles I confusingly looked twice at the stitches. The pattern is a ribbed stockinette. EXCEPT her stitches looked twisted. They didn’t lay flat, but looked more 3-D. Jill knits differently than I do. I’m a “thrower”. Jill’s a continental knitter. My initial thought was the variant in the stitch was due to our difference in knitting technique. Common sense quickly interrupted that thought and I knew a knit stitch was a knit stitch and it should look the same no matter which way you knit. So, I asked my good friend Google. And this is what I saw:


BINGO! Along with this great visual came a nice blog post from Amanda at Berroco.  My question was answered, at least partially. Now I’m curious to watch Jill knit.

It’s funny, knitting is alot like folk music. I’m sure we’ve all heard You Are My Sunshine. Some of us might remember a special person singing it to us in our youth. Some recall a specific event where this song was sung. And if you asked four people to sing it, there would definitely be some variants in the melodies and rhythms. None particularly wrong, just each unique to our own experiences. Likewise, I’m sure we all remember who taught us to knit. How old we were when we first learned. And if you put four knitters together in a room, we’d all have similar knowledge of basic stitches. BUT…I’m also certain there’d be variants in how we cast-on, how we hold our work, and how we keep tension.

Despite the numerous ways of knitting, in the end, a knit stitch does need to be a knit stitch. This is the second time twisted knit stitches came up this month. My friend Alison at Berocco, is having me rework a piece that was already knit for them, but arrived with every stitch twisted. It’s obviously something knitters are doing unknowingly. Let’s fix it:

  • Make certain you’re inserting the right needle correctly.
  • Make certain, if the stitch slips off and you put it back onto the left needle, you’re putting it back on correctly.

Take a read here, Amanda clearly and concisely gives good insight into twisted stitches. Just one more good piece of knowledge to put into our knitting bags.

Now, back to coffee, Christmas cards, and Harry Connick…






Beautiful, Beautiful, Beautiful…

“Beautiful boy” – Beautiful Boy by John Lennon

Liam curls up on my lap, snuggled all cozy in his little monster footies. White cotton blankie draped over both of us. And before the bedtime lullabies begin, he turns around, looks up at me, and with two tiny hands, cups my face and says, “Beautiful, beautiful. Ever.” M.E.L.T. Now, this little munchkin also thinks fresh snow on the ground is beautiful, but I’ll take it. And before our playlist of lullaby songs finishes, this song began playing. How beautifully appropriate…

A Berroco box arrived on my doorstep! This is always an exciting moment – what kind of yarn do I get to work with this time?! Its Berroco Maya in a denim blue. (Almost grey) I think this might be my new favorite neutral color. It looks fabulous with browns, navy, black and ivories. The yarn is a cotton blend and I love the weight. I’m a fan of light layering cardigans and this might just be the ticket. Don’t tell my mom, but I’m half wishing I had handled this yarn before starting her shrug. Knit on US8, this has great drape, without stretching, and a fabulous feel. Perfect for a light cardigan. Perhaps another project, another time.

I’ve already learned a fun new stitch. It’s basically a [sl1, k1, psso], but you slip 2 stitches instead. You may see this stitch abbreviated as CDD: central double decrease. This keeps your decrease stitch aligned vertically, without the lean to the left (as in sl1,k1,psso), or the lean to the right (as in k2tog). Fancy! First time for everything…

On this particular evening, I imagined the day my little boy, in all his sweetness and sincerity, tells another person they’re beautiful. My wishes for you, Liam, are many. But tonight, I get to be the one to indulge myself in this tender moment – My beautiful, beautiful, beautiful, beautiful boy.

Longer Than There’ve Been Stars Up In The Heavens…

Longer – Dan Fogelberg

Dan Fogelberg came to mind yet again at 2am as I tirelessly whip-stitched the pocket linings of this never ending sweater. With every passing minute my eyelids heavied and my fingers moved ever slower. Endurance lurked in the very crevices of my being and after a LONG LONG run, this marathon ended. Accomplishment and sheer exhaustion fought to win me over. With my anticipated nap arriving shortly, I’m thinking exhaustion won.

Nevertheless, the project is finished and I am a better knitter because of it. This Berroco project ensured that I CAN:

I told Alison that this literal brain of mine doesn’t easily veer from the written pattern. The more I learn, however; especially from people like Alison, who know so much more than me, the more I comfortably understand this craft!

What’s your new recent knitting know-how? My niece Abby learned how to finish off a hat and weave in ends this week. Thanks to the magic of modern technology, the internet proved priceless as she and I videoconferenced and I was able to walk her through these new steps.  Me in Wisconsin, she in Illinois.

And now that I’m no longer prisoner to a beautiful sweater, I get to spend some much anticipated time free of the tangles! With an anniversary just celebrated, I reflect blissfully on the past nine years, thankful I’ve been blessed with yet another year of being loved by one fabulously supportive partner and three quite amazing little people. Life is good.

longer than there’ve been stars up in the heavens, I am in love with you!”