From the dye pot

It's been a wonderful and busy week. 

Susan B. Anderson's Prairie Ridge Shawl Kit has been really popular, and much of my week was spent in a steamy kitchen with pounds and pounds of wool in various stages of pre-soaking, dyeing, cooling, rinsing, and drying. 

In between batches of dye, I worked on samples. This is a sneak peek of November's free knitting pattern for a pair of wonderfully warm stranded socks. 

These saturated colors have been keeping me energized and excited to knit.  

bund night.jpg

Speaking of color, I wanted to share this photo. Last Friday, Mark and I joined a friend's wedding cruise on the Huangpu river that divides Shanghai. "Puxi" (the older, downtown part of Shanghai) literally means "river west," and "Pudong" (the sprawling new area on the other side) is "river east". These monikers occasionally morph into "Pu York" and "Pu Jersey."

I never get tired of the crazy lights and over-the-top architecture of the Pearl Tower and its surrounding buildings - it's a constant reminder of the slightly surreal wackiness that I love about this city.

What were you working on this week?

on the needles: from the dyepot

berries and peaches by cate carter-evans There has been very little knitting progress this week. Lots of other things have been accomplished, just not much knitting.

I did have a fun boucle dyeing adventure, and ended up with one batch of yarn inspired by blackberries, and another by peaches.

Can you tell I have canning on the brain?

dpn case by cate carter-evans

The other thing I have on the brain is socks - thick, cozy, run-around-the-freezing-house-in-January socks. You know the kind.

Right now, as I type, a big vat of yarn is bubbling away for these very socks. It's a deep indigo, to be paired with some scarlet/orange/peachy something.

My needle stash was looking a bit sad (yes, it's true, the cobbler's children have no shoes). Conveniently enough, a dear friend (H.N., you are the best!) brought me a huge roll of bamboo dpns, size 0 - 15. The sizes I use most are all packed in my travel roll and ready to rock out some Turkish socks samples.

Now I just need the yarn to dry...and perhaps finish my current project first.

What's on your needles this week?

On the Needles: Garter Stitch

Bias knit garter stitch scarf in Noro Kureyon by Cate Carter-Evans There's this funny thing that happens to many, many newbie knitters. As soon as their first project is finished (usually a garter stitch scarf), they want a new technique.

Garter stitch is suddenly old news. Too basic. Definitely uncool.

It's for, you know, babies.

While diving into new techniques is exhilarating, there's a sweet simplicity to garter stitch that's too often overlooked.

Garter stitch is a simple pleasure. It's a great way to play with stripes or variegated yarn. It's also a balanced knit structure - no ends or edges rolling up, ever. It's stretchy and delightfully dense.

Infinite Twist Knitting Kit

The September samples I'm knitting this week all just happen to be in garter stitch (how'd that happen?), plus I found an old favorite garter scarf in the archives while uploading completed projects of yesteryear to Ravelry (You can find me there with RavID infinitetwist).

As soon as the samples are done, I'll be releasing the kits - one is a Beginner's Kit for a simple scarf in variegated hand-spun yarn, and a sweet little triangular scarf (no name yet) design in a mill-spun yarn. I hope you like them!

Knitting WIP by Cate Carter-Evans

On the needles and in the dyepot this week

sawtooth Today, I give you a sneak peek of a new project coming for September. I did the first proto in KPPM and Fyberspates Scrumptious, and am now sampling in my own hand-dyed yarns. More colorways and images of this sweet little piece coming soon - I can't wait!

I'm taking it a little slow this week since last week saw a flurry of knitting in preparation for Sunday's photoshoot. I was still weaving in ends on a sample when awesome photographer Josh arrived, but everything that needed to be done got done.

This week, I've been taking it a bit easy on the knitting front in the interest of not pissing off my right elbow any more than is absolutely necessary. Too much knitting = injury - it's just that simple.


Do the finger stretches, find needles that work for you, and for heaven's sake, stop when it starts hurting. Being benched from knitting is a sad state of affairs. Ahem. I think that's the end of my PSA for the day.

In other studio news, I've been preparing lots of kits.

Rufus has been taking his role as Quality Assurance Inspector very seriously. He's decided that the best spot to nap is on the work-table between the swift and the ball winder.

yarn basket

Zuo spun up a bunch of blue yarns this week in Halo Shine, and some special sequin yarns going in the soon-to-be-released Paintbox kits. These kits contain both hand-spun, hand-dyed yarns plus highly textured and tactile novelty yarns from Turkey.

granite kits

The last big push for the week has been the Beginner's Kit. This is the Granite colorway - love, love, love how the colors turned out.

This will be a scarf kit in hand-dyed super bulky hand-spun which knits up fast, forgives funny inconsistencies in tension, and knits up into a yummy soft scarf.

I'm planning to put together a resource page for newbie knitters to go along with the scarf pattern.

What are your favorite knitting resources?

A Week of Weaving

loom It's been a fun and busy week. I spent lots of time at the loom this week, working on the Spectrum rug.

loom 2

I'm moving through a color sequence from maroon to purple to pink to red to spice to orange, and next, onto yellow.

dye bath

Lots of dyeing has been happening...


...and I'm working on a new sock design to which Rufus has taken a shine. I can't wait to wear these!

Weaving a Rug

warp threads I'm working on a project that's been a couple of years in the planning.

spectrum rug

It's a simple woven rug with a color progression from gold to orange to russet to red to fuchsia and purple.

I'm using a ton of stash yarn in this project, including some of the very first yarn I spun. first yarn

I'm also getting to use up some very special bulky yarn made from the recycled thrums of other weaving projects.recycled yarn

This project is going along really quick, and I can't wait to see what it looks like on the floor.

Tiny cats and lots of batts

There has been an overload of cuteness at my house recently. Please meet Rufus (the orange gentleman) and his sister, Vesper. Mark says Vesper "is not so much a cat as an absence of light." She's definitely trickier to photograph than her brother.

A friend of a friend found them dumped in a box near his apartment when they were about two weeks old. They've been bottle-fed since, and are turning out to have wonderful personalities.

When not feeding or playing with kittens, I've been working on a sea-side palette of hank-dyed yarns and complementary blended batts. I'm really excited to get these spun up and on the loom and see what they turn into.

I think this one if my favorite color - the perfect color of a summer sky.

What projects are you working on this Spring?

When knitting projects attack

My knitting turned on me this morning. My mild-mannered fingerless glove suddenly resembled an enraged sea urchin out for blood. What caused this disturbing transformation? Variegated yarn.

I have a long and painful knitting history with variegated yarn. It looks so pretty in a skein, but then it knits up into stripes. Stripes! I could make stripes by simply trying multiple pieces of yarn together. It disappoints me again and again... but I keep coming back for more.

I bought the yarn for this current project in Copenhagen last year. It's all greens and blues, so I forgive it for making stripes. It used its calming colors to lull me into a false sense of security so it could strike when I least expected it.

Today, it added a new dastardly trick to its arsenal of knitting woe - provoking seven needles with live stitches in a moving car.

It all started because I wanted the thumb of my glove to be the same color as the body. I couldn't knit it in after the body of the glove was finished because a color change was coming up, so I had no choice but to try to knit it in before casting off at the top - which resulted in four needles around the finger opening, plus three for the thumb.

The good news is the gloves are done and I love them. Take that, variegated yarn!

Garden of Alla in Handspun

This gorgeous shawl is made using handspun yarn from the Qinghai Spinner's Cooperative and this free pattern from Ravelry. My friend Yang knitted it - she's amazing. I have lots more of the yarn if you want to make one yourself.

If instant gratification is your thing, Yang liked the pattern enough that she wants to make a few more. send me an email or leave a comment if you're interested.

Now all I want is some cool Autumn weather in which to wear the shawl!


Spinner's Cooperative in Qinghai

Alert: Shameless promotion of a project I'm involved in! Below is a fundraising flyer from Shokay for the new Spinner's Cooperative in Qinghai. Last year, I did several trainings for the spinners of Hei Me He (archive post here).

Rather that just buying yarn directly from the spinners, Shokay and I are helping the spinners form their own co-op. The plan is for the co-op to be self-sustaining within two years. We're all working to help the co-op grow to include more women and provide more livelihood work in Qinghai.

If you'd like to get more information on supporting this program, please email shop@shokay.com.




A happier spinning project

After my little kvetch-fest about the nubs yarn, I feel it's my duty to share a spinning project that actually went well. This one's a re-use project as well. "Thrums" are pieces of yarn that are left on the loom after the finished cloth is completed. My thrums are mostly a smidge more than a yard long, with some as long as three yards depending on how badly I lost count while winding on my warp.

Thrums drive weavers crazy because they're wasteful. It's all the yarns in your warp in an inconvenient-to-use length, and finding something to do with them can be a real challenge.

The thrums left over from my green coat project have been hanging around the house for a while, and I decided to try re-spinning them.

I started by attaching two strands of yarn of different lengths to my bobbin leader. About 6" before the first strand ended, I spliced in a third strand. I repeated the splicing as each strand ended until I had a bobbin full of highly-twisted chunky yarn.

I needed a strong "binder" for the other ply, and I wanted something relatively skinny, so I used the Navajo plying technique to bulk up some lace-weight brushed mohair from my stash. I then plyed the two strands together, and viola! New yarn from old thrums.

The first skein ended up looking a little blah (skein on the left in this picture), but by the fourth one, I was really happy with the texture. I ended up with some extra binder yarn as well, so there's lots to play with.

Any suggestions on what this yarn should turn into?


The post I wish I was writing about this yarn goes something like this: "I tried a new spinning technique this weekend at it was great! I'm so glad I left my comfort zone to try something new!"

The truth is I absolutely HATED the process of making this yarn. It's a real shame, because I love the yarn and I wish I had more of it. I think it would look good as macro-lace.

My issue with the process is related to adding in the contrast wool to make the nubs. It totally threw of my spinning rhythm and my usual meditative spinning time turned into a big pushy fight with my wheel. Things might have a gone a little better if I had a double treadle wheel - there was a lot of starting and stopping.

My hatred of the process is significantly greater than my desire to have more of the yarn, so this is probably the only nubbly yarn I will ever make. Does anyone have thoughts for what I should make out of it?

Fiber Prep

With Spring nearly here and weather conditions in Qinghai improving, I'm starting to prepare for my next visit to the Spinners at the end of April. I'm really excited. This weekend, I went through my copious stash of hand-dyed fiber and put together color combinations to ship out ahead of the trip.

I also pulled out all the un-dyed fiber stashed in various places around the house and studio. I made combo packs with different rovings, fleeces, mohair locks, and silk noil, weighed everything, and the dyeing has now commenced.

I'm experimenting with dyeing some local wool from Qinghai. The sheep out there are interesting critters. They're fine-boned and quite pretty animals, and they are dual-coated (they have a layer of long guard hairs plus a layer of shorter, downy fibers).

The weird part for me is how soft the wool is - I'm used to dealing with dual-coated fleeces where the guard hairs are itchy and nasty. In addition, the wool is taking dye really well and I'm getting nice rich colors.

I'll post some pictures of the dyed wool once all the boring colors are out of the way. I'm working on black, dark grey, and dark brown today, and it's not exactly photogenic. There's green and blue in my future, and I'll make sure to post pictures.

Crochet Ripple Cowl

As promised, here's the crochet version of the cowl design. Crocheted textiles tend to have more body than knitted textiles, and this cowl can be styled in lots of different ways. It's drapey and soft and a bit more structured than the knitted version.

I think this design is a great beginner project because it's all single crochet. The simple stitch lets the yarn's handspun texture shine.

I'm looking for a pattern tester for this design as well - please leave a comment if you'd like to participate.

Knit Ripple Cowl

My first kit project is done! This button-up cowl is made with two colors from the Spring yarn palette, plus two colors of Shokay's 100% yak Shambala yarn.

I'm still working on creating the pattern for this design. Please leave a comment if you'd be willing to be a pattern tester.

Once the pattern has been tested, I'll be putting kits in the etsy shop. Are there any colors or combinations you'd especially like to see?

I've also developed a crochet version of this design. Please check back tomorrow for a sneak peek!

Introducing P.O.C's Spring 2011 Yarn Palette!

I'm pleased to announce that six colors of yarn are posted in the etsy shop! This spring palette is a "soft launch." I'm still finessing the product descriptions and working on how to get the best photographs, so please bear with me.

The yarn is 100% wool, and hand-spun by the spinners in Qinghai (the post about the first trip to work with the spinners is here). I kettle-dyed the yarn in my kitchen.

The colors are nice and bright, and perfect for Spring projects:

Iris Purple

Red Violet


Bright Red


Cherry Red


In addition to the colors in the palette, I've posted a few kits of silk ribbon hand-spun, hand-dyed luxury yarn, plus color card sets. Next week I'm adding kits with Shokay's 100% yak down yarn (sneak preview below).

Please check it out and let me know what you think!

Postcard from the weekend

It was a busy and wonderful weekend in my world. I worked on a bunch of projects, cleaned the studio, and generally made myself useful.

1. The kombucha has brewed for a week and I couldn't resist giving it a try. It wasn't quite to the effervescent point yet. I'd describe the flavor as off-dry (the kombucha mother hadn't processed all the sugar yet) but it was completely delicious. So delicious that I moved the mother into a larger container so that the next batch will be a bit bigger.

2. I experienced a medium-sized weaving disaster. One (and only one) section of my warp was one yard shorter than all the others. In order to not lose an entire yard of warp, I individually weighted each too-short yarn with a heavy square ring or a fishing weight. The weights made a fantastic tinkling sound with each treadle, and also wanted to twist up into a complex tangled braid about every five minutes. Very vexing. If anybody has a better solution to this problem, I'd love to hear it. I have a bad feeling this may not be the last time I encounter this issue.

3. I finished dyeing the spring yarn palette for Pursuit of Craftiness. I was going to introduce each color individually over six weeks, but I can't help myself - look out for a full introduction of all six colors by Saturday.


4. I made pie cupcakes. They were awesome and super simple. You make enough pie crust for a double crust pie and use a muffin pan instead of a pie pan. I used apples with fresh ginger and spice for my filling.


How did your weekend go? Did you get some needed rest, or focus on productivity?