Becoming the right stuff

So pretty. Kaloula Yarn. Hand-dyed by “up north” (Michigan’s) own, Karen Bradley. 560 yards of a beefy DK weight. I knit it up, well at first, during Bradley’s Ravelry 2013-2014 mystery knit-a-long. The mystery unfolded to be her Cascading Leaf Shawl. The recipe is still available on Ravelry, clue-by-clue. I blogged about my shawl here. And I kind of wowed myself with how excellent it turned out.  A real showstopper.

But at some point, the showstopper lost its appeal. This yarn is so cool and the pattern is so sweet that might seem like blasphemy. I don’t know exactly why but it just felt too colorful. I think. Or too eye-catching. It turned out I wasn’t wearing my beautiful shawl.

One evening, not long ago, I put the shawl on one last time. I looked at myself wearing it and, per Marie Kondo, I (sort of) thanked it for its service. Then I set to looking for my woven-in end and started unraveling. As I frogged, I wound the yarn back into a ball. Then I wound it onto my swift. I gave the yarn a good steaming, which successfully worked out a lot of the kinks and…have a look.

This might be some kind of ultimate Marie Kondo experience.

I took a long time finding a pattern that I expected would work well with these long runs of color. To my long-ago discontinued yarn I added a long-ago discontinued Classic Elite pattern: Lavish Rib Cable Scarf.

I’d knit the scarf once before and this is how it ended up in Paton’s Decor, a 25% wool 75% acrylic workhorse of a yarn.

I made some modifications to the pattern, described near the end of this post. I thought it a fine scarf, including because of this nifty trick you can do with it. It ended up being a successful charity silent auction item.

I decided my Petite Rayure was just the ticket for this lengthwise knitted scarf. And this time, except for increasing the cast on to lengthen the scarf, I followed the pattern exactly and made one cable twist along the center spine.

Here’s the result.

I cast on 352 stitches instead of 250. That worked out fairly well. I simply centered the two-stitch decrease (and later the two-stitch increase) that frame the central cable row. The ribbing worked out correctly with 352 stitches, both the k2 p2 and the k4 p2 sections. But the number of stitches was off (minus 2) for the cable row to work perfectly. I just left 4 stitches in ribbing at one end. If I’d been a tad smarter, or a tad less knit-lazy, I’d have frogged that cable row and started (and ended) with two “extra” stitches.

I decided to use a somewhat decorative cast on and bind off, thinking that a bit of stiffening to keep the ribbing from bunching at the edges would work well. I used the Chinese Waitress Cast on and the matching Double Chain Cast off.

Once the knitting was complete, I soaked the scarf in a tepid Eucalan bath. That both washed the yarn and took the last of the kinks out.

Sixty-one inches long, 7.25 inches wide. Perfect for 5’2″ me.

I tried, unsuccessfully, to help out all you “please I need this pattern” folks by looking for Classic Elite’s Lavish Rib Cable Scarf pattern on the Wayback Machine. I got close, but sorry no cigar. 682 billion web pages saved on one site defeated me. If you’re Mr. Peabody or Sherman and can locate the pattern via the Wayback Machine, please leave a comment and I’ll add the link to my post.

I am so so liking this scarf!

Frogging your knitting

This beautiful yarn is Karen Bradley’s hand-dyed Kaloula Yarn in her Grand Merino worsted weight. I found it once, late in 2012, at Knit Michigan. That’s a cancer benefit smallish yarn meet-up in the Detroit area. My eyeballs were dazzled by this yarn. But later it was hard for me to find a pattern that would suit. Even though these three skeins are all one colorway, the colors aren’t evenly disbursed or even all represented in each skein.

I searched Ravelry’s database and decided I’d knit a rustic shawl with an unusual construction: the Portuguese Fisherwomans shawl. It’s a Vermont Designs by Shelagh pattern. At that point, Shelagh Smith’s pattern was still downloadable from (The pattern isn’t available anymore and, of course, I have no permission to share it or copy it and since I want to keep it in my library I can’t give it to anyone either.)

It’s a pretty thing, hanging there on the hanger. And I feel as if I did the yarn justice with my pattern choice.

The lengths of color worked out nicely.

Knitting that long garter stitch band and sewing it on wasn’t easy for me. I wore the shawl, a bit. Around the house. Where no one could see me in it. Knowing where all the mirrors in my house are located, I could easily avoid them. Steve knew his job was to answer the doorbell while I scampered out of my fisherwoman’s costume. Taking nothing away from Portuguese fisherwomen, they must go for warmth rather than style. Or else their body type isn’t portly (being charitable to myself) or buxom.

In 2018, I decided the shawl needed to be frogged. (“Rip it…rip it.) The yarn was just too special to see light of day so seldom. I ended up with about 1100 yards of yarn. Just for the fun of it, I wound it up all in one ball. It was so big it wouldn’t fit in my yarn bowl. It was as big as a small watermelon.

Then I went shawl/wrap pattern shopping and came up with a new Susan Mills pattern: Licola. You might want to click away to Ravelry now and take a look at Licola as Mills envisioned it. It’s supposed to be knit in 4 colorways of worsted and to end up in alternating striped rows. That would have been lovely. But, well…I had my Kaloula Yarn.

I just couldn’t be happier with how this turned out! Without any planning at all on my part, the bobble bind off even turned out to be mostly in shades that stand out from the rest of the shawl. Some who’ve knit Licola don’t care for the rustic knitted fringe. It’s created by casting on stitches at the start of a row and immediately binding them off. It’s one of my favorite features of this wrap.

Here’s another look at Licola.

I know I will wear this wrap. It used up a bit under 900 yards.

I had enough left to knit a new Sunrise Side Bear. This bear is my freebie donation to the knitting universe. So far ten knitters have posted their projects on Ravelry and about 1200 people have downloaded the pattern. I’m pretty geeked about that. You can read more about my one-seam, knit flat bear pattern here.

This guy is my Kaloula Sunrise Side Bear.

My Ex-Portuguese Fisherwoman’s Shawl was the gift that kept on giving. I even had enough left to complete my 5th pair of Fetching mitts, by Cheryl Niamath.

Ok. So you doubt my decision to frog the Portuguese Fisherwoman’s Shawl? Here’s me wearing it. And since then I’ve gained weight–which wasn’t enhancing the look. The ends of that long garter stitch band criss-cross your back and then pull forward to tie at belly button height. I hid the knot under the top flap.

Licolo works so much better for me. Here’s another view of it

Cascading Leaves Shawl Recipe


MIx one 8 ounce, 560 yard cake of Michigan Indie dyer Karen Bradley’s Petite Rayure using needles that get you to about 5 stitches per inch in stockinette. A size 8 worked for me.

Follow the directions supplied in Bradley’s Cascading Leaves Shawl, available (unfortunately) in not-too-many places. But you can still read the clues Bradley posted for it in her mystery knit-a-long on Ravelry. If you can’t find the right ingredients, give her LYS Cynthia’s Too a call in Petoskey, Michigan. Cynthia carries all Bradley’s Kaloula Yarns and also has a paper copy of the pattern for sale.

Your shawl is done when you are beginning to fear that you will run out of yarn. But with 15 yards left in the cake, your creation will be complete.



cascading_frontThese gradient yarns really produce some show-stoppers.


Evolution of a pony


I had 1/3 of a skein of this great hand-dyed Grande Merino worsted, from Karen Bradley of Kaloula Yarn, left over from my Portuguese Fisherwoman’s Shawl. It would likely have been enough for a hat. Probably. But the long runs of color could have made selection of a pattern tricky. I thought of Wurm, but slouchy Quaker Rib Wurm is a yarn hog.

I decided to return to a pattern I’ve knit something like 200 times since first being introduced to it in 1990 when my son attended a Waldorf preschool: Acorn Hill Pony.

First stage, some flat garter stitch skins slightly resembling ponies.


Next step, sewing and stuffing. The ponies begin to take shape.


I sewed them up on the drive to the lake this past weekend. For awhile, they perched on the dashboard.

Once stuffed, they need to get their braided tails and manes. That’s a modification I made to the pattern. Noro Kureyon is a big favorite for that.


The braiding takes about as long as the knitting.






makes a herd.


You can check out more Acorn Ponies here, and here. Such a fun nostalgic knit. Thanks, Waldorf!

In May of 2017 I confirmed that the Acorn Hill kindergarten and nursery, now in SIiver Spring, Maryland is the original source of this pattern. They generously allowed me to repair a few errors in their one-page mimeographed pattern, add my not-so-Waldorfian manes, and update the directions to suit a modern knitter’s sensibilities. They even provided written permission allowing me to post the updated pattern as a Ravelry freebie, here. So, the knit goes on!


Portuguese Fisherwoman’s Shawl

pfs copy

I am drawn to shawls that stay put. Apparently I don’t have whatever it takes to keep a shawl in place. And I don’t like to deal with shawl pins. This is Vermont Designs by Shelagh’s re-creation of a traditional Portuguese Fisherwoman’s Shawl from Nazare, Portugal. The pattern is available on Ravelry or direct from Vermont Yarn Company‘s shop. I knit mine to include the garter stitch tie band. The band crosses in the front and ties in the back. It also stabilizes the construction.

It’s cool from the front and from the back:

pfs2 copy

You can knit it without the band and it will make an excellent shawl that stays on the shoulders without shawl pin help. You’d lose it out in a boat fishing, though.


Mine is knit in worsted weight Kaloula Yarn “Grande Merino.” It’s a wonderful hand painted “100% organic merino wool,” dyed by Karen Bradley of Harbor Springs, Michigan. Cynthia’s Too, in Petoskey, sells the yarn, along with others from Bradley. Here’s Grand Merino all caked up and ready to go.


I haven’t done any fishing in my shawl yet, and don’t expect to, but it’s already kept me warm and cozy in the last few weeks since I finished it.


On me, it doesn’t make much of a style statement. But that’s one of the things I like about it.