Whale Watching

I'm in the middle of a bunch of projects that I can't wait to share soon. In the mean time, we went whale watching off of San Juan Island in Washington last week! It was a really great experience (even thought 12+ hours on a boat was a lot). We saw about a dozen Southern Resident Killer Whales from J Pod. 

orcas san juan island, washington / warporweft.com
killer wales / warporweft.com
orca whales / warporweft.com

There are only about 80 Southern Resident Killer Whales in the world and they survive mostly on a diet of salmon. One of the whales in J pod, Granny, is estimated to be over 105 years old and is the oldest killer whale in the world. The baby Orcas were adorable and it was so much fun to watch them play.

whale tale / warporweft.com
orca tale / warporweft.com
another orca whale tale / warporweft.com
whale waving hello / warporweft.com
orca off of San Juan Island, Washington / warporweft.com

We left from Seattle on the Victoria Clipper Ferry early in the morning on our way to Friday Harbor. The boat travels on the east side of Whidbey Island on the way there and on the west side on the way back. The whales were close to San Juan Island, so we got to spend a little over an hour watching them. We had an hour and a half in Friday Harbor for lunch and to tour the Whale Museum.

Seals / warporweft.com

There were also plenty of birds and seals near San Juan Island and also in Deception Pass. It is amazing how well the seals blend into the rocks.


Baby Bear Sweater

I've been eyeing the Lamb's Ear Cardigan kit by Appalachian Baby Design for at least two years, but the kit is a bit pricey and my friends have been having babies in groups (we welcomed six newborns in the first two weeks of March!), so how could I make one baby this adorable sweaters and not the others? Finally, a close family member is pregnant AND there are no other babies on the immediate horizon, so I knew right away that this would be perfect. I modified the sweater to knit the body bottom up in one piece so I didn't have to join it later. I also made a series of other modifications like rounding the ears, which is noted below along with notes about things I found a bit unclear in the pattern.

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North Broad Cowl Scarf Pattern

In the mid 2000s, I started making a cowl scarf that I really liked. My friends soon wanted them, too, and encouraged me to sell them on etsy. I did that for several years before taking a break from etsy. As I packed one of the scarves for our recent vacation to Banff in the Canadian Rockies, I realized that I really like this scarf, so I should turn it into a pattern to share with you.

North Broad Cowl Scarf Pattern / warporweft.com

At the time, drop stitch scarves were really popular, but I didn't know the technique, so I created the pattern without an actual drop stitch. It is a nice faux drop stitch and is easy even for beginning knitters. More advanced knitters can knit this in an hour or two, which makes it great for a quick gift or a last minute fashion accessory.

I've knit the North Broad Cowl Scarf with Plymouth Baby Alpaca Grande, which has a nice feel to it and is pictured above. I've also made this with Lion Brand Homespun in tons of colors. Corinthian is my favorite colorway, but I've also knit it with Candy Apple, Harvest, Grape, Cream, Golden, Lagoon, Parfait, Apple Green and Black. The nice thing about Homespun is that you can easily wash and dry the scarf in your washing machine and dryer if you put it in a garment bag.

Find the pattern:

North Broad Cowl Scarf in my shop

North Broad Cowl Scarf on Ravelry

Knit Collage Ribbed Hat Reprised

The original hat may have had an accident with the washing machine, which led me to remake it. Don't judge...it was in the middle of a moth infestation and I was on the third straight day of doing laundry. Anyway, I really love this hat. The yarn is a great mix of wool and sparkle. It's fashionable and fairly warm.

knit collage yarn ribbed hat / warporweft.com

I love the thick and thin yarn. The colorway is Day Dreamer by Knit Collage. The original blog post about the hat is through this link.

UPDATE: Here's the pattern:

Using a US size 13 circular needle that is 16 inches long, cast on 40 stitches and knit one, purl one until the length measures approximately 9 inches. Please note that It is important to make sure that you have an even number of stitches if you are knitting in the round because you want your rows to line up. Then knit two together for the next row. Break the yarn and pull it through the remaining stitches.  

I went with a pompom and it really added that special something to this hat. I used the rest of the skein from the same Knit Collage yarn as the hat. I used a large card from a mailing (5 inches / 12.7 cm) to wrap the yarn around when making the pompom because my hand wasn't big enough. If you need guidance, watch the video through this link, but note that the Knit Collage yarn is much much thicker, so you do NOT  have to wrap it the 100 times that she suggests.

Hat with pompom / warporweft.com

When you attach the pompom to the hat, you may need to attach it in more than in the pure middle of the hat for stability. Adding a tie down piece of yarn about a half inch to an inch out from the center on two sides helped me anchor the pompom, so it doesn't move all over.

I can't wait to wear it. Have a great weekend!

My Top 3 Must Have Weaving Books

I am working on a longer post about how to get started in weaving because many people have been asking. I thought I'd start by sharing the weaving books that I rely on the most. Learning to weave is a bit like teaching yourself to play the violin. You can do it and it will eventually turn out great, but there will definitely be struggles along the way...and the lack of readily available, helpful information will make you want to pull your hair out. 

3 must have weaving books / warporweft.com

Keep in mind that because the popularity of weaving fizzled a bit in the 1980s to the 2000s, second hand bookstores, estate sales and amazon may be your best bet for finding helpful weaving books. (this is also why my books look so beat up!).  Most weaver's guilds also keep a library of books that members can borrow. You can find your local weaver's guild through this link - local weaver's guilds.

Here are my top weaving books in no particular order:

The Key to Weaving by Mary Black

This book provides information on a range of weaving topics that are great for beginning weavers. The subjects include warping the loom (in case you are brand new to weaving, warping is how to set up the loom), how to correctly wind a bobbin, how to read a weaving pattern, different weaving structures, how to finish a piece and much more. I refer to this book a lot because it has great instructions. The descriptions are helpful and there are often actual photos of pieces in addition to drawings. The forward indicates that the book is designed as a textbook and the lessons should be woven in order, but I don't use it that way. It would be interesting to weave straight through the book. If you do it, let me know.

The Key to Weaving / warporweft.com

A Handweaver's Pattern Book by Marguerite Porter Davison  

This book includes a very short description or history of each type of weaving pattern - i.e., twill, Swedish lace, overshot, etc. - and then gets down to the meat of the weaving structures. It offers patterns without any instruction, so you will need to know how to warp the loom, use tabby, add a selvedge, etc. But if you follow Warp or Weft, you'll know that I weave from patterns in this book A LOT. I could probably weave forever on patterns and variations of the patterns in the Davison book alone. Some examples of patterns from the Davison book: Overshot Snail's Trail and Cat's PawGertrude's Fancy, Swedish Lace, Monk's Belt. My advice about this book is to make sure that you do a draw down and a sample because the patterns don't always line up exactly with the photos in the book. I learned it the hard way, so you don't have to!

Note: The green Davison is the original book. They are now selling an orange book. I've heard it is not the same, but have not seen it yet. Be aware of this when you are buying the Davison book.

Must have weaving books / warporweft.com

The Techniques of Rug Weaving by Peter Collingwood

Even if you aren't specifically interested in weaving rugs, the Collingwood book offers excellent tips about weaving and finishing techniques. I find this book incredibly useful even though I have never woven a rug. It has great descriptions and drawings. I am especially drawn to the section on using multiple weft colors and the many different ways to interchange the strands of yarn. When I flip through it and see the drawings, it makes me want to try new things on the loom. 

Best weaving books / warporweft.com

I hope you find these books as helpful as I do! Weaving is a bit different for everyone, so go ahead and share the top weaving books that you love in the comments below.

Happy weaving!

Crackle Twill

When I started planning a new weaving project last week, I noticed that there was enough warp left on my table loom from the crackle sampler I made in the fall to complete another project. I couldn't find the exact threading for the original project, so I went with a 2/2 twill when weaving the weft (if you don't know what that is, it means that you lift two shafts at a time while two shafts stay down - i.e., 1/2; 1/4; 3/4; 2/3). The pattern that emerged was pleasantly surprising.

Crackle Twill Weaving / warporweft.com

The warp is 10/2 perle cotton and the weft is Harrisville Shetland. I tried the orange weft, but didn't love it and switched back to the darker blue. I think the blue looks much nicer. I was a little nervous about how it was going to turn out because I couldn't get the tabby to beat in hard enough. However, after soaking it for an hour, the beat looks great.  

Current Work in Progress

Today I'm working on this piece. It's a pretty simple knit and the yarn feels really nice. I am making notes along the way and will put the pattern in my shop when I finalize it. I am making a spring resolution (that's a thing, right?) to finish all of my projects and to share them here on Warp or Weft.

Knitting / warporweft.com

On another note, I can't get enough of the scenery here in Washington.  I was pleasantly surprised that March is the La Conner Daffodil Festival (the link is to the bloom map. When the flowers are lit up, the field is in bloom). With hundreds of acres of daffodils, I couldn't resist, so we went over the weekend. La Conner is about an hour and a half drive North from downtown Seattle. We went to the Tulip Festival last April and, I have to say, the Daffodil Festival was equally as beautiful, but with a small fraction of the crowd so it was much more pleasant.  

Mt. Baker made an appearance and we also saw a lot of hawks. There were thousands of geese and a few dozen swans. It was incredible. We ate at Anelia's Kitchen and Stage where the pierogis are homemade and worth every calorie.


Finished Yellow Brick Road Cardi

You may recall that quite some time ago, my friend, Sarah, sent me yarn from Hickory Hills Farm in Nelson, WI to knit something for her. The yarn was obviously wool, but came unlabeled and without any information, so I used the wraps per inch to figure out it was worsted weight yarn and weighed each skein to figure out the approximate yardage. Luckily, it was enough to make the Yellow Brick Road Cardi.

Yellow Brick Road Cardigan / warporweft.com

This pattern is written well in step-by-step instructions. I found the pattern to be well written and easy to follow. The author recently updated the pattern to include links to the necessary techniques. I don't know that it is great for a first knitting project, but if you feel up to mastering short rows, picking up sleeves, etc., go for it!

yellow brick road cardi knit / warporweft.com

Sarah lives in Wisconsin where the winters are very cold, so I modified the pattern to extend the sleeves from 3/4 length to full length. I continued with the decreases in the same manner as the pattern for the top of the sleeve until there were 40 stitches on the needles, then I added the ribbing. I omitted the pleat in the sleeves because it wasn't needed with the full length sleeves. I like how it turned out and, because the wool in this yarn is heavy, it makes more sense to have full length sleeves. 

On another note, Ihave a very difficult time finding buttons for my projects. Do you have a favorite supplier?

Tips to keep knit and woven items smelling fresh

With most of my projects made from wool, alpaca and natural fibers, moths can be a problem, especially because we live near the water. This means I have to store my knitted and woven items in bins, which can make the items smell like a bin - ew! - so I resort to my best remedy for making yarn smell better: I open a box of Dove white bar soap and, with the bar still in the box, put it in the bin with the yarn. I leave the Dove bar in the box so it doesn't rub off on the yarn. It works pretty well to keep the items smelling pleasant.

Dove makes yarn smell nice / warporweft.com

It is also more economical to cut the soap bar into chunks and wrap it in a cloth/wash cloth before putting it in with your yarn, if you want to save a little money. If you want a more floral smell, you can add a satchel of lavender in the bin along with the Dove. I find that lavender alone is a bit too strong in the quantity that I would need and the Dove has a more mild smell.

I never use mothballs because they are unhealthy and can be toxic. It's too much of a risk to the humans and cats in our house.

Do you have a method that works to keep your knit and woven items smelling fresh? Please share it below. I'm always looking for great tips!

Belltown Cowl Scarf Pattern

Today is the two year anniversary of Warp or Weft! In the past two years I learned how to weave and advanced in my knitting. Thank you to everyone who has joined me along the way! I am having a lot of fun.

Belltown Cowl Scarf Pattern by warporweft.com

To celebrate this anniversary, I am SO excited to share my first official knitting pattern with you! It is called The Belltown Cowl Scarf and is very easy to knit. I first made this scarf in the colorway Teals as a hostess gift for my friend who was gracious enough to host me when I went home for my bridal shower almost two years ago. Last spring I made the scarf in Blues and I was inspired to make the scarf pictured here in Grapes for myself. I loved it so much that I decided to share the pattern with all of you!  

Belltown Cowl Scarf Pattern by warporweft.com

There are tons of seed stitch cowl patterns, but the unique colorways of Cascade 128 Superwash Multis give it a little something extra. Because of the length, the pattern is one size fits all. It is available in my Shop and will also be available on Ravelry once I figure out how to upload it.

Find the pattern:

Belltown Cowl Scarf Pattern in my shop

Belltown Cowl Scarf Pattern on Ravelry


Crochet Mermaid Blanket

I am spending today getting these mermaid tail blankets finished and ready to ship. They are for some of my favorite girls and I am delighted to get them in the mail. These blankets are really cute. The pattern is Bulky Mermaid Blanket by MJ's Off the Hook Designs and the yarn is Country Loom in Nobility. The yarn is available at Michael's. Edit: The pattern is on Ravelry throught this link.

CrochetMermaid Blanket / warporweft.com

I have to admit that this yarn is not my favorite, but it gets the job done. I chose to use the same yarn for the fin as the body of the blanket and continued with the Q size crochet hook, which worked out ok. I had to make a second single crochet row to reduce the end of the fin that joins to the body (you'll see it on the pattern if you buy it). I also don't think the gauge works out exactly as she describes in the pattern because I crochet very loosely and I couldn't get it large enough to match the pattern description even though the author says she crochets tightly. This may also be why a lot of people note on the ravelry forums that they needed extra yarn, so be prepared for that.  And I was not able to get these done in the 3.5 hours that the pattern approximates. I think the quickest one took me 5 - 6 hours, but if you are faster at crochet, it could take less.

Cat crochet blanket / warporweft.com

Look at this good boy hanging out next to (not on top of, for once!) the blanket. One of the bodies became a cat blanket because he claimed it as his new couch blanket, so I ended up making four. Luckily he is leaving this one alone!

A Few of My Favorite Things

Happy Friday! Today, I am sharing a few of my favorite knitting and weaving products from small businesses. I bought the antique scissors from local shop, Moorea Seal, in the Belltown neighborhood of Seattle. I keep them on my loom for use during warping and to help mend broken warp threads (it happens to the best of us!). The hedgehog knitting needle sizer is from Katrinkles. She has lots of designs available, including the US states. And the brass two-in-one threading and sley hook is from Harrisville Designs. The hook has a hole in it and hangs next to the scissors on my loom, so I never misplace it. I love how I only need one tool instead of two for warping.

Fiber Accessories / warporweft.com

I hope you all have a lot of exciting weekend plans. The weather is supposed to be rainy here this weekend, so we will have mostly inside plans. I hope to get a bunch of weaving done. Cheers!