Yarn love

Over the years I've had the great good fortune to sample a lot of yarns. Everything from cashmere and yak to possum and beaver, recycled pop bottles, milk, corn, soy, pineapple, and even humble-but-illegal-to-cultivate-in-the-U-S-of-A hemp have slipped through my needles.

Most are perfectly fine. Some knit up splendidly but make you want to stab yourself in the eye they're so frustrating to work. Many split. Others arrive disheveled like they've just had a good roll in the hay, and why not? It's a good reminder of provenance. Still others are so soft, if you give them a good stare they'll pill.

Occasionally a yarn will find its way into my shopping bag, because they have a way of doing that. Like the skein pictured above. I had spied it at Wild Yarns and, you know, spent the evening rationalizing: Organic merino, hand-dyed by Cheryl herself, great yardage. Called Kelly the next day to hold.

And here it sat, until a happy convergence of twisted stitches, free time and knitted skirts inspired a new design. What's more, it knits like a dream with nary a split or hiccup. Let's hope it swaddles my backside just as well!

Oh, and the name of the yarn? OM by Cheryl Oberle.


Knitting Finished Object: Nazo Vest by Cheryl Oberle

Say "hey" to Nazo.

This is one of Cheryl Oberle's latest, which because of the vertical garter stitch (emphasis on vertical), is wonderfully flattering. it's also a triumph of engineering, with precise increases, decreases, diagonal details--and no seaming. How she managed to construct this side-to-side vest with no mattress stitching coda, well that woman is a caution

This was knit in Creatively Dyed Woodbrook 2 in the Elgin colorway paired with Cascade 220 in black. (At least I think it was Cascade 220.)

You might think this is a mindless knit, stitched as it is all in garter stitch, but you that's not the case. Nazo, which means puzzle in Japanese, emerges on the needles in that miraculous way of socks, where you have no sense of where you're going topographically until a heel appears--or the armhole of a vest--with fun surprises at every turn.

Imagine it in your own colors and enjoy the ride.

Knitaway goodies, part II

At some level, knitters are material girls and boys. It's not like we're sitting on mountaintops seeking enlightenment; if we were, we'd be finishing that shrug moldering in the closet since 2006 and casting on a hat for the bald guy next to us, clearly shivering in the wind. We bring things to bear. That's what we do.

That Cheryl had door prizes for everyone (the jewelry-like stitch markers in the foreground for La Nake-id), goody bags (Yarn Lover's Lotion from Arvada, Colorado, a clever reusable ChicoBag, chocolate, and tourist information for the out-of-towners) and a yarn crawl planned (Knit Knack, The Recycled Lamb, Showers of Flowers and Fancy Tiger) made perfect sense--and everyone really happy.

Given recent purchases, I was restrained as we yarn crawled through the city: A sock monkey kit from Fancy Tiger, a copy of the new Knit.Wear magazine from Knit Knack and a heaping skein of Cheryl's own organic merino dyed an inky purple (just right of Stanley in the photograph).

Oh, and Wendy, one of the lovely Knitawayers, brought skincare samples from her day job working for a medical esthetics clinic. (A girl after my own heart!)

Stanley, the house bodhisattva, is trying not to pass judgment but rather inspire the Nake-id Knitter to higher things.

Knitaway goodies, part I

Though I'm starting to return to earth--a late-night attempt to parse brioche knitting's hieroglyphics was a fine smack down--there's still some Knitaway afterglow.

Mostly all this sloppy bliss comes from spending time with smart, engaged people whose knitting tricks--and other interests--open new cracks and crevices in the hard cheese that is the Nake-id brain.

For example, in touring Cheryl's dye studio, we spied a beautiful piece of crocheted lace, among other stunning pieces. Turns out, Cheryl's 86-year-old mother-in-law, Bernetta, is a master crocheter who has "drawers" filled with these treasures. Cheryl had tried to sell Bernetta's work at a recent show with no success. We were gobsmacked. What?! Bring 'em on!

Cheryl passed around a stack of runners, doilies and table toppers, each more intricate and striking than the last--and priced so reasonably, one of the knitters observed, "Cheryl, you have to charge more!"

I bought the piece pictured above as a gift and put in an order for a dresser scarf for Chez Nake-id. We were all vibrating--yes, from the chance to possess such things--but also from admiration, knowing that there's a lady in Kansas, whom we've never met, who is capable of such beauty.

Most of the Knitawayers are now proud owners of Bernettas and are honored to have them. There's talk of an upcoming Etsy store. Will keep you posted.

Knitaway: Mile High!

It was heaven: Two-and-a-half days at Cheryl Oberle's Knitaway. 

After months in a knitting trough, the result of deadlines, distractions and misbegotten projects, the love is back, due largely to Cheryl and the brilliant knitters in attendance at her Knitaway in the Studio.

Held in her charming teaching space in Northwest Denver, Cheryl offers that rare chance to put everything aside and knit and learn (and shop) with other people as hepped up about needlework as you are. Everyone tucks in, making nests for themselves from knitting bags, yarn, finished and unfinished objects, water bottles, books, patterns and needle sets, happy to get away from the dailyness and knit.

I could only attend a portion of the Knitaway, given my work and travel schedule, but since I was already in media res with the workshop project, Nazo--a side-to-side, "origami-constructed" vest--I was in good shape...except that...mistakes were made. Cheryl sorted me out tout de suite, demonstrating how fudging could happen.

Nazo is a two-color garment that's finished with sturdy three-needle bind-offs, and it was a revelation to see all the variations: loden and moss, black and turquoise, charcoal and grey, brown and black. There are going to be some handsome vests parading around Denver and points beyond.

There was time during the Knitaway for learning--new cast-ons, bind-offs, tips for both, end-weaving tricks, short-row wisdom and other fibery bits--a tour of Cheryl's dye studio (spinners, she's dyeing rovings...), a yarn crawl (more on that later), lunches and hours of knitting.

In addition to getting right with Nazo, I finished this:

Madelinetosh Mara knit in Tosh DK in the Logwood colorway. There's more to show and tell. And watch Cheryl's blog for more vicarious Knitaway pleasure.

Nazo on the Needles

All fired up to knit Japanese after Donna Druchunas' Japanese Knitting class in Estes, I cast on Nazo. That it doesn't require the deciphering of Japanese charts, makes it even more appealing. It is summer. Don't we need beach knits to go with our beach reads?

Newly equipped with a beautiful tonal red--Woodbrook 2 in Elgin from Creatively Dyed Yarn)--I happily swatched and cast on. It's proceeding apace.

"What a fun little knit," she pronounced.


New Cheryl Oberle Pattern: In the queue

For me, Cheryl Oberle patterns are like potato chips: You can't knit just one. I've knit at least three of her sweaters, resounding successes all.  Her designs are flattering, timeless and beautifully articulated.

Nazo (pictured above) is one of Cheryl's latest, newly available in kit and pattern form from her web site. Can't wait to cast on!