Brioche Knitting 101

HUGE in the knitting world now…Brioche!  Not to be confused with the bread!  Brioche knitting is not new, but it certainly has had a great resurgence.  I believe in large part, it’s popularity could be due to designs by Stephen West, and his way with color.

Now, yarn shops are jumping in with classes to support this popularity.  I have even seen some retreats surrounding this technique accompanied with some notable knitterati teaching.  These retreats go for big money.

To be honest, when I first saw Brioche knitting, it sort of scared me.  I thought, no thank you, I’ll just sit here and finish what I’m working on.  But, as more patterns were introduced, my interest peaked.  I wasn’t in a position to spend big money on a retreat weekend for this, but Pinchknitter yarns advertised a class on Facebook for $30, and I said “SOLD”!

I thought it would be a fun team activity, so I signed myself, Diana and Carmel up to take the class.  It’s winter here in the pacific northwest, and that translates into gray skies, chilly temps and rain.  Carmel drove — we got there early and all had lunch together.  We arrived for our class, and met our instructor Sarah.

The class wasn’t project based, it was swatch based.  Now, I know why.  There was a lot to unpack for this new technique.  There were four of us in the class which I think was perfect.  Anything larger may have required a second teacher.  We got handouts and great instruction, and I believe we all ripped out and started again.  Carmel was the advanced student, as she was able to proceed to increases and decreases.  I learned a lot and am just working my rows for practice.  It may turn into a scarf, I just don’t know for sure.

After class, I took some pictures of the store, because, you know me.  I’m all about the yarn shop and I am sure you want to see the store.  Pinchknitter yarns is located in Stanwood, Washington and owner Sirkku Bingham is a lover of baseball, hence the name Pinchknitter.  The store used to be a clock store/repair business and there are clocks around the store including a cuckoo clock that sounds off on the hour.  There is also a nearby train track with trains bustling through town not far away.  It’s like a step back in time.  And these days, a slow down is lovely and soothing, right along with our yarn and knitting….brioche knitting!  …you may click on any photo to see it’s larger version…

Pinchknitter owner Sirkku Bingham with America’s Knitting owner Mary Neill

Happy New Year 2017

Happy New Year to everyone!   New years is a time of reflection and new beginnings.  We moved into a new house back in August.  We actually down sized into a smaller home.  With small square footage comes less storage.  This is where one realizes that there is a problem with lots of yarn, and lots and lots of projects, and project bags.  Projects in various stages of doneness.

I have mitts, socks, socks, and lots of socks, scarves, stoles, shawls and cowls.  I have hats, berets, boot toppers, shrugs, tank tops, ponchos, sweaters, and a Christmas stocking.  I have baby blankets, baby hats, and baby sweaters.  Some of my projects are in the beginning stages, some are a third of the way done, some are half done, some have beads, and some are fair isle.

When a project is near completion, I finish it.  It builds momentum, it’s fun, and I finish.  Most all of my projects are knit with nice yarns, and I love them all.  When I moved, I did get rid of a few and I also gave away a little bit of my stash.  The stash is a whole other story.  I have a representation of all the weights and all the colors, but I don’t have huge quantities of anything.  So, if I want to knit a sweater or an afghan, I’d have to go purchase yarn.  I don’t have a lot of sport weight and I don’t have much chunky weight or bulky.  But, I have mohair, alpaca, new wool, merino, silk, cotton, wool/alpaca blends, wool/cotton blends, some metallics, and even a bit of cashmere.

My husband and I had the retirement talk over the weekend, so the situation needs to reduce further.  All the time, the designers are coming up with fun sweaters that are hard to pass up, baby items that are beyond cute…the yarn companies are coming up with yummy colors, tweeds, heathers, halos and marls.  I’m going to have to down size some more.  I’ve just let it get out of control.  I want to knit everything, and I don’t want to miss out on anything.  Yes, I know some knitters that don’t have to purchase yarn, that don’t really care what everyone is knitting, that aren’t on Instagram; that just finish what they’ve started — but that’s not me.  I love yarn, I love knitting, and I love yarn shops.




I must work hard this year of 2017 to wrap up some projects, finish what has been started.  I will start each month with projects planned.  I will try to finish a few things, and if I’m successful and feel the need to purchase yarn, or cast on a project I will let myself, but only one, if two have been finished.  If I’m not really feeling it I will continue to finish projects and just keep going.

I’m planning to blog it through, and I hope it will inspire knitters to carry on with their projects.  I also want to mention, that if you want to spotlight your yarn shop, if you are a knitter, or a yarn shop owner, let’s do it.  Just email me over some digital pictures and a few lines and we’ll talk about your shop, and your town.

The yarn shop ally in the Pacific Northwest~

Yarn Crawl…do you crawl?

They are pretty much nation wide now!  I love the concept of an organized event, created towards a fun outing for all the enjoy!  Knitters plan and plot out their course, and sometimes even take a husband, a non-knitting friend, or pups for company.  Most do I think, crawl in groups…but there are even some loners out to crawl.  It could take a day or a weekend, for all this fun to take place.  I say knitters, but these shops also create a free crochet pattern for crawlers as well.

The premise is that the shops come together with meetings all year long to come up with a theme, a set of rules, free patterns, and some prizes to make it super fun!  We have a couple of these crawls in my region of western Washington state.  I’ve done the crawl over in Seattle one time.  The crawl in the south sound I do every year….so far.  The crawl in Seattle is too big for me.  If someone wanted to drag me, I could be persuaded, but that hasn’t happened yet.

Sometimes, life’s circumstances veer knitters off course.  Knitters almost always come back, and this is always a great outing.  Visit all the shops, check it out, see what’s happening.  The first thing you do is print out your passport. There will always be something in one of the shops that really speaks to you.  Each shop has a project and free pattern.  They typically have a yarn that goes with the project that they are offering at a discount, and then decorations and other items that coincide with their theme.  Each shop has snacks to offer the crawler.  Then, there are daily prizes and something for the finishers.

Because it takes all day, or in some cases all weekend, you have to have coffee out or lunch.  It’s Fun!  I think knitters know how to have fun….from KAL’s, to joining yarn clubs, to going to events, to going on yarn crawls.  Personally, I love all things that include and support the yarn shops, that’s my favorite.  This weekend is KnitFit in Ballard, Washington.  I’m not taking any classes, but I will be going to just check it out and go to the market.  Out of 28 vendors, only 1 is a yarn shop.  So, does a sale from an indy business take away from the business of a LYS?


Glamping With The Plucky Knitter

Being a gal from the Pacific Northwest, I love the play on words the Plucky Knitter used on her ‘Glamping’ retreat held this last weekend, in my neck of the woods (hee)!  We consider ourselves outdoorsy people here in the Northwest.  This retreat weekend was held in a truly unique venue, that speaks to a northwest style with lots of wood and big timbers; Island Wood located on beautiful Bainbridge Island, Washington.  I can totally see how the play on words comes in with ‘glamping’ as the campers had their own cabins and meals served catered style in a community mess hall.  This event included classes, shopping, friendship bracelets, fine dining and s’mores of course.

The Plucky Knitter aka Sarah Dimond and her lovely yarns, fall into the ‘exclusive’ category, in that they are extremely popular and sought after.  She works with luxury fibers, and of course her colors are custom.  You will find merino, cashmere, cotton, linen, silk, camel, alpaca and even yak fiber in her line of fine yarns.  As soon as she dyes up batches and gets them ‘on-line’ they are sold out.

Yep, I said on-line.  But, America’s Knitting is all about the yarn shop!!  Yes, that’s true — but I didn’t want anyone thinking that I am out of the loop.  I try to know what’s going on all around the knitting industry.  Especially, when things happen in my back yard, I must go and investigate.

For the most part, I, (and I hope all of you) purchase yarn and notions from your local yarn shop.  Whenever I travel, I take my knitting (that goes without saying), and I always look up and see where the local yarn shops are (on America’s Knitting of course).  I look at what I have going, and try and squeeze in a trip to a LYS.  BUT, sometimes…someone gives you yarn from their stash, or gifts it to you.  Sometimes you are buying craft yarn because the recipient isn’t going to take care of it or you are on an extreme budget, but must cast on.  I’ve even heard stories of yarn on sale in the catalogs that was the perfect color purchased in the middle of the night.  You see where I’m going with this — we are addicts.

There’s so much out there from booths at venues such as Rhinebeck, the Stitches events, the Vogue Knitting LIVE events, the catalogs, the on-lines….and then there’s our trusty LYS that is always there for us.  They are open often times, 7 days a week, all day.  They furiously and tirelessly knitting up shop samples, and plan schedules of classes and in-store events, from holiday open houses, to fashion shows, trunk shows, book signings, sales and the list goes on.  These shops pay local county taxes, state taxes and federal taxes, and they are there for us, and provide most of all, technique and community.

The Plucky Knitter works very hard too; her online presence is always up to date, she has a successful Ravelry group, gorgeous photography, fun and current pattern support, and playful swag that’s always good for a smile.  The Plucky Knitter is a family owned business out of Michigan; and Sarah and her sister Hayley are the face of the brand.  There is NOTHING not to like there, I love their yarn….just wish it was a little more available in your LYS.  But, one could say made in USA, except I’m not sure of the sourcing of their yarn.

Plucky Knitter does occasionally have trunk shows at yarn shops — they were seen at Knit On Pearl Yarn Shop in Jackson Wyoming, and Wool & Honey yarn shop in Cedar, Michigan, and their custom dyed excusive yarn colorways for Churchmouse Yarns & Teas on Bainbridge Island, Washington.  So, if Plucky yarn is on your radar, follow Sarah on any number of social media venues, and maybe she’ll land at a yarn shop near you!  The Plucky Knitter also participates in Stitches South and has their own Shindig annual event~


12th Annual Mariners Stitch ‘n Pitch

I’ve attended all but two —

I missed the very first one, I was so bummed.  I don’t think they had their marketing clearly in place, I honestly didn’t even know about it.  I vowed, that I would go the next year.  And go I did!  It was on my birthday that year, and all my friends went, and we had a blast.  My friends even had a birthday wish to me put up on the jumbo Tron!   I’ve been attending every year since, with the exception of one year.

This year, I went with my daughter in law Kim (who’s pregnant with my first grandchild), and my dear friend Ann!  We met up at Starbucks! Tradition is a funny thing — there is no way we could head out, without our iced green tea lemonade!!  Then, off we went for the ferry boat, to sail us over to the big city of Seattle!  Before getting out the car, Ann gives me a gift for the baby due in December.  A lovely Tin Can Knits Bounce baby blanket that she knit for me, to cuddle my first grandchild.  Ann is a grandmother 4 times over, so she picked these colors and knit this for me.  This blanket is a new pattern that I have loved….but I have two other blankets on needles that need to get finished.  What a surprise, I didn’t even ever see her working on this — thank you Ann, I love it!!

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At the terminal, we met up with our other knitting friends, and another Stitch ‘n Pitch was underway.   After getting off the boat, we headed over to Elysian for some pre-game eats and drinks.  Knitters know how to have a good time, and that’s just what we did!  By this time the weather had really cleared up.  Upon leaving my house, I almost brought a coat it looked so threatening.  So we went from this, to this —

Ann had lost her ticket; it was nowhere to be found – we all took turns rummaging through her purse NOTHING!  After leaving Elysian, we went to the ticket box to get her another ticket.  We knew the seat ticket she had purchase…they have a way to check to see if the ticket had come through.  It hadn’t, so they printed us another ticket and in we went.  I had no idea that was even possible – can I say, I was super impressed WAY TO GO SEATTLE MARINERS!

By the time we got up to the 300 deck where are the vendors are, it was HOT…so glad I didn’t pack a coat; the wallet, knitting, camera, phone, business cards and lipstick in my ginormous bag where heavy enough.  I was all ‘a dew’ that’s another term for sweating.  I knew that Apple Yarns, out of Bellingham, would have their new fingering weight line with them, and that is what I was waiting for.  I got my skein — it was really hard to choose, but I love my skein.  It’s called Chuckanut Dr.

Every year the event has a free gift for the knitters of Stitch ‘n Pitch.  We have gotten bags, t-shirts, scissors….this year was no exception, a new bag.  Totally different than the other one I have.  One year we even got a Seattle Mariners Stitch ‘n Pitch needle case that folds up for easy storage.

Another Stitch ‘n Pitch is in the books.  I always say, it’s the perfect evening — summer, friends, baseball, knitting, the stadium, and good eats and drink!  The Mariners lost against the Chicago White Sox, but football season is knockin’ on the door #GoHawks~

 You can click on any of these photos to see the larger version of it!

Knitting For Baby

There was a time when it seemed nobody was getting married and nobody was having babies!  Now there appears to be a baby boom of sorts going on.  Last fall, a gal that I knit with was pregnant and was having a baby in the New Year, then another gal, and another and another.  So far to date, 9 babies are to be born, just in my circle, in 2016.  The first two babies have already been born, both boys, (both got a pair of baby socks) with the next two, both to be born in August, and both girls.  It may not seem like much, but 9 babies just in my little corner of the world seems like a lot.  I’ve dubbed this year, not Year of the Monkey, but ‘Year of the Baby’!

Baby blankets take so much time for me to knit, that I’ve actually been learning how to crochet.  I haven’t chained anything on yet, because there are 3 blankets for 3 of the babies that have already been started and will need to be worked on.  If that isn’t enough, I’ve seen 3 others that I’d love to knit.  It just takes me forever.  I am loving gray & yellow together, I’m loving red & turquoise together, and I am loving the idea of a rainbow reaching from purple to pink, with every color in between!

My first grandbaby is to be baby #9, and due in December.  My daughter in law wants two pairs of baby socks, a girl version and a boy version to announce her reveal of the sex with.  So that is added in for more knitting on top of what I already have in place.  Once I find out the sex of my grandbaby, I’m sure there will be another item I will just HAVE to cast on…..that may be my crocheted item.

Honestly, there are so many cute things to knit for babies from cardigans and hoodies to booties and socks, to blankets & hats.  Then, you get sidetracked by other things like shawls and sweaters for me, or summertime knitting of socks and tanks.  I just feel like I can’t take on one more thing.  It’s baby knitting for me right up to the end of this year.  When you are doing this much knitting on deadline, you really have to like what you are knitting with.  It’s got to be your favorite yarns, or something new you’ve never worked with before or your favorite colors.  There is no room for being unhappy or bored.

Follow my crazy life on Instagram (@hawkknitter), where you can see my house, my dog, my knitting, the kids and soon the grandbaby!



Here you see all the items for babies in the works this year.  Can I finish all of these items?

Here you see all the items for babies in the works this year. Can I finish all of these items?

A Lighthouse on Hammersley

If you are a knitter or a quilter, I’m sure that you’ve attended a retreat before!  I’ve attended a couple of different retreats.  I used to attended an annual retreat for many years running, that was three days over the span of a weekend.  This retreat, was a day retreat spanning seven hours, including lunch.

Carmel & I attended this day long retreat this last Saturday, and it was hosted by Lois of Allyn Knit Shop, out of Allyn, Washington!  The retreat was held at a bed & breakfast out in Shelton called A Lighthouse on Hammersley.  It took about an hour to get there, which does make you feel like you are somewhere else.  Now, I’ve been to Shelton lots of times, but never out in this area, very remote, and on the water.

The place had a nautical feel for sure, with super tall ceilings, lots of light, a huge kitchen, and a cozy fireplace.  Lots of ladies where in attendance.  We were just a tad late, as Carmel & I had stopped for breakfast.  We don’t see each other all that often, and we got caught up over breakfast.  It was a such a wet and rainy day, perfect to hunker down, and get some knitting accomplished.

When we arrived, Lois was welcoming everyone, giving a little speech about what they could expect during the day, and she started a sharing and show session.  Carmel & I took up a table over by the fireplace.  You saw everything really from afghans, to intarsia work, fair isle work, sweaters and children’s items. IMG_4097 I had brought my Baa-ble Hat to share, and was working on a Christmas Stocking.  Carmel finished her sweater — all ready for buttons.yarma_medium2

Lunch was served and we had Asian Chicken Salad with a breadstick and iced tea – lovely, and yummy.  They even provided desert, a Reece’s Peanut Butter Parfait.  I didn’t finish my Christmas Stocking, but I did get familiarized with my old project again, and Carmel helped me iron out a problem I was having with the yarn.  She also gave me a lesson in pom pom making.

It was really fun to slow down, enjoy the company of other knitters, get some knitting in, meet new friends, and see this gem of a bed and breakfast.  Thank you Lois for having us, and thank you A Lighthouse on Hammersley for allowing us into your establishment, we had fun!

Sunday’s at the Yarn Shop

It’s the weekend; time off…..time to get caught up, on sleep, chores, and also, you want to squeeze in a little fun.

Rainy Day Yarns

What is fun; shopping with the girls, going on a hike with the dog, date night with the husband, taking the family out to the movies?  Time off, it’s needed to decompress, unwind, cook the meals you’ve been wanting to make from Pinterest, go to or have celebrations, do our crafts.  I went on the PNW Yarn Crawl this weekend — that’s what I did for fun!


Yep, there were eight shops, and my friends really only wanted to do four.


So, four we did!  The weather was perfect.  We started at Starbucks for coffee – that was perfect.  Then we hit the road — did 3 shops, then stopped for lunch at Smokin’ Mo’s (that was perfect).  At our second stop, we visited The Black Sheep Yarn Shop in Olympia.  It’s a new shop that we hadn’t been to before.  Michelle Cohen is the owner, and the store was busy for the crawl.  She had her children there helping, which was awesome.  They were learning sales and entrepreneurialism.  Michelle had lots of other helps too, but it really brings it home that these yarn shops are definitely small businesses.


What is it like for the small business?  A lot of shops, now days, are open 7 days a week.  When I started America’s Knitting in 2007, most shops were closed on Sundays and Mondays.  As time went on, shops decided to be closed only on Sundays. Then shops decided to be open all weekend and closed on Mondays.  They are all different, but you have to have time off…for your other life.

Free Pattern from Allyn Knit Shop

Free Pattern from Allyn Knit Shop

It’s Sunday here in Silverdale, Washington this morning, and the sun is shining.  It’s 52* and a little breezy outside, fall.  I’m thinking about church, and when that starts.  My husband had to work today, because today was the only day that the plumber could make it out to our job.  Yep, we are contractors, small business people as is the plumber.  With the bad economy, many people went out of business; now there aren’t as many plumbers as there once was.  Business picks up, and the plumbers that are in business can’t get it all done.  The trade has sort of fallen off with no work, so they can’t even really hire anybody, so they are working on Sundays, so is my husband today.  It’s ok, it’s time to be grateful for the work, and people are happy to work!


As I am home on this Sunday enjoying a little peace and quiet, I wonder what is going through the minds of yarn shop owners across the nation today.  They have to go open the store, maybe they are thinking about the family at home, possibly feeling left out, wanting a real weekend themselves.  Maybe the family will stop in and say hello.  If it’s slow, they are  probably getting caught up on bookwork, bills, taxes.  If they are busy, they are enjoying the sales of the day, seeing their customers and what they are planning to make, or seeing their finished items.  They are wanting a profitable day – maybe it’s a class day at the store and knitters are in, learning new techniques, learning to knit.  Is it all worth it?  I’m sure, every one of the shop owners feel they are living the dream, love, and enjoy every day of having their own business.  Working very hard to put their own stamp on it.


I absolutely LUV yarn shops, as I’m sure you do.  If you are put off, or you weren’t feelin it…give it another try.  The local yarn shops is a great community, you’ll meet your knitting friends there.  You are missing out, by not knowing these wonderful people.  They do sometimes have a bad day, just like you.  Calling all yarn shops, send me photos of your store, your events, your town, your knitters.  I want to talk about your store.  If you are a knitter that loves photography, take some snaps of your LYS and email them over with a few lines.

-happy weekend, happy fall


America’s Knitting

25010273.pngThis is such a busy time of year.  What most of you probably don’t know, is that America’s Knitting does a mailer/fundraiser out to all the shops once a year.  Yep, I ask the yarn shops to support the website if they like the website and are glad that we are here.

I start in July gathering all my supplies for the mailer.  I get the mailer itself printed, order envelopes, buy labels, ink & stamps and I print out labels for all the shops.  My daughter in-law Kim & I sit down in August, and label envelopes, fold & stuff the mailer and stamp them all (a little wine may be involved).  All the mailers get mailed the first of September.  Then it begins.IMG_4477

All the stores that have moved…those mailers get returned to me unable to forward.  They need to be investigated as to where they moved to; then the database gets changed and so does the map.  The shops that closed, they get returned to me as well, marked not deliverable as addressed.  Those get a follow up just to make sure they are closed and then those stores get deleted.  Also, a little money comes in and that gets deposited, and the website sustains itself.

AKBlog 008Throughout the year, I get emails from knitters and crocheters that a shop is opening in their town, or that a shop has closed.  Sometimes I will get an email from the shop itself that they are closing or opening.  Just a little peek into what we do, to keep the listing accurate, up to date and complete. It’s a big task that is ongoing, but we do take it very seriously.  I’ve been running the numbers and keeping track of yarn shops since August of 2007 when the website went live.

Just a little trivia…in August of 2007 when the website went live, there were 1,447 yarn shops — as of today September 29th, 2015, there are 1,127 yarn shops; with 53 stores closing just this year (so far).  I love yarn shops and could go on and on, why I do what I do, but in short, I liken it to the high school band.  What would a high school football game on Friday night be without the band — BORING!  The LYS is the heartbeat of the craft.  We need them and we want them, trust me.Lambshoppe3

Know that when you log onto America’s Knitting on your pc, your tablet or your smart phone, you not only find an accurate listing of the nations yarn shops, but you are supporting small business.  Get to know your LYS, shop at your LYS, and visit yarn shops on your travels (I know you do).

SONY DSCIf you want me to feature your yarn shop, take some pictures and email them over to me and I will.  I’d be happy to support your LYS – tell your friends to book mark America’s Knitting, and look for us on Ravelry and Facebook~



Stitch N Pitch 2015

Batter UP!

The Stitch N Pitch events originated in Seattle and for good reason, we have the passion for this event!  Knitting is very strong in the Pacific Northwest, and it doesn’t slow down in the summer months.


This years Stitch N Pitch event is the 10th Annual, and it’s always sponsored by Pacific Fabrics & Crafts!  There are tons of vendors, and charities.  We always have a special guest that throws out the first pitch of the game and this year, it was the distinguished guests from Noro Yarns!



Carmel works in Seattle every day, and she gets off of work by 2pm.  I live in Kitsap County, so I have to take the ferry boat over.

USS Wenatchee

USS Wenatchee

The game doesn’t start until 7 and they open the doors to the public at 5, for shopping with all the vendors.  It’s always great weather.  I drive to Bainbridge Island and park my car, and get on the 1:10 ferry for Seattle.  It’s a 35 minutes ferry crossing and there’s always lots of boat traffic to take in.  Carmel has to change her clothes, get her car and drive down to the stadium, and park her car.   Safeco Field is within walking distance from the ferry terminal, so I enjoy a lovely walk.  There are lots of team stores along the way not to mention Starbucks, bagel joints, bars and the like.  Safeco Field where the Mariners play is literally right next door to the Century Link Field where the Seattle Seahawks and the Seattle Sounders play.



I always say it’s the perfect summertime event.  Lovely weather, baseball, the sun setting, ballpark food, and KNITTING!  What could be better?  I always go with friends and we have a ball.  For the last couple of years I’ve gone with Carmel.  Carmel & I hang out across the street at the Pyramid Ale House.  We have a couple of beers, get caught up and knit until the doors open.  This year my daughter in law and her friend joined us for a beer, and then we hooked up with Libbie, and more knit friends inside the stadium.  If you have one of these events near your home town, consider going and have some fun.  Until next year…


Go Mariners~