Sneak Preview – BitterBlue

There has been scheming going on. Scheming and plotting with a bit of nefarious activities on the side. All of it started around February of this year and I have been plugging away at it with my co-conspirators ever since.

A sneak peek at a new beaded shawl from Barbara Benson, The Unique Sheep, and EarthFaire

A little peek at the shawls.

Have you heard of EarthFaire? It is a lovely online store that has a very tight focus on beaded knitting. The proprietor of EarthFaire is Ellen and I was lucky enough to get to know her when she contacted me regarding Caladan and I was pleased as punch that she wanted to carry the shawl as a kit. Kits are what she specializes in, being a private shopper for you and your knitting. She matches the perfect yarn and the perfect beads with a pattern so that you don’t have to guess what is going to work.

A sneak peek at a new beaded shawl from Barbara Benson, The Unique Sheep, and EarthFaire

I could take “arty” pictures all day.

After working with her for several years I felt that she might not think I was completely crazy when I approached her with a slightly crazy idea and I was right. She was game and she brought the amazing Kelly from The Unique Sheep in on the plan and we were off like a shot! Using two images that I had earmarked as inspirational for their color palates, Kelly crafted two new and beautiful Gradiance Color-ways to be used in an new shawl pattern.

A sneak peek at a new beaded shawl from Barbara Benson, The Unique Sheep, and EarthFaire

A slightly different angle gives slightly different hints.

Ellen worked with me to pick the perfect beads and then it was up to me to get the patterning and knitting done. With the help of a wonderful sample knitter to handle one of the shawls I am now at the point where I need to shoot the final photos and put the finishing touches on the pattern. But the reason I am posting this today is that if this idea excites you – you don’t have to wait. EarthFaire has put the kit up for pre-order on her site here! She has tons of info on there that I won’t be all redundant about, but it is worth looking at for details about club exclusives, pre-order discount, and a knit-a-long.

A sneak peek at a new beaded shawl from Barbara Benson, The Unique Sheep, and EarthFaire

The most revealing shot.

As she mentions, the pattern will be available on Ravelry – but if you want the custom colors you can only get them from EarthFaire. I will be releasing the pattern in September to coincide with the yarn and kits being ready. This gives me a wee bit of time to get all of my ducks in a row. In the meantime, you can be sure that there will be some blog posts about how to put beads on your knitting.

Anatomy of Cable Abbreviations, part two

I seriously had to resist naming this post “part Deaux” or  “Abbreviations Reloaded” or “The Cable Strikes Back” … I am just full of the silly.

Onward and upward!

Learn how to decipher a written cable abbreviation in a knitting pattern, part Two. -TumpedDuck

Cable/cross two right

Diving right back into crossing cables – we are now looking at Right and Left cables.

To start off with, these are 100%, absolutely identical to the Front and Back cables in execution, we are just looking at different nomenclature. Po-tay-toe, po-tah-toe as one says. Now for the break down

  1. C – once again letting you know you are fixin’ to cable or “cross” your stitches. This is the same as understanding that ‘k’ is telling you to knit and ‘p’ is telling you to purl.
  2. A Number – nothing new here. This is letting you know how many stitches are involved in your upcoming cable. In this case you will be crossing 2 stitches, but how? (As usual, if the number is even it is assumed that you will split the stitches evenly.)
  3. Direction – here is where things are changed up. With Front and Back you are being told what to do with the stitches. Left and Right lets you know what the end appearance of the cable will be after you have completed the stitch swap. Yeah. I know. It is time for a picture
Understanding how a Right Cable moves - TumpedDuck

A Right Cable



What you see to the right is a Right crossing cable. The black arrow represents the stitches moving to the front and the brown arrow is the stitches moving to the back. Right is referring to the direction of movement of the stitches that are held to the front of the work. The arrows show the directionality of the stitches. When considering the constituent stitches of the cable (here there are a total of two stitches) you are moving the left-most stitch to the front and over the right-most stitch.

Try to remember: in a Right cable the front stitches move from left to Right.

Learn how to decipher a written cable abbreviation in a knitting pattern, part Two. -TumpedDuck

Cable One over Two Left

Understanding how a Right Cross Cable (CL) moves. - TumpedDuck

A left Cable

As in the Back/Front cables, you can also have an uneven number of stitches and the abbreviation works pretty much the same way.

  1. C – I think you might have this by now. C = this is a cable. You, dear knitter will be cabling before you know it!
  2. A Number – remember, this is not a fraction. The / symbol should be read as “over”, so this tells you that it is a one over two cable. If you were passing two stitches over one then the number would be written 2/1.
  3. Direction – this is a Left cable so you know that your end result is a cable where the front stitch(es) appear to twist to the Left. In the case of this stitch you already know from the number that your single stitch is passing over the other two stitches. Because this is a Left cable that means that the first stitch is held to the front, you knit the next two stitches and then the held stitch. The single stitch is passing from the right to the Left. If you follow the diagram to the right you can see the black arrow representing the direction the front stitches move.

For a Left cable try to remember that the front stitches mover from the right to the Left.

Now, I find the Left/Right naming convention to be considerably more confusing than the Front/Back, but to each their own. Whatever clicks the best in your brain you just go for it! If you need to draw parallels between the two styles of naming you can try to remember that Right = Back and Left = Front. My mnemonic for that is R&B. For some reason my musical nature always associates R&B together (Rhythm and Blues anyone?) so I can remember that R(ight) goes with B(ack).

Incidentally, this is the same way I remember how to work a Right leaning increase. When you want your M1 to lean right you pick the strand up from the back. R&B just go together (in my crazy brain). Do you have any knitting mnemonics?

Anatomy of Cable Abbreviations

My newest project has been working on cables. For some reason lace came instinctively to me. YO = hole. Big circle on a chart = hole. Even the basic increase and decrease abbreviations and symbols made complete sense. (Well, I admit to having a bit of difficulty remembering which of ssk vs k2tog leaned which way) But cables are a challenge.

Not precisely a challenge to actually knit , I can follow instructions just fine. But to truly internalize what all of the symbols mean – well, that has taken some time. And I don’t know that I can say with 100% certainty that I have got it. Hopefully I am close. While writing a pattern I have had to come to a concrete decision on one particular issue. Abbreviations. I have to pick a style and stick with it, and there lies the conundrum.

Are the two kinds of cable crosses Front/Back or Right/Left. They both mean the same thing but represent two different ways of thinking about things. To prevent any suspense, I settled on Front/Back because that is what makes the most sense to me. But there really isn’t a correct way of doing it. As long as I remain consistent I hope that everything will work out all right.

To the subject at hand. For now I don’t want to address reading cables on a chart. It isn’t that difficult to find guides to reading charted cables, but when I started really looking online to find somewhere that breaks down understanding the abbreviations used in written instructions for cabling – well, I came up a bit short. I am going to put this out there, and it is my understanding of how it all works. If I have erred at some point, please do not hesitate to let me know personally or in the comments. As I said, I have come to grips with cables through a difficult path and I might have miss-stepped along the way.

The best way to understand how to cross a cable is to read the instructions provided in the pattern. A good pattern writer will describe how you are to execute the cable based on the abbreviation they use. That being said, I would like to arm you with the ability to suss out what the cable means if you are in a situation where details are unavailable. Onward (allonz-y)!

Learn how to decipher a written cable abbreviation in a knitting pattern. - TumpedDuck

Cable Two Back

This is what a basic cable abbreviation looks like. The specific cable illustrated would be written out Cable Two Back. The abbreviation can be broken down into three elements – which I have labeled as such.
  1. C – this big ole c starting things off announces, “Hey, we are fixin’ to cable!”. Some say that the C stands for cable others that the C stands for cross. Regardless, when you see the C prepare yourself to cable.
  2. A Number – the number tells you how many stitches are involved. (edited for accuracy, for original see*) In this example there are two stitches involved which will be crossing one over one. You could also see C4B – which would indicate crossing 2 over 2, C6B … and so forth.
  3. Direction – this tells you whether you are crossing Front or Back. This letter can be one of four options B, F, R or L. For now we are sticking to F & B, specifically looking at a Back cross. When dealing with the Front/Back naming system you are being instructed what to do with the first stitches you come to. With Back this tells you that the first 2 stitches of your 4 stitch cable will be held to the Back of the work, the next two stitches will be knit (and therefore cross to the front of the work) and then you will knit the stitches from the cable needle.

If there is no number, meaning that you have run across the abbreviation CB or CF, then you can safely assume that it is a 1/1 cable. With CB you would hold the first stitch to the back knit the next stitch and then knit the held stitch. With CF you would hold the first stitch to the front knit the next stitch and then knit the held stitch. Pretty much C2B and CB mean the same thing. Capiche?

Learn how to decipher a written cable abbreviation in a knitting pattern. -TumpedDuck

Cable One over Two Front

But what do we have here? There appears to be a fraction in the middle of my cable! Looks can be deceiving, there is no fraction (waves hand). It is a different kind of cable.

  1. Why hello there Mr. C – you are once again telling me that we shall be cabling forthwith.
  2. A Number – but what a strange looking number indeed. When you see this notation it is telling you that you have an uneven cross. It is not a fraction but instead the number of stitches that you are working with (as above). This particular one is a One over Two cross. The number in the first position tells you how many stitches will be at the Front of the work and the second number tells you how many stitches will travel behind, regardless of whether or not it is a Front or Back cross because …
  3. Direction – and here we have a Front cross. As I said above this tells you what to do with the first stitches you encounter. You will have to do a little figuring with this. You have a 1/2 cross which means that you know that you will need to be holding 1 stitch to the front of the work and crossing two stitches behind – but in what order? The Front tells you “Hey, the first stitch you come to goes to the Front!” so you would take the first stitch, hold it to the front of your work, knit the next two stitches and then knit the held stitch. The reflected version of this stitch is C1/2B. Reading it you would hear “Hey the first stitch(es) you come to go to the Back!” and since it is a 1/2 Cross (where you know the single stitch always goes to the Front) you would hold the first two stitches to the Back knit the next stitch, and then knit the two held stitches.

These uneven crosses are usually an uneven number 2/3, 1/2 but they can be an even number of stitches that are worked unevenly. You could conceivably run across a C3/1B, a 4 stitch cable where you have three stitches passing in front of a single stitch. At times you may also see a notation such as C2/2F which would mean the exact same thing as C4F – only more spelled out.

That is pretty much it in a nutshell. As long as you remember the 3 distinct sections of a cable abbreviation you should be able to be able to read a set of written instructions for a cabled piece.  I had planned on explaining the Right/Left notation and how it differs from Back/Front in this post but this has gotten a bit long and it might be enough to ponder for now. There will be a Part Two of this post coming in the next few days that will hopefully clear things up.

If you have any questions, please feel free to pipe up and I will do my best to figure it out! If I can answer the question in the comments I will, but if not it might show up in Part Two!


*Originally I had the following “If the number is even then it is actually telling you that the number of stitches that you will be working with is actually double the number shown. In this example the number is 2, so you will be making a 4 stitch cable – 2 crossed over two. (More on this in a wee bit.)”  Because I have see cables written like that. After CatBrown (thank you!) made her excellent observation in the comments I did a bit more digging and found that this is the less common way of doing things. As I said – the best thing to do is read the instructions in your pattern.

If that isn’t working out, consider the context of your pattern. If you have a picture take a look at it. If it looks like a big honkin’ cable and your instructions are C4F then most likely it is 4 over 4 as opposed to a 2 over 2. The lack of standardization can be frustrating at times!

Blog Love

I read a lot of blogs, no exaggeration needed. Enough that when I just went and opened up my Feedly window and it didn’t count them for me I realized that I didn’t want to count them.

Obviously I read a load of knitting/yarn blogs, but I also have about the same number of food blogs that I follow. And then there are the ones I have sorted into the “inspirational” category that are mostly fashion and design blogs. You never know where inspiration is going to arise, so I have things like but does it float, Design*Sponge, and NOTCOT that I peruse every couple of days.


If you have any knitting, food or design blogs that you think are particularly inspirational, educational, or fun I would love to hear about them in the comments!

With knitting blogs, I particularly like educational posts where experienced knitters pass on tips and tricks, I collect these on a Pinterest board named Knitting Stitches and Techniques that you might want to follow. But I thought I would share a couple of my favorites here too!

Some medium/advanced tips:

Needle Material Affects Gauge

This fantastic post from Alexis Windslow provides the best explanation and proof on how your needles can change what gauge you get. Bookmark this now.

Knitted on Border – How to

Miriam Felton provides a photographic, step-by-step explanation of how to work a knitted on border. You will be empowered after looking at this.

Yes you CAN

…fix a twist when knitting in the round! Wise Hilda works magic on working in the round, showing you how to fix a twist after you have joined to work in the round (but before you start your second round).

And a couple of simple, but awesome tips:

Use a Side Marker

A simple idea that can save you a boat load of time and frustration from Tamara Goff

Carrying yarn while switching colors

Not that the PurlBee needs any more traffic to their awesome blog, but this is something that is often taken for granted and rarely explained. When you carry yarns while knitting stripes – how exactly do you do that?



Wrapping (up) Presents

OK, I have one more post to share about prizes for the Lace-a-long. I want to say something like “last but not least” or “saved the best for last” but really, I think all of the prizes are pretty awesome and totally want to keep them all. I hope y’all feel the same.

Anzula Squishy Spruce

Anzula Squishy in Spruce – I forsee a beautiful green shawl.

At TNNA I met a whole bunch of great people who are doing amazing things in this yarn-y type industry. One of the wonderful surprises was meeting the Lady(ies) behind Anzula. Sabrina and her dynamic team create absolutely stunning yarn on a wide variety of bases, many of which I have never seen anywhere else. Being in Atlanta things like linen and silk really speak to me of cool, breezy knits that could be worn most of the year. Why is there so much to knit and I only have two hands?

Anyhoo … seeing that this is a lace-a-long and I mostly design shawls when offered the opportunity to claim a skein of yarn for y’all I decided to go with this decadent MCN fingering blend base. And this green, it is so soft and lovely. I hope I did good picking yarn for y’all? Honestly, if I were able to keep this yarn I would totally knit a Roller Coaster Cowl out of it; just so I could have all of its squishy softness up close to my skin.

Finally, a place to keep your doohickeys and thing-a-ma-bobs:

Erin Lane Notions Wallet

An Erin Lane notions wallet

To be honest, I purchased this for myself at Stitches South, but then decided it would make such a good prize that I would have to part with it. I was going to link to the Erin Lane website but it appears to currently be under construction. Regardless, they/she make really cool bags and things of holding to organize your knitting life. I fell in love with the pattern on this and its really innovative inside. To see the inside you will need to click through to the additional photo in the Prize thread on Ravelry.

That pretty much wraps things up on the prize front. I will be figuring out what will be “Grand Prize” and how to distribute the other prizes in the near future. I want to spread the love as much as possible.

In between

There are things going on. Really, there are – I promise. It is just that there isn’t much of anything done right now so I don’t have anything interesting to show you. I mean, I finally finished the pair of socks that I started last February but they aren’t blocked. And I have a new shawl that is almost ready for prime time – but also not blocked.
I have a hat that is shaping up pattern wise but it hasn’t been, you know, cast-on? ;) There are a couple of cowls in the planning stage and a couple of shawls in the stewing stage … really not anything to blog about. I bought a new camera! That’s something right? A Nikon D610 and I cannot wait to shoot some pictures with it. I bought it at a local camera place instead of ordering it online. It was a bit more expensive than I could have managed but it comes with a 3 hour class specifically on how to use this camera. So I thought that was worth it.
The Lace knit-a-long is going beautifully … ooh, that is something that I can talk about. How about pictures of a couple of other prizes?
Homespun 100% BFL 2 ply Laceweight

100% BFL 2 ply Laceweight

One of the awesome participants was gracious enough to donate not one, but two skeins of hand-spun yarn.
As the label says Silk BABY!

As the label says Silk BABY! Also lace-weight.

They are stunning and some lucky knitter will win them. I cannot imagine spinning these, it is pretty much a miracle-type thing to me. But I bet that they would be awesome to knit with! Thank you so much for your generosity Margaret!
If you are itching to get your hands on one of these skeins of yarn, come join in the -a long and try your chances! If you have thoughts on knitting with hand-spun, I would love to hear them in the comments. I have never tried to do it and wonder what the benefits & pitfalls are to the process? I can see designing something for hand-spun, but I would have to understand better first.

How I learned to stop worrying and love the chart

Well, not precisely but I like amusing myself with silly titles (as y’all well know).

Once I figured out charts I totally fell in love with them. They are such a concise method of conveying a huge amount of information in a small amount of space. Take Golden Lion Throne. To communicate the information needed to knit the pattern you can either use 2 pages of charts or 5 pages of written text. For me that is pretty much a non-decision.

But I know that some people aren’t fans of charts so I try to include written instructions whenever possible. And I know some people will never be fans of charts – and that’s OK. But if you want to be able to knit from charts then one of the prizes in the Lace-a-long might be for you!

Charts Made Simple by JC Briar

This book could be yours!

How can you go wrong with a book named Charts Made Simple? I was lucky enough to win this book as a door prize at Small Knits Symposium and I was cackling with delight. But when I got home and was sorting my swag like Smaug I realized that while I wanted this book that there might be others out there that needed the book more than I. And really, what better prize for a Lace-a-long? So now it is a prize (it is even signed).

Charts Made Simple by JC Briar

How cool!

There are many reviews of this book out there, so I don’t think I need to throw mine on the pile right now. You can check here, or here, or here or even here and scroll down for the Amazon reviews.  There is pretty much a general consensus that JC Briar has written a great book to help the knitter better grasp the concepts of how charts work.

So, even if you cannot currently knit from charts, you can pick out one of my lace pieces and knit from the written directions (except Atreides), win this book and then confidently knit everything else from charts! This is the second post about prizes for the -a long and there will be a couple more so I hope you are enjoying them. Even if you don’t want to knit a long it is fun to look at cool knitting related stuff, eh?