Every summer we take a week-long family vacation that includes 4 generations and at least one dog. We've been to Mammoth Lakes once and Lake Shasta several times, but Sunriver, Oregon has been a favorite family gathering place for 30 years. Besides gorgeous scenery and beautiful weather, there's something for everyone: golfing, biking, hiking, fishing, and rafting, but also plenty of time for relaxing, reading, and knitting.  Yes, of course I bring my knitting, as does my mom and my granddaughter Annie. But this is the year Stacy, Annie's mother and my step-daughter, and Tessa, my son's girlfriend, both wanted to learn how to knit. (Don't you love to start a new knitter on the addiction we love so much? Me too.)  Off we went to Bend, about a half hour away from Sunriver, to the adorable Gossamer Knits.  After an hour of touching and feeling, Stacy and Tessa each walked out with needles and two skeins of wool, an idea for a scarf, and a few butterflies in their tummies--both were worried that they would never "get it".  But before the week was up, both scarves were finished and new projects started! Two new knitters have been added to our big, world-wide, friendly family of knitters, and for all it was a very fun experience.

I've taught a few people to knit over the years and have made a few mistakes along the way.  One extreme was to to bore them with swatches and the other extreme, letting them loose on a project that was over their head. There's something to say about finding the right balance, and from the way the girls took to it, the cowl seems to be a perfect first project.  When teaching a new knitter I have a few tips to ensure success:

  • It was my treat so I insisted on fine merino wool--no scratchy, fuzzy, pilly, acrylic on my watch.  I recommend purchasing the nicest wool within your budget.  Fine wool is more expensive true, but it's softer and easier to knit and much kinder to the hands.  I wanted their first experience to be friendly.
  • Cast on for your new knitter.  They can learn that later.
  • Do use a comfortable needle size--too small or too large can be uncomfortable for a new knitter.
  • Garter stitch is the way to go.  The chunky garter texture is a super popular look right now, it's squishy and grows fast, plus it's just one repetitive motion and is great practice for getting command of even tension.
  • On every row, have them count their stitches and show them how to look at each row to catch a mistake early.  They will make common mistakes and each time show them how to correct them. Before long, (they'll still be making mistakes, because we all do) they will have learned how to correct the mistakes on their own.
  • Get your new knitter right into a project because you and I both know it's boring to knit swatches! And so this segues right into our little project:  The Sunriver Cowl--it's designed for a beginner to gain confidence mastering the most basic stitch and achieving even tension.

The Sunriver Cowl


2 sk. Cascade Yarns 128 Superwash in two colors, #900, Charcoal and #1944, West Point Blue
1 pair needles, size US 10.5

Gauge: 12 st. per 4", but gauge is not critical

Finished size (seamed): 8" x 28"

Cast on 24 sts.  Knit every stitch on every row until you run out of the first color.  Add second color and knit until you almost run out. Leave approximately 40" tail of yarn. Cast off, seam cast on edge to cast off edge and weave in ends.  Block to even stitches if necessary.

Your first project is done, and it's pretty awesome!  You are a knitter now!  What's your next project going to be?

Cascade 128 Superwash
is a soft, easy-care yarn that is easy to knit, makes a beautiful fabric, and is a good value!
Gossamer Knitting, Bend, Oregon
Sunriver, Oregon

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back roads to jimmy beans

You all know how much my husband and I love to hop in the car and tour the California back roads. Whenever we have the time (and we almost always have the time--retirement is grand) we get off the freeway and travel the pokey side roads.  A few weeks ago we spent a few days in Lake Tahoe in the California Sierras.  We drove the scenic back roads up and back, stopping at old gold and silver mining towns, abandoned and not, and we saw some mighty pretty scenery.  One of those back roads lead us to Reno, also known to knitters as Jimmy Beans headquarters.  My husband sat patiently for two hours (yes, TWO) and let me browse until I was ready to leave.

Jimmy Beans had changed locations since I last visited.  If you're planning your first visit, trust your GPS and you'll find it.  You'll be directed to a warehouse/office park and you'll think you've gone wrong, but nope, you're ok, because Jimmy Beans is a warehouse.  It's a 30,000 sq. ft. yarn warehouse with a yarn shop in the front.  And here's the thing:  you can shop in the warehouse too!  One of the sweet salesgirls took my husband and me on a warehouse tour, then let me lose after settling my husband down on the sofa where he kept busy with the poker game on his iPhone.  And I was in heaven as you can imagine.

If you are vacationing anywhere near Reno, I would definitely make this a destination stop.  Be practical and give yourself at least an hour, if not two or three.   Now for the pictures:

First, the warehouse:

The happy person.

The cute saleslady.

Just one of the many isles of yarn!

And now, the shop:

My good and patient man!  I married a saint!  Not only did he sit quietly for two hours, he also looked over my purchases and told me they were pretty.  He is also the man who asks me before we leave the house, "Honey, do you have your knitting?  And do you have a sweater in case you get cold?"  Yes, he's a sweetie, but it's  also self preservation:  He doesn't want to have to turn around and come back--nor does he care to hear me complain. 

Lastly, my loot:

Tiny teacakes of Tosh Sock.  Could be the start of a shawl?

Maybe a baby sweater?

Perhaps a cowl?
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I LOVED knitting this! I kept this in a basket near my desk and when I had to make a phone call, it was at the ready.  I never had to think what row I was on.  I have enough yarn leftover to make another, and I may, if one of the girls in my family likes this one.  The pattern is worked in the round with fingering weight Dale Baby Ull and Rowan Pure Wool 4-Ply.  Both lovely, soft, machine washable, and well-priced.  I love this cowl.   

Many thanks to Jessica, my adorable neighbor, for being my model. 

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Finally, a sweater named after me!

Here we are, Jessica and I, modeling my namesake, Kristen.  I know that Kim Hargreaves doesn't know me from Adam, but in my fantasy, she has named this pretty sweater for me.  After all, it's knit with Kidsilk Haze, and who likes this yarn more than me?  Plus, it's just the style I like: simple and elegant with a little shaping and a pretty neckline.  When I picked up Embrace, the Kim book this is in, and saw this sweater on the cover I said, "making it", and then gasped when I opened the book and saw the name!  That was it.  Everything else had to be put aside so I could head right over to my local yarn store to purchase the yarn.  I have my priorities.

The color is Peacock, a special edition color designed by a Rowan fan and contest winner of a "design a color" contest held last year.  Same thing--when I saw this color and after swooning a bit, I said, "buying it".  If you want some KSH in Peacock, go on a search now, because it's a special edition yarn and won't be around forever.

Many thanks to Jessica, my adorable neighbor and model who will be a high school senior this fall.  It's nice to have someone across the street who will come over and play dress up with me! We styled it with one of my leopard print skits (ONE of, as I have three leopard print skirts!).  I have to tell you though, and perhaps you might guess, but we look a little bit different in the identical outfit.  On 5"10" Jessica, the skirt is just above the knee, but on her 5'2" neighbor, the skirt falls mid-calf!  (There are other differences too, but ahem, I'll be gentle with myself.) She models my sweaters so beautifully and shows them off so well, but I think it's also good to know what the sweater looks like on the person for whom it was made, thus my grainy computer pictures.  The links are at the end of the post.  xoxo, Kristen

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My Ravelry project page

Kim Hargreaves book, Embrace

I hope you can find Rowan Kidsilk Haze in Peacock at your lys,
but if not, I found it online at