loving stitches west

Stitches West comes once a year and I'm so thrilled it's only a half hour drive from my home.  We've had Biblical rains these last weeks and I heard some horror stories of vendors with their trucks being stranded for hours on our flooded freeways just a half hour from the venue.  In true California form, the next day dawned dry and sunshiny and welcoming and all was well. 

I arrived early both Friday and Sunday, stayed for a few hours, and left when the crowds came. As expected, there was quite a lot of indie hand dyed skeins in crazy colors.  There were a few knitting stars, Franklin Habit and Steven Be and others, and easily a ton of yarn. To be surrounded by so much fiber, many that I've only read about but never seen, nor touched, or patted--was heaven.  My haul below is my favorite thing to show. Three Irish Girls yarn is lovely and I bought two skeins for a baby sweater. The Irish girls themselves were adorable.  

Sincere Sheep is fantastic!  I'm certain I'll be trying more of their yarn.  I purchased two precious skeins of a 100% Cormo wool, one of their Terroir Fiber Series that was sourced from 9 Mile Ranch in Kaycee, Wyoming and spun in Buffalo, Wyoming.  It's awesome to know so much about the yarn I'll be knitting and wearing.  Each skein has 500 yards and two skeins will be enough for a sweater for me. Now I'm looking for a perfect pattern.

Webs always has an enormous booth and I always manage to get into a little trouble there.  I bought one of my favorite Rowan summer yarns, Softyak DK, a gorgeous, medium teal cotton blended with a smidgen of yak fiber. Do you see a color theme here?  I really didn't mean to collect only watery blues, but apparently that was what was calling me!  I didn't leave Webs until I picked up two little graduated skein sets, perhaps I'll use them for a shawl or baby sweaters.

I fell in love with Canon Hand Dyes from Portland Oregon.  She had oodles of sweet little mini skein sets.  I bought a bluish speckled George DK set.  On Friday night I cast on for a baby surprise jacket mixing it with a white Rowan Pure Wool DK.   It's flying off the needles--both yarns are happily bouncing from one needle to the other; sublime. 

From the button stall I bought some vintage baseball buttons that are unlike any I've seen before. I also found a little baseball bat with matching baseball set.  Yep, baseball season is around the corner folks! Lots of future knitting will be done watching baseball on the TV and at the ballpark. 

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chicky baby

This post is all about turning an owl into a chicken!

We don't know who was the first knitter to turn cables into little owls, but we do know the first person to write it up as a pattern was Janice Straker in the 1970s.  Since then, her popular pattern--for babies in fingering weight yarn and children in sport weight yarn, has been distributed for decades by her daughter Penny Straker.  More recently, many have used that darling cabled owl in numerous patterns for adult and children's sweaters--Kate Davies popular sweaters comes to mind, plus mittens, hats, afghans--the list goes on and on. I'm sure you've even made a few.  I sure have!  

Taking the cabled owl and tweaking it into a chicky was not my idea, but since I could not find the pattern published anywhere, I decided to show you what I did.  This is not a pattern for a sweater, but instead shows you how to turn the cabled owl into a chicken by changing ONE row.  This will work with any cabled owl. 

With the owl, most patterns have you use the same (or very similar) cable row three times; one for the feet, the second for the neck, and the last to shape the top of the head and to make the ears.  To make a chicken, you merely change the top-of-the-head row from back crosses to front crosses and vice versa.

Here's what I did:  

The pattern I used reads the cable row as thus:  Slip 3 sts. onto cable needle, hold in back of work, K 2 sts., then knit 3 sts. from cable needle.  Slip next 2 sts. onto cable needle, hold in front of work, K 3 sts. then knit 2 sts. from cable needle.  

I changed it to this:   Slip 2 sts. onto cable needle, hold in front of work, K 3 sts., then knit 2 sts. from cable needle.  Slip next 3 sts. onto cable needle, hold in back of work, K 2 sts., then knit 3 sts. from cable needle.  You will only change the top-of-head shaping cable; the other rows will stay the same.

Your cable pattern may not read exactly as mine, but you shouldn't have any problems modifying it. Now make the features.  Eyes and beak: Sew buttons for his eyes and make an orange 4-stitch beak, or applique a tiny felt triangle--I tried both ways and couldn't decide what I liked best--see above for both options. Top Feathers: Make the top-feathers with 3 strands of yarn, and using a crochet hook, attach the strands through a stitch/loop at the top of the head and pull tightly through the stitch, then clip to a little less than 1/2". Feet:  Feet are optional, but you can make 3-stitch chicken feet at the bottom cable if you like.

I am thrilled with the way the sweater came out and it's just in time for Easter!

I used Rowan's Super Fine Merino 4 Ply, which is 100% superwash merino and feels like 100% cashmere.  After being introduced in 2015, this has become my absolute favorite fingering weight yarn.  It's completely lovely to knit and makes an ultra-soft, super-squishy, even-textured fabric. It's machine washable and so perfect for baby and his busy mom.  I could not be happier with this little sweater.

Baby Owl pattern by Penny Straker
(I would die if I didn't have this pattern, I love it that much!)

Chicky Baby on Ravelry

Rowan Super Fine Merino 4 Ply is available at your local Rowan stockist and online at

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I have the sweetest and most adorable project to show you today:  Eole by Nadia Cretin-Lechenne, knit with Rowan Baby Merino Silk DK.  Both pattern and yarn were absolutely wonderful, making this project such a fun knit--plus, it's darn adorable!  Can't wait to see the baby in this! I think the pattern itself seems more feminine with the windmill increases that start at the neck and end at the shoulder, creating a bit of a gathered look, but I do think that baby and toddler boys can easily get away with wearing a few gathers.  The pattern is finished with an applied i-cord bind off giving an opportunity to add a dash of color to this sophisticated charcoal gray.  I struggled for a while in the button store, but finally ended up going home empty handed and choosing plain black buttons I had in my stash.  Love the look.

This is intended for a baby boy and was knit in the 18 mos. size.  I look forward to knitting this again. The yarn was perfect for this pattern and easily made gauge (24 sts. to 4") using smaller needles than the ball band recommended.  The yarn is machine washable and should be dried flat. I always like to give care instructions when I gift a sweater, but honestly, if this goes in the dryer, it won't be the end of the world.  It won't felt, but dryers tend to abuse the fibers too much.  

In the end, I'd made this again and again and again!

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