Rose City Yarn Crawl Mystery Crochet-a-long (Clue 1 and 2)

I’d planned to just do the knit-a-long for the Rose City Yarn Crawl, but then I went out to a knitting group and saw what the pattern for the crochet-a-long looked like… Not only does it look lovely all crocheted up, but the pattern itself has the most gorgeous crochet charts I’ve ever seen. Colours to distinguish rows! Highlighting to show you where pieces should line up with rows below! Careful layouts to make everything easy to read! One of the reasons I learned to knit (besides needing something to do on the 3hr long car ride to the Very Large Array) is that there are so few good crochet patterns and learning a similar craft was the easiest way to expand the range of patterns I could do. So it would be a shame to know of such a nice pattern and not try it out!

The Yarn

Rose City Yarn Crawl - Mystery Crochet-a-Long

I’d been so good about using stash yarn for the MKAL that I decided to treat myself to something at Black Sheep for this one. These are both from Teresa Ruch, a local dyer who works with synthetic fibers and uses amazingly saturated beautiful dyes. The yellow-orange ball is Tencel, the grey is bamboo rayon. It’s a neat combo because the tencel is much shinier than the rayon, so there’s a serious contrast between my two colours. And it’s a nice excuse to try some different synthetics, since I’m always on the lookouts for allergy-friendly options.

The pattern

Here’s a teensy peek at those charts I’ve been raving about:


Not only are the charts clear, well-written, and easy to follow, but the “flavour” of this pattern is cake, so it’s described in layers of cake and icing. People in the thread have been naming off cakes to go with their colours, and it’s awesome. I’m calling mine creamsicle mousse.

This pattern is named after Rimsky-Korsacoffee house, one of the local places that takes “keep Portland weird” as a personal mission. Also, it has great cake.

Clue 1

Clue one included a layer of cake and the first layer of icing:
Rose City Yarn Crawl - Mystery Crochet-a-Long Clue 1

It’s approximately kerchief-sized at this point, and a bit to fit into my photo lightbox unfolded, so I kind of need natural light to take pictures of it (my flash is somewhere in a box from the move).
Rose City Yarn Crawl - Mystery Crochet-a-Long Clue 1

Clue 2

Clue two, also included a layer of cake and layer of icing. The icing is pretty similar, but the cake is quite a different stitch pattern! At this point, it’s starting to really look like a shawl:

Rose City Yarn Crawl MCAL - Rimsky-Korsacoffee-Cake Shawl Clue 2

And a close up:
Rose City Yarn Crawl MCAL - Rimsky-Korsacoffee-Cake Shawl Clue 2 detail

This is the first larger, non-amigurumi crochet project I’ve done since I got some “ergonomic” crochet hooks, and I’ve got to say that it makes a difference. My right hand doesn’t get tired nearly as quickly. In fact, it’s usually my left that gets tired first now! If you crochet at all, I highly recommend investing in a set. It doesn’t even have a very expensive investment: They are cropping up at absurdly cheap prices on amazon and elsewhere, maybe $10-15 for a set of hooks with a case and sometimes with some stitch markers or other notions thrown in. I have a set from clover that has a significantly more expensive list price (I got it on sale) but I honestly can’t tell the difference between it and the cheaper sets. I do admit I haven’t tried crochet with the cheaper ones for any length of time, though.

The only weird thing about these hooks that they don’t match up with the sizing of the other hooks I own, so my new G hook is a bit smaller than my old one (4mm vs 4.25mm). Thankfully, it seems to be working out fine on this shawl.

Doing both the MKAL and the MCAL was probably a bit too much, since it’s meant that I haven’t even touched my January Beanie Bags or YOTM samples, let alone the February ones, but I’m really excited about the final piece taking shape, and it’s kind of neat to be doing the less-common one. The last clues came out this past Wednesday and my deadline for the shawl is when the Crawl starts in two weeks, so it’s looking like I’ll be able to finish both without much trouble!

Rose City Yarn Crawl Mystery Knit-a-longs (Clue 1 and 2)

As I mentioned in my post about knit-a-longs, the Rose City Yarn Crawl runs both a knit and crochet a long in the month leading up to the yarn crawl. It’s a real treat seeing people wear their creations out on the crawl, and I wanted to be one of those gals sporting a new finished object on the crawl this year.

I decided that enough of my yarn was unpacked that I should be able to find some stuff out of my stash. This is actually hard, since I mostly buy yarn for specific projects and this is my first cowl, so I haven’t really shopped with that in mind. Since it’s Presidents day down here in the US, I’ll show you the red-white-and-blue yarns that became my short list before I decided on my two required colours:

Rose City Yarn Crawl - Mystery Knit-a-Long

Okay, so it’s actually blue-white-red like the French flag, but I am Canadian after all! This is KnitPicks Diadem yarn, bought during the big yarn sale in November two years ago on spec, because it sounded lovely and I wanted to try it. It’s a super fluffy alpaca-silk single ply that *feels* like heaven, but it’s kind of hard to work with because it sheds fluff, splits, and the fluff felts into little loops around the yarn that I have to cut off pretty frequently plus it sometimes loops around to make knots. And it’s hard to photograph because of the halo of fluff.

I was initially pretty disappointed by the yarn, but as I’ve gotten used to it, the luxurious feel balances out the finicky nature of the yarn. This is going to be one luxurious cowl, although I’m going to have to work for it!

I really wanted to do red & silver but once I saw the first clue, I decided silver & blue would suit it better:

Rose City Yarn Crawl - Mystery Knit-a-Long

Clue 1 is supposed to remind you of bike treads. I think it does!

Rose City Yarn Crawl MKAL - Velo Cowl Clue 1 detail

The whole pattern is written like a story about a bike ride, with twists and turns. Clue 2 involves some scenery and then some winding roads.

Rose City Yarn Crawl MKAL - Velo Cowl Clue 2 detail

It was at this point that realized that I’d somehow chosen my high school colours, silver and blue, because it reminded me of an old high school shirt when I started to get into the “scenery” part. Oh well, they’re great colours even if it is a bit funny.

Now let’s zoom out and see clue 1 and most of clue 2. I needed to take the picture while I still had nice light and figured you’ll see the last part next time. Clue 3 has been out since Wednesday so I’m a bit behind!

Rose City Yarn Crawl MKAL - Velo Cowl Clue 1 & 2

That… does not look like a cowl at all, to be honest. What a strange beast! I look forwards to seeing how this construction is going to work in the end.

Overall, the story of this cowl kind of makes it fun, and I’m loving how it feels even if the knitting process can be a tad annoying thanks to finicky yarn. I do think I’m done with mystery knits for a while after this, though… after seeing how beautiful other people’s cowls look with colour two as a variegated, I have a deeper understanding of how much I like selecting colours with advance knowledge of how they’re going to work together. But I did choose something high-contrast which looks pretty good, so I can’t be too sad!

Catch a Falling Star MKAL Clue 3

I’ve paused on this knit-a-long since the Rose City Yarn Crawl ones have started and I foolishly have tried to do both, but here’s what it looked like at clue 3:

Catch a falling star MKAL (Clue 3)

I really liked the bind-off in this. You can’t tell from the in progress photo, but it’s designed so that the bind off is thicker in places to follow the curve, so I plan to block it curvy. Overall, this was a very technically interesting pattern! And very nice for a free KAL to start the year, although not the easiest one on my hands. I really need less slippy small double pointed needles, I think, but my knitpicks laminate ones broke while I was using them. (They replaced them, but I’ve been too nervous to try the replacement.) Anyone got any recommendations?

I’ve actually finished this one glove, since as you can probably guess there’s just a few thumb stitches left. I haven’t finished the second glove because I’m on to the next project, but it’s cast on and waiting for me when I’m done and ready to come back to it!

Jimmy Beans Wool Beanie Bags, November 2015

I finally sat down and made a decision about what to make with my Beanie Bags yarn. So freeing!

First, let’s look at the package. The mailing envelope contained a single bag filled with stuff:

The packaged contained 4 balls of yarn in the same shade of grey (although the light catches them differently in the photo below, they’re clearly the same shade in person), a plastic yarn needle, and a packet of soak fabric wash.
Jimmy Beans Beanie Bag, November 2015

Here it is all together with the card and packaged-by note so you can see the other side of the bag, which is fun too:
Jimmy Beans Beanie Bag, November 2015

Very cute! You can read about the yarns on the Jimmy Beans Wool website. The “learn a thing about yarn” theme here is blending. I’m familiar with doing custom yarns in this way since here in Portland we have Yarnia, an entire store dedicated to custom yarn blends. I visited Yarnia as a stop on the Rose City Yarn Crawl and while I wasn’t willing to wait for winding something custom, I was impressed by the huge selection of options.

As I said in my previous post, it took me a while to sit down and decide what to do with these yarns, since there were a bunch of possible combinations. I finally settled on a pair of two-yarn blends.

Shibui Pebble and Cima

I just want you all to admire how black and white the yarn ball photos look. I had a momentary freak-out when they downloaded from the camera because I thought something had gone wrong and I was getting a greyscale photo instead of the original, but no, I just took very monochrome pictures.

Shibui Cima and Pebble
Shibui CimaShibui Pebble

Cima is super soft, Pebble has nice texture. The combo gives you the best of both worlds! I grabbed a stitch dictionary and tried out a kind of leafy swatch. Here it is unblocked:

Jimmy Beans Beanie Bags, November 2015

This is “lace ribbons” on page 63 of Melissa Leapman’s “The Knit Stitch Handbook” if you’re trying to duplicate it.

Jimmy Beans Beanie Bags, November 2015

The end result is soft, flexible, and has that texture. Very nice! The swatch stretches out and looks a bit more angular when blocked, but the flexibility and softness of the yarn remain.

Shibui Maai and Staccato

Maai is pretty similar to the chained alpaca yarn I used for my kitty hat (it’s Misti Tui) and my one complaint with that yarn is that it’s too soft and fuzzy show much stitch definition.

Shibui Maai and Staccato
Shibui MaaiShibui Staccato

This blend, however, is all “by our powers combined!” and it’s got reasonable stitch definition with a bit of a sheen, but it’s still soft and plush with a halo of fuzz.

Jimmy Beans Beanie Bags, November 2015

The swatch is “tumbling blocks” from page 46 of Melissa Leapman’s “The Knit Stitch Handbook.” Chosen because it’s a knit/purl only texture so there isn’t too much help if the yarn can’t carry on its own. The photo is unblocked and only one side, but it basically looks the same blocked and on the reverse side.


Once I got around to using it, I really loved this Beanie Bag. I got to try a new technique and honestly, once I sat down with the stitch dictionary I didn’t have any trouble figuring out what to do. Just needed to get over the hump of indecision, I guess, and decide that swatches were the plan for this bunch. I loved the Shibui yarns and could see myself buying more of any of these, and it’s nice that I can turn around and just get them from the Jimmy Beans Wool website..

I’m not sure I can see myself doing a whole lot of yarn blending in this way, mostly because I can’t see myself building up a stash with appropriately matching colours for that. It seems to me that it would make more sense to take advantage of local store Yarnia if I wanted a blend, since they have a huge range of yarns and colours right there.

But I *could* see myself going out of my way to blend a yarn that wasn’t working for me, and now I’ve got a better sense of how a couple of blends work, so I feel like I learned a useful technique. Thanks JBW!