Provisionally cast on…

“Unpicked” provisional cast on for anastomosis, ready to work the tab. Working needle is red cable; provisional cast on side is clear blue cable.

There’s something wonderful about a smooth piece-to-piece knitting connection. At the end of knitting, that smooth seam can be achieved with grafting (but that’s another post); at the beginning of knitting, it is the provisional cast on.

I use two methods for provisional cast on: crochet chain (for stockinette and garter) and knitted tab (for cables and lace). Today we’ll look a the knitted tab provisional cast on — I use this in patterns like anastomosis and coast or any time I want to have an easy way to keep stitches in order.

Step 1: Start with a knitted tab. Using any favorite method, cast on number of stitches required for the provisional cast on. Work in stockinette stitch (knit on right side, purl on wrong side) for 4 or 5 rows.

Step 1: knitted tab (top). Also shown: crochet chain (bottom)

When to stop? Finish the last row of the tab with a row that will set up knitting correctly for the first row of the pattern. In other words: If the first row/round of the pattern is on the right side row, then finish the tab on a wrong side row (finish with Row 4). If the first row of the pattern is on the wrong side row, then finish the tab on a right side row (finish with Row 5).

Using anastomosis as an example, the tab in the photo finishes on a right side row because the first row in the anastomosis pattern is a wrong side row.

Step 2: Work as indicated in the pattern (not pictured).

prov_co_2 Step 3: Unpick the provisional cast on. I use an extra needle for this, a little bit smaller than the main needle size. In the photos, the white thread is the waste yarn and the orange yarn is the main yarn.

(A) find the next stitch, sometimes a little tug on the end of the waste yarn will help show the stitch. In this photo, the wrong side of the work is facing.

(B) insert the tip of the needle into the next stitch to be unpicked.

(C) using fingers or an extra needle tip, pull the waste yarn out of the stitch on the needle, then pull the waste yarn end out of the provisional tab (not pictured) until the work looks like Step A.

Repeat steps A-C until all stitches are unpicked (see photo at top of this post for result). This is kind of like tinking — I do the unpicking one stitch at a time — it seems easier this way to keep all the stitches in the correct order.

You know you want it!!
Yarn pictured is Scientific Sock in gamma ray by NanoStitch Lab.
Pattern used in pictures is anastomosis.
We’re having a knitalong! Join us in the ravelry group here: anastomosis + NanoStitch Lab KAL.

tagline life is a creative adventure


all photos and text (c) 2017 grist creative llc



beadsThe design process is creative and rewarding, but the journey from inspiration to the release of a pattern can be a bit of a mystery. Join us on this fun and interactive adventure where together we’ll design an accessory and yarn color from scratch. We don’t know what it is going in because we make all those decisions together during the course of the workshop!

Over three sessions and some in-between homework, we’ll share stories, stitches, shapes, textures and colors for the design inspiration; choose a yarn base and color family and style; swatch! (of course); talk about flow and transition of stitch patterns, cast on and bind off; make bling decisions; discuss photography and consider naming options; and finally bring it all together with a pattern release and cast on party, where each participant receives their own copy of the pattern and enough yarn in our designed colorway to complete the project!

dyepot_greenThis project is highly interactive and participants will gain knowledge through lecture, demo, and hands on participation with guided swatching, testing, dyeing or other input into our garment.

No design experience necessary. Beginning and advanced knitters are welcome: this project is suitable for adventurous knitters that are able to cast on, bind off, knit and purl, and have completed a few projects on their own. Final pattern difficulty will be influenced by the group.


The nitty gritty details:

  • Timing: 3 sessions on Tuesday evenings: Feb 28 (6-9pm), Mar 21 (6-9pm), Apr 18 (6-8pm), plus in-between behind the scenes homework
  • Peeps: Designer Susan Gehringer of grist creative and Dyer Sarah Lukes of Seattle Sky Dyeworks
  • Location, location, location: The Nifty Knitter, Issaquah WA

Can’t wait to start? Call The Nifty Knitter (425) 369-3098 to sign up
Craving more? Learn about Susan at and Sarah at







tagline life is a creative adventure


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATradition meets technology in cachoeira — a sensuously slinky beaded lace shawl. I’ve been enamored with this very traditional lace pattern reminiscent of waterfalls and ice floes for a long time and was waiting for the right design to pop into my head and the right yarn to come along. When I started working with Bellatrista milk yarn, I knew it was a match!

The simple rectangular shape of cachoeira really showcases the lace and highlights all of the shimmering, glossy, drape of the yarn, and the beaded edging and twisted beaded fringe added just the right touch of bling and swing.

The gorgeous yarn is made from casein (milk protein). Its weight and drape make a beautifully glowing fabric that feels smooth and luxurious. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

cachoeira is suitable for an intermediate knitter or adventurous beginner. Once the pattern is established, it is not hard to memorize. The beaded twisted fringe takes a bit of time but is well worth the effort.

Grab the cachoeira pattern on ravelry.
Get the yarn online here: Bellatrista Milk yarn
See the shawl and yarn in person at the Bellatrista booth #304 at TNNA Winter Show (San Jose, January 21-23).

Thank you to our stunning model Lina Albernaz for making the knitwear look so gorgeous. Photos were taken on location at the beautiful Hollywood Schoolhouse in Woodinville, WA.


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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt’s always wonderful to gather together with friends and what better way to celebrate friendship than sharing yarn and knitting together!

We started by raiding our stashes for odds and ends of worsted weight yarn and put those scraps and scintillae to good use!

I designed a quickie fingerless mitt pattern that we could all follow [get the scintillae pattern for free on ravelry].

We had fun experimenting with cast on techniques, making colorful and subtle stripes, using favorite stitches, and planning for some fabulous embellishments to add later [check out the than 5,000 “Applique/Embellishments” in the “Components” category on ravelry].

Some of us started matchy matchy mitts and others mixed it up with lots of colors and stitches. I haven’t used much fun fur or eyelash yarn in the past, but I just couldn’t resist! Of course, then we needed matching hats 😉  We got off to a good start on our projects and had a splendid afternoon together!

craving more? check out or my e-patterns on ravelry

tagline life is a creative adventure

Northwest Knits & Eats

cover_northwestknitseats_web_frontCelebrate the Pacific Northwest with perfect pairings of knitting, wine and food!

In Northwest Knits & Eats, we’ll knit and cook and taste our way from the coast to wine country with six themed chapters, each showcasing a beautiful knitting pattern paired with a local or small yarn producer plus wonderful Washington and Oregon wines paired with delicious recipes.

Patterns include an airy v-neck sweater, a lacy shawl, a snuggly shawl, a cute hat and mittens set, a gorgeous pair of socks, and a warm cardigan sweater.

Yarnies include YOTH Yarns, Magpie Fibers, Abstract Fiber, Black Sheep Creamery, Shibui Knits, and of course grist creative with a special limited edition yarn just for the book.

Wineries include Alexandria Nicole Cellars, Barrage Cellars, Fidelitas Wines, Kasia Winery, Torii Mor Winery, and Treveri Cellars.

Adventurous and armchair travelers: pick up your knitting needles and prepare for a feast—life is a creative adventure!Northwest Knits & Eats

Printed in the United States of America

Available in print and e-book formats:
PRINT BOOK AVAILABLE JULY 15: Pre-order before July 15 and I’ll pay the shipping!
E-BOOK AVAILABLE NOW: order the autographed print + e-book combo and get the e-book now and print book as soon as it is available.

tagline life is a creative adventure


January was a whirlwind of design and knitting and pattern writing and the happy result is new patterns available in February! If you’re on the West Coast in February, come see the samples in person at Abstract Fiber at Madrona and then at YOTH Yarns, Magpie Fibers, and Abstract Fiber at Stitches West.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFirst up is square ruthless, a mathematical shawl based on square roots. Don’t worry! I do all the math so you can have fun knitting. This shawl was inspired by both my math geek husband and my favorite roller derby girl. The large size and simple seed stitch works up beautifully in Abstract Fiber Temptation with gorgeous sweeps of favorite colors, team colors, or subtle tones—be inspired by nature or skyscrapers or your favorite team.
This pattern releases Thursday, February 11. Come see and feel the sample in person Feb 11-14 at the Madrona marketplace in the Abstract Fiber booth.  ETA: square ruthless pattern link

allotrope_100_cropped Next we have allotrope, a wide cowl or long loop. Marilyn Monroe sang it best: diamonds are a girl’s best friend. A stunning Magpie Fibers Swanky Sock gradient worked in textures, slipped stitches, and lace make a wonderful cowl that is fun to knit and easy to wear.
This pattern releases Thursday, February 18. Come see and feel the sample in person Feb 18-21 at the Stitches West marketplace in the Magpie Fibers popup inside  the YOTH Yarns boutique. ETA: allotrope pattern link

Continuing on to fococo, a cropped vest with lacy texture. A simple shape and easy-to-memorize stitch puts the yarn at center stage in this elegant vest. Sophisticated YOTH Yarns colors on Rocky Mountain Rambouillet wool yarn that was grown, spun, and dyed in the USA make this plush vest a joy to knit and to wear. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
This pattern releases Thursday, February 18. Come see and feel the sample in person Feb 18-21 at the Stitches West marketplace in the YOTH Yarns boutique. ETA: fococo pattern link

What’s up next? Watch for more patterns and a new book coming out later in the spring!

Thank you to YOTH Yarns, Magpie Fibers, and Abstract Fiber for their generous support of gorgeous yarns. Shout out to my intrepid test knitters Nancy Kolton and Rebecca Zanzig whose attention to detail, wide range of knitting knowledge, and nimble fingers are such an asset! Lots of gratitude to the beautiful Lina and Jasmine, who make the knitwear look so lovely. Craving more? Here is the  downloadable patterns link.

Well, that was my January. What a kickoff for the new year!

Happy knitting!

tagline life is a creative adventure

what I did on my summer vacation…

We had a very hot summer here in the Pacific Northwest but there were cool mornings and evenings that were perfect for knitting and lots of time for other fun fibery activities. This summer was a bit of  a busman’s holiday with lots of spinning and weaving and dyeing and designing and knitting!

summerfiber_silk1 summerfiber_silk2 summerfiber_silk3 summerfiber_silkblendsummerfiber_abstractfiber_bonfire summerfiber_abstractfiber_sunset

Spinning  There was an amazing week of spinning “silk and friends” with ~20 of us enjoying a fabulous array of silk, blends, and great camaraderie… the stinkiest part was silk cocoons–we boiled them so we could reel the silk and they are beautiful, but oh the smell! There was tussah and muga and bombyx and white eri and red eri (gorgeous!) and that was just the first day! Then we moved into blends: silk + baby camel, silk + cashmere, silk + merino, and even a special one-of-a-kind blend of Finn + baby camel + tussah (there’s a sweater in the future from this blend). It was an inspiring week! I didn’t spin much last year but got so inspired at the retreat that I’ve been spinning about 20 minutes every day since and filling up those bobbins with luscious 50/50 silk/merino from the amazing Abstract Fiber (full bobbin shows “bonfire” and “sunset” is in progress).

summerfiber_weavingcampWeaving  After spinning there was glorious weaving! A week of weaving camp with a small group of weavers and concentration on household linens.  My favorite weaving projects are yardage and kitchen towels. I love instant functionality of kitchen towels and I’m promising myself that the yardage will become garments (I learned to sew long before knitting or spinning or weaving). I was so busy weaving that I didn’t take a lot of pictures, but here’s what the room looked like in the warping stage. We started with the same basic materials (unmercerized cotton, cotton boucle), added some extras like cotolin or handspun, put our creativity to work for individual designs and were rewarded with some absolutely gorgeous projects that came off those looms.

summerfiber_color1 summerfiber_color2 summerfiber_color3 summerfiber_color4 summerfiber_color5 summerfiber_color6

Color  We’ll leave dyeing for another day, but the garden was the inspiration for a lot of natural and acid dyeing on wool and silk this summer, and also a lot of tasty meals!

Designing  This was a summer of shawls with two new pattern releases. They’re both designed for knitting on the go: knit night, road trip, or walking around fall festivals.

summerfiber_paperlacePaperlace was released as a collaboration with YOTH Yarns and what a joy that pattern was to design. This breezy shawl was designed especially for YOTH Yarns Big Sister puppies–gorgeous limited edition gradients hand-dyed at YOTH HQ. It has an easy-to-memorize pattern and can be made with or without fringe; a perfect wrap for cool evenings.

Finished Measurements: 72” wingspan x 24” deep (180 x 60 cm) after blocking, not including fringe. The non-fringed version using 2 full skeins of Big Sister measures 78” w x 26” d (195 x 65 cm).
Yarn: YOTH Yarns Big Sister Puppies (1 gradient stick) or 2 skeins of YOTH Yarns Big Sister  (462 yds / 200 g)
Gauge: 13 sts & 16 rows = 4” / 10 cm in pattern stitch on US 7 (4.5 mm) needles after blocking
Available as a downloadable pattern: Paperlace e-pattern

summerfiber_venturesome Venturesome was designed as a knitting adventure…as unique as the knitter that creates it. All about fun and choice, there are two sizes as well as multiple inset and border options for endless customization. Simple patterns allow for a variety of yarn choices — this shawl works well with gradient, tonal, semi-solid, self-striping, or patterned yarns. The cut-out-in-a-square shape stays in place and will provide great warmth for the next adventure. Choose a favorite yarn, pick a stitch pattern (or patterns), and have fun!

Finished Measurements: large 36” x 36” (90 x 90 cm); small 28” x 28” (70 x 70 cm)
Yarn: Fingering/sock yarn, 2 skeins for large and 1 skein for small
Gauge: 20 sts & 26 rows = 4” / 10 cm in stockinette stitch on US 5 (3.75 mm) needles after blocking
Available as a print pattern: Venturesome print pattern, or a downloadable pattern: Venturesome e-pattern

Fall Fiber Festivals  After a summer of fun Fairs (the Lynden Fair is my favorite), it’s time for Fall Fiber Festivals! here are so many choices, but we hope you’ll come see us next weekend, September 26-27, at the Oregon Flock & Fiber Festival (OFFF) and November 6-8 at the Columbia Gorge Fiber Festival with Black Sheep Creamery. There will be books, patterns, yarn, and of course cheese! Hope to see you there!

tagline life is a creative adventure

gauge really doesn’t matter*

*because we’re still exploring adventures in gauge – part 3: teeny tiny

picture of finished pieces: big, medium & tiny
adventures in gauge: finished pieces (big, medium & tiny) all using 105 sts

On our adventure of looking at extreme differences in gauge, we’re exploring the same stitch pattern (3×2 rib with slipped stitch) on the same number of stitches (105) with the same knitter (me) but changing up the yarn and needles to achieve our goal of different gauge in each finished piece.

If you’d like to play along, here are some notes. Written instructions for the stitch appeared in the first post in this series and the chart appeared in the second post in this series.

If you’d like this as a fully written pattern or just can’t get enough of grist creative, then feel free to join my mailing list or follow me on instagram (add a comment so I know it’s you!) between now and May 15 and I’ll send/post a coupon code for a free pattern download for the first two pieces (big and medium) before the end of May.

Teeny tiny. Let’s go small: thin yarn, tiny needles, very small gauge: a mystery lace weight yarn from my stash, probably in the 800 yd / 100 g range. Using our 105 sts, this is likely going to be an experiment in the 12-14 stitches per inch (spi) range–maybe a cuff if we’re really looking for some way to wear it.

In our modern times, lace weight is often knit on medium or large needles for an open fabric at medium or large gauge. Let’s go more extreme! I pulled out my 000 steel DPNs for this one (depending on the knitter, US 000-1 (1.5-2.25mm) may work best). To change this pattern up a bit, I added some bling with a beaded cast on: string 42 beads and then [co-3, slide bead, co-2, slide bead] until there are 105 sts, then join to knit in the round and work in pattern for a couple of inches. This piece was finished with a beaded bind off in the same [bo-3, bead, bo-2, bead] pattern as the cast on.

picture of knitting with ruler
tiny: 12 spi

Gauge and size results for tiny:

  • unstretched: 5″ circumference with 84 sts / 4″ (10cm) or about 21 spi but this is definitely because of the stretchy rib pattern — stockinette would probably be about 12-16 spi
  • this piece easily stretched out to 10″ for about 10 spi
  • most likely: the most likely size for this piece will be about 8″, which puts our steady state gauge at about 12 sts / inch.

Next up – pattern release!tagline life is a creative adventure

Gauge doesn’t matter*

adventures in gauge – part 1: big

picture of cowl with big gauge
adventures in gauge: big (finished piece)

Now, before the knitting police come to haul me away, gauge doesn’t matter ONLY *for some types of knitting and for some types of knitters.

For example, I wouldn’t suggest knitting a gauge swatch for a pot holder–in this case the finished piece is smaller than most gauge swatches I would knit anyway. I also might radically suggest using the first 10″ of a sleeve as gauge swatch for a sweater, as long as I am (or the knitter is) willing to wash and block it as the final garment will be washed and blocked and makes the promise to rip it out if the knitting isn’t everything our heart desires in the finished piece. That last part is the tough one.

Gauge also plays a smaller part in the overall scheme of things when the knitter has lots of yarn, doesn’t care if the finished size doesn’t resemble the garment in the pattern, doesn’t mind doing a little (or a lot of) knitting math, or has “someone” as in this-will-fit-someone to gift with the finished piece. Some scarves, cowls, shawls, blankets, toys, charity knitting, and dare I say sweaters will fit these criteria. However, if any of those statements is not true, then go ahead and swatch swatch swatch until gauge is met.

SO…let’s look at some extreme differences in gauge. We’ll explore the same pattern on the same number of stitches with the same knitter (me) but will change up the yarn and needles to achieve our goal of different gauge in each finished piece. If you’d like to play along, here are some notes to help you get started.

If you’d like this as a written pattern or just can’t get enough of grist creative, then feel free to join my mailing list or follow me on instagram (add a comment so I know it’s you!) between now and May 15 and I’ll send/post a coupon code for a free pattern download for the first two pieces (big and medium) before the end of May.

The basic pattern. Let’s start with a nice 3×2 ribbing over 105 stitches. We’ll add a slipped stitch to the rib to make it a bit more interesting. This pattern is knit in the round, stitches are slipped knitwise purlwise with yarn in back.

  • Round 1: *K2, yo, k1, p2,* repeat around. (stitch count changes on this round)
  • Round 2: *K1, sl-1, drop yo, k1,* repeat around. (back to regular stitch count)
  • Round 3: *K1, sl-1, k1, p2,* repeat around.
picture of Noro furisode with US9 (5.5mm) needles
Noro furisode with US9 (5.5mm) needles

Go Big. Let’s start with big yarn, big needles, big gauge: Noro Furisode (150m / 100g) and US9 (5.5mm) circular needles but at this size I’m a slightly loose knitter so US8-11 (5-8mm) may work better for you if you’re trying to get the same look. Using our 105 sts, this is likely going to be a cowl in the 3-4 stitches per inch (spi) range.

This yarn has 45% silk and 40% cotton which makes it feel cool to the touch, but with only 15% wool there isn’t much bounce or memory. The minimal stretchiness in the finished garment will heavily rely on the ribbing pattern.

The whole debate around measuring in pattern vs stockinette and unstretched vs lightly stretched vs fully stretched is a topic for another day. For this adventure, I’ll just be giving the measurements in the pattern stitch in unstretched and some kind of stretched state and also concentrating on stitch gauge–row/round gauge is a topic for a different day.

Gauge and size results for Big:

picture of cowl showing 3½ st/inch
Big: 3½ st/inch
  • unstretched: ~21″ circumference with 15 sts / 4″ (10cm) or about 3¾ spi
  • stretched out to 36″ has 11 sts / 4″ (10cm) or about 2¾ spi but this bounces back to a size closer to unstretched, so it’s unlikely that the garment would stay in this shape
  • most likely: the most likely size after wearing this cowl for a while after blocking will be ~30″ or so, which puts our steady state gauge at about 3½ sts / inch (2.5cm)

Next up – part 2: medium, where we will explore the neighborhood of 5 sts per inch