posts / 🧶 Your blue ribbon awaits…

Romi

🧶 Your blue ribbon awaits…

Happy first week of March, !

It’s my birthday month and everyone’s been asking what I want.

I know this is kind of a mom answer but when I say “nothing” I really mean it. I have my health. Lord knows I have plenty of yarn (hello, S.A.B.L.E.!) And best of all, I am so filled with gratitude that I get to write this newsletter to you. It is an absolute privilege to come into your inbox each week and share what’s happening in the wider yarn world.

This week, I got to catch up with Rosemary “Romi” Hill, one of the “OG” Knit Stars from Season 1. Romi’s is the latest Knit Stars course to be released as a standalone single workshop, and it’s such great proof of how the Seasons stand the test of time.

“Tablature” by Romi Hill

Romi is known for making intricate lacework and beadwork achievable. In her workshop, she takes you through all her best practices for lace knitting, from her favorite lace cast-ons and bind-offs, to working with charts, and even surprising tips like using dental floss and drinking straws.

She introduces you to the joy of beaded knitting (warning: it really is addictive!). There’s a bonus module on how to use the Knit Companion app, and her bonus pattern, Alcyone Redux, is a showstopper.

“Alcyone Redux” by Romi Hill

If you’ve ever wanted to be one of those knitters who enters the state fair and brings home blue ribbons, this is the workshop you need in your Knit Stars library.

But for me, the juiciest module in Romi’s workshop is the one she calls simply “Shawl Shapes.” I’ve returned to this module and it’s accompanying “Shawl Formula” pdf countless times when designing pieces for our clubs over the years. She breaks down, in simplest terms, the anatomy of five different shawl shapes. Every budding designer needs this powerful tool in their arsenal.

What has Romi been up to since Knit Stars Season 1 (besides publishing dozens of amazing designs?) Read on to find out…

Shelley Q: I’ve been following your new tutorials on Instagram, and the one on frogging mohair caught my eye. So many people are scared to frog mohair, and I’d never heard the tip about putting it in the freezer first! Do you ever dread frogging?

Romi A: Whenever I design something, I’m always ripping it out and doing it again until I think it looks perfect. Sometimes, something will look right on paper, but in yarn there can be unexpected design consequences. So I’m always swatching it and ripping it, and when I do that, I like to use the yarn I’m designing in so that I have a good idea of the final product. So I’ve frogged a LOT of mohair because I’ve had a lifelong love affair with fluff.

Shelley Q: And in life? What have you frogged lately?

Romi A: I guess in a way I’m frogging every day. I always want to get to the bottom of things and build them up better, including, importantly, myself. There’s always room to grow and improve and I frog the old to create the new and, hopefully, improved.

Shelley Q: Can you tell me more about the inspiration behind your new design “Through the Gate Gently,” which you dedicated to our dear mutual friend, Suzanne Middlebrooks, who founded Hill Country Weavers?

Romi A: Suzanne was such a lovely person and for the longest time, I just couldn’t believe she’s gone. I didn’t want to admit it. I’m so grateful I was able to see her at the Hill Country Weavers retreat in 2020 before lockdown. I taught at their first retreat, and she opened her home to me. She was so easy to be with and so kind. I always felt like Austin was a second home, and she was a huge part of that.

I think as crafters, a lot of us process grief through creating, and when I started designing and knitting this shawl, I didn’t realize it was about her. By the end, I knew it was. I thought about her the entire time, and used a yarn company she introduced me to: Biches et Bûches. It all just came bubbling up. I know I’m not alone. She was so loved by so many.

“Through the Gate Gently” by Romi Hill

Shelley Q: So shifting gears a bit…tell me more about your cowboy boot collection! How many pairs do you own? Which is your favorite? And how do you style them with your knits?

Romi A: I think of cowboy boots as wearable art. I’ve collected them for awhile, and part of the fun is tracking them down on sale wherever they may be.

I’m not sure how many pairs I have, to be honest, but I do remember the first pair I got! You’ll laugh, but I bought them in Germany on tour with my college orchestra. Later on, my cat ate them (the cat was fine), so I don’t have them any longer, but I do have my second pair!

I don’t really think of styling them in any particular way with my knits, but I do think they go with everything, so I look for pops of colors and patterns that mesh.

“High Sierra” by Romi Hill

Shelley Q: In recent years your designs have stood out to me even more than before, thanks to your younger son who has taken to modeling for you. I’d love to know more about how the two of you collaborate on the photo shoots.

Romi A: He’s such an amazing model, isn’t he?! Our shoots have both spontaneity and planning involved. We each usually have an idea in mind and he styles a look and then I style a look. We are very much generally on the same wavelength, so it’s really fun working with him.

“Radians” by Romi Hill

Shelley Q: What would you say to someone considering buying your Knit Stars workshop, who’s always been intimidated to try charted lace or beading?

Romi A: Even the most intricate-looking pieces are just made up of a few stitches. Often, something can look very difficult or involved, but when you begin knitting it, it just flows. Don’t ever say “I can’t do it.” Choose a project you love and jump right in. There’s lots of help out here if you get stuck! And the tips in my workshop are my very favorites to help you along the way.

“Leaves In A Stream” by Romi Hill

Shelley Q: What project do you have on the near horizon, and what’s the best way for people to keep up with you?

Romi A: My annual mystery shawl is coming up soon! Every year, A Verb for Keeping Warm dyes up some gorgeous yarn, and I make shawl pins. They kit it all up for everyone, and I design a two-color, five-clue shawl.

There will be a YouTube live going over each clue and a Zoom on weekends. Of course, you can also knit with any yarn of your choice! It will be fingering or light sport weight and clues will start in April. Lots of people love to learn lace this way because there are so many people knitting it at once. We have a great time!

Also, I go live on YouTube almost every Thursday at 4 pm Pacific time and talk about my patterns, answer questions, and dive deeper into the techniques I show on Instagram.

Here’s how to connect with Romi:

Scroll down to try out one of Romi’s favorite plant-based recipes! 😋

xoxo,

“Happy Hoppin’ Hat” and “Happy Hoppin’ Headband” by Diane L. Augustin. Mitts pattern also available!

If you decide to pick up Romi’s Knit Stars workshop, here’s a great beading project to try!

Stephanie just finished this “Happy Hoppin’ Hat” and “Happy Hoppin’ Headband,” both by designer Diane L. Augustin, both beginner-beading friendly, and both free on Ravelry. 🤩And Stephanie made BOTH projects with a single skein of Manos Alegria Grande, which we have on sale 50% off here as part of our site-wide clearance.

You could also get both projects from 2 skeins of our Loops Luxe Chunky yarn.

As an extra incentive to try it out, we’ll include a FREE packet of beads with your purchase of either yarn, now through next Sunday.

Shop Loops Luxe Chunky 50% off here.
Shop Manos Alegria 50% off here.
Oh, and all of our pompoms are 50% off here (poly) and here (fur)

We asked Romi Hill what she’s cooking on repeat these days. “This hummus from RainbowPlantLife.com is the most delicious I have ever tasted,” she said. “And the site also has great Instant Pot recipes, btw!”

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces (227g) dried chickpeas* (1 cup + 2 tbsp)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda, divided
  • A generous ¾ cup (175-195g) good-quality tahini
  • 6 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus more to taste
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped**
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin, plus more to taste
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly cracked black pepper to taste
  • 6 to 10 tablespoons ice water

Fried Garlic-Lemon Topping (Optional)

  • ⅓ cup (80 mL) good-quality extra virgin olive oil
  • 5 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 4 to 6 strips of lemon peel, about 2 inches long (don’t peel too deeply to avoid the white pith)
  • Flaky sea salt or kosher salt

Other Topping Options***

  • 1 handful of flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • Paprika, sumac, or Aleppo pepper flakes

Instructions

  1. Soak the chickpeas. Add the chickpeas to a large bowl. Cover with cold water and ½ teaspoon baking soda. Soak for 8 hours or overnight. Drain and rinse.
  2. Cook the chickpeas. Add the drained chickpeas to a medium saucepan with ½ teaspoon baking soda and 6 cups of water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cover the pot, and reduce the heat as needed to maintain a rapid simmer and cook for 30 minutes.
  3. Uncover the pot and add 1 teaspoon of kosher salt. Continue cooking for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the chickpeas are very soft and smush when pressed with a spoon/fork or pressed between your fingers. Drain well.
  4. Drain the chickpeas, then transfer to a food processor. Blend for 1-2 minutes until you have a smooth puree, scraping down the sides as you go.
  5. To the food processor, add ¾ cup tahini, lemon juice, garlic, cumin, 1 heaping teaspoon kosher salt, and pepper to taste. Blend, and with the motor running, stream in the ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time. After 6 tablespoons of ice water, evaluate the texture. If you want it to be looser, stream in more water, and continue blending until smooth and creamy. Once you reach your desired texture, taste for seasonings, adding more salt, garlic, cumin, or lemon juice as needed.
  6. Make the topping. Heat the olive oil in a medium frying pan over medium heat. Once the oil is warm (but not too hot), add the garlic and cook, swirling the pan or stirring frequently, for 2 to 2 ½ minutes, until the garlic just turns golden (don’t wait until it browns).
  7. Add the lemon zest and cook for another 30 seconds. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the garlic and lemon zest to a plate and sprinkle with a bit of flaky sea salt. Reserve the oil.
  8. Transfer the hummus to a large plate and use the back of a spoon to make waves or to make a well in the center. Spoon the garlic-lemon oil into the ridges or into the well. Top with the fried garlic and lemon zest. Top with chopped parsley and a few shakes of paprika.

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