GAL Ideas

This is the third year for the Indie Designers Gift-Along – I’m quite good at keeping track because it’s also the THIRD holiday season I’ve been a mom. Yup, I didn’t participate the first year because I was busy nursing a six week old. Last year I had barely any knitting time since my one year old wasn’t sleeping in her own room yet, and I stuck to knitting accessories and quick gifts.

This year my knitting time is starting to rebound! But I’m still knitting small things: toddler mittens, cowls, boot toppers. I have a list, but the projects on it are still nothing big. So for this post I want to dream about the big things that I WISH I was making! Remember, all these patterns are 25% off until the end of today!

Like Carol Sunday’s Milkweed Capelet


I almost linked Shakespeare in Love again, but seriously – I know I featured it last year too… Carol’s designs are gorgeous, sculptural things. And I so SO wish I had time to knit one of them this year.

Want more cables? What about Julia Trice’s Elia?


I love that neckline! Julia has used it on a couple of sweaters and someday I WILL knit one!

If lace is more your thing, I’m also in love with the neckline on Ruth’s Echoes of Winter pullover:


That’s another style that I’m dying to try…

If this seems like too many sweaters I’m also eyeing Alicia Plummer’s 11pm cowl (scarf, thingy)



Clearly I’m on a sculptural cables kick today, huh?

If you’re waiting for some colorwork, I’ve loved the Wild Flower caplet by Jennifer Thompson since the day it was published:


So much gorgeous knitting, so little time. Please stop by the Gift Along group sometime before the end of the year! We’re getting a lot of knitting done, and having a lot of fun doing it!

Gift Along FO

Like many other designers I use the gift along as a great excuse to kick back and knit other people’s stuff for awhile. The first project off my needles this season is for Windsor. The silly girl LOVES mittens this year. Which means she’s wearing them everywhere, and then taking them off and leaving them everywhere. The solution to the lost-mitten-crisis of 2015 is clearly a set of them with icord ties:


These adorable little things are from CJ’s Garter Cuff Mittens by Denise Balvanz, except with icord. I knit them traveling home from a conference last week. I’d thrown the yarn and needles into my bag figuring I’d find a pattern later. I was able to search Ravelry and download the pattern to my phone while sitting at a short layover. Have I mentioned I love living in the future sometimes?


I followed the pattern exactly as written, except for how I didn’t (you know me) instead of a standard cast on I knit some icord first, and then picked up stitches from there to make the cuff. My only other change was that the mittens are about 4 stitches smaller than the smallest size, because Windsor’s hands are so wee.

She loves these mittens. And I’m either pinning them to her coat cuffs, or sewing them on. Whatever it takes…

Interview: Triona Murphy

Every year around the Indie Gift-Along I like to do some GAL inspired features. I’ll talk about some GAL patterns I love and GAL designers who inspire me. Today I’ve got an interview with Triona!

Triona photo

Welcome! I’m excited to be interviewing you for the indie gift-along! First can you tell my readers a little about yourself:

Where do you find inspiration for your designs?

I’m always on the lookout for things to inspire my designs! I’m an incorrigible Kinnearer (see the Yarn Harlot’s extremely informative post for an explanation of the term). Sometimes I think I wouldn’t design anything without my trusty iPhone. I take pictures of interesting clothing and accessories, architectural features, nature, fences, rugs, and lots more.

How did you first get started designing?

I bought a sweater in Paris because it was freezing there in December. While I wore it a lot after I got home, there were all these things I didn’t like about it. It was boxy with no waist shaping, had an unflattering neckline, and the cables were all out of proportion. So I decided to design my own roughly-inspired version. When I posted it to my Ravelry project page, I was really surprised when a whole bunch of people said they would purchase a pattern for that sweater. I had just left my job and had some time on my hands, so I studied every pattern I could get my hands on and then gave it a shot. That sweater (Chandail) is still my most popular pattern to date!


What’s your favorite thing to knit? (either for designs, or on your own)

I love knitting hats, especially in worsted weight. They’re the perfect vehicle for messing around with new stitch patterns, and they’re always done before I have time to get tired of the pattern.

What do you do in your down time?

I’ve been working on writing sci-fi novels for children and young adults for a number of years now. I’m hoping to get published someday!


Now about this GAL thing:

How many years have you been in the GAL? When/how did you first hear about it?

This is my third year participating in the Gift-A-Long. I loved the concept right from the beginning. Now it’s when I give myself permission to knit patterns from other designers, so it’s rapidly becoming one of my favorite times of the year.

Pick one of your own designs that you think makes the perfect gift and tell us why you think that.

I just released a new hat pattern last week, Land Under Wave, that I think is perfect for gifts. Since it’s knit in worsted-weight yarn, it can be worked up in just a few evenings.



Name one thing you hope to finish during the gift-along. Or, if you’re not knitting gifts this year, what’s one other designer’s pattern you WISH you were knitting?

I’m going to knit myself a pair of cute cabled fingerless mitts for sure. If I have time, I’m hoping to find a small steeking project—I’ve never tried steeking before, and this seems like a good opportunity!

Gift along 2015

I’ll be participating in the Indie Designer’s Gift Along again this year, and it starts this evening!

If you haven’t heard about this before it’s a group of indie designers (over 300 this year!) who band together to offer you a brilliant pattern sale right before the holidays. All participating patterns will be 25% off from tonight at 8pm until November 27th at midnight (Eastern time).

Along with the two week sale, and continuing until the end of December, we have a group knit along, fabulous prizes, and support for everyone during the holiday knitting rush.

My Bundle of sale patterns is on ravelry and I hope you’ll check it out. I included eight patterns and tried for a broad sampling from the very new:

kinsman closeup

To the very old:
La Moelle
lamoelle vertical

The popular:
Clarina Irene
soft focus

And the hidden gem:
November Guest
November Guest draped

December KAL

The November KALs are going nicely, lots of folks from the Peace Fleece group are knitting Cervus, but Oleracea has a knitter too. If you still want to join, two weeks is plenty of time to knit a hat. And we have prizes! You could win yarn, or caramel!

It’s also time to start thinking about December’s knit-along. The chapter this month allows for some indulgence. If it isn’t enjoyable then it is hard to maintain knitting and eating locally! In the spirit of the holidays we have a little gift bag which is itself a gift, Cannella:

These bags are knit with Vermont dyer Ball and Skein’s shiny silk yarn and adorned with beads in festive patterns.

If you prefer something to keep yourself or a loved one warm consider the cozy and dressy capelet, Lavandula:

It’s a simple crescent shawl with feminine ruffles at the bottom, supportive icord along the top edge, and a romantic hood. The sample is knit from Sunday Knits angora blend yarn.

I hope you’ll stop by the December KAL thread and let me know what you’re thinking about knitting for next month!

Little things

I’ve been knitting some more quick, simple pieces while my life is full of craziness. I finished up a pair of slippers for Windsor:

No pattern and they’re not perfect, so even though I kept notes I won’t be publishing one. The ankles are too big around. But I wove an elastic through them and now she can get them on and off by herself. So we’re calling that an intentional part of the project.

Then I knit her some fingerless mitts. I always thought these were silly for toddlers. But she steals mine, and wears her full mittens around in the house. So then I changed my mind:

And she loved them so much she didn’t take them off for 36 hours straight. Then she did take them off, somewhere at daycare. And now we only have one left. This is the thing about knitting for toddlers…

I’m traveling next week, so I’ve got a couple of bigger projects on deck. One new design and one old sweater that I keep wishing I could wear right now. Also coming on the plane ride will be Yet. Another. Pair. of toddler mittens. And maybe something for Neil, if I have the time.

How much knitting do you think I can do in a week if I sleep the same amount I have been, and don’t have a toddler to take care of for 5 days straight?


I’ve got a quick new pattern to tell you about today! Meet Kinsman. (please queue and favorite on Ravelry!)

Kinsman hero

These boot toppers are kinda addictive. You know that feeling when you’re cold and you simply MUST knit something warm? We all know it’s illogical. Putting on an existing sweater would be a faster way to warm up.

kinsman closeup

Well these little boot toppers are so quick you really can cast on, and have something warm to wear almost instantly. Knit out of Fleece Artist BFL Aran on size 8 needles this project goes quickly. And at 110 or 180 yards you probably have some extra aran weight yarn kicking around in your stash that could be kicking around on your boots keeping you warm instead.

kinsman kneeling

I hope you’ll give them a try! They’re stylish AND cozy. There’s lace work on every round to give the edging that scalloped look. But it is only 2-4 rounds at a time so it’s never really tricky to keep track of what you’re doing.

kinsman dance

Help for the Horses

I just wanted to check back in with you all and say:


Because of the generosity of knitters I’ve donated over $150 to the Center for America’s First Horse. If you’re interested in learning more about them and their water situation our local TV channel put together a little piece which can be seen online.

My pattern sale may be over, but you can still donate directly to the horses.

LoR walking

Being careful not to twist

This is a short story about a cowl. A couple of weeks ago I needed a quick project. And since I knew my dad needs a new cowl* for Christmas that seemed like the right choice. I’ve been wanted to knit my November Guest at a much larger gauge, so I grabbed a lone skein of imperial ranch and cast on. (note: this isn’t my november guest pattern, after all)


The first time I cast on far too many stitches. But I knit 10 or 20 rounds to figure that out. The second time I cast on a few too many stitches, and I only knit 6 rows before I figured it out.


The third time I cast on just the right number of stitches. But 6 rounds in I discovered a different flaw. Know how most patterns, including mine, direct you to “join to work in the round, being careful not to twist.” Well, I missed that second half.


I contemplated starting over a fourth time. But by now if was Rhinebeck weekend, I was exhausted. And honestly I needed some very simple knitting. So that’s how my twisted garter stitch cowl was born. It’s squooshy and I’m considering the twist a feature.


*he calls them neck gaters


Our elderberry bush had a really good year. Which means I had enough fruit to try another batch of jam! In fact I had enough even after Windsor “helped” by picking and eating the berries off two or three clusters of fruit.


I did not, however, have enough berries to try and make a seedless batch. Maybe next time… But the seeds are small like raspberries or blackberries so they don’t detract too much from the sauce.

elderberry mush

Oh yes. I said sauce. Because the jam didn’t set. Again. Anyone have a good tip for elderberry jam that actually firms up? I have this problem every time. This time around I added the amount of pectin called for in the recipe AND I cooked an apple down into the berries (apple adds bulk and natural pectin.) It’s pretty good elderberry sauce, I think it’ll be amazing stirred into yogurt. But the surprise winner for jam this year is the other batch pictured here:

elderberry etc

That’s plum orange cardamom. The plums were going squishy in the fridge drawer by the time I made it*. Also they weren’t very tasty fresh. And I only peeled about half of them. But I didn’t want them to go completely to waste so I made up this recipe without even checking the Internet. I think it was something like 2 cups of flesh and juice from some small, slightly bitter, plums and an equal part sugar. One apple, some amount of pectin, a bit of dried orange peel, and a sprinkle of cardamom.

Ohh myyy is it amazing jam. Bright, tart, flavorful, zesty. I’m very sad about how few jars there are.

*these jams, and these photos, are at least 2 months old. This is just how far behind life I am right now.