Monthly Archives: November 2014

Restful

I hope you had a good thanksgiving, my family’s massive gathering was made slightly more exciting by that snowstorm that blew up the coast. But when you’ve been gathering as a clan for more than 30 years that’s just not the sort of thing you stop for a little weather.

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It’s friday and now that turkey has been consumed, pies presented and eaten – we move on to less traditional traditions. While the rest of America is shopping we’ll be playing board games, taking hikes, holding a second potluck (because there are two days, we might as well have two feasts!)

If I’m lucky Windsor will take good naps and play with her cousins and I’ll get some quality knitting time with my current giftalong projects. I have two pairs of boot toppers, 4 baby hats* and 1 adult hat, a cowl, and a toddler sweater all packed in my travel bags. I don’t honestly think I’ll get time to knit all this, unless Windsor decides she likes Nana better than Mama. But it never hurts to be over-prepared. I was packing on tuesday night, and you know how it goes. You look at your travel, how it might be affected by the snow, consider the potential for cold, and suddenly you’ve packed a few extra skeins of wool, just in case…

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wrap it up in plain brown paper

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Laura of Cosmicpluto

I’m super-excited to share today’s interview with you all. I had the opportunity to speak with Laura because she’s also participating in the gift-along! You can check out her designs on Ravelry, and her blog over at her website: Laura Chau.


Becky: Where did the name Cosmicpluto come from? (I’ve secretly always wondered this, now I get to ask!)
Laura: Oy, it’s not a very good story! It was the late 90s, and I needed to come up with a username for my first Hotmail account. Glittery makeup was super in fashion (at least among the Seventeen set) and Pluto was my favourite planet, so I portmanteau-ed it up and came up with cosmicpluto. (Sailor Pluto from Sailor Moon was also my favourite – she had super long, dark green hair!)
Becky: I don’t know, I think that’s at least as good a story as my old Ravelry name: Ladysaphira… You can still see remnants of all our younger selves all over the internet…)

Becky: Where do you find inspiration for your designs?
Laura: Is it cliche to say everywhere? I had a bit of a time when I was trying to emulate things I saw in fashion magazines, but knitting takes so long it just never really worked out to be on trend. Nowadays I’m really trying to work more on coming up with my own ideas for shapes and textures. I love yarn, so a lot of the time I buy the yarn and wait to see what it wants to become!

Becky: How did you first get started designing?
Laura: I started knitting seriously in university and got a job working in a yarn shop shortly after that, so I learned quickly! I was surrounded by awesome yarn and awesome knitters with loads of ideas. I knit quite a lot of things before I first decided to design a sweater for myself – we had gotten in a yarn that I LOVED, Artyarns Supermerino, and I wanted a sweater that I couldn’t find a pattern for. That one become Lucy in the Sky! At around the same time, Amy Singer of Knitty asked me to design a lacy cardigan for the magazine, which I was thrilled to – that one is Serrano.
Becky: Ah… 2006. That was when I first discovered online patterns. I think I printed Serrano out and saved it somewhere in hard copy. You know, back in the days before Ravelry when it was so hard to keep track of online patterns. I’m afraid all this reminiscing about the past is making me sound old!

Becky: What’s your favorite thing to knit? (either for designs, or on your own)
Laura: I enjoy knitting pretty much anything, but I love knitting sweaters so much it might actually be a problem.

Becky: What do you do in your down time? (besides knitting)
Laura: I spin, and am trying to get more into sewing both clothes and quilts. I also love to cook and bake. In the summer I try to grow veggies on my front porch.

Becky: Now about this GAL thing. When/how did you first hear about the gift-along?
Laura: I think I heard about it last year, but it was too late to join in the fun. I really wanted to be on top of it this year!

Becky: Pick one of your own designs that you think makes the perfect gift and tell us why you think that.
Laura: Orbital Ornaments! I especially love the rocket ship, and I had a great time flexing my creative knitting muscles to design them. They’re perfect for the tree, or a mobile, or just as decorations around the house for space lovers.

Becky: 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?
Laura: I’m knitting a laceweight version of my Bestellen shawl that I’m hoping to give as a gift, but I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself to finish.

I don’t have fun if I’m trying too hard to finish on a deadline! I wish I was knitting Wainwright by Bristol Ivy for myself, she is ever so smart.

two WIPs and an FO

If there’s one thing this gift-along has been good for it’s my knitting mojo. Nothing like whipping out a few accessories to help me remember how much I love knitting from other people’s patterns! I’m still using up that giant skein of the Country Road yarn from Briar rose, so we’ll be seeing a couple more green things before it’s all gone. Firstly, another tiny Vanilla diaper cover. I’d managed to forget how quickly the newborn size knits up. I completed about 70% of the thing in a single lab meeting!

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I need a waistband, a braided tie, and a button to keep it out of the way of the umbilical cord stump. Then this gift will be off to it’s new home and ready to welcome a new tiny human.

The color work sock that was featured in wednesday’s photo is growing nicely. I love stranded color work, I think it knits up faster than plain stockinette. Or at least it holds my attention better. Some of its quick growth is surely because I sit up until 11:30 every night marveling at the pattern.

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The socks are Bark Cloth, and I’m reversing the red and the white because I have more white yarn so it needed to be the MC. This makes reading the chart a WEE bit tricky, but so far I’ve managed to keep things straight. I just have to remember that the dark squares are my lighter yarn and the white squares are my darker yarn. How could that possibly be confusing?

And finally, my first FO of the gift-giving season. This toasty Miyuki cowl will be keeping someone else’s neck warm soon enough. But I had to take it for a test drive first.

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It’s quality control. Obviously. I had to make sure it was warm enough, and not to scratchy. Yup, that’s my story and I’m sticking with it. See more on my project page.

If you haven’t gotten in the Gift-Along yet there’s still plenty of time! The knit-alongs, games, and prizes will continue until the end of January. But the sale ends tonight, 23:59 EST. So I highly recommend stocking up on patterns while they’re 25% off. Personally I’ve bought 15 pdfs, and I feel at least one more splurge coming on before midnight…

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detecting a color theme

WIPs

Claire of VerilyKnits

Today I’m excited to introduce you to another designer from the Indie Gift-Along. Here’s my interview with Claire.

Claire S

Please check out her designs, she also blogs at VerilyKnits


Becky: Where do you find inspiration for your designs?
Claire: The majority of my designs are inspired by nature, I’m lucky to live just minutes from the countryside. My local area has been inspiring artists for hundreds of years, John Constable painted his landscape pictures just up the road from where I live including his most famous work The Hay Wain.

Becky: How did you first get started designing?
Claire: It all started with my son wanting a hat with trains on, I couldn’t find a pattern so I wrote my own which turned into the choo choo beanie.

Becky: What’s your favorite thing to knit?
Claire: I go through phases, in the past few months it has been hats, but just recently I’ve been focusing on sweaters; anything with cables is probably my favourite thing that the moment.

Becky: What do you do in your down time besides knitting?
Claire: My free time tends to be taken over by my sons, but when I get a chance I love Japanese number and picture puzzles like kakuro, hitori and hanjie.

Becky: Now about this GAL thing, how did you first hear about the gift-along?
Claire: I stumbled across the GAL last year whilst it was already in action, it looked like great fun so when I heard that it was going ahead again this year I signed up to join in straight away.

Becky: Pick one of your own designs that you think makes the perfect gift and tell us why you think that.
Claire: As it is starting to get colder up here in the northern hemisphere I’ll chose As Autumn Leaves, knit in worsted weight yarn its a great shawl for wrapping around your shoulders to keep out the cold, the heavier weight yarn also means that it is a quick knit shawl if you need to make a gift in a hurry.

Becky: 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?
Claire: The GAL has inspired me to do something I rarely ever do and this is make gifts for myself! I’ve already picked out boot candy cuffs by Sara Gresbach:

I’m also going to make myself a hat with earflaps, possibly Kotiya by Alex Tinsley:

And if I have time possibly also bubbly ballet slippers by Amy Kenagy:

Gift Along!

I’m super excited about something I’m doing from now till the end of December! It’s the indie pattern designers Gift Along 2014.

What’s all that mean? It’s an organized event with indie designers like myself helping each other out (293 of us!)

We’re starting with a sale, over 3800 patterns will be 25% off starting at 8pm tonight until 11:59pm on the 21st. You can check out my offerings here.

But it gets even better. From tonight to the end of December there will be knit alongs, crochet alongs, games, and prizes all hosted in the Ravelry group. We have yarn, needles, and kits donated by sponsors and by people like me. Over 1800 patterns will be given away in the next six weeks. I’m seriously in awe of the size of this amazingness.

There will be fun stuff here too, I’ve got some interviews lined up and we’ll all get to see how many gifts I can knit in 6 weeks if I take off my designer’s hat and stick with aran weight yarns.

Are YOU psyched yet? The countdown is on.

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soggy

soggy milkweed

no progress

I didn’t make any progress on Windsor’s little vest this weekend. All it needs is an i-cord belt and some garter trim around the armholes. I really, really thought it would be done by now. But I do think I’ve isolated the problem- I’m not actually knitting it… All my free time this weekend was taken up by something else.

pant pattern

As the pattern says, these are the Beanstalk Britches from Stitch Upon a Time. They’re little pants designed to fit properly over her cotton diaper bottom. If they work as well as they look like they should I can see myself making SEVERAL more pairs. They’re one-size-ish, by which I mean the pants I’m making should fit a 9-24 month old. The brilliant part of these pants is the fake pockets – which are actually giant pleats. And at the top of each there’s a range of snaps. So you can easily get the pants on over a diaper, and then snap the waist closed so it’s snug at the top and doesn’t fall off again. The pant legs have generous cuffs at the bottom that can be turned up and then adjusted as the kiddo grows.

pants in progress

The pants are really well designed with lots of good details. Top stitching on many seams makes everything look more professional as well as keeping things lying flat. The gussets are really well designed, the cuffs are brilliantly lined, the butt of the pants is formed out of several pieces of fabric to make it nice and roomy. Like I said, very well designed. I would recommend the patterns for a sewer somewhere above beginner though. There’s not a lot of hand-holding for how to make the three dimensional pieces fit together. (if you also sew you know what I mean, how on woven fabric the angles of a 3-D section are opposites – and you have to pin the straight edges and ease the corners) And my sleep deprived brain had trouble with which direction the gussets needed to be pinned before sewing the side seams…

So yeah. I slowed myself down several times on these pants. I cut out 70% of the pattern pieces from corduroy before I realized I didn’t have enough of that fabric. I started over with denim and managed to cut THREE right back pant legs and no left back pant legs. Neil had to sacrifice a second pair of jeans to my sewing-cause to find another piece of denim with matching shades of blue. Then there was all the seam ripping to fix the gussets.

I’m almost done, finally! I need to hand-sew the top edge of the turned cuffs. The pattern recommends machine sewing, but my old sewing machine doesn’t have an adjustable deck for narrow sleeve and pant cuffs. So hand sewing is really my only option. I attached the plastic snaps right before bed last night. I may be a little TOO excited that I finally own plastic snap pliers. If Neil doesn’t watch out there will be snaps on EVERYTHING in our house.

Stick season

I hope you’ve enjoyed stick season – or if you’re just tolerating it, good news, I’m done now. Stick season is wrapping up too, outside the first snowfall of the winter is drifting down out of the sky.

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I think stick season is under appreciated. Autumn foliage is gorgeous, but it flares, burns brightly, and dies out almost as quickly. The season of fall is really longer than that. It starts when the trees still look like summer and the last of the garden is being harvested. And it wraps up now (or sometime in November – usually) when the snow ushers in winter. Stick season fills as much of autumn as foliage season, and it can be just a beautiful if you look for it. Attentive mindfulness helps me to find the pretty parts of stick season. And I think that practice of mindfulness is great for a lot of things in life.

And now, I’m going to have to figure out what else to feature on wordless wednesdays. Photography is a lot harder when I’m at work during all the daylight hours…