Category Archives: Uncategorized

It’s beginning

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas around here!

2015 tree

This year’s frazier fir came from our local llama and tree farm (as always). It’s a bit shorter than what we’re used to because we had to trim up the stump to make it level once we got it home. I was in charge of cutting down the tree this year, and apparently I could use the practice!

The ornament collection has been sorted, so that only toddler-friendly items are on the tree. She loves to hang them up, take them off, and hang them up again.

ornaments

And yes, that IS a needle felted sheep on my tree. Why would you even need to ask?

The weekends have lots of fun activities like baking Christmas cookies. Toddlers are really good at crushing candy canes:

breaking candy canes

She also loved dipping the rolled up balls of dough in the crushed candy canes, and smushing them onto the cookie sheet!

And we even managed a family photo, although we had about 45 seconds of cute snuggles before the toddler made a break for that interesting, moving, whirring camera on that stand over there (I took these with the remote control)

family christmas

break for it

I hope that where ever you live, and whatever your beliefs, you take a moment this month to slow down, enjoy your loved ones, give thanks for what you have, and give help to those who need it. I don’t often get political here, but I just want to implore everyone to remember that love and kindness toward our fellow humans would go a long way toward solving our problems.

Meristem

Remember waaay back in August when I was knitting a second of my Meristem pattern? I probably finished the knitting in September? I don’t remember exactly. I even got the ends woven in. But then is sat. And sat and sat and sat. I really don’t know why it sat for MONTHS waiting for me to sew the shoulder seams. When I finally got around to it, it took about 10 minutes.

meristem yoke

Rather crazily, over those months, I dropped a garment size. And I’d been knitting this vest with positive ease already. What to do? Instead of giving up on it, I decided to block the crap out of it and see what I could do. Instead of blocking it flat I blocked it by hanging it upside down – the goal was to stretch out the body. Essentially I blocked it to throw the row to stitch ratio all off and make the garment longer and narrower.

meristem side

And it worked! Well, pretty much. This vest is still a bit loose at the edges. Mostly the underarms, but honestly also the garter stitch hem is mis-sized compared to the body now.

meristem whole

Not too much, but if you’re looking you can see it.

Luckily somewhere over the fall I decided I needed more sweater dresses. So adding this one to my collection is a pleasant surprise.

meristem back

The biggest problem is the static. The trim is handspun, but the body is silky wool – and apparently this fiber blend is static-prone? I didn’t know, until now. And the dress could probably benefit a LOT from a slip (especially over my microfiber leggings) except that my slip is too long.

meristem perched

But still, I finished this weeks ago. But it was late fall, or early winter, and I couldn’t take photos because it was dark. Until this week I finally took my camera with me to work. And the remote, the sweater dress, and I, we had a little photo shoot in the freezing fog.

meristem fog

I’m so glad to finally be able to share! Obviously, there have been some (ahem) changes to the pattern. The two color yoke is the biggest, and I love it. The length is different, but if I were doing this again I’d actually add rows, not just block it all wonky. Details, detail…

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The weather has been TOO weird this month. We’ve had no snow, very little cold, and some really weird freezing fog.

foggy rosehip

I’m not complaining, because we’re putting in a new leachfiled* soon. And it’s not the sort of thing you choose to do in the middle of winter, unless you can’t avoid it. Since our current system is TOO old it is on the way out, and we can’t avoid it. But if the snow holds off so we don’t have to dig through it – that’d be really nice.

Maybe you’ve noticed, or maybe the world is TOO crazy, and you haven’t. But I’ve been a bit withdrawn. I’ve been spending less time on social media; even less time on Ravelry. Windsor has been very TWO these days. And with sleep issues, and learning how to use the word no, and all the joys and struggles that go with a toddler – my evenings have been consumed.

foggy cedar

But it’s not just the TWO year old. I’ve been spending TOO much time cleaning, packing, and trying to keep this house real-estate ready. Moving sucks. It’s stressful and emotional and time consuming, and slow. TOO MUCH.

And since the world has been TOO crazy it has felt pretty good to pull back, to focus on what is needed, and let the rest slide on by. I hope you don’t mind. I’m still here, just taking things at a slower pace, so I don’t put TOO much of myself into anything I can’t sustain.

foggy weed

To that end, the December Knit-Along for my book is going to be postponed. I haven’t had a lot of interesting and I’ve had even less time. I am shifting gears, downshifting, we’ll do chapter knit-alongs every other month. The Periwinkle Sheep fans are looking forward to January’s sweater already. And we’ll come back to December next year, so no loss – we’re just spreading out the book love so it’ll last longer.

So for the rest of the month I’m paring back. I will post when I have knitting to share, but not TOO much. No stress. I hope you’ll be kind to yourself as well. Take this holiday season to slow down, calm down, share some love, donate to charity, whatever it is that makes you happy. There’s TOO much anger and stress out there. Everybody breath. Take in the fog.

foggy seedhead

Our path will come clear, eventually.

*a leachfield is where all the household waste water goes, when you live in a rural place, like most of Vermont…

GAL selfish knitting

I knew I wanted to do a little knitting for myself this month, but I didn’t know what. That’s pretty weird since I’m usually a product knitter. But I knew it needed to be quick and I didn’t have my eye on a specific accessory.

Instead I picked out a special skein of handspun I’d been gifted. Shannon at Spun Monkey provided yarn support for my book. Except she sent not one but two lovely skeins of bulky weight handspun! Usually I would try to design something with the second to honor her generosity. But since she’s not selling handspun right now I decided to find the perfect pattern for this variegated yarn. (check out her blog linked above anyway. She’s moved on to some fun new projects and if you like what I’m doing here you’ll love her new blog too!)

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This is the slip stitch beanie by Sarah Cooke. It’s an amazing gift project because it knits up fast and looks SO PRETTY in multicolored handspun or solid colored commercial yarn. It uses under 100yds of bulky yarn and with the slip stitch pattern it is perfect for blending and mixing the colors of the yarn.

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I love how squishy the hat is. The fabric is dense and cozy and warm. And I think this pattern would be perfect for any soft yarn with so many gorgeous colors that you might have trouble with it overwhelming the pattern.

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Searchable giftalong

One of the absolute best things about the gift along this year is the searchable bundle.

No, wait, that’s not right. The BEST thing about the gift along is the fabulous people participating, the wonderful designers, the entertaining games, the amazing prize list.

So, do you want to participate? You just need to choose an eligible pattern and dive in! Ok, and THAT is where the searchable bundle comes in. If you look at that page you’ll see that with 335 designers we have over 300,000 eligible patterns. But instead of having to sort or scan, or just look at your favorites list and guess you can use the powerful Ravelry search feature!

Want to knit a hat with a single skein of bulky yarn? You can sort for that:

gal hats

No, instead let’s consider something big, really big, epic. Maybe a lacey square or a circular shawl?

gal giant shawls

Or my favorite, cabled sweaters:

gal sweaters

If you’ve never played with the Ravelry search now is a great time to test it. You can filter for patterns already in your library, patterns you’ve favorited, or patterns your friend has favorited – if you’re knitting a gift for someone else! You can choose a yarn and search for patterns that will work or look at all adult cardigans and then see what you already have the pattern for. Frequently when I’m looking on other websites I WISH for a search engine this customizable. It’s awesome.

GAL FO2

Here’s my second finished gift-along project of the season! It’s the Laura cowl by Jennifer Dassau.

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This is a snug little cowl perfect for wearing under your coat collar and keeping the wind out.

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It’s also perfect for using up small amounts of magical yarn. This one took just two skeins of Road to China aran weight. The yarn is an amazing blend (65% Baby Alpaca, 15% Silk, 10% Camel, 10% Cashmere) and I only had 150 yards in this color. I think my cowl is a tad longer than the pattern calls for because I just kept knitting until I ran out of yarn.

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I highly recommend both the yarn and the pattern. I love them as a combo too, since I got the yarn from last winter’s retreat and I met Jennifer there too!

Next up I’m knitting this slip stitch beanie. And the pattern is really doing brilliant things with my colorful and variegated yarn. I might need to try this stitch pattern again with other yarns…

Unexpected Cables

Unexpected Cables
Unexpected Cables: Feminine Knitted Garments Featuring Modern Cable Knitting
By Heather Zoppetti Interweave/F+W; $24.99
Heather Zoppetti is a knitwear designer, instructor, and author of Everyday Lace (Interweave, 2014). Her patterns have been published in many Interweave publications such as Knits, Knitscene, and Jane Austen Knits, and by yarn companies such as Manos del Uruguay, Baah Yarns, The Alpaca Yarn Company, Reywa Fibers, and Universal Yarns. She is also the owner and founder of Stitch Sprouts, a company dedicated to helping your stitches grow. Heather lives and teaches in Lancaster, PA, and be found at http://www.hzoppettidesigns.com and http://www.stitchsprouts.com.

I received a copy of Unexpected Cables by my good friend Heather in the mail a couple weeks ago. It’s such a pretty book I’ve been waiting and waiting for a chance to share it with you!

Cables cover

As you’re well aware, I love cables. Love love love them. So this book grabbed me right from the start. Heather does such unique and pretty things with cables. She makes things I would never think of and would love a chance to try. And that’s what is awesome about knitting – there’s always something new.

cables and lace

And this book is full of more than a few new somethings. I love this whole chapter on lace and cables. Lace is the hardest element for me to design with, but Heather makes her ideas look easy and natural.

I’ve got an interview with Heather to share today, and her lovely publishers have given me permission to share some details from one of my favorite patterns too!

Design time
1. How did you first get started designing?
I first started designing how so many other designers start…just by changing other patterns. Eventually I felt confident that I could create patterns on my own.

2. Where do you find inspiration for your designs?
I find inspiration everywhere. Sometimes it might be just a color or a tile pattern I see out and about. Other times a specific stitch pattern might call to me. I try to be observant and always on the lookout for ideas no matter where I am. To this end, I find it’s important to always carry a notebook with me so that I can jot ideas down.

3. How does designing fit in with the rest of your life? Is it a full time job, part time job, or other? If you do a different job full time, is designing at all related?
I’d call knitwear design my part-time job. My full time job is running Stitch Sprouts. For whatever reason I still feel guilty spending a whole day knitting, even if it’s for a deadline. So pulling orders, updating the website, editing, and other computer work is what occupies my workday. Luckily everything I do is yarn related in some way which makes work feel less like work.

4. Publishing a book is very exciting! Do you know what’s next for your design line?
Books are very exciting, and rewarding, as I’m sure you know having just published one yourself! Next I’m choosing to focus on expanding the pattern support for Stitch Sprouts. I’ll be developing some pamphlets, patterns, and also more class kits. Of course, I also have another book idea simmering…so that could happen too!

Downtime
1. When/If you’re going to knit just for fun what do you look for in a pattern?
I don’t really get to knit much for fun anymore. But when I do, it’s usually socks. I love making and wearing hand knit socks. For these I like to choose wild and fun yarns and just do a plain vanilla pattern to let the yarn be the star. Other patterns I might make end up being quick and easy things intended as gifts.

2. Who is your favorite designer? (or favorite pattern, if that’s easier)
Hmm, that’s a hard question. I really do love and appreciate so many designers. Right now I’m loving everything that Jared Flood is doing. Yarn, patterns, and collections, I love it all. He has an understated elegance that is both classic and modern.

3. What do you do to relax?
I like to get lost in a good story, so when I’m not knitting, reading is at the top of my list. In fact, I’ve even learned to read while knitting! Besides knitting, I enjoy other fiber arts such as spinning, and crochet and like to use these as relaxing non-work activities.


Finally, let’s explore the Stevens Vest, I love the look of circle sweaters and I have to agree with Heather that they seem to work for all body types! But rather than me rambling on some more, let’s hear from Heather:

Unexpected Cables - Stevens Vest back

Circle sweaters flatter all body types, and Stevens is no exception. This circle vest begins in the center with a shawl cast-on, which grows into a large flower medallion. Its edge features a reversible cable so there is no wrong side when the collar is folded over.

FINISHED SIZE
Back Width: About 16¾ (17¼, 18, 18¼, 19, 19¾)” (42.5 [44, 45.5, 46.5, 48.5, 50] cm). Vest shown measures 16¾” (42.5 cm).

Unexpected Cables - Stevens Vest collar

Making Reversible Cables
Cabling, while beautiful, is typically only shown on one side of the fabric. This works for most applications, however, occasionally you want to see cabling on both sides.

The cable is only viewable in the knit stitches while the purl stitches hide the crossing. To combat this, the easiest fix is to work the cable in rib. This way knit stitches are on both sides of the fabric and so we can see the crossing on both sides as well.

The cables on the outer rim of Stevens utilize these ribbed cables so when folded over at the collar, there is no wrong side.

Unexpected Cables - Stevens Vest front.jpg


(Please note that I did receive this book free for review purposes. However my opinions are my own, I won’t review something I don’t truly enjoy and think that you will like.)

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

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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?

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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:

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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)

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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:

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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:

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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?

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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!

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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.

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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!