Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Wonderland Tank

It's time for a new release!  I've been in percolation mode with Cheshire Cat yarn every since my local yarn shop started carrying it quite a while back.  More recently, they started stocking Mad Hatter, which is the sport-weight line from Frabjous Fibers.  I was all-in on the Mad Hatter because it is such a soft, smoothly spun yarn and comes in a number of rich colors.  Ravelry users seem to love it, too....the Ravelry yarn page has 71 people who have rated it, and it's got a solid 5 out of 5 stars!

So because it's such a soft yarn, I wanted to create a garment that could be worn without anything underneath.  And because I was also loving the colors in the mini-skein packs (I picked "Mice in the Tea"), I wanted to incorporate the colors from that collection.  I had been kicking around the idea for this tank top for a long time, and this yarn seemed like a good fit.

This top is based on a favorite store-bought tank top that I got maybe 10 years ago from New York & Company.  I've worn it so much that it has a few tiny holes in it from getting bitten by the washing machine.  The original shirt has a color pattern across the yoke that's made from beads, and I was thinking about using beads in my knitted version.  But once I saw the Mice in the Tea color pack, I knew that doing a bit of knit color work would approximate the design quite nicely.  Say hello to my sister who is with me in the picture on the left.  And, if you were wondering, in the photo on the right, I'm throwing an atlatl spear.  (I'm not a hunter...we were at an Amish tourist community.)  Hopefully these pictures give you a decent idea of what I was going for with this top!

Anyway, I was very happy with the way the knitted version came out as a good approximation of the well-loved store-bought shirt.  And now I won't have to gaze sadly at the store-bought shirt that I kept in the closet for once-or-twice-a-summer use (because I was afraid to wear it more than that for fear that the holes would get bigger and it would be completely unwearable!)

As luck would have it, I caught our flowering crabtree in full bloom on the day I needed to take pictures for this pattern.  We call this our daughter's "birthday tree" because, when we have "normal weather", the tree is bloomed out on her birthday.  Last spring it warmed up, then we had a week or so of cold temps that killed all the early blooms, so the tree didn't get to flower at all last spring.  And a couple years before that, we had 70º highs starting in February (not normal for Central IL), so the tree bloomed out 6 or so weeks early.  This year it was perfectly timed to her end-of-April birthday, so I'm hoping that means it will be a good year for the garden!

Anyway, back to the tank top!

This design has a lot of ease, but it's all in the front of the body.  The back is more or less fitted, which keeps the whole thing from looking like a tent.  The upper chest / shoulder area is also fitted.  What this means (if you're a lady like me who has had a few babies and is not a big fan of the fitted waist / abdomen because it clings in all the wrong places) is that this top is very comfortable to wear.  It clings in the right places (upper chest), and is very loose in the places that don't need any attention drawn to them!

This style is very flattering on people with a small-to-medium bust.  In the photos, you're looking at a 32 C/D cup size (remember, cup sizes on smaller band sizes are smaller than the same cup sizes on larger band sizes.  So while a 40D might qualify as a "large bust", a 32 D is firmly in the "small-to-medium bust" range.)  Through test knitting, we found that people with larger bust sizes might prefer to 1) go up a size from their actual high-bust measurement, 2) drop the neckline a couple inches so it cuts into the bust line rather that sitting high atop it and highlighting the large bust with a large swath of stockinette, or 3) both.  If you are a larger-busted woman who wants to give this a try, just know that specific instructions for these modifications are not included in the pattern, so I wouldn't recommend this project for large-busted knitters who are not experienced at making pattern modifications.  There is a detailed schematic though, so if you are comfortable making modifications, you should have all the information you need on the schematic to be successful.

When choosing a yarn, please keep in mind that Mad Hatter,, the yarn used for the sample, is on the heavy side of fingering.  It contains 344 yds in each 113g skein, which is the same as a 100g skein that's 304 yds or a 50g skein that's 152 yds.  To compare, I filtered yarn on Ravelry to "sport weight" and clicked on a few random 100% merino yarns.  They were listed at 328, 335, & 340 yds per 100g. So while all 3 examples are more or less within the 10% weight-to-yardage ratio I like to stick to with my own projects, they were all slightly thinner yarns.  This was a bit of an issue during testing, as I had a couple testers choose yarns that had a significantly different weight-to-yardage ratio than the Mad Hatter.  They absolutely could still get gauge, but yarn usage is going to be quite different when you're using a yarn that isn't within about 10% of that weight-to-yardage ratio.  So take a tip from the testing pros: make sure to buy extra yarn if you're going to use something that has more than 304 yards in each 100g skein!  Speaking of testers, shout out to the fantastic ladies who helped to work the kinks out of this pattern!  Icyflames, REJ, karenlwallace, & chau7 - I appreciate all the work you put into your projects and the great pattern suggestions you gave me!

Skills needed for this tank are very basic: knitting flat and in-the-round, VERY basic chart reading (pattern is written, but colorwork section is charted), VERY basic color work for about 11 rows, decreases (K2tog, modified SSK - explained in pattern), Kitchener Stitch at shoulders (you can use a 3-needle-bind-off if you're morally opposed to Kitchener), and picking up stitches around arm holes & neckline for finishing trim. That's really all there is to it!

This project would also be a perfect one to take along for summer travels since about 80% of the top is nothing but stockinette stitch in the round.  By the time you get to the colorwork, you're almost finished!

Buy now on Ravelry.  Frabjous Fibers yarns are available at a number of local yarn shops, many of which will ship orders to you!

Also, to celebrate releasing my 60th design, I'll be paying attention to my Ravelry "user activity" feed today. Every 60th person to favorite, queue, link to, comment on, create a project for, or post a photo linking to any of my patterns will receive that pattern in their Ravelry library! Feel free to share so more people can have a chance to win a free pattern today!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Da 'Burbs

We took a weekend trip to Chicago to visit a couple friends.  One is a friend I've known since we were 7.  He and I were in class together from 2nd grade until he left in 10th grade to go to a different high school.  As adults, I've remained in various places in IL where we grew up, and he relocated to LA.  Luckily, his family still lives in IL, so he visits a couple times a year and I try to make it up to see him at least every few trips he makes. 

 The second friend is a mutual friend that my husband and I met in college.  He now lives in one of the western Chicago Suburbs, so we do get to see him every once in a while, but since we were already making the trip to see the California friend, it worked out well to meet the college friend for lunch the next day.  And as a bonus, husband and I got our once-a-decade night away from the kids, since my parent's house was on the way up to Chicago and they were willing to host overnight grandkids!

Anyway, I hadn't been thinking about visiting any yarn shops on this trip, but as it turned out, we got to swing by two different places!

On Saturday, we stopped by Knit Nirvana in Forest Park, IL.  I've been looking for Malabrigo Rios yarn in the Azul Profundo colorway and having no luck finding it online, so I was hoping I might get lucky since their website listed Malabrigo as one of the brands they carry.  I struck out though.  They had a lot of nice yarns, but most of them were brands that my local yarn shop carries, so I didn't have trouble resisting the urge to bring it home with me.  They also have a super-sweet dog that was at the shop with a woman I believe is the owner.  The dog is 13 years old and very mellow...he just wants to sniff you hands, convince you to pet him, and push his head between your legs, where he hides it while you pet him!

The next day, I found plenty to buy.  String Theory Yarn Company in Glen Ellyn was a cute little shop full of lovely yarns, a few of which I was not already familiar with.

I picked up 4 skeins of Manos del Uruguay "Serena", a cotton/baby alpaca blend that I previously used when I wrote The Sweetest Thing.  It's so soft and has a beautiful halo - I can not wait to turn these skeins into a pattern for next winter!

Another yarn that I was already familiar with, but couldn't resist bringing home a couple skeins of is Dream in Color's Classy with Cashmere.  It's $30 a skein, so it's a special treat for sure, but it is worth every penny.  Gorgeous tonal colorways, super, super soft, and just an all-around scrumptious yarn to work with and to wear!  

Don't just take my word for it - Ravelry users give it a solid 5 out of 5 stars!

One of my new-to-me purchases was this "Mesa" from Classic Elite Yarns.  It is 100% cotton and really has a nice feel to it in the ball.  It's definitely not your "sugar and cream"-type craft store cotton.  I can see myself using it for a baby sweater or something else worn next to the skin, and I couldn't resist the tonal colorway.  That's usually not seen very often in cotton yarns.  I was happy to see that this yarn is also highly rated by Ravelry users!

The other new type was "Cotton Silk DK" from Sublime.  I bought small quantities of both the Mesa and the Sublime since I had no idea what I'd be using it for.  I just wanted enough to use for swatching so I could play with it and figure out if it would be right for whatever project ideas might come up in the future.  I picked a natural linen-type color, but the Cotton Silk DK had a nice array of colors to choose from.  I'm pretty sure this is a new yarn since it only has one user rating on Ravelry and only 10 people have it listed in their stash.

I rounded out my haul with a new Size 4, 40" Chiaogoo circular needle.  I have a set of Knit Picks interchangeable needles that I like quite a lot, but I have to admit, I like the feel of the one Chiaogoo needle that I own even more.  It's a size 3, which is once size smaller than my interchangeables run.  I like it so much, in fact, that I tend to knit more projects with a size 3 needle than I probably should.  My Knit Picks Size 4 needle has been used so much that the nickel coating has started to wear off on one of the needles, so I thought I'd replace that with another Chiaogoo needle (even though Knit Picks has a lifetime guarantee on needles, I just haven't gotten around to exchanging it).  If you're still working with craft-store-type needles, I could highly recommend either the Knit Picks nickel-plated or the stainless steel Chiaogoo needles with the red cables.  Both have a really nice feel to them, and I promise, once you compare them to the Boye or Takumi Clover circulars that you can buy at places like WalMart or Michaels, I think you'll have a hard time going back to your old needles!

If you do visit String Theory Yarn Company, make sure to cross the railroad tracks and go up the street about a block to the Blackberry Market.  We stopped there to grab a snack for the ride home and both of us picked treats that were delicious!  My husband got a blueberry muffin that he said was fantastic.  Because of my lactose intolerance, I can't usually eat much in the way of baked goods when I'm away from home because they so often contain butter, milk, or other dairy products like sour cream or cream cheese.  But when I asked the cashier if there were any options available that might be ok for me, he pointed out a little rack of vegan cookies.  I'm always a little suspicious of vegan baked goods because I haven't had the pleasure of tasting many that are very good, so I grabbed two different types of cookies thinking that if one was terrible, maybe the other kind would be ok.  I ate the chocolate chip cookie on the way home and it was excellent.  So good, in fact, that I polished off the other one later that evening - a chocolate chip/oatmeal/dried fruit concoction, and I think it was even better than the plain chocolate chip!  Anyway, the Blackberry Market is a little cafe that also has baked goods, packaged snacks, and a few other doo-dads like jars of jam, bags of coffee...that type of thing.   I highly recommend it for any hungry knitters!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Knitting Fails

 Last night, we were clearing furniture out of our living room.  It's finally time to replace it.  We bought the two couches we currently have in 1997 and 1998.  One of them moved with us from a small apartment to the house we live in now.  They survived the first pair of well-behaved geriatric cats that were my childhood pets and who lived until our younger child was about 3.  But a couple years later we adopted two newborn kittens that were abandoned in the bushes at our church, and we were terrible at training them to not use the furniture as scratching posts.

But they're eight years old now and the time has finally come to replace our old, but overly-used furniture.  The only thing I was sad to see go is our enormous ottoman with a lot of storage on the inside.  For years, that has been the spot I put knitting projects that make without a purpose in mind.  Going through the ottoman last night, I managed to separate things into three categories: pattern samples that I need to keep, things I could offer for sale in my Etsy shop or give as gifts, and things that need to GO because they are complete knitting fails.

Usually, I like to cover this blog in beautiful pictures of projects that you might enjoy working on.  But today, the theme is "Nicole has Bad Knitting Days, too!"  And as someone who had her first knitting lesson just about 8 1/2 years ago, those first years of questionable projects are still in the recent enough past to come back and haunt me....or make me laugh.  (Mostly, they make me laugh.)  So enjoy taking a look at the Knitting Fails I came across....and maybe you can explain to me why I didn't just get rid of these things years ago???

 Knitting Fail #1: The Whirlygig Shrug.

This comes from a pattern that actually results in an ADORABLE little sweater to go over a little girl's dress or sleeveless shirt.  By the time I made this monstrosity, I had already knit up maybe 3 or 4 of these little shrugs in a lovely bamboo yarn (Caron Naturally Spa yarn).  In my mind, I was going to take cute to new heights by using two colors of yarn to emphasize the pleats at the base of the sweater and the sleeves.  But the yarn I chose for this one (some sort of cotton disaster from Michael's) was too heavy for the needles I used, so it didn't drape nicely.  And I was new to carrying colors, so my floats were way too tight, which made the back pull together more than it should.  Blerg.

Here's a picture of what this sweet pattern should look like:

See?  It's not the pattern.  It was definitely just my terrible choice of yarn/the wrong gauge & my lack of colorwork skills!

Knitting Fail #2: Bubblemania

Next, we have a scarf that you may not immediately recognize as a knitting disaster if you didn't know what it was supposed to look like.  But if you had seen the photos from the pattern, you'd recognize that the yarn I chose for this was much heavier than what the pattern called for.  And although I could have gotten a better result if I had used appropriately-sized needles (which, obviously, I didn't), what I ended up with was a winter-weight scarf with a stitch pattern that is full of holes.  Maybe not the best possible combination.

Plus, the yarn I used here was some sort of acrylic nonsense, which does not block well when trying to show a lacy texture.  Yeah, I could probably "kill it" with an iron and get it to drape a little more, but the yarn itself is terrible and feels like itchy plastic.  I'm sure that what attracted me to it was the fact that it was a tonal colorway in a sea of solid Red Heart & Caron yarns (this was back in the day when I didn't know that there were alternatives to Michael's Craft Store!)

The good news is that I did eventually re-make this pattern in fingering-weight yarn.  The original pattern calls for lace weight, but I upped my needle size and came out with a project that I loved and wear regularly!

 Knitting Fail #3: Evil Sock Monkey

This little patch wasn't so much "knitting gone wrong" as "I'm not sure what I want here".  I had had a number of requests to design a child's sweater that would go with the sock monkey hat pattern I already had published.  I'm not really one for super-kitchy style, so it took me a while to figure out how to do a sock monkey sweater without making it over-the-top.  I decided on a raglan sweater that had a layered look to the sleeves that would just have a little sock monkey face in the middle of the chest.  Personally, I was all for knitting the sweater in one color, then double-stitching that face right on.  But I wasn't sure if other people would love the double-stitching as much as I did.  So I came up with a pattern that gave people a choice: either double-stitch the face on, or knit a little intarsia square that has the face knit into it, then sew the square on to the sweater.

 In the end, I could have probably just saved myself the trouble because as I look at the project pages posted on Ravelry, only one sweater posted used the intarsia square.  The rest of the sweaters have adorable little faces double-stitched right in the center of them!

<---  See?  Double-stitched face is MUCH cuter than evil intarsia monkey face!

Knitting Fail #4: Felted to Death Bag

My husband pulled this out of my "pitch it pile" and wanted to to know why this bag was a knitting fail.  The bag itself is fine.  It's nothing fantastic, and I don't know what I would use it for, but it just doesn't really float my boat.  But the handles that I felted along with it are terrible.  They are puffy, round, the wrong length for putting over your shoulder, and super uncomfortable.  I love a big bag with a nice handles that will stay on your shoulder.  I do not love a mis-shapen "blah" felted bag with puffy handles.

I have no idea why I made this bag.  I'm thinking it must have been a pre-cursor to my Knit Purl project bag....maybe I was trying to get the shaping right?  Or maybe I didn't know what I wanted to do with the handles yet?  Whatever it was, it was a dark day for knitting.

Knitting Fail #5:

This one fall into the category of "on the right track, but didn't quite get there".  I was figuring out the Sadie Baby Dress design.  A friend of mine has a daughter named Sadie, who was 2 or 3 at the time.  This friend was the person who taught me to knit.  She had asked me if I would let her pay me to make a dress for her daughter (ironically, the friend who taught me how to knit didn't really knit herself.  She knows the basics, but I quickly took off from there, and she knew I was just starting to design at this point.)  So I took her up on it.  She described the type of simple, empire-waist dress she had in mind, and I made a sketch to show her what I was planning.  Once the idea was on paper, I set to work trying to create it with sticks & string.

I went with a dolman sleeve for it's ease & simplicity, and decided to start at the waist because I thought it would be nice, on such a small project, to be able to complete the bodice first (the part where you actually have to pay attention and do things), then have the super-easy skirt as the final part.  More importantly, it would allow people who don't want to buy extra yarn to just knit that skirt until they run out, and the dress could just be whatever length it was.  (Another thought at the back of my mind was that if people wanted to make a knit bodice to sew a fabric skirt to, they could use this pattern for that type of project as well.)

Well, not everyone was excited about that design choice.  Project pages for this dress are full of comments like "why isn't this a bottom-up design?" and "so unnecessarily complicated!"  I don't worry about it too much because, in my past life as a teacher,  I quickly learned long ago that you can't please everyone.  (And also, what's so hard about just knitting it as a bottom-up design if that's what you really want to do?  What's with the complaining?)   But I mention this because sometimes I knit patterns from other designers and think, "Now why did she choose this construction?"  "Why did he use this type of increase rather than this other type of increase that I prefer?"  "Why does she want me to bind off on the WS rather than the RS?"  But I usually stick with the instructions and find out a little farther down the line that there was a reason the pattern was written the way it was.  After all, I buy patterns because I don't want to have to go through the figuring out, the trial & error, and everything that goes into creating a pattern from scratch.  So I'd be silly to abandon that ship and decide that I know better than the person who spent all that time creating the pattern I'm knitting!

So this first little bodice wasn't so much a knitting disaster as a first step on the path to creating a pretty cute little baby dress.   The owner of my LYS will watch me rip something back for the 5th time and just laugh.  She knows I'm a quick knitter and am always willing to just redo something if it's not coming out right, but it still makes her cringe to see me destroy work that will take hours to fix.  But that's what you have to be willing to do if you want to create new patterns.  Since Sadie was an early pattern for me, I might have re-knit that bodice 10 times before I had it exactly right.  But that was what I need to do in order to learn.  It's no coincidence that my earlier patterns are mostly children's clothes - it often took a few tries to get each garment just how I wanted it, so I knew I would be able to better manage my time if learned my craft on children's garments rather than adult-size.  I'm thankful that I can do most of the design work with swatches & a calculator now, but when I'm doing something that uses a new construction, I might still knit more than one sample, just to tweak things a little bit.  I'm currently working on a shawl that I knit twice because I wasn't sure if I wanted it to be worked side-to-side or as a separate border with picked-up stitches that create a short-row shawl.  Once I could compare them side-by-side, the second way won out (with some help from fans of my Facebook business page!) and I'll be re-knitting the sample for a third time to create the shawl I will actually be using for my pattern photos.  It's all part of the gig....good thing I really enjoy knitting!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

New Release: End of the Day Ottoman

Have you ever considered knitting your own furniture?  I was peripherally aware of the "pouf" trend that was going on, mostly because one of my LYS owners was knitting one last fall.   Poufs have their place, kind of like the beanbag chair of yore.  But for my money, if something is going to be out in a living area of my house, I want it to look a little more tailored.  And I want it to be multi-functional.   A pouf can be fun for a little kid to lay in while watching tv, but it doesn't offer much support when you want to use it as a footstool.  I want to be able to pull it up as an extra seat when we have visitors.  I want to be able to sit on the floor and use it as a table for my laptop.  I want to be able to put a tray of drinks on it and know they won't tip over and spill.  

So with those things in mind, the "End of the Day Ottoman" was born!

 Since this is a big project, I wanted to keep it pretty simple.  And I wanted it to be portable for at least most of the time it is being knit.  That's why this is constructed in three pieces: a top, a bottom, and a long rectangle that wraps all around the sides.  Seaming is very simple - attaching each circle to the long side rectangle (each circle is 75" in circumference) took me less than an hour.  I include step-by-step instructions with accompanying photos to explain how to seam using a slip-stitch crochet chain, but if you're staunchly anti-crochet, a knit alternative is also provided.

Continuing with the theme of simplicity, the only stitch used is the knit stitch.  The stockinette circles are knit in the round and the garter stitch rectangle is knit flat.  (A lifted-leg increase is also used to create the circular pieces.)

Here's a close-up of the joining seam.  It gives the ottoman a nice, finished look where the pieces meet.

Nervous about what's inside the knitted façade?  Don't be.  If you don't have an unnatural fear of packing tape, you can do this.  No tools are necessary - just the ability to tape stuff together and shove it into the shell of knit fabric.  The interior is based on this brilliant ottoman design that was posted on-line in a million different spots (so sorry - I don't know where the post originated, so I don't know how to credit the original poster.  I can, however, thank Kelly, who made me aware of the idea!)  Anyway, all the materials are readily available at your typical craft, home improvement & grocery stores, and you might be able to find some of them in your recycling bin or bucket of old rags!

This pattern was written for Knit Picks Wool of the Andes Bulky for 3 main reasons:

1) It's a long-wearing workhorse yarn that can take some abuse and still look good.

2) Knit Picks currently offers this yarn in 25 different colors, so one of them is sure to match every decor.

3) It's economically priced.  For a project like this that uses 16-17 skeins of yarn, being able to buy each one for $5 makes this project within reach for many knitters.

Because my family is currently in the process of replacing furniture that has been shredded by cats who took an exceptionally long time to give up their habit of sharpening claws in inappropriate places, I recruited a friend to let me take pattern photos at her house.  She even modeled for me, even though we had just come back from ice skating.  Her kindness, and the fact that I couldn't possibly continue to keep every project that I knit without auditioning for "Hoarders", meant that the ottoman gets to live at her house now.  She said that as soon as her young daughters saw it, they backed it up to the wall, put pillows along the back of it and christened it their "reading chair".  I bet it's just the right size for them!

If you could use a new footstool, an extra seat for guests, a place to sit down in your bedroom or near a door when you want to put on socks or shoes, or a comfy new place for your cat to sleep, download the pattern and get started today!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

How YOU doin'?

Are you having a good February?  Things have been going very well for me ever since the beginning of the year, right up to last Friday night.  I was so exhausted that I went to bed at 6:30 in the evening.  I shouldn't have been surprised when I woke up on Saturday morning with the plague.  I went in Monday for a strep culture and it was negative, so I've just been laying low, waiting for this virus to run its course.  

I'm working on a knitting project (of course!), but since I haven't gotten to the fun part of it yet, I thought I'd just post a little bit about what I've been up to over the past couple weeks.  That will be way more fun!

We got some damaged ceilings fixed, so that was exciting for us!  (And my pattern sales continue to help fund our home improvements, so I say "thank you!" if you contributed to this ceiling repair!)  Our house has plaster board walls - kind of a weird drywall/plaster hybrid.  It's plaster (trying to repair it with dry wall mud looks super bad), but it doesn't have the wood slats behind it, just a solid board (that's the drywall-esque part of this situation.)  From what I've learned from the guys at the local Ace Hardware, many post WW II homes in this area used plaster board, but then after the 50s, it wasn't really used anymore.  So, we're just lucky I guess.  Last year we had some roof troubles and by the time we replaced the roof, we had ceiling damage in 5 different rooms.  You can imagine how happy I am to finally have all these spots plastered over.  Now if I could just get the painting fairy to visit me....

  I bought a whole cart full of cheap soda.  I needed pop bottles to serve as the innards for a knitted ottoman that I constructed.  I had been playing around with different construction ideas and the best I came up with was a circle of wood, a plastic milk crate and towels/stuffing to fill out the sides.  It was fine - not fantastic, but ok.  I posted a picture of it on my Facebook business page and soon received a Pinterest message from Kelly, a fellow knitter who has shared wonderful ideas with me a number of times.    This is the link she sent.  Brilliant, right?  It was the lightweight construction I was looking for (although I decided to keep the disk of wood instead of using cardboard like in the link), but with all those bottles supporting the weight, I knew it would still be sturdy.  And the thing that made it superior to my wood & milk crate idea was that the inside structure was already curved and wouldn't have any droopy stuffing or towels crammed in there to fill out the sides.  (That was what made my first attempt just "fine", it was difficult to fill out the sides without them being lumpy.)  

When I visited the grocery store, my plan was to buy the cheapest bottled beverage I could find.  We don't buy 2-liters at our house unless we're having a party, so I knew whatever I bought was just going down the drain.  Big K soda (the generic Kroger brand) was on sale 4/$3, so it cost me $15 to buy the 20 bottles I needed.  It was SuperBowl weekend when I bought the pop, so I didn't want to be a jerk and buy the flavor I thought people might actually want to buy.  So I looked for the grossest flavor I could find and bought every bottle.  Pineapple Passion Fruit fit the bill.  And since they didn't have quite enough of that flavor on hand, I also dipped into the Peach soda.  I'm sure the store inventory had a moment of confusion when he realized both of those nasty flavors had flown off the shelf that day!

Speaking of this knit ottoman, get ready to use your crochet hook.   It's the method I decided on to seam this puppy, and let me tell you - it is far faster & easier than any knitted join I could have done.  The ottoman is about 75" in circumference and it took me about an hour to work a slip stitch chain around the top edge, and another hour for the seam around the bottom edge.  Super easy, and it leaves a nice looking seam!

What else.....?  I got new glasses.  I've had my old frames for about 8 years now.  I've been trying to replace them for the past couple years, but the trend was either rectangular frames or enormous Zooey Deschenel frames, which just remind me of being an awkward 12-year-old.  So apparently 8 years is the length of time it takes for glasses frame shapes to come back in style, because when I looked at the new collection of frames after the first of the year, there were a lot of oval-y choices.     So now I have these new brown frames.  And, because I apparently have a weird emotional attachment to my black oval frames, I got the lenses replaced in those, too.  

On the knitting front, I've been playing with color.  My LYS has started carrying yarns from Wonderland Yarns.  They do these lovely color packs, and I found one I absolutely loved.  The colors in this photo are a little real life they're much more jewel-toned.

Anyhoo....this colorwork will be incorporated into the project I'm working on now, so stay tuned for new developments!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Gleener Giveaway!

My February pattern, a cowl called "Crush on You" has just been released, which means it's time to give away The Gleener!

Check out the video below for a demonstration on how to use this fantastic tool, a little Q & A about it, and the drawing for the winner!

Thanks so much to all who entered and to everyone who reads my blog and supports my pattern business.  And congratulations to the winner....I don't want to spoil the surprise by putting the winner's name here, I'll let her be surprised when she hears her name on the video!  :)

Crush On You

Just before Christmas, I was looking through my closet thinking, "I don't really have anything "Christmas-y" to wear to church on Christmas Eve.  But I do not want to go shopping."

What's a knitter to do?  Pick up some red yarn and come up with an accessory that can instantly turn any outfit into a Christmas outfit!

Now that it's two months later and the pattern is test knit and ready to publish, I realize that this cowl is just as appropriate for February, the month of Valentine's Day and celebrating love.  In honor of that, we're calling this cowl "Crush On You"!

The pattern is written for the smaller size (Top picture.)  The larger size (middle picture) was my first draft, and while it was perfectly lovely - and the cowl that I sported to all my Christmas gatherings - it just wasn't the size I had intended for this project.  If you prefer it though, the only think that needs to change is the cast-on number (and you'll need about 150 more yards of yarn).  Find details on my project page here. 

This cowl pattern looks lovely when paired with a solid, semi-solid, or tonal yarn.  The stitch pattern is small enough to be memorized, but has enough going on to keep things interesting.  The border stitches are made more plush by using "knit one in the row below" stitches.  A demonstration video is linked in the pattern for anyone who is not familiar with this easy-to-learn technique.

The groundhog just saw his shadow, which means there's at least 6 more weeks of start this quick-knit now and enjoy a new pop of color in your winter wardrobe!  Click this link if you'd like to purchase this pattern through the Ravelry website.

Thanks to all who entered my "Gleener Giveaway"!  If you would like to hear the answers to the questions asked in the comments thread, see a little live demonstration, or find out who the Gleener winner is, stay tuned to the blog!  This morning I am busy running my kids to school and going to the gym, but I hope to get a short video made after I get back and it should be uploaded to the blog by later this afternoon!