Sunday, December 30, 2012

May I Pick Your Brain?

Brilliant knitters, I need your help!

I have two patterns-in-progress that use double knitting.  To help knitters who are new to the technique, I posted a couple tutorial videos.  I wasn't sure what to label the cast-on video, because I don't know the "real name" of this cast-on. 

If you recognize the cast-on used in the following video, can you please post the name of it in the comments?  I will be so thankful for your help!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Handmade Christmas

 My favorite part of the Christmas gift exchange is the "handmade gift exchange" that my mom, sister and I have been doing for about 4 years now.  Each year we invite the rest of the family to participate, but they always decline.  Chickens.

So it's not a surprise at all when it comes to who is making your gift, but it's also not a surprise who you're supposed to make for this year.  Since there's only 3 of us, we just make a gift for the person we didn't make one for last year. 

This year, my mom made me a fabulous arrangement using succulents and crazy squiggly branches.  I'll have to find a place to put this where the cats won't knock it down and destroy it.  Can you believe that the cacti are fake?  I was totally fooled.

For my sister's gift, I knitted her a bag to haul her knitting projects around in.  She liked the one I made for myself a few years ago, so I thought she might like having one of her own.  Now we'll just have to be careful not to accidentally switch knitting bags when we're visiting our parents' house.  
Finally, my sister sewed these little throw pillows for my mom.  We're a big scrabble family, so she made pillows that spelled out the word "HOME" (not "HO", as this picture suggests.)  She can also spell out things like "Oh, me!", ""HOE", or "MOE", depending on her mood.

We've had a full day here, so it's time for a little relaxing.  I'm looking forward to enjoying some time off with my kids!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Polyrhythmic Sweater

 Ten days after I cast on, I'm wearing my new sweater!  Between the bright colors, the varied textures of the sweater, and getting to use a new yarn, this was a fun knit for me.

I was inspired to do stripes by one of the testers who is working on my Leap of Faith pattern right now.  She is doing her cardigan in alternating lime green and darker green stripes.  Also, when I was drooling over this new Good For Ewe sock yarn at my LYS, I was having a hard time deciding between these two colors.  Then it occurred to me that I might be a bit bored doing an adult sweater in just one solid color, and so, this idea just kind of easily came together.

It might be a little hard to tell unless you click on the picture to enlarge it, but this sweater is not entirely stockinette.  In fact, every third stripe is done in reverse stockinette (so it looks bumpy instead of smooth.)  The combination of the texture and the color stripes reminded me of that thing in music where you have a "two against three" thing going on.  If this sweater was music, it would look like this:

[I totally stole that little diagram from the "Polyrhythm" page of Wikipedia.  So here's the link back to the page in case you want to check out the original source.]
The color stripes alternated every other row (like the eighth notes in the bass) and the texture stripes exist in a "3 pattern".  I couldn't remember what this was called in music until I did a little Googling.  But thank goodness for the internet - I never could have come up with "polyrhythm" just from memory!

And so, the Polyrhythmic Sweater has been born, made, and is soon to be written into a pattern.  I believe that the Good For Ewe yarn I used is a relatively new yarn line, based just down the road in Indianapolis, Indiana.  I don't think there are many patterns published yet that use it as one of the recommended yarns, so I'm happy to be able to support a fellow Midwestern lady who is trying to do her thing!

Anyway, I was 99% happy with the way this sweater came out, but I'll be making one minor change when I write the pattern (and will do a small re-knit to fix this in my sample)...see how the sleeve cuff ribbing starts a few rows into the last purple stripe?  I think it needs to start as soon as you change to the color of the cuff stripe.  No big deal, and it'll only take me an hour or so to fix it.  But in the meantime, I'll enjoy wearing this cozy sweater over the holidays!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Knitting Champ, Household Slacker

This week, I've been hard at work.  Well, I guess it depends what sort of work you're talking about.  I have been failing at the housewife one starved, and no one went to school in dirty underwear, but I didn't do any of this:
And I certainly didn't do any of this.
Luckily, I'm one of those moms that doesn't think they need to raise their kids on a pedestal that's too high to climb down from when it comes time to pitch in around the house.  My son is often on dishwasher duty (with help from Dad), and both the kids help out folding & putting away the laundry.  (I'm almost ready to teach them how to actually wash the laundry, but for now, well, I'm just not quite to the point where I think they'll retain everything they need to know for my clothes to continue to fit me.)  

Just so the kids didn't feel totally neglected, I did do this with them:
And we even decorated the sugar cookies together the night before we brought a tray of them to our first family Christmas gathering of the season.  My daughter's cookies and mine looked quite lovely.  My 12-year-old son still likes to see how high he can spread the frosting and go for the world's record for number of sprinkles adhered to a single cookie.  I am pretty sure he blew away all previous records.

But by Wednesday afternoon, I had the body of a new sweater done.  It's made out of the lovely Good for Ewe sock yarn on #2 needles, and probably took me somewhere in the 12-15 hour range to get this far on it.  Yeah, sweaters made of sock yarn do take a little longer to knit, but not that much longer.  And I love the look of them!

Over the past 3 days I've gotten the first sleeve finished and started on the second.  The first one ended up just a hair tight on the lower arm, so I'm going to space the decreases just a little farther apart for my second sleeve.  This means I'll end up redoing the first sleeve (and hopefully that's all I'll have to redo!) but it'll be worth it to have a perfect sweater in the end!

I can already tell from just trying it on mid-knit, that it's going to be a thin but very warm sweater.  Perfect for the Illinois winter that is about to start any minute!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Good for Ewe!

My husband called me this morning to see how my day was going so far.  I told him things were going well, but what he heard was "I'm super happy because I've done nothing except knit on the sweater I started yesterday from the second I got home from taking the kids to school."  And darn it, he was right.

It's not a secret that I love the designing & creating part of this job way more than the "sit down, do math, and write up the patterns" part of the job.  Unfortunately I haven't figured out a way for the patterns to write themselves yet, so I do eventually get around to that part.  But whenever possible, I tend to get lost in the next knitting project.  I'm going to have to get better at resisting that!

But in the meantime, I have something exciting to share.  It's a new sweater happening from new yarn.  I'm feeling a little like a jerk for showing this one off because I don't think that this yarn is available yet on-line, but if you are interested in giving it a try, she does sell it in a number of yarn shops across the US.
I was very interested in a new yarn line that my LYS rolled out during their first anniversary celebration in mid-November.  I loved the colors of the yarn they had in stock, and I was intrigued by the fiber blend of "Sultry Steps", the sock yarn I picked up: 40% merino, 40% baby llama, and 20% nylon.  I've read that llama is hypoallergenic, which I'm really hoping makes this a fairly non-itchy yarn because I've been having trouble wearing anything remotely itchy lately.

I was really impressed as I started knitting up this sweater.  The yarn feels very squishy and fairly soft.  My swatch softened up even more after washing, so I'm very hopeful.  This yarn also has random little white hairs that don't absorb the dye, which gives it not so much a "halo" as just a little added "fuzziness".   Kind of like if you had a cat sitting on your lap while you were knitting and accidentally knitted a bunch of its hair into your sweater.  Only classier.  If you click on the sweater picture, you can probably see a few of them sticking out. 

So far, so good.  I'm hoping I can get this sweater done before Christmas.  Considering I've worked up 8 inches of the body in less than 24 hours, I think I've probably got plenty of time.  Not bad for a sweater made out of fingering-weight yarn on US #2 needles!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

More Harry Potter

I've been having a double-knitting party over here for the past week.  First, I worked on the belt for my new girls' sweater, and now I'm working on this Christmas gift.  It's for my 7-year-old niece, so hopefully my sister will make sure that this website is not left up on her computer where small people might be closely lurking!

Anyway, this is a pretty simple double-knit scarf.  The sides are just reversed colors, so one side is mostly gold with maroon stripes & a maroon Gryffindor lion, and the other side is maroon with the same accent designs done in gold.  The idea for the checkers at the bottom and the chart for the lion was taken from Ann Kingston's Harry Potter Bookscarves, and I just kind of estimated everything else as I went along.  A scarf's length is supposed to be about the same as your height, and my niece is probably a smidge over 4' tall, so that was my goal length.

I'm about two-thirds of the way done now.  I spent an hour this morning trying to chart a design for the other end.  I worked on a picture of the "sorting hat", tried out a Harry Potter logo, and thought about possibly doing either the barn owl, a magic wand, or a cauldron, but nothing looked terribly great.  The problem is mostly that I'm working on a width of only 15 stitches, which doesn't leave a lot of room for designs to have very much detail, and all my charts just turned out like oddly-shaped blobs.  So I think I'm just going to go with a monogram on the opposite end.  I am taking the general shape of the letters from the charts in Mandy Chronister's  "Potter Alphabet Chart", but I'm modifying them to be slightly longer and not as wide so they'll fit sideways in about the same amount of room as the lion takes up.  It should work fine, and what kid doesn't like something that was personalized just for them? 

Since I've borrowed most of the interesting elements for this scarf from other sources, I won't be making a pattern for it, but if you would like to recreate it, you can download the charts from the two sources I linked to, and know that my scarf is 34 sts wide (so, 17 sts for each color) which, on worsted weight yarn, gives me a width of about 4.5".

If you're not well-versed in double-knitting, never fear!  I just recorded two videos today which show you how to do a 2-stranded cast-on and how to work the stitches for stockinette stitch double knitting.  My goal is to have them posted in the next couple days, which would still give you plenty of time to make this scarf for the Harry Potter lover in your life!

Monday, December 3, 2012

When is an inch not an inch?

So you're knitting along in a pattern and it tells you to:

"knit in pattern until work measures 10" from CO edge".

You go along your merry way, keeping the stitch pattern even, not increasing or decreasing and work until you whip out your ruler and see that your work now measures the aforementioned 10".  So you're ready for the next step, right?


(You knew it couldn't be that easy, right?)

Disclaimer: There are two instances where it really is fine to go by the measurement on the ruler.
1) You're working on something that doesn't need to be an exact size like a scarf, a throw pillow, or a stuffed toy.
2) You're working with a yarn that is the exact same size before and after washing and blocking.  I hear such a thing exists, though I can't remember the last time I noticed that my yarn didn't change size at all after blocking.

But back to the main idea here: you do not want to go with the measurement on the ruler because you are working with pre-blocked yarn.

Remember when you made that nice big gauge swatch, washed it and let it dry (in the manner in which you will eventually let this cherished garment dry?)  Afterward, you measured the number of stitches in a 4" span, then you measured the number of rows in a 4" span (and you took those measurements in a couple different spots, away from the edges so the stitch sizes weren't distorted.  Then you averaged them together to get your best measurements of stitches per inch and rows per inch.)  Now is the time to pull those measurements back out and use them to figure out when you actually hit 10".

For example, maybe your pre-blocking yarn gave you 26 x 35 = 4" (or 6.5 stitches per inch and 8.75 rows per inch.)  After your swatch was blocked and bone dry, you now measured only 24 x 31 = 4")  or 6 stitches per inch (because the knit fabric relaxes) and only 7.75 rows per inch.

So instead of getting your ruler out to measure the 10", if you really want a good fit, you're going to multiply your row gauge (7.75) by 10".  So, 7.75 x 10 = 77.5.  I always round up (I'd rather something be just a smidge too long than a smidge too short), so I would count off 78 rows and know that at that point, I had 10" of work on my needles and I'd go on to the next step!

It probably doesn't seem like it would make much difference, but if you are knitting a sweater with the gauges in the example above that should end up being 24" long, you'd work  186 rows.  Or, if you measured each section with a ruler, you'd end up knitting 210 rows, which, after blocking, would add an extra three inches to your sweater!  That's definitely enough length to change the look for the sweater, and, if your yarn wasn't estimated to have a lot of leftover, you may end up running short of yarn before you're finished!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Jazz Hands!

 Happy release day to me, and to you!  Hannah, the winner of the Jazz Hands test-knitting give-away, finished up and shipped me her gorgeous arm-warmer-fingerless-mittens and it's taking every ounce of self-control I have to mail them back to her.  (The colorway of this yarn is one of my personal faves.  I might have to buy another skein and duplicate these for myself!)  Anyway, I had a little photoshoot with my daughter behind the camera (pretty great pics for a 9-year-old, eh?) and I've got my act together just in time to release this as a holiday goodie to all of the wonderful knitters who support me by reading my blog, following me on facebook, and spreading the news of my patterns through word-of-mouth, comments/sharing posts on Facebook, or sharing finished projects on Ravelry!  You wonderful people are the reason more people are finding my designs, and the more people that do, the more likely I'll be able to continue doing this creative work that I love.  You are the best!

So please, check out the fun zig-zag "lightning bolts" that shoot down the sides of these arms, and the ribbed hand that has a lot of stretch to accommodate a range of hand sizes.  This pattern is a "one size fits most" sort of deal.  I have a 10" forearm (widest part below the elbow) and a 6" wrist and you can see there's still some ease in the way these fit me.  This isn't the easiest pattern to re-size since the stitch repeat is 16 sts long (so, if you throw in an extra repeat or take one out, it's going to change the size by about 20%).  You could throw an extra stitch into each of the repeats (you work the 16-st repeat 5 times around as the pattern is written) but it will be a little trickier to keep track of those 5 extra stitches while you're working the pattern.  If you're really dying to add a little extra circumference, I'd recommend re-sizing by using a sport weight yarn and size 3 or 4 needles, though you'll probably want to switch back to the #2 needles to work the hand section since hands don't differ in size much, even when body weight is significantly different.

For anyone who reads my blog or follows me on Facebook, I'd like to offer you a coupon code to get this pattern for free as a "Happy Holidays and thanks so much for supporting me this year!" gift.  The code you will enter is "Very Jazzy Christmas".  The code is only valid when you purchase the pattern through Ravelry and you can do that either on the site or through the pattern page on my blog (click on the "patterns" tab at the top of this page).  You do not have to be a Ravelry member to make a purchase through my blog.

Please feel free to link to this blog post from your own blog if you'd like to share this code with your readers.  (Please don't simply re-post the code, since I do want people to know the source of the code.)

This would make a great quickie gift for someone you love this holiday season.  I hope you enjoy making your Jazz Hands, and I hope you share your finished projects either on Ravelry or upload a picture to the Trappings and Trinkets page on Facebook.


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Knitting Frenzy!

 It occurred to me a few weeks ago that blogging was going to be tricky during the holiday knitting season.  Most of the people who I would knit for also read my blog, so I can't start mouthing off about my gift knitting.  I'll just have to leave it up to you over this next month to guess which things I'm knitting as gifts and which things will serve another purpose.  (And maybe I'll just throw in some lies to throw my family & friends off the scent!)

Anyway, the first picture of gorgeous gorgeousness is none other than the Honey Cowl.  It's simple and lovely, but gives a warm, squishy texture that will be very cozy this winter.  It's no wonder that this pattern already has 8366 projects listed on Ravelry.  My favorite thing about this pattern is that it it simple enough that you can use any type of yarn for it.  A plain color would look elegant with the simple slip-stitch pattern, and tonal & variegated colorways won't look too busy when paired with this pattern. Either way, it will be lovely.

I used two fingering yarns held together to approximate the dk yarn that the pattern calls for (I got gauge using a US #8 needle).  I used one skein of Cascade Heritage in plain red and held it with a Crazy Zauberball that contained reds, pinks & purples. 

The next thing I have underway is my little stuffed froggie.  This project starts with the arms & legs, so they are sitting around waiting for me to knit a body to attach them to.  So far I am really happy with how it's coming together.  I began a body, but decided I didn't love it, so I frogged it (har, har, knitting pun intended) and I'm going to try again.  This should be a fun pattern to release mid-winter or so!

What else?  I'm working on a second "Leap of Faith" along with my testers!  This one is made of Knit Picks Stroll Tonal, and I love how it's knitting up.  The colorway is less busy than the Zephyr Adorn Sock Yarn that I used on the original sample, so the cable detail pops a lot better.  I'm not sure if I'll finish this one with a zipper or if I'll do a different finishing technique on it.  Either way, I can't wait to steek it!  (It's addicting, people.  I'm just warning you right now - once you steek something, you'll look for every opportunity to convert your flat-knitted cardigan patterns to in-the-round just for the fun of chopping them down the middle!  - And because you'll love avoiding all those purl stitches!)

Finally, a gift picture, but this one is for my kids and they aren't interested in reading blogs yet.  (Especially knitting blogs, and especially their mother's knitting blog!  I mean, how boring would that be??)  My daughter has been begging for felted clogs for a few years now, but I've resisted due to living in a house with lots of wood floors, kids who like to run through the house despite me telling them to slow down, and the inherent clumsiness of the pre-teen crowd, combined with slippers that have slick sounded like a recipe for a trip to the emergency room for stitches.  But, both kids have matured a lot over the last year and I think I can now count on them to be old enough to wear their felted clogs responsibly enough to avoid bills from a plastic surgeon.  I believe this will make pairs #7 & #8, and I think I've just about got the pattern memorized.  This pair was the women's size medium (which will fit my 12-year-old son since we can now share shoes!) and each slipper took me about 3 hours to make.  I'm using Paton's worsted wool held double, which is what I've used on all my past pairs, and it felts beautifully!

By the way, using Paton's worsted this time has alerted me to the fact that their skeins contain 23 yards less than they did a few years ago.  I get it, Paton's can keep the price the same if you just give us a little less wool.  But it's really annoying to pick up a pattern that was written a few years ago and buy the number of balls that the pattern specifies, only to realize that you don't have enough yarn because the company changed the yardage.  I'd much rather just pay an extra 30 cents and have the right amount of yarn.  Who's with me?!

That's all the pretty pictures I have for you for now!  I hope you are getting lots of knitting done for the people on your holiday gift list!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Where Have I Been?

 Hello Dear Knitters!  I feel like I've been neglecting the blog lately, so I'm here to show you why.

Typically, I'm a pretty monogamous knitter.  I like to have one or maybe two projects on the needles at a time.  This is partially because my brain gets confused if I try to work on writing more than one pattern at a time.  But I also like starting something, then finishing it as quickly as possible, and this gratification is delayed if I have
 more than one thing going at a time.

But, 'tis the season for holiday knitting, and this year it coincides with a big creative burst.  It's not often that I look at my stash and have no idea what to knit, but it's just as rare that I look at it and come up with 8 ideas simultaneously, all of which I love, and all of which I need to make right now.  That happened about a month ago and I'm still casting-on those projects!

In the top picture, you can see that I have finished the Very Manly Socks that I made for my husband.  I don't love knitting socks, but they were my desperation project while I was waiting for ALL THE YARN to be delivered.  I had a dry spell of about 5 days where I could either knit something from my stash or have nothing to do with my hands while watching tv or riding in the car.  I hate that even more than I hate knitting socks, so I cast on!
The second picture is my daughter's green cardigan.  I've actually been at this point for almost a month now.  I was waiting for my yarn reinforcements to arrive.  As it turns out, 600 yds of dk yarn is not enough for a child's size 8 cardigan.  I bought 600 more yards to finish the thing, just to be safe, but I think I'll need more like 400 yds.

I cast this red guy on yesterday.  I'm going to keep you in suspense about what it is (you'll know it when you see it!) but I thought I'd show you the fun yarn.  I went to the LYS yesterday with the very specific idea of "red, variegated, spun (not single-ply) dk or worsted yarn"  They had two types that almost fit the bill, but they weren't exactly what I had in mind.  This wasn't either, but I think it will be a good substitute.  It's one skein of Cascade Fingering held double with a Zauberball that is mostly red but has pinks and purples in with it.  I figure it approximates the right weight of yarn and I got gauge with no problem, so I'm going with it!

Speaking of secret projects....I'll show you these two ladies, but I'm not talking about them!  You'll see them again after the holidays, but some things must be kept secret! 

And finally, the reason I was in such a hurry to get those socks off my #2 needles.  I've done an almost-toy pattern before (the sock monkey lovie blanket) but this will be my first stand-alone-with-no-blanket-attached toy.  I'm sure you can guess what it's going to be!

What projects are you juggling these days?

Monday, November 12, 2012

Wicker Park Winner!!!

Let's start the week off right, shall we?  Time to hit the random number generator website and see where these 3 skeins of yarn and hat & mitten pattern set are going to go live!

It was very exciting to see people from all over the world leave comments on my blog.  Since I'm in the US, I think the prize for farthest entries have to go to a person in South Africa and one in India.  But really, you guys are all over the place! 

So, without further delay, I'll enter the numbers 1-23 in the random number generator (there's 24 comments here, but one is just my sister being enthusiastic, so for the purposes of this drawing we'll pretend her comment isn't in there).  And the winner is.......
....Kelly!  Congratulations, Kelly!  If you're reading this, contact me with your mailing address and I'll get your prize sent out right away!

For everyone else that entered (or even blog readers that are still lurking but didn't enter this time), please take advantage of a consolation prize coupon code.  If you purchase the Wicker Park Hat & Mittens set either through the link on my blog pattern page or through Ravelry between now and next Monday, enter the coupon code "$1 off" to get both patterns for just $3.99!

Thanks everyone for entering and I hope you enjoy making your new winter sets!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Wicker Park Release!

This is a really fun knit. 

I tend to do a lot of stockinette stitch in my designs because my style is pretty "un-fussy" and I like focusing on nice lines and a good fit more than I enjoy working with intricate stitch patterns.  But sometimes it's great to mix it up a little and do something out of the ordinary.

This set combines 4 different stitch types - stockinette, ribbing, a "criss-crossed" woven stitch, and a "faux-color work" dimple stitch.  It'll keep you entertained, maybe teach you a new stitch or two, and you'll end up with a cozy winter set that I'm sure would be perfect for someone on your Christmas list!

Did someone say "give-away"?

Oh yeah!

One blog reader is going to win this pattern along with the yarn to make it.  You'll get these three skeins of Knit Picks Capretta in 'harbor' and 'platinum'.  I will ship it anywhere on Earth!

To enter, all you have to do is leave a comment after this post with a way for me to contact you (your Ravelry member name or sign in to the comments with your e-mail address or your personal website).  Remember, the comments are now "open" so if you don't want to "sign-in" you can just select the "Name/URL" option before you hit "Publish".  I'll leave this open through the weekend, then on Monday I'll do a random number generator to pick the winner.  If it selects number 5, then the 5th person in the comments will be the winner.  I'll contact you for your shipping address and get the yarn in the mail asap!

If you just can't wait, the pattern set is for sale on Ravelry and through my blog.  (You can go to the pattern page or click here:  )

If you happen to purchase the pattern before the contest winner is announced and you happen to win, I'll just refund your purchase through paypal and get your yarn on its way!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Post away!

Hi there!

I think it's fun to blog.  I've always been a journal person....I probably have 6 journals from my teen years tucked away in a box in my closet (which my husband and I have entertained each other with by reading entries in a valley girl voice, because, ohmygosh! I, like, totally sound like that in, like, my teenage journals!) I've also kept a "family blog" for the last 11 years.  It began as a way of keeping my extended family caught up on what was going on with my little family since I live 2 hours away from our closest relatives and many live out-of-state.  But I've kept it up as a way to chronicle the life that our young family is leading.  I love being able to look back 3 or 5 years ago and see what we were up to on a day-to-day basis back then, and I know that when I'm an old lady I'll love reading the entries I write today.

But you know what makes a blog the totally most funnest of all?  When your readers interact with you.  When you put a thought or a picture or a story out there, and people write back to you.  It is super-fun and makes you feel like you're not just writing for yourself or for the three people in your family who will read anything you write.  And it's not that I'm not totally thankful for those three people, but it's always a thrill to know you're reaching people beyond your immediate circle of family and friends. 

That was the main reason I enjoyed the Jazz Hands give-away so much.  Having 8 people comment on a blog post was Very Exciting.  It encouraged me to keep posting because I knew people were reading.  A few people also sent me messages on Ravelry saying, "I want to comment, but I don't know how to sign in"!  At the time I didn't know how to change my comment settings to make commenting easier.  But this afternoon I did a little poking around and did just that.

I'm hoping that the new "open commenting" won't make this blog a target for spammers, and I hope that people at least leave some sort of name (even if it's just a first name or your Ravelry ID, or even just a fake name so I can reference you if I want to respond.)  There is now an option that says, "Name/URL.  You can leave both your name and your website, but you can also just fill in the "name" box before you hit "Continue".  You can also use the "Anonymous" option, but I really hope you don't.  I want to get to know my readers and if you just post anonymously, then I have no idea if you're someone I've corresponded with in the past or if you've commented in the past, and I'll never really get to know anything about you.  Plus, I like to live by the Golden Rule of the Internet: "Don't post anything that you wouldn't sign your name to".  It just makes the Internet a nicer place to be! :) 

So comment away!  Try it out, say "hi", then get ready to come back later this week for ANOTHER GIVE-AWAY!  Yep, you read that right, this time it's a brand-new pattern set and the yarn to make it, and one person is gonna win it for free!

Happy commenting!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

On A Break

My most recent designing project is a sweater.  I'm making the sample for my daughter, but I like it so much that I'm considering making one in my size as well.  So right now I'm not exactly sure what sort of size range I'll be writing this one for. 

If you're familiar with my clothing designs, you can probably guess that I have a bit of a sock yarn fettish.  There are just so many fun colorways in the sock yarn I have access to in my area, and one skein is always around 400 yards, which really makes you feel like you can make someTHING!  Because of this, I also have the "I'll just buy 1 skein" disease.  Because you can certainly make something about of one skein, right?  Except I'm not the biggest fan of knitting socks, and scarves aren't my favorite thing to design, and those are the two things that always spring to mind when I have one special skein of sock yarn. 

Anyhoo...on my Chicago / Wisconsin yarn crawl back in August, I picked up 3 skeins of Silky Wool.  They were a blue-based green, which is right up my daughter's alley, and they had a rustic heathered look.  I thought 600 yards of dk would be more than enough for a size 8 sweater.  Fast-forward to last week when I was deciding what style this sweater would be.  I swatched, I did the math, I decided I would have just enough yarn to make the style I wanted.  Then, mid-project, I decided I wanted to lengthen the sleeves and add a hood.  Guess what.  The body sucked up 2 whole skeins and the third skein gave me one full sleeve and left me about 4 rows short on the second sleeve.  On my Facebook business page, Sally told me that if I knit very, very fast then the yarn would hold out....but it looks like I'm just not quite fast enough yet. :)  The hood and button band have yet to be invented.

The good news is, I LOVE how it's coming together.  And my LYS is actually receiving their first order of this type of yarn in a week or so, and one of the wonderful owners said she'd add the color I need to their delivery list.  Please send me some "the two dye lots are a perfect match!" vibes.

So yesterday I swatched with a new yarn, but I still don't know what it wants to be.  I placed a Knit Picks order yesterday, too, and those are often delivered in less than a week, so I'll have 2 new projects on my hands when that arrives.  One is a sample knit for a pattern that's already in the testing phase and the second is a stuffed animal.  I'm looking forward to that project.  The closest thing to a stuffed animal that I've put out is the sock monkey blanket, but this thing will be a full-body, arms, legs & all sort of thing.  It hadn't quite gelled in my head yet, but I've got the general idea.  I'm going to use Knit Picks Palette Yarn, which I haven't tried before, so I'm looking forward to that, too.  For the sample knit, I ordered Knit Picks Tonal Sock Yarn in "Springtime", which reminds me a lot of the Three Irish Girls yarn I used on the Guacamole sweater.  I've used this yarn before on the Charlotte Dress and I think that the cable pattern will stand out better on this yarn than it did on the first yarn I tried the sweater in. 

On top of all that, I'm still waiting on the yarn I have on order for the famous Owl Sweater.  It's a custom dye job, so I think I was told it could take between 8-12 weeks.  So if all goes well, I might have that project completed by mid-winter. 

At any rate, I need to figure something out today so I have something to knit tomorrow.  My kids have appointments at the doctor's office, and my son has a dentist appointment (which will mean at least an hour of waiting room-time for me!)  Then in the evening I'll want to go to Knit Night, and I certainly don't want to show up there empty-handed!  Or maybe I should and I could work on the store sample hat that's been sitting on the coffee table in the middle of the shop for the past month.  I asked about it last week and one of the owners told me that she and the other owner are playing "knitting chicken" with it.  It's something they need to get done to have as a sample for the store, but neither of them wants to work on it.  So it sits on the table week after week an they're both hoping the other one will crack and pick it up first!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

And the winner is......

I was very excited that six people signed up for the Jazz Hands drawing!  I have always wondered if anyone beside my mom, grandma & sister read this knitting blog!  I know there were a few international readers who were bummed that I hadn't allowed enough time to mail the yarn overseas & get it back in time to photograph by the end of November.  I'm still getting the hang of this give-away thing, and next time I'll know to plan way ahead so I can include everyone!

But - it's time for the big reveal!  There were 10 comments, but only 6 of them were people who were wanting to enter.  So for our purposes, I'm putting the number 1-6 into the "random numbers" website.  The #1 entry is Knotty Wench, #2 is Amy Cho, and it counts down from there.  I'm just not counting the comments made by people who aren't entered (and myself) for the purposes of this drawing.

Ok, clicking over to the random numbers website....taking a screen capture..... and the winner is..... 

Number 6!  So that would be our last entry, Hannah, who is "Bananamiss" on Ravelry!

Hannah, let out a nice, loud, high-pitched squeal (not so much that your parents think something is horribly wrong, but just enough to let the excitement out!), then send me an e-mail and give me your full name and mailing address so I can get this yarn in the mail!  Click on the "contact" tab on this blog for an e-mail link, or send me a PM via Ravelry - my Rav name is "colie75".  I'm putting the finishing touches on the pattern, so I'll e-mail it to you early next week so you'll have it when your yarn arrives!

 Let's take another look at it, shall we?  Ahh....this yarn looks like it was spun from the water of the Caribbean Sea!

Thank you so much to everyone who entered.  And, it was so fun for me to host this give-away that I actually already have my next one planned.  Make sure to check back in early November.  I have a hat & mittens set that I have plans to release at that time, and I'll be doing a fun give-away that I'll coordinate with that release!
Until then, I'll try my best to entertain you with my other knitting adventures!

Happy Knitting!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Miracle Sweater

As the saying goes, "Every child is a miracle."  It sounds cliche, but anyone who has been fortunate enough to experience pregnancy and childbirth knows how amazing it is to hold your baby for the first time and know that you had a hand in bringing this child into the world.  It's amazing every single time it happens, and every family feels grateful when mom and baby come through the experience healthy and happy.  

But some families have bumps along the road, and some families need all the help that they can find to improve the odds of whatever challenge they face with their pregnancy or new infant.  A family I know was faced with that situation two years ago during their last pregnancy.  They had two healthy kids at home and were pregnant for the third time. 

Twelve weeks into their third pregnancy, Lisa and Matt found out they were expecting twins.   Specialists soon confirmed that one twin, Aubree, had a massive cystic hygroma.  Doctors said it was unlikely that she would make it to term, but while accepting reality, they remained optimistic.  Their optimism turned to reality as Aubree’s hygroma turned into hydrops.  Due to all the fluid she was retaining, Aubree’s little heart stopped beating in the early hours of April 23, 2011.  Aubree and Alexis were delivered at 27 weeks 4 days, and although not initially diagnosed, the identical twin girls had twin-to-twin transfusion.  As a result, Alexis lost the majority of her blood to Aubree, and Alexis was born with less than 25% of her blood volume.  In the delivery room, they were told Alexis' chances of survival were not good.

Alexis was born at only 2 pounds 4 ounces and 13 ¾ inches long.  During her hospital stay, she suffered a Grade 4 brain bleed (giving her a 95% chance of cerebral palsy), chronic lung disease (spent 94 days on the ventilator, CPAP and cannulas), and feeding difficulties (requiring surgery for Nissen fundoplication and g-tube).  But God works miracles, and used the amazing staff of the OSF NICU to aid in this one.  After 97 days in the NICU, Matt & Lisa's little miracle came home to meet her big sister and big brother!

Alexis is now a year and a half old.  She is over 13 pounds, crawling everywhere and sitting up!  Her g-tube was removed and she is eating great, both bottles and solid foods.  She has been diagnosed with some vision issues but continues to make progress each day.  She is considered low tone but currently showing no signs of CP and is reaching her milestones, just in her own time!  Lisa and Matt thank God every day for their precious miracle, wishing they could still have Aubree here with them, but knowing they will again hold their little girl in Heaven.
Lexie's family will forever be grateful to OSF Children’s Hospital.  Little Lexie wouldn’t be here today if not for the grace of God, the neonatologists, nurses, and countless other individuals who were instrumental in her care.  We are blessed to have such an amazing Children’s Hospital and state-of-the-art NICU right here in Peoria!  

In honor of little Lexie, her angel twin, Aubree, and all the children who need extra care when coming into the world, I am donating every cent that you spend on the Miracle Sweater for the first two months of publication to the Children's Hospital of Illinois.

So do your good deed for the day - make your donation through this pattern purchase or go straight to the Children's Hospital's webpage to donate on your own.  

Then enjoy knitting this heirloom piece for one of the little miracles in your life.  The enormous size range begins with newborns and goes all the way up to child's size 10!  You'll enjoy seeing the unique woven texture come together, and your child will love the light-weight, yet warm jacket that results!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Jazz Hands!....Who Wants 'Em?

So earlier this week, I was in the middle of Pattern Editing Purgatory.  I love designing, I love knitting, I don't even mind the pattern writing, but when it comes to grading for different sizes and editing the pattern....well, it's not my favorite way to spend 40 hours.

Anyway, I had graded and edited for like 8 hours that day and I needed to knit something to regain my sanity.  Problem was, I actually didn't have any projects in progress (!)  So I went for a dig and found this:

I caked it up and decided on fun "arm warmers".

Of course, as these things always go, the arm warmers morphed into "long-sleeved fingerless gloves" by the time I was done.  But they're shortie gloves, only covering the palm of the hand.  I plan to wear them in my freezing cold family room this winter when I'm sitting still knitting and wishing my husband would let me turn the heat up to 75 degrees.  (He won't.  It's a compromise.....I don't let him turn the air conditioning on in the summer until it's like 90 degrees in the house, and he doesn't let me turn the heat above 72 in the winter - which probably sounds really warm, but when your house is old and void of any insulation in the walls, it's not. :)

But, I digress.  Here are the Jazz Hands!

You like?  Yay!  Then, I have a little proposition for you.

I have finished my pattern for Jazz Hands, and I have finished knitting my own pair.  I made them out of the super-fun Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock yarn that basically looks like someone managed to spin an entire box of crayons into yarn.

But here's my dilemma.  My Jazz Hands are so very colorful that you can barely even make out the texture pattern in them.  And they've got a cool "lightning bolt" thing going on, and who wouldn't want to show that off, right?

I need some help.

I'd love to knit a second pair of these for myself.  I've got the perfect yarn for it:

It's "Frog or Not" Sock Yarn by a dyer who is local to me: Munchkin Knitworks.  This yarn is split in half, then held double before it is knit into a stockinette scarf and dyed.  The result is two skeins that match exactly with long, graduated color.  This skein goes from light green to darker green into aqua blue and finally a deep blue.  I have frogged the scarf and skeined the yarn up for this picture, but I'm happy to wind it into 2 cakes before I mail it if you prefer it that way.

As much as I love the colors in this yarn, and as fun as it would be to own 2 pairs of Jazz Hands(!),  I thought it would be fun to give someone else a chance (and it would take care of the test knitting, so two birds with one stone, right?)  Anyway, I came up with this give-away/test-knitter idea.  I'll put up the yarn and the pattern and mail it to someone who wants to make these for herself or to give to a friend.  (Christmas is coming, people!)  My best guess is that this is a 15-20 hour project.  I think it took me around 12 hours, but I was already familiar with the twisted stitches and I already swatched with this yarn a while back so I knew what to expect.

Anyway, the winning knitter needs to knit these puppies up before Thanksgiving, then pop them in the mail (I'll include a self-addresses stamped envelope in the package with your yarn) and send them to me.  I'm going to use your beautiful Jazz Hands(!) to use in the sample photos for the pattern because I think this yarn will show off the texture much better, while still being fun and colorful.  Once I'm done with the pictures (it won't take me more than a week), I send them back to you and you have them in plenty of time for Christmas, or to keep for ever more!

How does that sound?

If you are interested, I only have two conditions of entering this contest:   First, you have to have at least 3 projects posted somewhere on the internet that I can look at and see that you are indeed capable of knitting up a pair of Jazz Hands that I can use in sample photographs.  If you're a Ravelry member, just leave your ID in the comments section so I can look you up.  If you have projects on a blog or a Flickr or other photo stream account, leave the address when you fill out the comment form.  If you're feeling shy about leaving that stuff in the comment box, you can e-mail it to me (click on the "contact" tab for my e-mail link).  Just make sure you tell me in the e-mail what name you commented under so I can figure out who is who!
Second condition: (and I hate this, but for this particular thing, the time it would take for international shipping would be prohibitive) so I'm going to have to limit this to people in the US.  I'll do another straight-up giveaway before the end of the year though, and I promise that one will be open to everyone that lives on planet Earth.

To throw your name in the ring, just leave a comment after this post.  You can just say "hi", you can tell me where you're from, you can tell me how you came across my blog, or you can tell me which of my patterns you've enjoyed knitting.  Any comment will get you entered!  (And if you don't want to win the yarn & pattern, please don't comment under this post.  You can always comment on a previous post if you have something you want to add without actually volunteering for this project.)

I'll leave this open until next Thursday, October 25, and then I'll do a random number generator to pick the winner.  I'll announce the winner here and on my Facebook business page.  (It's right here, just in case you're not following me there yet.)   The winner has until the following Monday, October 29 to contact me with her mailing address so I can send her package.


Friday, October 19, 2012

Ready to Leap? took me a month to edit this pattern.  The delay was partially because I worked on this pattern as I took a "Sizing Knitwear" class.  I didn't have any revalations with the sizing information, but I was very eager to learn how to use Excel to figure the numbers for different sizes.  I think it will save me a little time in the future now that I know how to write formulas in the spreadsheet program.

Anyway, it's ready for testers!  It's definitely an intermediate'll be knitting in the round (hardly any purl stitches!), increasing, decreasing, using Kitchener Stitch, a three-needle bind-off, simple cabling and steeking.  Yes, I said steeking, but please don't let that discourage you.  I know it's the "final frontier" for a lot of knitters, but people....this was my very first steeking project.  If I can do it (while video taping!) and write about it, you can absolutely do it.  Just make sure you choose a yarn with a high wool content, watch the two steeking videos on my blog's video page, and read the tutorial on steeking that I include a link to in the pattern and you will be golden.  You will laugh at the fact that you used to be intimidated by taking scissors to your knitting (and you'll be armed with knowledge that will allow you to all but avoid purl stitches for the rest of your life!  How's that for motivation?)

If you want in, I just put up a testing thread on Ravelry here.  Come and join us!  It's like a knit-along, but for knitting pioneers!  Join us and be one of the first to knit this practical and charming sweater!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Wicker Park Photo Shoot

 Today's post is a little more "behind the scenes" than usual!  Tonight my family got together with another family to take pictures.  We were shooting each other's family, and our friends also agreed to help me out by modeling the hat & mitten pattern for which I recently got the test knit started.

As my models and I were playing around with poses, her husband  sneakily snapped a couple pictures of us in action. 

We were super-quick about it since we also wanted to do family pictures and we had around an hour of daylight left.  Plus, my mini-model was not up for a long drawn-out photo shoot!  It wasn't necessary though....I got about 6 perfect shots in 10 minutes, tops!  Thanks so much for helping me out, ladies!  You did a great job!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Pre-Digital Project Pages

I have a big spiral notebook that I use for designing.  It's full of sketches, notes on the pattern, pictures, yarn labels, and all sorts of information I need to have handy when I'm trying to write down my patterns.

I got a chuckle out of seeing the "project pages" that my daughter made for her different finger knitting chains.  She made a long chain, then saved a short length of yarn so she could make a chain to tape to the project page along with the label from the yarn she uses, the name of the yarn, and the length of the chain that she made out of each skein of yarn. 

Monkey see, monkey do!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Wicker Park Test

I just posted a test thread for my new hat & mittens set here!

If you enjoy working on brand new patterns and getting the pattern for free in exchange for your feedback and a picture or two of the finished object, come and join us! 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Munchkin Dress!!

 Today I get to release a design that is 10 months in the making.  This dress started out as a different idea and was shaped into this twirly, pleated-skirt beauty over most of the last year with the help of a couple other wonderful designers on Ravelry, including KTLV who explained to me how to create pleats from the top-down, and a group of test knitters that all deserve gold medals.  My Knitting Consultant, Kelly, also has my thanks for giving me a pep talk just at the right time while I was working on this.  There's nothing better than having people who encourage you when you hit a rough patch!

This top-down raglan dress will be a comfortable and warm addition to any little girl's winter wardrobe.  Add matching legwarmers for a cozy and stylish touch.  The samples were knit in Knit Picks Chroma fingering, though any fingering or light sport-weight yarn will give you a good result.  This pattern is sized from 3 months up through little girl's size 5, so you're sure to know at least one little girl who would love to receive this dress from you!

The full skirt of this dress does require a good amount of yardage, but I promise you that your result will be worth every inch!