Thursday, June 28, 2012


I can not remember the last time I was so excited about releasing a pattern!  I adore everything about the way this sweater came out - I just wish my daughter was into wearing things her mom knits.  (But, alas, she's 9 and thinks I 'have no fashion'.)

Whether you're looking for a lightweight casual sweater for your little girl to wear over t-shirts or tank tops, or whether you need something for her to put on over a nicer dress, this little cardigan is extremely versatile.
Skills used that you may not be familiar with are twisted stitches, applied i-cord button band, and lifted increases.  All three are explained in-depth in the pattern, the first two have video links in the pattern, and there is an internet link in the pattern to refer you to an illustrated web article on lifted increases.

I dare you to try this sweater pattern - you won't be able to just make one!

Pattern purchasing link can be found in the "patterns" tab of this blog or in my Etsy shop (link in the right sidebar.)

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


 ....What I should (and want to) be doing today [that's "doing the final edits on my soon-to-be-released Guacamole Sweater pattern" in case you can't read the tiny print].
....What I'm actually doing today [that's "spray painting the mailbox and new house numbers so the siding installer can put them on the house before he's done working here tomorrow afternoon.]

For the last couple summers, I've had no delusions about getting any pattern work done.  This summer, I have 1 test knit I have to do (or will have to explain to Knit Picks in September why the pattern I promised them isn't ready, and we're not going to go there), and two test knits that I had to finish up because I ended up needing to extend the deadline on one of them.  As long as that stuff was already going on, I thought "Well, it isn't that big a deal to release that Guacamole pattern in June, and while I'm at it, maybe I should knit, write, and test the Tiny Dancer pattern for women and older girls?  That seems reasonable, right?" 

Well, it is, as long as I keep in mind that my summer schedule is not my own.  Many times it belongs to the kids, or the person who schedules softball season, it belongs to the siding guy and to the park district workers who schedule my son's basketball things.  I'm not complaining at all - I love that I can be home to keep my kids as active as they want to be in the summer, but if I fit a couple uninterrupted hours of pattern writing or editing in every two weeks or so, I consider myself lucky.

So, for today, I am a spray-paint artist.  Tomorrow, maybe I'll get to turn a little attention back to the medium I love best.

Saturday, June 23, 2012


I've never been a big fan of the SSK. I feel like the top stitch always looks sloppy and it's not a very good mirror image of the K2tog. I really wanted decreases that would nicely mirror each other for my Tiny Dancer pattern, so I did a little digging. I was thrilled to find a brilliant left-leaning decrease that is a much, much closer mirror image of the K2tog. I found it on the "Techknitter Blog" and as far as I know, the writer of the blog may be the inventor of the technique. Check out the blog on "slip, yank, twist, k2togtbl". I'll never use a SSK again.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


Just in case you are a Ravelry member and like to get patterns for free in exchange for providing feedback, here's the link to the testing thread for Tiny Dancer.

Since the project is in the ballpark of 1000 yards, it'll take about 2 months for the test, but my intention is to release this pattern in late August just in time to make yourself something pretty for fall!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

At long last....

I am pleased to introduce you to "Tiny Dancer", a women's sweater pattern I plan to release in August or September.  I was so excited to share this one that I haven't even blocked it yet, and actually I still have a few loose tails that still need to be woven in.  But, the sun wasn't going to wait for me, so we had to run out to the yard and catch a picture before the moon appeared.  I was lucky to enlist the photography services of my 9-year-old daughter - she's got a pretty good eye if I do say so myself!

The graded pattern is actually one final edit away from being complete, so I have big hopes to get a test knit started late this week.  I'll post when that happens in case anyone who follows this blog wants to participate.  It is sized from a women's 30" to a 42" chest in 2" increments.  The finished chest measurement should be the same as your actual bust, but there's a bit of ease built into the waist and the hips will probably either fit with no ease or just a bit of negative ease.  And did I mention it is completely seamless?  Sleeves look and fit like set-in sleeves, but they are knitted with picked-up stitches and a sleeve cap made from short rows.  It may have taken me six tries to get the sleeves to fit exactly how I want them, but I am very pleased with the way it all came out in the end!

My original vision was for this to be a casual sweater that would be worn over a tank top or a leotard (hence the name) but I'm in dire need of clean laundry and I didn't have any clean tank tops to wear underneath tonight.  If you really wanted to make this as a sweater to be worn with nothing beneath, you could easily skip the last row of neckline bind off which would give you an extra inch on the shoulders and that would cover up your bra strap with no problem. 

The Madeline Tosh Sock yarn that I used for this was a dream to work with.  It's 100% superwash merino wool and is plenty soft to wear against the skin.  (I'm not super-sensitive to wool, but I'm more toward that end of the spectrum than the "Iron Skin" crowd.  If something seems soft enough for me to wear, I think it would seem that way to your person of average sensitivity as well.)

The dye lot on these 3 skeins of the hollyhock colorway were significantly darker than the two I already had.  I was a little bummed because I liked it even better in its lighter incarnation (and I think it was easier to photograph true-to-color, too) but as much as I wanted to believe I could use the lighter yarn and work in a few stripes in the darker colorway to finish the thing, I had to admit my first attempt didn't look as good as I'd hoped.  So, not only do I have this dark purple sweater, but I have a 95% finished stripey one that is just missing the bottom of one sleeve (had to pull it out to get enough yarn to finish this sample!)

Looking forward to moving along with this design.  If you have any interest in testing, check the blog on Wednesday or Thursday and I'll likely be here pointing you toward the web address for the test knit.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

A thrill a minute....

I love creating new patterns.  It still blows my mind that I can draw something on paper, figure out how to turn it into a 3D garment and put it on an actual human and have it fit.  It is awesome every. single. time.

Second to that thrill is the thrill of seeing the finished projects other people make from my patterns.  I love to see new project pages go up on Ravelry or Craftsy, and I even occasionally google my pattern names to see if I can find any blog posts about them.  (Yes, I'm a dork, and yes, I do occasionally find blog posts that people have written about using one of my patterns.) 

The third thing that thrills me is clicking through my orders and seeing where my patterns are going.  Whether it's someone in my own state ("That person only lives 20 miles from here!") or from the other side of the world ("I can't believe someone in Indonesia is going to make a sock monkey hat!") it always fascinates me to see where the orders are coming from. 

By far, Trappings and Trinkets customers hail from the US, Canada and Scandinavia.  But I've also gotten a significant amount of orders from people in Australia, Iceland, England, Italy and Germany.  [Let me just insert here that, as a monolingual person, I am in awe of people who speak English as a second language and still buy my patterns. You amaze me.] 

I probably got the biggest "Wow" out of the order I received from an island near Antarctica, followed closely by Indonesia & Croatia - those places all seem very exotic to a Midwestern girl like me!  A while back, when I started noticing a significant number of orders coming from outside North America, I thought it would be fun to get a map and mark it to show where the orders were coming from.  I thought it would be a fun way to talk about geography with my kids, and, let's face it, it was a way for me to see my thrills in black & white!  I haven't done the map thing yet, but maybe I'll pull it out as an activity to do with the kids sometime this summer. 

I am convinced that one day I'll be going along my merry way someplace on this Earth, maybe close to home, maybe on a vacation, and I'll spy someone wearing something I recognize as having been made from one of my patterns.  I wonder if I will say anything to the person or if I will just smile to myself and know that I would one day get this last thrill on my list....

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Lunch Break

You know what I should be doing?  Probably writing up the pattern for the new purple top you've been seeing so much of around here.  Because it's almost done except the sleeves, and it's always good to type my notes into a pattern when it's fresh in my mind instead of having to go back and think, "What did I mean by____?"  Last time I did that, I had to spend an hour experimenting with increases because I had only written "M1" in my notes and I thought maybe I had meant it in a generic way (like "insert increase here")  Turns out, I actually meant "Make 1" in the real knitting increase sense of the word.  You see, this is why it's good to write when it's fresh: I don't even believe what I've written when I actually do write it down correctly!

Anyway, instead of writing a pattern, I thought I'd share something un-knitty today.  It's an absolutely gorgeous day here in Central Illinois - the sun it out, the temperature is in the high 70s and the birds are singing.  It's the kind of summer day you think of when you think of summer.  And when I think of summer, I think of eating lots and lots of fresh foods.  Today I made up a batch of the summer lunch that is my absolute favorite: Avocado, Mango & Shrimp Salsa.


It takes about an hour to make up a batch because there's lots of washing & chopping involved, but it'll last me about 3 lunches, so I don't mind the extra work on the first day when I get to just pull it out of the fridge and eat on days 2 and 3. 

If you want a nice dose of healthy fat as well as a whole lot of other nutrients that your body will say "thank you" for, here's the recipe, my friend!  PS: use this recipe as a loose guide...I don't measure anything when I make it, so none of these measurements are set in stone.  Likewise, if I start shopping up my avocados and one of them is rotten, I just make the recipe with 3 instead of 4.  It's really, really adaptable!

Avocado Mango Shrimp Salsa
4 avocados, diced
2 mangoes, diced (the recipe pictured only had one mango because when I peeled the second one it just     
                   looked wrong.)
15 fully-cooked frozen shrimp, run them under water in a colander for about 5 minutes until thawed, then 
1 tsp minced garlic
1/4 c chopped cilantro leaves
4 green onions, chopped (just the white parts)
a few squirts of Frank's Red Hot Sauce
1/2 tsp salt
3 Tbsp fresh lime juice

All you do is prepare all the ingredients then mix them up in a bowl.  I like to serve it on top of a hand full of crushed tortilla chips, but it's a great side dish for a fish entree, too.  To store it (and not have the avocados turn mushy & brown) pack it tightly into a bowl that isn't much bigger than the amount of leftover salsa you have, making sure you can't see air bubbles in the salsa (clear glass bowls work great because of this).  Once you have it packed in there, place a sheet of plastic wrap over the top of the salsa, and press it lightly onto the surface (again, you're just getting rid of the air).  Then, put the lid on and pop it into the fridge.

A little time saver for this recipe is every 3rd or 4th time you make it, just wash & pluck the leaves off the entire bunch of cilantro that you had to buy.  Use 1/4 cup of the chopped leaves for this recipe, then freeze the remainder of the leaves in a tupperware container for use in future recipes.

What's your favorite go-to lunch in the summer?  I have a pasta salad with tomatoes, black olives, corn & a vinaigrette dressing that I love, too, and I pretty much alternate between those two homemade things and lunch at Panera or Qdoba when I get sick of cooking!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Getting Closer....

I have really been looking forward to writing my first adult top pattern.  And really, there's only been a couple minor hiccups along the way.  I've ripped back a couple times to get it right, but I want the fit to be perfect (for me, and for you when you make it!)  So it's taking a little while, but I think this will be my last rip-back (and it's not even a big one.)  The armhole depth that my fit chart gives me is a little too loose for this design, so I'm tearing it back down to the base of the arm holes and raising it up a bit.

But, I am loving how it's turning out - it's always exciting to see an idea you had actually exist in reality!

Please excuse the "my head is cut off" picture.  This is what happens when you balance the camera on top of the cat's scratching post and use the timer to take a picture of yourself!

Friday, June 1, 2012


 Occasionally I go wild and make something that is just for kicks.  Something that is just for me and something that I don't have to do any math to invent.  This time a couple patterns from Tori Gurbsz caught my eye.  I was actually planning to make her Coastal Hoodie, but once I realized that the recommended yarn was going to run me $160 (and I really did want the yarns she used because her color combinations were so perfect)....anyway, I decided to come up with a Plan B.

Plan B was not hard to settle on at all.  I just had to glance at Tori's designer page on Ravelry to see another cardigan that I loved.  Zephyr seemed perfect - casual, but could be dressed up, it goes with anything, it appeared to be very comfortable, and the fit looked pretty good on almost all the projects listed by other users.  I was convinced it was going to be a winner.

And it is - let me start with that.  I really do like the sweater, and I may even make it again sometime.  I have a lot to say about the pattern, but I don't want to overshadow the fact that I do think it's a good design and one that I think many people will enjoy.  However, there are definitely things I thought were unnecessarily difficult about the pattern, and knowing what I know now, I would do a few things differently if I were to make it again.

First, this pattern is listed as "Intermediate".  I know, that's kind of vague, but to me it means that anyone with basic skills and the willingness to learn a few new tricks will do fine.  I would consider myself to be an advanced knitter and I found myself frogging a couple times, just because there were many things to keep track of and they were on multiple pages.  So at any one time, I might have 3 pages in front of me with 3 different things to remember for a row, and I would forget one of them only to remember a couple rows later and have to frog.  I'm a couch knitter and laying out 3 pages of instructions to read simultaneously isn't ideal.  I just felt like there could have been a more easy-to-follow way to word the instructions.
Adding to the "what have I gotten myself into?" feeling is the fact that the last 2 pages of this pattern are simply spreadsheets full of stitch counts for different parts of the construction.  I write these sort of spreadsheets when I am sizing a pattern that I am writing, but I don't know why she included it with the pattern itself.  I can't imagine that a lot of pattern users look at it and have any idea what they're looking at (I certainly didn't, anyway).  And it gave me a mini-heart attack to look at it and think, "Am I going to have to make sense of this thing in order to work the pattern?" 

Second, this was my first crack at a contiguous sweater.  The pattern didn't look complicated, so I thought it would be a good introduction to the method.  The cast-on was also new to me.  There is an internet link to help people learn the cast-on and after a couple tries I got it with no problem.  But, since I was unfamiliar with the construction, I wasn't able to preemptively modify the design to fit me properly.  I liked the way the shoulders were very fitted in the sample photos and many of the user project photos, but once my sweater was blocked, my shoulders were pretty droopy.  It's one of those "no one would notice it if I didn't point it out" things, and I'm not terribly worried about it, but for a future sweater, I would only work about 2/3 of the rows that are written for the section where you're making those rows on the top of the shoulder.  The last 1/3 of them just droop over the top of my shoulder and it would fit better without them.

Speaking of being a novice, something that would have really helped me with this sweater would have been a couple close-up photos, especially of the shoulder / sleeve cap area.  There is a helpful picture of the button loops, but all the other shots are just full-sweater beauty-shots.  If I had been looking at a picture of the sleeve cap, it would have saved me a lot of time, since one of my frogging incidents happened because I missed the line about increasing for the sleeve caps.  If I had seen what it was supposed to look like, I would have known much sooner that I had made a wrong turn. 

My favorite part of the sweater is the design of the button band.  I am fresh off of working on two designs that use pairs of twisted stitches, so when I started working this button band I had a moment of thinking "Why did she use the two more difficult pairs of twisted stitches?  Maybe I should just reverse them and do the whole thing that way."  But the I decided that there might be a reason for it that I'm not seeing, so I did it the way it was written.  After working the whole thing that way, I can confidently say that there's no reason to not do the front cross as knitting the second stitch through the back loop, then knitting the first stitch, and doing the back cross as purling the second stitch, then purling the purling the first stitch.  Those two pairs are way easier than the two she used and it will give you the exact same effect.

Lastly, I modified the length (29" instead of 24"), though I think the listed sleeve length was perfect for me.  I love the Quince & Co. Osprey yarn that I used, but it does grow quite a bit upon blocking, so if you use it, make sure you figure that in while you're knitting.

Even though I would change a few things to use this pattern in the future, I do love this design and I am happy with my sweater.  If you want to give it a try, know that it is written for 8 sizes, so you'll want to go at it with a highlighter before you begin.  Also, a good portion of this is a "thinking knit", so if you are looking for something to do while you watch tv, this isn't it.  Don't get scared when you print out the pattern - it is long (though I really see no reason to print out the last 2 pages) but if you just figure out each section as you come to it, you can get it done.