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!