Thursday, November 12, 2015

New Project Bags, and Starting a Test Knit.

Did you know I have an Etsy shop where I sell project bags?
I just added some Christmas themed ones (The Grinch that Stole Christmas).

Hope you like them!!
They are sturdy, and are firm enough to stand up when you're using them. High quality print fabrics are used both for the outside and the coordinating linings. Have a look!

Test Knit - Sorcerers Stripe Scarf or Cowl

If you would like to know when the pattern is released or to be advised of future tests, just let me know.

Seeking testers to test my pattern and create a handsome scarf or cowl using a unique stitch in DK or worsted weight yarn, any fiber. Should be soft enough to wear against the skin.

See more pics and details here.

This pattern produces tiles of horizontal and vertical stripes - which are reversible. The horizontal stripes become vertical stripes on the other side. It uses ribbing and slipped stitches, nothing complicated!
It's fully reversible and would be great knit in team or school colors!
The cowl will be knitted flat then sewn together to form a loop. For a scarf you leave the ends un-attached.
It uses about 270 yds /246m of each color.
Get all the info and sign up here.

If you can’t test right now and would like to know when pattern is released or to be advised of future tests, just let me know.

Testers who complete on time will get the final version of the pattern, plus an additional free pattern from my Ravelry Store, as a thank-you .

P.S. I haven't quite finished knitting the scarf, but I think you can see where it is going :-)

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Interview with the Talented and Awesome Romi Hill; Book Review and Giveaway



Romi Hill has long been a design idol of mine.  Her Waves of Grain wrap, from Knitty 2008, is the first lace project I knit.  She is who I want to be when I grow up, as a designer! 
So, when I had the opportunity to interview her, on the occasion of the publication of her newest book, I jumped at it.

Interweave/F+W; $24.99

courtesy Interweave/F+W

1. What led you to publish this book?
I wanted to spread my love of lace as far and wide as I could, and enable potential lace knitters! I've done quite a few electronically delivered patterns, both eBooks and single patterns, and I know that I am missing a huge group of people who aren't necessarily online as much as I am. Also, there are still tons of people out there who are online a lot, but still love holding paper in their hands and putting it on their bookshelves. I'm one of those people, actually. I have my collection of favorite knitting books, and I wanted to create something that could sit happily on that special shelf, in hopes that others would feel the same way. I set out to create a collection of classic wearable designs, worthy of being kept and knitted season after season.
2. How would you describe your style?
Hmmmmmm. I guess I'd say classic, with a twist. I love classic construction and tailoring, but I also really enjoy mixing up that classic look with my own details. I love to put an extra little something special into each design. What's really funny to me is that people say they can recognize my designs, but I don't necessarily see it!
3. What makes a design work?
You won't let me get away with “I just know it when I see it,” right? Ha! But seriously.... I think a clothing design needs to be wearable and aesthetically appealing. When you put it on, you should look in the mirror and feel great. It should emphasize what you feel are your strong points and de-emphasize what you feel are your weak points. The elements comprising the design need to play well together and create synergy, and the finishing details need to create a polished overall look. It can be an amazing design, but if it is finished poorly, that's all I can ever see. Last, clothing designs need to look great on a 3-dimensional body, instead of just looking great when laid flat.
4. What is your process like; i.e. what steps do you follow to create a design?
This is the toughest question that I am ever asked; it really varies! Though it always starts with an inspiration. Often a special yarn will tell me what it wants to be. Sometimes I will see an amazing sunset and think the clouds create a gorgeous pattern. Sometimes I will see a building, painting or artwork and it inspires me. Sometimes I see a piece of commercial clothing and find myself picking it apart into elements I think work and ones I think don't work, and before I know it, I have redesigned the whole thing. Sometimes I am looking through my stitch dictionaries and imagine the stitches coming together to create a piece.
After that initial inspiration, I set about sketching on paper and engineering in my head. I make notes about the structure of the piece, and work on making the design pleasurable to knit. I think knitwear occupies an interesting space. It is fashion, but it is also a hobby. Because of this, each piece must satisfy the two important tests of looking great and being pleasurable to create. There are actually a lot of designs I don't pursue because I think they are needlessly difficult or confusing to knit compared to the end result. I try to look at each piece in a holistic way. I ask myself if the yarn will be wonderful to work with, and if the piece will be wearable for many seasons. If I am designing a garment (sweater, skirt), I work on making it a flattering shape for the body, and a yarn that will stand up to wear and still look great.
And I swatch and block, swatch and block! I let my swatches sit around for days and sometimes even hang them up with weights so I can tell how a larger piece might act after being worn.
5. How do you know when a design will be successful, or do you ever know?
To be honest, I never really know. I am often surprised at the pieces that become very successful. It used to lead to many sessions trying to puzzle out what the magic was! In the end, I have just decided to please myself. Sometimes the design becomes successful and sometimes not, but at least I know I've done my best and am happy with the result.
6. Which are some of your favorite designs - ones you're just in love with?
This sounds like cheerleading, but I'm really happy with the designs in my new book! I'm in love with Talus, Williwaw, and Salt Grass. I get a geeky joy out of the fact that Salt Grass is basically a top down lace gansey; I even blocked it on a woolly board! I also really love the Virginia City Cloche and Cowl. Other pieces I love (not in the book): Red Freckles, Miswis, MadroƱa, and Fuchsia Nouveau Petite shawls. And my Leyfi sweater. The one I wear most often, though, is Trieste. It's a mohair and silk triangle that is almost always with me when it's chilly out. I keep it balled up in my bag.
7. Finally, what are you working on right now that has you excited?
I'm working on an eBook subscription: 7 Small Shawls, Year 5. The theme this year is asymmetry and I am having SO much fun delving into all the ways something can be asymmetrical. Beyond the obvious, there are actually even some stitch patterns that look symmetrical but are really asymmetrical in the way the pattern is created, like Frost Flowers. The possibilities are endless! I'm also working on some pieces for Bare Naked Wools that I'm really excited about.

Thank you so much for having me as a guest!

Romi, it was great getting to know you better!
  * * *

Book Review

This is a review of Rosemary Hill's new book called New Lace Knitting - Designs for Wide Open Spaces. 
Rosemary has created a book of cohesive lace designs that incorporate some common lace motifs, but use them in new and unexpected ways. Romi starts her book with a few basic rules. These include information on making and using a swatch, making sure to use good yarn and needles, keeping your cast-ons and bind-offs loose, ways to track your lace repeats, reading charts, reading your knitting, and blocking your piece when it's done. 
Romi is famous for her gorgeous Lace shawls, however, in this book she also includes sweaters and other accessories. As a master of lace design, Rosemary does not disappoint. 
A few of my favorite designs that stand out - Talus Cardigan,  a two color design using feather and fan; Manzanita Tee (the cover photo) - a pretty top, with a flattering lace yoke; and Fallen Leaf, an interesting shell with a graceful cowl neck. The skirt called Hope Valley, surprised me, as I usually don't like knitted skirts; this one in a denim yarn looks wearable and elegant. I also like the Aspen Gold Scarf and the Crystal Bay shawl..  The Chinquapin wrap is worked in worsted weight yarn, with an interesting fringe treatment.
Talus Cardigan
Hope Valley

Chinquapin Wrap
The intermediate to accomplished lace knitter will find items in this book to challenge and excite them. It's a worthwhile investment for many hours of knitting enjoyment.


You can win this pattern collection! Comment here on the blog saying which of the patterns is your favorite, in order to enter a giveaway for the book.

Please be sure that you sign up for my newsletter, if you haven’t already done so, in order to be eligible to win (you can sign up in the upper right hand corner of this blog).  Make sure you give me an email address or Ravelry ID, so I can reach you if you win, and confirm you're signed up for the newsletter. The drawing will be on Nov. 7.
See you next time! 

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Knitting Tip of the Day - Working Stripes or Alternating Skeins, without Weaving in Lots of Ends.

 Today's Tip

A knitting friend asked me,
”I’m using a hand-dyed yarn for a shawl that uses 2 skeins. Should I alternate skeins? And how do I do it so that edge where the yarn is carried up doesn’t look weird?”
Part 1: you only need to alternate skeins if you can see a difference between the 2 skeins. Sometimes there’s virtually no difference; sometimes it’s an obvious difference.
Part 2: If the shawl has an edging or border, change yarns on the wrong side, just before the end of the row, at the border or edging. This might be 3 sts from the edge, or 8 sts from the edge, whatever makes sense.
For example, work to last 3 sts in current color, twist Yarn A and Yarn B together, and begin using new yarn.
On every WS row, twist the 2 yarns together and change yarns; carry unused yarn loosely up along WS row.
This tip works equally well for stripes too. This way, hardly any ends to weave in.

I used this method on my Willowbrook, Winona, and Molto Bella shawls.  


Molto Bella

Here's a photo of the wrong side:
It barely shows, but if you look closely, you can see the yarn being carried along 3 stitches in from the edge.
Like this tip ? Tweet it to your friends!

Tweet: Check out this cool knitting tip from Brenda Castiel Fewer ends to weave in!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Songlines - A Review, a Giveaway, a Coupon Code

* The winner of the drawing is #6 LisaCinFL or Renaissance Yarns. Congrats, Lisa! Thanks everyone for participating *

The Songlines collection by Ambah O'Brien is a newly released collection of shawls. The Aboriginal peoples of Australia used rhythmic songs instead of maps to document the contours of the land they traveled. These “songlines” were the inspiration for Ambah’s new collection. Because everyone’s journey is individual, your color choices can combine to create a dreaming track that is very specifically yours.

Each of the shawls are completely original in shape and construction. Chances are, you haven't seen anything like these shawls before. For example the Alinta wrap starts with a provisional cast-on in the center and works outward to create a trapezoid shape. Along with the unique shape, and the use of color, Ambah uses stripes and eyelets to create beautiful transitions of form and texture. 

Each of her shawls uses a different shape and construction. The PalanaShawl is knit in an oval which wraps gracefully around the neck and is roomy enough to really keep you warm as well.  

The next pattern, the Talara shawl  has an unusual U-shaped pattern worked in stripes, while the overall shawl shape is a more common crescent. Ambah achieves this with, again, a unique construction method, that I have not seen before.  

You can win this pattern collection! Comment on the blog saying which of the patterns is your favorite, in order to enter a giveaway for the entire shawl collection. 
Please be sure that you sign up for my newsletter, if you haven’t already done so, in order to be eligible to win (you can sign up in the upper right hand corner of this blog). 
Make sure you give me an email address, so I can reach you if you win, and confirm you're signed up for the newsletter. The drawing will be on Oct. 23.

Coupon Code

Right now, until Oct. 23, I'm offering 20% off my newest patterns with the code OCT20

Willowbrook Shawl - an easy knit perfect for gradients, variegated yarns or your own handspun.

Perpendicular Cowl - magic stripes make it special, and it's perfect for your favorite team colors.

Thanks for reading my blog. See you next time!

Monday, September 7, 2015

Book Review - Custom Socks - and a Giveaway


Please sign up for my Newsletter for timely news and updates - see top right corner ==>

Interweave/F+W; $27.99

By permission Interweave/F&W
Kate Atherley is serious about socks.  She has written a book, Custom Socks, with a near encyclopedic amount of detail on everything you need to know about hand knitted socks.
The sizing chart is great – there is lots of detail. I was happy to see that she included socks for children. I recently knit a pair of socks for my granddaughter, and not realizing how fast she was growing, knitted the socks about an inch too short.
I also like that she even included whether to measure bunions in the total measurement of the circumference of the foot. That attention to detail is what sets this book apart.

Kate takes the measurements and the good fit of socks very seriously. By telling us how to measure our feet, what to measure, and what amount of ease to allow for, she really helps us get on the right path to well fitting socks.
The most valuable and perhaps unique Section of the book is adjustments for non average feet. I don't think this material has been covered in such detail before.
The patterns in the book are beautiful. The patterns alone would make the book worthwhile, but the added attention to detail, and the directions on how to get the best fit, take this book to the next level. In my opinion, any serious sock knitter would appreciate this book.
Here are some of my favorite designs. The Wellington Road socks feature beautiful cables that twine up the sock in a graceful way.
Wellington Road

Each sock has both a top down and toe up version. This is really helpful and again, something I don't think I have seen before. 

The Harcourt  is lovely with an easy lace pattern to give it distinction. 


A beautiful colorwork sock is the Lindisfarne . The stranded color work produces a striking graphic pattern that both men and women would be happy to wear. 


The Carpita is another colorwork sock that has a really pretty design on it. 

 For each design, Kate has paid attention to how the pattern flows from the top to the bottom and how it is treated at the heel and gusset. Nothing is left to chance.

For example, the Wellesley Sock has graceful cables flowing down from the top to the bottom. 
Kate includes a basic sock for those who like to use self-striping yarns, and don't need to put a lot of work into a complicated sock pattern to get interesting socks. 

The author has done a great job of compiling and amassing all the knowledge that is needed to produce great socks that your family and friends (those lucky enough to receive them), will enjoy for years.

Once again, Interweave is sponsoring a giveaway of this book. Please comment on this blog post saying why you would like to win this book, and also sign up for my newsletter (top right corner of the blog) to to be entered into the drawing. Please include an email address or Ravelry ID so I can contact you if you win. I'll choose the winner on September 16, 2015 and announce it here on the blog.
Good luck!
Next time, I'll continue my series on choosing and using Color. Did you miss Part 1?  It's right here!

Disclaimer: I was given a review copy of this book.

New Design
I just published the Willowbrook Shawl.

This is a pretty side to side shawl especially designed for gradient sets. The pattern gives instructions for using several types of gradient sets, plus directions for various sizes of a single skein.

This pattern uses mostly garter stitch with a delicate lace edge for a nice relaxing knit. The simple stitch will really show off a unique variegated, semi-solid or handspun yarn.

And there's a coupon code - get 20% off right now with code 'SEPT20'.