Monday, February 20, 2017

Book Review and Giveaway - Garter Stitch Revival

*** We have a winner! It's handmadebysue @ravelry. Sue, please contact me to claim your prize! ***

This is a review of the book, Garter Stitch Revival (Interweave/F+W; $24.99 [CAN $30.99]; February, 2017). Focused on the first stitch that new knitters learn, Garter Stitch Revival presents 20 patterns that focus on the qualities of this versatile stitch. From accessories to garments, each pattern highlights garter stitch in a unique way. It’s a great book for the newer knitter looking to broaden their horizons.

This book celebrates the beauty and sophistication of this simple stitch. The book divides patterns into three categories, patterns that feature garter stitch as a detail, patterns where garter stitch is in a supporting role, and those with garter stitch all over.

It can be noted that most of these patterns use a solid or semi-solid yarn. I have found that a variegated yarn can look kind of muddy when garter stitch is used, as the different tones mix together and the beauty of each color is lost. Garter stitch has a characteristic of lying flat, which makes it perfect for hems, edgings, and cuffs of garments.

Here are some of the patterns that caught my eye.
1. Be TrueFingerless Mitts. These use DK weight yarn and are very attractive. Just note that this pattern uses a chart, not written instructions, although it is quite a simple straightforward pattern.

2. Seashell DolmanTee.  This also uses a DK weight yarn. I find that the dolman sleeve style creates too much bulk under the arms and can look a little awkward.

Having said that, it has a simple flat construction that is perfect for beginners. 

3. Argyle Diamond socks. These use garter stitch enclosed in diamond shapes, mimicking the classic argyle sock. This pattern is also charted only. 

4.  The Flapper Cloche.  Knit in worsted weight, it has an ingenious construction and really is cute. 

5. Just Peachy Cardigan. This one is in a bulky weight and uses garter stitch trim for the hem and the cuffs. 

6.  Boardwalk Brioche Cowl  This design uses garter stitch and brioche in a two color pattern. It has a very pretty rolled edge.

7. CottonCandy Mosaic Yoke Cardi.   This is a really pretty sweater. I hate to nitpick but the neckline is too wide – it looks like the sweater might slip off the shoulders. The pretty yoke colorwork makes this a really attractive sweater. It looks like maybe the sweater is simply too big for the skinny model. I'm sure it can be adjusted to fit properly or just worked in an appropriate size. 

8. Coney Island Shawl.   This pretty shawl uses mesh stripes and garter stripes in an asymmetrical shape and features a lace edge. 

9. Santa Monica Cardigan.  This sweater is done in fingering weight, and is a long comfy sweater. Be aware that the garter stitch does have a tendency to stretch and sag, so the sweater might get longer as you wear it! It is very flowing and graceful and uses a rolled edge collar.  

10. The Festival Halter Top.  This one uses short rows to create a really pretty curved him.  It is done in Aran weight cotton, and because it's garter stitch, again it might have a tendency to stretch out. However in the pictures it is nicely form fitting and very attractive.

In summary, I thought this book was a great compilation of garter stitch patterns. There were quite a few that I would love to make for myself, and I'm sure you will find some that you love as well. I would heartily recommend this book.
Disclosure: I was given a copy of this book to review.

Now for the giveaway information. If you post a comment on this blog entry stating which pattern is your favorite, and sign up for my newsletter, you will be entered into a giveaway to win your own copy of this book, plus I might just throw in a skein of beautiful yarn from my large stash
Be sure to give a Ravelry ID, or an email address -- or even your Instagram handle will do -- so that if you win I have a way to contact you! Don't forget
I will select a name in 2 weeks time, on March 6.

Pantone Color of the Year 2017

Jill Wolcott had a great post about the Color of the Year, Greenery.  She describes what is so great about this particular color (think spring leaves) and how to use it - alone or with other colors. She has provided some suggested color palettes as inspiration for your next project. It's a great read.

Tips for Knitting with Lace Weight Yarn

A while back I wrote some tips for working with lace weight yarn. Here they are, in case you need that info .... Learn from my experience!

That's all for today! See you all next time.

 P.S. Don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter to stay informed of future giveaways, knitting tips, test knits, and pattern news.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

The 2016 Gift-A-Long is underway!

The 2016 Gift-A-Long

This is the fourth year for the Indie Designer Gift-A-Long and I’m so excited. What is Gift-A-Long? It’s a multi-designer promotion to help you get started with your holiday knitting.

Over 300 indie designers of knit and crochet patterns, have banded together to support each other and help everyone get their holiday to-do list done while having a lot of fun and winning patterns and yarn.
In total, there are:
335 designers from 33 countries.
Lots and lots of donated physical prizes, and more coming in…(2015 had over 150)
Over 2,200 digital prizes (patterns!)

There are over 17,500 patterns to knit or crochet that will make you eligible to win one (or more) of the fabulous prizes.  Of the over 17,500 patterns, more than 5000 of them will be on SALE for 25% off!  

The sale runs from Tuesday, November 22nd at 8:00 pm US EST to Wednesday, November 30, 2016 at 11:59 pm US EST.
There will be Pinterest boards and Ravelry Bundles available to search for all the sale patterns.   

Once you get your sale pattern, check out the other patterns the designer offers.  All patterns are eligible for the KAL/CAL threads and all paid for patterns are eligible for prizes.  
Did I mention the prizes??? Tons and tons of prizes!
Check the Ravelry group for more information.

You can find all my GAL eligible patterns here: Brenda Castiel Designs and my 25% off patterns are here. The code is giftalong2016.

Have questions ? Check out the FAQs
I hope you'll join in!

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Coupon Code, New Patterns

Hello !
Breast Cancer Awareness Month is just around the corner.  And I’d like to tell you what we have planned.
To mark Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I will be offering 25% off all of my patterns, with coupon code OCTOBER.  In addition, I'll donate an additional 25% for each pattern sold, to support
breast cancer research.

My mom died of breast cancer when she was just in her forties, and it's important to me to help cure this terrible disease.  I was just 14 when I lost her, and I often wonder what my sis and I missed out on, by not having her with us longer. My sister is a survivor of ovarian cancer, so this is to honor her as well.  

I look forward to seeing your show of support for the month of October. But you don't have to wait -- the coupon starts now. That's 25% off every pattern in my Ravelry store, and I donate a matching 25% to Cancer Research. It’s a win-win-win!  


New Patterns

Several new designs have been published lately, so here is a quick round-up:

Clement Shawl, in the latest Malabrigo Pattern Book.   

Forever Diamonds Cowl in I Like Knitting magazine

#6 Lace Trimmed Shawl in Noro Magazine   

Ainsley Shawl from Willow Yarns

Riviera Nights - Knit Picks 

If you follow me on Instagram (I'm @bcastiel) you may have seen pictures of my latest project, the Pistachio Ice Cream shawl. It uses short rows to create wedges that really show off a beautiful variegated, speckled or gradient yarn.
It's being test knit now and will be released in a couple of weeks. I'm very excited about it!

That's it for now! See you soon.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

A Giveaway, Alpacas in Sweaters, and more.


Thanks for playing! ***

We have a book review and a giveaway! We'll give away the book Refined Knits by Jennifer Wood, plus, your choice of yarn: A skein of Cozy from the Plucky Knitter OR 3 skeins of silk/cashmere. You choose!
 But first, the book review.
The book features sophisticated lace, cable, and Aran lace knitwear. The book has lots of photographs, and is very well laid out. You can see every angle and every detail of the garments, which is great. And, you can purchase either hard copy or e-book. 

The book starts with a cute story of how the author learned to knit. It then goes on to the patterns. Let's start with Willa, a cozy rustic sweater.

Its slightly lower than usual neckline gives it a modern look. I like that the pattern includes helpful tips, and a description of the construction of the sweater. The cables run from the neckline down the sleeves, in a variation on the saddle shoulder. It adds a very pretty touch. 

Adelaide is a scarf that is reversible. Its very thoughtful design includes cables, and gently ruffled ends.  

Idril is a graceful and flattering pullover sweater.  
It is worked top down, and is nicely shaped and fitted. 

Next comes Brielle. This is a v-neck cardigan that uses two different yarns thereby getting both a nice stitch definition and a soft halo. 

Ada is a pullover with a really nice contrast color I-cord edging. The I-cord gives it a very elegant finish. It is a raglan construction, worked top down. 

In the next section we have Victoria -- it is a diamond lace pullover, top down raglan, knitted in one piece. It has lace inserts in the front and back, lovely and graceful. 

The book includes tips for reading lace charts. It should be noted that the book has charts only, no written instructions. 

Vivian, is a sleeveless pullover that is worked top down, in the round. It features a loose drapey cowl neck. 

Camelia is a cardigan with a very nice pine cone lace pattern.  

In addition to patterns, the book includes information on choosing suitable yarns, instructions on how to cable without a cable needle, and various other techniques. 

All in all, I would recommend this book for the advanced beginner to intermediate knitter. 
There are lots of sweaters I would love to make for myself!

Do you want to win your very own copy? Just enter a comment on this blog saying why you want to win. Also tell me which yarn you'd like, the Plucky Knitter in color "Princess Phone" (260 yds worsted weight) or the 3 skeins of SilkyB blue silk/cashmere blend (an artisanal yarn from a small producer in Pennsylvania).  You must include your email or Rav id or Instagram handle so I can tell you if you've won! 
Please sign up for the newsletter, too (top right), as you must be signed up in order to win
I’ll draw a winner on Sept 1.
Good luck!

Note: I was given a review copy of the book by F+W Publications.

Alpacas in Sweaters

Here’s what’s new in my Etsy shop. I have added a cute fabric featuring alpacas in sweaters and scarves.  It’s available in both drawstring and zipper styles. 

Here are some comments from my past customers:

"This bag is so well made! Great work and super fast door-to-door! Already stuffed with goodies to knit! Thank you!!!!"
"Fast shipping, great product, couldn't be happier. I'll come back again and again! "


All my Ravelry Patterns are 20% off with code SUMMER, until Sept 1, 2016.

See you next time!

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Knitting Tips, a Summer Sale, and an Etsy Sale, Oh My!

20% Off Summer Sale

All my patterns, yes, all! are on sale at 20% off with code SUMMER.
  Some summery ones you might like:
Tiny Bubbles Top, and Celine Cardi.



Project Bags on Sale Too - 25% off
All my Ready-to-Ship project bags are on sale at 25% off.
They are already marked down in my Etsy Shop, GoodStuffCrafts. No coupon code required. Shop early for the best selection!
 Knitting Tips
Knitting in the Round
You might enjoy this great write-up on knitting in the round with small circumferences. It covers pros and cons of the different methods. Really interesting!

Hand Dyed Yarn
I really learned a lot from this post from Phydeaux Yarns on the different types of hand dyed yarns: semisolid, tonal, and variegated. Are you clear on the differences? If not, this will help!


Got a vacation coming up? Here's a post about choosing and packing knitting projects for air travel. Great advice and useful tips!

* * *
That's it for today. Thanks for reading!

Please sign up for my Newsletter (top right of this screen) to get regular updates, plus a free pattern just for signing up.

P.S. Don't forget to join my Ravelry Group for fun, my latest test knit, KALs and prizes.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Review: Custom Colorwork Techniques - Craftsy Class

Hi everyone!
Today I'm reviewing the Craftsy class by the designer Stephannie Tallent - Custom Colorwork Techniques - Mitts.
I really enjoyed this class. It was very comprehensive and it was also quite empowering, because Stephanie encourages you -- once you have learned some basic concepts -- to go ahead and design your own mittens. She gives you all the information you need, from calculating your stitch counts, choosing your colors, and designing interesting edges that coordinate with your design motifs. 

She has a warm friendly style, and is really pleasant to watch and listen to. It's obvious that she loves the topic, and her enthusiasm shines through.
Among the subjects covered are: creating charts, choosing colors (a quick review of Color Theory), duplicate stitch to add colors, and customizing your design.
Class materials include a mitt pattern, templates and a size and motif worksheet to work out your own ideas.
Stephannie is very responsive and answers all the questions that students post.
Mitts are a great small portable project to work on during the summer months, so it's perfect timing to start a project now, when there are no looming deadlines!
I feel as though I learned a lot from her class, and I'm excited to design a pair of mittens for myself. I am sure you will enjoy it too.

Go to this link to get 50% off the class, for a limited time!


See you next time!

Friday, May 13, 2016

Special Offer - I Like Knitting magazine

I've been fortunate that I Like Knitting magazine has published several of my designs and articles in the past. 
They are an online publication that you read on their website on a PC, or on a tablet.

They are currently offering a discount on their Website + Tablet subscription next week, and wanted to extend the offer to you, my lovely readers.  The sale is going to run from today through May 22, 2016.  They are offering the Website + Tablet subscription, normally $34.97, for $19.97, or 43% off.   
To take advantage of the offer, use this LINK.