Sunday, August 27, 2017

Book Review and Giveaway - Alter Knits

This is a review of the book AlterKnit by Andrea Rangel, a new publication from Interweave Press. 

More than a stitch dictionary, this book presents a new spin on colorwork, or Fair Isle knitting.
It does give a nod to traditional patterns, but Andrea goes way beyond what you may have seen before  -- and comes up with some original and whimsical colorwork designs. 
The book also has sections on choosing yarns and colors for your colorwork, a really important factor.

It shows you how to hold the yarn for two color knitting, teaches you how to deal with floats -- that's the yarn that sits behind your knitting when you're not using one color or the other. She teaches about swatching in the round and how to cut steeks in your knitting. These are all very valuable skills to have with colorwork knitting. It's easiest to do all your knitting in the round, so for something flat,  like a cardigan, you will need to cut your knitting in the round to make the front opening.  The book covers this technique in good detail. 

From there, we are on to the actual patterns. I even made a swatch of one of them that I thought was pretty, although there are so many, it will be hard for you to choose just one to start with.
There are abstract or geometric designs; there are motifs like flowers, animals, skulls, mushrooms, and bicycles. 

Not only are there swatches for all of them, but the book also includes a few patterns, so you can move right into making some garments for yourself. It's easy to substitute one pattern for another as long as you take into account the stitch repeats. 

There's plenty of guidance for using all these pretty designs in your knitting.
If you’re anything like me, you'll find your imagination taking flight with ideas of what you can make next! 

Thanks to Interweave Press, I'm able to offer a giveaway of a copy of this book to one lucky person who comments on the blog, naming a favorite pattern or a favorite aspect of the book.
Check this link to see all the swatches.  
If you love colorwork, you will enjoy this book.

Disclosure: I received a review copy of this book from F+W Media.

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.

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 1 week's time, on Sept. 5. 2017. 

Talk to you soon.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

ETSY Shop on Sale!

This week my Etsy shop where I sell project bags is all on sale! 10% off with no coupon code required.

I have themes featuring Star Wars, Doctor Who, Gilmore Girls and many more.

This one features sweaters, socks and yarn.

Here's one showing Van Gogh's Starry Night, with an optional clear window.

My newest one: cats and yarn!

And a sweet little notions pouch decorated with Liberty of London hexagon shapes.

Happy shopping!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Why Does Seville have a Skein of Yarn in its Flag?

On a visit to Seville, Spain, a few years ago, I couldn’t help but notice banners fluttering from the lamp posts that featured what was  - unmistakably – a skein of yarn. 

 I pointed it out to my husband, a Spanish speaker, and asked him to explain it to me.  Maybe there was a knitting festival in town? (Hope springs eternal). He shrugged his shoulders – it was a mystery to him. 

This symbol was found on many signs around the city, from taxis and buses to sewer covers.

In the course of our vacation we made our way to the City Hall and there was an elaborate coat of arms and logo there:

There was a plaque telling the story behind this intriguing symbol. Legend says that it originates from the 13th-century coat of arms awarded to Sevilla by King Alfonso X the Wise. He bestowed it in gratitude for Seville´s support in his battles against his son, Sancho IV of Castile, who wanted to usurp his father´s throne during the Reconquest. 

Between the "NO" and "DO" is a skein of wool (“madeja” is Spanish for “skein”). Add the three together, speaking in Seville´s characteristic accent, and you have “no-madeja-do”; more correctly, “no me ha dejado” which means “She (the city of Seville) has not abandoned me”.  

The motto was his reward to the people of Seville for their loyalty. 

So cool, right?

See you next time!

Friday, August 11, 2017

New Designs - Buy 2, Get the 3rd for Free


I have new patterns in the Ravelry Store! Are you thinking about fall? Maybe some gift knitting?
First is the Diamonds Forever Hat.

Here's a pic with a model (somehow it looks like it's falling off her head, am I right?), and here's one with me.

This appealing hat features easy knit and purl textured stitches and a pop of color at the edges. The hat can be made beanie style or slouchy, and it sports an optional pom-pom for fun. The hat is worked in the round with a cast-on that blends into the pattern on the body of the item.
Knit in a sport weight, this hat is perfect for chilly weather.

Here's the matching Cowl:

Here are a pair of legwarmers that match the hat and cowl shown above:
Diamonds Forever Legwarmers

It uses the same texture stitch, just knits and purls to create the design, with a pop of bright color for fun.

Best of all, if you put all 3 in your cart, you'll only pay for 2. No coupon required!

 Don't forget to sign up for the newsletter. You get news, discounts, and a free pattern just for signing up.

Friday, August 4, 2017

10 Things Knitters Get Wrong (Even Me!)

10 Things Knitters Get Wrong

Even if you’ve been knitting for a while, there are lots of new things to learn – not just specific techniques like the brioche stitch, or reading charts – there are YouTube videos and classes for those – but practices that might be called “managing your knitting”.
These help ensure that you have an enjoyable time with your knitting, and that you are delighted with the result.
After several decades of knitting, and a few unsuccessful projects among all the happy ones, I have learned a thing or two. 
So here are 10 things knitters get wrong that interfere with a happy experience. And, I’ve made most of these mistakes myself!
1.    Don't read the pattern all the way through to see that you understand the techniques, and construction. Make sure the pattern is within your capabilities, or includes techniques that you would like to learn. Do you like set-in sleeves or do you prefer raglan style? Read the pattern to see which one is used.
2.    Skip the Gauge Swatch, just wing it. Sorry, it might seem tiresome when all you want to do is cast on something new (we’ve all been there), but a swatch can tell you a lot of information besides simply whether you’re “getting gauge”. It can show you the drape, or feel, of the knitted fabric, how well the yarn works with this stitch pattern, and even whether you really like this stitch pattern after all. You might decide you hate working miles of seed stitch.

3.    Ignore the schematic that tells you how big each piece should be. Is your sweater looking unusually big?  Check early and often how it compares to the schematic; don’t wait till you're finished to find out!
Summer Top in Merino Wool
4.    Don’t pay attention to matching the right yarn to the pattern. I once knit a sleeveless summer top in merino wool. What was I thinking? When would I ever wear it? Maybe cotton or linen would have been a better pairing.  How about a brightly variegated yarn for delicate lace socks? You can't appreciate either the yarn or the lace. A solid or semi-solid would work better. When in doubt, it’s usually best to follow the guidance provided by the designer in the pattern. 

5.    Don’t think about how you will wear the finished piece. Do you love to knit shawls but never wear them? Do you knit bright colored pieces, but in your wardrobe you stick with mainly neutrals? Think about knitting something that you will actually use; you’ll have the satisfaction of wearing something you made with your own hands – it’s a great feeling.
Extra Long Sleeves
6.    Don’t check your own (or other’s) measurements. You really need to know your measurements before making a garment. This is important for choosing which size to make, and for planning any adjustments. It’s best to revisit them every year or so, in case (ahem) some things have shifted. Don’t just choose size Medium because you always do. For kids’ clothing, take into account growth patterns; make sleeves a little long, for example, so that they don’t outgrow it too quickly.

7.    Don’t worry about caring for your knitted piece. Are you (or the recipient of your gift knitting) up for constant hand washing? Do they even know the item needs hand washing? (How would you even manage it for a large afghan – in a bathtub?) If you're not confident that the lucky recipient of your gift will lovingly hand wash it every time, For the Love of All That is Holy, make the item out of machine washable yarn. This is a pretty good idea for any children's wear too -- the kid's mother will thank you. After all, it’s you they’ll come crying to, when the piece has irretrievably felted to baby size after being machine-washed in hot water.
8.    Don’t consider the preferences of the person you’re knitting for.  People generally have favorite colors; I’ve noticed that quite a few men I know are especially particular about the colors that they will wear. Don't knit orange socks for a man who only wears navy blue or black. Recently, I was about to knit a pink sweater for my granddaughter, when I found out (just in time) that her favorite color is now teal!
9.    Don’t think about climate. Try to make sure the wearer of your knitted item will enjoy the piece you're making for them. If they live in a warm climate, stay away from heavy cabled sweaters and cowls, think instead of socks or a light shawl.
10. Don’t be concerned with the yarn texture or content. Take into account whether you or the eventual user of the piece will be receptive to a “rustic” yarn or will they find it too itchy and put it aside. The same goes for mohair, or particular fibers that people may be allergic to.

How about you? Do you have any knitting no-no's to add to the list? Do you have any knitting mishaps to share?  Please comment below!

To sum up, choose the right pattern for your needs or your lifestyle, choose the right yarn to go with that pattern, make sure the pattern is within your capabilities, or includes techniques that you would like to learn. Make sure that the finished garment will be usable either by yourself, or by the recipient, in terms of style, color and fit. Make sure the color, yarn choice and pattern style is suitable for the recipient.
Happy Knitting!

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