Archive for the ‘Self Designed’ Category

Scramble

November 11, 2010

I’ve fallen behind in keeping up with this blog, which is a shame, as it’s something I really enjoy working on. However, I am going to take a current illness as an opportunity and update just a little.

This is Rosa. Rosa is currently out for test knitting, and the pattern will be available in December. I mentioned in passing a few times that I had an idea for an accessories collection. Rosa is not the first item I’ve finished for this collection, but she will be the first released. The other accessories for the collection will be a little delayed due to deadline projects, but the good news is that with Ravelry’s new promotional tools, purchasing Rosa now and the collection later won’t penalize early buyers for their loyalty. I will be able to discount the purchase of Rosa from the cost of the full ebook when it is ready, so you can have your cake and eat it too!

The patterns in the new collection are all named after women I admire for one reason or another. Rosa has a floral pattern and a Spanish feel, but that’s actually sort of coincidental, as the shawl was named after Rosa Parks long before I started it. The yarn is gorgeous Rocky Mountain Dyeworks Bow Falls Fingering, a light fingering weight yarn of Blue Faced Leicester wool. I loved working with the yarn, as the saturated color with just a little variegation revealed new depth and surprises after each row. This is an amazing red – there are at least three separate saturated reds at work here, meaning that the yarn revealed barely visible blues or yellows tinging the main vibrant shade as I knit with it. I used a very simple zig zag lace at the edging to mimic fringe.

It’s been a real pleasure to work on this collection. I’m actually in the midst of the largest project out of the lot – another shawl/wrap, this one quite large and involved – and while it’s taking a little while, I sincerely hope and believe the end result will be worth it.  I spent a lot of time on color with this bunch, and I’m glad of it, because color is what tends to keep me tied to a knitting project. I’m already planning more color palettes for the future, just because!

Oh, also

August 28, 2009

I started a Ravelry group, Dangerous With Pointy Sticks, for anyone interested in Knitting Kninja patterns, whether as a knitter, test knitter, or just as one of my friends!  I figured that with the number of emails and private messages I get regarding my patterns these days, it might make more sense to run individual threads for each pattern so people can search for tips and ideas there.  I plan on offering test knitting opportunities to the group first, and this way the test knitters will be able to consult and compare with each other as well as with me.

The kids have started back at school, but so have I, so while I have a little more time during the day, it’s still pretty busy around here.  Nonetheless, I hope to keep moving and to have more patterns available on a fairly regular rotation.  Happy knitting, and I hope to see you in my group!

Oh, and here’s a picture of the front of the shrug, as per requests, complete with the slightly strained smile of a woman wearing wet wool in August.

Rustic

May 21, 2009

Muench Sir Galli, now discontinued, is a silk tweed, and while it’s not actually practical for rustic use, something about it, from the subdued natural tones to the tweedy flecks and nubs, screams rustic.  It has a gnarled, woody look, and when I finally made use of it, I felt that I wanted to turn that woody look to the advantage of the garment.

This isn’t the most practical cardigan I’ve ever made, but I’m excited nonetheless, because all the elements of this experiment worked out rather as I wanted them to.  I had a vision and the end result looks an awful lot like that vision, despite a certain lack of knowledge when it comes to shaping lace.  You can see that in the rumply shape of the front panels, but the raglan shaping itself went very well.

I need to get a picture of the back of this so you can actually see the Fir Cone lace.  It’s a fine old Shetland pattern, closely related to Razor Shell and Fern lace, but it doesn’t lie as flat as either of these.  This is where the silk yarn came in handy: the sheer amount of drape causes the lace to lie relatively flat, something I don’t think would be possible in most fibers.

As I said in my last post, I have no plans to write up a pattern for this one, but I do like the construction enough that I’m planning a similar garment that will be written up.

I’m still unwell and still on crutches, and am overall unhappy with my body and its inability to stay healthy for any space of time longer than a month.  The crutches are leaning against a nearby wall in the above photo, and to be honest, soon after it was taken I was too tired to stay upright.  It’s just a bit discouraging.  Use of the crutches creates pain in parts of my body other than my foot, and then my fibromyalgia flares up and I’m exhausted and painful all the time.  It’s making me crabby.

I have deeper thoughts, mostly inspired by Emily, that need to be written through, but I’m afraid I’m too tired to get to them now.  So for the moment, it’s just the new sweater!

Catching up with Project Spectrum

May 13, 2009

I have had a rough time of it lately in terms of health.  I was sick for a time (though not with swine flu – yay!), and then I hurt my ankle and now I’m on crutches.  I’ve been largely confined to bed, so I haven’t really been as up on things that require being upright, such as sitting at the computer.  (I had the iPod in bed, but that’s very hard to type on.)  Anyway, this means that all my Project Spectrum North projects, cast on last minute in mid April or later, have gone unposted until now, when we’re in Project Spectrum East.

Dishcloths?  Oh yeah, baby.  That’s right.  I got yet hardcore dishcloth action right here!

Honestly, I never really imagined myself knitting dishcloths, but I came into a small amount of dishcloth cotton over time, and last month I decided to use some of it up.  I have to admit, while not the most exciting thing to make (rectangles that will eventually be covered in grime) they are much, much nicer to use than my usual pile of rags from hacked up tee shirts.  In both of these instances, I picked a simple knit/purl stitch pattern and just went with it.  No edging, just two kinds of basic basketweave.  The texture actually makes them very useful for cleaning.  Can you tell which one’s been washed?

I also made a hat for Mr. Kninja for next winter.  He’d been eyeing the leftover green yarn from Liam’s rainbow jacket, and while I knew he wanted a Thorpe or other ear flapped hat, I didn’t have enough left for that.  I chose Turn-A-Square, and used the remnants of my Chasing Rainbows Superwash for the stripes.  It reminds me oddly and intensely of Oscar the Grouch.  It’s just such a nineteen seventies Sesame Street sort of hat, what with the bright colors and the stripes.  I really love this thing…it just suits Mr. Kninja to the skies, and it’s so cheery and odd.  The stripes are actually really close to Mr. Kninja’s skin tone, which adds to the funny overall look.  It’s like he’s trying to camoflauge himself in a crayon box.

Finally, another project for Mr. Kninja.  The Lady was kind enough to meet up with me and teach me Magic Loop, and this is what I’m making with my new ninja skills.  I am so loving the Magic Loop, and kicking myself for not learning it earlier, after all these years of posting vaguely about how I should probably learn.  The toes on these socks are leftover Smooshy from my Spring Green top.  The rest is yummy Trekking.

I am afraid Project Spectrum North just zoomed by for me.  I love green!  I felt so ready for green and North and all the ideas connected with North, but somehow it just kind of passed me by, with only these last minute projects (and one still secret project) to show for it.  However, that’s not the case with Project Spectrum East.  Oh no.  I am so ahead of the game on this one.

This indistinct heap of knitting is a project that hit me quite suddenly this weekend.  Since I was laid up anyhow, I decided to just go ahead and start it.  It’s in every way connected with the themes of Project Spectrum East.  From the Project Spectrum Ravelry group page:

EAST (May/June)
Color: Yellow
Material: Wood
Season: Spring
Element: Air

The project you see here is a spring layering cardigan in butterscotch silk tweed with a woody look and an open, airy lace pattern on the top half.  It’s not as yellow as a project I have in mind for later, but I just couldn’t resist starting right when inspiration struck.  I have very few urgent projects on the go at the moment, and it seemed like an opportunity for spontaneity.

The lower half of the cardigan is knit sideways in one long strip.  The upper half is a Shetland fir cone lace – very puckery, but I think the silk will flatten pretty well.  It’s all got a very rustic, outdoorsy look.  I made large short sleeves, which are just now being attached, and I’ll be finishing it up with a raglan construction.  I’m afraid I have no plans at all to write up a pattern, though.  It’s really very improvised, and I think my method of dealing with the lace is pretty amateur.  I may write up a similar pattern later, but not this one.

Still, I’m very excited about this project.  I only started it this weekend and I’m almost done.  I hope to have modeled pictures (sans crutches) soon!

Day’s Eye Hat again

March 4, 2009

Popknits‘ Spring issue went live today, so you can get the Day’s Eye pattern now!  I thought I’d tell you all a little more about that pattern today, and the process that went into designing it.  The pictures accompanying this post are the pictures I decided NOT to send to Popknits.  It was cold out when we did the shoot, and the original pictures had me in coat and scarf, which I decided was probably not the best idea for a Spring issue.

This is, to date, my best planned pattern.  I drew the cable some time in December on a piece of graph paper and liked how it looked, so I knit a swatch.  I had the cable in mind for a hat from the moment I drew it, so when I knit the swatch, I incorporated the decreases I planned to use in the crown of the hat.  The swatch in question was knit with leftover Cascade 220, and it came out bigger than I intended for the final hat, but it was a great roadmap for when I actually sat down and made the hat itself.  It was basically a matter of transcribing the swatch into a chart, and that was 90% of the process that usually bogs me down out of the way, there.

Now, a more experienced, more naturally organized designer would probably have been planning projects in this logical way all along.  I am not a naturally organized person, so this sort of planning is a major milestone for me.  I usually sit down with skein and needles in hand and have only the basic idea that I want to make a hat, or a scarf, or a sweater, or whatever, and then I go from there and have to go back and decipher what I did later.  Not truly the best way to manage things.

So, the planning out of the way, it was a matter of choosing yarn and making a hat.  I settled on Felted Tweed pretty early on.  I wanted to pick a yarn that had enough yardage to make the hat from a single skein, and I’ve been itching to work with Felted Tweed again for some time now.  I’d originally planned on a different color, but the colors I wanted weren’t in stock at my local yarn store, and the purple seemed to fit well with the daisy pattern on the top of the hat.

The pattern is called Day’s Eye because day’s eye is the Old English name for the daisy flower.  One assumes it refers to the way the blossoms open and shut in response to the sun – the day’s eye opens in daylight and shuts at night.  Chaucer referred to the flower in verse:

Men by reason well it calle may
The Daïsie, or else the Eye of Day,
The Empresse and the flowre of flowres all.

Daisies are one of my favorite flowers.  In general, the daisies I peer at on my walks are probably not the day’s eyes referred to by Chaucer or Ben Johnson.  The term is used for a wide variety of flowers, but they all have a basic shape in common – a simple center surrounded by elongated petals that rarely overlap.

I hope you enjoy the Day’s Eye pattern!  It was a great deal of fun to create.  I think I may make one for myself, actually.  The one shown here was given to my sister after she tried it on and it looked adorable on her.

Day’s Eye!

February 26, 2009

One of my secret projects is no longer a secret!  The Popknits Spring Preview is live, and you can get a sneak peek at the Day’s Eye Hat.

I’ll have more to say about the project when it goes live (March 4th), but for now, I just wanted to show off!

Pauline and Paulette

February 24, 2009

Pauline first: I noticed an error when I was rereading the pattern the other night.  I have no idea how I missed it for so long, but here’s the correction:  For the smaller size, when you reach the Back Shaping, Row 1 should read, “Knit 39 sts,” instead of the 40 stitches it currently specifies. If you downloaded the pattern from Ravelry, you should have received an email to this effect.  I’ve updated the pattern on here and on Ravelry, so if you download it from here on out, it should be correct.

On to Paulette.

I took some modeled shots of the 4T Paulette today.  In French, the -ette suffix is like the Spanish -ita; it’s a diminutive nickname implying youth and cuteness.  I figured Paulette was the perfect name for the diminutive Pauline.

As much as I love the ties on this pattern, I think they could be a strangling hazard for younger children, so the smaller sizes will have a short under-the-chin strap with a snap.  I’ll be making a wee(er) version of Paulette in pale pale pink before I release the pattern.  But I wanted to show off my pretty girl before then (and also, I wanted to have something to blog about – so much of what I’m doing lately is not very interesting to look at) so here are some of the pictures now.

Hopefully, I’ll have a really small Paulette to show you shortly!  Then all I need to do is find a baby to borrow.

Makes me happy

February 23, 2009

I made a simple mushroom and barley soup for lunch the other day, and you know, it’s a small thing, but man, it was so good.

I love when something simple turns out well.  I used shitake mushrooms when I’d usually use crimini mushrooms, and I was out of chicken broth, so I created a broth out of the onions and mushrooms and a little bit of white wine and soy sauce.  Good stuff.

Also good: Classic Elite Moorland.

I’m writing a new version of my Pauline pattern, this one for littlies.  I’m going with sizes new person through nine year old person, and I wanted to find some good yarns to use for the project.  The Moorland is a lovely soft yarn with a beautiful halo of mohair and alpaca, and it comes in the most gorgeous smoky colors.  Seriously, when I saw it, I ended up standing in front of the various shades for what seemed an age, just mesmerized by the subtle tones.  I was torn between the dusty lavender I ultimately picked and a beautiful smoky rose or a muddied blue.  This is a very rich yarn with a lot of depth.

The end result is so soft, so luxurious, so subtle and sophisticated…I’m in love.  The yarn has the lovely halo of mohair but none of the scratchiness that can sometimes occur.  The only thing I’d warn you about is that the yarn did have a tendency to shed as I was knitting with it, but I think it’s all worthwhile.  It’s like knitting with a kitten.

The flower is made with a little Felted Tweed all doubled up and the leaves are leftover Malabrigo in Stone Blue.  I’d originally planned green leaves, but Eleanor, who is the intended owner of this hat, expressed a preference for blue, and I think her instincts were right on with this one.

I’m going to make a baby sized version with a snapping chin strap rather than ties – no choking or strangling hazards for new little people – and then I’ll release the pattern.  I’m going to use a different DK yarn for the baby version.  I thought it might be helpful to folks to see how it looks in a couple of different yarns, and to get some ideas of substitutes.  The best thing about these smaller hats is how little yarn they use.  It’s a great way to use up a bit of lovely soft stuff that you’ve got lying about.

Long forgotten items of business

January 26, 2009

First off, thank you so much for your feedback on my Maude Louise problem.  I feel like I’ve got a much better handle on what to do now.  I’ve been working on the pattern last week and this week, and I hope it will be ready soon.  I’m going to go ahead with the experiment.  I want to keep Maude Louise easily available, and I also like the idea that you could choose to pay for the pattern AFTER knitting it, so that you aren’t going blind into the experience.

Above is a photo of Victoire, which I don’t think I ever formally posted on the blog.  There’s a link on the Free Patterns page to download the PDF, but that’s it.  Victoire (Rav link) was a Christmas present for my sister.  She had asked for a cowl, and I really wanted to make her one out of Malabrigo Silky Merino, because I love how that yarn feels on the neck.  My first attempt was pretty, but the lace I used was rather too loose, and I ended up with a giant cowl of craziness.

I tried pinning it to see if that would work, but it looked awful.  Shame, as the lace is really beautiful.  I’m sure I’ll use it again, possibly for a sweater, as I love the way it was so easy to convert to in-the-round knitting, and the way it spiraled up.  It would be very pretty for sleeves or for the trunk of a sweater.

But that’s not what I ended up using, of course.  I have a bit of a private obsession with plaited basket stitch, as I love the way it looks so much like a woven fabric.  I’ve tried to use it before for a failed baby jacket, and I’ve also done some rather secretive experiments with creating the perfect knit spats using plaited basket stitch.  It’s such a tight, firm fabric with so little give that I find it very difficult to use it well, much as I love the look, and it’s a fairly difficult stitch to make.  The actual instructions are quite simple, but it’s physically a very tight and unyielding stitch that can cramp the hands a bit.  I’ve seen a lovely sweater jacket knit entirely in plaited basket stitch, and my hands recoiled as my mind seized on it with alacrity.

Anyway, I decided to make what amounts to a neck jacket.  I’d been very taken with some buttoned cowls I’d seen recently, and it seemed natural to make a weird little pseudo-Victorian wrapper.  Victoire fits under a sweater or jacket very easily and it’s very soft and warm.  The one thing I want to note is that because of the high silk content of the Silky Merino, the button holes on the original Victoire have relaxed from use and will need to be stitched partially shut.  I’d suggest, as a result, using larger and more lightweight buttons than I did if you end up making Victoire out of the same yarn.

The color I used, Matisse Blue, is amazing.  The intensity is just brilliant, and I truly wish this was a color that flattered me, because it’s just so lovely.  As it is, if I can’t wear it, at least I have a sister with black hair and blue eyes who looks amazing in jewel tones.  I have an idea for a grey and fuschia sweater that she’ll just have to have.  (And on top of this, I have a mother who can wear the smoky blue greys that I love and can’t wear.  It’s good, when you’re a knitter, to have family or friends with a wide range of skin, hair, and eye colors, because sometimes you just need to knit with that gorgeous, but unflattering to you shade you found.)

Transitioning right into another long forgotten issue, I’ve kind of been a bad moderator of my Color Coordinated Ravelry group, leaving it neglected for long periods of time.  I was thinking that this year, in an effort both to be a better mod and a better blogger, it might be helpful to bring some of the color discussion over here.  I’m also planning on participating in the Year of Color this round, for the first time, so that should be a topic for future posts.  I spend a lot of time thinking about color, but I rarely talk about it over here.

Darn it!  I had one other long forgotten item to bring up, and in the time it took me to write the above short paragraph, I’ve entirely forgotten what I wanted to say.  This doesn’t bode well for my memory, does it?

I’m listening to Stéphane Grappelli as I type, and it occurs to me that gypsy jazz is the perfect music for writing and for knitting.  It does not distract; it enhances beautifully.  You can snuggle right down into a musical phrase and settle there, concentrating on your own work while enjoying someone else’s.

I have so many ideas floating around in my head right now.  I want this to be the year I act on more of them.  Everything I care about needs a little more attention.

I’ll leave you with a random picture.  Nora is a very new reader and has taken to reading random words over my shoulder when I’m enjoying a book.  (While I was working on Team of Rivals, it was a little startling to be interrupted with a chuckle and, “Ha ha!  Mommy, that’s a funny word!”  The funny word was usually something like “previous.”)  The other night she branched out and went to look at my bookshelf, where she was delighted to find a book with a title that was so very easy to read.

Edit: I just remembered the last forgotten item!  Sometime around Christmas, I accidentally deleted my blog roll.  I don’t remember doing this, but it’s gone.  I figure it’ll be easier to handle as a separate page these days, since it was getting to be so long.  I’m going to add it back in soon.  I just wanted to mention it in part to remind myself that it happened and that I need to put it back up.

Free Pauline!

December 17, 2008

The winners of the Malabrigo Junkies design contest were finally announced today, and Pauline was among them.  This means that Pauline is now available as a free download, either here, or on Ravelry.   I’ve been meaning to consolidate my pattern page for some time, and now I have, so old links to my patterns may not work.  (Sorry ’bout that.)  All patterns are now available through the Free Patterns page – just click on the picture, and you will either be able to download the PDF or you’ll be taken to blog post where I explained what I did.  I’m in the midst of a small revolution here.  I’m reknitting and rephotographing most of the older patterns and I’m going to turn all of them into PDFs some time in the coming year.  I just don’t know when exactly, as I’m also working on a bunch of new patterns, as well as learning InDesign well enough to come up with much better layouts for the PDFs.

Congratulations to the other design contest winners!  There were some amazing entries in the contest.  Be sure to check out the other winners – Chimera is a beautiful cabled dickey, the Remolino Hat is a textured beret, and the Twister Scarf is a lovely crocheted spiral of neckwear.