Archive for the ‘patterns’ Category

moving right along . . .

Tuesday, March 10th, 2015

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i am so glad to be home—believe it or not, there is a part of me that hates being away from home, no matter how cold and dreary ohio can be. first of all, i miss david. but also, i miss the quiet, absorbing work of calculating figures and putting together the pieces that build each pattern i write.

as much as the knitting itself, i love this part of my work; writing instructions that make sense and result in beautiful objects, figuring out the best way to say each step so that anyone else could knit the thing that i’m knitting—i think of this as another art form, one that i enjoy very much.

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as i work, i think of how you would read this or that line and which way to word it so that it makes the most sense to the most knitters (of course, there will alway be outliers—instructions for which there is no best way to state an action).

so i hope you don’t mind that i took a few days after my trip to sink into the pile of pattern work that awaited me, communing back and forth with anne marie, tana, anne, and katharine about proofreading, tech editing, and test knitting. and at the same time, continuing work on my own sweater knitting projects, like this dressy little cardigan where i am incorporating the lace and cable motif from the wheaten patterns. i have finished the first sleeve and started one of the fronts; when it is complete, i should have plenty of data to write up the first draft of the pattern.

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for this project i’m working with a new yarn from spirit trail fiberworks—tayet, 100% BFL fingering yarn—which is not available yet, but will debut at maryland sheep and wool. i just love this yarn; it is beautifully constructed, with a polished surface that is neither too round or too stiff—just a gorgeous, soft hand and sheen that knits up into a light, soft fabric with lovely drape.

this design will also be luscious in better breakfast fingering yarn, which is on the recommended yarn list (one of us will be knitting that as a test knit once the pattern is sized). it offers a similar hand and drape with a light halo instead of sheen.

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of course, all that pattern work means i haven’t had as much time to knit since i got home, but i’m making the most of what time i have to devote to it. i’m off to a good start on the last piece of my natty pullover in better breakfast DK and i’m looking forward to the finish. though the frozen backbone of winter has seemingly been broken, i’m sure there is still time to wear it this year.

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speaking of the natty pullover, on sunday i wet blocked the sleeves because i was dying to assess the performance of the washed fabric and see what the final texture would look like (just like many other knitters, i sometimes worry that a subtle texture will get lost when i wash the fabric, even though I’ve never had it happen, haha).

i really prefer to steam block my pieces before stitching them together, but that doesn’t give me the same results and, as a person who teaches about yarn, fabric, and the uses of blocking, i get curious now and then to experiment with practices that others use frequently, but which i use rarely. there is always something to learn and it helps me understand the questions people have.

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anyway, one of the reasons i like to save the wet blocking until my garment is completely sewn up, is that the untethered pieces have so much more leeway for growing and becoming distorted—which then requires (what feels like) more work at corralling them back to the right size and shape. for some reason i find this fiddly in wet blocking, but not for steam blocking, though it takes about the same amount of time.

immediately out of the rinse water, i rolled them in a towel and squeezed like crazy to get every drop of excess moisture out. them i subjected them to my “encouragement process” to bring some of the body back into the yarn and straighten the plies (see my craftsy finishing class or my interweave blocking DVD for more on that).

this encourages the yarn to take up air and improves the loft of the fabric. i pinned all the edges to the measurements in the sleeve schematic. i’ve got both sleeves pinned one right on top of the other to make sure they turn out the same size. as you can see, the wet fabric wants to be bigger than it’s supposed to be. don’t let this fool you into thinking it must remain that way—it doesn’t have to. with very wet pieces, it’s a mistake to allow them to be whatever size and shape they came out of the water.

watch this:

actually, if you pin them down and periodically go back to fluff, smooth, and ease them back into shape, they will regain the size they are supposed to be.

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if given enough space, “encouragement”, and plenty of air to breathe, the fibers will coil up and pull in as they dry, gaining back much of their spring. the fabric will show improved loft, density, and the stitch definition you desire.

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i will probably still go back into them with some steam to encourage more bloom in the fabric, but they turned out fine, i think—with a smooth and cohesive surface, broken only by plump garter ridges that create the surface motif.

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the fabric drapes in a way that will be lovely on the figure, but has enough enough body to maintain its shape. i’m excited about the way it’s turning out!

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i’m also knitting a cardigan version in this sunshiny orange polwarth sport yarn—so aptly named joyful by briar rose fibers. while this yarn has a bit more spring and slightly firmer twist than the BBDK, i do just love the velvety soft surface and density it offers. i have a feeling that where my pullover will be a comfy, slouchy, “boyfriend” type sweater, the cardigan will offer a more tailored look and feel. in fact, i am adding a bit of side seam shaping to this version as well (which could easily be left out; knitter’s choice).

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speaking of orange and sunshine, i got up early on monday to bake a peach cobbler and i snapped this picture as the sun spilled over the windowsill and into the pan—isn’t it pretty?

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even prettier, the finished cobbler, with cornmeal biscuit topping (gluten free). mmmmm.

i might be a little scarce over the next few days—not only am i burying myself in pattern work, but david and i are traveling on thursday to see my nephew’s family and we are also finalizing the march chapter for the blanket statement club this weekend.

so you might see just brief postcards, but who knows? if the baby has a bad night and no one can sleep, you might get an eyeful of a long car ride worth of knitting progress and random thoughts . . . stay tuned.

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two toasty toe warmers

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

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what better way to celebrate sock madness month than with two terrific pattern options, perfect for sideline knitting.

grille (above) is a unisex option worked in a squishy, knit/purl illusion texture, easy enough for beginners yet entertaining for experienced knitters, too.

twisted little sock (below) has a tiny, allover twist stitch pattern that adds just a touch of texture its sleek surface

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these two socks were featured in the september installment of our passion 2014 club along with yarn hollow nantucket, a corriedale/nylon blend in this gorgeous deep purple and olive mix.

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each has a beautifully fitted flap heel knit in cushy slip-stitch fabric.

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the textures for these socks were chosen for their ability to move the color around and create a bit of an illusion.

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grille has a stout, warm feel that is appreciated by men and women alike; the fabric is a bit more dense with lots of delicious depth.

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while twisted little sock is a bit more feminine and dressy, in a stitch pattern that creates a a more streamlined fabric, though definitely dense enough to wear equally well.

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shown above, twisted little sock is knit in size small from yarn hollow nantucket.

shown below, grille is knit in size large in the same nantucket colorway, purple velvet and golden olive

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the generous yardage included in each skein of nantucket will knit up to a large size sock and for smaller sizes, may provided enough for a small pair of mitts or a pair of cuffs as well.

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erica has created a kit for each design which includes yarn and pattern—click here to choose grille or here to choose twisted little sock.

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patterns for grille or twisted little sock also available in my ravelry pattern shop

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enjoy and please share your sock progress in our ravelry group threads!

cold brings out the worst(ed) in us

Sunday, February 22nd, 2015

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at just about this same time last year, our lucky BNK clubbies were discovering a delicious new yarn offering, exclusive to the club; kent worsted, which is everything we love about kent—soft, airy, beautiful sheen—and pouffier, squishier, chunkier.

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with the cold hitting all-time lows for the season, this makes all kinds of sense now—we need cover. so it is with great pleasure that i’m finally able to release the exclusive designs that went with that wonderfully wooly stuff.

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because we need style too, i designed a deliciously cozy trio of pieces to make the most of this incredible yarn. first, carlsbad—a BIG cowl with BIG cabled texture to knit in two sizes, short and long.

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but it doesn’t end there; carslbad has a little secret that adds up to more than meets the eye. see that dishy slouchy shape?

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short-row sections are worked into the circumference to add luscious folds, the better to keep warmth where it belongs, near you.

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the shaping also works with the length to make the cowl a little more versatile; in a windy dash to the parking lot a block away, pull it up to keep your ears warm and save your hair.

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OR if you’re a hat person, knit yourself a topper for that purpose—hills in jamul. this tam has all the same features in a littler package.

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the same great texture, highlighted by the sheen of the kent worsted, and a nice slump at the back, encouraged by its soft hand.

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BTW, if the mention of short row shaping scares you off and you prefer a less slouchy look, simply eliminate those sections from the pattern—they are worked only as inserts (like a stripe) and are easily skipped. many of our club members took liberties with their own accessory projects and you can check those out on ravelry here, here, and here.

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well now, a cowl and a hat are  a great start to battling the kind of ferocious cold we’ve been having this month, but what we really need, is to keep hands warm when running, snowblowing, or shoveling. and we all know that gloves are a bust when it comes to keeping fingers warm.

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what we need are good mittens, like these torrey pines. the fabric here is knit more densely (the better to to repel water), but using the same light, airy kent worsted—the better to trap air near the skin for insulation. that same fabulous texture along the back of the hand is handsome, yes, but also tightens the fabric up to create a windproof panel just where it’s needed most.

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you might be tempted to keep these on the front seat of the car so you can pull them in a hurry to brush away snow, but leave them lying about at your own risk—just saying’.

sarah is wearing the hills in jamul hat in size medium, the carlsbad cowl in size tall (above) and size small (below), and the torrey pines mittens in adult size large, all knit in bare naked wools kent worsted, color driftwood.

we are excited to announce that due to the popularity of kent worsted with our club crowd, we have brought it in as a permanent part of our lineup AND we are making it available in three additional shades:

left to right: whitecaps, tide pool, and mussel shell

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erica has put together a kit for this new trio of kent worsted favorites, which includes the compilation of all three patterns with your choice of two or more yarn skeins in any available shade.

patterns are also available in my ravelry pattern shop; where you will also find the BNK 2014 eBook, a compilation of nineteen total patterns for undyed, natural fiber yarns.

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i think it’s fair to say that this trio of warm, fun-to-knit pieces was one of the most popular projects we did in the 2014 bare naked knitspot club and in no small part due to the delicious yarn with which it was paired. i was actually a bit surprised by how much everyone enjoyed the new worsted weight kent and how swiftly they got these projects on the needles.

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kent worsted has all of the same terrific properties of kent DK, which many of our blanket club members are discovering for the first time as they open their boxes of blanket yarn and begin to knit.

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the pearly shades have a luminous glow as if viewed through water or glass; i just love that about them. it makes for fabrics that are cool and sophisticated.

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to make both of our kent yarns, top-quality romney wool is hand selected for softness, luster, color, and springiness.

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farm producers like karin and her son devlin set aside the best of their yearly clip for our yarn. now that wool is right off the sheep—can you believe how beautiful it looks already?

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at the mill, the romney blended with combed merino to make an array of gorgeous shades, then spun in a 2-ply construction to make the most out of its natural its bounce and loft.

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the final yarn is light, springy, and offers incredibly crisp stitch definition, not just in heavily cabled fabrics, but in airy knit/purl combinations as well.

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above, quentin is wearing the creel cowl, knit in kent worsted, color driftwood.

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i can also picture the tide pool shade as a new woodcutter’s toque for david—his go-to snow shoveling hat, with it’s bulletproof barrier of heavily cabled fabric.

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the gobi hat is simplicity itself—it knits up in an evening and is such a perfect gift for the kid who hates everything.

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with matching gobi mittens, you might even get one of those rare smiles you deserve. after all, even cranky kids get cold.

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or these sweet, fat-tire mittens

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did the mention of a cozy blanket start your wheels turning? something to cover your lap on these frigid winter evenings? this wheaten blanket is for you, you, you—maybe in that mussel shell shade, eh?

maybe something bite sized right now? left to right: comfort me, dutch tiles, and caravan (shown here in kent worsted, color driftwood), are just the thing

lots of participants in our ravelry blanket KAL found these lap-sized wonders not only the perfect size for lounging, but so useful around the family room that everyone fought over them. fortunately they are incredibly quick to knit in a few skeins of our worsted weight yarn.

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the new, bigger kent has proved to be easily interchangeable with our confection worsted, so any pattern listing confection as an option will work beautifully in kent as well.

the product page for each shade includes a list of pattern options; erica has also added the kent worsted option to some existing kits, such as comfort medutch tiles, wheaten, or caravan blankets; fat tire mittens, caravan scarf/wrap, and creel cap, cowl, and mitts set.

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enjoy and stay warm—more cold weather is on the way. brrr.

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Designer Spotlight: Thea Colman

Saturday, February 21st, 2015

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Let’s warm things up a bit, shall we?  Come in.  Sit down.  I’ve got Jazz standards playing in the background.  My knitting is within arms reach.

(I hope you brought yours too.)

And of course, my cup o’ coffee is even closer and it’s getting down to the last drop…

Can I offer you something to drink?

Perhaps a spicy Bloody Mary?  I have Champagne, it’s dry and light.  Perfect for a Mimosa if you care for one of those instead.

Maybe I should ask Thea Colman what she suggests… After all, she’s BabyCocktails.

If you follow Thea on instagram (@theacolman) you’ll know that about a week ago she treated herself to this heavenly concoction.  A hot toddy of sorts made with cardamom clove syrup, bourbon and cider.  Mmmm… it sounds comforting and smooth.  (The way I like my Jazz, by the way.)

I first discovered Thea back in 2012 when she exploded onto the scene with none other than Vodka Lemonade.  (Seriously, I’m not talking about a beverage this time…) I’m talking about this:

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At the time, I was working as a sales associate at a yarn shop and all of our Wednesday ladies were oohing and ahhing over the versatility of this Spring cardigan.  Thea knows her market well.  She offers this sweater in sizes that range from 32-52.  Just the other day Anne and I were discussing sweater fit and size.  Not many knitwear designers know how, or rather, don’t really care to offer a sweater design that provides reasonable sizing for the female figure.  Just offering S, M, and L doesn’t cut it.  I’ll even go so far as to quote Ellen Lewis and say “It’s lame.”

Another old adage I like to live by comes to mind… “Do your work with mastery.”  Even mere muggles know that knitters spend hours upon hours creating.  Designers do too, even more so.  But the great knitters and the great designers all have that one thing in common; they do their work with mastery.  They don’t stop until the dream turns real.  They tweak, they muddle, they step away, they come back with new eyes, and somehow they have a finished product that provides us with a certain story.

That story is inspiration that was given life!  It’s been released and now it’s tangible.  I can see it.  You can feel it.  It’s not an idea in someone’s mind – now it’s music you can hear, it’s art you can see, it’s a knitted garment that you can wear!

And for any person who gets excited by the idea of creating and being creative – Designers can create an energy that we easily get drunk on. (Well, I’ll speak for myself.)  At any rate,  as a knitwear designer, you’re inspiring others to create your vision.  It’s a talent that few execute efficiently.  But when they do – I find myself saying “I gotta have a piece of that.”    And that’s EXACTLY what happened when Thea finished this beauty:

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I mean for crying out loud… Every time I look at this, I imagine it’s the same way a scotch drinking man looks at a slinky lounge singer.  (Blame it on the 1920’s Boardwalk Empire Jazz that’s still on da repeat over here.)  I’m coveting it so badly.  I can’t stop.  I’m practically drooling in my coffee.  I want.  I need.  I must have.  It’s my one desire.  A knitwear designer hasn’t made me feel this alive in quite a while.

I got so excited that I didn’t even introduce the two of you properly…  Knitters of the Knitting Universe … Get ready for World Domination.  (Are your sticks at the ready?)  This is Ommegang by Thea Colman and it’s the bee’s knees.

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To me what sets this garment apart from all of the knitting patterns out there right now is this:  It’s classic.  It’s not going anywhere.  It’s a garment that will stay in your closet forever.  It’s modern, inviting, and oh-so-cozy.  (I think a lot of the coziness specifically has to do with the yarn choice.)  Allow me to wax poetically about Bare Naked Wools, because the stitch definition achieved by Thea’s use of BNW Stone Soup DK (shown in Marble) is also what I think makes this a show-stoppah.

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The garment is detailed.  The cables need you attention.  And there’s nothing I like better than sitting by myself, cup o’coffee, Saturday morning, slow jazz, and a fantastic cable knitting project.  Mmmmm… pretty satisfying if you ask me.

On top of that…  This can easily be dressed down or dressed up.  I LOVE my tights.  Ask the girls at Knitspot – all you ever see me in are my tights.  Make this into a tunic length, and sport some tights with some sexy high heels.  You have yourself a killah outfit.  If you want to wear the boyfriend jeans, it’s gonna go great with those.  And um… if you just want to wear it without pants…  I’m not gonna disapprove.  You’re going to look mahvelous dahling.  Just stay inside for that.  I don’t want you to catch a cold because I conjured up a crazy idea…  Just sayin’.

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Sarah – Sarimor on Ravelry created this beautiful Ommegang using Thea’s larger cowl neck option and I LOVE the results!

Thea – Lady friend… you outdid yourself.  I wish you so much success with this pattern and I look forward to everything you’re going to create in the future!  I speak on behalf of the entire Knitspot team when I say it has been an absolute pleasure collaborating with you on this design.  You created something truly special.  Dare I say, it’s The Cat’s Meow.

Happy Knitting, guys!

L