Original Designs for Knitters Who Want to Learn More
I live with my beloved in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley. I love to serve dinner out on the back deck, have a campfire with family and friends, and take my knitting, spinning or crocheting everywhere I go! Most of all, I love to bring some sunshine to another person's day and see them go on their way with a smile on their face!
The topic for Day 3 of the Yarn Love Challenge this month was “Most Loved Project.” This threw me off for a few days as I have difficulty determining which of my projects I love most! 😉
But then it occurred to me that looking at this question from a Handknit Recipient’s perspective might be interesting. So now I’ve got a slightly sarcastic but humorous take on “Most Loved Project” to share with you! 😄
…Not long after we were married, I wanted to knit something practical for Hubby that he would enjoy wearing. Naturally, a hat came to mind!
When asked what kind of hat I should make for him that he would actually wear, Hubby said: “Black, and plain. No cables, no patterns, no colors; just black and plain.”
Of course, I thought: ” BORING!!” But I wanted to knit him something he would like, so I tried my best to knit him the black, plain, BORING hat! But…
I couldn’t resist adding a red angora lining! “Angora is so soft, and no one will see it on the inside,” I thought…
Hubby was dubious, but he did bravely wear the hat – all of one time, to a family gathering (my family of course)! Unfortunately, a bit of red fuzz from the angora lining emerged and remained mingled with his facial hair. It wasn’t glaring, so I didn’t notice it, and probably no one else did either. But Hubby was SO mortified when he noticed it in the mirror that night, that he refused to ever wear the hat again!
So the infamous black, plain, not-so-boring hat became mine and has been well loved and much worn despite the fact that it is too big for me! 😉😂😂😂
Do you have a fun “Most Loved Project” or Handmade Gifting story to share? We’d love to hear it!
I’ve been working away and making good progress with my yarn stash organizing and cataloging! It feels good to see my Yarn Stash Notebook filling up with yarn samples and data, and to see my Yarn Stash becoming more orderly, accessible, and therefore useable!
I do take frequent breaks to do some actual knitting though! 😉
Right now, I’m loving knitting the sample for my newest design (coming soon!!)! 🙂
The yarn I’m using is Madelinetosh Pashmina in “Thoreau.” It’s super soft and squishy and feels lovely in my hands as I knit. I can’t wait to snuggle up in this shawl on those cool Autumn evenings (they are still a long ways off, so I have plenty of time to finish!) 🙂
This is the very first time I’ve ever knitted a circular shawl, and I’m finding that I’m really taken with the ease and simplicity of the Pi Shawl construction! At the beginning of this project, the one piece that I had absolutely no idea how to do was the circular cast on. This tutorial by Knit Picks was super helpful, and I quickly discovered that it’s not as hard as it looks! 🙂
Something I’m really enjoying with this knit is the excitement whenever I finish one chart and move on to the next! It’s fascinating to see how the different motifs fit together, play on each other, and seem to grow together! (This effect with the stitch patterns will be easier to see after blocking!)
Now that I’m on the second-to-last chart and have completed the last increase round, I have a total of nearly 600 stitches on my needles! Even though each round now takes a while to complete, I’m still excited and enjoying working this shawl! I can’t wait to see it finished! (And I’m sure I’ll be knitting another circular shawl before long!) 😉
And last but not least, I’m trying out something new – knitting with beads!
This is just a little practice test swatch I’m working with some leftovers of a gorgeous alpaca yarn and some seed beads I have on hand. It took me awhile to decide where to place the beads with this Arrowhead Lace stitch pattern, and I’m still not quite sure I’m happy with the result. I think I’ll knit on it a little more and then block it and see what I think then. 🙂
Of course, I’d love to hear your thoughts too! 🙂 Where would you place the beads in this stitch pattern? Have you ever used beads in your knitting before? If so, what do you think of the technique? Do you like the effect?
I’d also love to hear about whether you’ve knitted or considered knitting a circular shawl before! If you’ve made one before, did you enjoy the experience? Why or why not?
As always, best wishes to each of you, and happy knitting!
We all have our “off” days. It’s part of life. Every day can’t be totally awesome, or there’d be no such thing! I’ve had a lot of awesome days recently, so I guess I was overdue for an “off” day…
Usually when I’m having the occasional “off” day, it’s the little stuff that can get under my skin and irritate me, even while I’m doing my best to handle it well. 🙂
And then there’s the entirely unexpected stuff that can just jump out and smack you (sometimes rather hard) when you’re not expecting it! That’s (literally) what happened to me the other afternoon!…
Arriving back from a lovely grocery shopping trip with two of my sisters, I was rushing to get those groceries in the house (we live a good distance from town, so time is a factor with those refrigerated items…). Both hands full with eggs, milk, and meat, I was booking it towards the front steps, and then… One of my flip-flops caught on the concrete steps as I was on my way up to the front door. Thinking I could catch myself with my other foot on the next step in time to restore my balance, I tried to take that next step up real quick,… Misjudging the height (the steps are not quite standard size), I caught my other flip-flop and catapulted (rather awkwardly) first into the front edge of the storm door that we had propped open, and then onto the concrete stoop…!
Rather bruised and battered, (but much wiser regarding the dangers of flip-flops and concrete steps plus hurrying with both hands full), I am utilizing the best comfort and coping strategies I know:
Knitting…Lots and lots of knitting this evening – as much as I want! 😀
Doggy cuddles…Lots and lots of doggy cuddles (while knitting of course)! 😀
I’m already feeling a lot better! Even my slightly bruised ego is recovering. 😉
Do you use knitting as a comfort and /or coping strategy on occasion? I’d love to hear about how knitting has helped you get through something difficult as well!
One sure sign of a truly deep love of knitting is a knitter who keeps on knitting despite the Summer heat! 😉
What to knit in said Summer heat?
My favorite go to is lace! In the Summer, I knit lots and lots of lace! Though I don’t personally limit myself to only working with yarns that are cotton/linen blends in Summer, I do enjoy them, and they’re a great option for cooler Summer knitting and knitwear. 🙂
Shawls are a really useful (and beautiful) garment to create when you’re knitting lace. They can be very light and airy, making the perfect light layer to grab and wrap around your shoulders as the sun goes down on a breezy Summer evening! I find them very entertaining to work, as well as super portable for travel knitting!
Here are a few favorite Summery projects of the past that I would knit again in a heartbeat!
This is the first shawl I ever knit – the one that got me hooked on shawl knitting in fact! It’s the Flambe One Skein Shawl, by Michelle Miller of Fickleknitter. I bought the kit for this shawl in order to participate in a knit-a-long (KAL) that Michelle was hosting. It was SO much fun! A KAL is a great way to connect with people who like a lot of the same things you do, and also provides amazing support and encouragement! (Especially when you’re new to shawl knitting!) 😉 This shawl has a lot of happy memories for me! Flambe makes a fabulous Summer knit because it’s complicated enough to keep your mind busy, but not too complicated for travel knitting, and it only requires one skein of sock yarn! It’s also perfect for Summer wear as it’s small – just enough to cover your shoulders if the air conditioning gets to be a bit much or there’s a chilly breeze at night. 🙂
This one is the Lace Leaf Shawl, designed by Mary Henderson. It’s a lovely leaf pattern, easy to memorize; and you can customize the size of your shawl by knitting more or fewer repeats! The yarn is a fingering weight merino/silk blend called “Row of Tulips” by Expression Fiber Arts. It was an absolute dream to knit with!
Another Fickleknitter design by Michelle Miller, The Obi Shawl is one of my all-time favorite shawls to knit. In fact, I’ve already made two of them! One I gave away, and the other gets a lot of wear as a favorite go-to layer that I turn to constantly! The yarn is amazing – a merino/cashmere/silk blend called Serenity Silk Single by Zen Yarn Garden, it’s also one of my favorite yarns to work with! The color shown here is called “Dragonfruit!”
I might also finally allow myself to knit a shawl or two from my current list of shawl-crushes…!
I’m totally in love with both of these shawls designed by Kate Davies: A Hap for Harriet, and Fantoosh! They are both simple, but elegant, and the yarns used for the samples look absolutely scrumptious! I particularly love the coziness and generous size of Fantoosh!, and the delicate simplicity of A Hap for Harriet. If you’re drooling over these like I am, be sure to check out Kate’s shop – she has kits for sale containing: yarn, pattern, and project bag!
I’m also loving Rock Island, by Jared Flood of Brooklyn Tweed. I find the mix of openwork lace and simple garter stitch captivating! Brooklyn Tweed Vale is a lovely lace weight wool; although for Summer, I think this shawl would also be great in a cotton or linen blend such as Purl Soho’s Linen Quill (wool/alpaca/linen) or Juniper Moon Farm’s Zooey DK (cotton/linen/flax).
While we’re talking about Summer shawl knitting…
…knitting a circular shawl has been on my bucket list for a good long time now, and I’m feeling the urge to buckle down and just do it! I’ve been eying this one – Leaves of Grass, (another Jared Flood design) as a potentially great Summer knit…hmmm…need to go check my stash and see if I have enough fingering weight yarn… 🙂
Do you knit in the Summer time? If so, what Summer knitting project(s) are you currently working on? Do you have a favorite Summer knitting style or project? I’d love to hear all about it! 🙂
Once we’d collectively clicked “Submit” on our four skeins (one for each of us plus a lovely mint green that coordinates perfectly!)…
…it didn’t take long for the idea of designing “sister” scarves to pop into my head! (By “sister” scarves, I mean three different scarves unique to each personality and style, but clearly belonging together. 🙂 My plan is to name each scarf after the friend who inspired it. 🙂
So I swatched several stitch patterns and brought them to K & K for evaluation.
The general consensus was that since they were all fun and lovely, it was nearly impossible to decide which to use!!!
If you follow me on social media, you may remember voting on this to help us decide! 😉
Once Kathryn & Kayla had chosen their stitch patterns, we discussed style…!
Kathryn opted for a super long & slender scarf with a very open and lacey stitch pattern called “Arrowhead Lace with Cables.” It will be very dramatic, and also very versatile, perfect for wear in almost every season!
Given that Kathryn is a talented artist and a wonderfully practical lady, I think this is a very pleasant reflection of her personality. 🙂
Kayla selected “Falling Leaves” as her stitch pattern and chose to go with an infinity style scarf.
A more solid lace compared to Arrowhead, Falling Leaves has a very elegant, flowing quality and I’ve no doubt will produce a joyful, eye-catching statement piece! (I see this scarf as representative of Kayla’s brilliance and expressive of her fullness of the joy and enthusiasm of life!)
Though so different, I think both combinations of stitch pattern and style will showcase the special yarn really well!
Arrowhead Lace with Cables is an easy-to-memorize stitch pattern,
…and because the “Kathryn” scarf is narrow the rows are short;
…so I feel like the scarf is just flying off my needles!
Slightly different story with the “Kayla” infinity scarf, however…
To get the “Falling Leaves” to lay the way we imagined them, “Kayla” is knit in the round. In order to create enough volume to drape the scarf twice about the neck, I’m working 19 22-stitch repeats. That means a big long cast-on. A really big, 418 stitch cast-on! Which I have already done twice and will now be doing a third time!
The difficulty with such a large numbers of cast-on stitches, is joining to work in the round. Specifically, it’s super hard to avoid getting a twist in your cast-on! Even when you’ve checked and re-checked and you think you’ve got it, you may later discover a pesky twist lurking! Which is what happened to me today….!
After working 1.5 pattern repeats (that’s 18 rounds, or 7,524 stitches)…
I noticed this:
A twist! Aaauuuggghhh! Do you see it?
Time to rrrrriiiiiipppppp back.
All 7,524 stitches!
Compared to the time it took to get that far…
…ripping back took almost no time at all!
Best not to dwell….
So, now I’m casting on 418 stitches AGAIN! 🙂
To help me keep track of my progress, I’m placing a marker every 22 stitches as I go…
That’s a marker for every pattern repeat along the round. There are 19 pattern repeats per round, so I’ll need a total of 19 stitch markers.
I really like these from the Sheep and Wolf because of their simplicity, pretty colors, and size. (These are the large ones, they also come in medium and small (sock knitting size!); as well as different colors.
As frustrating as ripping back and starting over from scratch seems right now, I know I’ll be glad I did when I have a twist-free infinity scarf ready for my friend Kayla! 😉
And it’s not so bad!
See, I’m making progress already! 😀
Have you ever had to rip a project back? Do you have any handy tips for avoiding the dreaded twist when you join to work in the round? I’d love to hear about it! 🙂
Delicate, yet warm, Twin Leaf Gloves are the perfect cozy accessory for all of those slightly chilly mornings/evenings in Spring & Fall when you just need a little wooly comfort to keep you toasty! Knit in the round on double pointed needles, they fly by quickly with just enough lace to keep you focused. Designed for a fitted look and sized for women’s hands in small, medium, and large, I bet you (like me!) won’t be able to knit just one pair! 😉
It’s been a dream of mine, for many years, to begin writing out my knitting patterns so I can share them with you. So today is a very exciting milestone for me! 🙂
This particular pattern, Twin Leaf Gloves, has been in the works for quite a while. The first inspiration for them came about nine months ago at the end of last Summer when I was obsessing over leaf-patterned stitches and fingerless gloves (one of my all-time favorite accessories!). Looking at leaf shapes, it occurred to me that they might go gracefully with hand and thumb gusset shaping for a pair of fitted gloves or hand warmers. As I played around with the idea, sketching and swatching, the Twin Leaf Gloves were born!
Along the way, I discovered that pattern writing can bring with it a rather steep learning curve… i.e.: Knitting what’s in my head, for myself or a loved one, takes some time, but is relatively uncomplicated compared to writing it down and/or charting it out in a way that makes sense for communicating it with others.
Most of the months between then and now were spent in developing and refining the pattern from my original scribbled notes to a detailed pattern with both written instructions and charts.
And of course, then there was the checking and re-checking of the pattern for accuracy; the first step of which (for me, anyway) involved knitting sample gloves in all three sizes = a lot of time and a lot of math! 🙂
Overall, I have to say that pattern writing has been a very exciting and rewarding experience for me, even with the rather larger-than-expected learning curve involved! 😉
My deepest thanks go out to Allison O’Mahoney of Kniterations for her patient advice, support, and superb technical editing; and to Beth Harnett (Hatknitter on Ravelry) for her heart warming enthusiasm and fabulous test knitting! Ladies, you are a joy to work with, and I am deeply grateful for your input and contributions. ❤
And now, to spread the joy and celebrate this pattern release, I’m offering two discount options on my Twin Leaf Gloves pattern:
1) and enter discount code: New20 to get 20% off your Twin Leaf Gloves pattern through April 25th, 2017!
2) Get 50% off your Twin Leaf Gloves pattern through June 30th, 2017 when you subscribe to my Newsletter!
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle; Organizing to Shop your own Stash!
One of my biggest goals this year is to organize my yarn stash and make it easier to know what I have and find what I need so that I can use the gorgeous yarn I’ve collected! I’m sure this is something many of us fiber people can relate to. 🙂 Now that my stash takes up more than two large plastic bins, I’ve decided to buckle down and put it in order! Here are five steps I’m using to approach this project: 1) Review & Sort, 2) Sub-Categorize, 3) Document Yarn Data, 4) Storage, and5) Shop Your Stash! I’ll also be sharing some helpful resources I’ve made, along with some that I’ve found along the way in my research!
Step 1: Review & Sort…
I started with preliminary sorting first, which happily for me, is one of my favorite things! (If sorting is NOT one of your favorite things, don’t worry, this part is relatively quick!) I pulled out all my yarn and sorted it into five piles similar to what Lion Brand recommends in their post “12 Tips on How to Organize Your Yarn Stash…”
The WIPs (Works in Progress) pile includes all of my currently in-progress but un-finished projects and the yarn to finish them.
The Will Use Have Pattern pile is composed of yarn that I’m not only sure I will use, but know what pattern I’ll use it with, AND actually have the pattern. Its a sort of pre-WIPs pile! This pile turned out to be rather larger than I had expected. It must be because I plan faster than I knit… 🙂
The Will Use No Pattern Yet pile holds all the yarn that I know I will use, but either don’t have the pattern I want to go with it, or don’t know yet what pattern I want to use. This is one of the most exciting portions of my yarn stash because it is all yarn that is free and available, which means the possibilities are practically endless!
The Wandering Bits & Pieces pile is for all of those little bits and pieces of yarn leftover from completed projects, as well as their corresponding swatch(es).
And last but certainly not least, is the Won’t Use pile for all yarn that I liked when I bought it, but have decided that I don’t really like anymore; or just don’t have room to store. It also includes yarn that I’ve had FOREVER, never done anything with, and feel that is unlikely to change. 🙂
The best part of this sorting phase of yarn stash organizing? I GET to decide which yarn goes where! The hardest part? I get to DECIDE! I was definitely glad to have some good knitting and a delicious latte on standby for a (few) breaks from decision-making-overload! 🙂
Step 2: Sub-Categorize…
Next, I’ll need to pick a way to sub-categorize my five piles of yarn. The yarn that will likely be most heavily involved in this stage (and the next) is the Will Use No Pattern Yet pile because that’s where the majority of my yarn is! (I’ve been working on Step 2 for awhile now…)
It took me a long time to decide how to sub-categorize the “Will Use No Pattern Yet” pile of yarn. Since this is all of my free and available yarn, there is a large volume involved. And there are SO many options to choose from… I could sub-categorize according to fiber content, or color, or yarn weight, to name just a few.
Having spent considerable time going through this pile of yarn, I have finally decided to sub-categorize it by fiber content because that is often where I start when planning a project. Now to actually divide out all of this yarn!
After much thought, I decided that it makes the most sense to sub-categorize my WIPs pile and my Will Use Have Pattern pile according to project.
I put each project & all the yarn that goes with it into it’s own gallon zip-lock bag, along with it’s pattern and needles. This keeps the project all together in one place, ready to pick up and get going whenever I’m ready! No hunting around for the pattern, or the rest of the yarn, or trying to remember which needles I was using/planning to use…! 🙂 This also provides of peace of mind by preventing me from accidentally using up yarn that was designated for one project to make something else.
The Wandering Bits & Pieces pile I believe I will sub-categorize by project as well. I think I’ll put the swatches and leftover yarn for each project in it’s own small plastic bag and label the bag with the name of the pattern, and perhaps of the yarn as well. 🙂 This will make it easy to find and identify the right yarn later on if/when a repair may be needed. Also, I’ll be able to tell at a glance whether I have enough yarn leftover for another small project, or whether I need to save it for potential repairs only.
Yarn in the Won’t Use pile will be categorized by destination. Yarn to give away at Guild Fiber Swaps, and yarn to give away to non-Guild friends/family.
Step 3: Document Yarn Data…
Now it’s time to decide how to document all of my neatly organized and sub-categorized yarn so that I can quickly and easily see what I have! When it comes to keeping track of yarn data, one could go several ways. There’s the digital way – I could document and track the yarn in my stash electronically on Ravelry. Here’s a link to a great blog post by Stacey of Fresh Stitches, about how to use Ravelry’s handy yarn stash feature! One of the things I find most exciting about using Ravelry to keep track of yarn stash is that once all of your yarn is listed in your Ravelry Stash, you can do a search for only patterns using yarn that you already have in your stash! SO helpful!
And then there’s the physical/tactile way – I could create and keep an actual, physical Yarn Stash Notebook.
Yarn data can be handwritten and a small sample of each yarn attached to pages kept in a three-ring binder. The binder can be decorated as desired, and decorative penmanship can be used on the pages.
This option appeals deeply to the artist in me, and I REALLY love the idea of being able to see the true colors & touch/feel the texture of an actual sample of my yarn while planning a project – without having to go hunt down the skein(s) in the bins first!
In fact, I believe I will go ahead and make a Yarn Stash Notebook first. Later on someday, I may add my yarn stash on Ravelry also, but for now, making the notebook will be enough. Here’s a link to a very helpful post I found by Dedri of the Lookatwhatimade blog. She talks in detail about how to create a Yarn Stash Notebook.
I decided to create my own templates, both for the Yarn Stash Notebook pages, and for optional yarn tags. My Yarn Stash Data template (for notebook pages) is double-sided with places to record important yarn info on the front, and free space to make any notes you wish about that yarn on the back. I found Dedri’s advice to either print the template pages out on heavy paper such as card stock, or laminate them to be very important. It really helps to have nice stable pages to attach the yarn samples to.
I’m so excited to be able to offer free PDF downloads of both my templates to all of my Newsletter Subscribers (current & new)! If you are a current Subscriber, you can access your free template downloads in the Newsletter!
If you would like to become a Subscriber and be kept in the loop with knitting tips, discounts, & coupon codes, please click here to sign up to receive my Newsletter and you’ll receive an email with links to the free template downloads!
Step 4: Storage…
I don’t know about you, but for me, “out of sight” really does become “out of mind” quickly, and I want to finish my works in progress so I can use them or gift them! To keep my WIPs projects on my mind, I’ve decided that I’ll store them in a pretty basket and set it out by my favorite knitting spot in the living room! That way I’ll see them often, and it’ll be very satisfying to see the number of WIPs in the basket dwindling!
For my Will Use Have Pattern yarns, I’ll make use of another nice basket. These “next up!” projects also need to be visible and easy to access so they don’t become forgotten in the middle of the business of life.
My Will Use No Pattern Yet yarn will live in three large plastic tubs. (I still need to purchase one more…) I’ll label them Boxes A, B, & C so that I can specify in my Yarn Stash Notebook where each individual yarn is located. This will make finding the yarn I want for a particular project so much faster and easier!
The Wandering Bits and Pieces yarn can go into one of several large cardboard boxes I have saved. Since this is a growing yarn pile (it gets bigger every time I finish another project), it’ll need to be a nice big box. And since it’s made of cardboard, it’ll be easy to label with a sharpie!
I’ll put my Won’t Use yarn in a couple of totes or plastic bags so it’s easily portable. The bags of yarn to be given away at the Guild Yarn Swap will go with other Guild stuff, and the yarn to be given away to other friends & family will go by the door so that I don’t forget it!
Step 5: Shop Your Stash!
With my yarn stash tidy and organized I’ll be able to easily see what yarns I have and how much of each. This will save me a lot of time and money! All that remains is to remember to use my Yarn Stash Notebook to shop my stash first when I’m considering a new project or design!
Since quite a lot of yarns living in stashes are leftovers from previous projects, I took a look around and came up with a whole list of cute, and interesting patterns that are great for using up odd bits and pieces of leftover yarn! I can’t WAIT to try them and whittle down some of my stash! I hope these are helpful for you and your yarn stash as well!