Thursday, April 17, 2014

Swatching


Swatching is one of the most fun parts of a new knitting or crochet project for me because I love testing different combinations of yarn, stitches, needles and even blocking methods (all of which can have a huge impact on a finished knitting project). 

If you've been reading my blog for a while you may have noticed that I often try out new stitches in a solid, light-colored yarn in order to compare and contrast them. The yarn I used in the photo is a basic fingering weight wool as I've been swatching stitch combinations for a new pattern for fingering weight yarn.

Once I settle on a few stitch favorites, I swatch them again in the yarn I'm considering for the design. And for every project, I always block the swatches in the same way I plan to block the project. 

Now I have piles of swatches and (being a thrifty person who hates to throw out something useful) I need to come up with an idea to put them all to good use.

Thanks for stopping by today, happy swatching!


Tuesday, April 1, 2014

In Like A Lamb

 


The old adage has held true, at least around here, that March came "in like a lion and went out like a lamb" prompting me to share this photo of a ewe and her twin lambs (from my Pinterest Fauna board). 

Today it finally seemed like spring has arrived, with sunshine and temperatures in the mid 70's, feeling very lamb-like indeed. I hope you are enjoying some nice spring weather where you are. Thanks for stopping by today, happy knitting and...

Happy April!





Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Vintage Vogue



Not long ago my friend Loren sent me some vintage Vogue Knitting Book magazines she'd scored at a yard sale. I had a ton of fun leafing through them, both admiring and giggling at various designs and advertisements from 60 years ago.

The issues she sent, from the Fall/ Winter 1953 and Spring/ Summer 1954 seasons, each include patterns for 70+ knitting and 16+ crochet projects, an impressive value for only 50 cents. 

While some designs are clearly of their era, others are remarkably timeless.

 

I thought it interesting that both issues include patterns for sandals.


Nearly all of the shawl patterns are for long rectangles.


1950's pink proliferates. 






The majority of the designs are more formal than those of today, often knit in very fine gauges, and the magazines include loads of patterns for dresses and suits.




This coat is a true classic, but I'm not sure I have the fortitude for the oceans of sport weight stockinette stitch required.


I'm impressed with how many crochet designs are featured.




The written instructions are a little more abbreviated than those of today, and look slightly more complicated to figure out. The magazines also include patterns for men, children and home. 

I really enjoyed the look back into our knitting history, and I hope you did too. Thanks for stopping by my virtual studio today, I wish you peace, blessings and happy stitching!





Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy Crafty Valentine's Day!



In the middle of dreary winter I always enjoy the bright spot that is Valentine's Day (the holiday's red, pink and lavender is so cheery, and of course, there's always the chocolate!).

Another especially fun part of Valentine's Day for me this year was participating in a secret handmade gift exchange with other readers of Sanae Ishida's lovely blog



Sanae and reader friend Ute Stampfer put together a Valentine's version of the Scandinavian Julklapp Christmas secret Santa idea. The main stipulations were that the gifts should be small in order to fit into a mailing envelope, and that they should be handmade (I'm afraid I did not get photos of the Lavande I knitted, or the chocolates I cooked up, for the pal I was gifting). 

After I'd mailed off my package, I could hardly wait to see who my exchange pal would be, and was practically hyperventilating when I saw the name on the return address of the package - it was from Ute in Germany!! Ute wrapped the inside package in beautiful pink paper with an adorable heart garland that now adorns my living room.


If you check out Ute's incredible sewing and other crafts you will see why I was so excited. WOW, Ute is extraordinarily talented at many crafts, most especially her sewing. Ute insisted in her note that her knitting skills were limited but I think from looking at some of her projects that she was being overly modest.  

My secret pal sent me not only a gorgeous tote (made for me in my favorite large size and grey colors), but also a matching zip case, a fabulous bar of imported, organic chocolate (swoon!) and one of the most darling and thoughtful handmade cards I've ever received. The whole thing brought tears to my eyes.
 


The attention to detail Ute puts into her work is amazing. 




I LOVE this beautiful gift and the thoughtfulness behind it. Thank you Ute, for making my Valentine's Day terrific! 

And thank you, my reader friends, for stopping by my virtual studio today, I wish you a very 

HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY

and much happy stitching! 



A Special Note From Me to You...
Since the day I started this blog I've enjoyed using it as a journal of my life as well as a place to share my knitting, crocheting, spinning and other fiber adventures. I've been determined to keep it a positive, happy place, sharing only good things. But I know that some of my readers have noticed that my knitting, designing, and blogging have tapered off since last year, so I'm going to make a very small exception to my own rule. I promise I will not dwell in this place, nor post about it very often, and I do hope to knit loads and design much, much more in the future!! However, last year I became very sick - including being in the hospital three times within six weeks during the holidays. Unfortunately, although my condition has a very high cure rate and good outlook, it requires months of difficult chemotherapy treatment.

Everything, including work, knitting, daily chores, and even time spent online, has become a huge challenge as I deal with illness and incredible fatigue. Some days I feel like I am walking in slow motion, and every step is hard. Other days it is not so bad. In any case, I am looking forward to the day - hopefully this spring if everything goes as planned - that I will have my last chemo treatment and will come out on the other side feeling well and energetic again. Until then, I hope to keep knitting and posting as much as I can about all the fun crafts we enjoy. I am so thankful for the friendship and encouragement I've received, it means so much to me!






Saturday, February 8, 2014

Ballymeade Boot Toppers - New Knitting Pattern

 


Did I mention I have a new pattern out? It's true! I'd committed to let a local yarn shop have exclusive first dibs on the pattern for their accessory knitting club for the month of December, but the Ballymeade Boot Toppers finally made their official, public debut in January.

I toyed with adding a few other twists or cables, but decided to keep the design simple and easy for newer cable knitters.


I love how boot toppers provide a stylish look without the discomfort of sweaty feet, or a snug fit, from wearing full-foot socks inside dressy boots. And the fact that they knit up quickly (from just one skein of Cascade 220) makes me happy too.

Being an eclectic kind of girl, I had a really hard time deciding which photos to use, but finally opted to use photos of both the casual and dressy styling (it might be that little touch of Libra in me, haha). 
 

I am so happy to finally be able to share Ballymeade here. Bringing this pattern to publication, along with everything else in my life, has been a real challenge for reasons I won't get into in this post, but will share soon. And many, many thanks to the awesome Josefina, Laurie, Connie and Julia for offering to test knit these for me.

I hope everyone is staying warm and safe during the extremely cold temperatures occurring throughout the US and other corners of the world. Thanks for stopping by my studio today, happy stitching! 




Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year 2014!




Happy New Year 2014! This month I'm knitting a few small projects like a chunky infinity scarf and a couple of Lavande neckwarmers, as well as putting the final tweaks on a new pattern to be released within the next few days!

No New Year's resolutions for me this year save one - to (try to) do all things with love. I believe that when we attempt to approach every situation, person or task asking ourselves the question of whether our response to it/ them is a loving one, the world can only be a better place. I'm pretty sure this will not be easy for me, but I want to try.

Thank you very much for visiting my virtual studio today and during 2013, I wish all of you - my blog friends - much love, prosperity and happy stitching in the new year!







Monday, December 30, 2013

What's Your (Knitting) Bag? Jordana Paige Quinn Bag Review




I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and that you've had a chance to catch your breath and catch up on some sleep! We enjoyed a nice Christmas Eve with my family and have just returned from spending the rest of the time with my husband's family. The best parts were getting to visit with everyone and find out all the latest news, eat delicious food and, of course, exchange gifts with those we love!

Being a mostly practical and thrifty person, I've used an old messenger bag (purchased years ago for 50 cents at a church rummage sale) as my main knitting and crochet bag. However, as a knitting designer I have a lot of stuff to haul around and my old bag was pathetically inadequate. My sweet husband knows I love to be organized and so for Christmas he surprised me with a new project bag, Jordana Paige's new Quinn model. 

The Deep Purple colorway, pebble grain faux leather, and chic design are nice to look at, but make no mistake, this bag is a real workhorse from the outside in with many outstanding features.

The extra tall top flaps can fold over and be zipped closed for security, but even when I filled the bag to the brim with yarn and projects, the handles still fit over my shoulder. The double zipper opens all the way down the flap sides so the flaps fold over flat, providing a smooth, non-snagging surface for yarn.


I also like the sturdy handles, zippers and hardware, feet to protect the bottom of the bag, outside pockets on both sides of the top flaps, 


and two main compartments divided by a third, zippered compartment.



The main compartments include multiple slots and pockets for yarn, needles, hooks, or other tools. Two additional zippered pockets as well as a small, detachable zippered case are useful for stitch markers, cable and tapestry needles. Working yarn can be fed through snap loops to avoid tangles.

 


Quinn feels sturdy, so I hope it keeps me going for at least another decade or more. Thanks for stopping by today, I hope this review was helpful to you. I also wish all my readers a very happy, healthy and safe New Year 2014!



One last note: For some reason, Blogger has not been allowing me to comment or write in the comments section of my own blog for some time. I will have to look into this soon, but I very much appreciate the time everyone has taken to read my blog and to leave me comments. Thank you!!




Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Warm Christmas Wishes to All!






Warmest Christmas wishes to everyone!

I hope you have a joyful, 
safe holiday and I wish you much
peace, blessings and happy stitching. 








Monday, December 23, 2013

Wrap it Up!




It always seems like there are one or two people on my Christmas gift list who are difficult to find something for. Either they have everything they need already, or they make wonderful things themselves, or they are just picky! In these cases, I find that a consumable gift, particularly one made with my own hands, is always a good idea. And a gift that is thoughtfully wrapped makes the presentation extra beautiful and special. 

With this in mind, I've put together a few fast and easy-looking ideas I've come across via Pinterest lately. First the consumables: 


 Butternut Cookies via Sarah Wilson

Cookies are always a favorite at any gathering and are easy to pack for giving. These are gluten free.




Coconut Cakes via Scandi Home


 



Chocolate Amaretto Truffles via Sweet Paul 

Yum. Just yum.


Chocolate Haystacks via The Primalist  

Only 3 ingredients!



Roasted Smoky Almonds via Bake Your Day
 



Gourmet Mustards via Martha Stewart


 


Flavored Salts via Minimally Invasive

I made these last year and they were very popular. They also come with a free, downloadable pdf label. 





 
Cinnamon Honey Butter via Heather Bullard 







Wrapping your consumable gifts can be as simple as a piece of waxed paper tied with a bit of yarn, or as fancy as some of these ideas: 

Print your own gift wrap via Annixen 

I love that this looks a bit like stranded knit stitches.





Make special gift tags via Cambiandostrada




via 3EggsDesign



via  Fellow Fellow




Use yarn leftovers (because I might - cough, cough - have a few of those...) via Elisabeth Heier




via Bo Bedre



via Fellow Fellow




Make special food packaging via Cannelle-Vanille  



via The Fab Guide 




via Making Nice in the Midwest




I'm also intrigued with furoshiki fabric gift wrap, using a pretty kitchen towel, via Cotton & Flax




Wow, I guess I'd better get busy! 


Thanks for stopping by, I hope this post helps you with some ideas for those last-minute, hard-to-gift people on your list. Or, of course, you may see something tasty that just needs to be made as a little something for yourself!








Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Winter 2013 Knitty & Another Pattern Special!



Have you seen the latest Winter edition of Knitty? As usual it's packed full of interesting and creative projects to knit. This issue has many great designs, but I have to say I'm most intrigued with three of them, including the Wraptor Sock, Lempster pullover and Plaid Collar. 

Jeny Staiman, perhaps best known as the creator of Jeny's Surprisingly Stretchy Bind-Off (which I've used in my next pattern about to be released), has combined the ideas of knitting socks on the bias with self-striping yarn to create a simple design that looks great. 


The designer readily admits it is not the most stretchy of socks, but that once on, it fits well. I love the idea of turning the traditional striped sock on it's head, or at least on a slant, so to speak. 



Norah Gaughan has some fantastic designs featuring central motifs and Lempster (also featured in the first photo at the top of the post) is no exception.



The pullover is worked from the top down making the fit more adjustable as you knit - love that.

The pattern that most intrigued me is one of the simplest, Franklin Habit's Plaid Collar. Franklin, a cartoonist, is also known for his updates of vintage designs, and this time around he's taken a little-known vintage stitch and featured it in a cowl.  



Although the plaid design looks complex, it's really a very simple technique based on garter stitch. What a fun way to combine colors and leftover yarns from other projects! 

These projects will have to wait until after the new year to find a place on my needles. I'm currently knitting a few gifts including fingerless mitts and another accessory that I'll be able to show soon. How about you? Are there any holiday gifts on your hooks and needles? 

Pattern Sale!
In case you are trying to choose a knitting project for a sister, friend, mom or other special person, I'm offering a 50% savings on my Katriel shawlette pattern from now through Saturday, December 14th. 
  


This little shawlette is a quick, stash-busting knit using two colors of fingering weight yarn. Or, go for a semi-solid or hand-dyed central triangle with an accent color eyelet row. It's a pretty simple canvas for your creativity. There is no coupon necessary, the 50% savings will be applied at check-out. 

Thanks for stopping by today, I hope you have a wonderful week and I wish you much happy stitching! 



photos: knitty.com