Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Good riddance, December 2014.

This has been a terrible month. I have been to the dentist four times this month, to the tune of many hundreds of dollars. My cat has started barfing up hairballs every night due to some skin issue, so that's been fun. I didn't get a job I needed. A submission I was positive would get accepted didn't. The new EU VAT laws have caused me (and all other designers) a world of trouble and worry, resulting in me having to close my Craftsy store. A couple days ago, I had an emergency doctor visit and now I'm on antibiotics with no alcohol allowed... and it's new years, so champagne. To top it off, Roto Rooter just left my house, because a huge rainstorm a few days ago backed up our sewer system and sewage was coming out of the shower drains. So I say: GOOD RIDDANCE 2014. Here's to a 2015 full of knitting, laughter, and better luck.

2015 was not all bad. I had three third-party pubs this year:

The Admiralty in Holla Knits Home Collection


 Delaware is for Cables in Knitty, First Fall

Coronis in PomPom Quarterly Issue 10 (on the cover, even!)



And I self-published 19 patterns, including two e-books.

My 2014 goal was 6 pairs of socks, which in hindsight was an easy goal. I think I made 10 pairs, including 4 gift pairs. My sock goal for 2015 is "use up the sock yarn you've got before buying more." I think it's an admirable goal. My yarn storage is limited, and I get overwhelmed with a large stash, so I want to try to knit socks only from the stash. We'll see how long that lasts.

Other 2015 goals include publish more patterns with magazines, be better about blogging regularly, improve my limited photography skills, and try to branch out away from top-down raglans in my design work.

Happy New Year's to you, and I hope your December was better than mine.
<3

Thursday, December 18, 2014

GAL designer interview with digitalnabi

As part of the 2014 Gift-A-Long on Ravelry, I'm interviewing fellow designer Heather Zoppetti (digitalnabi on Ravelry). A bit about Heather that I shamelessly stole from her Ravelry page:

Heather Zoppetti is a knitwear designer, teacher, and author of Everyday Lace (Interweave, 2014). She lives in Lancaster, Pennsylvania with her husband and yarn collection. Her patterns have been published in many Interweave publications and by yarn companies such as Manos del Uruguay, Baah!, Reywa Fibers, The Alpaca Yarn Company, and Universal Yarns.

Here are a couple of my favorite digitalnabi designs: 
Mormorio, a sock yarn wrap thing

And now, my questions, and some answers.

Who are you? What do you do? Are you a full time designer?

I'm a full-time designer and small business owner. I'm the founder of Stitch Sprouts (check us out on stitchsprouts.com), which really has become my full-time job. We distribute wholesale patterns, yarn, and stitch markers to yarn shops across the country (and even some internationally). We also provide services like graphic design and technical editing.

You wrote a book, so that's pretty awesome. What's your preference: individual self-published patterns, third-party pubs, or a large project like a multi-pattern book?



I love working on big projects like books. Something about having a huge goal is satisfying. However, small self-published patterns have a more immediate payoff...so it's a hard decision. I'm going to take the easy way out and say that I like both for different reasons. 

What's first for you: yarn, stitch pattern, pattern name, general idea, something else?

Any and all. Some patterns start with a stitch pattern that I've fallen in love with. Others start with a specific request from a yarn company. It's always a new and exciting process ---that's what I really love about designing, it never gets boring. 

Do you ever knit other designers' patterns, or is there just not time? If you do get to knit things by others, is it mostly for you or do you make things as gifts?

Unfortunately, I almost never have time to knit others' patterns. Sometimes I don't even have time to knit my own (I hire sample knitters)! If I do make something from another designer, it almost always ends up as a gift for someone else. Which is kind of sad; I have very few knitted things that I get to wear myself. 

Was this your first year participating as a GAL designer?

Yes. Last year I was too late to sign-up and was sad that I missed out on all the fun. 

Thursday, December 4, 2014

#operationsockdrawer

If you're on Instagram, you've probably seen pictures of knitted socks in various states of completion with the hashtag "operationsockdrawer."
"But what does that mean?" you ask. "It sounds so serious!"
I was hoping to find out that it's a group effort to introduce more handknit socks into the world, or a motivator to finish one new pair a month, or even an encouragement to knit socks from your stash sock yarn before buying new sock yarn, which is something I could definitely use some help with, but no. From what I can tell, there is no actual Operation Sock Drawer, there is only a hashtag. It means nothing except that "Hey I made/am currently making these socks and now they're on Instagram." Oh well. No idea where this got started, but I like showing off what I've made, and I like seeing other people's socks, so I'll keep using it.

So! This is my actual sock drawer. It makes me happy. #operationsockdrawer


The self-patterning pair in the middle is my newest addition. I finished them just before the Christmas knitting extravaganza started, and by that I mean that I needed the needles they were on for Christmas knitting so I had to hurry up and finish the socks. And... I sort of hate these socks. 1) They're goofy. 2) They're not that warm, which is super weird, because they're wool socks. 3) They're not very soft, probably because the yarn has a bit more nylon than most sock yarns. 4) They're goofy.


The yarn is Berroco Sox and I have to say... I won't buy it again. That's fine, because my sock yarn stash is getting a bit out of control. I think I have enough sock yarn to double my current sock collection. I know that a lot of knitters would laugh at that, but I try to keep the stash in check. No point in having oodles of yarn just sitting there in your sewing room, taunting you, because you currently have eleventy million things on the needles so you can't (ahem, shouldn't) cast on anything else even though that skein of Miss Babs is calling your name... no. Best to keep the temptation out of the house, that's what I always say.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Invictus Redux


When I was just starting to think about being a knitting designer, I released a free pattern on Ravelry for a simple lace scarf. I'm not much of a scarf person, but I thought that by releasing a free pattern for something that a lot of people knit (scarves), I could get my name out there, and then knitters would recognize my name when I started really designing. It doesn't really work like that, but what did I know. (Nothing.)

A couple of months ago, I totally re-did my first ever for-purchase pattern (Cascading Cables Mittens and Mitts) because it really, really needed it. I knitted new samples, re-wrote the pattern, had it test-knitted and edited, and felt way better about life. I started thinking that I should do the same for my free scarf pattern, just to tidy everything up and bring that last pattern up to my current standards and style sheet. Right around the time I was thinking about doing this, the online store A Good Yarn offered me a skein of one of their yarns to talk about on my blog, because they've redone their website and they wanted to promote it. So I've pretty much killed two birds with one stone, because here's my new sample for my scarf pattern Invictus, and also hey! A Good Yarn has a new website! You can order their specially hand-dyed yarns more easily now!

The yarn they sent me is an exclusive colorway to their store called Sweet Lips. It's dyed on a base of Lorna's Laces Pearl, which is 51% silk and 49% bamboo, so you can just imagine how luxurious it is. I will admit that I didn't like the yarn when it was skeined, but of course I forgot to take a picture of it, so here's one I stole from the store's website. Hope they don't mind. The colors are more vibrant than this in real life.


So no, I didn't like it like this, but knitted up, it looks totally different, and I really like it! I think this was a good pattern/yarn combo- the stitch pattern of my scarf really breaks up any pooling that would happen. The scarf has drape like nothing I've knitted before, and the shine is beautiful. One thing though, if you ever knit with this yarn, put lotion on your hands first. I found that the yarn snagged on all the dry spots on my fingers- silk yarns will do that. Other than that, it was lovely to knit with. I knitted the scarf during a l-o-n-g layover in the Dallas airport, and it kept me sufficiently entertained to not lose my mind. 


 I'm happy that I took the time to rework my scarf pattern. It's so much better now for about eleventy million reasons, but I think the top reason is this beautiful yarn. Can't wait for it to get cold enough here that I can actually wear it!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

New ebook: Autumn in North Dakota

Part of my husband's research is based in North Dakota, his homeland, which is super convenient for us, because when he has work meetings there, we can both go and stay with his folks. In September, he scheduled a meeting there for mid-October, we bought plane tickets, and I thought, you know what I should do? Write an ebook of three or four patterns and photograph them while we're there! I'm so smart! Then I started knitting and realized that by "smart," I actually meant "nutso," because time, and the lack thereof. I didn't want to let go of my idea, so I knitted like the wind, managed to finish a sweater, a cowl, and the cuff of one mitten, got on the plane, finished the first mitten, arrived in North Dakota, finished the second mitten, did my North Dakota autumn photo shoot literally the day before all of the pretty leaves fell off the trees, and breathed a big sigh of relief. If not relief, then resolution to not to that to myself again. I'm pretty proud of myself for pulling it off with so little planning time, but I'm also disappointed because I had plans for a hat, too, and now I'm being ridiculous.

Here it is! Autumn in North Dakota: three designs to keep you warm on the prairies. 

The three patterns: 
Ghost Stories, a top-down raglan with matching front and back cable panels


Sizes: 34.25 (36.5, 39, 41.5, 44, 47)
Yarn: Cascade 220 Superwash. You'll need 4 (5, 5, 6, 7, 7) skeins.

$6 on Ravelry, no account needed

Fireside Cowl, a heavily textured, twist-stitch cowl with a drawstring to keep the chill out

One size, about 10 inches tall and 11.5 inches across.
Yarn: Dream in Color Classy. To make a cowl this size, you'll need the whole skein.

$4 on Ravelry, no account needed

Northern Lights Mittens, sock yarn mittens with a twist-stitch "ribbon" up the back


One size, to fit an average woman's hand.
Yarn: Knit Picks Hawthorne, 1 skein, or about 250 yards of fingering weight yarn.

$4 on Ravelry, no account needed.

I hope you love this collection as much as I do! I wear that sweater all the time; I think it's my favorite one ever. So comfy and cute! 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

A knitted knitting lady gnome

Two years ago, I instituted a Christmas ornament exchange among the women in my family. I did this because a) I realized that we owned just about 3 and a half ornaments, which looks super goofy on a full size tree, and b) I like to make stuff, but probably most importantly c) I love almost nothing more than getting mail. Four women each make three (or four, if you want to keep one for yourself) ornaments and send them out to each other- easy. I got new ornaments (and mail!) and I was happy. Last year, I don't know what happened, but we failed to get going, and no exchange happened. This year, I decided that dammit, I'm doing Christmas the way I want it done, so on October 1st (the first reasonable-ish day to start planning for holiday stuffs) I informed everyone that we're doing the exchange again. We now have 5 women in the family, so I'll get even more mail. You see where my motivation is coming from.


I do this thing were I get sort of obsessive about finding the perfect blank. Bedding, boots, recipe for appetizers for a party, whatever. It's annoying. I wish I didn't do it. Things take me so much longer. Of course, I am obsessing about what I want to make for our ornament exchange. So much time on Pinterest. UGH. I finally, FINALLY, settled on a knitted gnome pattern. I've had my eye on this Russian designer for a few months now because her designs are so freaking cute. I bought her gnome pattern  thinking I'd make two boy gnomes and two girl gnomes and then send them randomly to the ladies. I started on the lady gnome... and it took ages. I think it's the fiddliest thing I've ever knitted, and I've been around. So many tiny pieces. That nose? It's knitted separately. I think this beast took me 4 hours total, which included getting out my glue gun for the toothpick knitting needles, sewing on lace trim to the little apron, and figuring out how to make the arms go the way I wanted. So much tiny fiddling, but... I really love it. I showed it to my husband and he asked where I got it, which I'm not sure is a compliment or a "what is that weird thing and why is it in the house", but I think it's awesome. That being said: there's no way I am making three more of these for the exchange. So I'm back to square one, but at least I have a knitted knitting gnome. That's something.


I might start putting it around the house where my husband will find it, then pretend I know nothing when he freaks out. Is that childish? I don't care. 

Saturday, November 15, 2014

A plain ol' maroon sweater

You may have gathered this, but I really love to read. I read when I'm knitting plain-ish things, I always read when I'm eating lunch, and I like to read before bed... so I end up reading a lot of books. One of my all-time favorites is The Help. Great book. I re-read it a month or two ago, then randomly happened on the movie on tv. Normally I don't watch movies made from books I love (coughHarryPottercough) but my husband was out of town, and I like Emma Stone, so I gave it a go. Um, it's fantastic. It stayed true (enough) to the book, the acting was great, and the outfits- oh my gosh, the outfits. I got weirdly obsessed with this one particular sweater- deep scoop neck, maroon, fitted, shorted sleeves- then bing! Lightbulb went off. I CAN MAKE THAT RIGHT NOW. I had a sweater's worth of DK weight maroon yarn in my stash, I know how to make a top-down sweater, drop everything and start now. Normally I don't do things like that. For one, I have about a bajillion knitting commitments at any given time, and can't really spend my knitting time on not-paid work. For two, I don't really need more sweaters. And for three, there was no three because I started that sweater within 20 minutes of finishing the movie.


Because it was purely for fun knitting, and very simple stockinette, I admit that I didn't pay a ton of attention while I was making it, which sucks, because it doesn't fit the way I had in mind. The bust is ok, but there's a lot of extra fabric in the body (which I sort of gathered into the back and secured with the belt, ahem), and the bottom tends to ride up because there's too much ease. I can't decide if I want to re-knit from the waist down, or if I want to do something quite drastic like use my sewing machine to take it in at the sides, which is total sacrilege, or if I should just leave it as-is and vow to pay more attention in the future.


I knitted the body on my new Knitter's Pride Nova Cubics. The needles are square instead of round, which is supposed to be easier on your hands than traditional needles. I can't put my finger on what exactly, but there definitely was something awesome about knitting with them. I knitted for hours on that sweater and never got sore hands. Want to know the best thing about these needles? The cord didn't need to be soaked in hot water when I took them out of the package. That is literally the best thing I can think of when it comes to circulars. I think I gasped out loud then did a little jig when I realized. That's the way to create a life-long customer, people. No cable soaking.


They seriously came out of the package looking exactly like this! So great.

Full disclosure: I got the needles for free in exchange for a review. No lies though, I freaking love these needles.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

New Pattern: Niffler's Delight Mittens

Hi, my name is Emily, and I'm a Harry Potter addict. But you knew that. Everybody knows that.


This pattern idea kicked around in my head for probably a year before I did anything about it. I don't know why; usually I just go for whatever's in my head. A couple months back I came across a yarn support offer for the Kangaroo Dyer's yarns that was being spearheaded by my invisible internet friend Emma Welford, a fellow Harry Potter freak. I knew that she'd go for the design, and one of the yarns offered was PERfect for my idea, so I wrote up a proposal, sent it off, got the yarn, and fulfilled my Harry Potter mitten dreams.


These are the Niffler's Delight Mittens. For those unfamiliar, a Niffler is a fluffy, mythical Harry Potter-land creature with a long snout. Nifflers are drawn to sparkly things, like gold coins, and can often be found in mines. They make terrible house pets because they have a bad habit of tearing up a house in the search for something shiny. So what do Nifflers like? Sparkly gold coins. What are these mittens? Sparkly, gold, and covered in coin cables. A Niffler's delight! (Cue Harry Potter groan, it's fine, I'm a super nerd.)


Mittens knitted from sock yarn is my new favorite thing. They're great for warmer climates where you don't need big heavy mittens, they have a lot more stitches, so it's easier to make intricate designs, and sock yarn is just lovely to knit with. I love sock yarn.

Details!
Niffler's Delight Mittens

Sizes: Women's S, Women's M
Finished hand circumference: 7.5 (8) inches

Yarn: Kangaroo Dyer Poet Seat Glitter; 75% Merino, 20% Nylon, 5% Metallic, 438 yards; Color: Papaya or about 50 grams of fingering weight yarn

Skills Needed: i-cord and backwards loop cast ons, cabling, knitting in the round, picking up stitches, basic decreases, M1 increases

$4 on Ravelry, no account needed...but they will be 25% off until November 30th! No coupon code needed.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Bijou Basin Ranch and Outlander


Despite having never heard of Outlander 8 weeks ago, I am now a little bit obsessed. I've devoured the first three books, but I'm making myself wait to buy the 4th because I know I won't get anything done around here until I read the whole thing. I haven't watched the tv show because we don't get that channel, but with wool as my witness I will find a way. It's just so enthralling! I can't imagine going from modern life to 1700s life, just like that. Running water and A/C for me, please. But anyway, it's a good series. So when Bijou Basin Ranch contacted me to see if I'd like a skein of their new, Outlander-inspired yak yarn, I was like heck yes, I love those books! Let me see the colors. I got a skein of Himalayan Trail, which is 75% yak and 25% merino, in the colorway Gloaming, a really pretty lilac-y semi-solid. I love a good semi-solid- so much more interesting than a plain old solid.


Yak is supposed to be incredibly warm, so my first thought was gloves. Last winter I realized that I had a serious glove shortage. I have enough mittens to wear a different pair every day for a month (exaggeration: I do it sometimes) but I only have one pair of gloves, and those I made a few months ago. I'm not sure how often I'll even need gloves (Louisiana, it's hot here, broken record, blah blah), but I like the idea of having some, just in case.

I made some simple gloves, nothing fancy. I thought I wouldn't have enough yarn to do anything fancy, but I was wrong, and there are leftovers. Oh well. The yarn was really lovely to knit with- it feels so indulgent. It has a slightly felted texture when knitting, which I kind of liked, and meant that there was no splitting. I love a not splitty yarn. You do have to be careful when ripping this yarn though- it didn't like to be ripped and re-knit. Got pretty ragged looking pretty quickly. Just be certain that you're casting on the correct number of stitches, and you'll be fine. One more thing- you do have to be gentle. When I was drawing the yarn through one of the fingertips, I broke the yarn. Super annoying, but not the end of the world.


I love these gloves! This yarn is seriously great. If a sweater's worth ended up under the Christmas tree, I wouldn't be upset... just sayin'. But really, if you're looking for Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa/etc. gift ideas, a skein of this lovely yarn would make any knitter happy. Or you could whip up some one-skein projects for your non-knitters.

Full disclosure: I got this yarn for free in exchange for a blog review. My own opinions, of course.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

In which we can't finish a set.


Look at this nonsense: that's two complete, DIFFERENT socks. Who am I? This is not a thing I do! I'm such a monogamous sock knitter- finish one, immediately cast on for the second just so that things like this never, never happen. No single socks in my world. But after I finished the blue one (Jaywalker by Grumperina) I didn't have it in me to start the second one. That sock has 72 stitches, people. My usual sock has 60, so that 72 stitch business felt like it took forever. For-ev-ver. Plus it was sort of fiddly, and that's not how I like my socks. Sock + yarn went into a project bag and into my knitting basket while I knitted other things. I admit that I felt guilty about it. It haunts me from the knitting basket.


Other things like... this totally goofy self-patterning sock. I bought the yarn with the intent of making it into socks for my brother for his birthday, but when the yarn showed up it was, well, girly. That pink and purple did not look like that online. So socks for me it is. This is my first time using self-patterning yarn, and I think that maybe it's just not my thing. Kinda goofy. When I was knitting this sock, hubbs told me repeatedly that it was weird. Thanks dear, I know... This sock has also been shoved into a project bag and stuffed in the knitting basket, because when I was about 2 inches in to the sock I realized that I needed the needles for a promised design that I am sort of behind on. So I knitted like the wind to free up the needles, and the second goofy sock will just have to wait.


And just for funsies, here's a sneak peak of a three-pattern ebook that should be ready for release in 2 or 3 weeks. Eeeee! I worked hard on this so I'm excited to show you the designs! Stay tuned.....

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

New Pattern: Gather Ye Rosebuds Hat

When I was in high school, my friends and I went through a big Dead Poets Society phase. I'm not sure why; it's not exactly a happy-go-lucky, high-school-girl type movie. Despite that... the message of the movie is something that I try to live by: carpe diem, which is Latin for "sieze the day." Since Robin Williams died, I don't know why, but this movie has been in my head a lot, especially the scene where his character first introduces the idea of carpe diem with the Robert Herrick poem that begins "Gather ye rosebuds while ye may." Probably a fitting, if morbid, thing to think about after someone has died too soon. This has taken a turn for the serious. Back to the not serious: I designed a hat that reminds me of rosebuds, and that poem, and carpe diem. 

This is, you guessed it, the Gather Ye Rosebuds hat. The rosebuds are formed by increasing a bunch of stitches into one stitch, then gradually decreasing them away. The stems are formed with twisted stitches to make them more distinct. Once you've worked a few rounds of the rosebud pattern, you'll find that it's pretty intuitive to knit, and you likely won't even need the chart anymore.


The hat takes about 180 yards of worsted or aran weight yarn. I used Dream in Color Classy, my favorite worsted. I find that Classy knits up more like a heavy worsted or an aran than a true worsted, but that might just be me. This colorway is called Punky Fuchsia. Gosh, I love the colors of DIC yarn. It's always so hard to choose one because I want them all. I topped the sort-of slouchy hat with a big pompom because that's just what I do.


Details!
…{size}….
One size, approximately 18” finished circumference. The stitch pattern is extremely stretchy and will stretch to fit most heads.

…{yarn}…
Dream in Color Classy, Color: Punky Fuchsia: 1 skein, or approximately 180 yards of worsted or aran weight yarn

…{recommended needles}…
US 8 16 inch circular needle and dpns

…{gauge}…
20 sts and 26 rows = 4 inches in Twisted Rib


Want to make one for yourself? Get it for $4 on Ravelry here, no account needed. 
For the first two weeks it will be 25% off, no coupon code needed! The sale will end October 28th. 





Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Christmas gifts for the win!

I have declared this the year of no panic/no drama holidays. I admit that I have the luxury of doing so because a) I work from home, and can flex my time however I want, and b) we plan to stay home for Christmas, which I always find less stressful and way easier, planning-wise. Last year did not go the way I wanted. Too much stress. BUT: this year, I'm not doing the holidays that way. I will be on top of things, I will not overplan or take on too many tasks (ahem handmade and calligraphied Christmas cards), and I will start my gift knitting early.



You may recall that I accidentally made my mother-in-law a pair of socks way back in July. Well, I decided to roll with that and purposely make my father-in-law a pair of socks in October. I started the first sock in September, but I had issues. I'm using yarn I got from someone on Ravelry. She said it was Plymouth Yarn Happy Feet, but this skein had no tag. I trusted. I knitted a sock on my faithful, if sort of old and sad, set of size 2 sock needles. I got to the toe and ran out of yarn. I ordered a complimentary colored yarn from Knit Picks to do the toes. I knitted the toe. I finally gave in to the nagging thought in my mind that something was wrong. That sock was practically made of iron. It was rigid. The yarn is clearly much thicker than fingering weight, and I just didn't want to admit it. I'm thinking that it's actually DK? Regardless... I had to rip out an entire finished sock. That's hard. Very soul crushing. I'm glad I did it, though, because when I reknitted the sock with size 3 needles and 8 fewer stitches, they came out perfectly. No toe yarn needed. Luckily for me, not too long ago Knitter's Pride sent me this amazing sock needle set- sizes 0 to 3, all in the same zippered case, so I switched from my old sad size 2 set (which are not that pointy anymore and I definitely sat on one and bent it at some point) to my fancy new size 3 set. These needles are super cool- the tips are metal, but the middle part is coated with a grippy black stuff that helps the stitches not slide off the needle. I admit it took me awhile to get used to knitting with these but once I got a handle on it, I loved it. Totally worth it. (And can we say perfect knitting gift for the knitter in your life?)


Since I knitted the first sock with frogged yarn, it got a little wonky looking. Yes, I could have properly soaked the yarn and hung it to dry to prevent that, but since these are a gift, I knew I'd be blocking them anyway. (I don't generally block my own socks once I finish them; straight off the needles and onto the feet.) See that wonkiness? Tons of uneven stitches. Once again, luckily for me, Knitter's Pride also sent me a set of sock blockers to try out, and all I can say is how have I been a sock knitter without these? I only wish I had about 8 sets, because I tend to wash all of my socks at once, then lay them out to dry.


See how nice the socks look now? Perfectly ready for gift-giving. Speaking of that... is it going too far if I start wrapping things for Christmas now, and putting them away in the closet? Whatever, I'm doing it. Less stress! More time for holiday parties!

Full disclosure: Knitter's Pride sent me the sock needle set and the sock blockers for free in exchange for a review, but my thoughts about them are my own.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Red Barn Yarn Name The Yarn Contest!



I know, I know, tons of blog tours lately. This is the last one for awhile, I promise! I'm the last stop on the blog tour for the Red Barn Yarn Name that Yarn! Contest. Red Barn Yarn, a California yarn company known for really vibrant hand-painted yarn, together with Love of Knitting Magazine, is running a contest to name their newest yarn: a 2-ply worsted weight yarn spun from 45% merino, 40% alpaca, and 15% mohair, with 225 yards per skein. The company sent me a skein to check out in a very classic blue called "Chambray". Pretty, right? 


Like the tag says, the yarn needs a name, and that's where you come in. If you want to enter the contest, please send your yarn name and inspiration to info@redbarnyarn.com with the subject line "NAME THIS YARN CONTEST SUBMISSION".  (I hope it doesn't need to be said, but keep it PG, please.) And it's a contest, so of course there are prizes: 

Grand Prize: 1 year subscription to Love of Knitting Magazine; a sweater’s worth of the as-yet-unnamed yarn (7 skeins, 1575 yards), and a special tag with the winner's name on it for the first year of sales following this promotion.  

Second & Third Place Runners-Up: 1 year subscription to Love of Knitting Magazine and 2 skeins of the as-yet-unnamed yarn (enough to make a shawl).

The contest closes on November 15th, so get your entries in by that date. They will announce the winner on November 25th.

You can also get a free sample of the yarn to check out if you email info@redbarnyarn.com, and they are willing to ship worldwide. I know there's a limited number of samples per blog stop, but I'm not sure how many, or what they mean by "sample", so I really have no helpful information. Typical, eh? But hey, give it a shot, see what you get.

So... what should I make with this yarn? I am tossing around the idea of making a bunch of these stars to give as Christmas gifts, or maybe a cabled kindle cover for travel? Or should I make a hat or a pair of mittens and put them in my Christmas gifts box and figure out who it's for later? I just don't know. I've had the yarn sitting next to my computer for days now, and I'm still unsure what it wants to be. Just tell me, yarn! Jeez.


Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Holla Knits Winner!

My random number generator spit out number 1... amchart. I've sent you a message on Ravelry! Congrats! Thanks to all who entered the giveaway! Y'all are great.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Holla Knits Fall/Winter 2014 Collection

Hello hello, and welcome to the end of the line of the HK Fall/Winter blog tour. A year ago, my first ever sweater design was in the Holla Knits Fall/Winter issue. Minor sappy moment: I will always be grateful to Allyson Dykhuizen for taking a chance on a unknown designer and my crazy, nearly un-do-able design idea, then sticking it out with me during the, ahem, rather difficult tech editing/sample knitting process. Lots of charts, and lots of lessons learned. Anyway! Enough about me. Wanna talk about the new Holla Knits Fall/Winter collection? Of course you do. That's why you're here.


Beach Street Vest by Andrea Sanchez: I just want to eat that texture up. I've never done brioche before, but this looks like a really good first brioche pattern. Love the two color effect! I bet this vest would be super cool in so many different color combos. I might have to make this one just because I've never made anything like it. That's how we learn, you know.



Geo Delight by Teresa Gregorio: I'm always a sucker for anything that combines color work + lace. I really love these ombre triangles! This could be a great way to use up smaller amounts of yarn you've got leftover from other projects. You only need a little bit of each color... I know we've all got mountains of leftover worsted wool lying around in all of the colors. Or is that only me? Ok then.



Velma by Allyson Dykhuizen: Allyson named this design after her cat, which, as a fellow cat mom, I find totally adorable. This is another oddly-constructed sweater- the front panel is worked bottom-up, then you pick up stitches along the sides and work sideways. I might have to knit this one myself just because of the construction. Not like I need any sweaters anymore, living here in the sauna we call Louisiana, but.



So! A great collection, once again.  Holla Knits is the best place to find edgy, challenging, awesome designs... which sounds like tooting my own horn, but whatever. It's true. :)

Head over to the Holla Knits website to look at the entire collection, then come back here and leave a comment about which design you're dying to knit, and you could win a copy! Be sure to leave contact information (like your Ravelry name), too, so that I can contact you if you win. The giveaway closes at dinner time on Tuesday, September 30th giveaway is now closed, thanks for entering! so be sure to comment before then!

In case you missed any of the posts, here's a blog tour schedule so you can read all about the collection, and maybe even win some stuff, but it might be too late, because I'm the last stop (the caboose!). Ah well.

Sept 8: Launch
Sept 10: Klever Knits
Sept 11: Berroco
Sept 12: Canary Knits

Sept 16: Life on Laffer
Sept 17: Knits in Class
Sept 18: Makewise Designs
Sept 19: Anzula

Sept 22: Ruby Submarine
Sept 23: BoKnits
Sept 25: DoogKnits

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Giveaway Winner Slash What I've Got Going On.

First off, thank you to everyone who commented on my last post! I really, REALLY wish I could send yarn to every single one of you, but alas. I have one skein only. The random number generator has selected Maranda H as the winner. Congrats! I will message you on Ravelry to get your contact info.

In other news, socks. I've been on a minor (ok, obsessively major) sock knitting kick lately. I have no idea why, because it's 90 F here every day, and I can't even imagine a time in the future when I'll need socks here. I'm going on a quick trip to the motherland of the Dakotas in a week- maybe I'll just pack ALL of my socks and switch pairs 5 times each day. My husband will think I'm nutso, but I'm pretty sure he already does, so.


I finished the first sock of a pair of Jaywalkers the other night. I know that people are crazy crazy about this pattern, which is why I picked it this time, but I admit it's not my favorite. I felt like this particular sock took a life age, which isn't helped by the fact that I can't take gauge properly and had to rip back an entire leg. The pattern warns you about getting proper gauge, and dang it, it's true. I was using size 1s (normally I use 2s for sock yarn) and I could not even get that thing over my heel. Even now that the gauge is proper and the whole thing is done, I have to tug pretty hard to get it over my heel. Once that's done the fit is great, though. This is a skein of Knit Picks Bare that I dyed in... 2010? I went on a dyeing binge that year, then haven't dyed anything since. I think I was going for a peacock-y look here. It's mostly dark blue but there's a bit of purple, black, and a teal-ish color, too. Pretty.


Ok, so this sock. Story: my youngest brother, shall we say, marches to the beat of his own drum. I have never seen that kid wear matching socks, even at his own wedding. So I thought it would be fun if, for his birthday, I knitted him two different socks so he could mix them up properly, Dobby-style. I knew that Plymouth Yarns Happy Feet comes in one-sock skeins, so I went on Ravelry, found someone who wanted to destash two different skeins in manly colors, and bought them from her. When the package came in the mail, I found that she had super generously sent me TWO of each color instead of the one we agreed on. Now, I'm not complaining about getting more yarn than I thought I was getting... but there went my plan out the window. Wasn't gonna knit one sock from each color and half one socks' worth of each left! I don't know anyone else goofy enough to wear mis-matched socks. I decided that the best course of action was to abandon the original plan and knit two matching pairs of socks. I started this pair with the intention of giving them to my father-in-law for Christmas. The whole time I was knitting, I kept thinking, there's not enough yarn. But I KNOW that I've made a sock from a Happy Feet skein, and even had leftovers, so I persevered. I got to the end of the skein, and guess what? Not enough yarn. So I ordered some Stroll from Knit Picks in matching-ish color for the toes, started knitting the toe, and still. Not gonna make it. The sock feels really dense to me, like the yarn is thicker than fingering? I finally gave it up and decided it's got to come out. I'll go up a needle size and down 4 stitches, and see what happens. It may feel like I'm playing it fast and loose with this sock, but you know what? We're doing it live.


When I ordered the Stroll for the toes, I may have accidentally ended up with two more skeins of sock yarn in my basket. Oopsie.

Unrelated so socks, this week I released a totally revamped version of my first-ever pattern from 2009, Cascading Cables Fingerless Mitts. I added a mitten option, fixed any mistakes, brought the pattern up to my current style sheet, and had it test knitted.


Redoing this pattern had been on my mind for six months at least, so I'm really glad to have gotten a chance to get it done. You can find the new pattern on Ravelry here

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Blue Sky Alpacas Extra/Destination Collection Blog Tour and Giveaway!


Hello and welcome to the Blue Sky Alpacas blog tour for their gorgeous new yarn Extra! From the Blue Sky Alpacas website, here's a bit about the yarn and the pattern collection that was designed specifically for it:

Extra: 55% baby alpaca / 45% fine merino
A luxe mix of baby alpaca and fine Merino wool, Extra comes in generously sized hanks and a rich color palette, making it ideal for one and two skein projects. Light and lofty with a springy twist, it’s a versatile Aran weight that lends itself beautifully to a variety of knitting tensions and needle sizes.
218 Yards, 150 grams
Available in 14 gorgeous colors
The Destination Pattern Collection: Take the first step toward timeless style with our newest yarn and patterns. Inspired by hometowns, far-away places and everywhere in between, the artful accessories in the Destination Collection were created by our designers from around the globe. Choose your favorite and see where the creative road takes you. A pattern collection custom crafted to complement Extra.


I am making the North Hollow Cowl by Robin Melanson. Here's what Robin says about her inspiration for the cowl:
Practically speaking, a cowl or scarf is a Canadian necessity. It's cold and windy where I come from, but I love it and would not want to be anywhere else. There's so much to embrace- a vast wilderness that's easily accessed from just about any one of our diverse multicultural cities, a variety of seasons, and so much more. I love the landscape and how it changes form province to province . All I need is a good scarf like this one to keep our the cold. 

This color I'm using is called Cherry Blossom, and it's the loveliest shade of pinky coral. The construction of the cowl is pretty cool- you make two mirrored pieces, then join them with the 3-needle bind-off, which I love for it's tidiness and sturdiness. The cowl takes just one skein, something that we can all appreciate!


As you can see, I haven't made much progress. It's the busy season. And by that, I mean that I apparently can't read a chart and was knitting the purls in the lace panel, so I had to start over. I actually hand-wound this yarn just for the pure pleasure of it. It's so soft, and in 218 yards there was not a single imperfection. AND SO SOFT. I want to knit my life out of this yarn.

Can we talk about the actual physical pattern? The presentation is so fantastic. I grinned like a maniac while I was opening the package Blue Sky sent. I love how the pattern is folded into the perfect little envelope. Best of all- this is genius- there is a ruler printed along the bottom of the pattern. Uh, duh, why did I never think of that before? If you're like me, your tape measure is always stuck in the couch cushions, so this is so smart.

This could be yours! Think of all the things you can put in that project bag.

Want to win something in my first-ever blog giveaway? (Well, yarn giveaway. I give away patterns sometimes, but you probably knew that, being a reader and all.) Blue Sky Alpacas sent me another skein of Extra in Cherry Blossom along with a copy of the North Hollow Cowl pattern, both together in an adorable bird-printed project bag, to give away to a reader! How to win:
  • Leave a comment below by midnight on Wednesday, September 24th, giveaway is over, thanks for entering! and I'll randomly choose a winner and announce it on Thursday the 25th! Please don't forget to include some way for me to contact you if you win- email address or Ravelry ID. 
  • For an extra chance at winning, do one of the following: add my blog to your blog reader, and/or follow me on Twitter or Instagram. Come back here and tell me that you did one or more of those, and I'll put your name in the hat another time.  

Be sure to check out the whole tour, and all of the lovely Destination patterns!
Blog tour schedule:
Week One (9/15 to 9/19): Cosmos and Cashmere
Week Two 9/22 to 9/26): Woolen Diversions
Week Three (9/29 to 10/03): Lattes and Llamas
Week Four 10/06 to 10/10): Rock + Purl
Week Five (10/13 to 10/17): HeyJenRenee
Week Six (10/20 to 10/24): Miso Crafty Knits