Archive for the “design” Category


Introducing… the Choppy Seas socks!

choppy-worn

These textured socks are reminiscent of the ocean on a stormy day, and the stitch pattern rolls and breaks like choppy waves. The darkening sky is represented in the contrasting toes, heels, and cuffs. Knit with Patons Kroy Sock over 60 stitches on US2/2.75mm needles, it works up fairly quickly.

choppy-heel

Although the stitch repeat begins with a purl stitch, the pattern draws in like ribbing, and so laddering is not an issue. Because of the stretchiness, one size should fit most. Because I’ve only written the pattern for one size (though its stretchiness will accommodate a wide range of foot widths) and because of the potential annoyance of beginning needles with purl stitches, I’m offering this pattern for free!

Get it on Ravelry here: http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/choppy-seas

And here are some more pictures:

choppy2

choppy1

choppy-cuff

choppy-pair

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One of the works-in-progress that I want to finish during the Olympics is a project that I started a few months ago – my next sock design! It has a nifty twelve-row textured pattern that draws in like ribbing for a cushy snug fit. Knit with Patons Kroy Sock (one of my new favourite sock yarns!) in “Camo Colours” over 60 stitches on US2/2.75mm needles, it works up fairly quickly.

The only potential issue with this pattern is that each needle begins with a purl stitch. While this isn’t really a problem for me, I know that many knitters don’t like to do that. Fortunately, the pattern pulls in well enough that any looseness is taken up, and I’m sure a good soak or wash and wear would take care of uneven stitches. When knitting the foot, a few of the stockinette stitches from the sole can be rotated around so that the needle begins with the preferred knit stitch.

I’m reluctant to show this one off while it’s still in progress, so here’s a picture of the ball of yarn, half-knit up. I love the pattern made by the criss-crossing strands and gentle gradient. One day I’d like to see the machinery that winds balls of yarn. I’m fascinated by how the winding pattern on the inside of the ball is so different from the outside.

Sekrit Sock

Because I’ve only written the pattern for one size (though its stretchiness will accommodate a wide range of foot widths) and because of the potential annoyance of beginning needles with purl stitches, I’m going to offer this pattern for free! I hope to have it all typed up and formatted for publication in the next month or so. Keep an eye out!

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I’m making slow and steady progress on the Dancing Cranes stole, and last night I finished the leg of the second Cakewalk sock whilst watching the Cowboys make up for last year’s losses against the Giants. (Wooo! How ’bout dem Cowboys!) I’m planning to get a lot of knitting done on Sundays for the next few months now that the football season has begun! Football and sock knitting go together so well. It may be 90 degrees today but I’m already thinking about cozy afternoons by the fireplace, flannel shirts, warm knit socks, the colour of autumn leaves, and bowls of stew…

I’ve been thinking about something else, too, as the year comes to a close: writing up new patterns. At the end of last year I set a goal to design and publish at least two, so I’d better get working on that!

Yesterday I sketched out the designs for two stranded colourwork hats from this Lang Merino Superwash. I love these colours! I have two skeins of black as well, but no pictures of them all together. I should have enough for two hats here. A third hat design is tying my brain into knots and I think I’ll just have to knit it in order to understand it, but the armwarmers I’ve dreamed up should be easy enough for me to chart and knit up. I looked up stitch patterns and started to draw them together for a scarfy-shawl, but that one will probably need to be swatched so I can see how the different stitches go together; my mind’s eye can’t quite visualize it.

The yarn that I’ll need for the armwarmers and scarfy-shawl (stole? shawlette? wide scarf?) is already in my stash, so making up these designs will also help with the goal of using up more yarn than I bring in this year. I’m not quite sure I’m going to meet that goal… but I’m trying!

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This is the official end of the year tallying-up post!

Incoming fibre in 2011:
33.5 ounces fibre acquired at Maryland Sheep and Wool

Outgoing fibre in 2011:
Er… I spun a little bit. Not a lot. Way more came in than went out.

Incoming yarn in 2011:
7 skeins of Red Heart for my first crocheting project
1 sock yarn for Michael
3 Lang Merino DK for Winterlude-inspired colourwork hat and armwarmers
1 skein sock yarn at Rhinebeck
2 balls Patons Kroy Socks FX
5 balls Sugar ‘n Cream for washcloths
1 ball Serenity Sock Weight in navy for heels and toes on socks
4 balls Elann Silken Kydd for shawl

24

Outgoing yarn in 2011:
1.5 – Baby Surprise jacket
2 – Michael’s Fleeps
3 – Winterlude Hat ™
2 – time traveling Jaywalkers
7 – Hexagon blanket
6 – Sweaters for the twins
1 – gave a ball of sock yarn to Mom
1 – white washcloth
1 – blue washcloth
1 – argyle washcloth
1 – greens washcloth
1 – Quick Relief socks

27.5

There are some fair amount of leftovers from the hexagon blanket and the twins’ sweaters, unfortunately. On the other hand, the leftovers may come in handy for swatching, experimenting, or knitting little toys. Still, more yarn went out than came in, and I’m pleased with that!

The Year in Knitting (and Crocheting):
2011 Projects

Favourite project:
I think that prize would have to go to the Winterlude Hat(tm), for being the only thing I knit this year of my own handspun. Between the wool and the fleece lining it’s a super warm hat, even if I think I made the lining a little on the small side. It stays on just fine when I tie it under my chin!

Least Favourite project:
Unfortunately, it was the Presto Chango sweaters. I am a little sad that I didn’t put as much love into my niecelets’ sweaters as I wanted to. Had I used a different yarn, I might have felt differently about them. The pattern was great, but the KnitPicks Swish and I didn’t get along very well.

Patterns Published:
None. But I have ideas! Many, many ideas…

For Next Year:
I know it’s a mistake to make too many resolutions, so here are the things I *want* to do, and if I get some of them done I’ll be happy!
- spin more
- knit something with handspun yarn
- design and publish two new patterns
- try a new sock architecture
- finish Napramach and the Stripy Socks
- finish the Dancing Cranes stole in time to wear to a wedding
- cast on for fancy cabled knee socks
- use up more yarn and fibre than I purchase
- get some stock in the Etsy shop

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There is absolutely no progress to report on the Dancing Cranes stole. I spent Wednesday after work configuring my new computer (yay, new computer!) and so didn’t have time in the evening to knit. Last night when I sat down to put my two rows on I completely misread the chart and knit, then painstakingly unknit, about 80 stitches. Unknitting the SSKs was not particularly enjoyable, but eventually I’d gotten back to my mistake and worked forward again until I realized that my eyes were crossing from tiredness. Since sleepy lace knitting is a recipe for making mistakes in lace knitting, I put the stole down halfway through a row and went to bed.

I’ve been thinking about design again! The weather is getting colder and that makes me want to knit cozy warm things. I had the idea for a double-thick fingerless glove/convertible mitten, with colourwork on the outside mitten. Already I’m sketching out how it would be constructed. Both the inside and outside would be worked in DK weight yarn, possibly using different yarns for each. The outside would use a strong and smooth yarn so the colourwork would show up well, while the inside could be made of a softer luxurious yarn.

Happy Feline Friday! Could these two be any cuter?

Yes, Floyd does have bald spots around his lips. When he was a young kitten he had an allergic reaction that gave him horrible skin crusties in his ears and on his pawpads and lips. Poor little guy! We’re still not sure what caused it, but fortunately the crusties cleared up quickly and have never come back. Usually it’s difficult to notice that the fur doesn’t grow well around his mouth; the camera flash reflecting off his skin makes it seem worse than it really is.

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Day Six: 2nd April. Something to aspire to.
Is there a pattern or skill that you don’t yet feel ready to tackle but which you hope to (or think you can only dream of) tackling in the future, near or distant? Is there a skill or project that makes your mind boggle at the sheer time, dedication and mastery of the craft? Maybe the skill or pattern is one that you don’t even personally want to make but can stand back and admire those that do. Maybe it is something you think you will never be bothered to actually make but can admire the result of those that have.

There’s very little that scares me about knitting anymore. Even the most complicated lace pattern can be broken down to doing it one stitch at a time. Turning a short-row heel, a process which once left me nervously knitting a scarf while procrastinating on the sock, no longer fazes me. Colourwork with three colours in one row? No big deal. (Slow going, but not intimidating.) Entrelac? Doesn’t interest me, but I bet I could do it. Steeking? Sure, why not?

No, for me the aspiration is design. I have so many designs in my head that I want to knit up and write up and publish. I have both well-imagined patterns and vague ideas to work from. But I knit slowly, and often get frustrated with poorly-written patterns. What really intimidates me now is the time it would take to figure out the complex patterns I want to knit, and the idea of knitting them not just from a poorly-written pattern, but from no pattern at all.

So what’s on my list to design?

The green lacy sock that I began in Cookie A.’s class several years ago
Several more simple sock designs, one with a little bit of colour and one with texture
A Winterlude-inspired hat and armwarmers or gloves/mittens set
A pattern inspired by the geometric shapes of a bridge I crossed on a road trip
A shawl that uses the same motifs in both a triangular and a rectangular version

It’s going to take me *years* to get these things done, and that’s what’s most intimidating about it!

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Once again, I visited my sworn-sister the Knitting Ninja (along with a bunch of other friends) in her hometown of Ottawa for the annual Winterlude festivities. In addition to the usual things we do there – eat stew at the cook-off, drink lots of beer, buy fancy cheeses and make a meal of them, watch the Super Bowl – we visited two yarn stores.

Our first stop was the new Yarns Etc., where I acquired a skein of Cascade Heritage Paints in the understated blues and grays “Thunder” colourway. Understated blues and grays… if you’ve been following along for a while, you may have guessed that this is going to be socks for Michael. (And if you haven’t, now you know!) I have no idea when I’m going to get to them, and first he has to tell me where the last pair of socks could fit better, but eventually there will be a new pair of plain ribbed socks for him.

Since it was within blocks of our hotel, we walked down to Yarn Forward. Last year I’d gotten two skeins of Lang Merino 120, a smooth DK weight superwash yarn, in black. This year I supplemented them with three more skeins, one each of cream, green, and blue-ish. The colours aren’t exactly wintery, but somehow they remind me of winter. Blue and green are more springlike, but with the cream in there they make me think of ice. So I’m thinking of designing a Winterlude-inspired hat and armwarmers set to be my very first for-sale patterns.

To that end, I wandered around the ice sculptures in Confederation Park looking at, and sneaking pictures of, people’s hats. There was lots of inspiration to be found, since of course in February in Ottawa it’s cold enough for nearly everyone to be wearing a hat, and many of them are hand-knit.

Many of them also have earflaps, which was my motivation last year to knit the hat that I didn’t want to buy. I finished sewing the lining into my Winterlude Hat(tm) just a day before leaving, and got the cords in with some help from Pirate-Husband, and was quite pleased with how warm it was while I traipsed around Ottawa. There are a couple of things that I would change, if I were to be making it again: first, I’d make the earflaps wider. They are wider than my ears, but still let wind in unless I tied the cords under my chin. And second, I’d make the lining a teensy bit larger, because it felt as if the hat kept riding up on my head unless I tied the cords under my chin. So third, I’d make the cords a couple of inches longer, because it was hard to tie them while wearing gloves. Even without those things, I absolutely love my new hat. Wearing something made of yarn I spun myself is so gratifying! The polar fleece lining kept me from having a terrible case of hat hair, which is definitely a good thing. (I know I’m squinty in this picture. It was very bright out.)

Speaking of gloves, there’s another finger to repair on my Fleeps. They still kept my hands warm, though I can definitely feel that they’re getting thin. Maybe I can wear them for another year, but then it will be time to make another pair for myself. Meanwhile, Michael’s new Fleeps made their debut and did their job wonderfully. He says he’s going to show them off to everyone, and I totally believe him. The magnet-snaps that I sewed in are seriously awesome. My next pair will definitely have those included.

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As a designer, I love to get comments (and constructive criticism) on my patterns. It can totally make my day to see that notification pop up, and to read even the shortest of positive comments.

As a Raveler, I look almost-daily at the new patterns that have been listed and at the patterns my friends have queued or marked as favourites. I might pull up a dozen patterns a day to look at, and put some of them in my own list of favourites as well.

But I’ve noticed something recently that’s made me a little sad, and that’s the fact that I very rarely leave comments on patterns, even ones that go into my favourites or my queue. That’s not cool at all. So I’m resolving to leave more comments on patterns I like! The social aspect of Ravelry is one of its best parts, and I want to make the most use of that by letting designers know when I think a pattern is cute, clever or just plain awesome.

Will you join me?

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Hello, 2011! I think you and I are going to get along quite well. The year started off just right, waking up with two little kittens snoogled up to my legs. (Sorry for the crappy quality of the cell phone picture.) Now it’s time to light a fire under myself, because I have lots of plans for the year ahead!

First of all, I know of four babies who are going to be born in the first half of the year, and I’m planning to make something for each of them. I’m well on my way to finishing a (secret) gift for the first one; I’ve already bought the yarn for the second and third and I have sweater patterns picked out. But I have no idea what I’m going to knit for the fourth baby, who is due to arrive in May. Something autumn-ish in a six-month size, perhaps, or maybe a toy.

Second, I want to learn a new skill this year: I want to learn to crochet. Not just to put edging on a hat, but to actually make things with a hook and tangly stuff, rather than pointy things and tangly stuff. There’s a bunch of kitchen cotton in my stash waiting to be made into new Swiffer mop covers, and I keep eyeing this Prairie Star afghan as something I’d love to have over one of the guest beds. (Hm! Maybe I will crochet a toy for the fourth baby, and kill two birds with one stone.)

Third, this year I am going to finish all the projects that are currently in progress. It’s time to get them done and move on, no matter how much I might dislike working on them. Maybe even the hibernating projects, like the Ostrich Plumes lace.

Fourth, I am going to design, knit, and publish a new pattern this year. It may be socks, or armwarmers, or a one-skein fingering-weight shawlette.

The fifth one is the real biggie: There are two rooms in my basement. The front room has gym equipment and a guest bed futon in it, as well as a TV for watching while working out. The back room has the washer and dryer, but other than that it’s been sort of a landing spot for unwanted things since we moved into the house three years ago. I want to rebuild that room into a crafting space. Pirate-Husband is totally in; he wants a space in which he can do leatherwork. How awesome would it be to be able to work in the same room on our projects? To be able to leave the carder or the sewing machine out and not worry about a cat shredding anything in the night? To have a dedicated carding station! And one for leather! And one for drawing, too! To have a lightbox setup that will make it easy to take great pictures! I want to make it a cozy and inspirational space, a room that I’d want to hang out in, a room that just calls out “spend time here! do wonderful things!”

In closing, I’m going to share with you the New Year’s wish that Dad sent, because I think it’s just perfect:

I hope that all of you have a new year filled with happiness, and health.
Set your goals, set your sails and head off.
Let honor and goodness be your guides
Let peace and respect be your muses
Enjoy the journey as much as reaching the destination.

Happy New Year, everyone!

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End of year tallying-up post!

Incoming fibre in 2010:
3572 grams / 7.8 pounds – some handpainted top, some natural roving. Nearly four pounds of wool and one pound of alpaca were unexpected gifts to me! And I won a lovely 4 ounces of combed top in the Tour de Fleece, pictured here. It’s the brightest fibre I think I’ve ever owned.

Outgoing fibre in 2010:
Spun 450 grams / almost one pound. Participating in the Tour de Fleece sure helped with that number, but I’m hoping and planning to spin even more next year. Knitting with handspun yarn is a wonderful thing, and therefore I must make more yarn so that I can knit with it. This three-ply Corriedale would make great thick armwarmers, and I have some foresty green and gold merino/silk that would be wonderful as gloves or socks, and some bluesy-green Falkland that would be perfect as a hat.

Incoming yarn in 2010:
28 skeins in, which seems high, except eleven of them are small skeins for the twins’ sweaters.

Outgoing yarn in 2010:
19 skeins out, if I include the almost-done projects in my count. That might be cheating a bit. Twelve, if I only count 100% finished projects.

Here are the things I knit this year! Five pairs of socks, three of which were gifts. One pair was made from my very own handspun yarn. Two baby hats and a pair of baby booties, and an adult-size hat. Three more projects – Michael’s Fleeps, a hat and a secret baby gift – are very close to completion. Wow, I only finished two things for myself this year? Crazy.

Favourite project:
If I have to pick a finished project, Pirate-Husband’s Paraphernalia socks were the most fun to work on. Keeping them secret was part of the fun, and so was modifying the pattern to fit his feet.

If it’s not cheating too much to pick a project that’s not 100% completed, I’m going to say the Winterlude Hat(tm). It’s knit from two-ply Jacob yarn I spun myself, it was a fun challenge to do the colourwork and get it even, I learned how to do a crocheted edging, and it’s going to be the warmest hat ever after I line it with polar fleece.

Least Favourite project:
If I have to pick a project that I finished, I think it would be the Gnome Hat and Booties. Not because there was anything wrong with the pattern, but because the yarn was no fun to work with.

Since I liked everything I finished this year, I’m going to go back to an unfinished project and say the Kureyon socks. I love how they look, but knitting with the Kureyon sock yarn is no fun for me at all. Perhaps I will buckle down in 2011 and get them done, already, and never buy this yarn again. Some people really like it, so I’ll leave it to them.

Patterns Published:
Two! First the Sibling Socks, a fine-gauge sock that grew from the need for a suitable pattern to use with Trekking XXL at 45 stitches per four inches. Then, in a more sensible gauge, the similar Cakewalk Socks.

I’d like to release at least one new pattern in 2011, and maybe even two of them! I’ve got plans in mind, it really will just come down to having enough time to sit down and work on them.

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