Monday, November 21, 2011

Stitch and Bitch, Skagway style

For awhile now I've wondered what it would be like to have a knitting community in my immediate vicinity.  For so long I've been a solitary knitter and I prefer that, for the most part. Knitting is intensely personal for me: a time to really be still with my thoughts while I mull over every topic under the sun, from what I'm going to eat for dinner to what my life's purpose is (deep, I know).

I've grown in my craft for the most part by myself, with no one around to tell me that I'm doing something wrong, or that I'm doing something right. I kind of vaguely knew that there were others here in Skagway who knit, but it was never anyone who I felt like I would or could hang out with.  So my stitch and bitch nights consisted of me, myself and I. And I really started to wonder what it would be like to not have to bitch to myself.

So, to solve my problem of having no one to stitch and bitch with, I've been casually pushing my friends to learn how to knit.  A couple weeks ago, a lady in town offered a beginning knitting class and I oh-so-discreetly texted my friend Sarah and told her about it.  Sarah has been on the receiving end of some of my handiwork, so I knew she was at least semi-interested in knittery things.  I was so excited when she decided to go!

She learned the basics in the class and then came shopping in my stash last week for a suitable yarn for her first project (she chose a gorgeous blue alpaca blend yarn, by the way...a girl after my own heart). We then had our first stitch and bitch the following night at a local bar. 

We numbered only three but I'm encouraged that we'll have another very soon and hopefully our numbers will grow. It was surprisingly nice to knit in the presence of others...and I felt only a little bit self-conscious (mostly because of the curious looks we were getting from fellow barflies), but I'm hoping that will wear off in time. And I'm hoping that I can encourage even more of my friends to pick up sticks! Yeah!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Winter IK 2011 Preview

Be still my knitting heart.

I have been obsessively going to Interweave's website to see when the Winter IK preview photos would be uploaded.

I guess maybe I haven't checked in a day or so, but this morning I went to see if anything new had been put up has!

My Offset Cable Mittens are included in this very first print publication!

Here's are some links you should follow right now!

Winter IK 2011 Projects Preview
Offset Cable Mittens - Extra Photos 

I'll give these mittens a proper post soon, but I just had to shout this from the rooftops as soon as I could. You understand, right? Right.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Twist Collective Winter - Swansea...New Design!

Okay, so the Winter 2011 edition of Twist Collective has been out a little over 24 hours now and I'm still not coming down from the high I got from leafing through the virtual pages.  What an amazing collection!  A couple of my favorites are Yukimi by Maureen Hefti and Bellevue by Robin Melanson.  But my jaw literally dropped when I saw Voluta by Rachel Erin. One word: Stunning.  But you really can't go wrong with any of the designs in this edition. I might choose to knit them all if I had the chance!  You definitely have to appreciate the amazing talent that goes into creating these unique gems.

Considering the caliber of talent in this issue, I'm so honored and excited to have a design included!  

Photo by Jamie Dixon...Courtesy of Twist Collective
Swansea is a hat/mitten combo that combines twisted stitches and nupps, two of my hugest obsessions right now.  I liked the idea of the twisted stitch rib coming from different directions and then interlacing, ending in a cute little bobbly's my original vision in the submission swatch, knit in KP Wool of the Andes.
Taking that idea and adding in some Quince & Co Lark in a vibrant green and you get the finished product below! While the stitch pattern covers the back of the hand, the palm and thumb are worked in the simple but lovely reverse stockinette.

Photo by Jamie Dixon...Courtesy of Twist Collective
 Now, my original submission was just for mittens, but Kate asked me if I could come up with a complementary hat.  An idea had been already bouncing around in my brain, so I naturally said I would and the resulting topper turned out just as I had pictured.
Photo by Jamie Dixon...Courtesy of Twist Collective
Although I had envisioned these designs knit up in a heathered yarn (when DON'T I envision something in a heather?!), I thought the solid effect turned out great and was a perfect fit for their Bright Spots feature.  

Photo by Jamie Dixon...Courtesy of Twist Collective
Let's get down to details, shall we?

Finished measurements:
Mitten circumference: 7 ¾ (8 ½)" / 19.5 (21.5) cm
Length: 9 ½ (10 ½)" / 24 (26.5) cm
Shown in size 7 ¾" / 19.5 cm

Head circumference: 18 ½ (19 ¾, 21, 22 ¼)" / 47 (50, 53.5, 56.5) cm
Hat height: 8 (8 ½, 9, 9 ½)" / 20.5 (21.5, 23, 24) cm
Shown in size 18 ½" / 47 cm
Intended to be worn with 2" / 5 cm of negative ease.
3 skeins Quince & Co. Lark (134 yds / 123 m per 1 ¾ oz / 50 g hank; 100% American Wool ) in Parsley
Two skeins of yarn will make either the hat or the pair of mittens.
Needles & Notions:
Size 5 US / 3.75 mm needles in style preferred for small circumference knitting in the round and 16" / 40 cm circular needle.
Two stitch markers, tapestry needle, waste yarn
26 sts and 34 rows = 4" / 10 cm in p3, k1 tbl ribbing in the round
24 sts and 34 rows = 4" / 10 cm in Stockinette stitch in the round
Construction Notes: The mittens are worked from cuff to tip, and the hat is worked from the bottom up. The twisted rib and bobble patterns are presented in both charts and row-by-row instructions.

To purchase Swansea, please follow this link to the Twist Collective website.  Thanks very much for your interest!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Alluvia of a different color

When Alluvia was released last year, I really had no idea how it would do. It had been rejected from a couple print publications but it finally found a home in the Knit Picks IDP.  Once released, it earned its advance back pretty quickly and sales were fairly brisk. And then it was included in a Knit Picks email newsletter as the featured pattern and...well...things just completely exploded after that.

I've been so encouraged by the response to this design and it's been so fun to see new projects pop up on Ravelry and on other blogs. I especially love seeing what color combinations people come up with. I'm a color whore when it comes to knitting so some of the color selections that people have used have really made my heart squeal.

There have been a couple of the bags completed in the last few days that have really caught my attention... check out this Alluvia bag that Talitha Kuomi created.  Isn't it so effing lovely?!  She used KP Wool of the Andes as the original pattern calls for, but instead of having each ruffle be a different color, she just striped the yarn any which way she wanted as she worked through the ruffles and I positively love the effect.  She also didn't felt it and instead of i-cord she added a really cool belt as the strap, all of which contributed to a really unique Alluvia.  Love it!

As I was browsing through Rav this morning, I also saw this Alluvia from pansylane.  How cool is that?  She used KP Palette instead of Wool of the Andes and the result is a perfectly beautiful and lighter weight Alluvia.  I love how she styled her FO pictures as well.

Hmmm....I might have to order some Palette today and try that out for myself.  But Palette comes in so many lovely colors, I wouldn't even know where to begin.  And let's be honest...I have more than enough on my knitting plate right now.

Have you created an Alluvia that hasn't been posted on Ravelry yet?  If so, head on over there right now - HURRY! -  and upload some photos...I'd love to see them!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

A stitch for your thoughts

I've got nothing truly knitting-related to post today and yet I felt compelled to say something.  

All weekend I've felt like I was ready to snap. I've not been sleeping well, which makes me super cranky. I'm in ultra-crunch time for two different deadlines coming up on the same day and I won't be sleeping anytime soon until both samples are finished. I've been knitting so much for the deadlines that my hands are aching. And to top it off, work is still super stressful at this point in the year and I'm still working 70+ hours/week, when generally this is the time I can let my guard down a bit and relax and actually enjoy a weekend. I'm stuck in the tunnel with no light in sight.

So, yeah. I'll admit I was feeling a bit sorry for myself today.

And then I heard the news that the father of a former roommate, good friend, & fellow knitter had passed away this morning after a very short battle with a previously undiagnosed cancer.  And everything snapped into perspective.  Yes, the knitting deadlines and my day job are important to me, but nothing about them is life and death. Needless to say, I'm feeling a little humbled.

So, if you've got a few stitches to spare tonight, knit a few for a fellow knitter who could use some good thoughts as she grieves over the loss of her father. 

As for me, I'm going to be sending some stitches, love, and positive thoughts across the miles to her too.  

And I'll also be daydreaming of the fall when things are less stressful and I can play around with this gorgeous fiber from Blue Moon that came in the mail not long ago.  Those colors are enough to even bring a smile to my cranky face. 

Monday, August 1, 2011

Twist Collective Fall 2011 - Footsie

The Twist Collective Fall 2011 issue went live last night....and I am so in love with absolutely every pattern in this issue.  There are 38 designs (!) and a pattern by yours truly just happens to be one of them!

Meet Footsie.
Photo courtesy of Twist Collective
Footsie is a his-and-hers sock pattern that was worked up in two different yarns from the amazing and gorgeous Sweet Georgia Yarns.  The men's version (on the left above) was worked in BFL Sock in the Cypress colorway and the women's version (on the right) was knit up in CashLuxe Fine in Botanical.  Meandering twisted stitches surround a simple central cable panel that is mirrored on the opposite sock.  The central cable is repeated on the heel and up the back of the sock, with twisted rib on either side.

I had to knit up both of these pairs of socks in just about two and a half weeks back in April. Now that might be a piece of cake to some of you, but I'm a fairly slow knitter (well, more than anything, I'm a distracted knitter) so I literally spent every waking moment during those couple of weeks knitting these socks.  I probably got about 3 hours of sleep each night because I knew I had to use up every spare moment to get them finished by the deadline.

And use up every spare moment I did...I finished knitting both pairs the morning that I absolutely had to get them in the mail in order for them to arrive on time via 2nd Day Air.  I almost didn't have time to block them, but I wanted them to look their best, so I quickly dunked them in some hot water and then used the triple-threat method to dry them:  a combination of ironing, tumbling in the dryer and my hairdryer.  I was still trying to dry them 10 minutes before I had to be at the post was a real nail biter but I pulled it off!

Both yarns were amazing to work with, but CashLuxe Fine has captured a special place in my heart. In fact, last night when I couldn't sleep because of the excitement, I did a little retail therapy and purchased some of my very own in the Raspberry, Orchid, and Black Plum colorways! I'm thinking some stripey socks are in my future.

Pattern Details:

Design:  Footsie  (Rav link)
Yarn:  Sweet Georgia Yarns in CashLuxe Fine (Botanical) and BFL Sock (Cypress)
Construction:  Worked from the toe up; The twisted stitch and cable panel is both charted and written row-by-row.
Sizes:  Foot Circumference: 7 ¼ (8, 8 ¾, 9 ½)" / 18.5 (20.5, 22, 24) cm, (unstretched)
Gauge:  36 sts and 52 rows = 4" / 10 cm in Stockinette in the round
Needles:  Size 1 (2.25 mm) circular, or size needed to obtain gauge.

You can purchase this design directly on Twist Collective's website by clicking here.

P.S. Can you feel fall in the air? I can!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Editing...or what I should have been doing on Sunday afternoon

I've been under a deadline the last couple of days...and not the fun kind. To clarify, the fun kind would be where I get to play with yarn and knit up a sample.  No, this is the kind of deadline I dread:  editing the written pattern for publication.

Now, people who know me in my everyday life know that I have the attention span of a squirrel on crack.  It's rare that I can focus on one thing for longer than a few minutes.  In my day job, this is a great trait, as for most of the day I have to be in several places at once, or at least my mind does.  But in my knitting life, this (self-diagnosed) ADD can be a real problem.

You see, just when I need to buckle down and edit 12 pages of charts and line-by-line instructions (gah, the horror!), I decide I want to organize my sock drawer. I mean, I can't possibly move on with my day until all my socks have found their mates, right? Right.  

It's also a struggle for me to edit because my computer has to be nearby, which means that I will inevitably wander off onto the internet and get distracted by anything and everything in my path.  And I do have a few good ol' tried and true sites that can always eat up half my day if I let them.  Let's take a look at my distracted afternoon, shall we?

Of course, I always start out with a little iTunes to keep me focused. I will neither confirm nor deny that I purchased the Dirty Dancing soundtrack to rock out to while I proofread. And, no, it did not help me have the time of my life.

Then of course I have to check the news (I use the term extremely loosely), because I can't go another minute without learning what Tori Spelling considers her best kept motherhood secret (nannies and lots of money) or what Angelina's kids eat for a snack (apparently crickets).  Oh, look, I also acquired a cup of tea along the way.
And then, to counteract all the brain cells I lost by consuming the drivel on UsWeekly, I take in a little NPR. But only for about two minutes before I get really depressed at the state of the world and move on.

Then, because all of the yarn in my stash will never be enough, I head over to ogle the deliciousness on my favorite yarn sites, starting with Blue Moon Fiber Arts.  Pictured here is my new favorite BMFA colorway, LL Cool Sock. I've already acquired two skeins of it and then also 1 skein of each of the solid colors that comprise the multi-colorway. Someday, when I have the time to devote, I WILL make the most colorful pair of kneesocks you've ever seen. Someday...
And then - surprise, surprise - I am drawn to Tanis Fiber Arts like a moth to a flame. I am so completely in love/obsessed with her colorways. I could buy one of each...and if I'm not careful, one of these nights of insomnia I just might be driven to that act of insanity pure genius.  I just love how she organizes her colorways. 
Oh look, I'm checking my work email. Something I do about a gazillion times a day, even when I'm not in my office.  Check out that clean inbox!  That's the result of years of hard work in cultivating an obsessive email ritual where I have to respond to/file/or categorize an email within the first 10 seconds of it reaching my inbox. Don't ask me why I do it...I really have no idea. I'm in therapy for it though.

Hmmm....I wonder what's going on on Ravelry....Am I the only one who compulsively checks out what their friends have favorited?  I find the best stuff that way. What can I say? My friends have great taste!
Oh, yes, back to editing...sigh.  Yeah yeah yeah. I know, it's got to be done.

So, there you have it. That was my minimally productive Sunday afternoon. What about you?  What are your favorite sites to visit to pass the time?  Do tell!

By the way, I DID get all of my editing done, thank you very much. 

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

New Pattern in Knitcircus Summer! And a GIVEAWAY!

The new Summer 2011 edition of Knitcircus went live today and I'm SO excited to have a design featured in it!

Meet Litha:

Litha is a midsummer festival centered around the summer solstice that celebrates the warmth, abundance, and light of the long summer days. Named for this festival, this slightly slouchy hat is worked from brim to crown.The simple eyelet lace and twisted stitch cable repeat lends a breezy and casual air to any summer wardrobe. The yarn used for this piece provides excellent stitch definition and shows off an amazing shade of blue, the exact color of the summer sky.

It was a last minute opportunity to be apart of this issue and I’m so glad I was able to do it. This was a hat I had whipped up for myself and planned to eventually self-publish but it turns out the universe had other plans for it! 

Pattern Details:

May 2011
Worsted / 10 ply (9 wpi) 
20 stitches and 27 rows = 4 inches in Pattern stitch (Eyelet and twisted st cable)
US 7 - 4.5 mm
200 - 300 yards (183 - 274 m)
Women's Medium (20-22" head circumference) and Women's Large (22-24" head circumference)

And now for the giveaway details:

Leave a comment on this post before midnight Alaska Time on Sunday May 8 and be entered into a drawing to win some awesome Knitcircus prizes!

There will be 2 winners....The first person drawn will win a year-long subscription to Knitcircus Magazine and the second person drawn will win a Summer 2011 Pattern Collection!

Please make sure you leave a way to contact you in the event that you are the lucky winner.  I'll notify the winners on Monday and the link to the subscription and pattern collection will come directly from Knitcircus.

Happy Knitting, everyone!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Knitcircus Summer 2011 - Sneak Peek!

Hey! Remember me?  No, I have not fallen off the face of the's just been a very stressful last few weeks working under an intense knitting deadline for an upcoming fall publication.  And I have literally dropped everything to get it done and that is why you have not heard a peep from me in almost a month!  But the deadline has passed, everything got accomplished (barely!), and I'm taking a bit of a knitting break for a few days to give my hands a rest.

BUT....I do have some very exciting news!  The Summer 2011 edition of Knitcircus will be going live on May 4th and I have a design featured in the magazine!

Here is a sneak peek of my design:

Stay tuned on Wednesday May 4th for a Knitcircus giveaway!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

1,000 stitches

So, lately I've been feeling really really overwhelmed and unfocused.  This is a normal feeling for this time of year, as things are getting more and more crazy at work as the tourist season draws ever closer.  However, things are compounded this year because I feel like I've bitten off way more than I can chew in my knitting world.

But that's not necessarily a bad thing.  The deadlines I'm working on are for really exciting things (that I can't share with you just yet!) and I wouldn't trade my involvement with them for anything. So, this huge pressure I'm feeling right now will turn into pride and satisfaction at some point in the future, but right now it's about ready to make my head explode.  I've got one design down and one more to go before I can relax a little bit...for at least a week or two anyway. ;)

It's just funny that the tables have turned and I'm now looking forward to going to my day job tomorrow as a respite from the knitting stress, when usually it's the other way around.

In the meantime, this is what it looks like on the couch beside me after a weekend of sitting in my knitting nook and knitting my little heart out.  (I'm too lazy to get my camera so all you get are iphone pics tonight.)

Empty snack bags, needles, DVDs, cell phone, yarn, pineapple lace book...these are the necessities of any good knitting weekend...

I've been trying to put in a little time on my pineapple lace project for the W's.   This is also weighing heavily on my brain right now, as I feel waaaaay behind on it and I should have been finished with it by now!  It's self-imposed stress, as there was never a deadline on this, but I really wanted to have it finished before the season starts, otherwise it would just get lost in the summer craziness.  

I think what was keeping me from working on it was the fact that I was at the stage where I would be picking up stitches all around the body and beginning to work the pineapple lace border.  This is what I've been looking forward to all along, when I would finally get to do something besides yo, k2tog, not to mention no more purling.  

Here is the massive mound of lacy stitches sitting on its familiar perch on my laptop. And a movie to keep me company...(I heart Jason Segel.)

Initially I thought it would be smooth sailing once I got to the border and that the body of the piece would be the bulk of the knitting work. I think somewhere in the back of my brain I must have known the horror that awaited, which is why it took me over a week to make myself do it.  But I knew that it had to be done, so I sat down this afternoon to begin the pickup process.  Three hours later - yes, three hours! - I finally had all the stitches picked up and evenly distributed on the circs.

And after it was all said and done, there were 1,000 stitches on my needles.  Yikes.

I then went to look at the pineapple border instructions....33 rounds total.  Any wind I had in my sails was completely gone at that point. That's 33,000 stitches that I have to go until I can bind off.  


It will be worth it in the end, right?  Right.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Pineapple Progress

Even with all the spinning hysteria going on around here, I am still making progress on my Pineapple Lace project for the W’s.  I am a little over halfway through the body of the work and thought I would have more finished by now, but I got a bit sidetracked last week with a couple of submission deadlines.  I’m back on track now and hope to be to the pineapple lace border by this coming weekend!

In other news, I ate another 1/4 pound of the salted caramels yesterday.  What the hell is wrong with me?  Since Saturday, that’s a half pound total of butter, sugar, & heavy whipping cream all widening my ass as I type.  Ugh.
But I also started a new workout program today, which I’m hoping will kick start some weight loss. I’ve been doing cardio 4-6 days a week since late December, but haven’t seen the scales move much.  I’m feeling much better and much stronger (which is always good), but I’d really like to shed some of the lbs that keep hanging around.  
So, I’ll continue to keep you all updated with the progress on both the pineapple lace knitting AND weight loss fronts!  Just have to stay away from those damn caramels.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

New Design - Pennington Mittens!

I cannot begin to tell you how happy I am that this pattern finally gets to be out in the open!  I have had this design pretty much finished since October, but for some reason I just could not seem to find it in me to finish it.
Perhaps my reluctance to get it out there had something to do with the long road I took to finally fall in love with the finished product.  I knit and reknit the sample 3 times before I came to love the final version on the 4th try.
And now I can't get enough of them!
I only wish I had knit the sample in my size, because the small/medium version will definitely not fit my giant hands. :)

PatternPennington Mittens (KP IDP) (Ravelry link)
Suggested Yarn: Knit Picks Stroll or Stroll Tonal; 1 hank (both sizes)  Shown in Stroll Tonal Golden Glow
Suggested Needles:  US Size 1 (2.25 mm) circular (32” or long enough for Magic Loop), or size necessary to obtain gauge.  Pattern was written for Magic Loop. However, dpns may be substituted if you prefer.
Women’s Adult Small/Med: 4.25” in Width x 9” in Length from tip to cuff
Women’s Adult Large/XL:4.75” in Width by 10” in Length from tip to cuff
Gauge:  9.5 stitches and 15.5 rows = 1” in Stockinette in the round
Techniques Used:  Cables, Increasing, Toe-Up Construction, Judy’s Magic Cast-On, Bobbles, Magic Loop Method
Notions:  Tapestry needle, stitch markers (optional)

Special thanks as always to my beautiful friend, Trish, for being my model!  And also to Stephannie Tallent for being THE best tech editor ever. This pattern would never have seen the light of day without you. 

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Pineapple Lace

Back in December, two local residents, Mr. & Mrs. W, contacted me about commissioning me to knit a piece of lace that would decorate the top of a new-to-them antique sideboard.  Now, what the heck is a sideboard, you ask?  Well, before they sent me pictures, I had no idea what it was either.  But I quickly learned that it's a very large piece of furniture and this particular sideboard in the W's home is incredibly ornate and very, very old.

Photo courtesy of Mr. and Mrs. W
Photo courtesy of Mr. and Mrs. W
Mr. & Mrs. W are huge supporters of the local arts, so I was really flattered that they thought of me when it came to finding someone to create the piece of lace that they envisioned.  And then as soon as I got over the flattery, I became nearly paralyzed with doubt that I could make something that would be good enough to reside in their home.   You see, their house is adorned with so many amazing pieces of art from local artists as well as artists from elsewhere in Alaska, and I was afraid that my lace just wouldn't measure up.

But I quickly snapped out of it, grew some confidence, and reasoned that if they didn't think that I could do it then they wouldn't have asked. And then I immediately set out to find the perfect yarn to work with for this piece.

After much perusing of all my favorite online yarn haunts, I finally settled on something that was already in my stash (perfect, right?)....Knit Picks Bare sock yarn.  Mrs. W had told me that she wanted something white or off-white, so it was perfect.  And with the added nylon in the yarn, I felt that this would help make the piece more durable.

After settling on the yarn, I grabbed my many stitch dictionaries and settled in for a fun-filled afternoon of looking over the lace sections of the different reference guides and deciding on which stitch patterns to include in the work.  This was my absolute favorite part of the project to date. (I'm assuming that ultimately my favorite part of the project will be unpinning the finished work after blocking, but I don't want to put the cart before the horse at this point!)

I made a few swatches so that I would have something to show Mrs. W when I met with her to go over what she liked and, more importantly, what she didn't like. Mrs. W's family is from Hawaii and she had told me that she liked pineapple shapes, so I had this helpful clue to guide me in the right direction.  I ended up purchasing a pineapple lace book on ebay and this handy guide lead me to what will be the border of the work (shown here in its unblocked glory):

The swatches below were whipped up to show her some possible stitches that could make up the body of the piece.  In addition, I came up with a few different sketches and was ready to include multiple panels of lace and make it super duper fancy.  But, in the end, Mrs. W chose the simple eyelet lace in the lower right corner, with the reasoning that the sideboard is already so ornate that the lace should be simple and understated.  I couldn't agree more!

Basically, the piece is going to be one long rectangle of the eyelet lace and then I'll pick up stitches all around and work the pineapple lace border in the round and finish it off with a crocheted bind off and edging.  I'm excited!

I've cast on for it and am slogging my way through the eyelet lace.  The good thing about this is that it's mindless knitting (yo, k2tog...easy as pie!), and I can always go for that.

Stay tuned for some updates on the sideboard lace over the next few weeks.  I've already gotten a bit of a late start on it, but my aim is to be finished with the body in the next couple weeks.  I've set a goal of 3 inches a day...let's see if I can stick to it!