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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Knit Fit! & Stash Roundup


Photos Copyright Kathy Cadigan, 2014

As you can see from the pictures above, Knit Fit! 2014 was full of woolly goodness and knitterly education. I presented a new class this year, The Fine Art of Yarn Substitution, and it was a really fun class to teach. I got to talk about yarn and fibre for hours! And there was math! Yes, I was in dorky knitter's heaven.  Thanks so much to all of you who signed up for my classes. I'm already looking forward to next year! Props to the organizers at Knit Fit! for making this year's event better than ever.

(And special thanks to photographer Kathy Cadigan for taking the Yarn class and capturing it in these great photos!)



I also got to hang out in the Hazel Knits booth on Sunday morning and, as always, I adored their saturated colors and beautiful presentation, not to mention some exciting and unusual things like giant wheels of DK Lively!



Heading south to Portland, I got to attend the third annual TRIFECTA small business retreat with freelance writer Jessie Kwak (also, my copy editor and product copy writer) and artist Nalisha Rangel. It seems like every year the retreat is more productive and I always get filled up with creativity and motivation. (If you're curious about TRIFECTA, you can read more about it here.) This year we rode our bikes around Portland, I learned to sew, and Nalisha re-branded her company! 


To finish up a fantastic trip, I traveled to Stash Local in Corvallis for a trunk show and a lace class using Flow, a crescent-shaped shawl with a lace edging. It was my first time in the shop and I loved their selection and bright aesthetic. The trunk show will be in the shop for several more weeks, so if you missed my visit, you can still go pet and try on the samples.




Fall is such a great time to be a knitter and I hope you're all enjoying it wherever you are!

PS. You may have seen my new design out in Brooklyn Tweed Wool People 8 today! More on that soon, but for now you can get it and the rest of the collection on the Brooklyn Tweed website and on Ravelry.


Friday, November 7, 2014

Traveling South


It's becoming a tradition for me to go south to Seattle every November for Knit Fit! I'm really looking forward to it and I hope to see you there! (PS. If you come to the event by bicycle, come find me and I'll give you a coupon for a free pattern download because #bikelove!)

This year is extra special though, because I'll also be heading even further south to Portland and Corvallis. First I get to attend my annual Trifecta Business Retreat and then I'll be bringing my current trunk show to Stash Local in Corvallis and teaching a lace class using my very popular shawl, Flow. Spots for the class are limited, so be sure to sign up soon!

Happy fall and happy knitting, everyone!


Friday, October 24, 2014

Dutch Cardigan


If you were following this blog over the summer, you may have already seen this sweater.  I wore it daily while biking around the Netherlands and it was just the thing.


It's got all sorts of details that make it one of those sweaters that I know I'll wear for years.  It's got an oversized fit for the body, making it extremely comfortable, but waist and shoulder shaping, slender sleeves, and a wide scooped neckline create a flattering look.  After the front steek is reinforced and cut open, a turned hem encases the steek edges for a neat and durable band.  Using snaps instead of buttons leaves the front of the band clean and neat.  (I also love that I can pull the snaps open with one hand while riding!)  The sleeves are extra long, so you can turn up the cuffs to get them out of your way, or turn them down for extra warmth or for wrist coverage when you reach for your handlebars.



A few recommendations for knitting up your own -

Be sure to make it with the recommended positive ease.  The sleeves and shoulders are designed to fit based on the idea that you'll make your cardigan with 12-14" of positive ease.  If you make it smaller, your sleeves are likely to be too small and too short. Mine has about 13" of positive ease.


Swatch both plain stockinette and color work to see if you need to use a larger needle for the color work sections.  I usually go up three sizes for color work!  (I used sizes US #2 and US #5 for my sample.)


Use a smooth yarn in a similar color and lighter weight than your main yarn to reinforce your steek before cutting.  Using a lighter yarn helps prevent rippling along the cut edge.  If you're new to steeking, you can get some great practice by reinforcing and cutting your swatch before going for the real thing.


If you choose Brooklyn Tweed Loft like I did, you may want to seam the sleeves in using a smoother, stronger yarn.  Loft is a very special yarn and makes a tough, long-lasting fabric, but it can break easily until it's knit up, which can lead to seaming frustration.
You can find the pattern on Ravelry and on my website

Here are the Specs:

FINISHED MEASUREMENTS 
Bust Circumference, including Facing: 43 (47.75, 51.75, 56.5, 60.5, 65, 69, 73.75) in/109 (121.5, 131.5, 143.5, 153.5, 165, 175.5, 187.5) cm

Intended to be worn with +12-14 in/30.5-35.5 cm of ease at bust for oversized fit; shown in size 43 in/109 cm with +13 in/33 cm of ease on model.

YARN 
Fingering weight yarn in three colors (yarn amounts are approximate): 
Color A (Main Color): 949 (1054, 1142, 1247, 1335, 1434, 1522, 1627) yd/868 (964, 1044, 1140, 1221, 1311, 1392, 1488) m 
Color B: 702 (780, 845, 923, 988, 1061, 1126, 1204) yd/642, 713, 773, 844, 903, 970, 1030, 1101) m 
Color C: 204 (248, 269, 294, 315, 338, 359, 384) yd/187 (227, 246, 269, 288, 309, 328, 351) m

Shown in Brooklyn Tweed Loft (100% Targhee-Columbia Wool; 275 yd/251 m per 50 g skein)

Color A: 03 Old World; 4 (4, 5, 5, 5, 6, 6, 6) skeins 
Color B: 27 Woodsmoke; 3 (3, 4, 4, 4, 4, 5, 5) skeins 
Color C: 17 Embers 1 (1, 1, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2) skeins

GAUGE 
Gauge measurement should be taken after blocking. 
24 sts/30 rows = 4 in/10 cm in Stockinette stitch using Gauge Needle (Needle A)

NEEDLES & NOTIONS
Needle Sizes are recommendations only. Always use needle size necessary to obtain gauge.

Needle A (Gauge Needle): US #3/3.25 mm 40 in/100 cm circular needle 
Needle B: US #5/3.75 mm 40 in/100 cm circular needle 
Needle C: US #3/3.25 mm needle; use preferred small-circumference circular knitting method (set double pointed needles, long circular for magic loop method, or two circular needles) 
Needle D: US #5/3.75 mm needle; use preferred small-circumference circular knitting method (set double pointed needles, long circular for magic loop method, or two circular needles)

size 1.75 mm crochet hook 
stitch markers 
tapestry needle 
stitch holders or waste yarn 
contrasting color waste yarn 
strong, light fingering weight yarn for reinforcing steek 
nine .5 in/1 cm snaps 
needle and thread

SKILLS 
color work in the round, shaping, steeking, seaming

Technical Editing: Heather Zoppetti 
Copy Editing: Jessie Kwak

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Knitter's Pride Needle Review


Knitter's Pride Nova Cubics Interchangeable Set

I’ve owned a whole lot of knitting needles over the years, and I’ve definitely had an evolution in my needle preferences.  From my initial love of straight wooden needles, I’ve progressed so that now I almost exclusively use metal needles, and most of the time those are from one of my interchangeable needles sets.  I’ve used Addi Clicks, both the standard and the short lace tips, as well as Knit Picks and Hiya Hiya’s.  I’m always interested to try new tools, so I was excited for the opportunity to knit with and review a variety of metal Knitter’s Pride Nova needles.  Full disclosure - the needles in this review were sent to me free of charge.  Since I really only use circular needles, I’ll be reviewing a 16” circular fixed needle with square tips, an interchangeable set with square tips, and a few interchangeable needles with standard round tips.  I made swatches or small projects with each of these needles, though I’ve only had them for a couple of months, so my experience is based on an initial reaction rather than long-term use.

There’s a lot to like about all of these needles.  First are the needle points.  They have a wonderful taper and are sharper than my Addi Clicks, but not quite as sharp as Addi Lace or Hiya Hiya tips, making them great for most projects.  I always love pointy tips, so if you like wooden needles or other blunter tips, these might be pointier than you like.  I also appreciated the smooth finish.  My stitches glided along without me really noticing, which tells me that the finish isn’t too slippery or too sticky.  Adding to that smoothness was the catch-free join between the needles and the tips.  



My only real complaint has to do with the joining mechanism for the interchangeables.  They connect using a long screw and are tightened with a small tool - you may have seen this method on Knit Picks needles too.  Even after using the tightening tool quite aggressively, both the square and round-tipped interchangeables always seemed to come un-screwed.  The thread is quite long, so they didn’t seem in any danger of actually coming apart, but it was irritating to constantly be trying to screw the needles back together.  I noticed the problem a lot more using the round tips than the square ones.

UPDATE: I got a response from Knitter's Pride that the needles should not come unscrewed and that I may have gotten some defective tips.  I tried a few other tips, and sure enough, with most of the tips, both the round and square ones stayed in place with magic loop, back-and-forth knitting, and standard circular knitting.  While it was a bummer that several of the ones I tried were problematic, it's nice to know they have a good replacement policy: If you happen to get tips that won't stay in, Knitter's Pride will replace them free.


Overall, these needles are a great addition to a knitter’s tool chest.  I think I’d recommend the square rather than the round tips for simply because they seem to stay together a bit better, and I recommend the fixed circulars without reservation.

Here are my notes for each needle type:


16” FIXED CIRCULAR SQUARE TIPS, Size US #2/2.75 mm


Pros
Lovely, sharp tips
Smooth, comfortable finish
Smooth join between needle and cord

Cons 
None

Notes
I think I’ll get a lot of use out of these for hats and cowls.  I didn’t particularly notice the square tips feeling different than what I’m used to, but I also didn’t notice any hand cramping, which I often get when using the shorter tips that are necessary for 16” needles.

Bottom Line
I would recommend these to any knitter.


ROUND INTERCHANGEABLE NEEDLES


For the review I used the US #4/3.5 mm tip with a 32” cord and tried both my favorite small-circumference knitting method - magic loop -  and regular circular knitting.

Pros
Lovely, sharp tips
Smooth, comfortable finish
Smooth join between needle and cord
While it seemed a little stiff to me before I started working, the cord actually worked perfectly well for magic loop.  

Cons
Even after tightening with the included tool, the tips seemed to come slightly unscrewed every round.  It didn’t mess up my work, but it did slow me down.

Notes
The unscrewing issue won’t stop me from using these, but it may have me reaching for the square tips first.

Bottom Line
I wouldn’t recommend these since the square ones seem to stay attached better.
UPDATE: I can go ahead and recommend these since they have a good policy on replacing problematic needles.


SQUARE INTERCHANGEABLE NEEDLES


For the review I used US #8/5 mm tip with a 32” cord.  I tried both magic loop and regular circular knitting with this cord.

Pros
Lovely, sharp tips
Smooth, comfortable finish
Smooth join between needle and cord
Cord was flexible enough for magic loop method
The square tips seemed to come unscrewed much less frequently.

Cons
Every now and again, I did notice the tips starting to come undone.

Notes
I was curious how the larger square tips would feel, and while it’s definitely more noticeable than with the US #2/2.75 mm one, it didn’t seem like a vastly different knitting experience.  They felt slightly more substantial and easier to grip than my usual round tips.

Bottom Line
I would recommend these with the caveat that the tips did occasionally start to come unscrewed.



Have you ever used Knitter's Pride needles?  What are your favorite needle brands and styles?



Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Kust


This is Kust, the latest in my collection inspired by my summer bike tour in the Netherlands.  It's got all sorts of special details that make it a high-quality wardrobe staple.  Particular attention is paid to the shaping - traditionally snug at the hips, but with a relaxed fit and delicate waist shaping - and the edgings.  The cast-on edge is a ribbed, cable cast on, a technique that looks like a tubular cast-on, but doesn't require waste yarn or extra steps, and the neckline and armhole edgings are finished with tubular bind-offs.  The round neckline is flattering and functional, since it can be opened up for a little extra air or buttoned up for warmth.

I made mine using Hazel Knits Artisan Sock, a go-to yarn for me.  The color, Henna, is a beautiful burnt brick orange/red that I found to be really inspiring.  Like many Hazel Knits colors, the depth and complexity make it a bit difficult to describe, but worked in simple Stockinette stitch, it really shines.  


It was hard to part with, but this sample, along with 15 others, will be in a traveling trunk show this fall and winter.  Check out the shops signed up to participate so far:

September, 2014: Fibre Space, Alexandria, VA
October, 2014: Fancy Tiger Craft, Denver, CO
November, 2014: Stash Local, Corvallis, OR
December, 2014: The Knitting Boutique, Glen Burnie, MD
January, 2015: Beehive Wool Shop, Victoria, BC

Speaking of fun events, I'll be teaching at Knit Fit in Seattle this November!  I'm excited to offer classes on beginning lace, finishing, and yarn substitution.  There are a lot of other great classes and activities going on that weekend, so I encourage you to check out the website.  The marketplace is sure to be even better this year too - Hazel Knits will have a booth!

You can read about upcoming trunk shows, classes, and clubs in the Events section on my website.

Back to the new vest pattern - it's now available on Ravelry and on my website.

PATTERN SPECS
Finished Measurements

33.25 (37.5, 41.5, 45.75, 50, 54, 58.25, 62.5) in/84.5, 95.5, 105.5, 116, 127, 137, 148, 159) cm

Intended to be worn with +2-4 in/5-10 cm of ease at bust for casual fit; shown in size 33.25 with +3.25 in/8 cm of ease on model.

Gauge
25 sts/30 rows = 4 in/10 cm in Stockinette stitch using Gauge Needle (Needle C) 

Materials
YARN
735 (830, 970, 1125, 1175, 1245, 1360, 1475) yd/675 (760, 890, 1030, 1055, 1135, 1245, 1345) m Fingering weight yarn

Shown in Hazel Knits Artisan Sock (90% Merino, 10% Nylon; 400 yd/366 m per 120 g skein) 
Color: Henna; 2 (3, 3, 3, 3, 4, 4, 4) skeins

NEEDLES
*Needle sizes are recommendations only; always use needle size necessary to achieve given gauge.
Needle A: US #2/2.75 mm 24 in/60 cm circular needle
Needle B: US #3/3.25 mm 24 in/60 cm circular needle
Needle C (Gauge Needle): US #4/3.5 mm 24 in/60 cm circular needle
Needle D: US #3/3.25 mm 16 in/40 cm circular needle
Needle E: US #2/2.75 mm 16 in/40 cm circular needle

NOTIONS
stitch markers
tapestry needle
three .5 in/1 cm buttons

Technical Editor: Tana Pageler
Copy Editor: Jessie Kwak




Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Fietser Cowl & Mitts


This week I've published two new patterns, Fietser Cowl and Mitts.  The designs are ones I created for my trip to the Netherlands and I'm happy that they're ready to share!  (Fietser is Dutch for cyclist!)

I'm generally captivated by intricate surface design and interesting shapes, and so I tend to create patterns with lots of texture and color. But over the past year or two, I've become enamored of certain designers who do "simple" so incredibly well.  I know I've talked before about my admiration for Purl Soho, Julie Hoover, Dianna Walla, and Churchmouse, and inspiration from that clean, brilliant aesthetic has definitely begun to seep into my work.  While I still enjoy employing lots of knitterly details and textures, I've been challenging myself to seek that balance that my favorite designers seem to achieve between simplicity and clever design.  


With this set - a cowl and fingerless mitts - I started with one of the most humble ideas in knitting - a Stockintte stitch tube.  We all know that, with the right yarn, Stockinette has the ability to glow with luxury and relaxation.  Since I started with Anzula Cloud, a loosely-spun two-ply Merino/Cashmere/Nylon blend, I knew that I could step back from my usual urge to decorate the surface and let the yarn shine with the most basic of stitch patterns.  The welting added with narrow Garter stitch stripes creates just enough interest to keep the knitter excited, and even though the yarn is fingering weight, this is one of those projects that gives the knitter a sweet feeling of instant gratification.


The cowl is designed to scrunch up pleasantly - the top end is narrower than the bottom, so the piece will relax gently along your collar bones while still snuggling the back of your neck.


And the welting along the mitts allows for an easy slouched look if that's more your style.


I've often been asked for easy beginner projects, and most folks assume that a scarf is the ideal way to go.  But unless a new knitter is really excited to knit a scarf, I like to steer them away.  I tend to find easy scarves incredibly long and boring.  In order to be really wearable, I want my scarves to be at least five inches wide and five feet long.  It doesn't matter your gauge - that's a whole lot of knitting.  One of the joys of knitting, and one that I think encourages newbies to continue, is that of finishing a project! So I recommend cowls to new knitters.  They don't have to worry about going back and forth in rows and the project can be finished relatively quickly.  It can also be worked on a sixteen-inch circular needle, so there's no need to learn magic loop or double points right away.  (For this reason, I think the cowl is more of a beginner project than the mitts.)  This cowl also includes the chance to practice some important basic skills - purling and Make One increasing.  If you or a friend are just learning, this might be just the thing to get you going.  Start with the cowl and move on to the mitts for a little skills challenge.

Of course, as experience knitters, we also sometimes just need a little bit of tasty sock yarn candy.  Have a special skein languishing away in your stash?  (Or a few, perhaps?)  Both mitts and cowl can be made with just one skein of Anzula Cloud, though you may need a second skein to make both if your yardage is less than Cloud.  (Most sock yarns come in skeins of about 400 yards/366 meters, while Cloud has 575 yards/526 meters. The cowl takes about 315 yards/288 meters, and the mitts require 165-190 yards/151-174 meters.)  The set would also be a lovely and special gift.

You can find the patterns on Ravelry and on my website.  They're sold as a pair for just $6. Buy either pattern to get the download file for both.  As is true of all my independently-published designs, these patterns have been tested and reviewed by both a technical editor and a copy editor.  Check out the beautiful projects that my testers worked up over on Ravelry!

PATTERN SPECS

Finished Measurements

COWL
13.75 in/35 cm long; 14.25 in/36 cm circumference at smallest point; 17.75 in/45 cm circumference at largest point


FINGERLESS MITTS
6.5 (7, 7.5) in/16.5 (18, 19) cm hand circumference 


Gauge

28 sts/40 rows = 4 in/10 cm in Stockinette Stitch pattern after blocking

Materials
YARN
Cowl: 315 yd/290 m fingering weight yarn
Fingerless Mitts: 165 (175, 190) yd/150 (160, 175) m fingering weight yarn

Shown in Anzula Cloud (80% Merino, 10% Cashmere, 10% Nylon; 575 yd/526 m per 114 g skein) Color Temperence; 1 skein is enough to make both Cowl and Mitts

NEEDLES
*Needle sizes are recommendations only; always use needle size necessary to achieve given gauge.
Needle A (Cowl): US #3/3.52 mm 16 in/40 cm needle
Needle B (Mitts): US #3/3.25 mm double pointed needles, 32 in/80 cm or longer circular needle for magic loop method or 2 circular needles; use your preferred small-circumference circular knitting method.


NOTIONS
stitch markers tapestry needle 

Technical Editor: Tana Pageler
Copy Editor: Jessie Kwak


Thursday, July 31, 2014

Richting

It’s been a month since we rolled back onto BC soil, and while I’ve definitely been thinking fondly of long morning rides, canals, and sheep, I’ve also been loving the work I’ve been able to get done here at home.  I’ve already made a significant dent in my book designs, and I’ve had a great time working with my testers on the patterns I created for the bike tour.  Today’s news is that the first pattern of that collection is now ready for all of you knitters!



Richting is a lightweight hat worked with just a touch of contrasting color, and a rich, but subtle textured stitch pattern.  The pattern is charted and written, so however you like your stitch pattern instructions, I’ve got you covered.  




I knit mine up in Brooklyn Tweed Loft.  The light, woolenspun yarn gives a wonderful fabric that just gets more cohesive and beautiful with time and wear.  Some of my testers chose to work their hats in crisper yarns like Quince and Co. Finch, which creates a fabric with higher relief and clearer texture.


Richting fits just right under my bike helmet, but I think it's perfect for any time you need a little barrier against a chill.  I don't often think of wool hats as being necessary for summer, but if you love to get outside early or sit around the campfire at night, a cozy beanie can be just the thing.

Get the pattern now and stay tuned for the rest of the collection!

See it on Ravlery here.

Pattern Specs:
Finished Measurements 
Sizes S (L); shown in size S 
19 (22.75) in/48.5 (58) cm brim circumference

Yarn 
Main Color: 130 (160) yd/120 (145) m fingering weight yarn

Shown in Brooklyn Tweed Loft (100% Wool; 275 yd/251 m per 50g skein) 
Color Woodsmoke; 1 skein

Contrast Color: 15 (20) yd/14 (18) m fingering weight yarn

Shown in Brooklyn Tweed Loft (100% Wool; 275 yd/251 m per 50g skein) 
Color Sap; 1 skein

Blocked Gauge 
Gauge measurement should be taken after blocking. 
21 sts/44 rows = 4 in/10 cm in Textured Stitch pattern

Needles & Notions 
Needle Sizes are recommendations only. Always use needle size necessary to obtain gauge.

Needle A: US #4/3.50 mm 16 in/40 cm needle 
Needle B: US #4/3.50 mm double pointed needles, 32 in/80 cm or longer circular needle for magic loop method or 2 circular needles; use your preferred small-circumference circular knitting method.

Notions: stitch markers, tapestry needle

Skills 

Switch from one color to another, work a textured stitch pattern using charted and/or written instructions, work shaping in pattern


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