Thursday, February 28, 2013

Woodsmoke & Ash Blog Tour Stop 1

I'm really excited to kick of the Woodsmoke & Ash Blog Tour with a stop at the Weaverknits Blog.  Read about how to adapt Plantago for women, learn some tips for putting zippers in, get some of Ann Weaver's thoughts on the pattern and book, and leave a comment for your chance to win a copy of the book.  

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Leggings, Bloomers, Shorts - Let's Cast On!

I know that lots of you who want to join the Pants KAL are still waiting to get your yarn, but I want to go ahead and kick things off by offering a tutorial that I hope will be helpful to those of you with Kalaloch in your queue.  

The Provisional Cast On
Most of my patterns call for making a crochet chain and then picking up stitches into the bumps on the back of the chain when a provisional cast on is needed.  However, I recently learned how to combine those two steps by crocheting the chain right onto a knitting needle!  This is a huge time-saver for me and I'm using it exclusively for my provisional cast on method now, so I wanted to share it with you. 

With smooth waste yarn, place a slip knot on crochet hook.

Hold the yarn and knitting needle in left hand with the yarn behind the needle.  Hold crochet hook over top of needle.

1. Wrap yarn over crochet hook from back to front and draw yarn through loop on crochet hook.

One provisional stitch is now on the needle. 
If you were crocheting a chain, that stitch would be your first chain, and the loop on the hook would not be counted since in crochet, we never count the loop on the hook.

2. Bring yarn between needle and hook and behind needle.

Repeat steps 1-2 until desired number of stitches are on needle.  

The stitches on the needle are the back of what would be crochet chain, and the V's on the right side of the needle are the front of the crochet chain.

Chain several stitches.  This tail will show you where to begin unraveling the chain when it's time to remove the provisional cast on.

Break yarn, leaving a 6 in/15 cm tail and draw it through the last loop.  To begin working, pick up working yarn and knit into provisional stitches.  You'll join for working in the round after working one complete row.  Don't forget to do that (being careful not to twist) before you begin round two.

This tutorial has a permanent home in my Tutorials section of my website too.  And if you're already past this bit, there's also a tutorial there on how to remove the provisional cast on and one on how to knit in a hem.  

Please join us over in my Ravelry group to post project photos, ask questions, and follow along with everyone's progress.  Don't forget that I'd love for you to share any pants projects you're working on, and if you finish Kalaloch, Zoe, or Issa's Bloomers by April 30, you get a free pattern!  I've already worked my waistband and will have my own progress pics for you soon.

Happy Pants Knitting!  

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Who's up for a Pants Knit Along?

Last week I went to Seattle to attend Madrona Fiber Arts, an event I go to every year and love every time.  This is the first year since I started attending that I didn't actually live in Seattle, so it involved a little travel.

A year ago if you'd told me I'd ride my bike from Canada to Seattle, I would have called you a liar, but that's exactly what I ended up doing.  My main reason is that public transit from our beautiful seaside village is not exactly convenient.  You may have heard me complaining about hiking three miles up hill both ways in the snow in the dark with a fifty pound pack just to get to the bus stop last time I went to Seattle.  That may have included a few exaggerations, but it really wasn't any fun.  The bike was actually a lot more enjoyable.  For one thing, there are ferries that took me most of the way, so that my total riding time was around 3 and a half hours each way with lots of breaks in between.  The only times I really noticed the weight of my luggage was on hills, and the ride was made easier by lovely bike trails so I didn't have to ride in traffic much.  (The Interurban Rail Trail and the Galloping Goose Trail on Vancouver Island, and the Myrtle Edwards Park Trail in Seattle)

Because of the weight issue, I decided against bringing my camera, so I don't have any Madrona pictures for you, but the highlights were 
- meeting Clara Parkes at the banquet and getting to hear her speak
- Franklin Habit's fascinating class on the history of lace, 
- meeting Ravelry friends in person for the first time, and 
- the Churchmouse booth!  Of course because it was packed with Brooklyn Tweed yarns and samples, but also because Jared Flood and Leila Raabe were there to chat with.  I even tried on a sweater that I really wanted to take home with me. (Ives by Jared Flood)
- spending time with Seattle friends and family (and more bike riding!)

I also got to see Wendee of Hazel Knits and she gave me this:

I really wasn't able to capture this color completely, but it's Hazel Knits DK Lively in Portabello.  And the fact that I have these four skeins means that I'm finally going to knit a pair of Kalaloch's just for me!  And I'd love for you to join me.  

I'm going to be hosting a Pants Knit Along here on the blog and in my Ravelry group.  If you've been wanting to knit something that goes over your bum, but are looking for advice or just company, now's the time to get going with it.  I'm going to kick off the knit along next week with a tutorial on the provisional cast on since that's the first thing that needs to be done in order to make Kalaloch.  

To participate in the knit along, just post your progress and finished projects to the Ravelry thread.  Everybody who posts proof of finished knitted pants by April 30, 2013 will get a free Andrea Rangel Knits pattern!  (So you can knit more pants, of course!)

The patterns that count in order to get the prize are:

Zoe Beach Shorts

Issa's Bloomers

If you want to knit other pants patterns, I'd still love for you to join us, but no prize.  

So how about it?  What pants are you going to knit?  

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Woodsmoke Behind the Scenes

It's fantastic to finally be finished making my new book.  Creating a whole collection of men's patterns was an interesting challenge for me, and designing especially for men wasn't the only part of the book creation that provided a new experience for me.  I've always given over the task of organizing, styling and directing photo shoots to others.  For the city shoot, I actually did all of that myself for the first time.  I have to thank my amazing photographer, Kathy Cadigan, for holding my hand and encouraging me through the process.

Photo Copyright Jon Keto 2012

I arrived in Seattle a few days before the shoot and scouted locations.  I knew I wanted to work downtown to get an urban vibe, but wasn't sure where, so I wandered around with my camera taking pictures of all the spots I thought would work.  After looking at the photos, it turned out that my very first location was my favorite, and while I made notes of several others and had expected to move around a bit, we ended up doing the whole shoot in a fairly small area.  It was a courtyard with wide stairs, so we actually got a bunch of levels, views, and backgrounds from that one spot.

Styling on this shoot wasn't a huge responsibility since I wanted to keep it simple.  I asked the guys to wear neutral colors, and didn't have to worry about jewelry or makeup.  (Though I generally ask my models to wear minimal makeup anyway because I prefer a clean, basic look.)  Of course I fussed over everything anyway, and I did get caught in a few photos.

Photo Copyright Kathy Cadigan 2012

Photo Copyright Kathy Cadigan 2012

Photo Copyright Kathy Cadigan 2012

I'll be in Seattle this coming week for Madrona Fiber Arts.  If you're in Seattle, it's really worthwhile to head down to the events and marketplace.  Lots of them are free and you're sure to see some amazing yarn and knitting.  Follow me on Twitter for Madrona updates.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Not So Wild Life

One of the many things I love about living here in Cowichan Bay is the farmland.  Riding my bike to the grocery store I often get to see sheep, alpacas, cows, goats, chickens, and horses.  Here are a few of the neighbors I see regularly.

I do wish I could get good photos of the geese and swans that I keep seeing flying overhead, but they always seem to be too far away, and too quick for my camera.

Monday, February 4, 2013


I have to say that I'm proud of the entire Woodsmoke & Ash collection of patterns.  The one that stands out the most to me, though, has to be this one: Traverse.   

Photo Copyright Kathy Cadigan 2012
A great addition to a man's everyday wardrobe, this classically-styled cardigan features attractive color work that adds interest without being too loud.  The shawl collar creates a clean look with a cozy feel, and the raglan yoke provides a relaxed fit.  A yarn like Brooklyn Tweed Shelter makes for an extremely light-weight but warm sweater.

Photo Copyright Kathy Cadigan 2012
The color work is subtle and masculine, and designed to be conveniently worked all on the right side.  Traverse is knit bottom up seamlessly in the round, then steeked to open the cardigan front.  The shawl collar is picked up after steeking and worked with short row shaping.

Photo Copyright Kathy Cadigan 2012
Because I know you all wanted to see the inside (I know I would!)  

As much as I adore this sweater, it did involve a few small disasters that always make a project exciting, especially when it's for work and not just for fun.  

First, (and oh, it hurts to point out mistakes, but here you have it!) I managed to skip two rounds of color work on one of the sleeves.  I didn't notice it until the sweater was already complete, and I decided against surgery to take the sleeve off, work the color work rounds, and then graft it back on since I was just days away from the photo shoot.  Look closely and I'm sure you'll find it since it's visible in several of the photos.  It's like "Where's Waldo?"    

Photo Copyright Kathy Cadigan 2012
And second, I put the buttons on the lady side instead of the manly side.  I corrected this in the instructions, and if you look at the photos, you'll notice they appear to be on the correct side.  But, my secret was to flip all the photos so it would look right (don't tell!)

Photo Copyright Kathy Cadigan 2012
This is the final pattern release from the book, and those of you who have pre-ordered the ebook or print book + ebook should have already received the link both to this pattern, and to the full digital book.  

Photo Copyright Kathy Cadigan 2012
The ebook is now available for purchase, and you can now get the print book + ebook through Magcloud.  Books can now be delivered outside the US and Canada, so if you live elsewhere and would like a copy of the book, now is your chance.  

Since I like to have a little fun, the first person to post a comment below correctly identifying my color work mistake will win a free digital copy of the pattern, or $7 off the Ebook (winner's choice).  Be sure to leave a way to contact you (email, Ravelry, or Twitter) so I can let you know if you won.  Happy hunting!

Pattern Info
Sizes & Finished Measurements
Chest Circumference: 36.75 (39.75, 42.75, 46.25, 49.25, 52.75, 56.75) in/ 93.5 (101, 108.5, 117.5, 125, 134, 144) cm

Worsted weight yarn in three colors:
MC: 1120 (1211, 1302, 1409, 1500, 1607, 1729) yd/1024 (1107, 1191, 1288, 1372, 1469, 1581) m
CC1: 420 (454, 488, 528, 562, 602, 648) yd/384 (415, 446, 483, 514, 550, 593) m
CC2: 280 (303, 326, 353, 376, 403, 434) yd/256 (277, 298, 323, 344, 369, 397) m
20 yd/18 m fingering weight yarn in coordinating color for crocheted steek reinforcement
Shown in Brooklyn Tweed Shelter (100% American Wool, 140 yd/128 m per 50g skein)
Main Color: #04 Nest 8 (9, 10, 11, 11, 12, 13) skeins Contrast Color 1: #24 Soot 3 (3, 4, 4, 4, 4, 5) skeins Contrast Color 2: #27 Woodsmoke 2 (3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 4) skeins
Steek reinforcing yarn shown in Swans Island Natural Colors Merino Fingering (100% Merino, 525 yd/480 m per 100g skein); Color: Charcoal; 1 skein

21 sts/36 rows = 4 in/10 cm in Stockinette with smaller needle
Needles & Notions 
* Needle Sizes are recommendations only. Always use needle size necessary to obtain gauge. 
US #4/3.5 mm 32 in/81 cm circular needles 
US #4/3.5 mm 60 in/152 cm circular needles 
US #4/3.5 mm double pointed needles, 32 in/81 cm or longer circular needle for magic loop method or 2 circular needles; use your preferred small-circumference circular knitting method. 
US #6/4 mm 32 in/81 cm circular needles 
US #6/4 mm double pointed needles, 32 in/81 cm or longer circular needle for magic loop method or 2 circular needles; use your preferred small-circumference circular knitting method. 
size C/2.75 mm crochet hook 
tapestry needle 
place markers 
removable place markers 
waste yarn or stitch holders 
5 1 in/2.5 cm buttons 
sharp scissors for cutting steek
working color work from charts, shaping in pattern, picking up stitches, steeking, short row shaping

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Vym, or Why I Knit from Patterns

I spend most of my knitting time swatching and working on design projects, which is really creative, engaging work, but it also takes a lot of effort and thought.  It's a huge treat to pull out some stash yarn and just follow the directions that someone else has already written up.

Vym by Rebekkah Kerner

It's hard to make time for knitting from patterns, but I do schedule it into my work day now and again, and not just for fun (though it is really fun and relaxing!)   I was a knitter for years before I used a pattern, but when I decided to really start designing patterns, I realized that in order to be a good writer, I would need to be a good reader.  I learned what makes a good pattern (and a bad one, for that matter) by knitting from patterns.  I learned about what needs to be included, where stitch counts are helpful, and why schematics are so vital.  By knitting from a lot of patterns, I learned some standard ways of making socks, sweaters, and hats.  They taught me about repeats and why math matters so much in knitting (hello, gauge!)  

So now that I know all of those things, why do I still find it valuable to knit from patterns?  There is always more to learn.  There is always something I didn't think of.  Knitting from patterns is a vital part of my professional growth because when I follow someone else's instructions, I'm given permission to just roll with it.  I don't have to do it my way, but instead I get to try out a new way.  I learn to think outside my established style of designing when I knit from a pattern, which gives me new tools to take back to my own designs.  

Vym, for example, was the perfect side project.  (From Twist Collective, Spring/Summer 2010)  Rebekkah Kerner used a standard sock shape - top down with heel flap, short row heel turn, and gusset shaping - to create a bold and clever pattern.  

Vym by Rebekkah Kerner

My a-ha moment in knitting these socks had to do with the needle sizes.  Kerner recommends using multiple needle sizes to adjust for the density and lack of elasticity of the color work.  It's nice to have a sock stitch pattern that draws in a bit, like some kind of ribbing, so that it will go over your heel, but still be snug around your foot, but there are so many wonderful stitch patterns that don't include those properties.  Color work is particularly inelastic, so lots of color work patterns call for extra shaping that might not be necessary with a different stitch pattern.  Kerner's solution was to use a larger needle for the ankle, and a smaller one for the foot.  Simple and effective!  The socks are pretty short compared to the standard, and I think that if they were much taller, they would require a bit of calf shaping, but as is, they fit perfectly and slip on and off easily as well.

I was a bit hesitant about the short length, but after knitting and photographing them, I think they look fantastic.  To wear them with my tall boots, I wear my leggings over them and inside my boots, which works really well for comfort, but doesn't show off the socks.  I'm looking forward to warmer weather when I can wear them with my Mary Janes and a skirt, which is, I think, their true purpose!  Besides, them being a bit short meant that the knitting went really fast!   (No second sock syndrome for me!)

Vym by Rebekkah Kerner

The color pattern is really intriguing, and while I wasn't able to memorize it or easily follow it based on earlier repeats, it wasn't difficult, and I only had to tink back for incorrect color work a time or two because I wasn't paying attention.    

So thank you, Rebekkah Kerner for an educational experience, and a very sweet project that makes me happy every time I put them on my feet.

I do also have to mention the yarn I chose for this project - Hazel Knits Artisan Sock in Lichen and Sassafras.  Last year when I was helping out in the Hazel Knits dye studio, I particularly requested a rich gold color after seeing this luminescent lichen growing on a wall near the studio.  I've used this color to design with before (with Jam Session in Nerine from Clotheshorse, Winter 2012/13), and I have no doubt that I'll use it again.  Lucky me to get to wear it on my own socks too!  And if you haven't taken a close look at Sassafras, do it.  From far away it may just look like a wonderful semi-solid gray, but there are so many more colors in there.  (Yes, I adore Hazel Knits - see Char from Woodsmoke & Ash for another example of Sassafras.)

Vym by Rebekkah Kerner

How about you?  What have you been knitting just for you?  Any good lessons learned from patterns?

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