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