Tuesday, August 31, 2010

California here I come!

So... tomorrow... It's September 1! Chris and I will be off on our first vacation together. I'm thrilled! I'm stoked! I'm so excited! (As if you couldn't already tell.) I've got my share of the luggage packed. I actually did that several days ago so I could bring the half packed suitcases over to Chris's house so he could do his clothes and such. We've been steadily shopping for things we need (like shampoo, snacks, extra clothes, etc.) over the last 2 weeks. Even still, it's amazing how many little details need to get attended to at the last minute. I ran around yesterday looking for luggage tags, a white shirt (for me because the white tank I had somehow got a stain), gum for the plane, and then I had to take care of a bunch of knitting "work," emailing patterns to test knitters, setting up email addresses so the test knitters can talk amongst themselves, etc. I still have a bunch left to do today as well. I need to write several emails to folks letting them know I'll be away. I promised myself and Chris that I wouldn't do any work during this trip. It's completely for relaxation, which we both need.

Since I won't be "working" I decided against taking my knitting with me. Yes, that's right, no knitting. I know myself and I know that I won't be happy following a pattern and I also can't just make something up for myself without turning it into a pattern and thus work. Knowing these things I figured it was better to just avoid the frustration by leaving the needles home. I won't be going completely empty handed though. Since I don't crochet very much and don't know enough about crochet construction to write a pattern or even know where to start with shaping things myself, I decided that crochet would be a safe and good craft to take along for the trip. I selected 2 patterns, 1 shawl and 1 lace top, for the lane ride there and back. (Although I'm expecting to do a lot of sleeping on the way back considering time and all that.) My pattern selections were the Heron shawl by Melissa McCurley and Marilyn by Kim Guzman. I love them both and I'm so excited to be making something specifically for myself from a pattern I think is pretty! Awesomeness!

I better get crackin' on what needs to get done today. There are emails to write and things to do.... bathing suits to search for... Chris needs a bathing suit. He tried 5 stores last night after work, but came up empty handed. Since he's working late tonight I volunteered to go on a swim trunks hunt. Wish me luck. It's not really the right season to be looking for this, but I'll do my best!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Packing

September 1 is almost here! That's the day Chris and I will board a plane and head off on a 6 hour trip to San Diego. Neither Chris nor I have been on a plane in several years. I am, however, quite used to long trips due to traveling with the band. Sitting for long periods is still far from my favorite thing to do, but I do know how to cope and I have a clear idea of what can and cannot get done on a trip of that length. My preparations for the travel time included buying a new [very long] book, knitting magazine, and sketch book, downloading a few new games for my iPod and organizing my music on my iPod. I still haven't decided whether I will bring knitting onto the plane or not. I may settle for crochet since a wooden hook is less offensive and thus less likely to get taken away by a grumpy security person at the airport.... Can you imagine 10 days without any kind of fiber craft, though? YIKES!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Little Whiskey

$1.99 USD
Listing is for pattern pdf download only

Little Whiskey is not quite a shawl and not quite a poncho. This capelet design will keep your shoulders warm and stay securely in place (thanks to the buttons) all while allowing your arms their full range of movement. It’s a dainty little covering with substance that can be worn year-round. Don it on cool summer nights over a sundress or camisole top or in the office when the air conditioning is a touch too cool. Try Little Whiskey in the Fall when you only need a touch of something to stay warm, or in the Winter for a shot of warmth indoors. In the Spring Little Whiskey will dress up the clothes you’re eager to wear before it’s actually warm enough to do so.

If you enjoy top-down raglans then you’ll love knitting Little Whiskey. This design utilizes top-down raglan construction to form its shape over the shoulders. There is absolutely no sewing required, except for fastening on the two little buttons. Blocking your finished piece will open the 1x1 ribbing edging and keep it from pulling in over your arms.
Pattern includes written and charted instructions for the lace panels.

Materials
Yarn: 3(3, 5) skeins Knit Picks Capra [85% merino wool/15% cashmere; 123 yards; 50 grams; DK weight], Color: “Cream”

Needles
1x US 6(4mm) 24 inch circular needle.
1x US 7(4.5mm) 40 inch circular needle.
Adjust needle size if necessary to obtain gauge.

Gauge
US 6(4mm): 20 sts & 24 rows = 4 inches in ribbing slightly stretched
US 7(4.5mm): 18 sts & 22 rows = 4 inches in stockinette stitch

Extras: 10 stitch markers, 2 buttons (buttons shown are 13/16 inch “Sand Dollar” from Roosterick.com)

Finished Sizes
The sizes for this do not go according to bust size as is standard for most garment patterns. Instead you will need to look for the bottom edge circumference number within the instructions. Take the time before beginning to highlight all numbers that apply to your size. Capelet shown measures 49 inches and is shown on a model with a 30 inch bust.

41 (49, 57.5) inches — to fit bust 24–29 (30–38, 39–48) inches.
These sizes are approximately girls (womens XS–M, womens L–2X)

Notes on Little Whiskey
Sometimes you just can’t fight it. When I received this yarn I knew right away that it wanted to be a capelet. I was fine with this. It would be a lacy yet substantial shoulder covering that was quick to knit and didn’t take a whole lot of time or yarn investment. Since Capra is a new yarn line I figured there would be plenty of folks out there that would like to try it in a small project before buying a truckload to commit to a full garment (although after working with it there’s a good chance you’ll want to do this anyway).

This design itself never gave me any problem. Well, ok, I did mess up the calculations and start with drastically too few stitches and have to restart, but I’d only gone about an inch, so it wasn’t that devastating. (I was also attempting to knit and sunbathe at the same time, which might have been messing with my brain function.) The element that did prove bothersome was the name. I keep a notebook that has a list of titles in it that I like so I may scan through it and find names. I’ve been wanting to knit a shawl or wrap called Little Whiskey for some time now. I saw it in my list. I stared at it and decided to move on thinking it was not appropriate for this design. I chose “Drowsy Maggie” instead. I opened Pages and began writing up the design with the title “Drowsy Maggie” at the top of the page. I didn’t like it. It didn’t look “right” and every time I icked up my needles the yarn firmly told me it’s name was *not* Maggie. Ok. I decided I’d better listen to it and once again opened to my list of names. This time I chose “Dance all Night.” Cute, and possibly fitting? Eh. Still didn’t feel right, although it was closer than choice #1. I once again picked up my needles and began to knit. That was it, no more fighting it. I opened my computer to the pattern and erased the title and put “Little Whiskey” in it’s place. I was satisfied. The yarn was satisfied. And why not? “Little Whiskey,” a delicate and feminine design with a bit of substance, a nice kick.

Just because it's named with alcohol in the title doesn't mean it's safe to drink and knit. I tried it. Trust me, I never recommend such knitting practice. Nothing was messed up, but I made sure to knit very slowly. (I must say my alcohol consumption was 2 beers over the course of an entire night, so it wasn’t that stupid to try.) A friend invited Chris and I over to BBQ so we jumped at the chance. Plenty of food, and it was plenty yummy. After we were done stuffing ourselves the boys decided to play video games. I had my knitting with me so I didn't care too much. But... As I said, 2 beers. That's a lot for me. It makes me sleepy. Several rows were knit nonetheless as shoot ‘em up games played in the background. Thank the universe that I know how to knit. It has made me the "perfect" girlfriend on more than one occasion.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Darling Honey

Pattern Notes
Darling Honey was designed to be feminine and fun with the feel of being a boutique knit. It’s an easy going hat perfect for pairing up with a casual outfit and your every-day Fall & Winter jacket.

Following the pattern as written will produce a semi-slouch hat. However, you can easily work the overall length slightly shorter for a classic beanie style or longer for a rasta influenced look (where to make this change is noted within instructions).

The “bobbles” that for the clusters are actually nupps (instructions can be found in the stitch guide), so there is no turning the hat around to knit back and eat up precious knitting time.

One lovely characteristic of the Capra yarn this design is worked in is its flexible gauge. If you wish to work a smaller version of Darling Honey you can simply work at a tighter gauge and the fabric produced will still look lovely! (i.e. for a toddler size work the lower edge at a gauge of 6 sts per inch for a 16.5” circumference and then go up to 5.5 sts per inch for the main body, or continue at the smaller gauge to refrain from loosing the tot in a too floppy hat.)

Darling Notes — The following are notes I made to myself during the design process.
Sometimes yarn will tell you so loudly what it wants to be that it's not worth the effort to try and convince it otherwise. One could, of course, attempt to "beat" it into submission, but how much fun isn't that? So, when I pulled this honey colored yarn from the box both the name and the design were set before I had any chance at all. Into my head flashed an image of thus little slouch hat with beehive shaped clusters on a mostly purled background. A few details were left in shadow for me to discover, but overall it was good to go. And Darling Honey seemed a very appropriate name for such a look and color. Because the stitch count is so crucial to the design I feel very limited in sizes I could offer without making the pattern very small or large or highly confusing. Luckily the Capra yarn is very forgiving and lends itself to knitting at multiple gauges. Advantage can be taken of this by writing the pattern with only one set of instructions, but 3 possible gauges.... The middle gauge will produce an average womens size hat.

End Note: As you can tell from the Pattern notes above, I went with a variation on my original thinking and wrote the pattern in two sizes (using the same gauge) and then gave some tips for making the hat smaller by working at a tighter gauge.

Materials
Yarn
2(2) skeins Knit Picks Capra [85% merino wool/15% cashmere; 123 yards; 50 grams; DK weight], Color: “Honey”

Needles
1x US 6(4mm) 16 inch circular needle
1x US 7(4.5mm) 16 inch circular needle
1 set US 7(4.5mm) dpns
Adjust needle size as necessary to obtain correct gauge.

Gauge
US 6(4mm) needles: 22 sts & 28 rnds = 4 inches in stockinette stitch
US 7(4.5mm) needles: 20 sts & 24 rnds = 4 inches in stockinette stitch

Extras
10 stitch markers

Finished Bottom Edge Circumference: 18 (20)”
To Fit Head Size: 20–22 (22-24) inches

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Welcome Capra!

It's here, folks! The moment we've all been waiting for! Well, at least it's a moment I've been waiting for. Over the last month I've worked on putting together 4 new designs in conjunction with Knit Picks for their release of a new yarn line called Capra. I have to say that although it was *a lot* of work to get done in a relatively short time span I loved every minute of it.

The Yarn: Capra is a DK weight blend of 85% merino wool and 15% cashmere. I found it lovely to work with, which made the job of designing with it a very pleasant experience. I really think that knitters are going to enjoy working with this yarn. And trust me, I'm not just saying that because I'm on the roster of IDP designers. If I don't like a yarn I'll tell you, I promise, and I'll have a good reason for it too. Mostly though, the yarns that you or I or anyone do or don't like is personal opinion, so I recommend trying a new yarn for yourself instead of going by what someone else tells you. Take a chance on a skein or two and see what you think. Can't hurt too much. When I was designing with Capra I made sure to include 2 hat designs that take only 2 skeins each. They are the perfect type of design to test out a new yarn.

The Designs
I'm going to be posting separate blogs for each design, but I will give you an overview of each here to hold you over. ;-)

The first hat (and the first design in general) that I worked for the Capra launch was Scalliwag. I think I might have to rate this my favorite hat design I've done in a while. All the pieces fell into place so nicely! (And since this design I have had HUGE amounts of trouble with all other hat designs... go figure).





The second hat I whipped up is Darling Honey. The idea for this hat was quick in coming, although I changed my mind on the details so many times that I started to really get worried I would never be able to do another hat again! I think in the end it turned out pretty darn cute. And, of course, the lovely Miss Annalee stepped up to model it again. (I swear, that kid can wear anything and look cute. Jealous with a capital "J"! I could never pull off that color.)





For my next design I opted to try something a little different than the usual Fiddle Knits offerings and went with a capelet. Little Whiskey (I totally love the name) is an elegant little shoulder covering that [I hope] can span many seasons. I Know I would throw it on over a little sundress in the Summer time as the weather starts to cool, or indoors if the AC was too strong, I could see it warming up a Spring or Fall outfit as well when you only need a little shot of warmth. I imagine it can even be donned in the Winter for an indoor occasion. If you like top-down raglans and have a bit of a girly flair than Little Whiskey will be perfect for you! The two buttons keep the capelet securely on your shoulders and it's short enough that you will have full use of your arms (the poncho always killed me with that).


Last but not least we have the Georgiana shawlette. Unlike most of my other designs this particular one was named for my mom, Georgianne, and not a tune/song. When I was designing this I was imagining sitting on the front porch in the early morning stillness with a cup of coffee and a good book. I finished my version of the shawl with 4 skeins of yarn, however, I cut it so close that I had to fudge the bind off! So, in the pattern I recommended 5 skeins for the small size just to be safe.