Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Time Out!

I had to throw two designs in time out this week. One was a knitting pattern and one was crochet.

The knit design, A Certain Shade of Green, is a shawl pattern from my [still unnamed] Green Collection. This design had already misbehaved once and had been frogged completely for a redo. The second time around I cast on less repeats and did a much better job. No mistakes. The pattern was actually moving along quite smoothly, until I ran out of yarn. Yeah. Designers shouldn't make these sort of mistakes, right?So you might think, but it's not true. I am here to prove that designers still bungle things up.
I ended up finding the same yarn online and ordering another skein. Sounds like the problem is solved, doesn't it? Not really. You see, this yarn is hand dyed and the skein I had was about 2 years old. I went ahead and ordered the same fiber in what should be the same color, but the chances that a small indie dyer got the colors exactly the same as 2 years ago? I'd say that's pretty slim. I don't have my hopes set that high. According to USPS tracking info the package should arrive today. It will be the moment of truth, people. I'm expecting something that might as well be a different color altogether. I have a plan of attack. (Cross your fingers that it works for me!) If the colors are dramatically different I'm going to approach the design as if I used two different colors [on purpose] and stop the original pattern flow. Hey, ya never know, maybe it'll be handy to have a design written to work with two different dye lots or hand dyed yarn variations.

The second design got put in time out late last night. I'm crocheting a baby sweater tee to match my Sweet Potato Baby Blanket, Slippers, and Hat. I thought I was using the correct hook (same as the baby blanket), but it turned out I'd grabbed the smaller hook that I'd used for the hat. (I crocheted the blanket at a larger gauge than the hat and slippers). Since I'd already done all these patterns in the same yarn and stitches I didn't bother with a gauge swatch. This meant I didn't catch the fact that I was using the smaller hook and thought I was getting the larger gauge. Yeah, no. Once I realized what I'd done I tried to fix it, but I got myself completely confused. In the end I ripped out the piece I'd already done, made a cup of tea, grabbed a calculator, and reworked the math from the beginning again. This was more successful. I now have the entire baby sweater pattern written with the correct gauge, hook, and numbers. I think I actually did a better job than the first time around, so at least there's that. Sometime today I'll face the orange yarn again and this time I will conquer it! (Really, I'm *much* more worried about that green yarn for the shawl.... Ugh!)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

What's Been Shakin'?

A whole lot. That's what. New Fiddle Knits Collections are in the works and progressing slower than I had originally hoped, but still going great nonetheless.

This Spring will see the release of two design collections. I plan on opening up preorders for them as soon as I can think of a catchy name. You'd think that would be one of the first things to get done, right? Nope. Not with me, at least not for these 2 current collections. I have names for all the patterns in each of them, so that's always helpful. Both collections have a theme, which is also good. I've come up with possible collection names, but I keep tossing them aside as not clever enough, or just plain eh. I'm planning on working on names today in the midst of doing everything else.

Want a teaser on the upcoming collections? One is going to be full of really fun hats. It will include two designs I already published: Love Birds Chapeau and Thistle & Shamrock. Besides these there will be a hat with koi, butterflies, lotus flowers, a snail (I promise, it's really cool/cute!) The preorder for this collection will be offered at a steal of a deal price. (Think around the $10.00 range.) The second collection is all about green. Not really so much about going green and ecofriendly, but just the color green. It will be filled with tidbits of facts about green. Each design is named for a green related expression of sorts. Examples would be "Green With Envy," Leafy Greens," "A Certain Shade of Green," etc.

I anticipate preorders for both collections somewhere at the end of April. Keep your eyes open and check back here often!

Moving update: Chris and I are still actively looking for a place to rent. It's getting a bit depressing. Most places (unless they're really run down and in less than desirable locations) require that our income be 3-4 times the rent amount. It's kinda crazy. The rent covers everything (heat, water, etc.), so it's not like there will be other bills beside car insurance and cell phones, so it seems that 3-4 times the rental amount is a bit excessive. Anyway, that's today's rant!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Thistle & Shamrock

Thistle & Shamrock is perfect for any time of the year!
The Thistle and Shamrock Beanie has arrived! It's the perfect day for it to make its debut, don't you think? I was pretty excited when I realized I could launch this new St.-Patty's-Day-appropriate pattern on St. Patty's Day. I guess I'm a nerd like that. Although, I didn't plan on it happening this way, so that might revoke some nerd status points.

I had a good time charting out the design for this pattern. I was especially happy with how the thistle turned out. I came up with the name of this design before I had given any real thought to how I might be able to turn a thistle into a knitted design. The clover was nothing to worry about. I knew that could be done easily enough. But a thistle? I'm sure someone else out there has charted a thistle before, but I sure hadn't. Now I have and I kinda want to use it again sometime.

Thistle & Shamrock is a beanie style hat worked from the bottom up. It uses stranded knitting technique right from the second round until the second to last round. If you've never done fairisle or stranded work before this probably isn't the best pattern for you, unless you're a truly daring soul. That being said, there's also nothing super hard about this design either. The forehead is worked in 1x1 ribbing and the remainder of the hat is simply knit.

It turned out the Thistle is a unisex design. I didn't think it would be. However, when I presented the finished hat to my family my dad immediately said he liked it. That was all the prompting I needed to decide he could model it for the pattern. Of course, many guys (probably most guys) won't want to wear something so highly patterned. Their loss! ;-)

Buy the Thistle and Shamrock pattern via Fiddle Knits Designs or through Knit Picks IDP.
Warning: If you go to Knit Picks you will be tempted to buy the matching Chroma yarn. 
You have been warned!

Friday, March 11, 2011

50% of sales to aid Japan

Effective Immediately: 50% of all Fiddle Knits pattern sales until the end of March will be donated to the American Red Cross to help aid their efforts in Japan after the quake.

The Fiddle Knits Moving Sale has been suspended in light of this recent event. Patterns are back up to full cost, however, now there is a much greater cause to support. No pattern purchase is too small to be counted toward the donation. Spend $1.99? $1.00 will be donated.


For those who haven’t heard: A magnitude 8.9 earthquake slammed Japan’s eastern coast Friday, unleashing a 13-foot (4-meter) tsunami that swept boats, cars, buildings and tons of debris miles inland. Fires triggered by the quake burned out of control up and down the coast, including one at an oil refinery.

Shop Fiddle Knits Patterns on Ravelry or via my website.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Spring & Shamrock Hats

The weather has been a total tease lately. It's warm and rainy and cold and sunny. There seems to be no rhyme or reason and just when it appears that Spring is here the temperature drops once more. Even so, I've begun thinking about warmer weather designs. Or rather, I'm being prompted to consider warm weather hats by a certain hat loving boyfriend. As happened last Spring, Chris has been wearing his slouchy knit hats all Winter and is reluctant to give them up as Spring approaches. Over the last few days he has mentioned lightweight cotton slouchies pretty much every time he sees me knitting. He's got a good point, even if his are completely selfish motives. My hat patterns do pretty well and my unisex/mens designs are my top queued, but most everything I have is geared toward Fall/Winter and wool yarns. So last night after I finished up another design (which I will get to further down) I pulled out some Knit Picks Simple Cotton Sport in Envy Heather and began swatching. I have an idea, but, believe it or not, I don't have the right size needles for what I want to accomplish. Seriously. I thought I owned at least one of every size, but apparently not. I need 16" size 2.5mm for the forehead section. Yes, 2.5mm. This is, after all, going to be a light hat. I plan on placing an order with Knit Picks today so I can get started on this design. I'd like to offer up some warm weather patterns soon. You know, before it gets cold again. (Imagine that?!) It's overwhelming how far in advance you have to be thinking and planning for when you're involved in designing!

The design I finished last night was the Thistle & Shamrock Beanie. Can you believe it? I actually made a beanie instead of a slouch hat! (Don't faint!) This design is all set and ready for its debut on St. Patty's Day (Thursday, March 17). It's done in Knit Picks Chroma Fingering in Bittersweet Heather and Galapagos. This is the same yarn I used for the Love Birds Chapeau. Eventually I will have 4 or 5 hats worked in this yarn. Once they've all been completed I will be offering them as an e-leaflet. I'm not offering preorders because I haven't been organized enough and have no specific release date I'm aiming for. It'll happen though, eventually... Along with the socks/slipper collection and wrap/cowl collection I'm in the middle of. Oh, and the two baby knits collections I'm planning and all my crochet projects! Speaking of which...

Thank you to everyone that's been taking my charity pattern poll! It is still open for voting, so if you haven't already visited I encourage you to go take a look at my previous post.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Charity Crochet Patterns Poll

Free charity crochet patterns are one of my projects over at About.com. Some of you have probably seen me talking about this in the recent past. I decided to make my research a little more interactive. Take the poll and let me know what type of free charity crochet patterns you'd like to see more of. Knitter only? You can still vote if you'd like! I'd really like to see what type of items have the most interest. This may be applied to knitting patterns in the future as well. (One thing at a time though!)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Simple Crocheted Baby Blanket

The orange baby blanket made its debut last night. It's crocheted, so you probably are getting to know what that means by now. It's a free pattern published by me (Fiddle Knits) and About.com: Crochet.

I was aiming for a blanket that would be gender neutral. I did this for two reasons: 1) I want to keep the blanket for myself and my own future baby. Of course, I have no idea if this baby will be a boy or girl, so in order for me to make use of the baby items I make now they need to be able to go either way. and 2) I figured there are a lot of other folks out there that want to crochet ahead for baby or want to get started on projects before they can find out what they're having. I think I accomplished my goal with the stitch pattern I choose to put together. However, the orange does lean a bit more toward boy than girl. I'll give you that. I didn't know what color to choose! I guess a deep maroon could have worked. Reds could be neutral, right? What else is there? Yellow? I'm not a huge fan of yellow, but I suppose a creamy butter yellow might be nice. Soft gray? Is that too depressing for a baby blanket? What if you only used gray as a base color and threw in bits of other colors to liven it up like blue, green, purple? If there's a little bit of "girl" color and a little bit of "boy" color on a plain backdrop does that make it gender neutral? I think it might.

The next baby blanket I do for About.com is going to be a bit more girlie. I may want to keep only the neutral blankets, but readers of About.com will be looking for specifically girl themed things as well. Any baby items I decide not to keep for myself will be sold in my Etsy shop: The Knitted Fiddle Boutique.

You can find the free pattern for the orange baby blanket under the title: Simple Crochet Baby Blanket. It's also listed on Ravelry if you want to go add it to your Queue.