Thursday, January 31, 2013

Book Review: Cast On, Bind Off

Author: Leslie Ann Bestor
Pages: 213

How you begin and how you end can make all the difference. It won't matter how good the in between part is if your cast on is too tight and your bind off is wobbly.

I got this book because it seemed like a good addition to a designer's library. There have been instances in the past where, I admit, I gave up on a new design because I wasn't quite sure how to end it. My usual method of binding off is good, it works, but it's not always the "right" fit.

My First Impression
It has a spiral binding! Yes! This means the book lays open so you can easily follow the instructions while you're knitting. That was the first major plus I noted with this book. The second was all the photos and diagrams. I find working with text instructions to be relatively easy for the most part, but sometimes it's tricky with a new knitting technique. All the step-by-step photos are the next best thing to a video or in person lessons. (I actually like learning from books better and this one's very easy to follow.)

The Knitty Gritty
The book is broken down into two parts. In the front there's the cast ons. This first part consists of 9 sections: basic, stretchy, decorative, circular, double-sided, multicolor, provisional, tubular, and mobius. The second part is bind offs, which is divided by basic, stretchy, decorative, and sewn.

I was most interested in the stretchy bind offs when I ordered the book since I knit a lot of shawls. Having a good stretchy ending is important so the piece blocks out nicely. I didn't think I'd get much use out of the cast ons section, but as it turns out that was the part I became more fascinated with. I constantly forget how to do a provisional cast on, so having written down and explained well in a book is really handy. And speaking of handy, the book is a very handy, convenient size. It's about 7 inches tall by 6 inches wide and fits great in my knitting bag.

If you're a designer then I'd say Cast On, Bind Off is an essential title for your library. Even if you're not a designer I recommend taking a look at this one. Designers choose the cast on and bind off methods tat they feel are appropriate and work the best for them, but your perfect beginning or end might be different. This book will allow you to make an informed decision so your finished project is the best it can be.


Wednesday, January 30, 2013

What's On My Needles: 1/30/13

I don't feel like I accomplished very much knitting this week. A lot of my time was taken up with yarn dyeing related things like making a new wholesale catalog and emailing various yarn shops. Interacting with shops over these past few days has really made me think I need to get to TNNA. I know I really should get my butt there for my yarn and for my designs. I'm not going because I don't want to. It's a money issue for me. Chris suggested staring a kickstarter program to raise the money for membership dues, booth space, yarn inventory, travel, lodging, etc. o far I haven't mustered up the nerve to get it going. What do you think?

So what's actually on my needles? Well, I'm ashamed to say it, but the Dwarven Riding Cowl is in exactly the same spot as last week. I know, I know. Must knit it. There's always something else that seems to get priority, though.

The cowl that I called the Truffle cowl is off my needles and has a real name. It will be published as te Mocha Berry Cowl. I was hoping to get photos of it today when I saw my sister, but the weather is looking pretty terrible. Getting pattern photos has gotten much more difficult since I moved. When I was living at my parent's house it was so easy. As soon as a design was blocked I'd drag my sister out to do a photo shoot. We'll see. Maybe I can get it to work anyway.

Soli yarn in "Purple Passion"
New on my needles is the next mystery shawl knit-along pattern. Needless to say, I can't share photos of this or the mystery aspect of it kind of dies. I will show my yarn though (photo at right). It's a new line for 2013. The KAL will be the first thing it's available for. (As of yet it's not in my Etsy shop.) This is Soli, a tight single spun fingering weight yarn in 100% superwash merino. The yarn is billed as a sock yarn, but I never like to recommend 100% merino yarns for socks and definitely not a single spun on top of it. You are, of course, quite welcome to use it for socks, but I've heard so many stories about people quickly wearing holes through merino socks. I personally never had this problem. If you've made made socks without any reinforcing fiber (like nylon or bamboo) and didn't have a problem then you'll probably be ok with Soli as well. For a single ply yarn it does have a pretty strong twist. 

The KAL will take 2 skeins of Soli (400 yards each) and a few hundred size 6 seed beads. (Don't panic, the beads are optional and doing the design without won't change anything except you won't have sparkle to your edging.) Soli yarn will normally be $23.00 per skein, but anyone that joins the KAL and orders their yarn in February will get it for $18.00 a skein as part of the mKAL pattern kit. (I'll be posting a separate blog with all the information on the KAL. basically signups open in early February to allow for yarn orders, but cast on won't happen until May.) This pattern is going to have simpler stitches than my last mKALs did. This is because I wanted to allow for the potential of using variegated yarns. 

And now I'm gonna go do a little knitting on this mystery project. 
What's on your needles today?

Monday, January 28, 2013

Favorite Things: Hip Hop Abs


In 2012 I discovered the Beach Body workouts. In the Spring I did P90X and then over the Summer/Fall I did 1.5 rounds of Insanity. Both were good. I toned up noticeably with P90X and dropped pounds with Insanity (20 pounds total and 2 pants sizes over the course of the year). I'd recommend either program to anyone looking for a good home workout routine. However, I didn't find either program fun. P90X is based on muscle confusion. You do some kempo, some yoga, and several different weight lifting routines that focus on different areas of the body. I've always been more of a cardio person and this just doesn't have what I wanted, so I was relieved when the 90 days was up. Then I found Insanity, which is great cardio. It's interval training to the max. The warmup is even a good workout alone!

Insanity is taught by Shaun T. He's good. When I discovered that he did some dance based exercise programs I was really excited. I figured they had to be good. I got my hands on a copy of Hip Hop Abs and went to work. I skipped the first week of the program were you're only doing workouts that are 25-30 minutes long. I didn't think I really needed this soft intro. After the introduction you start doing 2 workouts back to back. The time goes so fast! I've always loved dancing, so this was a perfect fit. In just under 2 weeks I dropped 5 pounds. Now, these workouts aren't nearly as intense as Insanity. But, since they're fun and within my comfort zone I wholeheartedly threw myself into the routines and danced my butt off. I felt like I'd barely started exercising and it was over! Now that's a good workout program if you ask me.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Backstage Shawl

The Backstage shawl is here! If you're on Ravelry you can find it there, favorite it, queue it, share it, cast it on, or whatever your heart desires. If you're not on Ravelry (you really should be) then you can find it available for download from my website.

I had fun knitting this one. It's been in my must-design pile for a few months and I'm really happy I finally had the time to get to it. When I sketched out the design I was originally intending on it being knit in one piece, but I hadn't fully thought out how that would work. I charted out the beginning, increase side and kept going until I'd used up approximately half (50 grams) of the skein. Then I got myself stuck. Increasing in the stitch pattern was just peachy, but decreasing was another story. After a few days of staring at charts and ripping out my knitting (thankfully I was a good girl and actually used life lines) I finally decided that the best thing to do was knit the shawl in two pieces. I know the idea of working a kitchener graft down the center of your shawl might be daunting, but it's really not that bad. The stitch pattern looks more complicated than it is and the join is just a straight kitchener stitch. You don't need to worry about grating in any kind of weird knit purl pattern.

I designed Backstage with the intent of it being a one skein project. However, I know the resulting one skein size (being just under 5 feet in wingspan) is a little short for some people, so I added a larger size in there as well (78" wingspan). The larger size instructions will also be helpful for anyone that has trouble getting their gauge loose enough.

Since this is a sideways shawl it's easy to resize it to fit your needs. Once you get going you'll see the repetition in the pattern (easily seen in the chart). This makes it easy to add or subtract rows depending on how much yarn you have or what your yarn weight is.

This design is part of the Pick Your Poison Collection (lightweight option). There are still 5 patterns missing from the collection, but I decided it was time to make the full thing available anyway. If you purchase the collection now you'll receive the last 5 patterns as they're published. Two pattern will be added in February and the other 3 will be added in March. The two February designs will be yoga socks in aran weight yarn and a cowl in DK weight. In total you'll get 18 knit accessory pattern for $25.00 USD. For the most part the patterns are all one-skein projects. Some, like the Backstage shawl, call for a second skein to complete the larger sizes. All the patterns use hand dyed yarns.



Thursday, January 24, 2013

Yarn Review: City Tweed DK

City Tweed DK in "Coastal"
Rating: **** 4 stars  (out of 5)
Knit Picks City Tweed DK (also available in heavy worsted weight)
Content: 55% Merino wool, 25% Superfine alpaca, 20% Donegal tweed
Weight: DK weight
Yardage: 123 yards
Grams: 100 gram hank
Care: Machine Wash, Tumble dry low
Knitting Gauge: 5.5 sts = 1"
Recommended Needle Size: #5 - 7 needles (3.75mm-4.5mm)
Current Number of Colors: 26
Price: $4.99

Purchase City Tweed DK Yarn at KnitPicks.com


Manufacturer’s Description: This yarn begins with alpaca and Merino fibers dyed two different colors and then blended together to make a subtle rich, lustrous heather. We chose neutral color Donegal tweed neps to incorporate into the 2-ply yarn. Donegal is a series of viscose neps (think slubs or bits of lint) that are suspended in a very fine acrylic mesh which allows them to be spun alongside the longer alpaca and Merino fibers. In the yarn, you won’t be able to see the acrylic web at all, and the neps will appear either on the surface of the yarn or spun inside the yarn strand. The high ratio of neps gives City Tweed a traditional appeal. The use of Merino and alpaca makes it soft and warm. This weight is gorgeous in two-color knitting.

City Tweed DK Review
I've worked with this yarn a few times since it came out. The first time I was introduced to it was when I used it for the cuffs of my Shake the Barley arm warmers. It's a nice yarn with good drape (hello, alpaca). If you're all about showing off cables or other textural work than City Tweed isn't going to be the right choice. The tweedy bits will obscure a lot of the detail (and blur a lot of mistakes!). If you don't care about cables popping and really noticeable than you can certainly still do cablework in the yarn. Just expect the effect to be softer and more subtle than it would be in, say, Knit Picks Swish or Gloss DK.

City Tweed is a soft yarn. I'd say it's definitely a yarn suitable for wearing against the skin.

Knitting With City Tweed DK
I'm working with City Tweed DK now for a project I unfortunately can't share with you at the moment. (Hush, hush! Super secret designs in process!) My current project is what prompted me to review this yarn. I like knitting with City Tweed and I'd forgotten just how much. The yarn itself is creamy and slide easily over my needles (I use Knit Picks Harmony interchangeables).

The project I'm working on right now is an accessory and I'm really wishing I had the time to make a sweater in this stuff. If knitting with it makes me feel cozy I can only imagine how wonderful wearing it would be!


*The yarn in this review was received complimentary from the manufacturer for test knitting & designing purposes. Reviewer was not otherwise paid, contracted, or obligated to review the yarn or product in this review. 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

What's On My Needles: 1/23/13

This week I'm doing a show and tell of what's on and just off my needles. I'll start by showing you what I've actually finished, which I had hoped would be a longer list. (Where the heck does time go??)

I finished the Grey Goose shawl from last week and it now has an official name. I think I mentioned that it was part of the Pick Your Poison collection, right? As art of that collection it needed to have a name reflecting some kind of cocktail/drink or an ingredient from one. Since I had Grey Goose stuck in my head (because it's grey and grey + alcohol = grey goose) I started looking up cocktails that used vodka. That's a long list, but it gets a lot smaller when you try and match up color as well, or the lack there of. In the end I settled on the Backstage cocktail. And so, the name of this little design is "Backstage." I wrote the pattern for a small, one-skein shawlette, a larger, but still not huge, shawl, and a scarf. The shawlette and scarf take one skein of Polka yarn (400 yards fingering weight). The larger shawl size uses 2 skeins of Polka. I expect to have the pattern up next weekend. For now I'll share a preview.


Shawl pin by Cacklin' Hen Designs

Now that you know what's off my needles I'll tell you what's still on my needles. The Dwarven Riding Cowl. Since I already knit this once it's going pretty slow. I know I *really* need to get it done so I have proper pattern photos, but I'm dragging my feet. I love the design. I think I did a pretty good job making it a Tolkien inspired design. Once I knit a design, though, it goes much slower trying to repeat it. I'm sure most knitter can identify with this. The shiny and new factor wears off. This is where I am now:



New on my needles is another design for the Pick Your Poison collection. This one is the [currently named] Truffle cowl. The yarn is like chocolate with raspberries or maybe a nice hot mocha latte with some berry syrup. I haven't quite decided where I want to go with this drink. The yarn is a 100% superwash merino DK weight. I don't normally carry it in my shop. I might have to start though. It's nice to work with and has good stitch definition. I'm knitting with a US size 5/3/75mm needle and it feel really good. I'm looking forward to being done with this pattern because I really want to wear the cowl. It's been so cold outside and it's making me really want to increase the number of cowls and scarves I have.



That concludes my show and tell for this week. What are you working on? Knitting or crochet. Feel free to link to you Ravelry project page!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Good Bye Gluten

At the end of today I'll have been gluten [and coffee] free for one week. I'm feeling pretty good. It took about 3 days for me to start feeling the effects and that seems to be pretty common. From what I've been reading people say they start feeling better after about 24 to 72 hours. Of course, it takes several weeks more for you body to be completely free of gluten and then many weeks more than that for your intestines to heal.

Not eating gluten has been in some cases easier than expected and in other instances extremely annoying. Day two was the worst. My sister and I had tickets to a concert and decided to get some sushi beforehand. Everything on every menu needs to get analyzed, especially since I'm not really used to watching out for gluten. Anything with a soy sauce based sauce, imitation crabmeat, and tempura crunch had to be avoided. All these things I never bothered to watch for. There's still a lot on a sushi menu that I love and can eat, so for that I'm very grateful. Just the being aware was rough, not so much the actual limitation.

As long as I'm cooking and eating at home everything is easy and smooth. And did I mention that I've been cooking all vegetarian too? Chris has gone vegetarian for health reasons and I've gone "pescatarian" (because I refuse to give up fish!), so learning and figuring out what to cook that's gluten free and vegetarian has been interesting. Chris agreed to eat gluten free for any meals that I prepare and I agreed to cook vegetarian for any meals we share. When we're out and about or not eating together he still eats the foods with gluten and I still eat fish. (The only reason I'm not eating meats besides fish is because I've never been particularly fond of it and it's not something I ever crave, so without cooking chicken or beef, or pork, or whatever for both of us I really can live without it and be quite happy.)

I've been cooking A LOT of stuff from The Roasted Vegetable, which I wrote about in one of my Favorite Things posts. It's not a gluten free book, but a lot of it can still work, especially if you're willing to make the flatbreads, pizza dough, or pasta from scratch.

So all in all I'd say this adventure has been successful thus far. Hopefully my stomach will continue to feel better as the weeks go by and I'll get more accustomed to what foods are safe so my trips to the grocery store don't take so long.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Favorite Things: The Roasted Vegetable

I received my copy of The Roasted Vegetable as a Christmas present from my Mom. I rarely get a cookbook and want to make all the recipes from it. Usually there's one or two that I actually get around to making and maybe a couple more that look good, but I never make for one reason or another. Sometimes it's because the ingredients are rare, or it takes too much time, or any number of other things.  Not the case with this cookbook. I immediately picked out 2 recipes from the sandwich section, the roasted eggplant with roasted garlic rollups and the roasted eggplant with tzatziki rollups. Both of these recipes were 1) easy, 2) had simple ingredients, and 3) turned out delicious! Because they were both successful I based my grocery list for the following week completely by ingredients from this book. Basically it read something like: 3 eggplant, 4 zucchini, 2 yellow squash, 3 bell peppers, yellow onions, garlic, etc.

The next recipes I tried were also easy and delicious. I've made the roasted veggie pizza, lemon risotto with summer veggies, roasted vegetable and hummus rollups, roasted veggie quiche, along with a few other and some repeats.

If you're vegetarian, trying to go vegetarian, or just looking for ways to add veggies to your meals that aren't boring then I highly recommend this book.

And now I'm going to start some dough for that roast vegetable pizza. Mmmmm....


Purchase The Roasted Vegetable on Amazon

Roasted Vegetable Pizza from The Roasted Vegetable




Saturday, January 19, 2013

What's New? Spinning Fiber

"Storm Clouds" on SW merino roving
There's hand dyed roving in the Fiddle Knits Etsy shop now! I've been meaning to try dyeing roving for a while now. Years actually. I had wanted to dye fiber even before I started dyeing yarn, but I was scared of it. What if I turned it into a big felted mess?

Recently my yarn stock started running pretty low. I wanted to dye *something* though, so I took down the bags of roving that I had hidden. I did small 2-ounce trial dyes of a few different fibers. Turns out it's not as scary as I thought it was going to be! Big sigh of relief. (The small sample batches that I dyed got packaged up and will be shipping with the next few orders of Roosterick Navajo spindles.)

When I dye yarn I tend to stick mostly with merino wool. It's been hands down my favorite fiber pretty much since I first discovered knitting with things other than acrylic from Michael's. It's still my favorite yarn and I think it probably always will be. In this new venture into dyeing fiber I decided to branch out a bit and try other wools. I got a sampling of superwash BFL (Blue Faced Leicester), Romney, superwash Merino, and Shetland. As it turns out, the merino is my favorite in roving form too. The BFL came in second. The Romney and Shetland are kind of tied. Before they get dyed the shetland is softer. After dyeing the Romney seems to end up softer. I gotta give it to the Shetland on dye absorption, though. It takes color very well. Because I didn't get a superwash variety it's also recommended for beginner spinners since it's less slippery than superwash (which I have in BFL or Merino).

I listed all of the roving I have done so far in my shop. Dyeing fiber takes more space than dyeing yarn (really just the drying part), so I can only get through 4 to 8 ounces in a day. Because of this, updates of fiber to the shop will be more spread out than the yarn. I'm aiming for once-a-week updates on either Fridays or Saturdays.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

What's On My Needles: 1/16/13

As is typical for me I have several active projects on the needles right now. One I can't really say much about because it's not being published by me. You'll have to wait on that one until it comes out in the Fall (2013). I will say I'm using Knit Picks City Tweed DK for it and it's so nice and soft and making me want to knit a sweater for myself in it.

Dwarven Riding Cowl WIP
Besides the secret project I have 2 other active WIPs (works in progress). One is my redo of the Dwarven Riding Cowl. The pattern for this design was published in December, 2012. Plenty of other folks have finished this pattern (you can see projects on Ravelry). Considering it's my design you would think I'd be done first. I was, but I'm not any more. You see, I had a very specific vision for this design and in order to get it I ripped back numerous times. So wen I actually completed the design (pre pattern publishing date) I took a good long look at it and wasn't happy. Because I'd ripped the yarn out so many times the stitches just looked too sloppy. So the whole thing got frogged, the yarn was washed, re-skeined, and hung to dry. I think the stitches are looking a lot cleaner now that I know what I'm doing. I'm trying to knit this as fast as I can since it would be good to have photos for the pattern. Always helpful, right? The photo to the left shows my progress as of yesterday morning. Today I'm a little further in, but not by much because my other WIP has been taking more of my attention. (It's a completely new design, so my fingers have been itching to work on it more.)

"Grey Goose" shawl WIP
This other project is a shawl. Another one in my Polka yarn! I might be a little addicted to using Polka for shawls. It's just so bouncy and fun. Anyway, the new Polka shawl doesn't have an official name, but I've been thinking of it as Grey Goose. It's part of the Pick Your Poison collection and it's in a subtly variegated light gray. The pattern isn't exactly goose-like, though. Really it looks more like scales. Because of this I'm tempted to pull the design from the Poison collection and use it for something else, but I probably shouldn't or I'll fall really behind on getting the pattern for the Poison collection out. And I refuse to put this design down to start another. I don't really like setting aside a design in progress. It makes it very hard to come back to and figure out what I was thinking and where I was going with the pattern. My note taking is pretty thorough, but tends to make a lot more sense in the moment.

Looking at the photos I just realized that everything I'm knitting on is grey. Hmmm... Funny how that happens. The next skein of yarn up is a blend of browns and pink, so there will be color in my future at least.

What's on your needles this week?

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

2013 Readers' Choice Awards: Knitting

It's time to send in your nominations for the 2013 About.com Readers' Choice Awards! You can select 3 names/brands for each category. Categories are: Favorite Knitwear Designer, Favorite Yarn Company (large or indie), Favorite Knitting Blog, Favorite Book of 2012, and Favorite Knitting Needle Brand.

If you've enjoyed knitting my designs in 2012 you can let the world know by entering Erica Jackofsky, Fiddle Knits Designs in the Favorite Knitwear Designer category. I'm also eligible for the Favorite Yarn Company category, so if you've discovered you like my yarns this year write me in there too (as Fiddle Knits)!

Stacey, from Knit Picks, blogged about her choices for each category yesterday on the KP Stash blog. She mentioned me as one of her choices for designer and yarn! Having people message me (or blog) and let me know that I was one of their choices completely made my day. A big heartfelt thank you to everyone that already sent in their nominations and wrote me in as a choice.

Nominations are open from now until February 11. (Vote sooner rather than later so you don't forget!) After the nominations close the results are tallied up and the top 5 finalists in each category will be posted. You'll then be able to vote for which one of the 5 is your top choice (you'll be able to choose one from each category). Voting will begin February 19. I'll be sure to post again and remind everyone to vote whether I'm in the top five or not. It's important to support your favorite designers and companies whomever they might be.


Monday, January 14, 2013

Favorite Things: Watersong Lotion

Ever since the cold weather set in and we turned the heat on in the house my hands have been suffering. Dyeing my yarns doesn't help either since I have to rinse each batch after the color has set. All of this makes for some very dry skin. Not only does it feel uncomfortable and look less than great, rough skin catches on yarn while knitting. This is NOT cool. My sister gave me some of this Watersong Soap lotion in Lavender for Christmas. I absolutely love it. The lavender smell is very calming and I think it pairs great with knitting, so I'm keeping the jar in my knitting bag. The scent lingers on the skin for a while. It's not overpowering, just a gentle smell. I think an "intimate scent" is the term (since you have to be close to the wearer to catch a whiff). I've enjoyed the lavender lotion so much that I went ahead and purchased a jar of in the Mother Earth Patchouli Sandalwood scent through the Watersong Soap Etsy shop.

Lotions are $8.00 and come in a reusable 3oz glass jar.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Knitting on the Road: Rivervale, NJ

Today was the band's first gig of 2013. We've officially been performing for 16 years. Happy birthday to the Homegrown String Band.

I was knitting the entire car ride to Rivervale, NJ where our show was. I was so happy I remembered the tape so I could easily hang my pattern from the seat in front of me. It gets so annoying to have the paper on my lap. Very awkward knitting situation.

My WIP was a pair of yoga socks for the Pick Your Poison yarn club, pattern not yet published. The plan is to take photos on Tuesday and then order copies of the printed pattern. The yarn is already dyed, dry, skeined, and ready to go. It's always the printing process that seems to take forever.

I got a lot done in the 2-hour drive to Rivervale. Didn't get anything accomplished on the way home since it was dark and I hate knitting by the light of the little overhead car light. I'll do it when necessary on long car trips where I'd otherwise be bored out of my mind.

I'd say it was a successful first car knitting of 2013. May there be many more.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Fire-Drake

Fire-Drake
$5.00 PDF

The final pattern from the Hobbit's Journey collection is here! I posted the pattern last night on Ravelry and got the pattern page done for my website this afternoon.

From previous posts you may know that this design had some drama. Working on a new pattern over the holidays is crazy! And then getting the flu.... I felt like I worked on knitting this shawl for months. In reality it was only a single month. I am very pleased with the final result. It's a simple shawl (as long as you're accustomed to lace stitches) with a lace border and stockinette center, but with a fun twist on the construction.

I can't believe the Hobbit's Journey collection is over! I've absolutely loved designing these patterns and knitting them with everyone in the knit-along group on Ravelry.

Details on the design:


Pattern includes line-by-line written instructions and full charts.

Construction
Fire-Drake is a multidirectional shawl. It begins as a bottom up design and then switches to a sideways shawl for the center. The entire design is worked in one piece. At the end there is a 6 stitch graft or seam depending on your preference. Due to the construction of this shawl, you’ll need to make sure the cast on has a good deal of stretch. I recommend casting on and working the first purl row with a needle 2 sizes larger than your main working needle.

Yardage
The sample shown in the photos took nearly every last drop of yarn in the skein of Aria (100 grams, 438 yards). After completion there was only about 3 yards left. If you substitute yarn make sure your skein has at least the same yardage as Aria. Also, watch your gauge. Knitting looser than the stated gauge may result in running out of yarn even with the correct yardage.




Yarn
1 skein Fiddle Knits Fibers, Aria
[70% superwash merino / 20% nylon / 5% stellina; 438 yds; 100 g; fingering weight], Color: “Blood Orange”

Needles
US 5 / 3.75mm 32” (or longer) circular needle,
US 7 / 4.5 mm 32” (or longer) circular needle,
 or needle 2 sizes larger than main needle
Adjust needle size to obtain correct gauge.

Notions
Tapestry needle for weaving ends.

Gauge
Pre Blocking:  21 sts & 28 rows = 4” in Stockinette stitch
Post Blocking: 19 sts & 23 rows = 4” in Stockinette stitch

Finished Measurements 
Pre-Blocking: 53” wingspan x 19” deep at center
Post Blocking: 82” wingspan x 23” deep at center




Friday, January 11, 2013

On The Needles

Last night I cast on for a pair of yoga socks for myself. They're the Truffle Yoga Socks from the Pick Your Poison club (pattern not yet released) and I'm knitting them in the club yarn/colorway, which is Adagio aran weight yarn in Raspberry Truffle. The pattern is written in 4 foot sizes: 7 (8.25, 9, 10)" arch circumference. 8" tends to be a typical foot size from what I've seen over the years. I've made myself 8" foot sizes before and they're always too big. I know this, but I make this "standard" size anyway because I feel like for some reason I should be checking this one closer. Not true. All the sizes are created equal. Right? And I really want to wear these little yoga socks. So this morning I ripped back to start the 7" size. If I'd continued with the 8.25" I would have to have given the socks to my Mom, which she always likes, but gosh darnnit I want to make stuff that fits me too!

Anyone that follows my designs may have noticed you don't usually see me in the design photos. This is because I don't like how I photograph and Annalee comes across very nice in pictures. This also means I never actually end up with any of my own finished designs to wear. 2013 is going to be the year I change this. Annalee is definitely still going to do most of the modeling for my designs. However, I'm planning one entire collection based entirely around me and my own personal every day style. And I'm even going to change which side of the camera I'm on! I admit that this kind of freaks me out a little. The collection won't be coming out until Fall 2013, so I do have some time to come to grips with the idea.

There will be yoga socks in my future.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Unleash the Inner Perfectionist

When I'm designing I frog, reknit, frog, and reknit until the cows come home. Designs get ripped out just a few short rows from completion and I think nothing of it. It's just part of the job. My perfectionism doesn't typically extend to knitting for myself. If there was a little mistake way back at the beginning I tend not to care (assuming it's not something glaring like a gaping whole). I rarely knit something that's just for me, though, so pretty much all projects come under my microscope. Recently 2 designs sent me to the frog pond many, many times in search of the perfect combination of stitches. The Dwarven Riding Cowl (aka Oris's Loop) was the first. I knew what I wanted when I started, but it seemed like every stitch pattern I tried wasn't right and got ripped out. Eventually I settled on my perfect combo, but by that time my yarn had been ripped so many times that the finished project looked so sloppy and raggedy I just couldn't bring myself to keep it and use it for the pattern photos. So it got completely ripped out, the yarn was reskeined, washed, and hung to dry to give it some new life. I've now finished the hood and completed section one. Hopefully today I can get through section two. I'd really like some photos of this thing! In the meantime if you're interested you can see some FOs by some fine folks over on Ravelry.

The second design that recently had me ripping yarn was the shawl currently known as Smaug (name will be changed when actually published so as not to infringe on copyright). This was another design where I knew exactly what I wanted and I had to keep trying to get it right. I blame the pre-Christmas rush and then my fever on most of the mishaps for this one. The beginning lace part was a breeze. The stockinette center is where I hit trouble. Go figure. It's all good now, though. Yesterday I did the photo shoot with the wonderful Annalee of Watersong Soap. (Try her lotion. I just bought more. The lavender scent is so calming. I keep a jar in my knitting bag.) It was kind if a dreary day out, but I think the resulting photos are still pretty. The muted colors of the landscape help make the blood orange colorway pop.

My to do list for today begins with doing the layout for this shawl. The pattern WILL be up this weekend. No. More. Excuses!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Way Too Many

There are way too many ideas floating around my brain for me to actually make happen. We're barely into the second week of the year and I already have 3 pattern collections planned! A few designs are already sketched out and swatched. Of course, that's the easy part. And then there's the fun part, which is getting the details of the design together and actually knitting the thing. And then comes the part where I sometimes pull my hair out, also known as pattern writing and editing. And then the really satisfying part of listing the pattern and letting the whole world see it. This is worth the hair pulling of the previous step.

For now I'm keeping my mouth shut on the details of the collections. You'll just have to wait and see. I'll tell ya they're very different from one another and cover a pretty wide range of skill levels.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Journey's End

Journey's End Slipper Socks
These quick little slippers were intended to be the final pattern the the Hobbit's Journey collection, but since the Smaug shawl was delayed this pattern got bumped up to the #8 spot. Smaug will now bring up the rear in the final #9 spot.

The Journey's End slippers are partially knit in the round and partially flat in rows. A short seam closes up the back of the heel. No short rows required as in standard sock construction.

I gave these slippers to my Mom as a Christmas gift. (I may have been a week late in giving them. Somehow Mom always ends up being the one stuck waiting for her knits.) If I ever have the time. (Ha!) I'd love to make a pair of slippers for myself. Probably won't happen now, but there's another collection already brewing as A Hobbit's Journey comes to a close. (New collections launch in Fall 2013.)

The Details

Yarn
Fiddle Knits Fibers, Adagio
[100% superwash merino; 100 yds; 100 g; aran weight],

Foot: 1 (1, 1) “Kitten”
Cuff: 1 (1, 1) “Teddy Bear”

Needles
US 8 / 5mm dpns
Adjust needle size to obtain correct gauge.

Gauge
18 sts & 25 rnds = 4” in reverse stockinette

Notions
Tapestry needle for weaving ends.

Finished Sizes 
7 (8, 9)” foot circumference