Monday, April 28, 2014

A Cotton Education

I've proclaimed a bias against cotton yarn loudly and repeatedly on this blog, but as of late I've come to, at the very least, a neutral understanding, and at the very best, and joyful embrace.

See, knitting with cotton was a bad experience for me because
a) I chose the wrong sorts of cotton
b) I totally chose the wrong sorts of needles

My wrists are, rather unfortunately, sensitive to the extra strain knitting with cotton can put on them. So when I invested in my wood Knit Picks Options interchangeables, it transformed my relationship with this fibre.

And that's just the knitting story!


I've also been getting in to sewing lately (gee, can you tell?)
Woven cotton, in a sturdy quilting weight, makes for easier sewing as it holds its own and can be "sticky" rather than slick. The pieces sort of grip each other, so you can focus instead on learning how to use your machine and the mechanics of sewing tricky dress pieces together, rather than fighting with your fabric and getting all stabby-stabbed with pins.1

The idea of sewing with knit fabric instills an odd mix of fear and laziness in my soul. I (currently) have no desire to engage in the visions created by my trepidatious mind of misshapen garments and sadface wasted time.

So instead I turn to COTTON, GLORIOUS COTTON!
Some quilting cotton, waiting for a purpose
Quilting cotton, to be exact. Sadly, though, this cotton education isn't particularly thorough: and as my desire for dresses and skirts and blouses in different styles progresses, I'm realizing the quilting cotton just isn't going to cut it.

But for now I've worked on amassing a fantastical stack of fabrics and patterns. The world is opening up to me, people!
I obsessively check Burda for new patterns, and jump around on Modcloth for inspiration, saved up for the day I feel brave enough to modify sewing patterns on my own.

This post is mostly because I am SO excited about all my new fabricsssessss and want to share the pics with you.
It's sewing season! To your machines!

1 Incidentally, I have an inordinate fear of getting stabbed with pins. A rather unusual, and definitely not helpful, attribute for the budding sewist!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Indie Designer Revisit

Designer: Tori Gurbisz
Blog: Lachesis and Co
Rav ID: LachesisandCo
Some Great Designs: LachesisandCo's Rav Designer Page
Original Indie Designer Post: July 9, 2010

Four years ago! Wowzers! It was almost four years ago that I first profiled this great designer. I went back and read that post; she had only three patterns published at the time, but the hallmarks of her light, fun, versatile style were already present.

Now that she's added thirty more designs to her portfolio, you can really see how a design aesthetic can develop and produce wearable, interesting work.

Pictured is her Galatea shawl, from Poseidon's Realm Part One. This is a collection of three delicate shawls, each with a soft and organic inspiration and feel. I chose this one as the feature photo because it makes me feel so light and spring-like. Come on, spring!

Helike is a clever hat design; it's reversible, and features a pretty contrast brim that you can choose to show off or keep folded under. Being lace, and having that bright pop of colour, makes this a great transitional winter-to-spring hat.

She's also had her work featured in Cooperative Press' Fresh Designs: Sweaters. Her contribution is the cozy- and comfy-looking Everything Nice Hoodie. It's the pockets, long cuffs, and thumbholes that make this the winningest sort of sweater :)

And I would strongly encourage you to take a peek at all of her other designs. Many of them are items complementary to a spring season.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Finally an FO: Plum Rondo

This was an addictive knit.
Though I set some obstacles in my own way from the get-go, I'm pleased with how my Plum Rondo turned out. And quickly, too!

  1. I didn't have the right yarn weight, so had to alter the gauge math. It worked out fine!
  2. And using that incorrectly-gauged yarn came with a less-that-ideal pairing of the four colours necessary to create the pullover. Unfortunately, one of the secondary colours wasn't distinctive enough from the others to create the pop needed for some of the lovely, delicate yoke colourwork.
  3. Stubbornly using that yarn with the wrong gauge and incorrect colour contrasts also led me to run out of the main colour only inches before finishing! Sad! I had to extend the background yoke colour up a couple inches, sacrificing the look of the colourwork, but allowing me to complete the knit with enough main colour for the neck ribbing.
  4. I'm glad I persisted with the yarn because ooooh man. Softness. So deliciously soft. Mmmm....

I'm still scoobied as to why there aren't more of these as FOs on ravelry. As of the publication of this post, there's only thirteen.
What I'm saying is, this is a free, well-written, fantastic-pants pattern! Knit one for yourself!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

New Dress; Can I Sew It Quick?

I dream big sometimes, people.

Here's the latest dress I've cut the pattern and fabric for. I'm trying to keep a maximum of only two patterns with cut fabric waiting in the wings, but it's hard, man. Damn hard.

By posting it on the blog I open myself to the pressures of the whole wide internet: don't cut out more fabric! you'll all proclaim. You juuust posted that there's a new pattern waiting, so sad, waiting.

This pattern is New Look 6699. It has many, many possible bodice/skirt combinations. If this first one works out, I can see this pattern becoming a fall-back staple in my collection.

And the dreaming big part? I have high hopes that I can sew this puppy in time for TNNA.
Let's see, shall we?

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Thrysos Winner!

This is just a quick post to congratulate entrant #17, Cassiopia! You've won a free digital copy of Thrysos. It's in the mail to you right now.

Thanks to everyone for entering to win. Looks like most of us prefer a seamless design, especially from the top down!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Holla Knits Spring/Summer 2014 Blog Tour

For my contribution to this blog tour, I'd like to show you my own, personal, happy, second sample for me me me of Hawt Sands.

Many modifications happened for this sweater. For a few reasons:
1) This cotton is THE cotton I had in stash. Must knit from stash!
2) And while I already owned this cotton, I didn't own it in the proper amount for the main colour.
3) The seahorse is nowhere to be seen because I altered this puppy to be knit in the round. I feared the running-out-of-yarn, and somehow working it in the round made more sense in this perilous situation.
4) I did end up running out of yarn, right a the tip-top of the hood. So the hood's smaller than it's supposed to be.
and finally
5) I wanted to see it in some different colours, and thought ya'll might like to as well!

I have fantasies that one day it'll be so warm that this cotton pullover will make sense as a wardrobe option. Right now it's the vehicle for my maybe-spring-soon dreams.

Follow the rest of the blog tour! There's some giveaways too; you know you can't say no to giveaways!

April 7: Collection Launch
April 8: The Sweatshop of Love Blog
April 9: ModKnits Yarn Blog
April 10: Skeinny Dipping Yarn
April 11: Kirsten Singer
April 15: Canary Knits
April 16: Baah Yarns
April 17: Knitter’s Pride Blog
April 18: DovieJay Knits
April 22: Mari Knits
April 23: Magical Grammar
April 24: Knit York City
April 25: Under the Red Umbrella

Monday, April 14, 2014

Love Me Some Easy Sewing

This is the second Cynthia Rowley Skirt I've made. The first one was so simple and fun to wear that I couldn't resist a second.

I was motivated to finish it in time for my brother's bridal shower. Well, future sister-in-law's bridal shower, I suppose. A springtime shower calls for a happy springtime skirt, no?

Some stuff I'm learning about sewing:

1) I am not smarter than the directions in some cases. Probably most cases.
2) While sewing is much faster than knitting, you still need to be to be patient with boring and fiddly things like pressing and sewing tricky curves.
3) You should probably buy fabric for a project, and not the other way around.

I think point 3) might be a bit controversial; my entire yarn stash is based on "ooo pretty!" and not "well, I'd like to make the X sweater and it needs X amount of X type of yarn...."
This tendency has led me down a road of lotsa cotton quilting fabric, mostly in too-small amounts (and I never remember how many metres I bought!)

And to make matters worse/better, I've just gone on a fabric buying binge on etsy and got myself an embarrassingly large amount of cotton for future dream dresses and skirts. I'll show it off when it finally arrives in the mail (and I say finally because, even though I just bought it last weekend, now is never soon enough!)

I'm thinking of making up some more rompers, this dress, and these cute skirts.
Sewing season is upon us! Muwhahahaa!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Indie Designer Day

Designer: Irina Bil
Rav ID: SameSong
Some Great Designs: SameSong's Rav Designer Page

It's getting warmer outside: prepare for a transitional wardrobe!
This week's designer has just the thing(s)!

Pictured is the sunny-day shawl of your dreams, Flower Blues. It's a well-balanced combination of colours, simple texture, and ruffle. You can always tell a good design when something as easily overpowering as a ruffle is used and integrated well into the piece!

You may, though, find yourself facing still-chilly temperatures. Ones low enough for you to say "yes! Today is a hat day!"
And for those days, I offer you Snow Leopard and Chocolate Vine. They have, respectively, a fun use of bold colourwork and a happy dance of textural surface.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Thrysos; Or, It's Giveaway Season Over Here!

This spring is hopping along. The sun is actually out today, and just yesterday, I saw some rogue tulip and/of daffodil sprouting in my garden. The mess of a winter appears to (almost?!) be over!

To celebrate, I'm holding a few giveaways.
I posted Tuesday about my new podcast and the two giveaways associated with it.
And now today, I have another giveaway for you all!

Thrysos is one of my new patterns, released the other week in Knit Pick's Spring Collection, titled In Bloom. It's a top-down blouse with a simple lace repeat across the yoke. Worked in the round, it includes a wee ruffle at the front, a relaxed fit, and a cute little dip in the back for an extra bit of coverage.

If you'd like a chance to win a pdf copy of Thrysos, just comment on this blog post and let me know what your favourite sweater construction is. Please don't forget to leave me some contact info so I can let you know if you've won!

FYI: Email list members get TWO chances to win! You can join the mailing list over here.

I'll draw and announce the winner on Wednesday, April 16.

Good luck everyone!

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

I Have A Podcast; And, Here's a Giveaway!

I've got a podcast, peeps. (RSS feed here, and check out the notes here.)
Yeah, I decided to jump in. It's been fun so far, and something of a learning curve!

I was contacted recently by Family Tree Knits, who generously donated her lovely Family Tree Cowl and a Miss Babs Yummy 3 ply Toes, 82 y mini skein, in the colour Plum to giveaway! Listen to the episode here for details and enter to win here.
Birthstone Cowl, a NEW pattern from Family Knits!

But I also thought it'd be fun to have a little interview with her too.

What are you excited about?
Yarn, new patterns, starting new projects, and planning new designs. And being a part of the knitting community, which is a very cool place.

Most helpful/favourite knitting book?
I have the Complete Encyclopedia of Stitchery by Mildred Graves Ryan that I refer to over and over.

What are your favourite type of items to knit?
Anything wearable or usable, meaning that I want to be able to actually wear it, (or have it out and use it if it’s a blanket) and not just admire it from afar. Some things are beautiful but if I think I won’t wear it (or that my daughter won’t wear it) then I don’t make it. I love cowls, shawls and cardigans and big loose sweaters most of all. I like to have several projects on the go, so I have a choice of what to work on depending on the environment (I do a  lot of knitting while watching kids’ activities), so at any one time I tend to have a simple project and a project that needs closer attention. I also like to challenge myself with a new skill each time I start the next ‘paying attention’ project.

What's your favourite/most used knitting trick?
Spit splicing, or the russian join if it isn’t 100% animal fibre. I’m not a fan of weaving in ends, so if I can prevent it, I do. Although it seems like I’m always in public when I need to spit’s hard to act casual when I’m spitting on my yarn!

What's the newest trick/technique you've learned?
Icord edging! It is such a neat, clean edge, I love it! I first used it on the Garter Squish Blanket by Stephen West and for the first couple of inches I kept thinking, ‘How is this going to make an edging that looks like the picture? That would be too easy.’ But it’s true, and it works!

Where do you go when you need knitting questions answered?
YouTube videos by Pink Knits, the Purl Bee folks, and Knit Purl Hunter. And the Tin Can Knits website is awesome.

What made you decide to start designing?
I wanted to make a ‘family ring’ type of cowl that signified each of my family members (since I’m not really a jewellery person), so I decided to make it up. I realized that I often modify patterns as I’m knitting anyway, and I have gained confidence as a knitter over time, so I took the plunge.


Interested in winning more?
If you like the looks of the Birthstone Cowl pictured above, just comment on this post for your chance to win. I'll draw the winner on April 21 and announce the winner shortly thereafter.

Monday, April 07, 2014

Hawt Sands; Get Ready for SUMMER!

Holla Knits' Spring/Summer 2014 collection is out today, and it features my latest design.

Buy Now
Check it out on Ravelry.

Hawt Sands is a pattern that's been brewing in my head for quite some time. A couple years, actually. When I saw the call go out for this collection I knew Holla Knits was the right place for this fun and unique pattern.

Worked flat with just the right amount of colourwork and a CUUUTE hood, I envisioned Hawt Sands a while back for the Holla blog. I'm actually rather proud of that writing; it sums up the pattern inspiration in the best possible way.
as the perfect beachy companion. I wrote a frolicking account of my Hawt Sands inspiration dreams

Knit one for the lakeside, knit one by the lakeside. A summer top and a cute bathing suit coverup. Even great for the spring! Knit fast, bunnies, knit fast; you can totally get one of these cranked out in less than a week. NO SLEEVE! I have to say, I think that's one of the major selling points :)

I'd love to see some Hawt Sands in different colours! What colours would YOU knit it in?

Friday, April 04, 2014

Indie Designer Day

Designer: Stacey Hsi
Rav ID: skudge
Some Great Designs: skudge's Rav Designer Page

I love it when I come across a new-to-me designer, they have just a handful of designs in their ravelry shop, and they're all so solid.

This week's designer is just one such of those! She's got two designs up and wow! I do likes them much.

Pictured is Pythagoras. A colourwork hat that has so many great shapes going on at once. Harmony in cacophony. It's a play on triangles, triangles, and more triangles. And as she says, "a few bonus diamonds too (but really we all know those are just two triangles next to each other)."

She also has posted the cute Ting-Ting Hat. It's a simple hat, but one that comes in three fits (fitted, slouchy, and squarish), with easy lines of eyelets making their way up the sides of the hat.

I am very much looking forward to skudge's next designs!

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Cross Stitch; Or, Sharper Needles Ahoy!

One of my 2013 Christmas gifts was this charming book.

It's by What Delilah Did, and is full of must-stitch patterns for the newbie through to the more experience Xstitcher.
I don't know much of anything about cross stitch, but the project ideas and charts in this book are inspirational; they've also motivated me to use them as something of a procrasti-craft. I really should be working on some designs but oh, those lovely silhouetted critters and colourful wee fox faces and stately owls!

I'm working on the silhouetted unicorn because UNICORN and it's really quite relaxing. It's repetitive and seems to create the same kind of intense enjoyment I get from crossing things off my to-do list. I think it's all that tracking stitches on your chart.

Anyhows, if you're looking for some pretty cross stitch patterns, no matter what your skill level, this book is totes for you. Once my unicorn project has reached a point where there's a semblance to the finished project, I'll have to post some pics for you.

If, on the other hand, you're looking for some funny and snarky cross stitch patterns, get thee to Subversive Cross Stitch. I have their book, and am planning a few of them for gifts later this year.