Working Girl

I’ve been rearranging my life a bit to accommodate my business. I’m trying to work on pre-planning meals more, and I’ve given up some volunteer commitments so I can do more work. Yesterday as I was knitting on this beauty while watching soccer tryouts a dad there said, “Oh are you making a Christmas present?” Um, no. I’m working here!

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The newest sonnet is nearly finished. I will be knitting all the live long day today working the body for this lovely. This sonnet starts with a border, then you pick up stitches and work a patterned body in short-rows. I’m really pleased with how I’ve incorporated the body pattern into the border and made it my own. Sometimes I impress myself!

The 5th sonnet will be published on Thursday – tomorrow will be photo taking day! Can’t wait to show y’all what I’ve done with this wonderful BFL from Stitches ‘N Rows.

Callais

I’m a yarn snob. I’ve been fortunate enough to work with so many amazing yarns as a designer that you would think I would be hard to impress, but no. I love yarn so much, and the fact that I get to play with all these delicious (and frequently hand-dyed) yarns is one of the perks of doing what I do.

That said, when I went to wind this Luxe Sock yarn by The Unwind Yarn Company, I actually exclaimed “Oooooh!” quite loudly. My son (who is not phased by my crazy yarn love) turned and said, “Nice yarn, huh?” And nice it is. Turquoise is enjoying a rotation in my favorite colors right now, so the fact that it was turquoise and in this luscious MCN base… well I just couldn’t lose with that combination.

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Callais is constructed a bit different. It starts with a small-ish cast-on and then you work the cabled lace pattern, incorporating the increases at the shoulder lines. You end up with a rectangular shawl that behaves itself and sits quite nicely on your shoulders.

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Callais is offered in two sizes – to use up about 400 and 800 yards of yarn respectively. If you live somewhere warmish, you might do the shawlette size, but the larger shawl size will give more coverage up north or in the arctic wilds of an overly air-conditioned office.

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Needles: Size 6 needles (4.0 mm)

Yarn: The Unwind Yarn Company Luxe Sock in “Totally Turq” - 435 yards to 100g,  1 (2) skeins worth

Gauge: 20 stitches and 28 rows = 4 inches in blocked stockinette

Size: Two sizes – Shawlette (42″ wide) and Shawl (60″ wide) – sample is in the small size on Olga, my 40″ bust mannequin

Callais is available to purchase for $6.00 USD

Tutorial Tuesday: Chart Reading

As of late I have stopped including written instructions in my patterns that are better suited to charts. This is for quite a few reasons but here are the main ones: space and errata.

Written instructions take up too much space. A charted pattern will average 4-6 pages long for one of my shawlettes. A totally reasonable number of pages to print at home and a workable number of pages to print and sell wholesale to yarn stores. The same pattern with written instructions will run anywhere from 8-18 (!!!) pages depending upon the complexity of the charts.

Errata is the second reason. Probably 95% of the time that there is an error in one of my patterns it is in the written instructions. Although I have my patterns professionally tech edited it is so much easier to read and see errors in charts than it is in writing.

So there you have it. But what if you can’t read charts and you love my patterns? (Hey a girl can hope she has fans!) Today’s tutorial will rescue you. We’re going to do a little class on how to read charts. So grab some yarn and some needles – any smooth yarn will do  - and settle in!

A few basics: Charts are configured to be a pictorial representation of the right-side of knitted fabric. Charts are kind of read the way you knit. The right-side rows are read from right to left – just like the sts are worked off the needles. The wrong-side rows are read from left to right. Look at the little example below – see how the numbers are? The RS rows have the numbers on the right-hand side and WS rows have the numbers on the left-hand side – that tells you where to start!

Each of the little blocks represents a stitch or a combination of stitches. When you are working a charted design you should be provided with a legend or key that will tell you what the symbols represent. Some of the symbols are pretty universal – a white block is usually a knit stitch on the RS and a good sized black dot is usually a purl. An open circle is usually a yarnover. Different publications and designers will use different symbols though – so make sure to check the legend.

We’re going to start with a simple chart and work our way through the stitches. Grab your yarn and needles and cast-on 10 stitches. Starting on the right-hand side work the stitches as they appear in chart – there is one stitch represented by each block in the chart below:

After you’ve worked the first row, it’s time to work the wrong side. Starting on the left-hand side (where you see the number 2) work the sts as they appear in the chart. Make sure you are looking at the legend – you are working the wrong-side of the fabric so make sure you are working the correct stitch. Continue to work rows 3 and 4. You should have a little teensy swatch of knitting that looks like this:

If you look carefully you can see how the knitting stitches look like the chart. See what I mean about it being easier to read?

Now we’re going to take it up a notch. You’ve already worked two rows of knitting, now we’re going to throw some increases and decreases into the mix. Work the next 4 rows – making sure to begin your row on the same side as the number – RS (odd) rows start from the right-hand side and WS (even) rows start from the left-hand side.

The chart gets wider, but each stitch is still represented in the chart. But as your knitted piece gets larger things change. Chances are your knitting will probably include repeats – combinations of stitches that are worked over and over. These are usually represented with a heckuva lotta asterisks in written knitting. In charted knitting outlines are used (commonly red) to indicate a set of stitches that will be repeated.

You should have 11 sts on the needles. So now instead of each st being represented, the stitches on the outside of the red box are represented individually and the stitches within the red box are repeated. So you work the first 3 sts, then you repeat the next 4 sts to the end of the row.  For the WS row you  just reverse the order: repeat the 4 sts until 3 sts remain, and then work the final 3 sts.

Are you still with me or did I scare you off? A lot of times folks will use stitch markers to offset the repeated stitches. You would place the stitch markers for the sections of the stitches repeated. Obviously this is more helpful with something a bit more complicated than ribbing.

The biggest way to get comfortable reading charts is just to do it – a lot. Always choose the charts over the written. Pay attention to how the charts correspond to the knitting. And try some of these tips to help you along:

  1. Use stitch markers to offset repeats
  2. Put your chart in a plastic sleeve and use a dry erase marker to cross off the lines as you work them. Then erase the lines when you have to start the chart over again.
  3. Or use the magnetic chart markers to help you keep track of where you are in the chart.

But what about more advanced charts? There are a couple of other things that are good to know about charts.

For charts that are worked in the round, every round is read from the right to the left. So all the numbers for a chart in the round will be on the right-hand side of the chart.

A common symbol used in charts is the “no-stitch” symbol. This is used as a place holder for charts where the stitch counts change. It is easier to read charts when the lace or cable patterning lines up properly, and the no-stitch symbols help keep all the little boxes in line.

The best thing to do when working from charts is to pay attention to the legend and read any notes that the designer has provided. The more you work with charts the easier it gets. You might even find like me, that you take written patterns and chart them out so that it’s easier to knit!

 

Five by Five

I have no idea what five by five means. I just know that Eliza Dushku was a badass as Faith on Buffy and that whenever I think of the number five that’s what comes to mind. I am a product of pop culture – what can I say?

The fifth sonnet is in progress and it’s in my very favorite color – red. I love red. I’ve been having a fling with turquoise (and just you wait ’til you see *that* design) but red is my one true love. And this lovely rich blue-red from Stitches ‘N Rows does not disappoint.

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It’s a lovely tightly twisted BFL with a sublime application of the loveliest semi-solid red with depth and richness. And soon the fifth sonnet will be available for purchase – very soon – November 1st to be exact. Watch this space!

Creedence

I am in love. With a yarn. It is just so freaking delicious.

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And you know what the sad part is? I’ve been so busy that I didn’t even get to knit this baby. I had to hire a sample knitter. So she got to work with all the silky, wooly, baby camel goodness. Baby camel? Really? I *think* it might be better than cashmere.

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Creedence is a sideways shawl/wrap designed and named for the Verdant Gryphon’s amazing new yarn base Mondegreen. The colorway, “There’s A Bathroom On The Right” is a gorgeous chocolatey brown that works up into a sumptuous fabric with a simple rib texture that appears as lovely wavy lines.

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The eyelet edging is applied as the shawl is worked sideways. Comfy and cozy, Creedence will be a winter wrap you will reach for again and again.

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Needles: Size 8 needles (5.0 mm)

Yarn: Verdant Gryphon Mondegreen in “There’s A Bathroom On The Right”
200 yards to 4 oz, 2 skeins worth – 400 yards total

Gauge: 16 stitches and 22 rows = 4 inches in blocked stockinette

Size: Sample measures 68′ wide and 16″ deep

Creedence is available to purchase for $6.00 USD

Coming Attractions

I’ve been working on all sorts of gorgeous things. But for today we will just give a quick sneak peek of two new designs.

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This cozy beauty will be published tomorrow in the Verdant Gryphon‘s newest base – Mondegreen. This yarn is sublime. No bones about it. Cozy, soft, with amazing stitch definition. You’ll need two skeins of it to make this pattern. And trust me, once you squish it, you’re gonna want a whole sweater’s worth.

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And this cabled lacy lovely will be out by the end of the week. This is Luxe Sock by the Unwind Yarn Company. I love me some MCN and this cooshy blend does not disappoint. And the turquoise color is to die for – you’ll need one skein for this new design.

And if you’re going to SAFF, the Unwind Yarn Company will be there so you can squish in person! And yes, I am a yarn enabler – I figure as a designer that’s part of my job!

Mythos

There are many knitting designers I consider friends, even though I’ve never met them in person. One of the awesome things about TNNA this past summer was getting to put faces to names and make new friends as well. Erica Jackofsky aka Fiddle Knits is one of those folks that sadly I’ve never met – she needs to come to Columbus next year so we can hang out!

Erica is a double-threat – her yarns and designs are lovely. I used some of her Swoolk last year for my Berlioz pattern. Totally delicious yarns and I adore her color sensibility. But she goes one step further and turns her gorgeous yarns into beautiful designs! Mythos is a collection of seven lace pieces that you really need to knit!

First off she starts out the collection with a very helpful little psa about gauge and lace knitting – I can’t tell you how many lace pieces I’ve seen ruined because folks don’t understand the magical powers of blocking!

Then she gets going with the patterns – 7 lovely lace pieces, each with a mythological backstory. Her photographs are wonderful and give you a good idea of how the shawls are constructed and what they really look like when worn.

She gives charted and written instructions and the entire collection reads like something that should be published in a book. And while I rarely have time to knit other people’s patterns, Merriment is really calling my name.

All the fabulous colorways she’s been putting out make me want to get my hands on some more of yarn as well – and soon! Find the entire Mythos Collection for sale on Ravelry for only $20 for all seven patterns (!!!!) – and Erica’s scrumptious collection of yarns at her etsy shop – Fiddle Knits Fibers.

No Dukes of Hazzard

Mondegreen: the mishearing or misinterpretation of a phrase as a result of near-homophony, in a way that gives it a new meaning. It most commonly is applied to a line in a poem or a lyric in a song.

I love mondegreens. I have a book of mondegreens – “When A Man Loves A Walnut” and they never fail to make me giggle. My own personal best mondegreen is my Dukes of Hazzard one.

Recently (as in within the last 8 years because it happened in Florida) I was riding along in my car singing at the top of my lungs. This is best done when alone because a singer I am not. So I’m singing…

We don’t need no education
We don’t need no thought control
No Dukes of Hazzard in the classroom 

And then I stopped. And had one of those moments. Where I realize that Pink Floyd was clearly not singing about Bo & Luke Duke. Although when I was a child it made perfect sense. No teacher was going to allow you to watch the Dukes of Hazzard in the classroom. As an adult, I just had to laugh at myself. And then listen very, very carefully to find out what the real lyric was. Clearly “no dark sarcasm” made much more sense!

Mondegreen: An amazing soft and gorgeous yarn, hand-dyed by the Verdant Gryphon – 60% BFL, 20% baby camel, 20% silk.

I got to knit with this stuff on a traveling project before it was released and I fell in love. So I got in touch with Gryphon and begged for some for a cozy winter wrap I’d been meaning to re-knit up in a larger size and publish. So she sent me two skeins of “There’s A Bathroom On The Right” in this delicious chocolate brown color.

Just wait til you see the cozy, soft goodness this turned into! And get your hands on some Mondegreen so you’re ready to make your own!

Totally Turquoise

I have good intentions of blogging more often. I even write blog posts in my head with pictures I intend to take and everything. But this I need to show you:

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It’s this gorgeous turquoise yarn from the Unwind Yarn Company. The color is perfection. And one of these days they will have internet where you can touch stuff (which is actually kind of scary if you think about it!) and you could feel how lovely and squishy this MCN blend is!

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When I put it on the ballwinder I actually said “Oh my!” like I was channeling George Takei or something and my husband thought I was crazy. Of course he thinks most of my yarn-obsession is crazy!

But there’s a very pretty design coming very, very soon in this lovely yarn, so you might want to think about getting your hands on some! And if you’re headed to SAFF she will be there and you can actually feel all the squishy goodness. Trust me, once you squish it, you’ll need it!

Wendell Holmes

I love poetry. When I was young and silly I thought I would live in a house all alone high on a hill and write poetry. Who was going to pay for this house, I don’t know. But that was the dream. Or the nightmare – considering the all alone part.

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But doing this project has been nice because I’ve been reading poetry again to find names for these sonnets. I love Oliver Wendell Holmes. And I love this snippet from his poem, “The Golden Flower”:

When spring is but a spendthrift’s dream,
And summer’s wealth a wasted dower,
Nor dews nor sunshine may redeem,–
Then autumn coins his Golden Flower.

What makes this poem even better is that I love autumn. I miss it terribly because we have no autumn here in Florida, but I can read poems about autumn, and look at pictures of autumn, and crank the AC down and make autumn foods!

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This little shawlette is perfect for fall. You can wear it as a scarf if you live somewhere actually chilly, or you can wear it if you come to visit my sub-arctic house.

It’s worked from the top down with charted instructions for the wavy slip stitch stems and the fancy floral edging. Extra increases at the edges give it a bit of a heart shape so it will lie nicely on your shoulders.

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Needles & Hooks: Size 6 needles (4.0 mm), and a size D (3.25 mm) crochet hook

Yarn: Green Sheep Fingering from The Unique Sheep, 500 yards to 100g, in Carta Dorata

Gauge: 20 stitches and 34 rows = 4 inches in blocked stockinette

Size: Sample measures 54′ wide and 18″ deep

Wendell Holmes is available to purchase for $6.00 USD
Or as part of the pre-order for the Seven Sonnets collection for $21.95 USD