Sunday, December 30, 2012

The year in review - 2012

I always like to count up how many things I finish in a year's time. I knit a LOT this year.  I also published almost twice as many designs as in 2011.  Final tally:
15 designs published (6 shawls, 3 vests, 4 cowls/scarves, 1 sweater, 1 blanket/throw)
14 shawls knit
11 cowls knit
5 vests knit
5 sweaters knit
2 baby blankets knit
1 scarf knit
1 set of baby shoes

Only one of my FOs was not my own designs - the tiny baby shoes. There are lots of other people's designs I want to knit. I guess I'll get to them when I finish knitting up all the ideas in my head!

Looks like I covered the color spectrum pretty well - even managed to knit in some almost-blue :)

Goals for 2013? Hmmm, I will think on that and try to post on New Year's Day.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

SSC (Super Simple Cowl)

I made the first of these cowls a couple of years ago when I was doing my Yarn of the Month thing and drew my 2 skeins of tosh bulky in Forestry. The yarn is gorgeous and didn't need any fancy stitches to make something beautiful so I thought I'd just do a stockinette cowl.


I had some tosh and Plucky Bulky leftovers after making my Flame Nettle and decided to make another one since I've found myself reaching for the original over and over again since cold weather arrived.

I hesitate to call this a 'pattern', but here's what I did:

About 200 yards of bulky yarn - hand-dyed semi-solids are perfect for this
16" or 24" US 10.5/6.5 mm circulars

3.5 stitches per inch in stockinette

Cast on 126 stitches. I used the long-tail cast on. This gives a 36" inch cowl.
Purl 1 row.
Knit 1 row and then join. (I like to knit a couple of rows first to make it easier not to get a twist. The tiny seam is easy to sew up with the tail.)
Knit until it's tall enough (mine are about 8 or 9") or you're out of yarn (or patience)
If you're using multiple colors, just change whenever you run out. No need for a beginning of round marker.
Cast off loosely. Weave in ends.

I like to wear it with the reverse stockinette side out.

On this second cowl, which was made up of leftovers, instead of weaving in the ends where I changed colors, I tied little bows on the stockinette side (WS) and secured them with a few stitches with a needle and thread. It's so hard to weave in ends with bulky yarn and I think this is a cute look too - although I consider the reverse stockinette side the right side.

I went yarn-crawling yesterday and bought yarn for another one -

it's perfect for working on when I need a break from more intense projects or when I'm just too tired to do anything but knit mindlessly in the round.

Friday, November 30, 2012

What happened to November?!

Time flies when you are working All The Time! Don't get me wrong, I'm still loving it, but I'll bet I worked 60 hours a week on designs this month!  I did publish two!

This is Teaberry - a textured baby blanket or throw:

and this is Serra - a cardigan knit from the top down with seamless, simultaneous set-in sleeves. The sleeves are NOT picked up and knit down using short rows. This is a technique of Barbara Walker's that seems to have been mostly overlooked:

 Check out the sleeves!

I also knit this without the big collar -

My testers really liked this construction method and were a tremendous help in getting the instructions clarified and illustrated. I'm working on another sweater using this method and have several more 'in my head.' Stay tuned!

Friday, October 26, 2012

October designs

I got a couple of things out this month. I think my most recent one is my new favorite shawl pattern of mine -

I had the beginnings of this idea late last winter while I was working on Fabergé and trying to find a stitch pattern for the bottom edge. I found nothing and ended up coming up with my own idea, but I did find a stitch pattern for 'fluted rib' and thought it would make a nice edge on a textured shawl. I ended up not using that stitch, but the whole idea of a textured shawl with a fluted/ruffled edge had taken root. I have an old cotton sweater (commercial) that I saved simply because I loved the diamond stitch pattern and thought I would use it for the body. I didn't end up using that either, but kept the diamond idea. (Designing is a strange process sometimes.) The biggest challenge was to do a crescent shape without using short rows, which would have made the allover texture pattern impossible. While working on a small prototype for this, I learned that kfb and kbf are NOT mirror images. Kbf actually twists the stitch, resulting in a much tighter edge. I learned this because I had used kbf on one side of my small prototype and kfb on the other, resulting in one side being noticably longer. That caused a bit of head scratching on my part :)

My other October pattern is this colorwork cowl -

This was my inpiration -

Initially I wanted to do reverse stockinette, but found out it is much more difficult than regular stockinette. Here's an early attempt - you can also see the cashmere blend lining that is knitted in:

Now we just need some serious winter weather this year so I can wear them!

Monday, October 1, 2012


I'm having a Beauty Contest in my Ravelry group. You can see the rules here, but the short version is that at the end of the month, there will be a thread where people post their recent FOs from my patterns and everyone votes for the winners. And there are prizes :)

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Finally my son gets a chance :)

Lately I think he's been feeling a bit left out. As I mentioned in my last post, I specifically chose guy-friendly colors for the scarf version of Oak Park. We had a lot of fun yesterday morning with our photo shoot downtown.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Lucky break

After promising a scarf/cowl version of All the Shades of Truth back in May, I picked out the yarn and colors for the cowl, which I wanted to knit first, pretty quickly. Since I wanted it to be soft and drapey, I stuck with the tosh merino light that I used for the stole. I found color inspiration in a stained glass skylight that Frank Lloyd Wright had in his studio.

I worked on this project on and off for 3 months, just occasionally pondering the scarf version. I had found a picture of a FLW house that I thought echoed the shapes in the design, and used that as a place holder on my Ravelry project page. Two or three weeks ago, I decided to do the scarf in tosh alpaca sport. It would be cozier and have more body than the tml, which I thought would be good for a scarf. Immediately after having that idea, I popped over to the tosh website to see if any was in their Ravelry store, since this is not a retail base and can only be found on the tosh site and through destashes. I found a half dozen or so and picked out 2 colors that I thought would potentially work with the grey and red already in my stash. A week or so later, I checked Ravelry destashes and found a couple more. There was no real plan, I was just trying to stay with 'guy' colors so I could get my son to model. The last 2 colors arrived today. I ended up deciding against the grey, so here is the palette I will be using -

I like it okay - I think it will be great for a guy, but I wasn't overly excited about it until I put the photo above on my project page, right below the house picture placeholder:

Isn't it amazing how close the colors are? Totally unplanned!

I've already cast on and am really enjoying knitting with this yarn!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Mission Impossible Indeed

I thought it was a cute idea to call the test knit for my new pattern 'Mission Impossible' because I was going to give my testers specific 'missions' based on their answers to a quesionnaire and the different options I needed tested. Little did I know that the process would live up to its name! My own life got crazy, and some of my testers had their own issues. The original deadline has been bumped twice and I barely met it myself :)

This is what gave me the idea for this new design - it's the beginning of Derecho.

I liked the minimalist look of a few stripes at one end, and thought it would be pretty paired with the edging I used on Merrywood.

This was the result of the merging of those two ideas:

While knitting what I called the 'Porch Shawl', I was thinking about other striping options for the center and other border options. This led to the 'Deck Shawl' -

and the 'Sailing Shawl' -

I was trying to think of a name while driving to Williamsburg to pick up my daughter. There's a huge drawbridge we cross that is a favorite spot for our family. The bridge's southern end is located at a tiny community called Jordan Point. Between all the houses on the river with porches and decks and the sailboats at the marina beside the bridge, Jordan Point seemed like a good name.

I'm still waiting to hear back from some testers on yardage, but hopefully this impossible mission will finally be completed!

Monday, July 9, 2012

A New Pattern and Some Thoughts on the Design Process

This is Derecho. I had originally named it ‘Fishbone’, but once again I changed it at the last minute. We experienced a Derecho here in Virginia last week while I was working on the 2nd knit of this pattern. I thought the lines were consistent with the definition of this type of storm – a line of sustained, straight-line winds at hurricane speeds.

I’ve had people ask how I come up with new designs, and sometimes I wonder myself, but I do have a theory. I am one of those people who immerse themselves in a new hobby. I call it serial obsession. First it was horses, then gardening, then quilting, and now knitting. For the last 10 years I have read everything I could find about knitting. I have knit All The Things (©Hyperbole and a Half). I have played with techniques and put my own spin on patterns. I have basically filled my brain with So Much Stuff and now I feel like I am reaping the benefits. All the information that I have crammed in my head has been shuffling around, grouping and re-grouping, and every now and then an idea just pops out. Three of my recent shawls – Fabergé, All the Shades of Truth, and Derecho - all seemed to come out of nowhere. Designing Fabergé was a process that took a few days, but the other two pretty much popped into my head fully formed. I just had to draw a picture and do the math. I probably spent 5 or 10 minutes on the sketch for each and worked from that. Very often one design is the starting point for another. Fabergé led to Enamored. City Block inspired All the Shades of Truth which sparked Derecho. Derecho inspired the design I am working on now. I have a long enough list of patterns I want to write to keep me busy for another year or so. Hopefully the ideas will keep coming and keep me going longer, but you never know! You have to make hay while the sun shines :)

Much thanks to my friend Vicki for helping me recover my lost post! Take that Blogger!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The final chapter of the great aunt trilogy

My grandmother had 5 sisters - Obeira, Emma, Frances, Aileen and Ardys. Her name was Della. Her brother's name was Aubrey. I was told their mother read a lot of novels hence all the cool names  :) My grandmother was born in 1889, just to give some context., Her middle name was Laura, and I am named after her. It's pretty easy to find odd-sounding names if you go back to those times, but I like that these names are different without being weird. Aileen, Ardys, and Obeira are pretty as well as being a bit unusual, so those are the names I chose for the 3 vests I designed. You know. In case you were wondering.  Today I listed the last of the trilogy on Ravelry - this is Obeira.

This is my favorite of the 3. I have worn it and the grey one I made a lot already. My daughter, who is also named after one of the aunts, has expressed interest in claiming the grey one herself. Maybe.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Timing is everything

I had the idea for my lastest design months ago, but had planned to work on it for a fall release. For some reason it demanded to be moved up in my design queue - I guess I had a craving for acres of garter stitch.
The initial inspiration was Praire style stained glass, but it reminded me of Frank Lloyd Wright's buildings, and I did some research and had a name all picked out based on the name of a house he designed. I did all the math, decided on colors, ordered yarn, wrote the pattern, drew the schematic, and knit the stole. The very next day I was reading Game of Thrones and read this passage: "Black and white and grey, all the shades of truth." You can see why I felt like I had to change the name to 'All the Shades of Truth'!

Yesterday was Peter Carl Fabergé's birthday (hmm, an accent and an apostrophe look weird together...) and I wish I had known it ahead of time. I would have had a sale on my Fabergé pattern. It occured to me that it might be interesting to know when Frank Lloyd Wright's birthday was - turns out it's next Friday! When I released this latest pattern, I put it on sale through next Friday in honor of his birthday. I have to remember to check out the Google Doodle that day :)

And how often does this happen? I 'drew' this back in March on the computer -

and here's the finished item -

Pretty darn close!

Friday, May 25, 2012

The Sekrit

Back in April I got an email from an editor at Vogue Knitting. They were planning a special  Noro magazine and wanted to include a page on Lizard Ridge.

My copies came in the mail today!

Pretty cool, huh?

Saturday, April 21, 2012


"...the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way." -  William Hutchinson Murray

Ever since I decided to take my design work seriously, things have been happening. An online shop started carrying my designs. People are requesting patterns. I have ideas!!! Fabergé was selected for a KAL on Ravelry as part of MadMay. I've been mentioned on a knitting podcast (twice!) A famous designer was given a Lizard Ridge afghan as a group gift and mentioned me on her blog. I got invited to do a trunk show at Stitches Mid-West. And I can't even tell you about the coolest thing yet - it's a sekrit!  All this stuff has happened in the last 2 or 3 months. How cool is that???

My latest project - people actually asked me to design more vests!

I think I will wear this a lot - it will be perfect for work this spring and summer. I can throw it over a tank or t-shirt and look a little more put-together than I usually do :)

Monday, April 2, 2012


My new shawl is almost ready to release!

This one has beads too - hard to see but they're between the two braids.

As soon as I get this one finished up, I will be swatching for that vest I promised to work on.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Two more designs are up!

I managed to get another vest pattern out of my head before shawls took over again. This is Ardys and I am really happy with how it came out!

A few weeks ago, I sat down to work on a shawl idea I've had for awhile. It was such an odd experience. A totally different shawl was the result. The one I planned to work on is geometric, graphic, the one I designed is romantic and girly. The original idea is still on the to-do list, but this upstart was released last night. Obviously the name is Fabergé.

Something really cool happened when I started posting pictures of the prototypes on my Ravelry hang outs - people asked me to design more vests! The two I did over the winter were well-received and well-liked by those who knit them, but I really didn't sell that many so it surprised me. I was so nervous about breaking into garments, but so far, so good!

I have another shawl design on the needles and then I promised to work on a warm-weather vest in Pashmina. I have a pretty good idea of what I want to do, we'll see what comes of it!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Best Laid Plans

When I started this blog several years ago, the main idea was to motivate myself to knit up my stash by going public with my plans and feeling accountable. Excuse me a minute while I get a tissue - I'm laughing so hard I'm crying. Ok, I'm back.

Since then, I estimate that my stash has roughly quadrupled. My old top 10 yarn list?
Cascade 220 - any of the heathers or tweeds specifically - Still like
Cascade 128 - Still like
Araucania Nature Wool (Worsted or Chunky) - Still like
Artful Yarns Jazz (discontinued) - Destashed - too heavy for this climate
Jo Sharp Silkroad (tweed or not, any weight) - Do Not Like
Rowan Tweed (any) - meh
Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool and Silky Tweed - meh
Malabrigo - luscious but omg the pilling
Noro Kureyon - still love the colors and get sucked in by them occasionally but rarely knit with
New Tweed - meh

New top 10 list:
tosh merino light
tosh chunky
tosh sport
tosh Vintage
Yarn Chef Mulligatawny
Yarn Chef Creme Brulee
Yarn Chef Cider
Cascade 220 (still liking the heathers)
Knit Picks City Tweed

I've gravitated towards lighter weight yarns. I love the drape and they make more wearable garments for this climate. I also (obviously) LOVE the semi-solid hand-dyed yarns. Solid color commercially made yarns have to have some heathering or tweed in them.

But you know what? Now that I'm doing more designing, I've found out that I need a good-sized stash. For inspiration. For samples. Sometimes you don't have time to wait for an order to come in, and most of what I like to knit with can't be picked up locally. I try to be mindful when I buy, and lately I've been using money made from pattern sales, so at least I'm supporting my habit :)

And how gorgeous is this?

Monday, January 23, 2012

I think I have another part-time job...

I have so many design ideas that I've started scheduling time to work on them! That makes it like a job, right?

Right now this is being tested:

and I just released this cowl as a free pattern on Ravelry.

I cast on for the prototype of another design yesterday.

This is so much fun! I get to use my love of knitting, my math background, my commercial art class (for layouts and Ravelry pattern pages) and my editing skills. It's my dream job, even if I'll never make a lot of money doing it. It's a nice change from book keeping, housework, and laundry!