At Full Gallop

May 21, 2013 § Leave a comment

I think it’s probably clear to most of you that I’m a pretty proficient knitter. As the kids these days (where “these days” = probably about 10 years ago) say, I’ve got mad knitting skillz. But I am slooooow. Not beginner-slow, and not (usually) making-lots-of-mistakes-slow, but it takes me awhile to make enough stitches to finish a project. I’m okay with this, mostly — I’ve always been this way, and I’ve accepted it.

Sometimes, though, I really want a nice, quick project (that’s not a tank top or fingerless mitts). And I have a fondness for bell sleeves and cowl necks. Combining those three things gave me Tantivy:

Tantivy by Laura Lynch

Tantivy is a close-fitting, casual pullover featuring  deep belled cuffs with a thick ribbed pattern that is mirrored at the bottom edge and on the generous cowl. Eyelets along the waist and bust shaping as well as the sleeves and raglan shoulders add a feminine touch to this super-cozy sweater. This sweater is designed to be worn with minimal or no ease. The sleeves of this sweater are very fitted, except at the cuff.

Finished bust: 29 (32, 35, 38.5, 41.5, 45, 48, 51.25)” / 73.5 (81.5, 89, 98, 105.5, 114.5, 122, 130)cm

• 7 (7, 8, 8, 9, 9, 10, 10) skeins Lion Brand Nature’s Choice Organic Cotton: Khaki (103yds/94m; 3oz/85g weight)
• US 8/5mm 16” circular needle
• US 8/5mm 29” circular needle
• US 8/5mm dpns
• Stitch markers
• Stitch holders or spare needles

Gauge: 15 sts & 21 rows = 4″

Pattern available for $6 US.

Photo-A-Day: Messy

August 9, 2012 § 1 Comment

My desk at work. This is what genius looks like, people:

I have no idea how many actual projects are in that pile, but I’m going to say no fewer than 5. The rest are swatches I’ve done in the name of figuring stuff out so I can explain it to other people better.

Have I mentioned lately how much I love my job? I love my job.

Honey Badger Needs a Leash!

July 9, 2012 § Leave a comment

I’ve just published a pattern over on Ravelry that honestly I’m almost embarrassed to call a pattern. Last week when I was at The Knit and Crochet Show, I needed a cord for my badge. So I made one. I thought some of you might need such a thing, too, so I’m sharing what I did.

You can download the pattern here.

An Expert in My Field

June 6, 2012 § Leave a comment

I’ve got a post all ready to go for Tasty Tuesday this week, only it’s already Wednesday and I haven’t pulled the pics yet. So Thursday will be tasty this week instead, mmmkay?

I’ve talked a little bit before about how I have a hard time self-aggrandizing. The fact that I have such a hard time saying nice things about myself publicly makes it twice as nice when someone else does. It is possibly three or four times as nice when the “someone” does it publicly on the blog of the company I work for. (It’s not the most flattering picture of me, but if you’re curious, the sweater is the one I talk about making here.)

It amazes me every day that not only do I have a great job that I love because of my expertise at something that started out as a simple hobby, but that said job involves my sharing that expertise with others on an ongoing basis. It is incredibly fulfilling to know that every day I am helping people solve the problems they encounter and improve their skills. Yay, me!

Found It on the Internet Friday #13

May 25, 2012 § Leave a comment

Yes, Found It on the Internet Friday is back, baby! Woohoo!

This week, I made a Rapunzel wig for my daughter. A few weeks ago, she told me that they would be having “Dress as Your Favorite Character” day at school, and she really wanted to be Rapunzel but [insert tear-filled big brown eyes and a suitably pitiful expression here] her hair was too short. I’d seen Rapunzel wigs around on the interwubs, and even Pinned a couple with the intention of making one for her someday. Looked like “someday” had arrived.

I obtained yarn (3 balls of Lion Brand Baby’s First — a bulky cotton acrylic blend that’s nice and soft and just the right color yellow along with a single novelty oddball in the same color for a little texture) and studied the tutorials.

The first step was to get the yarn out of the balls and into suitably long strands. To make as per the tutorials (which I didn’t, but more on that later) you want the strands to actually be twice as long as the desired length of the hair, as one half will be on one side of the head and the other half will be on the other side. The easiest way to do this is to wrap the yarn around a tall piece of cardboard like you’re making a giant tassel (note to self: hmmmmm…giant tassel might be an interesting decorative element). I still had the display from Becky’s science fair project, which is about 3′ tall — perfect.

After winding all of the yarn off (important note: you want all of the yarn ends to be at the same end of the cardboard), I used a piece of waste yarn to tie the bundle together loosely at one end (opposite where you ended the balls) and then cut the other end open. Now it was time to sew it onto the base.

Ah, the base. So, the first tutorial I found indicated one would need a wig cap. I did not have time to obtain such a thing. Another tutorial suggested using the cutoff sleeve of an old t-shirt. This I could do. I cut the sleeve off and sewed the end shut, then tried it on Becky’s head, and it fit. Awesome! I took my bundle of “hair” and centered it on the cap, then used my machine to sew right down the middle, front to back (you could totally do this by hand but it would be tedious and I hate hand sewing with a white hot passion anyhow).

I put it on my phrenology head and braided the hair, then tried it on Becky again. No good. Couldn’t get it to stay on her head. I thought maybe I’d started the braid too far up, so I took that out and started it lower (leaving the hair at the top looser so the cap would have room to stretch). Still no good. Maybe the cap isn’t deep enough? Perhaps if we sewed it to a hat we knew fit?

So I was looking for an old winter hat of hers to tack the thing to, and came across the hat from her candycorn costume (how did I not blog this?!?! Clearly that’s going to have to happen.). Perfect! I sat down and sewed the tshirt cap onto the candycorn cap BY HAND, even. Still no good. Can’t get it to stay on her head, even with no braid. Sigh. Epiphany: I shouldn’t craft while sleep deprived, because I sewed the too-tight thing on to the big-enough thing, making the big-enough thing now too-tight. Duh.

As I sat down to rip the whole thing out so I could sew the hair directly onto the candycorn cap, it occurred to me that there was no need to actually unsew the hair…that in fact leaving it attached to a strip of the tshirt material would make it easier to sew back down. So that’s what I did (if I was doing it again and starting from this point instead of screwing up twice on the way, I’d sew it flat to a strip of material then proceed from there). Then as I was getting ready to attach it front to back again, I had another epiphany: What if, instead of front to back, I attached the hair from side to side around the front of the base of the cap? I pinned it to check if it would work and YES! Beautiful! And much easier to sew! (Except I kept not paying attention and getting strands stuck so the machine needle kept breaking and flying into my face. XTreme Crafting at its finest.)

So, I got the hair back on — above the elastic so I’d still have the stretch — and tried it on the Girl Child. It fit. It stayed on even when she walked around a little. YAAAAAYYYY! Got it braided (I did start too high the first time and had to redo it, but that was no big deal) and it still stayed on. Finally, success! My reward? This smile:

Yep. Totally worth it.

The two changes I want to make are: a) because of the way the hair falls you can see the wig cap in some spots. However, this will be a pretty easy fix — I just need to arrange the hair properly then overstitch it at the “hairline” so the strands don’t fall. Silly gravity. And b) because I needed to keep the stitching above the elastic to retain the stretch, there’s a big white band there. It passable as a “headband” but I’d like to put a ribbon over it and pretty it up a little. Both little things and easy to fix — we just didn’t have time before school this morning.

Fighting the Common Cold*

February 4, 2012 § 1 Comment

Pattern: Vitamin C by Ruth Garcia-Alcantud (aka @rockandpurl) Yarn: Lion Brand Wool-Ease Chunky in Pumpkin

Back in November, this totally gorgeous pattern came across my Twitters. Since I was headed up to a friend’s house that very weekend for a stitch’n’bitch, I grabbed the pattern and some yarn and started when I got to the s’n’b. This pattern is definitely going to get made again…it’s got a ton of variety in the stitches, but each row is consistent and simple enough that you can work around while paying minimal attention to the actual stitches you’re making. The combination of variety and simplicity is absolutely perfect for a project to work on while hanging out and chatting with friends, or sitting in waiting rooms, or really, just about anything. Best of all, if you’re a bit distracted like I’ve been for the past few months, you can miss a couple rows and still end up with a great looking final project!

Get your own copy of the pattern here! And while you’re there, check out the rest of Ruth’s patterns and read some of her blogs…as I mentioned on Twitter the other day, she’s totally my knitter-crush.

Becky wanted in on the photoshoot.

*See, this would be really funny if we’d been having a cold winter. 

I Can’t Think of a Clever Title for This Post

January 5, 2012 § Leave a comment

As I mentioned a few days ago (and you already know if you have a calendar/access to the internet/contact with other people), ’tis the season for resolutions (or not), and reflections on the year gone past,  and goal-setting for the coming year and beyond. I had an interesting conversation about this last point the other day. An article came across my interwebs that suggested that if one wanted to be a serious writer, one needed to make that a top priority in one’s life.  Conversation ensued about whether that was realistic for someone who isn’t — and can’t be — a full-time writer.

The conversation isn’t really important — this isn’t a blog about being an author, after all — but as we were having the conversation, I realized that much of what we were talking about pertained to the design career I’m working so hard on launching, and I needed to think about what “prioritizing” that actually meant to me. I have a full-time job (that I actually quite like and don’t want to give up, even if I do become a successful designer), a family that requires quite a bit of my time and attention, and a number of hobbies that I quite enjoy. I don’t believe that I should — or do — have to undermine any of those things to be successful with knitting design. That’s not prioritizing; that’s just unhealthy.

What I do have to do is make sure that I have concrete (small) goals set out every month, every week, every day. For instance, the other day my goal was to establish the stitch patterns and choose the yarn I want to use in a couple of submissions that are done at the end of the month. There’s a ton of other stuff that needs to be done for those submissions: sketches need to be drawn, swatches need to be knit, descriptions need to be written, etc. But that night, the goal was to figure out the stitch patterns and pick the yarn. And I got that done. Meeting that small goal has done a number of things for me: It has moved me forward on the list o’ things to do for those submissions…now I’m ready to start making those swatches. It has given me a feeling of accomplishment — I got something done! And it has put me in a position to feel comfortable enough with where I am on those deadlines that I can take some time and work on other stuff, like writing up a one-off pattern for a friend, and knit a little on my current “relaxing” project: Rock and Purl’s Vitamin C Cowl.


I am truly enjoying working this pattern up. I chose to do it in Lion Brand Wool-Ease Chunky in the Pumpkin colorway, because orange seemed like an appropriate color for this pattern (I considered Tweed Stripes in the Wildfire colorway, but I was afraid the striping would obscure the lovely stitch patterns). There is just enough going on with the stitching to keep me from feeling that “oh dear god how am I not done with this already” feeling that I get with miles of stockinette/seed/ribbing, but not nearly enough that I feel the need to constantly check the pattern. Just a few minutes of working gets me to that very relaxed, zen place that really good knitting can deliver you to. I’m enjoying it enough that I’m going to be a little sad when I’m done with it, I think. For now, though, I’ll just enjoy the moments.

It’s a Real Live Knitted FO! For Serious!

November 17, 2011 § Leave a comment

Looky what I made! Free pattern is Bicycle Wheels from Sew Knit Me, yarn is Wool-Ease Thick & Quick in Charcoal. The pattern is very conversational, maybe a little more than I like, but there were no errors and I absolutely love the tip on merging down your purl stitches on the last row of rib. What a great, finished look that one extra little row gives! I also really like the way it fits after being pulled together in the back…nice and slouchy without that feeling that it’s going to fall off any second. Best part? As slow as I am, this hat only took be about two and half hours of actual knitting time to work up. I feel some Generic Winter Holiday gifts coming on…

Yes, there's also one from the front. Unfortunately, it is an incredibly unflattering picture of me (the hat still looks cute). So you'll have to settle for this one.


And this is what’s on my needles now:

I really wish I knew what this yarn's got a great hand and just look how gorgeous the colors are!

It’s a little scarf-shawl, à la Clapotis…I’m hoping to have it done by the weekend for party-wearing (and also I have another project that I Absolutely Must be working on over the weekend, so it would be nice to have this off the needles). I started it Tuesday night just to play with the yarn (which is, naturally, unlabeled 😦 ) because it is pretty and soft, and like the way it’s turning out so well that I scribbled out the pattern and will publish it as a freebie as soon as I have the project finished.

Going Backwards

October 13, 2011 § Leave a comment

No, wait, that’s not what I meant. So back in the day (and even now lots of times) cardigan patterns are written such that you only have instructions for one front and are told to make the second one the same way, just reversing the shaping. But what the hell does that mean? I explain it all over on the Lion Brand blog.

I was making a what now?

September 26, 2011 § Leave a comment

I’m usually pretty good at learning from past mistakes. One of the few that I just seem doomed to repeat is putting a project aside “just for a bit — certainly not long enough to forget where I am” and picking it up 3 months years later only to discover that I have no freaking clue what is going on with the pattern. If I even still have the pattern. If you’re like me (please tell me I’m not the only one who does this), you might find these nifty tips I wrote about for the Lion Brand Notebook helpful.

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