Sunday, August 17, 2014

New Design! Flash Sale - just $1.00 for one day!

UPDATE: Sorry, the sale is over.
But it's still available at the reasonable price of $5.

The new Molto Bella Shawl- was just released.
It's done in lovely Kinsale from Three Irish Girls Yarn, and uses one ball of each colorway. This yarn was a dream to work with!

Courtesy of Three Irish Girls Yarn
This pretty and wearable L-shaped wrap is easy to knit like a rectangular stole (no shaping or constantly counting your stitches), yet it wraps around your shoulders with extra coverage. The wool blend provides lovely drape for just the extra layer you need when breezes blow or when the air conditioning is on too high.
The shawl is worked in sections, starting with lace on one edge, moving into stripes of different yarns and easy textures such as garter stitch, garter eyelets, and stockinette stitch. Once the lace edging is done, the rest is a relaxing knit.

Try it in your 2 favorite colors; or all one color, for a more subdued look.
15” / 38 cm wide, 80” / 200 cm along outer edge of “L,” 50” / 125 cm along inner edge of “L,” after blocking.

Pattern is both charted and written, and has been professionally tech-edited and test knit.

The test knitters loved the unique shape:
"A pretty L-shaped shawl knitted in 3 sections - no seaming, the joins are made by picking up stitches and kitchener stitch. I particularly like the shape - a move away from triangle and rectangle. It will make a wonderfully warm wrap which I will enjoy wearing in winter."
Note: Pattern was part of the Three Irish Girls Yarn Club in Spring 2014.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

A Review - Knitting Needles

I should say, I have all kinds/brands of needles. I use circulars for everything, but I do have Knit Picks interchangeables, Hiya Hiya, Addi, Chiao Goo, Kollage, and even Signatures. I also have a set of inexpensive needles from China that I ordered on eBay.

Guess what, I like them all, in their own way. 
The interchangeables from Knit Picks are so convenient, but there’s always just the slightest drag where the cable meets the needle, so recently I have been using the fixed circulars when I can.

Recently I was given 3 circular needles from Knitter’s Pride to try out. I had the Karbonz, the Dreamz, and the Nova Cubics. Here are my impressions:

Karbonz – these were my favorites. The tip is quite pointy, the same as the Signature Needles stiletto point, which I like very much. The cable join was nice and smooth, no drag. The cable itself was flexible, not floppy, and seemed sturdy enough without being stiff. I was very impressed with these.
Cubix – these are cubic in the needles, i.e. the cross section of the needles. I have heard that for some people these are more comfortable and can reduce cramps or soreness. I didn’t really experience this, but they were really pleasant to use and had a nice feel to them. The tips were nice and pointy, and the cable was good as well.
Dreamz – are the wood needles. They have a bit more “grab” than the others and would be best for a more slippery yarn. I was testing these needles with a merino yarn, and for this yarn I preferred the Karbonz.   The Dreamz have a good point and the same cable as the others.

All the needles have the size stamped onto them, so there’s no constantly looking for the needle gauge to check your needle sizes. That is a great feature.
Thanks to Knitter’s Pride for supplying the needles for testing.

Monday, July 21, 2014

A Giveaway!


I’m giving away the Under100 Knit Collection – 30 patterns that use 100g of yarn or less. Perfect when you want some instant gratification, or a quick gift, or you have odd balls of yarn to use up!
These are projects that delight, entertain, challenge and ultimately reveal their form in just a single weekend (or afternoon, if you're really on top of your game!).
© Knit Picks

Whether featuring the simple ordered beauty of garter stitch, or the rich complexity of entwining cables, the 30 patterns of Under 100 represent a modern aesthetic that's informed by tradition - yielding results that are timeless, useful and infinitely giftable.
See all the wonderful projects here.

Just sign up for my Newsletter (top right corner of the page), if you're not already on the list, and leave a comment here on the blog by Aug 10, telling me why you’d like this book. Please include either an email address or a Rav ID so I can reach you if you’ve won!
That's it! 
I'll announce the winner here. (If I don't have your email or other contact info, you'll have one week to contact me, then I'll pull another name.)

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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Book Review - New Vintage Lace

I love knitting lace, so I was excited to see this book -- New Vintage Lace - By Andrea Jurgrau, Interweave/F+W; $24.99 

Do you admire doilies and antique lace tablecloths for the exquisite workmanship, but can’t find a place for them in your contemporary life? Yeah, me too.
Well maybe you don’t want lace doilies all over the house, but you can wear lace wraps, shawls and hats.
That’s where Andrea’s book comes in: she has carefully adapted vintage lace patterns to modern, wearable pieces.
The book begins with a useful discussion of the different weights and fibers of yarns and how to use them; types of beads; and blocking tips. There’s also a great discussion of swatching; in addition to checking gauge, swatches are indispensable for seeing how well the yarn works with the lace pattern. Watch the lace pattern practically disappear when a variegated yarn is knitted up! This is a lesson that I had to learn the hard way.
The 22 projects are arranged in categories of one-skein projects, small shawls, triangles and squares, and larger projects. Here are some highlights:
There are some doilies that are turned into Beanies like the Clematis Doily and Beanie

The Cherry Blossom Stole is very pretty, with allover mesh and lacy borders : 
Copyright Joe Hancock and F+W Publishing

Kodama Shawlette is a lovely semi circle lacy gem. 
I really appreciated having schematics so that you don’t have to guess at the finished shape of the shawl.
Coeur d’Amour is another pretty one.

Blue Dahlia has a sort of V shape, almost like 3/4 of a circle. 
Copyright Joe Hancock and F+W Publishing
Ghost Orchid is another stunning piece. I think it would be perfect as a wedding  shawl.  

The book concludes with a Design your Own Shawl section, with lots of useful info, and Sources for the various tools and yarns used in the book.


I really enjoyed the book and Andrea’s careful, methodical approach. I have no doubt that I’ll be knitting from this book soon.

Note: Charts only are provided for the lace.

Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this book.

By Andrea Jurgrau
Interweave/F+W; $24.99

Friday, June 20, 2014

More Tips: The Hanging Swatch, Design News, and Stuff.

Today's Tip

Swatching: Hanging Gauge

You’ve all heard about the importance of doing gauge swatches, to make sure your gauge matches what the pattern calls for, and additionally, to see that you’re happy with the drape and overall look of the piece.
Now, wool and acrylic yarns have lots of bounce and springiness. But other yarns like cotton, bamboo and silk, don’t have that bounce. 
As we might be using these fibers for summer knitting, it’s important to understand that your finished garment might stretch and droop as you wear it. I’ve heard stories of a summer top becoming a summer dress by the end of the day, with armholes drooping down to the waist. Not attractive! 

A solution to this problem is to not only wash and dry your swatch, but also to allow it to hang vertically with additional weight suspended from it, just as if it were hanging from your body. Let gravity do its thing! 
You'll have a more accurate prediction of how the fabric will behave with normal use.
This is how I did it, for a cotton/bamboo blend yarn I’m currently working with.

Hanging the swatch from a hanger with clips.

I added binder clips for additional weight.   

You could add earrings for weight, if you have those hanging around – ha ha, pun intended.
Keep in mind that the top part of the sweater will stretch more than the bottom part – there’s more weight to pull it down. So rather than the hem just extending down further, the result could be that the pretty scoop neck becomes a plunging neckline. Ouch.

I left it there for a day, and re-measured the resulting gauge and, sure enough, there was a change of about 10%.  This info will be really useful when I decide how to shape the neckline and how long to make the top; I’ll be able to take the stretching into account and get a better fitting garment. 


On to my designs:
I’ve been really enjoying the design work I’ve been doing for the Three Irish Girls yarn clubs -- both because they are nice people, and, they produce gorgeous yarns in rich complex colorways. For a period of time the designs are exclusive to 3IG club members, so I can’t show them to you yet, but they will eventually be published for sale on Ravelry.  They include a poncho, a hat and mitten set, and a shawl. 

My current project is a summer top in a luscious lemon-lime. Isn't it beautiful? The ladies at my weekly knitting group loved this color.

This is the cotton-bamboo yarn for which I did the hanging swatch I talked about earlier.

I’ve also recently been published in the book called Knit Noro 1-2-3 Skeins published by Sixth&Spring Books. Photography by Rose Callahan and text copyright © 2014 by Sixth&Spring Books. Used by permission. 
It’s a great collection of garments and accessories that use either 1, 2 or 3 skeins of Noro yarn, taking full advantage of the unique long-repeat colorways that Noro is famous for. 
Photography by Rose Callahan,© 2014 by Sixth&Spring Books. Used by permission.

My design is the Intarsia Cowl.
This cowl is comprised of 2 rectangles, each bisected into two triangles that use 2 different colorways. It uses intarsia to create the design. A ribbed edge provides a neat finish. This would be a great first intarsia project since there is only one color change to worry about.

Check out this book, it's fabulous!

I will see you next time with a book review.