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April 28, 2010

Anne II .:. The White Version

Newest Anne Scarf
Details are the same as the previous Anne, except for yarn choice
[View Ravelry public page]

Kim, of Chronic Ennui, crocheted a lovely cream-colored wool version of this scarf, so I was compelled upon seeing hers to go forward with my plans to crochet a 100% cotton Anne for myself. I'm so glad I did - I love this one even more than my first Anne and can wear this comfortably all summer.

Initially, I started mine with a 5.00 mm hook. I wasn't getting the result I wanted -- which was a really dense and stiff motif -- so I switched to a 4.00 mm hook. Although it turned out exactly how I had envisioned it, my left arm's a bit sore today.

The yarn is Blue Sky Alpacas Cotton - this particular one isn't one of the dyed cottons, however, so it's 100% organic. There's some shedding, but not a substantial amount. It's actually very soft -- and that makes up for any difficulties I had with it. One skein yielded about 54". While it's not as long as other scarves I own, by the time I crocheted the last motif, I was ready to be done anyway. In that respect, it's just the right length.

When I was reading Kim's Ravelry page for her scarf, I noticed that she used a free pattern. The patterns we each used are very similar, but the MK Caroll version I purchased has excellent diagrams in the format I like the best -- the diagram is next to the written instructions. That way, if I don't understand the written instructions, I can refer to the diagram to check myself:

Anne_Chart_CAN-US-2.pdf (page 1 of 4)
Uploaded with plasq's Skitch!

If you're inspired to make one of your own, consider this a nudge -- it's easier than it looks!

One Great Knitter : knitcroblo3

Knitting & Crochet Blog Week

Today's topic is "One Great Knitter" - Write about a knitter whose work (whether because of project choice, photography, styling, scale of projects, stash, etc) you enjoy.

It's so difficult to restrict myself to just one knitter whose work I admire and enjoy! There are SO many -- and I've blogged about a lot of them in the past. But one knitter (and crocheter) stands out as continually inspiring and surprising - Kat Coyle. From her About page on her blog:

Sometimes, I think that daydreaming is my real passion and art making is just there to keep my hands busy. As a daydreamer, intuition leads and I follow.

I first became aware of Kat when my sister gifted me with Greetings from Knit Cafe. There were a few of Kat's patterns in the book that seemed to demonstrate that she was bringing an artist's sensibilities to her knitting.

One of her latest designs: Courting Sophia. While I love it and think it's amazing, look at Kat's newest version, Courting Sophia with Colorwork:

Photos are copyrighted by Kat Coyle and are used with her permission

Her recent blog entry has all the details regarding her design process for this shawl.

One of the things that intrigues me is her ability to match a yarn with a lace pattern that just seems perfect for it. The Gossamer Stars scarf/shawl (Interweave 2008) is another one that I love:


Kat often shares photos of her sketches and paintings and Library Skirt is delightful:


It leaves me wondering whether she'll create a knitting pattern inspired by it.

Finally, Kat's color palette seems rich and bright; she gathers inspiration from so many aspects of her life. I hope you check out her designs on Ravelry and read her blog -- I think you'll be enriched by it.



April 27, 2010

Inspirational : knitcroblo2

Knitting & Crochet Blog Week

Today's topic for Knitting and Crochet Blog Week is "An Inspirational Pattern" -- something we aspire to knit or a pattern that inspires us. For me - this is easy to answer. I'm completely inspired by Christel Seyfarth of Denmark, specifically her Shawl Kits. I absolutely love the Masai shawl. Her designs are unique; although I don't necessarily see myself wearing any of them, I would certainly display them.

I've never done any color work or Fair Isle knitting, so that's a serious knowledge and skill gap that I'd have to overcome before I could attempt such an ambitious project.

Other inspirational designers are Vivian Hoxbro and Hanne Falkenberg. Their designs are probably more in the realm of possibility for my abilities, but their kits would still be an investment and a commitment. Because most of the designs are in kit form, I'd have no alternate use for the yarns, so I'd have to make sure I was up to it before buying one. In looking up some of the other designs that I find inspiring, it's interesting that a lot of them are Scandinavians.

I'll probably think about many other designers and patterns after I press "publish" -- and I can't wait to see what my fellow knitters and crocheters find inspirational. Even if you're not participating in the Knitting & Crochet Blog Week, let me know in the comments what your most inspirational project would be.


April 26, 2010

How I Started Knitting : knitcroblo1

Knitting & Crochet Blog Week

It's been a while since I've shared how I started knitting, so Knitting & Crochet Blog Week is a perfect reason to do so.

In mid-December 2003, I was trying to decide what to get my mother for Christmas. Since her birthday is in early December, and she's notoriously difficult to buy for, I was stumped. She always tells me she doesn't want/need anything, but this time, she mentioned that she would like some dishcloths -- the kind my sister Jayne used to buy for her at craft fairs. Rather than trying to look for them in my new hometown, I decided to try to knit them for her myself. I'd been exposed to knitting when I was in Girl Scouts in elementary school, but other than that, had not picked up knitting needles in over thirty years. So, on that mid-December morning, as I was chatting online with a friend, I mentioned my desire to knit something for my mom. She immediately dispatched several links to videos, websites and books. Shortly after that, I left for Walmart to buy some Boye knitting needles and kitchen cotton.

If you thought I didn't take a photo of my knitting that day, you'd be wrong:

FIRST knitting - December 2003

I was in a groove and completely obsessed. At the time, I didn't have the basic dishcloth pattern that I would eventually use as my go-to pattern, so I just knit "square-ish" cloths. After I sent them to my mom (she loved them and used them -- I found them years later when we were clearing out her kitchen for her move to Washington), I looked online for some local knitting groups and when I didn't find one, I started one. We met at a nearby Starbucks and thanks to the listing of our group online, several experienced and proficient knitters showed up -- their amazing projects in hand. One particular knitter brought something new each week -- a Booga bag, multidirectional scarf, socks (!!), gorgeous lace shawls. I've blogged about Mariann before; she inspired me to move beyond dishcloths. If not for her, that's where my knitting career would have ended. She was adamant that I learn how to purl and convinced me that every knitted object I fell in love with was simply a combination of knit and purl stitches; so naturally, I started buying more yarn, better tools and some basic knitting books -- all purchased online. One evening, she brought a flyer for a new shop that was opening in February, 2004. Since I was ordering my yarn online, I doubted I would ever need to go to a yarn shop (HA!), but made a mental note of it anyway. Before the year was over, I was working there, as were Mariann and Alisa, both members of that first knitting group (and much more experienced knitters than I).

Scarf for Mariann
The scarf I knit for Mariann in 2004, in appreciation for her putting up with me

I credit working there for my growth as a knitter. There are so many things I wouldn't have attempted if I hadn't seen my friends and fellow knitters doing them first. With rare exception, I am still that way in my knitting habits -- I'm not apt to experiment. There are group projects we've worked on over the years to celebrate milestones in our respective families and I've learned something with each one of those big projects.

When Ravelry came along in 2007, I finally had a place to organize all my projects along with all the photos I'd taken of my knitting. Between Flickr and Ravelry, I now have complete documentation of my knitting career.

I hope you join along in Knitting and Crochet Blog Week! I'd love to hear about your beginnings too.


Thank you for your suggestions

Thank you for your suggestions and feedback about my blog sidebar! I agreed with most of the criticisms and am in the process of making a few changes -- see? ---->

I really appreciate your taking the time to give me your thoughts. I've been fighting a lot of comment spam the last several months and it's interfered with my ability to read and reply to legitimate comments. So I'm hoping to eventually deal with that too. Some of the suggestions you shared were for features that are typically found on Blogspot blogs. Unfortunately, I'm not sure how to add some of those cool widgets to a Movable Type blog. When things calm down, there might be more substantial changes - perhaps even a new blogging platform.

This past week, I spent some time finishing up a couple of knitting and crochet projects that haven't made it into Ravelry -- a hat for charity along with a few crocheted tawashi. I also spent some time cleaning up my queue and attempted to match stash yarn with queued projects. The truth of the matter? I fear that I have far more queued items than time to knit and crochet them. I'll try anyway.

This week's flowers
This week's fresh flowers are from the supermarket;
since a few were needed for Administrative Professionals Day, I kept some for myself

April 20, 2010

Knit Picks Giveaway Winner

We have a winner! Commenter Carol is the winner of the Knit Picks Shadow lace weight yarn. Congratulations, Carol!

Stay tuned for next week's Malabrigo lace giveaway in a coveted colorway.

RANDOM.ORG - True Random Number Service
Microsoft Word

April 16, 2010

Yarn & Pattern Giveaway :: Knit Picks Shadow Lace

It's been a while since I've had a giveaway, and I have a few in the works!

When I was asked to submit a pattern to Knit Picks for their Independent Designer Program, I had the opportunity to work with their Shadow Lace for the first time and I enjoyed it so much that I had to restrain myself from immediately placing an order for every color. I did, however, order two skeins of Vineyard Heather - a gorgeous deep purple heather:

Knit Picks Shadow Lace

Of those two skeins, I reserved one to give away here, along with my pattern for the Leaf Lace Scarf II, to one lucky blog reader. All you have to do is check out my updated blog sidebar and leave a comment on this entry telling me what you like or don't like about it. The changes are subtle -- just a few minor tweaks and the addition of my patterns for sale. Comments will be closed on Monday and I'll notify the winner on Tuesday morning.

Good luck! I'll have another giveaway next week . . . hint: it involves Malabrigo.

April 13, 2010

Anne .:. A little crochet in my day

Occasionally, there are those days when, if you're really tense and anxious, picking up knitting needles might not be a good idea. But crochet? That's altogether a different thing . . . you can channel that nervous energy into a quick little something to make you feel happy and accomplished, and ultimately, a bit more relaxed. And happy. Did I mention happy?

Janet's "Anne"
[View Ravelry public page]

From start to finish, this scarf took less than 3 hours. Included in that time were some false starts while I figured out the pattern. Crochet is fast, y'all! And with the exception of reading and eating, I'm not fast at much.

Janet's "Anne"

This is an awesome pattern - it looks quite intricate, but it's actually a lot of "chain x then turn" and while it's possible I did these motifs incorrectly, at least I was consistent. The next photo shows the actual color of the yarn -- more of a teal blue than it appears in the first two photos:

Janet's "Anne"

I now want to crochet one in ALL my favorite colors -- and perhaps a few of your favorite colors too!

PS Go check out Chica's blog entry with the cherry blossom photos. AWESOME!

April 07, 2010

Lovey Dovey Top

Lovey Dovey Top .:. Spud & Chlöe

I really didn't have a reason to knit this little baby top (and let me tell you -- my knitting so many baby things has raised a few eyebrows around here lately)! There are no impending births in my family that I know of, but I've been wanting to knit this little top since the pattern and yarn arrived at Twisted Yarns. I had what I hoped was enough leftover yarn from my Summer Cardi, so all I had to buy was one skein of the "Grass" colorway. Not only did I still not use all my leftover "Ice Cream" colorway, I still have some of the "Grass" left now too (not a lot - but enough for a little softie I have in mind).

This knit was so fun! Obviously, there was no pressure to start or finish it, but I finished it quickly anyway. I started it late Saturday during a movie and finished it last night. One of the best features of the top is the turned hem:

Lovey Dovey Top .:. Spud & Chlöe

I've only done a hem like this once -- on a swatch, and not a finished garment -- so it was great to learn it on something small so I'll feel comfortable when I incorporate a turned hem into a bigger project. Here's what it looks like on the wrong side (inside) of the top:

Lovey Dovey Top .:. Spud & Chlöe

I enjoy this yarn so much - especially knitting in the round with it. It's comparable in weight to Blue Sky Alpacas Dyed Cotton but it has a smoother appearance and doesn't shed as much while you knit with it. I can't wait to try it in some crochet projects too.

I'll leave you with a thought for today from my daughter: "Have high hopes and low expectations."

More finished knits coming soon!

April 02, 2010

Lucy Bag :: Felted

Lucy Bag
Pattern: Lucy, Two Old Bags

This has long been one of the most popular felted bag patterns at the shop and although several friends of mine had knit them over the years, I wasn't especially inspired until this Cascade 220 color came in to the shop:

Cascade 220 Birch Heather
Cascade 220, Birch Heather

I love this golden color with bits of red in it. I've since seen it knit here and here and it's confirmed my hopeless attraction to all the Cascade 220 Heathers. I wasn't sure that I could (or would) wear a garment in this color, but knitting a bag was a great opportunity to experience it.

Thank you all so much for the comments you've left on my previous entries about my new scarf patterns, the sheep afghan we knit for Shelley, my sister's new blog, and the entry about my lost uncle. You all are very kind and generous and I appreciate your sticking with me while I went through a bit of a lull in posting blog entries. Lots of stuff was going on behind the scenes -- some knitting-related, some not -- and it's kept me away more than I'd like. But I love blogging and sharing with you and I'm looking forward to revealing a lot of fun projects in the days and weeks ahead.

What's been up with you? What are you knitting? What are you reading?