Saturday, October 26, 2013

Another Craftsy Giveaway!

Do you like my new designs? I love them all, but I'm particularly proud of the shawl.

If you do decide to make the lace shawl, you would need to block it.

Like this:

(This is the Rickenbacker, in Waterloo Wools' Huron Fingering, in the Highlighter colorway.)

And if you're not sure about blocking, I can help you with that! I have a class!

My Craftsy class launched just a few weeks ago, and the response has been most excellent.

As a way of saying thank you, Craftsy and I are offering another free class giveaway. Enter here.
Sign up for Craftsy, or use your existing account to enter the contest. One entry per person. (If you're having rouble seeing the giveaway page, using Firefox should help.)  Contest ends midnight EST Monday November 4th.

Remember, Craftsy classes make great gifts, too... As a special offer, since you might want to know how to block these new projects, here's a link for a 50% discount valid until midnight EST Monday the 4th, also.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Announcing: The Rock & Roll Collection

It's a well-known fact that I wear a lot of black. It's a holdover from my 'punk rock girl' phase. In my defense, it also makes it easy to get dressed in the morning - no decisions! everything matches! coffee stains don't show!

It's also a well-known fact that I like knitting in black. It's boring to look at, very difficult to photograph, and my optometrist doesn't like me doing it, but I love the results.

It's also pretty well known that I'm a big fan of the yarns of indigodragonfly. And she has a series of shaded black colorways, her "High Fidelity" series, named after quotes from a most excellent music movie.

It seemed like fate, really.

I'm thrilled to announce my The Rock 'n' Roll collection (feat. indigodragonfly)! Kim and I are launching it this weekend, at KnitCity in Vancouver: .

Rickenbacker, a slightly off-center triangle shawl worked in a single skein of fingering weight yarn:

Hofner lace socks:

Gibson cabled fingerless mitts in fingering weight:

And the Fender hat, in worsted weight:

Each of these is designed specifically to be simple and fun to knit in dark colors, and each is slightly off-kilter in some way: the socks and mitts have lefts and rights with mirrored patterning The shawl is mildly asymmetrical, and the hat... oh, the hat... it looks like an innocent ribbed watchcap, but it holds a secret: the ribbing is an irregular repeat. Some k1s, some k2s, some k3s, some p1, some p2s, some p3s, maybe even a p4.

You could knit them in colors, and they'd be fun and not-too-challenging projects. But if you've always wanted to knit rock and roll style, this could be your answer.

As is my way, the hats, mitts and socks come in multiple sizes, and the sock and mitts patterns are written to be worked on any method: DPNs, magic loop or two circulars.

You can buy the entire collection for $12, on Ravelry or Patternfish, or the individual patterns for $5 each - Ravelry links: shawl, socks, mitts and hat; Patternfish links: shawl, socks, mitts and hat. (Print copies of the patterns are available for $7 each or $15 for the collection at KnitCity, and look for them at a couple of key stores in the near future.)

Major kudos and thanks to the artists that helped make this idea happen: Kim for her yarns, Lauren Ogilvie for her photography, and Zabet Stewart for the graphic design. They got what I wanted and ran with it.   And then thanks to Ruth Garcia-Alcantud, who kept me on the straight and narrow, technically.

I'm honoured to work with such a great team.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Because lace looks fantastic in black. And a black lace shawl goes with everything.

But easy enough to knit so that you won't lose your mind. I promise.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Because sometimes it's too cold for fishnet stockings

 Who says you can't be a little sexy while protecting yourself from frostbite?

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

I Don't Know About the Men in Your Life, but the Men in My Life Don't Like Their Handknits to be "Fancy"

See. Not fancy at all. Nothing to see here. Just a ribbed watchcap in a nice unassuming shade of brown...

Or is it?....

Monday, October 21, 2013

Saturday, October 19, 2013

A Conversation with Lauren, a Photographer

"So, you're telling me that you need me to photograph a collection of items entirely in black?"


Friday, October 18, 2013

A Conversation with Yarn-dyer Kim

"Hey Kim... you have a range of shaded black yarns, yeah?"

"Yeah... why... ?"

"I have an idea."

"Does your optometrist approve?"

"Probably not."

"Will that stop you?"


"Ok. Let me know how many skeins you want."

To be continued...

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

New (Old) Sock Pattern: the Gansey Sock

This is a sock I designed years ago (in the spring of 2009,) for a now-defunct magazine. I've always loved it, and it's time to bring it back to life.

Traditional gansey pattern stitches make for an attractive, interesting to knit, but not too challenging sock pattern. Suitable for both men and women, in finished sizes Adult XS to XL (foot circumference 7 to 8.5 inches).

I do love the traditional patterning of a gansey, but I'm not always looking for a full sweater project.

This sock design takes a number of key gansey design elements. The patterning is often confined to the yoke area: to conserve yarn, to improve the fit, to make it a bit warmer, and to make future patching as simple as possible. Plain fabric uses less yarn than patterned areas, of course. The patterning improves the fit of the sweater in the yoke area by tightening up the fabric and making it a bit denser , warmer and harder-wearing. And future patching in key areas of wear - the lower parts of the body and the sleeves - is easy because they're worked plain which makes them easy to darn or reknit. And since these sweaters are designed to last, you can also make alterations - lengthening the sleeves for another wearer, for example, by unravelling and just knitting a bit further. And so with the sock, I've left plain the areas that are likely to wear out - the toe and lower part of heel. I have left the patterning on the back of the heel so that it will wear a bit better; pattern stitches are as good as heel stitch in this context. And I've the pattern stitches on the leg keep it nice and snug so it stays up.

I've used a classic regional combination of patterns - a typical Filey cables-and-steps combo. The designs were often very regional, handed down from knitter to knitter verbally, and didn't travel very far, so I stuck with a single region's patterning. I liked the "steps" pattern, since socks are for walking, after all. The reverse stocking stitch ridges are traditionally used to provide some definition to the patterning - I've used them here also as a convenient place to fudge the stitch numbers so that I was able to have my (k2, p2) ribbing with seam work out nicely, independent of the number of stitches required for the patterned area.

Although they're worked in the round, Ganseys often have faux-seams in seed or reverse stocking stitch, which flow up into the classic underarm gusset. The underarm gusset is there to improve the fit of what should otherwise be a fairly snug sweater - as with the gusset of a band-heel, top down sock. I replicated a seam which runs down both sides of the sock and splits - just as with an underarm gusset - to run down the side of the heel and the foot, all the way to the toe.

Pattern is written for DPNs, Magic Loop or 2 circulars. Available on Ravelry and Patternfish. (Note: Patternfish link might not yet be active.)

Thanks again to camera-whiz Claude La Rue who shows up my lame photography skills in the best way possible.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Thanksgiving, With Sock

I have very good friends, who don't mind if I knit when I'm at their house for a Thanksgiving dinner.

And then don't even mind when I put my feet on their coffee table...

And an evening's worth of a knitting results in a sock ready for toe decreases.

(We were stopped at a red light when I took this photo; I can't imagine it's safe to do this in a moving car.)

The yarn is Paton's Kroy, col 55614, "Burnished Sierra Stripes". I LOVE THIS YARN. Love how it feels, love how it knits up, love how it wears, and this particular colourway is fantastic. Don't let the fact that it's sold in "chain stores" put you off.

When I say I love how it feels, don't get me wrong: this isn't about softness. It's not luxury-yarn soft, no. It's got a good woolly but not scratchy feel to it, and good density, so it gives great stitch definition. (There's a separate longer discussion here, but softness in sock yarn can often mean fragility.) Think Cascade 220, that sort of feel. This yarn is incredibly hardwearing. If you've not tried it, I recommend it. Although ignore the needle size recommendation on the ball band - go with your usual 2.25/2.5/2.75mm.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Math: it really works!

I've been working away on the Highlighter shawl (between commissioned design projects, because a girl's got to make a living)...

I knew I was getting to close to the end last night, and about 9pm, I hit a crossroads.

The way the shawl pattern works is that you have to finish the patterned section on Row 1 of a 10-row pattern. And then there's 6 rows of edging and a bind-off.

I was at Row 1, and there was about 15gms (my digital scale was flickering between 14 and 15) of yarn left. I had to whether I had enough for an additional 10 pattern rows and 6 edging rows plus bind-off, or whether I should just forge ahead with the edging.

So I did what any mathematically inclined knitter would do: I open up a spreadsheet application on my laptop and did some calculations.

I knew the skein was 115gms. I had 15 left, so I'd used 100gm. And I knew how many stitches I'd worked with that 85gms....

The shawl starts with 1 stitch, and increases 1 st every other row. And at that point I had 139 sts.

So I calculated that I had worked 19,321 sts. Yes, really.

Here's how that goes:
I cast on 1 st, and worked 1 row on that 1 st. So that's 2 sts, worked over 2 rows.
I increased to 2 sts, and then worked back over those 2 sts. So that's 4 more, for a total of 6, worked over 4 rows.
I increased to 3 sts, and then worked back over those 3 sts. So that's 6 more, for a total of 10, worked over 6 rows.
I increased to 4 sts, and then worked back over those 4 sts. So that's 8 more, for a total of 18, worked over 8 rows.

You see the pattern?

I had 139 sts, and I'd just finished a right side row. So I'd worked 2 rows at 1 st, 2 rows at 2 sts, 2 rows at 3 sts, 2 rows at 4 sts, .... 2 rows at 138 sts, and then just one row at 139 sts (hadn't yet worked the WS row back). Which is 2 x (1 +2 + 3  + 4 + 5.... 138) + 139.

And that's 19, 321. At 100gms of yarn, that's 193 sts per gm. And I've got 14 or 15gms left, so best case, that's 15 x 193 sts = 2898 sts worth of yarn left, worst case that's 2705 sts.

To work the additional repeat and the edging, I'd need to be able to work
139 + 2 x 140 + 2 x 141 + 2 x 142 + 2 x 143 + 2 x 144 + 145 for the pattern repeat (since the pattern ends after a RS row), and then 6 rows at 144 sts for the 6 edging rows (there are no increases in the edging), and then the bind off.  That's 2279 sts for the pattern repeat and edging rows. And then because I need to work a loose BO, let's assume that I need about one and a half times the usual row's worth of yarn for the BO, so that's another 216 sts worth of yarn.

So in total, I needed 2,495 sts worth of yarn. Even with a little bit of rounding error, I figured I could just make it.

I'm a brave? foolhardy? trusting type, so I forged ahead. I weighted the yarn as I went, to track usage, and knitted gamely on.

And then I was done.

Indeed, I just made it. It's closer than I would have liked, but I got there.

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Craftsy Class Winner

There were 40 entries, and I went to to generate a random number between 1 and 40, and was given 34.

The 34th commenter was "cheekyredhead".  Thanks everyone for entering! I will be in touch.

As a consolation prize, if you haven't already signed up, here's an offer for 50% off the list price of the class. It's time-limited, expires Wednesday the 9th at midnight.  

Friday, October 04, 2013

WIPs: mine, and others'

My so-bright-you-need-shades shawl is coming along brilliantly. Pun intended.

Details on this pattern coming shortly. Patience, my lovelies.

Friday mornings, I teach a regular Project Class at The Purple Purl, in Toronto. It's a group session, where everybody gets to work on a project they find challenging, and I help out. It's fun for me, as I get to vicariously knit a lot of very cool things.

This morning, I was working away on the Highlighter Shawl of Eyeblindingness. I looked around the table, and noticed that two of my students were working away on projects from my books.

Lovely Lady P. is making my double-layer mittens in this most excellent tweedy orange, and she's going to work the lining in a lovely weight laceweight.

And The Divine Ms. M. is making my slouchy hat.

Now, it should be said that they're both great knitters, and wonderful people, and they both listen to my knitting advice. So if I had told them to work these patterns, they would have done.

But I didn't. I hadn't told them to, they'd just picked them because they wanted to make them. That's the biggest compliment in the world.