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First post of 2017!

So, um, I’ve been a bit bad about keeping this blog up-to-date. Oops. I didn’t mean to abandon it, but this fall was crazy-busy with knitting work, and that meant something had to give. Apparently, it was this.

But, new year, new intentions, right? And, now that I’m finally over the horrible cold I caught at Christmas, I’m back at work, making making making!

So, what’s in store for 2017?

Heritage and rare breed yarns! I attended the Cowichan Fleece and Fibre Fair back in October, and came home with some Shetland handspun, some GORGEOUS Cotswold DK weight yarn and some Cotswold/bamboo fingering from Pender Island Farm, and sent away a Romney lamb fleece from Horizon Heritage Farm for custom spinning. Plus, I got my hands on some amazing Border Leicester yarn from the Doulton Flock. Getting my hands on these wonderful heritage breed yarns has lit a real fire, and so I’m planning to do some posts about knitting with these yarns. Merino is lovely – it’s hard to beat its softness, but it just isn’t that hard wearing. It’s wonderful for items intended for delicate wear, but the moment it encounters friction (like what you’d get when a sleeve rubs against a body, or in an arm pit gusset), it pills. I’m already quite in love with Blue Face Leicester yarn, so it feels natural to extend that love to other heritage breeds. Plus, it’s important to support farmers who work so hard to preserve heritage breeds and farming diversity. I’d love to do what I can to help.

So, I’ve been swatching away, and plan to post about the properties of these great yarns so that knitters can feel informed about other less common sheep breeds. I’m very excited about this – I hope you are, too!

Dyeing! At the moment, I’ve got a set of Ciba acid dyes and Maiwa’s natural dyeing kit sitting in my laundry room, waiting for me. I’ve yet to summon the courage to try them, but today may be the day. I’ve been so lucky to work with some amazing indie dyers – Laura at Crooked Kitchen Yarns, for example – but since I can source some heritage breed yarns locally, it makes sense to learn to dye them myself. However, since those yarns aren’t superwash, I won’t be starting with them. Instead, I’ve got some good ol’ merino/nylon sock yarn to dabble with – I’m not likely to use it for anything, so it’s a good one to play with and, hopefully, not ruin.

Sweaters! I’ve gotten the hang of designing shawls and hats, and I’ve bee working on mittens, so it’s time to start with the garments that are in my head. This is a scary thing, too. A shawl doesn’t need to fit in the same way a sweater does – a shawl is seldom too long. Nor is it likely to have a gaping neckline, misshapened sleeves, or too-tight armscythes. It doesn’t have to fit a particular bust size, or shoulders, or waists, or hips. A sweater does. Or, at least, it would be nice if it did! I know a lot of people who don’t wear sweaters because they don’t fit, and I’d like to offer sweater patterns that can be customized to allow for the fact that we’re all different shapes. That may be a long term dream, though – I’ve still got a lot to learn. But, I’ve got to start somewhere, so I’ve got a little open-style cardigan in the works, which should be a quick knit. Plus, because it’s designed to be worn open, I shouldn’t have to work about bust shaping too much. Today is cast-on day for it – fingers crossed!

Assorted and sundry – I’ve still got to figure out what to do about this website. WordPress has worked for the last while, but I admit, it isn’t particularly professional. Plus, I’m going to need a proper logo, both for my designs and for, potentially, yarn sales. Trying to get all of this done has been a challenge, because I’m learning as I go. Though I ran my own music studio for years, that didn’t require quite as much business-related stuff as what I’m now doing. I already know that I’m probably going to need a virtual assistant soonish. How soonish will depend on when I’ve got funds that are steady enough to pay someone. Until then, I will continue to struggle with organization – that’s never been my strong suit, but I’m working on it!

Now, while I was on my bloggin hiatus, new designs happened! To see all of them, because there’s quite a few, pop on over to the knitting patterns section. But, here’s a couple to entice you!

The Tundra Toque, which just came out today…

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The Fires of Beltaine shawl, one of my favourite designs…

 

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And, the Verdigris cowl…

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And, with that, it’s back to the needles for me!

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New Releases, and my first KAL!

So, today is release day for my newest shawl pattern, the Harvest of Lughnasadh, and to celebrate, I’m hosting my first KAL!

 

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What is a KAL, you ask? Well! KAL stands for “knit-along”! I’m hosting the KAL in my Ravelry group, and participants will be sharing photos of their yarn choices, their progress, and will be eligible for prizes! Laura from Crooked Kitchen Yarn (who dyes absolutely gorgeous yarn!) will be joining in the fun, and three hanks of her yarn will be among the prizes, as well as free patterns from my pattern store. For more details and for sign-up information, follow the link!

I also released Sea Glass a few weeks ago, and for a limited time, the pattern is free! This is a great chance to test out one of my patterns without any risk (other than your time and yarn, of course). This shawl knits up quickly, and is great for that skein of crazily coloured yarn that’s been lurking in the stash.

 

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As well, I was at Knit City in Vancouver this past weekend, which was both overwhelming and fun! I took part in a photography workshop run by Ysolda Teague (!) and purchased WAY too much yarn. Plus, I got to meet the yarnies behind some of my favourite yarn – Caroline from Ancient Arts, Sarah of Bumblebirch Yarns, and Melissa of Sweet Fiber Yarns. Very cool, and very fun!

 

 

 

knitting patterns, release day

New designs!

Again, apologies for the crickets around these pages. Truly, I’ve been cooking up new designs, which requires me to sit by myself with the computer off, knitting away. This is a happy thing for me, but it does mean I’m doing a rotten job of keeping the blog and the website up-to-date. But, here I am, rectifying that, and I’m going to try to schedule myself blog time so that my posts here are a bit more regular.

Anyhow! New designs!

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Salish Sea just came out on Friday (note to self: never release a new pattern on a long weekend again..). It’s designed to showcase gradient yarns (isn’t that yarn in the sample stunning? It’s Hilori’s Magical Yarnorium’s QBasic in the Brand Winter Fair colourway..)

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And, the Flowers of Ostara, the first design in my Wheel of the Year series, came out a couple of weeks ago, but I forgot to post about it. It’s an easy-peasy design with no purling in sight! And, it plays so nicely with variegated yarns. The sample yarn is Lichen and Lace’s 1 ply fingering in both the Wild Flower and Amethyst colourways (the small version is in Wild Flowers, the medium is in Amethyst, and the large uses both).

Currently, I’ve got hats and cowls and mitts in the works, as well as the two final shawls of the Moon series (they’re in testing). Autumn is knitting season, and my hands are busy! How about yours? Feel free to tell me what’s on your needles!

knitting patterns, techniques

Blocking an Asymmetrical Shawl

So! I’ve got a few asymmetrical shawl designs in the works, and something that several of my testers have asked is how to block these shawls. I haven’t seen any step-by-step how-to’s out there, so I decided I’d make my own. Please bear in mind that this is what works for me – your mileage may vary! But, hopefully my process will give other knitters an idea of how to get a nicely shaped finished object.

Step 1: Soak your item! I didn’t take a photo of this step, because, well, how exciting is a lumpy knitted thingy sitting in a sink of water? But, I usually soak my to-be-blocked items for about 30 minutes. But, here’s a nifty trick I picked up somewhere – after washing your item (with a cleanser that’s appropriate for the fibre), I’ll add a little dollop of hair conditioner to the soaking water. This works especially well for wool that’s not particularly soft, and it makes everything smell nice, too!

Step 2: After I’ve squished some (but not all) of the water out of my item (don’t wring it, whatever you do!), I place it on my blocking mat. Then, I weave wires into the straight edges. This shawl has a picot edging along the cast-on edge, so I’ve woven the wire about three rows in from the cast-on so that the picots are nice and loose. It’s possible to weave the wire through the picots, but that will give the picots a triangular shape, which I don’t really like (YMMV, of course).

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The wires are partially in…..

 

Step 3: I secure the ends of the wires at the tip of the V (the base of the shawl).

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Step 4: Then, I stretch out the straight edges and pin them into place.

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Pre-stretched…

 

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Step 5: Next, I weave a curved wire through the center portion of the curved edge.

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Step 6: Then, I pull the curved wire away from the v to open up the body of the shawl.

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Step 7: Then, wires go into the ends of the curved edge, and the curve is pinned into place.

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Step 8: The last step? Adjust the angle of the v. I often repin the straight edges at this point, as they sometimes get a little bunched up due to all the pulling and pinning of the curved edge.

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That’s it! The shawl’s currently drying, so I can’t post a finished photo just yet, but I will once it’s off the wires and mat!

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New Pattern Releases: Grain Moon and Sprouting Grass Moon

Two new patterns have gone live the last while – introducing Grain Moon.

 

 

 

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….and Sprouting Grass Moon!

 

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Both of these patterns are now available for purchase on Ravelry. Meanwhile, I’ve been working away on the last two patterns in my moon series, Thunder Moon and Blue Moon. The prototypes are done, so now I’ve just got to write up the patterns and get them into testing. Then, while my trusty testers are working away, I’ll be reformatting all the moon patterns and getting them ready to be published in e-book form. I’ve never self-published before, so it should be interesting!

 

 

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A new pattern release: Petrichor!

Boy, I’ve been neglecting the blog lately – sorry about that. It’s just…knitting takes time. There’s no two ways about it, and lots of knitting means not much blog-updating.

The good news is that I’ve had a new pattern go live on Ravelry – Petrichor! This is my first beaded pattern, although it also looks fantastic without beads. I wanted something that was a bit of a palate-cleanser for me, as the last few months, I’ve been working fairly detailed lace. This pattern is just eyelets, and they’re randomly placed, so the pattern doesn’t require a whole lot of concentration. And, for a more experienced knitter, the beads add a little bit of extra interest, although it would also make a good first project so someone who hasn’t beaded before.

 

The other bit of news I have to share is that I’ll be selling some of my knitted items on Etsy. They aren’t there quite yet (I’ll post when I have items available), but I’ve had people asking. So – soon!

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Two New Releases: The Shrubbery Toque and Rose Moon!

I’ve been double-dog sick with a crappy cold for the past week (ugh), but a new release brightens even the gloomiest days for me! The pattern for Rose Moon went live today. Rose Moon is my biggest pattern to date – three border options, which translates to 6 charts and a whole lot of text! Fortunately, I had some fantastic test knitters and wunderbar tech-editor help me get it into tip-top shape.

 

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Also, my first hat pattern, the Shrubbery Toque, went live a couple of weeks ago and I got to post about it. Oops. Promo is not my forte, that’s for certain, but I’m here now, and so is Shrubbery!

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The Shrubbery Toque will eventually have matching mittens, but those may be a while coming – each new type of pattern comes with a huge learning curve, I’ve discovered, which is exciting and a bit overwhelming at the same time. Until then, I’ve got more shawls in the pipeline, and some new hats, and that darn sweater that I’ve started but haven’t finished because I’ve gotten a case of the Daunts. Ah well – first I need to get over this cold (I’m out of bed today, at least!), and then, I’ll sort out the Daunts…

Happy knitting! Happy creating!