Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Broomstick Flower Cowl

Remember a few posts back when I blogged about the Broomstick Flowers class I took with Jenny King? I debated maybe turning mine into a table runner or a pillow cover. It just matched my living room so well. Alas, I ended up sticking with the cowl. It turned out super cute!

I really enjoyed this technique and plan to take the Broomstick Lace class via Craftsy. It will be fun to explore additional options. (Please forgive my horrible photos on this post. I was in a rush!)

Friday, July 26, 2013

Effortless Cardigan: An Update

The last week of classes was full of swatches and work. In my non-business knitting time, I have been working on my Effortless Cardigan. It is coming along nicely...

It is all scrunched on the needles right now, but I am just to the body increase area. Next up will be lots of St st followed by adding on the rib sections and sleeves. The Mountain Colors Weaver's Wool is a pleasure to knit and (so far) the color changes are random enough that it has a consistent feel through the shorter top-down sections and into the longer stitch rows.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Do You Love Science Fiction and/or Supporting Indie Authors?

While I spend my days knitting and crocheting and creating and designing, Patrick (DH) works VERY hard at his publishing career, teaching at a local college, and writing. He writes lots of poetry and has had them published in various locations and has a technology book for Nook users. However, after our oldest nephew got him all re-interested in science fiction again, he got back into writing sci-fi.

It has been so great watching his creative process and getting to read his novels and short stories. The majority of these writings are centered around Detective Dreksul Pierce and the planet Danos. If you love a good detective story or sci-fi novel, you can read the first novel, A Shattered Bull, by following this link to Wattpad. Please note that this is a rough draft, but you can get a good book to read for free and you can provide feedback directly to the author! Have a hand in building the world of Danos.


As the colony planet Danos struggles to survive the aftermath of an interstellar war, Inspector Dreksul Pierce pursues the killer of a notorious member of the corporatist government while confronting his wife's mysterious death and a society corrupted by its own desires. As Pierce investigates the murder of Hal “The Bull” Nye, whose body was reduced to ash, a mysterious message and a mythical piece of technology seem to hold the clues that will expose the killer. Black market technology, old friends with shady pasts, underground organizations, and an anonymous tip lead Pierce towards the murderer. As the machinery of investigation closes in on the Bull’s young girlfriend, Dreksul risks it all to save her and save his illusions of a society that believes in truth.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Knit & Crochet Show 2013: Part II

After I forced myself to put down the broomstick flowers, I got a night of sleep and was off again to a full day of class on Friday. This day held:

  • Aran and Traveling Stitches (Crochet)
  • A trip to the market
  • Lunch with hubby
  • Double Hook Crochet
  • Another quick trip to market

These samples are from the Aran and Traveling Stitches Crochet class. The very tip top sample was the instructors and the one below it in the picture and the blue pix right here was my attempt. As she said in class, crochet cables are much harder than knit cables. However, after learning a few tricks you can start zooming right along.

After working on cables for a bit, I gave the start of the Tree of Life a try. I have a slight blip in the bottom, but then realized I was making one stitch way harder than necessary. (I think I was fading fast by that point and I still had market to go before lunch!) One of the great things about taking national classes is that you get to see all the amazing designs that the teachers have dreamed up. In this case, Almost Amy had this gorgeous Aran Tote Bag (follow this link). I decided that would most certainly be my next full on aran crochet project. And, at the second round of market on this day, I settled on this custom yarn by River's Edge Fiber Arts. It is a lighter weight than the original design, so I will adjust my hook accordingly and end up with a smaller tote.

I tried so so hard not to buy this...really. :)

When I was signing up for classes I was really curious about the Double Hook Crochet. I found this technique to pretty relaxing. It really is a combination of knitting, crochet, and Tunisian crochet. Knowing how to do these fiber arts really helped in learning this skill. We concentrated on using two colors in each swatch. Each side of the swatch will have a dominant color and the opposite side with feature the opposite color. As part of the class, we got a booklet of 12 dishcloths. I can imagine making up some of these. If you want to give one of Darla's patterns a try, I found this one listed in Ravelry that is really cute.

I had every intention of only getting a few buttons and a sweater quantity of donegal yarn at market. (I'm participating in a KAL in October that requires donegal yarn.) Well, best laid plans and all that. I couldn't find ANY in the entire place. I'm guessing that most vendors just thought we wouldn't be interested in heavy yarns at the moment. It was in the 90s all week. Of course, I found other temptations. Making the deal with myself that I would knit up these two things right away for use this fall and winter, I picked up two kits. 

This sample was just beautiful on the show floor and it is a wrap that can be worn in a multitude of ways. It contained the pattern (Range Wrap), four skeins of yarn, and the JUL closure. I casted this on Saturday morning and I'm through one skein already. It is a simple and fast knit in mostly garter stitch. The kit I bought had Yarn Hollow Photograph and Malabrigo Rios. Oh la la! It is so pretty. I might have found my knit for our yearly pumpkin patch trip.

The other project I grabbed was the Woodburn Scarf. I have wanted to use Kauni for years and years, but I never found a project where I thought I would wear it very much. This pattern is a free download and is VERY easy (it would be a good one for beginners as you only need to knit and purl). However, Knitter's Mercantile had their Woodburn Scarf sample displayed wrapped as a cowl and buttoned up with the JUL closures. ADORBS!!! It goes great with my camel wool winter coat. 

So, as you can see, I have started both as I promised myself I would. Of course, this breaks my not more than one project at a time (outside of my afghan exceptions). I hope to wrap up these two projects, my Effortless Cardigan, an Ella Sack order, three Christmas gifts, 5 new designs, and a Celtic cables sweater by the end of October. Yes, you read that right. I am super committed AND I will still be taking custom orders from now until the end of the year. I will also be doing those hand exercises that we learned about on day one to keep my hands happy and healthy through this busy season!

It was a great conference where I made new friends, picked up some new skills, and walked away totally inspired and full of new design ideas and business expansion plans. I can't wait to share the exciting journey with you!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Knit & Crochet Show 2013: Part I

Over the last few days I have been attending the Knit & Crochet Show held by CGOA and KGOA. I was super excited when I found out that this year it was being held in Indy. After reviewing all the offerings, it was time to select my classes:

  • Professional Development Day by CGOA
  • Magical Mosaic Crochet
  • Broomstick Flowers
  • Double Knitting
  • Aran Basic Cables and Traveling Stitches
  • Double Hook Crochet

Yesterday I attended the Professional Day and it was focused on proposals. How does a designer go about putting together a proposal for publishers to review? How can you get the best shot at getting your proposal accepted? What do you do if you get accepted? What if you don't? AND...so much more! I felt a bit like a spy given my 15+ years working for a publisher. It was excellent for me to look at it all from both viewpoints. I especially enjoyed the section on promoting your design business via social media. I walked out of the room after 9 hours with a long list of To Dos for Brownie Knits. 

As we were taking in all this fantastic information, we were crocheting afghan blocks for the charity Warm Up America. If you are a long-time blog reader, it will come as no surprise to you that I grabbed the red balls of yarn on the table and used those for my blocks. Here are my little Shell Stitch pieces. As I was making this, it took me back to when I first started crocheting again in adulthood. I sat on the couch and made scarf after scarf of shell stitch. So fun! It was a good feeling to be crafting for a good cause while being blessed enough to attend the conference. 

After the evening mixer, I headed upstairs for Magical Mosaic Crochet. Although I do knitting 75% of the time, I learned how to crochet first and always have at least one crochet project in the works. So, I decided that this conference would be my crochet-focused one. Unfortunately, I over committed this first day and had to leave early from this session due to a headache. BUT! I did finish the first swatch and plan to crochet up the other two this weekend. So, look for a future post on this technique. I think I just found my rug pattern that I've been wanting to do!

After a GREAT night of sleep (oh, thank God for sleep), I was up early the next morning for Broomstick Flowers with Jenny King. OMG! I have wanted to learn Broomstick Crochet for years. AND, you couldn't ask for better than Jenny. She is fabulous. If you get a chance to chat with her or take a class from her, do it. You know those people you meet who are just full of life? That's Jenny. We made these little square flower blocks and then joined them as we went. 

Check these out! The top one was the sample Jenny made in class. The middle one was my first try and it was using a ribbon yarn. The bottom one is four of the flowers I made out of a worsted merino. I'm loving the fun look of these. I came home all excited and laid them on my melon-colored couch to show my hubby. As I did this I realized that it looked awesome against the melon...might be an afghan!

Here is my flower in mid-crochet on the "broomstick". We used size 19mm knitting needles as our broomsticks. Not a straight needle knitter, I asked Patrick to pick up these at Michaels one night as he was running some other errands. When he came home and handed them to me, he had this look on his face that said, "What the heck are you going to do with these?" Too funny...

So, that's the wrap up of the first two days. I've walked away completely inspired and full of ideas so I need to get to work on designs! I also walked away with some new friends. Here are three ladies that I enjoyed spending time with and now will be stalking their blogs and designs. I thought I'd share so you can follow them, too!

  • Brenda Bourg, Crochet and Knit Designer
  • Woolly Wits Knits by Theresa Schabes, Hand Knitting Designer & Instructor; website & blog
  • Andee Graves, Designer, Writer, Artist, Teacher; Mamas2Hands

Monday, July 15, 2013

Red Vest in Action

Last year I knitted up a Molly Ringwald vest out of some Elsebeth Lavold Silky Tweed that I had in my yarn stash. The yarn was gifted to me by a knitter friend and I had this pattern on the list to knit for a long time. I knitted it up with an additional two inches length. Then, I never put it on. I'm not always comfortable in my own skin and it took me until this year and losing 13 pounds to want to give it another try. I pulled it out, blocked it, and wore it to teach my Continental Knitting Workshop.

Being silly for the camera! I can imagine wearing this into the fall and winter over a white oxford. Glad I didn't give up on it! Do you have a favorite summer knit that you wear lots? I'd love to hear about it in the comments.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Mountain Colors Stash Yarn

Several years ago Patrick and I took a drive to Nomad Yarns in Plainfield and I came home with a skein of Mountain Colors Weaver's Wool. I loved the large amount of brilliant red as the base.

Isn't it lovely? It was living in my yarn stash closet in the Special bin. 

No longer! After several hours of winding it up into this HUGE ball (note how large it is compared to Riley's head), I casted it on to make an Effortless Cardigan by Hannah Fettig.

It has been so long since I made a top-down sweater. I was quickly reminded how much I love that construction and the ease of the knit. After a few short sessions, I am ready to divide for the sleeves.

Do you have a favorite top-down pattern? Never knitted one before? I highly recommend Knitting Pure  & Simple patterns for the first-time top-down sweater knitter.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Sweater Knitting in the Summer

Last summer I knitted up stash yarn into a Central Park Hoodie. I wore that thing a LOT in the fall. It was so satisfying to have it all done and ready to wear as soon as the cool air hit. So, when my friend suggested that we knit a sweater in July, I was totally on board. Initially the idea was to knit cabled ones...challenge ourselves a bit. Well, I had every intention of doing that until I got sucked into making sure I used the Tosh Vintage yarn I bought on vacation in 2012. You know...the yarn you buy and SWEAR you will knit it up right away. I realized I didn't have enough of this special dye yarn to make a cabled sweater. I went in search of a sweater pattern that looked like one I would wear constantly.

I came across a new pattern released by Stephanie Steinhaus & Ewe Ewe Knits named Libby's Boyfriend Sweater. It is designed to look casual and oversized...like a boyfriend sweater. Perfect! I would want to wear it all the time given the comfort level and the gorgeous yarn. It knitted up so fast. One sleeve is raglan and the other is a drop sleeve. And, one side of the bottom is worked in short rows to provide the slant...all design elements to make it look slouchy. I plan to wear it with fitted pants in the fall/winter. And, the color in the photo just doesn't do the yarn justice.

Yarn: Tosh Vintage from Madelinetosh
Color: Midnight Pass (a special dye available at A Good Yarn in Sarasota)
Pattern: Libby's Boyfriend Sweater
US Needle: 6 (to get gauge)

I admit that I casted it on in June after I wrapped up my Pop Spots Shawl. I wanted to make sure that I finished it by the end of July. It went WAY faster than I anticipated given that I had it finished on the 7th! So, I went back into the stash closet and onto Ravelry and found another sweater to make in July. More about that later! What are you knitting?

Remember that little project to frame the poem PK wrote for our anniversary? Well, three coupons later the result is hanging in the living room. It makes me smile when I walk by it.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Catching Up: Summer 2013

I just realized this morning that I hadn't posted on the blog for 6 days! Yikes. That really snuck up on me. What have we been doing? Well, there has been a lot of knitting, reading, stress, and summer chores. A little photo shoot for some upcoming Brownie Knits events, lots of enjoying our extra green and well growing plants and garden due to all the rain we've had this summer, a trip to the lake with friends, a quick little family get together for the 4th, and (unfortunately) lots of migraines (also a result of the rain!) Although I failed to take photos at the get togethers, I did run out back and take some photos this morning to share with you.

Patrick is so patient with me during demo and product photos. I have such a difficult time describing to him how I want the product staged. Luckily, he has a good eye for these things and takes tons of options as I walk around trying to uncomfortably model.

Our berry bush out back is blooming...need to put a net over it this weekend to keep the birds from eating them up! Enjoying colorful daisies inside. 

One of our HUGE projects for the summer was to clean out the garage and organize everything that was left. Oh my...it was nuts. How we managed to park both SUVs in there with all the stuff is beyond me. We took out a total of SEVEN Jeep loads of stuff! Some went to Goodwill and lots went to community big trash day. Everything else that we kept has been organized, cleaned, and labeled. There is even room to walk around out there! And, I can get to anything I need. Now, to make sure it all stays that way. I will definitely be thinking through each item we purchase from now on. Where will it live in our home or will it be used up right away? Is there something we already have that we could use instead? That will be much easier now that we really do know what we have. I have to say this project left me satisfied, but exhausted. I'm thinking our summer chores are done in my book. 

Check out the garden! We put our garden in a little late due to our travels in May. It looks like a great crop of zucchini and cucumber is in our future.

The squash, watermelon, and cantaloupe is steadily growing along, too.

And, there are our feathered friends who have a new home (the orange bottle bird house) and bath in our back yard. We are up to six bird houses, one bird bath, and two feeding stations. They are keeping me so busy making sure everything is filled up. They are also keeping Kennedy busy chasing them. Oh how she hates them so... Then, she comes in to collapse and often uses the "What Fresh Hell Is This" pillow or her brother as a pillow!

These two totally make me giggle. Stay tuned to the blog for some actual knitting updates over the next week!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Oh So Pretty Crochet Hooks

In May I saw a giveaway on Bonita Patterns Facebook page for the new Furls hooks. Apparently I mentioned it to my husband because these gems arrived in the mail while he was on a work trip! (Oh how I hate those damn work trips, but I have gotten some fantastic knitting and crocheting tools as a consolation prize!)

Aren't they so fun and pretty? I really like how they feel in my hands, too. I used the G hook to finish up my Neat Ripple afghan. I'm trolling crochet patterns for my next project so that I can put these babies to use.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Continental Knitting Class from Brownie Knits

Brownie Knits is super excited to announce that we will be heading back down to Knitwits in Crescent Springs, KY on July 13th. I will be teaching Continental Knitting from 1-3. Spots are limited, so sign up soon! Students will be taught how to hold yarn in your left hand while knitting. This style of knitting, for many, is a bit faster but it is also a fantastic skill to have for fair isle knitting. The first hour will concentrate on the knit stitch and the second hour on the purl stitch. Each student will be given individualized instruction to assist them on what is comfortable for their hands.