Hush…

I have been wanting to knit with this yarn for ages. Thick, lofty, soft as soft can be, it’s the perfect antidote to the winter knitting doldrums. It comes in a range of beautiful colors, as all Malabrigo is known to do. In a strange twist, I was drawn to a color unceremoniously called ‘Natural’. If you’ve been coming round for any amount of time, you’ll surely have noticed that I tend to go for the brighter side of the color spectrum. But since knitting up these mitts in a tweedy oatmeal shade, I have a new respect for the quiet pleasure of knitting in natural shades. It’s a peaceful break for the eye, an opportunity to reposition your color sensibilities and coast along in neutral for a bit. It’s a little like a palate cleanser during a savory meal; you feel refreshed and ready to tackle the next course!

So the other evening, I wound up the skein, grabbed a Barbara Walker stitch dictionary and my size 15 needles, and parked it on the couch for a couple of hours. While catching up with some of my favorite television shows, I whipped up this delightful, chunky neckwarmer.

  • Pattern: Hush by Peaceful Knitter (Ravelled here)
  • Yarn: Malabrigo Rasta, 1 skein (90 yards)
  • Needles: US size 15/10mm

Texture is the star of the show with this piece. It lets the pencil-thick yarn really do its thing, not detracting from the loveliness of the yarn. I threw in three buttonholes, because surely a neckwarmer this big and bold needs some equally brash buttons, right?

This knit up just in time to enjoy during our first winter snowstorm here in Oregon (I know, right?). The thick, quiet flakes arrived just in time to blanket the spring flowers that had just gone into bloom. I hope my daffodils make a full recovery; they’re my favorite of the early bloomers, followed by vibrant hyacinth and graceful tulips.

I’m calling this neckawarmer Hush because knitting with the yarn was a mind-quieting, soul-soothing experience. The yarn reminds me of the thick, insulating quiet of a snowfall. It all just goes together so nicely, it seems it was meant to be. But really I got the idea from one of the books PB and I have been reading lately, a story whose overall-wearing feline protagonists are named Brush and Hush. Shhh…

Inspired.

One of the things I was most excited over about last weekend’s trip was the opportunity to meet so many amazing knitters. Sure, it’s wonderful to be around so much beautiful yarn, but mostly I knew the place would be swarming with knitters, all talking about and wearing knitting. And I find that very comforting and inspiring. An event like this seems to help us all let our inner knitting-nerd out to play! I’m normally quite shy about meeting new people, but at a wool festival I rarely hesitate to ask someone what she’s knitting, what pattern she’s wearing, or what yarn she used. So it was doubly exciting when I just kept bumping in to some of my favorite podcasters and designers throughout the marketplace, and actually had the nerve to go up and talk to them! Everyone was so nice and welcoming of my questions and requests for a photo.

The first designer I happened upon was the delightful Alana Dakos of Never Not Knitting.  I came around a corner and she was just standing there, all by herself, in the booth she was sharing with Becoming Art Yarns.  So I took a deep breath, walked over and just started talking to her!  She helped me pick out yarn and a couple of patterns (Oak Grove Mitts & Autumn Vines beret), and quickly agreed to a photo (or 3–we had to be sure we both looked cute).

Her designs have always appealed to me, and yet I haven’t knit any of them before.  Seeing the samples in person made me want to cast them all on immediately.  If you like her patterns online, you’ll love how they look knit up; the samples are so beautiful, and her new pattern layouts are stunning.  And seriously, this Becoming Art yarn is a thing of beauty.  Soft, squishy, saturated in gorgeous color beauty.

I met these ladies at the Anzula fiber booth, and they actually asked me if I wouldn’t mind having a photo taken.  Sure!  So I handed my camera off to get a copy as well.  This yarn is beautiful (I feel like I’m saying that a lot, but it’s true).  Anne Kuo Lukito‘s hat pattern line is inspired by notable women of knitting and have names you might recognize like Elizabeth Zimmerman and Barbara Walker.  I bought a kit for the EZ cloche hat in a springy green called Sour Apple.

Peaceful Knitter, Sabrina, Anne Ku Lukito

Later that same day, my mom (aka The Granny Nanny) brought PB over from the hotel for a little yarn shopping and lunch.  They waited in line with me to meet Jasmin and Gigi at their Knitmore Girls meetup.  Don’t they both look excited about yarn and knitting?

I had quickly knit up a preemie hat on the trip down to CA to donate to their Head to Toes project and was anxious to hand it off in person.  They were so friendly and warm, and handed everyone who brought a hat a cute mug and swag bag full of yarn. This isn’t the best photo, but I think it represents the excitement and energy of the event:

Peaceful Baby, Greg, Gigi, Jasmin, Dr. Gemma, me

Last but not least was the lovely Jordana Paige. I have admired her chic knitting bags for some time, and went to Stitches intending to buy one of hers or a Namaste bag, depending on which called out to me more.  I stopped by her booth first, and she gave me a lovely tour of the bags I liked, pointing out all the knitterly features within: pouches for yarn, tabs to hold the working strand in place, zippered pockets, slots for tools, oh my!  This definitely fits the bill for me as a combination knitting bag and purse, and it’s super stylish as well. Did you know she designs patterns, too?  I tell you, these people are all overflowing with talent!

There were a few people who I was a little starstruck by and didn’t ask for a photo, though. I took a whole (amazing, knit/life-changing) class with Cookie A. and didn’t have the nerve to talk to her after. What’s that about? Same goes for Rosemary Hill and Lily Chin. Maybe next year!

All in all this was a worthwhile trip on many levels.  This knitting mama needed a little change of scenery to regroup, recharge, and get inspired again.  An afternoon at a yarn shop could have easily done the trick, and I feel so fortunate to have been able to take this trip.  I’m itching to cast on so many new projects, as well as try my hand at designing a few things that have been floating around in my mind.  I came home to blooming spring flowers, and feel myself blooming a bit after this trip.  We all need to take that time to nurture our creative selves, whether it be in small or large ways.  Surrounding myself with like-minded people and beautiful yarn in a new city is one of my favorite ways to do this!

How do you recharge and get inspired?

Deck the Halls

I’ve been crafting away for the holidays, whipping up small gifts for some very special people on my Christmas list.  Along the way, I came up with a simple beaded ornament pattern that I have decided to share with all of you.

This is a simple pattern designed to highlight little bits of leftover sock yarn.  They knit up fast and provide a great opportunity to play with color combinations.  This would be a great first beading project, too.  All you need is some beautiful leftover sock yarn, 100 size 6 seed beads, and a new or repurposed ball ornament.

A special thanks to my test knitters Jill, Betsy, Helena, and Crystal for being so fast and merry!

Click here to download the pattern: Beaded Ornament and don’t forget to link your projects to the Ravelry page!

Happy holidays, and happy knitting to everyone.

A Quick Project

Let’s face it, friends.  Knitting can be a slow process.  This is one of the things I find both satisfying and infuriating about it!  So when I get to do a different craft or project that is finished the same day I begin, it blows my mind.

Our new place has no overhead lighting in the living room, so we needed to come up with a relatively inexpensive lighting solution.  I had grand visions of something from Restoration Hardware or Crate & Barrel, but ended up grabbing two $20 lamp-in-a-box sets at Target instead.  The bones were good: chrome pedestal with a clean white drum shade and a cute pull chain.  I immediately planned on finding some great graphic fabric and recovering the shades.

The shade circumference is 36 inches, so I was able to get both shades out of one yard.  I used some recycled packing paper to trace a loose pattern and set about cutting.  There is a slight curve, which I didn’t think about when choosing fabric; the motif won’t line up!  No worries–there’s a back side to any hand-made project, right?

 

I applied some spray adhesive to the shade and smoothed on the fabric in small sections.  It was at this point that I realized I should have ironed the fabric, but it was too late.  After the glue was dry, I trimmed the fabric so there was about 1/4″ on each side of the shade.  I then sprayed the adhesive onto the back of a pre-measured length of bias tape and applied it to the front of the shade.  Then I folded it over and hot glued the rest to the inside of the shade.  Any excuse to get out my hot glue gun!

And voila!  Two snazzy, custom lamps for under $50.

Finished Object Report

Let me just tell you right off the bat that there will be little (if any) knitting content in this post.  Instead, I am taking some time today to write about a couple of other creative projects that have been works in progress around my house for months.  And they are finally finished!

When we bought our house back in March, there were 5 rooms covered in at least 2 layers of wallpaper.  Floral wallpaper from the 80s.  It was in good repair for the most part, but the patterns just weren’t our style.  So with determination and good dose of naivete, I started scraping.  And spraying, scoring, steaming, hacking, crying, and eventually abandoning.  The first rooms to be rid of wallpaper were the main bathroom and kitchen, followed by the dining room.  But my craft room and the guest bath languished in half finished states for months.

endless white wallpaper

Before: endless white wallpaper

With the impending arrival of house guests for Thanksgiving, I was suddenly motivated to get my craft room looking nice and actually being functional as a guest room and creative space.

Ta Da!

Ta Da!

Sweetie built me a Princess and the Pea day bed that I can store tons of supplies beneath and sit on top of and knit or write.  I finished up the wall recovery project and painted the room a fresh white.  This was a first for me; I usually go for more saturated colors, but I wanted this room to stay bright.  In a matter of hours, this long hibernating work in progress was transformed into one of my favorite rooms in the house.

It’s a pretty small room with lost of angles and little wall space.  Despite this, I was able to carve out both a desk area and a yarn winding station.

craft-room-desk craft-room-window

This room was finished before our guests arrived for Thanksgiving and served as a lovely guest room.  I had to knock on the door a couple of times to access The Stash, but my mom was very understanding.

The final wallpaper removal project was our guest bathroom on the main level of the house.  It had two layers: the most recent layer was a marbleized beige with multi-color floral border near the ceiling.  beneath that lurked yellow flowers… We started scraping it off back in August, but quickly got distracted by more other projects.  This weekend Sweetie and I took care of all the details.

the scars of bad wallpaper

Before: the scars of bad wallpaper

I scraped the rest of the wallpaper, sealed the drywall, applied texture paint, and finally painted the room a rich chocolate brown.  Sweetie is super handy and was therefore in charge of installing the bead board, a new faucet and mirror, and a new light fixture.  Which she picked out on her own, earning her major style points.

After
After

It feels just as good to have these rooms off the To Do list as it does finishing up a long term knitting project.  There is not a scrap of wallpaper left to peel in this entire house, and that is liberating and satisfying beyond explanation.  We have put so much work into this place that it feels like we can relax now, even for just a moment.

wallpaper-scraps

Retro Rib Hand Towel: Free Pattern

Retro Rib Hand Towel

What better way to brighten up your kitchen or bathroom than with a colorful hand-knit towel?  Use your imagination to create color combinations that speak to you and get started on this fast and fun knit!

PDF pattern now available: Retro Rib Hand Towel

Materials
  • Peaches & Creme 100% cotton yarn, 1 ball for main color and 1/4 ball for contrast color
  • US Size 7 needles
  • 1 button
  • Tapestry needle

Finished Measurements
7 inches wide and 12 ½ inches tall unstretched.  Garter stitch strap measures 2 inches wide and 5 ¼ inches long unstretched

Abbreviations
CO—Cast on
MC—Main color
CC—Contrast color
K—knit
P—purl
Sts—stitches
Sl 1—slip 1 stitch as if to knit
WS—wrong side or back of work
RS—right side or front of work
K2tog—knit 2 stitches together
BO—Bind off

Notes:
Slip the first stitch of every row in pattern to create a neat edge.  Do not slip first stitch when changing colors or decreasing.
Color changes happen on the right side rows until you get to the garter stitch strap where they occur on the wrong side of the fabric.  When changing colors it is helpful to carry the old color up the side of your work every 2 rows during the striped sections.  Less ends to weave in!

Pattern
CO 60 sts in MC.

Row 1 (RS): Sl 1 * K3, P2 * to last 4 sts, K4
Row 2 (WS): Sl 1 * P3, K2 * to last 4 stitches, P4

Repeat these two rows until piece measures 1 ½ inches from CO edge.
On the next RS row, add CC and work in set pattern for 4 rows.

RS: add MC and work 4 rows in pattern
RS: add CC and work 4 rows in pattern
RS: add MC and continue in rib pattern, slipping the first stitch of every row, until piece measures 11 inches from CO edge.
RS: add CC and work 4 rows in pattern
RS: add MC and work 4 rows in pattern

The following decrease rows are worked in garter stitch:
Row 1 (RS): k2tog across all stitches (30 sts remain)
Row 2 (WS): knit
Row 3: same as row 1 (15 sts remain)
Row 4: same as row 2
Row 5: k2tog twice, k7, k2tog twice (11 sts remain)
Row 6: knit
Row 7: k2tog, k7, k2tog (9 sts remain)

Knit in garter stitch (knit every row) for 5 rows.  You will now change colors on the back of your work.
WS: add CC and knit 4 rows
WS: add MC and knit 4 rows
WS: add CC and knit 4 rows
WS: add MC and knit 5 rows

Buttonhole
RS: k3, BO 3. K3
WS: k3, CO 3, k3
Knit 5 rows in garter stitch
WS: add CC and knit 3 rows
BO in CC

Attach button to the center of first MC garter stitch section. Weave in ends.

© Sonia Ruyts 2008

I hope you enjoy this pattern!  As always, please let me know if you find anything to be unclear.

Owl Cowl & Neckwarmer

Introducing 2 free patterns!  And it’s already on Ravelry, so queue it up!

This simple stitch pattern can be worked flat or in the round to create 2 different pieces.  It uses less than one skein of Malabrigo and knits up fast.

grapevine-cowl3 (yarn shown: Naturally Handknit Me by Nashua)

Materials:
Malabrigo Merino Worsted, 1 skein or 110 yards of any worsted weight yarn
Size 8 needles (16-inch circular for cowl pattern)
1 stitch marker
Tapestry needle
3 buttons no more than 1-inch in diameter for neckwarmer pattern

Finished Measurements:
Neckwarmer:  5 inches wide 26 inches long after blocking
Cowl:  5 ½ inches tall, 24 inch circumference after blocking

Abbreviations:
CO—Cast on
K—knit
P—purl
Sts—stitches
Yo—yarn over; bring yarn to the front of your work
Sl1—slip one stitch as if to knit
Psso—pass slipped stitch over the knit stitch
BO—bind off

Notes:
This stitch pattern is a simple 4-row repeat.  You can easily adjust the circumference or height of your piece by adding or subtracting stitches as stated for each pattern.  Similarly, these patterns can be adjusted to work with just about any yarn by changing needle sizes and amount of stitches cast on.  Use your favorite yarn and have fun!

Neckwarmer
Multiple of 7 + 2 stitches

orange-owl (Malabrigo merino worsted)

Using the Long Tail cast on, CO 135 stitches.

Row 1:  K2 * P5, K2 * repeat from * to last 2 sts, K2
Row 2: P2 * K2tog, yo, K1, yo, sl1, K1, psso, P2 * repeat from * to last 2 sts, P2
Row 3: same as row 1
Row 4: P2 * K5, P2 * repeat from * to last 2 sts, P2

Repeat rows 1 thru 4 until piece measures 4 ½ inches from CO edge, or until desired width, ending with row 4.  Bind off loosely in pattern.  Weave in ends.  Gently block to open up the eyelet details.  Position buttons vertically on the right side of the fabric in the purl fields, every other eyelet hole.  The eyelets will become the buttonholes; place the buttons so the neckwarmer will fit you as snugly or loosely as you care for.

owl-cowl-buttons

Cowl
Multiple of 7 stitches

owl-cowl (Valley Yarns Sugarloaf)

Using the Long tail cast on and circular needles, CO 126 stitches.

Join to knit in the round, being careful not to twist your stitches.  Place a stitch marker here to indicate the beginning of the round.

Row 1: P2 * K5, P2 * repeat from * to last 5 stitches, K5
Row 2: same as row 1
Row 3: P2 * K2tog, yo, K1, yo, sl1, K1, psso* rep to marker
Row 4: same as row 1

Repeat rows 1 thru 4 until piece measures 4 inches from CO edge, or until desired width, ending with row 4.  Bind off loosely in pattern.  Weave in ends.  Gently block to open up the eyelet details.

***

I hope you enjoy these patterns.  As always, please let me know if you come across anything that is unclear and I will correct it as soon as possible.

Ribbed for Your Warmth

I am still hard at work on my collection of neckwarmers, neck socks, cowls, and little scarf thingies for the upcoming craft fair.  Only 10 days to go–yikes!  This is one of my new designs, born out of a desire to knit something simple and quick but with some visual interest.  Inspired by the subtle beauty of this sage green yarn, I cast on a simple rib pattern, staggering the ribs as it grew.

  • Pattern: Ribbed for Your Warmth, now available on Ravelry!

  • Yarn: Malabrigo worsted merino in Vetiver, approx 100 yards

  • Needles: US size 8 16-inch circulars

Ribbed for Your Warmth

Materials:

Approximately 100 yards of the softest worsted weight yarn you can find.

US Size 8 16-inch circular needles, or size needed to get a cozy gauge.

1 stitch marker & a tapestry needle

  • Cast on 120 stitches.

  • Join stitches to knit in the round, placing a marker to indicate the beginning of the round.

  • K2 P2 to marker.  Repeat for a total of 10 rows in pattern.

  • P2 K2 to marker.  Repeat for a total of 10 rows in pattern.

  • Repeat these 2 instructions twice (for a total of 40 rows) and bind off loosely.

  • Use tapestry needle to weave in ends.

If you want your cowl to be a little larger, repeat pattern until desired length.  I made mine with 50 rows and it is long enough to tuck into your coat and still have plenty of warmth around the neck.  To adjust the circumference, simply add or subtract stitches in multiples of 4.

Knitters love our cats, don’t we?

The Comforts of a Warm Neck

Put me in Alaska with nothing but yarn, needles, a stitch dictionary and time, and this is what I come up with.

  • Pattern: Klawock Neckwarmer

  • Yarn: Malabrigo Worsted Merino, mystery color (does anyone know what this is? I love it!)

  • Needles: US size 8, straight or circular

This is the double Eyelet Rib stitch from the Harmony Guides Knit and Purl book.  It looked more twisted in the book photo, but in my version the eyelets are more apparent.  This was unintentional, and probably a result of my complete disregard for gauge.  But, I decided to use this as a feature: the eyelets are just the right size and stretchiness to double as buttonholes!  I love things with multiple purposes.

If you’ve been here before, you’ve probably noticed I am in a Neckwarmer Phase.  This is in part because I am trying to produce enough pieces to sell at a craft show later this fall.  But it’s more than that. The idea was born out of a desire to play with new stitch patterns, try my hand at design, and use up some of my stash yarn.  I also have a need to use buttons lately, and what better way that to button something warm and comforting around your chilly neck?

As that unmistakable chill of fall creeps its way into the air, I find myself longing for the little luxuries that are so necessary during the colder months.  Hot tea.  Slippers.  Soup & warm bread.  A jacket in the morning.  And of course, comfortable, warm, snuggly handknits.  It is my hope that others will find these neckwarmers not only warm and functional, but interesting accessories to brighten up a dark winter day.

This brings me to a question I have been pondering as I put my wool to the needles: what is my knitting worth?  This is not a new question, but one that must come up for each knitter, designer, and crocheter at one point or another.  Whether you engage in these activities for pleasure or profit, your precious time, creative energy, and yarn stash are going into an item that has value.  This value may be purely emotional; there is immense satisfaction in the process and completion of creating something handmade.  But when one contemplates putting her knitting out there for others to see and hopefully purchase…yikes!  What is my time worth?  How do I put a dollar value on this neckwarmer?

Too Much Yarn?

Is this too much yarn to take on a 7 day trip?

I’m going out of town for a week. This is a trip that will afford me plenty of knitting time waiting in airports, on airplanes, ferries, and in cars. One of the clear bags is backup yarn that will be going in my checked bag. The other will go in my carry on bag and contains two projects. You know, in case I finish one before I get to my destination.

While away, I plan on working on simple pieces like hats, neckwarmers, and fingerless gloves to build up an inventory for an upcoming craft fair I will be doing with Nutmeg Knitter. Since I will be selling my wares, it is important to me that the items I sell are original patterns representing my point of view. So along with all that yarn, I am not taking a single pattern or reference book. This is frightening and thrilling at the same time! I will be relying 100% on my own knowledge and creativity, hopefully being inspired by my surroundings and knitting up a storm.

The good news is, if I run out of yarn or project inspiration, there’s a yarn store or two where I’m going…

Have a great time knitting while I’m away!