Free Simple Mug Rug Pattern Released This Week

Free Simple Mug Rug Pattern Released This Week

This week, I released a free pattern for a very simple mug rug— a square coaster to go under your tea or coffee mug.  This pattern was designed for beginning knitters as a first project to learn the knit and purl stitch and make a useful object at the same time, but it’s also a great quick knit for more experienced knitters for gifts or craft fairs.

And it goes great with my Coffee Cup Cozy pattern!

I hope  you enjoy this free pattern!

Slip stitch knitting

Slip stitch knitting

I’ve been enjoying experimenting with slip stitch knitting, which I find a very approachable and relaxing way to do colorwork.

I first read about slip stitch knitting in A Treasury of Knitting Patterns and A Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns.  Many of the patterns are mosaic knitting which forms a pattern of knit stitches on the outside of the garment and all the slipped stitches are on the back of the work.  My first real exposure to actually trying slip stitch colorwork was in a workshop by Patty Lyons at the 2015 Knit and Crochet show.

Many slipped stitched patterns, like the common linen stitch, use a single slipped stitch with the yarn in front to make a textured fabric.  This fabric is fairly inelastic and dense.  Although this sample is in a solid yarn, linen stitch does some amazing things to break up variegated yarn.

Mosaic knitting and some other slipped stitch patterns use slipped stitches to somewhat emulate the look of fair isle knitting, where all the yarn floats across the slipped stitches are on the back of the work, so all you see is the knits.

My favorite slipped stitch patterns are those that use the yarn floats on the front of the work as a design element.  I love the way those yarn floats are raised slightly from the rest of the knitting and how you can stagger them to create an effect, like in this swatch from my free pattern, the Aurora Cowl.

My current favorite resource for slipped stitch knitting is The Art of Slip Stitch Knitting.  This book explores several different styles of slip stitch knitting and has projects to go with each one.  It’s part designer’s guide to using the stitches, part stitch dictionary, and part pattern book.

(Note: Links to Amazon are affiliate links, I’ll get a few cents if you purchase through those links.)

Playing with Curved DPNs

Playing with Curved DPNs

I recently purchased some curved DPNs and for my first project I made a couple of pairs of fingerless mitts from a pattern by Clara Parkes in her Craftsy class, Stashbusting (it appears to be very similar to this pattern on Ravelry).  I purchased the Neko Strickespiel curved DPNs from Candra’s Yarn Paradise on Etsy.

Basically, they are a set of three bent DPNs made from a slightly flexible plastic.  Each of two needles has about half the stitches on it and you curve the waiting stitches around one needle while you push together the ready to work stitches on the other needle so that you have the triangle shape you would get working with three traditional, straight DPNs.

Advantages:  I liked working with them because there are only two needle changes per round, similar to working with a magic loop, but without the extra cables hanging out.  I like using magic loop, but with small objects like mitts or socks I often feel like I have more needles and cables than yarn in action!  I felt like my rounds went faster than when I use a regular DPN set or magic loop.  There were less pointy things sticking out than with straight DPNs, which made working on a small object seem easier.

Disadvantages: The needles have some gaps on the small end of sizes, missing some of the US sizes that are listed in patterns.  I also had trouble with laddering where the two needles met in my work.  I don’t usually have trouble with laddering on straight DPNs.  Because of their shape, the trick of moving the location of your needles as you work was not easy to do.  I found that if I tugged on both the first and second stitch each time I rotated to a new needle, the laddering disappeared for me.

Tricky bits: I watched this video on the Neko page to help me figure out how to hold the needles.  With straight DPNs, I usually rotate the needle I’m working stitches off of to be on top of the other needles with a little under/over flip of orientation as I start each needle.  With the Neko’s, I found that working one needle on top of the other two ends and one needle under the other two ends was the best strategy for fast changes between needles.

Pushing the stitches forward onto the tip of the working needle.
Ready to knit the next round.
Knitting off the next needle.
Introducing the Aurora Cowl

Introducing the Aurora Cowl

The Aurora Cowl was published today in the free online magazine Knotions.  Aurora is a luxuriously soft cowl made with Malabrigo Mora, a 100% silk fingering weight yarn.  It’s also a surprisingly simply knit. An easy to follow slipped stitch pattern in a color changing yarn across a solid background creates the impression of of arcs of color reminiscent of the Northern Lights.

Slip stitch patterns are one of the simplest forms of colorwork to learn because in each row or round, the knitter only works with one color of yarn.  As you can see, though, you can create surprisingly complex patterns.  Both written and charted instructions are available for the Aurora Cowl.  This pattern is great for combining a solid yarn with a fast or slow color changing yarn.

The sample uses two skeins of Malabrigo Yarn Mora, one each in Black and Zarzamora.

First Adventures with a Hand Crank Circular Sock Machine

First Adventures with a Hand Crank Circular Sock Machine

As a combination Christmas/birthday present last week, my dear mother in law gave me an Erlbacher Gearhart Circular Sock Machine.  My machine is a Speedster, named so because it has a 1:1 gear ratio– one turn of the handle equals one turn of the carriage.

I started my adventures setting up the machine and doing lots of tubes and sample heels.

After I got comfortable with cranking out tubes and making heels and toes, I tried my first pair of socks.  I picked the simplest pattern possible– a shortie sock with no ribbing.  I used the socklet recipe given by Jocelyn in her fiberdev blog.  I used this video to learn how to make the hung hem and I used the manual that came with my machine and this video to make a quick and easy heel.  This video is a demonstration of this type of sock and it was really useful to watch although not meant as an instructional video.  Finally, this video helped me to Kitchener stitch the toes.

You can see more details for this sock on my Ravelry page.  These socks are loose around the ankles but comfortable in the foot.  I made them a little too long for my foot.

 

 

Next, I decided to make friends with my ribber.  For the most part, I used this video by Jenny Deters and followed it step by step.  I also watched the Erlbacher Gearhart videos specifically about using my ribber to get started.  I dropped a couple of stitches for a couple of rounds on one sock and didn’t notice till they had already repaired themselves, so I caught them with a safety pin and made a repair after the sock was off the machine.

This sock has ribbing on the top of the foot but is stockinette on the sole and it’s fully ribbed around the leg.  It fits really well and is surprisingly comfortable in a shoe.  I made these just a tad short.  You can see more details on my Ravelry project page.

 

My third pair of socks allowed me to try the final techniques I was interested in learning right away– toe up socks and mock rib stitch.  I used this video and this video to make the toe and then used the heel I’ve been using for the other projects.  I used this video to make the mock rib and this video to finish the hem.

These socks fit well in the foot (I finally found my magic number for rounds in the foot) and the mock rib held the socks up surprisingly well.  You can see my recipe for this sock on my Ravelry project page.

Learning to use a circular sock machine requires some detective work.  The manual that came with the machine has lots of the basics, but some things are better explained in the company’s videos and in videos by other “crankers”.  I found some great support in the Erlbacher Gearhart Ravelry Group, which is quite active, and also in the Circular Sock Machine Knitters 2.0 Facebook group.  I also started a Google Doc where I’ve been collecting names of methods with informational links as well hints and tips that seem useful.  There are a few things that I’ve read about but haven’t found a good explanation for yet.  You can see that document in view only format here— I’ll be adding to it and reorganizing it as I continue to learn.

Caught My Eye: Indie shawl designs from the GAL

Caught My Eye: Indie shawl designs from the GAL

I’ve been thinking about starting a new series here of some designs that have caught my eye as a browse Ravelry or pick up new (and old) magazines.  These are designs that I might never knit, so I’m not sure I can say I’m “stalking” them as many knitters describe this window shopping experience, but they have elements that I find interesting or attractive.

For my first installment, I want to share some of the shawl patterns by other designers that caught my eye in the Indie Design Gift-a-Long.  These are patterns by new to me designers.

Dreamcatcher is a bias knit shawl by Ewelina Murach which caught my eye because of the diagonal lines of yarn overs, almost rays, coming from one corner of the shawl.  I love how there is some lace texture at the end of each ray that really comes into focus when the shawl is wrapped around the model’s neck!

 

Oolong by Georgie Nicolson was another shawl that jumped out at me.  I love the cream color yarn with the highly textured stitches on the border.  It looks elegant and warm.  (It might help that one of the stitch motifs is one that I just spent the last couple of weeks knitting for an upcoming design!)

 

 

 

 

Finally, Maribou, a cabled shawl by Kino Knits, was my third pick.  This shawl has a lovely pattern of cable crossings that each end with a shaped point so that they look like feathers.  The center spine on this rectangular shawl also evokes the sense of wings.  I really enjoyed reading the backstory of the inspiration for the shawl.

 

 

 

 

All these patterns are part of the GAL and are 25% off through Nov. 30, 2016 with the giftalong2016 coupon code!

Indie Design Gift-a-Long Begins

Indie Design Gift-a-Long Begins

gifalong-main-ballFor the past several years, a group of amazing indie designers have been hosting a sale/GAL/CAL to support independent designers on Ravelry.  Over three hundred designers are participating this year and there are literally thousands of patterns to choose from, including six of mine!  All participating patterns are 25% off through Nov. 30th and then the knit/crochet-a-long runs through the end of the year.

There are several ways you can view all the patterns.  One thread in the group includes sample pictures like this one of mine for each of the designers that give you a taste of what the designer has in her shop.  indie-designer-gal-collage-500You can click on a link to get to the designer’s shop and see all the sale patterns in a bundle.

If you have Pinterest, you can look at all the available patterns through the boards that have been set up there by category (those categories are also the categories for the KAL/CAL).

There are literally hundreds of prizes for the GAL portion and even a special prize for someone who completes one project from each category.

So, go check it out for some great deals and support indie designers this holiday season!

 

Coffee Cup Cozies and Charity Knitting

Coffee Cup Cozies and Charity Knitting

cozy-beauty

Yesterday I released a new pattern for a Coffee Cup Cozy on Ravelry.  This is a pattern I designed to teach a class on beginning knitting at our new yarn shop in town– Yarn Shop Santa Cruz. It uses almost only knits and purls and is a small project that can be finished by a beginner in a short amount of time.  The class came with eight additional pages of handouts, but the pattern itself is a great one for using up scrap yarn and for charity knitting for more experienced knitters.

Charity knitting in on my mind because a local non-profit, the Homeless Garden Project, collects knitted and crocheted items each year for their holiday gift store.  For the past couple of years, I’ve been getting together with a group of moms for a couple of evenings to knit and crochet quick little items like this cozy for their store.  Many of us are one income families and so pulling out our yarn and making a few things feels like a way we can give back to the community.

The Coffee Cup Cozy is free through October 15th, so download your copy today for your charity knitting!

Introducing Roxanne

Introducing Roxanne

roxanneTo introduce my newest design to you, I first have to tell you about Roxanne Cummings, my midwife.  When my husband and I got married, we knew we wanted to have children and we also knew we wanted to have home births.  When we became pregnant with our first child in 2000, we met Kate Bowland and Roxanne Cummings, a pair of midwives who worked together as the Midwives of Santa Cruz.  Monthly appointments alternated between Kate and Roxanne and then whoever was on call would attend the birth.  For subsequent births, the midwife at the first birth tried to attend unless she was with another mother.  Roxanne was the midwife who attended our first birth and then our second and third births as well.

A home birth is a fairly intimate gathering– the mother, her partner, the midwife, her assistant, and maybe the younger siblings.  Roxanne was the perfect midwife for us.  Her energy and fire were a great complement to my husband’s solid and quite nature.  As the years went by and we went beyond our childbearing years, Roxanne always had time to talk to us if we saw her around town, she always had a memory to share with us about our birth experiences.

My pregnancies and births are a collection of moments– Roxanne curled up on cushions on the floor like a cat, murmuring encouragement for my contractions; Roxanne telling me that people are not usually planning their next birth during their current birth; Roxanne describing how your organs have to be “pretty creative” when making room for a growing baby in the uterus, Roxanne helping my older children find the baby’s heartbeat.  And so many more.

When Roxanne passed away in April, I was shocked and saddened.  She had quietly been fighting cancer, but had not shared her journey widely– she was such a public person that it made sense, because as someone said at her memorial “you couldn’t take her anywhere” without meeting someone she knew.

I sat with my grief for many days before I realized I wanted to make something to remember her by, something that would embody my memories and give me something to DO besides be with my sadness.  I had a skein of Anzula Meridian yarn in a lovely sky blue colorway called Alice that I had been saving for a special project.  I selected and modified designs to represent the life and growth and light and love that Roxanne brought to the mothers of Santa Cruz County, California.

beauty 4

Vining flowers and heart shaped leaf motifs combine with a deeply scalloped knitted on border to create a classic lace shawl which expresses both love and hope.

detail 4This pattern begins with knitting a long, rectangular lace panel. Stitches are picked up all around this rectangle and a knitted on border is added perpendicular to the existing stitches. Both written and charted directions are given and the knitter may switch between them.

This shawl can be modified in width or length. Suggestions for how to modify the pattern are given, but details are left up to the knitter. Remember that changes in the overall length or width will change the amount of yarn used and the overall stitch count.

The Roxanne shawl is available on Ravelry and Craftsy.