Knitting: June 2010 Archives
I am proud to debut my newest free knitting pattern download for Fabric.com: the Isabella Camisole. This warm weather knitted camisole inspires remembrance of a brave Spanish Queen who proudly led her soldiers into battle to protect her home from those who threatened its safety. Solid Moss stitch bands surround and encase delicate Chain Mail mesh to create a light linen and cotton blend cami for sultry summer weather. The Isabella Camisole pays homage to the undergarments the daring Queen of Castile would have donned beneath her armor.
I am as much in love with history as I am with knitting and my current obsession being Tudor England. When I first sketched this camisole idea I had no idea that it would bring these two subjects together. The camisole was simple; a lightweight knit in linen and cotton to be knit and worn in warm weather. I wanted it to be sexy but casual as well, all depending on the fibers it was knit with. However, once I began knitting my subconscious began working and all those books I had been reading in recent past stirred my imagination. I saw battle-worn chain mail in the gray linen with a slight sheen. The piece was so obviously feminine that my thoughts immediately paired it with Isabella, Queen of Spain and Castile. She was famous for leading her country men into battle against the Moors. I do not claim that she wore anything remotely like my Isabella Camisole but wouldn't it be wonderful to pretend.
The linen paired with the mesh gives the cami a delightful weightlessness while lending it softness and flexibility. The cotton blend has great stitch definition with the Moss stitch that contrasts with the linen mesh while complimenting it. The banding contains the mesh while giving it structure. The 2 fibers are smooth so they can be worn close to the skin for a sexy top over a silky camisole or bathing suit. Or this piece can be casually worn over a tank top (as modeled) or tee shirt. For the night out, Isabella can be knit up in a glossy viscose and linen or bamboo. In contrast, an all cotton version would be great for a picnic, beach or in town festival.
Download the Isabella Camisole: Here
A special Thank You to Sara Sloan for her wonderful and quick photo taking abilities.
Stitch N Bitch: Embrace it, come to love it. Yes, it has a curse word in it and for good reason, too. Broken down to its simplest a stitch n bitch, or SnB, is knitting (or crochet) and chatting. Yes, I will grant that a good part of the time is spent, well, bitching but it is not centered on husbands. Who has time for that when your double decrease with a purled YO in between is just not working out on these $@&$! needles for the 100th time! A SnB is a group of like minded people getting together to do something they love in good company while sipping some Joe or vino. You can learn new techniques, compare new techniques, show off techniques-- What is this, you ask. Oh [shrugs shoulders], I am just knitting 2 socks at once. No big whoop [You struggle to close your jaw]. A SnB is a great place to check out new patterns and yarns in person. Reviews are prevalent, as is advice (warranted or not) and persuasion to try this or that. Coveting is also one of the best reasons to attend your local SnB. Casually toss down your new Jordana Paige knitting bag on the table and see the eyes widen and the shopping trips planned. I love checking out all the goodies others have found when I go to SnBs.
Finally, a good Stitch N Bitch is a great place to unwind. You don't have to see your messy house (unless you are hosting), worry about your cat going after your yarn ball again, listen to the kids' favorite movie again. It is just you and your pals, knitting quietly or NOT; having a good time. I can breathe and relax and when I get home I am ready to deal with laundry again (ok not actually but I am willing to consider it).
Finding a Stitch n Bitch in your area can be easy if you know where to look. First place to check are your Rec centers and Churches--any place that regularly hosts groups. Next you can check your local paper for area activates. Online is the easiest by far. You can start with simply googling your city + stitch n bitch and see what comes up. There are also sites dedicated to helping you and a SnB find each other. However, not all SnBs are listed on every site or at all. Check out the forums of your favorite knitting websites. The Knitty Coffeeshop has a string for SnBs.
When all else fails, start your own. Find a comfortable place to host (I often use my front porch) and plan a time and day. Think about the time--after work, you might want to provide food or suggest potluck; in the morning, you will need to offer coffee; lunch time, etc. If you don't want to provide food, try it in the afternoon, midmorning or evening. I prefer evening and ask everyone to bring their favorite wine. Set up a gathering area with some flat surfaces to set down needles, projects or glasses. That is pretty much all your prep time. Don't go overboard; this is not a dinner party. Now get the word out. You can talk to friends, post is on your status or tweet it. You can announce it on any of the mediums discussed in the above paragraph online. Then wait. A SnB is organic. It will not sprout overnight. If you are determined, friendly and open, people will come. It may be one or two to begin but word will spread and the good times will be had.
You can also put a shout out on our Facebook page.
The above picture is a pair of Jaywalker Socks started at my last SnB meeting
Lantern Moon Palm Wood Needles shall be from this point forward be called Turbo Moon. These are smooth, slick and great for speed knitting. Wait; let me back up to my first impression. Gorgeous. These needles are art in themselves. The grain and color of the wood plus the style of the needle makes for a very stylish needle. I felt very posh just knitting with them.
Now for the knitting. They were fast; I mean fast. I first tried them with S. Charles Sahara yarn but the needles were too slick for this yarn (Viscose, Bamboo and Linen). My loops kept sliding off and I felt unwieldy. I had a few balls of some bulky mohair, so I cast on with it and felt back in my element. This yarn has always been a little difficult for me since it seemed so slow and snaggy. Not with my Turbo Moon's. The yarn seemed to flow from one needle to the next. Even tricky stitches, like SSK, were cake with this combo.
I highly recommend these needles because they are so great for difficult yarns like novelty yarns, mohair, angora and thicker wools. The needles felt soft but solid in my hands. I felt no fatigue after a little over an hour of knitting and no aches (I often get aches from hard woods and some metals). The weight was good but even better was the tips. The Lantern Moon tips were not so sharp to split the yarn but not so dull to make picking up loops frustrating. In fact, I thought the tips so perfect that I completely forgot about them altogether until now.
I say buy for 2 reasons 1) they are super fast, smooth and comfy b) they are so beautiful that even if you never use them, they will make an excellent center piece.
My Wisp is (NOW) going along swimmingly. I will confess a secret: I have made this once before and hated it. I just didn't understand the pattern. I read it over and over and it just didn't make any sense. As much as I wanted to blame the designer ("Ugh- can't she just make it simple! I must drink wine") I knew in my heart of hearts that it was reader error. So I wanted to try it again. I knew I needed support so I would not get to row 15 and throw it down and stomp up and down swearing my undying vengeance upon it. I smite thee! So I decided I would throw it into the KAL poll and see what happened. The rest is current history and happily it worked out because I cleaver knitter, codename: Cape Maui, joined our KAL. She unlocked the pattern for me and though I feel like a dunce for not seeing something so simple, I know I never would have seen it without someone else pointing it out to me. My husband has told me that often enough.
Pshaw, I say. This is different.
Now I am easily on the third repeat and there is no stopping me. I love it. LOVE IT. And the yarn. It was an excellent choice. While noticeably less fuzzy than mohair, it is unbelievably soft and shows the stitch pattern in a new way. I just want to cuddle in it. The Cashsoft feels good in the ball but awesome knitted up. The color, tricky to photograph, is perfect. So bold but the red is classic. I highly recommend knitting wisp it bright colors because it is so delicate and transparent. The lace pattern and a bright color are the winning combo.
I can't wait to see and hear about the other knitter's KAL progress. Post your pictures or Ravelry links on our Facebook page.
My favorite room of the house is my sewing room. This is not just because it houses my sewing machine and other tools of my trade but because it is just my room. Painted the color I love, decorated with fabric and yarn as far as the eye can see (if you squint it looks like it goes on forever) and great big windows for light that makes me want to make. Establishing your own sewing room only takes a few key items, the rest is up to you.
1) Work stations: I have 3 works stations. A cutting table (I prefer counter height), a sewing table and an ironing board (or as I so nervously call it in my video "a knitting board"). You can combine your cutting table and sewing table into one to save space. Add a tabletop ironing board and you have got yourself a 3 in one station.
2) Wall space is a great tool for many purposes. You can hang inspiration on it- on the back of my closet doors I hang pretty pictures from many of my favorite craft blogs. It gets my creative juices flowing. I also use my wall space for a chalk board. I can jot down ideas, draw designs, make lists and record measurements. Plus the mini chalkboard I have for my daughter, Devon, is a great place for her to hang out while I get some 'me' time. (Great bonus: Chalk easily wipes off most surfaces, even dogs). Wall shelves are great for limited floor space or in my case to keep yummy yarn cakes out of little, destroying baby hands. Plus you can organize books, display projects and more inspiration.
3) Storage: No crafter can craft without storage. You find a great sale, you stock up on tools and notions. You see a limited amount of yardage in a to-die-for print. You just got paid and had too many glasses of wine at the SnB meeting and went overboard on yarn. But you must be organized. There is no point storing supplies and tools if you can't find them when you need them or forget about them. Storage can be so pretty, embrace it. I use red, transparent bins in my bookcase for fabric scraps, patterns, and yarn storage. In my closet, I keep fabric rolls, smaller yardages in a sweater holder, tools and hard cases on a shelving unit and unfinished projects hanging up. Interfacing, muslin and canvas yardages go up above because they are used the least. Pillow stuffing is banished to the attic because it takes up so much darn room.
4) Lighting. Please do yourself a favor and choose great lighting for your sewing room. I am lucky to have big western-facing windows but in the evening I use my track lighting system that I bought for less than $100 at a home improvement store. It is good looking and task oriented. I also have an Ott light on my sewing table for great task lighting. Great lighting will help you see what you are doing and love your finished projects even more.
These are the main areas to focus on when setting up or redecorating your sewing area. The rest, paint, wall art, decorations and knick-knacks, is up to you. Don't ask a lot of opinions because, I fear, you will end up with a sewing rooms that everyone else likes but you. This is your creative rooms, be bold, and go with your gut. How can you go wrong, just look at your awesome projects. Your sewing room will be a reflection of those projects times 100!
P.s. Just so you know I was so nervous filming this video. I want to reiterate that I smile a ridiculous amount more than as portrayed in this film. If you ain't buying it, I would love to have you over for sweet tea and witticism so I can at least impress you with my hosting abilities. I am not bad.
My wall color is from Valspar and is based on the color found at Mt Vernon in Mr. Washington's step-daughter's room.
Nancy dress found here
Yarn Swift found here
Chalkboard paint walkthrough here
Heather Bailey Pincushion Pattern here
If knitting and witty, thoughtful writing were in a Hollywood relationship, their super annoying gossip television couple name (think Bennifer and Brangelina) would be Knitty. This is a perfect introduction to Knitty.com. It is the best of knitting without rehab, dropped stitches (well, not really. Check out their super star Clapotis) and empty coffee pots (check out their forum: the coffeeshop).
Knitty.com is a free online magazine featuring knitting based articles, fun knitting products and patterns. But is it really so much more. In every issue, roughly published 3 times a year (Winter, Spring+Summer, and Fall) are features, patterns, KnittySpin, Covet Central, Stuff to win, letters from the editors and advertising. All this in just one edition! The features, AKA the words-stuffs part of the magazine, usually include Cool Stuff: where you can find the coolest of the cool in products for knitters and crocheters. This can encompass bags, tools, books, patterns or even audio books. This is my first read when the new edition comes out and not just because it is at the top. I look forward to drooling over all the pretty that these editors have gotten to try out before the public. Often you will find solutions to problems that you didn't even consider before, just sort of lived with. Take for example the Ninja Knitting bag. I am constantly attacked by Ninjas whilst knitting but I figured it was part of the lifestyle. Now I can be prepared.
I know for a fact that Patterns is everyone first stop when Knitty hits the presses because page loading is often slow going for about 1-2 weeks after launch. While sometimes sock heavy, Knitty's patterns are never boring. Known for toeing the line, thinking outside the box or just plain fun, you will always find something to love for yourself, your wacky sister and conservative aunt. And don't forget the kids. When in need of a kid friendly project, Knitty patterns are my go-to. Each pattern is rated for difficulty, which is such a blessing. With confidence, I refer beginners of all kinds to Knitty.com to find a first pattern or a new pattern. By checking out the rating, everyone can be sure the pattern is at their level before they invest in yarn. Knitty also sticks to their standard list of abbreviation so once familiar you can tackle every pattern without learning another short-term for knit 2 together. Each pattern is also full of wonderful and descriptive pictures that are infinitely helpful when setting out on a new pattern. Plus, should you find yourself in a difficult situation, you can always depend on the good coffee drinkers in the coffeeshop, Knitty's forum.
The coffeeshop is full of helpful moderators (to keep the peace) and contributors (such as yourself). You can post comments, questions, pictures or just the latest thought in your head. If in need of help, an answer or word of encourage minutes is usually minutes away. I have never posted a question without someone replying within the hour but most times much sooner. It is a fun place to post your finished objects (FO), complain or boast about your loved one (DH), post a yarn sale, check out some new tips, find a LYS on your vacation or just hang with the other newbies or experienced knitters. Many a lunch break has been whiled away at the coffeeshop.
What may be the best feature of Knitty.com is that you can be in Knitty. Whether you want to advertise, write, have your product review or (BEST OF ALL) design a pattern for Knitty, all you must do is contact them. No agents or red tape to break through. There are rules for submission, to make it easier for them to help you, but it is so simple. Like all good things in the knitting world, it is just a bunch of knitters helping knitters. Just the thought that you could be a one design away from being published in one of the most read knitting magazines is so exciting. It is every knitter's goal.
Well, I hope you enjoyed learning about Knitty.com. I recommend you check out the archives and the coffeeshop, especially. Knitty is so much more than its latest issue. I am sure you will love it as much as I do.
*the picture is Kate, the kitten with britches. One of my faves!
I am so excited to launch Fabric.com's first Knit-a-long. It is also my first. I have participated in several (though now that I think on it, not recently) but never, ever hosted. I offer this insight to beg mercy should anything go amiss. I have high hopes of success and butterflies in my stomach from excitement! So let's get started:
The winning pattern voted on by Fabric.com's customers on our Facebook page is...
The Wisp featured in the summer 2007 Knitty. I say good choice, my friends. This is one of my favorites; I have knit it just once before in a silk/mohair combo with some color variations that was just gorgeous. However, a few months ago I saw a friend who had knit her Wisp out of a cashmere blend and it was To-Die-For amazing. So that is the yarn I am going with this time. I have picked out some Rowan Cashsoft Aran (57% Extra Fine Merino, 33% Acrylic, 10% Cashmere) in Poppy (You can see it on the bottom right). This yarn is also, happily enough, on sale in the Yarn Blowout. However, if you are a traditionalist and prefer mohair, let me recommend Rowan Kid Classic, Nashua Kid Mohair, or Angora which gives a similar effect.
One of the numerous benefits of this pattern is that you really can use any weight yarn - making it a real stash buster. Simply choose a needle size appropriate to your yarn weight and follow the pattern. Just know that the big the yarn the bigger the finished object and vice versa.
Know the plan for the knit along is that I will post detailed project updates, including pictures on the blog once a week. I will also be posting more regularly on Facebook and Ravelry. Both venues will include any tips or tricks I think of along the way, answering any questions you have on the project as we go along and then photos of the finished project with a detailed debriefing in my Ravelry Notebook. I hope you will all join me in posting regularly on Facebook and Ravelry with photos and tidbits. I can't do this alone and I will need the inspiration. I have many projects coming up that might distract me from my goal--see above picture for sneak peak. Though you may be as excited to see these upcoming projects as I am neither you nor I can get them going until I finish my Wisp.
So if this were a race, I suppose I would be shooting the starting pistol but since this is just a blog I say we commence and let fly the needles!
The focus of today's article will be an initiation into your Ravelry Notebook (my favorite part). Your Notebook Projects page is where you can store and view all your projects: current, finished, hibernating, and frogged. Project details include an area for notes to record any modifications you have made, pros and cons and progress reports. You can upload pictures for added detail. The ability to record and track your yarn, how much you have used, where you bought it and color is enormously helpful. Needles size used, a progress bar, pattern and yarn ratings are also included in project details. When other Ravelers like you pattern you can marvel over how many hearts and lifesavers (Signifies how many people have found your project helpful) your project racks up!
Your Notebook is also a great place to record your Stash. This is excellent for when you at work (during your lunch hour, of course!) and wander over to your favorite yarn store and fall for a pattern. "What yarn do I have to make this? Do I have enough? Or do I need more?" are questions easily answered through your Ravelry Notebook. You can also offer up your yarn for trade or sale.
The Notebook houses your Queue, where you can keep track of all the patterns you want to make in the future. This makes for an easy transition to your Projects Page when you finally cast-on. This page is easily reorganized for seasonal changes and yarn purchases.
Your Favorites page is a place to find inspiration, peace and eye candy. I love this page and visit often.
The Friends page is much like the social networking you are familiar. You can talk to your friends, check out their projects, get advice and raid their stash. You never know when you will need a knitting buddy.
Well, as much I want to go on & on & on about Ravelry, I think we have covered enough to get your excited to join. You no longer have to wait for an invite (I waited over a month for the beta version). We will cover more awesomeness in coming posts but sign up and check it out for yourself. It will make you want to knit or review your love of it. Only knitters could give something so awesome to knitters (and crocheters!) Thank you Ravelry!