Weekly update – 5/24/17

This week…

  • …I’m trying to get back into the weekly updates! I find this simple weekly deadline always helped me keep on track with updating the blog, even when I didn’t always have the most interesting things to talk about. So I figure it’ll help me get back on track here and also hopefully inspire me to find more time during the week to dedicate to pleasure knitting. Sometimes it’s just the threat of a deadline that you need to give you that swift kick in the rear.
  • …my primary knitting has been on a new design for a summer top. I almost had the whole thing finished up last week, but one night I realized that it was waaaaaaay too big – almost 4 inches too big. That’s a bit more than I can get away with as a “design feature,” so I had to rip the whole thing out and start again with a more accurate gauge. (The semi-finished top became the world’s biggest gauge swatch.) For the second go-around, I decided to try going at it from the top down rather than my usual bottom-up so that I could try it on as I go. I have never written a pattern for top-down before and was a bit nervous, but really it just involved working my grading sheet backwards, so I’m excited to have that skill under my belt and get more comfortable with it for other new patterns.
  • …I’m super excited to add a brand new yarn to the Long Dog Yarn shop. Alpaca Luxe is an absolutely stunning blend of baby alpaca, cashmere, and silk that knits up beautifully to produce an airy fabric with wonderful drape. I really like this stuff. It’s like knitting (and wearing) a soft kitten that’s fallen asleep on a fluffy cloud. I first ran across this blend in a LYS in San Diego and knew I had to order some for the shop. I’m really hoping this yarn finds a home in my shop. It’s a bit of an uncommon blend, which can be a hard sell online because people like to work with yarns they are familiar with as they can’t feel it’s amazing, heavenly softness for themselves. But I think this yarn is simply stunning for light-weight sweaters and beautiful drapey shawls. I used the tester skeins I ordered to try out this yarn to knit myself a simple summery tank top (which is out in testing right now and I hope to have the pattern released next month.) Ever since I cast off my top, I’ve been dreaming of knitting a lacey wrap for these cool Cali nights.

  • …I zoomed right through Netflix’s new true-crime documentary, The Keepers. Holy. Moly. No pun intended. If you are a fan of the recent true crime trend, you definitely have to watch this series. It drew me in right away, but the story is completely heartbreaking and frustrating, and I found the ending to be less than satisfying. Nevertheless, I recommend it!
  • …my reading time has been basically nil. I tell myself to go to bed and get some reading in, and it’s like 10 minutes after my head hits the pillow and I pull my ebook up, I’m falling asleep. So almost no progress has been made in my current read, Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo, which is a bummer because I actually like the book a lot and my lead eyelids is definitely not an issue with this book. Here’s to hoping I have some more reading time in the upcoming week.

Linking up with KCCO and Ginny (ugh. I’m so out of it that I didn’t even know yarn along had ended.)

Try, try again

Holy moly I have been horrible at blogging this year. I told myself after finishing school, I would get back to blogging more regularly, but we can all see how that has gone so far. My silence here has not been for a lack of activity in the realm of “real life.” The biggest news of late is that Andy and I have finally settled into a new place (for the time being). Andy was offered a postdoc research position at the University of Southern California, so now we are Angelinos. It was a quick move with just over a week’s notice for us to find a place and figure out how to get all our belongings from Dallas to LA. But we’ve finally settled into the new place, and (most exciting, for me at least) I have my own dedicated office/craft space for the yarn-a-palooza that has become life lately.

Most of my time has been gobbled up by the yarn biz, which has grown in leaps since the start of this year. Originally, I didn’t want my knitting and design blog to be overrun with the yarn side of my life, but it’s grown so much and become such a daily part of my life, that I can’t avoid it’s inevitable take over. Ironically, as I spend more of my days completely surrounded, practically swimming in yarn, I find I have less and less time to actually make wonderful things out of it. I’m still trying to find that balance between the dyeing and design aspects of running a fiber-based business, but I try to get a few rows in every night before bed. Lately, those few rows have been dedicated to knitting, then reknitting, and reknitting yet again this little beast of a sock.

 

New sock design is knit in the LDY sock set Cassata + Quick Fling.

The teeny bit of colorwork on the hem has been giving me fits – always just a wee bit too tight to get around my heel. I finally gave up and looked up some tips for doing color work in a sock, when that stretchiness of knitted fabric is essential if you want to have a functional item at as a result of your precious spare knitting time. I tried the trick of turning the work inside out as you knit the colorwork to ensure your floats were long and beautifully  And – egads! – it worked. It worked out perfectly! The knitting still looks neat and even, but it stretches over the heel easily just like it should. Sometimes it’s the little victories that make all the difference.

Pattern release: Valtava shawl

Today I finally release the pattern for my latest design, the Valtava shawl. This one took awhile to get off the needles and published, but I suppose that’s what happens when you make an international move. When I started this shawl, it was just beginning to cool down in Toronto and the thought of a giant squishy brioche shawl seemed absolutely perfect. Now that I’ve moved to California, the weather is just a tad bit warmer, but the cool evenings still find me reaching for cozy shawls to snuggle up in, so my lovely Valtava is still much appreciated.

 

Valtava is actually the very first thing I’ve ever knit in brioche. I had been eyeballing all the beautiful brioche patterns on Ravelry for months, envious of the gorgeous interplay of color that is inherent in two-color brioche. Finally, I just couldn’t resist any longer. As with most things knitting related, I blame yarn. Too much pretty yarn. Too many possibilities. I couldn’t help myself. I knit my Valtava in Long Dog Yarn Bounce in the Birthday Cake and Crush colorways and love the contrast between these two totally girly colors. But my favorite thing about the shawl – it’s completely reversible. There is no wrong side when it comes to two-color brioche, so in the end, it’s almost as if you get two beautiful shawls in one.

 

I can imagine this shawl in so many beautiful color combinations. While I only used two colors, I think it would look amazing with a combination of three or even four colors used for the stripes. This shawl really is just a canvas to explore and play with all the possibilities. Just picture what you could produce if you let your imagination go wild and take bold chances – crazy color combinations, adjusting the depth of the stripes – there’s a lot of fun to be had with this pattern. And it’s also a great start if you are also new to brioche knitting, introducing you to the very basic brioche stitches to open up a whole new world of knitting.

You can grab the Valtava pattern now and save 15% until midnight (PDT), March 21. No coupon code necessary. Happy knitting!

Happy distractions

Confession time: I still haven’t finished that second sock that I blogged about last time. Even though I put the pattern out for testing; even though I tell myself daily it needs to get done for the final photoshoot; even though I’ve set a date on the calendar to release that pattern – I actually haven’t touched it in over a week. There are just too many distractions running around my brain and I blame pretty yarn. When you have a seemingly endless supply of colorful yarn just sitting there, the imagination tends to go a wee bit wild and I tend to get a wee bit distracted. Case in point, this knitting bag full of half-finished socks.

My distraction this week has been a knitting up a new sock design. Because I like to give myself extra work, I thought it would be fun to release a design that included the standard mid-calf length version of sock along with the option for an anklet sock. Because anklet socks are so darn cute. Fortunately, they also tend to work up rather quickly, so that feeling of (almost) instant gratification will hopefully keep the dreaded Second Sock Syndrome at bay. So far I’ve got myself one whole anklet and half a mid-calf sock, and I’m really excited to get this pattern released because I’m having a lot of fun knitting up the samples, and I’ve found that my enjoyment of knitting the sample tends to be a pretty good sign for how a pattern does once it’s released.

Even Rufus is enjoying these distractions I’m working on. I swear he’s admiring the socks, not trying to push them out of the fleeting sunspot on the fireplace so that he can bask in its warmth. 

Linking up with KCCO and Yarn Along.

New year, new knitting.

Happy 2017 everyone! I hope you all had a wonderful holiday and escaped 2016 with only some minor bruising. It’s been awhile since I’ve devoted time to blogging, but one of my New Year’s resolutions is to get back into the swing of blogging on a more constant basis and to get caught up reading my favorite blogs (I miss you guys!).

The end of 2016 was a little bit crazy and a lotta bit busy. The big news is that Andy and I have officially moved from Toronto back to the US. We packed up our teeny apartment and bid adieu to Canada just before Thanksgiving. We drove all the way down to Dallas to spend Thanksgiving with Andy’s family and then drove from Texas to San Diego to spend the holidays with my family. After spending so many Thanksgivings and Christmases away from family while we were in Toronto, it was really, really nice to celebrate with everyone.

Besides living out the Millennial dream of being a 30-something living at home with mom, I’ve been working hard on dyeing yarn and have a few designs in my back pocket that I’m hoping to get written up very soon so I can have them released early this year. Now that the holidays are over, I’m hoping to kick things into high gear and really begin growing both Long Dog Yarn and the design side of my business (all while maintaining some sense of reality and looking for a job to go with my fancy new PhD).

One of the goodies I’m working on now is a design for a brioche shawl (pictured in Long Dog Yarn colorways Feathered, Scorched, and Spiced Cider). I have been eyeballing all the gorgeous brioche projects on Ravelry for months, but hadn’t taken the dive into actually learning brioche knitting. One of the things I loved most about two-color brioche is how it allow you to play with wack-a-do color combinations that should in no way go together, yet produce something unexpectedly beautiful and unique. Plus, with it’s reversibility, you end up getting more bang for your buck, producing two different, yet equally visually stunning versions of whatever you are making depending on what side of the item is peeking out.

I used the brilliant website briochestitch.com to learn the basics of two color brioche, along with increasing and decreasing, and I’ve been happily brioche-ing away since. This is actually my second brioche design that I’ve been working on – the first one will be out for testing very, very soon (she declared, wishfully). Since I seem to be completely bitten by the brioche bug, I should probably just give in and buy Nancy Merchant’s beautifully inspiring book Knitting Fresh Brioche. Has anyone else dived into brioche knitting lately?

I’m also still working on those socks (pictured in Long Dog Yarn colorways Electric Parakeet and Highlighter) from a million years ago (okay, so it was just back in October, but it feels like a million years ago). To be honest, these aren’t the exact same socks. I started over in mid-December to add the contrasting cuff/heel/toe. Judging from the fact that one sock of the previous version of this design took me about 2 months to complete, I think I’m doing a-okay having this pair 5/8ths completed in only about 3 weeks. I’m hoping to put out a test call for this pattern by the end of the week (if I can’t get my butt in gear and actually get the pattern typed up). If you are interested in test knitting these socks (or any of my future patterns, for that matter) you can now sign up for my test knitter mailing list and be one of the first to hear of new test knitting opportunities. I won’t be posting test knitting calls on the blog any more, so the best way to keep up with my test knits will be the mailing list.

Hoping you all have lots of exciting knitting adventures in the new year!

Linking up with KCCO and Yarn Along.

Pattern release: Pearls on a String socks


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I’m very excited to release the pattern for my newest design, the Pearls on a String socks. These socks feature a simple repeating cable pattern over the leg and foot that is easy to memorize and even easier work without a cable needle, making these socks a fun pair to whip up on the go. Usually naming a pattern is the hardest part of the design process for me. The pattern detail reminded me of beads on a string, and as I was working with Long Dog Yarn in the Freshwater Pearl colorway, the name for this design really just worked itself out for me.

I always find myself preferring sock patterns that are easy to customize to my preferences, and these would definitely fit the bill. The pattern is written from the top-down and worked using the magic loop method, but it would be very easy to convert the pattern to toe up and working with DPNS or two-at-a-time, if those are your preferred methods for sock knitting.

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You can now find the pattern on Ravelry, and to celebrate the release, I’m offering a 20% discount on the pattern until midnight, Sunday, Nov. 13.

Tea time!

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There’s a bit of a chill in the air, the leaves are starting to turn, and my favorite tv shows are returning to my tv screen. It’s fall! And it means my hankering for spicy, strong, hot tea is returning in full force and I find myself craving cozy cups of delicious tea more and more these days (the perfect excuse to pull out my favorite teacups). There really is something soul-soothing about sitting down with a good knitting project, a hot cup of tea, and something good on the telly. So I thought I would share some of my favorite teas for sipping and knitting on these wonderful autumn days.

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Most of these teas are from David’s Tea, but I am no way affiliated with David’s Tea. They just happen to have a shop right down the block from me, so I find myself getting in trouble there more often than I’d care to admit.

 

Glitter and Gold – This delicious black tea has just a hint of spice. It’s often the tea I grab first thing in the morning because I find it to be the perfect tea to give me that jolt to get going in the day. And it’s actually just a beautiful tea to look at, with small sugar crystals and delightfully adorable teeny stars sprinkled in with the tea and spice mixture.

 

 

Roasted Gyokuro – This is one of my absolute favorite teas of all time. It is so delicious with beautifully nutty notes that enriches the overall flavor of this green tea. It’s a bit on the pricy side for a tea, so I have to watch myself and make sure I don’t blow through my whole bag in just a few weeks. But this is a tea worthy of savoring.

 

 

Cream of Earl Grey – This is my go-to tea any time of the day. If I’m not sure what I feel like drinking, it’s so easy to just reach for this delicious black tea. It has just the right amount of bergamot for my tastes, and I love the smooth flavor the hint of cream provides. With just a touch of milk, these tea is one I routinely rely on.

 

 

Jasmine Black Pearls – This one is my newest favorite.It’s the best of both worlds, a lovely black tea with the flavor of refreshing jasmine.These delicious little pearls bloom as soon as you place them the boiling water, producing a lovely black tea with just a hint of jasmine. A great tea for sipping all day long.

 

What are some of your favorite teas? I’m always looking to add to my collection.

Transitioning

Happy first day of fall! As the seasons transition here in Toronto, I’m finding myself in my very own transition period, trying to adjust to move from the academic world that has been my life for the past several years to find what the next path will be for me.

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Right now, much of my life is consumed by my knitwear design work and dyeing for Long Dog Yarn. I still don’t feel that I’ve quite fallen into a routine and am still trying to figure out a way to balance both sides of this yarny business that I love that works best for me and my goals for the business.

I’ve really felt that the knitwear side of things has been dragging behind what I had hoped.  Part of that is due to an exciting reason, having two wholesale orders for my yarn that have left me with less knitting time than I would prefer. While my design time has suffered, it means you can go squish Long Dog Yarns in person at Knit1 in Chicago and at the McKinney Knittery in McKinney, Texas.

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And the other reason my design is dragging? Well, it seems to be a bit of a lack of knitting mojo. Starting and stopping ideas without really completing anything. My knitting has just been missing that spark a bit. But I’m hopeful that it’s starting to come back. These past couple of weeks, I’m finally starting to feel that inspiration that drives me through the design process, with several ideas all rumbling about my head ready to get out. What a lovely coincidence that it lines up with prime knitting season.

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Just another heat wave

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I’m so very close to having this shawl finished. I really want it to be finished. It’s sitting in my knitting basket giving me this “you are so close, but not quite finished” look. I don’t think it’s going to get finished today. I’m not sure if this summer really has been one heat wave after another or if it just feels like that because Andy and I have been working from home and exposed to the heat more than previous summers, but either way, I’m pretty tired of it. This better be the last one. The most frustrating part of the current heat spell is that I’m about one row and a bind off away from being finished with my latest shawl, but the idea of having that heap of wool in my lap this morning is too much to bear.

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Rufus is a trooper, but look at that face. Doesn’t that face just say, “Mom, when will life be comfortable again?” I feel so bad for his furry little body. Andy and I can escape to the movie theater or mall, but poor Rufus is just stuck here in the humid, stale air.

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Warm days also mean very little dyeing work gets accomplished. Even if I wanted to stand next to a steaming pot of hot yarn water for any prolonged period of time, I think Andy would have me thrown into the (hopefully air-conditioned) looney bin if I fired up the stovetop today. The very last thing our tiny apartment needs at this moment in time is another source of heat and humidity, not to mention the additional scent of hot, wet sheep. Hot, wet people scent is enough for the time being.

Fall, we’re ready for you now.

Linking up with Ginny and KCCO.

 

 

What’s up, doc?

Last Friday was my Ph.D. defense. After a bit of a major anxiety freak out the week before, I actually went into the defense not feeling completely out of my mind with nerves (although I did wake up around 6am the morning of, but it meant I got some knitting in before I had to head to campus). Once the actual event got going, the nerves melted away and science brain kicked in. So I can now proudly declare that I am Dr. Brandy Velten, Ph.D. I still have a strong impulse to call up every agency that sends me physical mail and change my salutation to Dr., but I haven’t. Yet.

Since earning my freedom from the academic grind house that is graduate school, I’ve been diving back into my knitting and dyeing.

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I’ve got a new shawl design on the needles that I’m really enjoying at the moment. A nice simple background with a pop of color and texture that makes it a fun tv-watching knit with some bits of intrigue thrown in to look forward to every few rows. And because my shawl collection isn’t reaching outrageous proportions as it is, I’m anxious to get this one off the needles to accompany me on our evening walks with Rufus as the temperatures are (kinda, sorta, just a bit) getting cooler in these parts.

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A little while back, I couldn’t help myself from dying up a few Halloween-inspired colorways for the Long Dog Yarn shop. One particularly caught my fancy, so I had to steal a skein of Boo! for myself to knit up a pair of festive Halloween socks. The medium length color changes in the skein make up some striping stripes that I’m totally digging. I’m really looking forward to some mindless knitting time on these beauties!

 

Linking up with KCCO and Ginny.