Category: finished object

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!

Puaka shawlette

DSC_0061 DSC_0060
 

I have been meaning to blog this project for the longest time, but life keeps on getting in my way. Lately, that seems to be happening to me more often than not… but let’s get on to the fun knitting stuff.

I knit the Puaka shawlette for my mother-in-law for Christmas using a skein of Madelinetosh tosh merino light (colorway Cousteau) that I had been hoarding in my stash for over a year. It had come to the point where I would open up the bin with the skein of yarn, squish it to my face, and just put it away again. I had been saving it for something special for so long, but it needed to be loved outside the skein. And the Puaka shawlette was the perfect one-skein project to highlight and enjoy it.

DSC_0055 DSC_0046
 

The pattern was straight forward and easy to follow. I especially love the textural stitch used on the body of the shawl – it is an easy stitch to work that produces a really beautiful result that almost looks like cables. The lace border is also very beautiful, but did require my attention to avoid errors (I’m not entirely convinced I avoided them all together, but it all worked out in the end, so it’s all good by me).

DSC_0052

Overall, Puaka is a beautiful little shawl with just a hint of a romantic touch. And it worked up relatively quickly, which is always appreciated around the holidays, when hand knit gifts can begin to feel a bit overwhelming. And you can learn more about Francoise, the designer of the Puaka shawlette, in my Designer Spotlight feature.

Speaking of overwhelming, it feels like it’s been ages since I shared any knitting here, but by no means have my needles been idle. I have actually been working recently to finish up several knitting projects with strict deadlines for some third-party publishers. I can’t share any more details quite yet, but there are lots of exciting things lined up for this year that I can’t wait for you all to see (check back in March for more details on the first of these patterns). While these secret projects have eaten up most of my knitting time recently, I also do hope to have a few new shawl designs of my own self-published on Ravelry in the next few months. It’s going to be an exciting year of change and growth – I’m really looking forward to all the new adventures.

Pattern Release: Ariel

Ariel pullover by Brandy Velten

Hooray! The pattern for my Ariel pullover is now available on Ravelry!

Ariel pullover by Brandy Velten Photo Sep 26, 11 57 13 AM

I am nearly bursting with excitement to get this design released. I’ve had such a great response for this sweater and now, finally, I can share it with all of you! (It really took a lot of will during the test knitting phase not to release the pattern as soon as my tester’s amazing finished items started appearing on Ravelry… but I’ll show off more of those later this week.)

This design was born from my frustration finding a suitable pattern for this beautiful colorway of Madelinetosh tosh merino light. I wasn’t happy with anything I tried. The yarn just seemed lost in the design. Until I stumbled upon smocking stitch – it worked up beautifully in the variegated colors without being overwhelmed by it. It became a perfect match, resulting in a sweater I wear all. the. time. (I’m not fibbing here, it’s at least once a week.)

The sweater is knit seamlessly from the bottom up. The body features the smocking motif (which is no where near as complicated to knit as it looks) which reminded me a bit of fish scales, but on a more romantic, feminine level. So, of course, almost immediately my over-active imagination thought of Ariel the Little Mermaid. The pullover is intended to be worn with slight positive ease (I’m wearing mine with about 2 inches of ease at the bust) and there isn’t any shaping through the body, but the smocking stitch works to flatter the body in all the right places.

Photo Sep 26, 12 05 16 PM Photo Sep 26, 11 58 15 AM

This pattern is also my first to use seamless set in sleeves. The sleeves are worked from the top down using short rows to shape the sleeve cap. I have to say, I don’t think I will ever work set in sleeves in another way again. I absolutely love this method because it works so well to produce a great-fitting sleeve, and once you get the hang of things, it seems to just whiz by.

It’s definitely sweater knitting (and wearing) weather around these parts, so what are you waiting for? To celebrate Ariel’s release, I am offering 15% off the pattern on Ravelry until Sunday (Oct. 25th) at midnight (Toronto time). 

And, I need to send a giant thank you to my amazing test knitters! You all really helped this project come together perfectly, dedicating your time (and patience) to knitting up some very beautiful sweaters of your own. Thank you!

Cables and pockets

Photo Jun 29, 6 03 39 PM Photo Jun 29, 6 00 00 PM
 

First of all – Happy Canada day to all my Canadian readers out there!

Secondly, go, go, go enter to win a free copy of my Mont Royal Socks pattern over at Emily’s blog!

And last, but not least, it’s finished! This past weekend I put the finishing touches on my cable cardigan and gave it one final block. And since then, I’ve been proudly wearing it to fend off the cool days we’ve had here lately. It’s just what I wanted – a light-weight sweater that is easy to toss on top of a tank as I dash out the door.

The only thing that’s catching me up right now is a name. I’m really horrible at coming up with names for designs. Andy’s great at these sort of things, but he’s being absolutely no help to me with this cardigan. There’s got to be a more creative name out there than Cable Cardigan. Help me! What catchy name does this sweater scream to you?

Photo Jun 29, 5 55 00 PM Photo Jun 29, 5 59 46 PM

Designing this cardigan really taught me a lot: how to evenly space body shaping on a project worked flat, how to work pockets seamlessly with the body, how to calculate the rate of neck shaping on a v-neck, and how calculate the sleeve cap size for set-in sleeves. The sleeves were probably the absolute hardest part, but these articles from Knitty helped me with understanding the underlying principles, and more importantly, the math.

It has still been a giant headache grading the sleeve cap for other sizes, but I think I finally have all the grading tackled and I’ve begun writing up the first draft of the pattern.

Photo Jun 29, 6 01 05 PM  Photo Jun 29, 6 03 56 PM
 

I think this will be the first pattern I seek out a tech editor before test knitting. There is just so many things going on at the same time in the pattern (like waist shaping + pockets), that I want to make sure the pattern is as clear and easy to follow as possible, especially since it is my first major garment pattern. If you have suggestions for affordable tech editors that are great with newbie pattern writers like myself, I am on the hunt and definitely welcome any and all suggestions.

I’m really excited to accomplish this goal. Now I’m looking forward to sharing it with my fellow knitters. Soon…

Linking up with KCCO and yarn along.

Voila… happy feet.

Photo May 20, 12 04 52 PM

 

Project: May Socks

Pattern: None

Yarn: Turtlepurl Striped Turtle Toes in colorway “What is it all about?”

Photo May 20, 12 05 24 PM  Photo May 20, 12 08 09 PM
 

Finishing up my socks this month was super easy and super fast. These socks practically knit themselves. I used my basic plain, vanilla sock pattern, working from the cuff down. After I had already started, I decided I wanted to do the heel and toes in a contrast color, so I had a small delay waiting for the black yarn to arrive, but as soon as it did, I was back to knitting like a fiend.

I picked up this yarn at this year’s Toronto’s Knitters Frolic. Usually, I tour around the festival a bit deciding on the yarns I want to splurge on, but there were only two skeins of this colorway left, so I immediately scooped it up and held it close and tight. It’s becoming a bit of a tradition to pick up a lovely skein (or two) of Turtlepurl yarn each year at the Frolic. I just love basically all of the colorways (it really can be hard to chose) and I like that I’m supporting a smaller Canadian dyer.

Photo May 20, 12 05 54 PM

 

I have just enough yarn left to knit up another pair of these beauties, so this pair will be shipped off to Austin, Texas for my sister’s birthday. Austin isn’t usually a place where you need wool socks, no matter the time of the year, but both my sister and I tend to suffer from cold-feet syndrome, so I know she’ll get some good use out of these handknit socks.

And, be sure to check out the other great socks made this month for Liesl’s challenge.

Linking up with KCCO.

Stitch Surfer Socks

Photo Apr 25, 8 17 51 PM

 

Project: April Stitch Surfer Socks

Pattern: Stitch Sufer

Yarn: Turtlepurl Striped Turtle Toes and Knit Picks Stroll Fingering Solid

Photo Apr 25, 8 16 24 PM Photo Apr 25, 8 17 28 PM
I’ve finished my socks for Liesl’s sock challenge with time to spare this month. I was still in a rather yellow state of mind after last month’s socks. I had almost a full skein of the yarn left, so I dug through my sock yarn scraps (which I apparently think will just spontaneously knit itself into a beekeeper quilt without me) and found some complimentary yarn which just happened to be rather stripy. Perfect chance to try out Stitch Surfer, as it had been on my sock queue for a good while.

The pattern was …fine. It made sense and it was relatively easy to follow once you got started. But I’m not totally in love with it. There are aspects, like the visible wrap and turn on the bottom/back of the socks that I’m not a fan of. And the heel did not make any sense to me in the pattern. I worked it for the first sock, but it was way to short and squat for my liking. I don’t know if I just didn’t work it correctly, as this was a new way to work heels to me, or if that’s just the way it is. Either way, I ripped it out and worked a regular short row heel.

The pattern takes a really creative approach to sock construction, though. And for me it had a nice integration of mindless stockinette + interesting design elements to keep the knitting entertaining without being too complicated. It’s this balance that makes for perfect commuting knitting.

Photo Apr 25, 8 19 12 PM Photo Apr 25, 8 18 55 PM
I also ran into an issue with row gauge. For reasons that, to me, seem to defy basic physics, my row gauge changed when I switched the colors for the second sock. I think the problem arouse from the slight difference in thickness between the two yarns, but I still do not understand why simply working them in a different order changed the row height. It caused my curves to not exactly match up across the two socks, especially on the leg, although they have the same measurements. It’s not something you really notice without close examination, but it bothers me just a bit.

Overall, I like these socks. They are pretty funky and fun. They are bright and happy. And the project allowed me to explore a completely new and totally creative way to build socks. Plus, this pattern is a really great way to use up the larger chunks of left over sock yarn I find myself with because apparently my feet are freakishly teeny tiny.

I’m really looking forward to knitting up next month’s socks. I picked up some brand new striped Turtletoes yarn at this past weekend’s Toronto Knitter’s Frolic and let me just say it is splendid and happy and, and, well, just look at it..

Photo Apr 25, 8 48 39 PMI’m hoping to stretch this into two pairs of socks, one for myself and one for my sister. Because who doesn’t need bright rainbow striped socks to cheer them up every once in awhile?

Tweedy Ravello

 DSC_0086 DSC_0029

Project: Tweedy Ravello

Pattern: Ravello by Isabell Kraemer

Yarn: Debbie Bliss Donegal Fine

DSC_0021

I originally bought this yarn with some birthday money back in November. When I picked it out, I had a completely different project in mind. Something rustically tweedy with colorwork throughout the whole body. I was really on a stranded knitting, steeked cardigan phase back then. (Let’s be honest, I still sort of am… I don’t think it’s something I’ll grow out of.) But once I got started on the project, it just wasn’t coming out the way I had envisioned. And the yarn was not the most fun to knit colorwork with. It just didn’t slide through my fingers in the way I wanted when I was working with more than one strand at a time, throwing off my tension, and making any progress feel like it was taking forever. And when the knitting stops being fun, it’s time to rethink things. So I set it aside for a bit, hoping for a project to come around that would be a good fit for the yarn, the colors, and work with the amount I had on hand.

But silly me, that pattern was sitting in my queue – Ravello was a perfect fit for this yarn.

DSC_0083 DSC_0016
 

I have many of Isabell’s patterns on my favorite’s list, but this is the first one I’ve knit. I admire her aesthetic – it’s sporty, casual, stylish, makes great use of lines and patterns, and provides you with tons of great opportunities to play with color. All things that totally jive with me and easily fit into my wardrobe. Ravello is a spectacular example of Isabell’s beautiful design and I had great fun working it up. The pattern was well written and easy to follow. Just as you would imagine, her patterns are straight-forward and beautifully simple in their construction. You can follow the pattern to the letter and end up with a great product, or you can easily customize it and put your own spin on things. (For a little inspiration look at all the great customized projects creative knitters have been working on.) I changed mine just a bit. I worked two extra stripes on the sleeves (because I was afraid of running out of the cream yarn) and added in a bit of waist shaping (this sweater has zero shaping and I need all I can get).

DSC_0092
 

The sweater is light weight, so I’m looking forward to getting a nice bit of wear out of it this spring before it has to be put away for fall. The yarn is nice and relatively soft against the skin. The slight thick-thin texture plus the tweed flecks gives it just the perfect amount of a rustic, homespun feel without losing modernity. Really, my main complaint is that it just breaks so darn easily. The tiniest snag and it will break – ask me how I know. (Minutes after taking these photos, I picked up Rufus and his nail caught in the sweater and ripped a tiny hole right in the front. It’s fixed and not noticeable, but now I know to be very, very careful.)

This sweater wraps up my first Love your Library project and I happily declare it a success. I used a pattern I had on my queue for ages, yarn I had in my stash, and am left with a great, comfortable sweater to wear for many seasons to come. Unsurprisingly, I’ve already cast on my next challenge project – Joji’s Old Romance. Because you can never have enough beautiful cardigans.

Pendulum shawl

Photo Apr 05, 4 44 42 PM Photo Apr 05, 4 45 00 PM

Project: Pendulum shawl

Pattern: Pendulum by Amy Miller

Yarn: Madelinetosh Tosh Light in Charcoal and Medieval

Photo Apr 05, 4 45 27 PM

When times get stressful, sometimes all I need is an escape into a mindless knitting project. So when I had a quick moment to myself during the past month, I would grab my Pendulum shawl for some perfectly squishy garter stitch to de-stress from all the strike action. The wide stripes and short rows were the perfect amount of thinking my brain could handle, making this one really awesome and satisfying escape project.

Photo Apr 05, 4 45 45 PM

Now that the weather is (kinda, sorta, maybe) warming up a bit, a shawl makes a perfect removable layer. (Let’s just completely ignore the fact that it snowed yesterday. It’s melted away already, so it’s basically like it never happened.) I’m still aiming to make shawls work more with my wardrobe and lifestyle. There are so many beautiful patterns for them on Ravelry that I want to make, but I still sometimes feel awkward incorporating into my every day style. (A shawl + backpack just doesn’t always work the best when I head off to work.) There’s always the go-to, oversized scarf look, but with a shawl like this, you want to show off the great structural elements of the tapered rows. And I’ll admit I’m still a little stuck in the mindset that they are more of an older woman accessory when worn over the shoulders… but with so many modern and intriguing shawl patterns available, all it takes is a little confidence and styling to make a shawl work on any fabulous woman. And darn it, I will be one of those fabulous shawl women!

Photo Apr 05, 4 45 53 PM

 

This pattern is super dooper easy to follow and the end project is fun, graphically beautiful, and customizable. Like the other patterns of Amy Miller’s that I’ve made, I highly recommend it. And of course, Madtosh makes it warm, soft, and cozy. This shawl was made entirely with left over yarn from my previous Amy Miller project, my Crew sweater. I just love knitting with Madtosh. The love affair continues. If only my budget would stop betraying me with daily necessities and allow me to swim in a pile of beautiful merino-y goodness.

A project off the needles equals an excuse to cast on a new one. I’m leaning towards Old Romance, which is one of the projects on my Love Your Library challenge list. And by leaning, I mean I’ve already gotten out the yarn winder and started balling the skeins. Whoops.

March Fruit Loop Socks

Photo Mar 28, 4 05 56 PM Photo Mar 28, 4 06 53 PM

Project: March Fruit Loop Socks

Pattern: Froot Loop

Yarn: Knit Picks Stroll Solids

One thing that I did manage to work on during the strike last month were my March socks for Liesl’s monthly sock challenge. And I finished them just in time.

For March, I chose something bright and happy to help shoo away the grey wintery blues. I don’t usually buy solid sock yarns. I think my brain just sees all the beautiful colors of handdyed skeins and, like some kind of psychotic bird, can’t help but hoarding them all. But I also often am drawn to sock patterns that just don’t work well with those sorts of yarns, like Froot Loop, where the beautiful stitch patterns would be completely lost in a variegated yarn. This pattern has been in my queue for a long while now, but I didn’t have a yarn suitable for it in my stash. Until I bought this yellow skein of Stroll on a whim when it was on sale a little while back. And it just matched up – cheery bright yellow and lacey cables like sprouting vines – perfect socks for welcoming spring (soon, I hope!)

Photo Mar 28, 4 07 29 PM Photo Mar 28, 4 08 23 PM
 

I really enjoyed this pattern. The eyelet lace pattern is one of my favorite to work and it provides interest without being too holey. I don’t like a lot of lace socks because I find them too open for my tastes in socks, and as a person whose feet are just always cold, even in the summer, I need my socks to do their job and keep my feet warm. But be pretty. Is that too much to ask?

But this pattern is a great one (and it’s free – hello!). It would make a fantastic pair of gift socks because it looks complicated and beautiful, but is relatively simple. The repeating pattern is so easy to follow and work on mindlessly without getting bored. Those are some of my favorite characteristics of sock patterns. And because they are ribbed, these socks are also forgiving in the width department.

And I have enough yarn left over that I’ve started a pair of Stitch Surfers with some left over self-striping yarn for my April socks.

Retro Flower Cardigan

DSC_0002 DSC_0045

Project: Retro Flower Cardigan

Pattern: Adapted from Paper Dolls by Kate Davies

Yarn: Knit Picks Palette

DSC_0042 DSC_0004.JPG
 

One of my very first knitting projects was Kate Davies’ Paper Dolls adapted with a Totoro yoke. It has some issues (like the sleeves being waaay too tight) because I was a little ambitious thinking I could jump in with all these fancy techniques after just learning to knit. But it’s not too bad if I say so myself. And the pattern is a great one. It’s well written, easy to follow, and produces a fantastic finished product.

And the pattern is super easy to adapt with a custom yoke. Just look at all the amazing adaptations people have come up with on the project page. So after getting very frustrated with my big planned stranded cardigan of 2015, I decided the best medicine for my poor ego was to get back on the stranded knitting horse and challenge myself to design my own custom yoke for Paper Dolls.

I was inspired by the great colors I had on hand for the original disaster cardigan and Kate Davies’ beautiful work in her new Yokes pattern book, specifically her Foxglove cardigan. So out of all of the chaos sprouted my Retro Flower cardigan. I originally planned all of the flowers to be the bright blue, but it was a little overwhelming, so I went with a more traditional poppy red with just one peek-a-boo blue flower.

DSC_0036 DSC_0035.JPG
 

It was super easy to adjust the pattern to work it for a cardigan, changing the start of the round to the front where the steek stitches were placed. I secured my steek with crochet before I cut using Kate’s tutorial (can you tell that Kate is like the queen of fabulous yoke sweaters/cardigans and basically was a giant inspiration for this project?). I then covered the raw steek edges with a cute ribbon in a matching golden yellow for a cute little surprise on the inside.

Apart from steeking the sweater for a cardigan, I also worked 3/4 sleeves instead of the short-sleeves originally called for. I know I will get a ton more wear out of a cardigan with longer sleeves, and 3/4 sleeves make it adaptable across multiple seasons. I’m really excited to add this cardigan to my closet.

I loved working on this project. So much that I’m already planning another one. I want a long sleeve cardigan with a bit more positive ease. And the yoke will be foxes. These yoke cardigans are becoming an obsession. I have a bad case of Kate Davies fever.