Category: knitting

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!

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.

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.

Summer knitting blues

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My knitting basket is overflowing with inspiration and and possibility, and my design notebook is full of ideas. But, lately, I can’t seem to sit still long enough to achieve very much progress any any one project. I blame multiple, coinciding factors.

One is the heat. It seems like the past month has just been one heat wave after another with only a couple of days in between to bring a reprieve. With no air conditioning in our apartment, the consecutive days of high temperatures can make sitting down and working on a knitting project an uncomfortable experience. I also find the heat makes all of us in the apartment a bit restless, with Andy, Rufus, and myself constantly moving about to try to find a bit of comfort.

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On top of the warm weather, I have the heat of my approaching Ph.D. defense to contend with as well. It’s two weeks away from tomorrow and the anxiety is starting to build. Each day I’ve been working on my seminar presentation bit by bit and compiled my reading list to refresh myself on those underlying basics and get the juices flowing for those defense questions. Everyone keeps telling me that the defense is really a victory lap to celebrate and share the research of the past years, but it is still a nerve wracking experience. I know I wouldn’t be at this point if I wasn’t ready, but the long wait between finishing the thesis and actually defending it may actually be more difficult to endure than all the work I put into it!

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But cooler temperatures (and hopefully a successful defense) are on the horizon and hopefully soon I’ll be able to slip back into a comfortable knitting routine and enjoy having the pressure off my shoulders. I have goals to get several new self-published knitting designs out this fall along with a few designs scheduled in some third-party publications to continue growing my design catalog.

I also have some exciting news about Long Dog Yarn. You may notice the yarn shop has a brand new look as I switch over to a new self-hosted shop (although you can still buy through the Etsy storefront for the time being, if that is your preference). Long Dog Yarn will also be available in some yarn shops very soon, so keep an eye out for that announcement to find out where you will be able to oogle some Long Dog Yarn in person.

Thinking ahead

Photo Jul 19, 8 14 38 PMThe past few weeks have been marked by some pretty warm days here in Toronto. With no AC in our apartment the heat waves can lead to Andy and I enduring pretty toasty (not in that holly jolly way, either) temperatures that make you want to abandon all things wooly and never set foot in the kitchen again (except maybe to grab some ice out of the freezer for a refreshing cocktail).

Even though the heat has made progress slow on knitting lately, it has also inspired thoughts of cooler fall evenings and prime knitting season. So when the knitting needles aren’t clinking, I’ve been dreaming up some new design ideas and fall/winter inspired colorways for Long Dog Yarn.

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Most of the ideas are still that at this moment, just words on a page and thoughts in my head, but this week I dyed up some beautiful deep rusty orange to pair with Lichen, a speckled green colorway, and began knitting away on a new shawl design with a splendidly fall-inspired leaf motif for the border. The lace chart was a little tricky to get the hang of at first, having to remember to switch the symbols between right-side and wrong-side rows (you know, knit on the right side becomes purl on the wrong side). But after working a repeat or two of the lace, things are sailing smoothly along. My absolute favorite part of the lace is the asymmetry on the edge where the leaves stick out a bit and create a wavy edging. It just adds a bit of whimsy that I always enjoy finding in a knitting design.

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The color combination just screams autumn to me. Greens and oranges are not colors I tend to gravitate towards normally. Both my wardrobe and my stash are almost completely devoid of these colors, but every once in awhile it’s fun to take a step out of my comfort zone and see what other exciting possibilities lie out there in the unknown. And so far, I’m really digging this possibility and enjoying watching it grow.

Linking up with Ginny and KCCO.

 

Ysabel Knit-a-long

Ysabel shawl by Brandy Velten

I am hosting my very first knit-a-long to celebrate the release of my latest shawl design, Ysabel. Full disclosure, I’ve never actually participated in a KAL before, so it’s a new experience for me all around. But I’m very much looking forward to working up this shawl with all the other knitters who have joined the KAL so far. The KAL runs until June 30th and everyone who signs up and completes the shawl (including project page with finished photos) within that time frame will be entered for a prize package including a skein of yarn from Long Dog Yarn, my new yarn line (more on that later!). If you’d like to join in, you can find us here in my Ravelry group and receive a special discount on the pattern, too!

Ysabel shawl by Brandy Velten Ysabel shawl by Brandy Velten
 

I’m trying to narrow down my choice for my next Ysabel. I know I want to use the skein of Republic of Wool Twisted Fingering in Goober Patrol that I bought when I was visiting Portland in January, but I’m having trouble finding a color to go with it. I have a pink and a black in my stash that might work. Or maybe I need to go do a little yarn shopping?

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Pattern release: Nix shawl

Nix shawl by Brandy Velten

My latest design, the Nix shawl, is now available on Ravelry. Continuing my obsession with shawls this spring, Nix is an asymmetrical triangle shawl featuring alternating panels of squishy garter stitch stripes and bright lacey diamonds. Nix is the perfect project for digging through your stash and experimenting with some super fun, unexpected combinations of colors. I used one of Miss Bab’s Trios in Yummy 2-ply for my shawl after I totally fell hard for the combination of two shades of grey, one light, one dark with the eye-popping spicy papaya colorway. The trio was originally intended for a different design altogether, but that didn’t quite work out as planned and I just couldn’t get these colors out of my mind. And Nix was born. During testing, my test knitters came up with some wonderfully spectacular combinations that I just love.

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I just love the muted tones of Birgit’s Nix with the pops of colors in the stripes. It brings in a touch of color, but keeps it from being overwhelming so the shawl can be worn with almost anything. Lauren’s Nix is just about perfect in my eyes. Isn’t that blue used for the lace panels drool worthy? And I absolutely love how she also incorporated a variegated colorway into her stripes to produce one beautiful shawl. It really was a fun test knit to see everyone’s unique color choices take life.

If you find yourself feeling a little inspired to knit up your own fabulously colored Nix, you are in luck! I’m offering a 20% discount on Nix until the end of the day on Sunday, May 8th. I may just have to go stash diving to find my own wonderful combination for another Nix of my own.

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Finding balance

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It has been a busy time for me lately, contrary to what it might seem like around here. I’ve been struggling a bit lately to find time to devote to the blog beyond some drive by pattern release announcements. We can blame this all on the dreaded disease known as Thesis Writing Syndrome (TWS), which has become a full-blown inflammation. The deadline for getting my thesis approved in time for me to defend by the end of the summer is looming large, so writing has become my main focus, even to the point of infiltrating my dreams.

Now, more than ever, I have to work hard to make time for the things that make me happy and help me relieve stress (because those two things are not descriptors I would use in the context of the thesis writing process). I am a strong believer in establishing a balance in life between work and hobbies, especially because sometimes, graduate school can feel like a giant contest to see who spends the most late nights/weekends in the lab. (On that topic, I had an actual conversation with a fellow Ph.D. student who said to me, “Who has time to go to the movies in graduate school? I honestly cannot remember the last time I saw a movie in the theater.” when I mentioned that it was something I enjoy doing in my spare time. No one was impressed.) Throughout school, I’ve found that it takes little effort to complete my work and still enjoy my free time on the nights and weekends if I just put the effort into keeping myself organized and plan ahead.

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Lately, my knitting has also been a balancing act between a deadline project and a new design inspired by spring, which has finally arrived here in Toronto. For this design, I’m flying by the seat of my pants much more than I generally do when I create a pattern, just happily chugging along and making decisions on the fly just by how I’m feeling at that time. It’s a liberating feeling to just go with the flow, follow my gut, and not feel obligated to stick to a specific outlined plan. I’m knitting the sample in a couple of skeins of Ancient Arts 3-ply fingering. I used Ancient Arts yarn for the first time earlier this year for a design sample that will be released at the end of this year, and I immediately loved it. It has quickly become one of my favorite brands of hand-dyed yarn, and I love that they are a Canadian company, so I can support a Canadian business. I definitely look forward to my knitting breaks working with this lovely yarn. And I keep telling myself that soon, all this hard work will pay off, the thesis will be finished and submitted, and the next exciting adventure in life will be awaiting me. But until then, a nice glass of wine and a bit of knitting helps keep the anxiety at a manageable level.