Category: knitting

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.

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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!

Take a peek: Knitscene, Winter 2015

Julie, over at Knitted Bliss, does such great and thoughtful reviews of recent knitting publications. She inspired me to try my own hand at wrangling up my favorite designs and sharing what I love about them, especially now that I find myself paying more and more attention to the details that make unique and beautiful knitting designs.

So my first go will be the latest issue of Knitscene – Winter, 2015. Overall, at first glance at this issue, I was a little underwhelmed. I’m going to chalk that up to a difference in personal style, but I felt some of the designs just were not that fashion-forward or innovative. It seemed a little boring for a winter issue when knits should be center stage. But, that being said, there were some stand-outs that I particularly loved.

Yorkville wrap - Knitscene, Winter 2015 Yorkville wrap - Knitscene, Winter 2015

Design: Yorkville Wrap by Sachiko Burgin

What I love about it: This wrap looks so amazingly cozy and incredibly stylish. I love it’s unique v-shaped design with beautiful lace edging, and I love how they styled it the photo shoot. Sachiko is a Toronto knit-wear designer (who happens to work at one of our awesome yarn shops) and this wrap is named for a pretty swanky part of town. I can perfectly image walking around Yorkville on a sunny winter afternoon (do we have those in Toronto?) with some tall boots, sunglasses, a stylish hat and fitting right in. But I would also wear this wrap just about everywhere, and would look pretty darn good, too. I also love that this design would look pretty spectacular in just about any type of yarn: tweed for a bit of a rustic, cabin & campfire feel, variegated for a bit of fun, or a real bright neon for a statement accessory.

Anything else?: I wish I had thought of this clever wrap shape! I hope it takes off and we see lots more.

Field Notes cardigan - Knitscene, Winter 2015 Field Notes cardigan - Knitscene, Winter 2015

Design: Field Notes Cardigan by Jenn Emerson

What I love about it: This is one smart cardigan. With polished set-in sleeves and a shawl collar, I especially love how it calls back to the beautiful knitwear of the 1950’s, which is entirely encapsulated by the name of the cardigan. But this design isn’t stuck in the past, with  extra long sleeves and body, it also has a modern touch. I really think this classic design has the potential for becoming a staple in anyone’s wardrobe, worn season after season.

Anything else?: I’m just a little puzzled by the asymmetry of the body. I like the idea of an asymmetry that calls to mind a double-breasted sweater, however I’m not sure it comes through fully in this design. To me, with the styling of the sweater, it kind of just looks like your cardigan is crooked, which is really what I was convinced of when I first saw the photos. For me, I think this sweater looks best worn open.

Deep Woods touque - Knitscene, Winter 2015

Design: Deep Woods Toque by Kiyomi Burgin

What I love about it: I think this is my absolute favorite design in the issue, and I think it may all come down to the amazing color combination. I like bright things and unexpected color combinations, and the accent of bright peach against the deep brown and emerald green is perfect to me. I would make this hat exactly like it is. And I really love the simple stranded design of the bare trees around the circumference of the cap. With the double-wrapped, extra tall ribbing I also know this hat would actually keep my ears warm during a blustery winter day. You better love knitting up ribbing if you are going to tackle this one (and I do!).

Anything else?: Get this hat on my head right now!

That’s all for me. So, what were some of your favorite designs from this issue?

Hello, beautiful…

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This week…

Knitting: I find myself with a pile of beautiful, squishy yarn that shall, one day soon, become a beautiful, squishy sweater. My not so mini-obsession with splatter-dyed yarn continues, climbing to new heights. I’m working on a cozy, sweatshirt inspired design with vertical pockets, instead of a kangaroo pouch, and maybe some playful heart-shaped elbow patches. And this yarn is guranteed to ensure it won’t end up as another usual, grey sweatshirt. I’m really looking forward to cuddling up in this fun, bright, happy sweater when the dark days of winter (and writing my Ph.D. dissertation) arrival all too soon.

I’ve also been working away on a colorwork design that has been kicking around my head for a bit, but right now it’s in its more boring stage, so pictures of that will come a wee bit later when it’s more than just a stockinette rectangle.

All the knitting is keeping me distracted while I wait back to hear from several design submissions, very, very impatiently, I might add. That, and I may be procrastinating just a bit on starting work on writing up my latest manuscript for work. (I’m at that stage where I just stare at the blank page on the screen… just waiting for something decent to pour out to get me started. That first sentence is always the hardest, isn’t it?)

Reading: I’ve moved on to the next novel in the Throne of Glass series, Heir of Midnight. I’m happily comfortable in the world Sarah J. Maas has built and I am looking forward to following these characters through their journey. I may not be in love with the series, but it’s good enough to keep me trapped there for a bit longer.

Watching: Fall TV season is here! I’m looking forward to the new Muppets show, the Heroes reboot, the final season of Downton Abbey, and the return of my guilty pleasure, Scandal. I kind of watch a bit of TV…

Andy and I also saw several movies at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival, but that’s a blog entry all on its own.

For now, I’ll just leave you with a little sneaky peeky at a sweater that I finished last weekend, just to get your curiosity peaked.

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Linking up with KCCO and yarn along.

Meeting Miss Findley

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A few weeks ago, Andy and I flew to Dallas to visit his family and meet our new (and first!) little niece, Miss Findley Jane. She was only a month old (still so tiny!) and I had great fun snuggling with her on our short visit. Next time I see her, she is likely to be so much bigger, so I had to get in as much baby time as possible. And you can believe lots of knitted goodies are in her future, not that Dallas has much of a call for knitted wear. I already have several adorable little dresses on my queue, though, just waiting for her to grow a wee bit bigger.

The trip really was a baby palooza. It seems like all the cousins in Andy’s family are popping out babies left and right. I am a little biased, though, and was very excited to meet wee little Keith, who is lucky enough to have our best man as his dad. That kid has good taste. Unfortunately, I was too busy cuddling to snap some pictures, but take my word that he is quite the handsome fellow.

Both Keith’s mom and pop are alumni of Texas Tech University, which of course means, they are giant fans of the Texas Tech football team. And that means Keith is a Texas Tech fan, whether he knows it or not (although Andy and I seriously take our responsibility to show him the light and make sure he chooses the best Texas university, Texas A&M). So I brought Keith his first Texas Tech swag, so he can support his team this fall.

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I used the Baby Sophisticate pattern (which is free and awesome) and then used duplicate stitch to add the double T. Can’t wait to see him sporting his sweater when he attends his first football game this fall.

On a jet plane

Andy and I are heading to Dallas to meet our new baby niece this weekend. Of course, a plane ride means lots of knitting time. And you can never have enough knitting on hand, even if the trip is only four days long. 

Yarn packing is always the hardest, but I think these are the beauties that will be traveling with me…

   


Some lovely yarn from Miss Babs for a sweater project I’m working on…

 

Some socks, the quintessential traveling project…  

 
And some pretty Madtosh light for a shawl. 

I should have enough… I hope. 

Project Highlights: City Lights Beanie

To coincide with the release of my new City Lights Beanie pattern, I wanted to show off a couple of the great projects from the test knit.

City Lights Beanie by Snapdragon Crafts

First, Emily’s hat came out wonderfully! As her base color, she used a splatter-dyed yarn, which are so popular right now and I absolutely love. She then used the pink and blue flecks in her base yarn to pick her contrast colors for the colorwork arrows. And it looks great! I also really love her ginormous pompom on the top there. The finished hat is bright, cheery, and makes me happy to look at.

City Lights Beanie by IrkedTurtleThen there is Keiran’s brillant take on the hat. With the dark grey background, the neon colorwork just pops. This cap totally embodies the spirit and name of the pattern. Why didn’t I think about doing this pattern on a dark background?! Now that I see it, I totally want to knit one just like this for myself. Because who doesn’t need three versions of the same hat for every possible outfit. 😉

Inspired? Pick up a free copy of the pattern for yourself! And thank you to all my awesome test knitters – you guys are always so inspiring!

City Lights Beanie

City Lights Beanie City Lights Beanie
 

My latest design, the City Lights Beanie is now live on Ravelry. This fitted cap features arrow colorwork patterns that are worked with stranded knitting. Not only is the stranded knitting fun (it’s a favorite of mine), but also helps provide a bit more warmth. With bright colors, fun graphic design, and warmth, this is a fun project for any dreary winter day (I know I’m not looking forward to the many we have ahead of us here in Toronto…). The pattern includes instructions and charts to working the design in two colors or, if you like things extra fun, three total colors.

And the best thing about this pattern — it’s free! So if you’ve been looking for a chance to try out colorwork and stranded knitting, this is the perfect chance.

I always have fun time designing and knitting my samples for a pattern, but this time around it was that the test knitting has been the best thing about this design. A little later this week I will share a couple of the finished tests for this design because I think they came out even better than I could have imagined for this design – I had some lovely creative testers this time around.

Knitting through a heat wave

 Morocco Sweater Stitched Up in Toronto  
Morocco Sweater  Stitched Up in Toronto 
The past few days have been pretty warm, Canadianly speaking. With no air conditioning in the apartment, we basically throw open the windows each night hoping to draw in some of the cooler air to trap it inside during the day. Then turn the fans on as high as they can handle and drink lots of iced tea. It’s  almost liveable, but I am hoping for some cooler days soon, if only to make knitting more enjoyable. (And for poor Rufus, who must be burning up all day long, poor kid.)

  

Fortunately, none of my current projects have grown too large, so knitting is still mostly tolerable. Which is a small blessing because work has me a little stressed at the moment. I cannot believe that July is already gone! I know data has gotten collected and things have been accomplished, but it doesn’t feel like as much has happened this summer as I was hoping. I know this is almost always the case – time flies and I feel like I’m getting left behind. Every year, I convince myself I will bend time and space and defy physics, but it hasn’t seemed to happen just yet. Things usually never as bad as I think they are, but this year is a little different. With July gone this year, it really is hitting me that I have less than a year left on my student visa. The deadline of finishing my Ph.D. feels very real. Stress + heat = insomnia.

So the creative outlet (and distraction) of knitting has been needed lately, because it’s no use just sitting around hoping and wishing that lab work would go faster than it is physically possible. It’ll be what it will be. And I know things will get finished up, even if I have to compromise on everything being perfectly perfect all the time, because I know myself and my limits. And I’ve never let these things get the best of me before. (Not to mention, I’m also really, really looking forward to being Dr. Velten soon.)

I’ve also taken time to relax and read a bit more before bed. I’m almost through with Shadow Scale and have been eyeing my book shelf, trying to decide what I’m in the mood for next. A happy escape is instore, I think. Some nice summer reading. 

Linking up with KCCO and yarn along

Swatchin’ with my homies

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I’m not a big fan of swatching. This statement should really not be a big surprise to anyone. I have gotten pretty good at winging it on patterns and haven’t had too much of a sizing issue (read as: I’ve gotten pretty lucky and have not yet come to fully regret not doing a proper swatch). But it’s pretty impossible to skip the gauge swatch when you are starting from scratch. And since I’ve started working on my own designs, my little pile of swatches has increased greatly (my prior two swatches aren’t quite so lonely anymore). I have taken to keeping my little swatches in a little tin on my knitting shelf. Every time I toss a new one in, I peek in at the old ones just to make sure they aren’t getting into too much mischief without me. I am actually kind of enjoying watching these little squares multiply.
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With my own designs there really is no way for me to cheat. Without the swatch, I can’t even do the simple math to get me to my cast on number. The gauge swatch has become part of the actual process of knitting a project for me, making them much more exciting to complete. Although I have to admit that my swatch-phobia is not completely cured because still really hate waiting for them to dry. I’ve been known to sneak in a damp measurement or two, just to get the ball rolling so I know what ballpark the gauge is falling into. Don’t fret, though, I remeasure to make sure the math checks out when the swatch is dry.

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This week I’ve started on a new sweater design from a swatch I’m rather enamored with. I had originally purchased this yarn for another design that crashed and burned. It was just sitting in my knitting basket looking rather sad. But I could not come up with a design that I felt was worthy of it. It’s slightly variegated, and I wanted something that would take advantage of the modest color change. Something that would show it off and not be overwhelmed by it. But my brain was just not cooperating and I was actually stressing out about it way more than should be allowed.

And once I stopped fretting about it, I came across smocking stitch, which just seemed so perfect. And it really is. And it’s fun to knit, too. I’m pretty excited about watching this design work up.

Around here…

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This week…

Knitting: The past couple of weeks have been full of knitting up swatches and samples for a couple secret-for-now projects that I am submitting to a couple knitting publications. It’s been pretty hard not to share any photos of what I’m working on, but I’ve finished those up and now just have to wait to hear back. So this week, I started working on a new cowl design – something that fun to knit and soft and cozy to wear. I’ve really been loving the tall, almost shawl-like cowls that squish up when you wear them, trapping warm air around you to keep you warm while also looking quite stylish. I took my cue from them and went off to have fun playing with color and stitches – whatever struck my fancy at the time.

Reading: I’m still stuck on Shadow Scale, the sequel to Seraphina. I haven’t had a lot of reading time, lately, but I try to get a few pages in before bed. I’m just not loving this book as much as I enjoyed Seraphina. Even though the world is expanding in this story, it doesn’t have the same charm as the first installment. My lack of enthusiasm is making it very easy for me to doze off instead of turn the next page…

Watching: I’ve been enjoying the summer movie season, watching a lot of movies at the theater. Last weekend, we saw Trainwreck with Amy Schumer, which was, as expected, pretty hilarious, but I also thought it was a sweet movie that had it’s dramatic moments, too. This past weekend, I also powered through the BBC series Poldark. A British period piece set in the English countryside – hello! I’m there. I’m looking forward to the second season.

Linking up with KCCO and yarn along.