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Pattern release: Lagom

Lagom shawl

I’m super excited to finally be able to share this design with you. My Lagom shawl is one of 10 new patterns available in SweetGeorgia’s bright and refreshing spring collection. Lagom is an asymmetrical, triangular shawl knit with a squishy garter stitch background and  contrasting, playful bobble stripes.

The little bobble stitch produces a fun texture that looks complicated to produce, but is actually a simple three-stitch repeat that quickly becomes quite addicting to knit (I went through a phase where I wanted to add them to everything I was working on).  I originally designed the shawl around the fun little bobbles stripes, knitting up my prototype shawl in some Madelinetosh tosh merino light with punch of some bold bobbles striping across a splatter dyed background. I have been enjoying my prototype shawl for what seems like ages, but just wasn’t able to post any photos until now. I actually knit my personal Lagom way back in August when I was still waiting to hear about my submission (that’s how excited I was about the idea – I just had to cast on right away).

Lagom shawl by Brandy Velten

After teaming up with the SweetGeorgia team, we reworked the original idea to make use of the beautiful Party of Five gradient sets they offer. My sample shawl was knit in the stunning Swell gradient set, which transitioned from a pale, icy blue to a deep, gorgeous teal. I have never used a gradient set before, but not for a lack of love. But honestly, they just flumoxed me a bit. I just didn’t have an idea of the best way to make use of these sets. So I’m very excited to have a design that highlights these fun yarn sets and adds to the growing number of pattern that uses them. And, like all of SweetGeorgia’s yarn, her gradient sets on the Tough Love base are a delight to work with.

Lagom shawl

But enough about me. The Spring with SweetGeorgia collection has some beautiful patterns by many other indie designs. My personal favorites are the wonderfully lacy Taveas shawl by Mone Dräger and the spectacular Sonder cardigan by Fiona Ellis.

Taevas by Mone Drager; copyright Tabetha Hedrick Sonder by Fiona Ellis; copyright Tabetha Hedrick
 

In the beautifully bold colors of SweetGeorgia yarns, these designs just pop out to me in a way that makes me want to cast on both of them immediately. They both capture the spurt of growth and light playfulness that comes with a perfect spring day. I’m delighted that my design is in such great company in this beautiful collection – check out all the wonderful designs on Ravelry or at sweetgeorgiayarns.com.

Test knit: Karou pullover

Karou pullover by Brandy Velten FullSizeRender_3

Get all the test knitting details here.

Meet Karou. I’m so happy she’s finished and ready to be introduced to the world (the online world at least, because I have to admit I’ve worn her out a couple times already with great pride). This design was born out of the realization that all my pullover ideas seemed to focused around fingering weight yarn. And it’s not just my designs, either, I have a tendency to knit up a lot of fingering weight sweaters. I hadn’t truly realized that I was stuck in the zone of teeny yarn until I was going through my knits this summer. Almost every sweater I had knit recently was with fingering yarn… and then I realized I had a problem.

I needed to get myself out of the “fingering zone,” and so I picked out some delicious DK weight yarn and started jotting down ideas for a comfortable and casual sweater with just a bit of fun and spunkiness. Once the pullover was finished and I was searching for a name, I realized that all those descriptors basically summed up one of my favorite literary heroines, so Karou it was.

Karou pullover by Brandy Velten

Karou is the main protagonist in the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series by Laini Taylor. She’s one cool chick, with magically azure hair, a biting sense of humor, a playful nature, and just a bit of mysterious vibe. But through the course of the series, she also reveals herself to be a courageous, selfless, compassionate, and loyal, warrior and leader. I kind of really dig her.

Karou pullover by Brandy Velten DSC_0882
 

And I dig this pullover, too. (I swear, that bright blue colorblock of lace is really just a coincidence that proves Karou is the right name for this design). It is knit seamlessly from the bottom up to the underarm, when the front and back are worked flat. The front features a bright, bold colorblock of eyelet lace that continues down into the sleeves. The set-in sleeves are knit from the top down using my new favorite technique of using short rows to shape the sleeve cape. With no body shaping and a couple inches of positive ease, the sweater is definitely casual and cozy. It has become my go-to top to toss over a tee for a bit of extra warmth on these cooler autumn mornings.

I’m currently looking for test knitters for this design before it is released to the public. If you are interested in adding a Karou of your own to your wardrobe, check out all the details over at my Ravelry group.

 

A few of my favorite things: Baking

Christmastime is one of my favorite times of the year, so I wanted to spend some time in these few remaining days before Christmas day arrives to share some of things I enjoy most about this time of the year.
One of the easiest ways to get me in a cheery mood is through my stomach, so we’re starting with yummy, delicious sweets, my precious. The holidays provide an excellent excuse for baking up a storm and then devouring it all with little guilt (until New Year’s arrives and reminds us just how naughty we have been).

Gingerbread cookies are one of my favorite things to bake during the holidays because (for reasons completely unknown to me) these treats aren’t really around any other time of the year. And it’s a crime because gingerbread is so delicious. And because they use molasses, something I never use in my other baking/cooking, they make me feel old-timey and very traditional, which I love about Christmas. I am always searching for great gingerbread cookie recipes. This year I tried one that produces chewier cookies, which was quite yummy, but I think it needed a bit more spices added to it.

When I’m not in the mood to chill and roll out dough, I go with these amazing ginger cookies. They are some of the most delicious ginger cookies I’ve ever had. I make them for gifts or bring them to the lab during the holidays and everyone raves about them.

I also love gingerbread with a warm, sticky toffee sauce. (I really like gingerbread, okay? It’s delicious, and I stuff my face with it as much as possible during the holidays.) This cake is one of those treats that is so delicious warm because the toffee sauce gets absorbed by the cake making a wonderfully sticky topping. It is just so comforting on cold nights.
When I’m not consuming large amounts of gingerbread, one of my other holiday favorites (and something else you can only seem to pull off during this time of the year) is peppermint ice cream. I use this recipe, which starts off with an amazingly delicious custard. If you don’t end up eating the custard right out of the sauce pan, it makes an excellent ice cream that never lasts long in my house.
I also really love making gigantic batches of peppermint bark. It’s easy to make and is a great gift (who doesn’t love chocolate and peppermint?).

I’m always looking for new recipes to try out during the holidays (I think this year I’m going to try some of these), so what are your favorite things to bake this time of year?

November socks


Project: November socks
Yarn: Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks that Rock in Blue Box Fever
Pattern: Zigzagular Socks

The November socks are finished! (Check out all the socks completed for Liesl’s challenge here.) I got them off the needles while on my way home from San Diego (technically it was December already, but at least I started them in November). These socks had a false start early in November when they were coming out way way too big, even though I was using my usual needles and stitch count. So I started over, went down a size, and they are snug and fabulous. I may stick with this smaller size from now on because I’m liking the fit so much on these. 

The yarn is so psychedelic Socks that Rock that Andy gifted me for my birthday, so it felt appropriate that my November socks would be birthday socks, too. He said he picked the color because it was bright and something I didn’t already have. That kid knows my tastes pretty well. Plus, I think the name of the socks refers to the Tardis (at least that’s the only blue box I know about), which only makes me like the socks even more.

This is my first time working the zigzagular socks. I’m not usually a giant fan of twisted stitches (they throw off my knitting mojo). Something is just wrong with them, twisted. But I had fun making these socks and I love how they turned out. It is a great pattern for busy variegated yarn. Plus, it’s simple enough to work up quickly, but the cabled twisted stitches keeps your brain happy.

On to December! 


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Creative blog hop

The amazing Ine from A Picture Book Mind nominated me to take part in a creative blog hop that is going around. I think I answered some questions pretty similar to these a few months ago, but we’ll give it another try. Maybe my feelings about certain things have changed with the time… so here we go.

What am I working on? Unsurprisingly, there’s a lot of creative projects going on at the same time (mildly controlled chaos). Right now, my primary focus is on finishing up a few Christmas gifts for my family. I also have my go-to travel project, a pair of socks, on the needles. And sitting in a little mini hibernation until holiday knitting is finished, are two new sweaters for myself: Yane and the Telluride Aran.

How does my work differ from others of its genre? This question is hard. It really makes me stop and think, because I’m not entirely sure what my genre is. Here is how I would define myself: I am a knitter. I like modern designs and shapes. I love using traditional knitting techniques, like stranded knitting, intarsia, and guernsey, to create modern shapes and patterns. I make everyday, wearable items. I’m not sure how I stand out from other knitters who would similarly classify themselves, but I do know what inspires me in my craft. I often find myself greatly inspired by color. I love playing with colors – working with different, new color combinations, incorporating color in unexpected ways, and using modern colors in combination with older, more traditional knitting styles. I am also inspired by texture, like cables and guernsey, and love when these older techniques are used in ways that create modern shapes and designs. I strive to learn to use these traditional knitting techniques in different, unexpected ways to help build my knitting skill set and my confidence.

Why do I create what I do? Fiber art has been in my life for many years now. When I was younger, I crocheted, worked cross-stitch, and embroidery. Later in life, I took up crochet again and also taught myself to knit. I have a need for creative expression, but I was not really skilled in more artsy-fartsy techniques, like painting or drawing, and I’m not exactly musically inclined, either. So my creative outlet became writing and, more recently, crochet and knitting. I especially enjoy knitting because it provides me with a challenge, one that distracts me from my everyday stresses, but still pushes me mentally. I also really enjoy creating something that is useful in every day life. Finishing a unique sweater one day and being able to wear it the next makes me feel accomplished (and I definitely don’t mind when my work is admired when I wear it). For me, knitting is a very satisfying and rewarding creative outlet.

How does my creative process work? I would say about 70% of the time, I come across a pattern or design that I love and I will seek out a yarn that works with it. It’s with the yarn that I can try to put my own “Brandy” spin on it. About 25% of the time, I find a yarn that I just love and I will save it until I find a project inspires me, bringing about that miraculous, “I have the perfect yarn for this amazing pattern” moment that I love. The remaining 5% of the time, I have an idea of a technique I want to use in a project and I will seek out a pattern and a yarn to accomplish what I want. It’s that small 5% sliver that may be growing slowly as I gain more knitting experience as I’d like to someday make my own personal designs. Right now, I don’t feel entirely confident in my knitting to create my own designs and patterns, but every now and then, I am trying to find a pattern with a specific technique used in a specific way and just cannot find anything. It’s then that I briefly think to myself, “I would design this hat/sweater/sock myself, you know, and get exactly what I want.” But then I chicken out and keep searching. Someday I will get there, but not today.

I nominate Kylie, Steph, and Marina, three fellow knitters I love watching grow and create. You can look forward to seeing their responses within the next two weeks.

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