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.

Third time’s the charm

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Sometimes, it just takes time and a few missed shots to figure out what exactly yarn needs to become. And these poor skeins have been through their fair share. But they are being good sports (although, technically, they are fingering weight. Har. Har. Har.)

I originally intended for this trio to become an intarsia-striped wrap, but the physical item wasn’t quite materializing the way I had originally intended. There were little details I just couldn’t quite wrangle to fully reproduce the wrap as I had intended. So it sadly got frogged and set aside until I could work out the kinks in the design.

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But the poor balled up skeins kept calling to me from my “yarn warzone” pile of items that shall someday, somehow be finished. So I picked them back up intending to go at it with a slightly different idea. This time using short rows are large lace panels to produce the asymmetry. And yet again, the little things just weren’t right. Sometimes, things just look better as an abstract thought than as an actual physical object. And it can be so infuriating when you hit a wall where your technical ability limits your capability to actually transform your concept to an item. I suppose it comes with the territory of trying to design your own patterns. But that doesn’t make it much less frustrating. Perhaps acknowledging my limitations is the first step towards working to correct them, but it sure doesn’t seem to make my poor pile of “you’ll figure this out… someday” items/ideas/hopes/dreams decline at any substantial rate.

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So, here’s to hoping the third time is the charm. It may not be entirely what I intended, but I think working through the process has actually forced me to better define my exact desire sfor the item. I wanted smooshy, mindless garter stitch. I wanted a bold pop of contrast color. I wanted asymmetry. I hope and pray think I’ve finally worked out a way to get (most of) what I want and still feel satisfied with the design process rather than feeling confined by it.

And I really, down in my bones, just needed a comforting knit to come home to at the end of the day. And this is really hitting the spot right now. It feels… right. 

Puaka shawlette

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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.

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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).

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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.

San Diego

It sure has been quiet on the blog lately, but much less so for me. 2016 has started off in a sprint trying to get things in order at work to finish up my Ph.D. this semester along with working to meet some exciting knitting deadlines (I can’t quite share details yet, but soon, I promise). I feel like I haven’t had much time to catch my breath since arriving home from a trip to visit my parents in San Diego, but I’ve finally grabbed a few moments to go through my photos from the trip and wanted to share some of the sunshine I enjoyed during my trip.

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Designer Spotlight: Francoise Danoy

Recovering from the holidays has taken me a bit longer than I anticipated, but I’m hoping to get ramped back up. So lets kick of the new year with a chat with a wonderful indie designer that I have really loved getting to know through her blog and beautiful designs.


copyright Francoise Danoy

Aroha Knits

Designer Name: Francoise Danoy

Current Location: Ubuyama, Kumamoto, Japan

You can follow Francoise’s beautiful blog, which is full of insights into her design process. You can also find her on Facebook, Instagram, and of course, Ravelry.

What inspires/influences your designs? 

Depending on the design, I draw inspiration from nature or the Maori culture. If I’m having a particularly hard time coming up with a design, I play word association games with the yarn I’m working with to see what themes pop up.

Why did you first decide to begin designing knitwear? 

Short answer: because I preferred to make my own items and not work from someone else’s instructions. I started designing my own patterns four months after I first learned how to knit.

What are your favorite items to design? 

Shawls! Lace, fingering-weight, airy and flow-y shawls!

copyright Francoise Danoy
Puaka Shawlette by Aroha Knits

What published design of yours are you the most proud of? 

Oh boy, that’s a tough question. Each design is special to me in one way or another: whether it incorporates a Maori motif, or happened to be a overnight success, it involved a challenging construction… I’m going to take the easy way out and say that I’m proud of all of them.

What advice would you give to a knitter looking to begin designing?

Keep it simple. Don’t quit your day job just yet, but put in consistent and deliberate action.

Do you have any embarrassing knitting/designing stories to share? 

Not yet. 😛

copyright Francoise Danoy
Huatau Cardigan by Aroha Knits

Do you have a favorite yarn to work with? Or a dream yarn you’d love to use someday? 

I’m a sucker for merino and merino blends. Give me merino/cashmere blends any day of the week!

What are your designing goals for the upcoming year? 

Continue to publish at least one design a month. Get published in at least one knitting magazine. And lastly, get my Design e-course up and running!

copyright Francoise Danoy
Caprius Shawl by Aroha Knits

Tell me something special/interesting/funny, not knitting related, about yourself. 

I’m a nerd and my love for Fanfiction knows no boundaries.

And randomly, if you were trapped on a dessert island with only one book, which would you choose? 

Not-so serious answer: Hopefully a book that can teach me how to get off such island.

Serious answer: well, that’s a toughie, since I don’t so much know. But maybe I can use that time to catch up on some reading: “The Hero and the Outlaw”. It’s about brand archetypes. 😉


Thanks to Francoise for taking the time to chat with me about her designs and inspirations. And if you are interested in being featured in the designer spotlight, please drop me a line!

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Designer Spotlight: Jennie Santopietro

So much of this blog has become a dedicated place for me to talk about my design process and sharing updates on new releases and ideas, I thought it might be nice to give you all a break from me and focus on some other independent designers. So every two weeks or so, I plan to spotlight an indie designer, primarily focusing on designers whose work I have enjoyed knitting or whose designs I greatly admire.

To get us started in the very first spotlight is the wonderful and kind Jennie, who I thank endlessly for agreeing to be my first victim interviewee.

IMG_0754Designer Name: Jennie Santopietro

Current Location: Texas, USA

Find Jennie online on her beautiful blog, A Lovely Homemade Life, as well as on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Etsy, and, of course, Ravelry.

Jennie began self-publishing on Ravelry in September 2014 with her adorable Lady Wren pattern for girls and she has been going strong since then, including working with the Knit Picks Independent Designers program, and she is hosting her very first Mystery Knit-a-Long in January that all Dr. Who fans need to get in on: Bow Ties are Cool MKAL

What inspires/influences your designs?

I love combining different textures and stitch patterns into cohesive designs and featuring a certain technique or stitch is usually the impetus for a new pattern.  Once I’ve decided how best to showcase what is special about a particular knit, the rest of the details seem to fall into place. I have enjoyed playing around with feather motifs so far and many of my pattern names are bird-related.

Why did you first decide to begin designing knitwear?

I love making special things for my two children and I started imagining different pieces I wanted to create.  I could never find patterns for exactly what I had envisioned, so I started making up designs myself.  Baby Wren was my first published design, and after I released it, the ideas just kept flowing. I have fancy notebooks full of sketches and notes about ideas I want to bring to life in the future.

Lady Wren by Jennie Santopietro

What are your favorite items to design?

Even though they are time consuming, I have so many ideas for sweaters that I want to create. I also love to knit and design shawls—they’re a blank canvas that hold so much potential.

What published design of yours are you the most proud of?

I am most proud of Scarlet Ibis. It has not been a big seller, but I personally love the way it looks and how the shape of it makes it easy and flattering to wear. I love everything about the combination of stitches and lace patterns and it is definitely my favorite shawl!

Scarlet Ibis by Jennie Santopietro

What advice would you give to a knitter looking to begin designing?

Hire a tech editor! Don’t wait until you’ve published enough designs or made enough money. Find a new TE who is just starting out like you and work together to publish the very best version of your design.

Do you have any embarrassing knitting/designing stories to share?

I submitted an idea for a design (Gilded Flicker) to a yarn company and it was accepted! They sent the yarn and I got to work, but I couldn’t get the shape quite right. I frogged and reknit the sample at least 10 times until I finally got it to look the way I had envisioned. I was really stressing about having proposed a pattern that I was apparently unable to knit, but I ended up finishing it on time and I’m very pleased with how it turned out in the end.

Do you have a favorite yarn to work with? Or a dream yarn you’d love to use someday?

In general, my go-to yarn is a good high twist sock yarn. I have loved many skeins—Three Irish Girls Adorn Sock, MadTosh Sock, Plymouth Happy Feet, Knit Picks Hawthorne—never to make socks, mind you, but for shawls and mitts and all sorts of other knits. I’m not particularly drawn to the super fancy luxury yarns (I’m actually allergic to camel, who knew?!) Just give me a good sock yarn any day and I’m a happy knitter!

Featheround by Jennie Santopietro

If you could spend a day with any designer (living or dead), who would it be and what would you do?

I have gotten to know fellow designer Asja Janeczek this year and I think we would be inseparable if we lived on the same continent. I think we’d probably go grab a coffee somewhere and just knit and chat for hours. She’s already invited me over to visit the next time I’m in Germany!

What are your designing goals for the upcoming year?

I am hosting my very first MKAL starting Jan 7 entitled Bowties Are Cool MKAL Shawl, in honor of one of my favorite shows—Dr. Who! I’m hoping for a really positive turn out and to have a lot of fun with some awesome Whovian knitters! I also have a collection of colorwork sweaters rattling around in my brain and a shawl/accessory collection that I hope to release next fall! It’s going to be a big year!

Bluejay by Jennie Santopietro
Bluejay by Jennie Santopietro

Tell me something special/interesting/funny, not knitting related, about yourself.

I have two children, a boy (5) and a girl (2). I was induced at the hospital with both of them. My son took twenty three hours and forty five minutes to arrive, and my daughter was delivered so quickly the doctor wasn’t even present at her birth! At about 4 hours in I asked them to call the anesthesiologist to administer an epidural, as I wasn’t looking forward to possibly 20 more hours in the state I was in. He ended up standing right outside the door as she was born less than 30 minutes later! I was fortunate to have a great team of nurses that put me at ease and helped me through a very quick delivery!

And randomly, if you had the choice of one last meal to eat before you died, what would you choose?

My husband’s fantastic Chicken Piccata, mashed potatoes with black truffle salt and sour cream and Dark Chocolate Dulce de Leche Tarte! And Jack & Coke—let’s go out in style!


Thanks again to Jennie for taking the time to chat with me! You can find all of Jennie’s beautiful patterns on Ravelry. I’m currently working on her Gilded Flicker shawl, which is a really fun knit and is just turning out beautifully! I will be sure to share lots of photos once I have it finished (which hopefully will be soon because I finally shipped off my Christmas knits – whee!)

And if you are interested in being featured in the designer spotlight, please drop me a line!

Playing catch up

 

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Some times, my brain is hijacked by good intentions and I am left wondering what I have gotten myself into. That is the case with this year’s Christmas knitting decisions. After originally telling myself there would be few, if any, knitted Christmas gifts this year, I went ahead and decided about two weeks ago to completely throw that out the window and knit up about four different items that needed to make it to Texas from Toronto in time for Christmas. Yes, well intended, but practically speaking, very, very stupid. Oh well. I’m in too deep now, so there’s no turning back.

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The silver lining of this self-imposed situation is that I am enthusiastically enjoying the knitting each of the projects I’ve chosen. I have really cruised through the Puaka shawlette by amazingly talented Frenchie over at Aroha Knits. The body of the shawl was so much fun to knit that I sped through it. Now I am carefully working my way through the lace border with just a few more rows to go before this beauty will be off my needles.

 

 

Photo Dec 02, 10 11 09 AM I am also chugging away on my Amethyst Flicker by Jennie for the 2015 GAL KAL after a little hiccup at the start. I originally started it in an amazing pink color only to realize (after actually bothering to read the pattern) that I wasn’t going to have enough yarn. Whoops. So I started over (in an ah-maz-ing shade of purple) and am now almost half way through. I really, really want to keep this goodie for myself, but it might become a gift if I get desperate enough with the whole timing thing.

For now I’ve got to just keep knitting. Just keep knitting. Please tell me your knitting lists are in a similar state of distress…

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Linking up with KCCO and yarn along.

Karou pattern release

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It seems quite appropriate to usher in December with a sweater pattern release. Ask and I shall deliver! The pattern for my Karou pullover is now available on Ravelry. And during this introductory week, I’ll give you a teeny bit more incentive by offering 15% off the pattern until midnight on Sunday (Dec. 6th).

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Knit seamlessly from the bottom up, the highlight of Karou is the colorblocked sleeves and front featuring a simple eyelet lace. There are practically endless color combinations to knit this sweater in. You could knit a different one for each day of the week, if it struck your fancy. And you just might after you check out the beautiful sweaters knit by my testers for some amazing color inspiration. It is going to be so fun seeing other knitter’s take on this design as the Ravelry project pages pop up.

My own Karou gets a lot of wear. I find myself reaching for it at least once a week. It’s so easy to toss on with a pair of jeans and add a little bit of color to my day (and boy, oh, boy did today really need some color here in Toronto). Maybe once I get through my giganto-pile of Christmas knitting, I’ll treat myself to another Karou. Maybe in purple (imagine that). Or bright pink! I’ll figure that out later…

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Indie designer gift-a-long 2015

 

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year – the indie designer gift-a-long! This year 335 indie designers are taking part in the GAL, including me!

So, what the heck is the indie designer GAL? Well, first of all, it’s a great community based effort to accomplish your holiday knitting. You will enjoy 25% off select patterns that have been independently published by numerous designers on Ravelry (you can find my pattern selection here) between now and the end of the day on November 27th just by using the coupon code giftalong2015. With that selection of discounted patterns, you’d basically have to go out of your way not to find an amazing pattern (or two, or three, or ten) that would make an amazing gift. Or, if you are like me, you can cross off some patterns off your wish list and treat yourself to some amazing indie designs – I promise I won’t tell anyone.

Apart from some great deals, there is also one ginormous knit/crochet-a-long taking place until the end of December. All patterns from participating designers are eligible for the KAL/CAL and all paid patterns qualify for one of the numerous available prizes. You can sign up for all the fun in the GAL Ravelry forum.

I’ve already started on one of my planned GAL projects, the Gilded Flicker shawl by the talented Jennie of A Handmade Life.

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My shawl will be less gilded and more ruby as I’m knitting it up in a beautifully bright pink. I’m already having such fun working up this pattern, with it’s unique shaping and beautiful lacy details on a garter stitch background. It’s got a little bit of everything to keep knitting fun without being overly complicated. I plan on keeping this shawl as a little gift for myself. But I do have some gift knitting to finish up, including the beautiful Puaka shawl by Frankie of Aroha Knits.

The GAL is sure to be a blast, so come join the fun!

11/11

Happy Veteran’s Day to the all of you in the U.S., happy Remembrance Day to those of you in Canada, and happy Armistice Day in the U.K.!

It’s also sorta kinda maybe my birthday today, too. It’ll be the last birthday of my 20’s. That’s just a little bit scary while still being exciting.

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It has been so long since I’ve done a weekly update. Things have been busy at work as I prepare for two presentations at an upcoming conference, but there still has been lots and lots of knitting going on. Some of it is a tad bit of a secret (which, if you know any knitwear designers is a very exciting term because while it means I can’t share anything with you right now, it means fun stuff is coming up in the near future), but there’s plenty which I can share, too.

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I have just one more sleeve to go on one sweater design. It would be finished already if I didn’t hate knitting sleeves just so much. But I have plans this weekend to just sit down and power through during a marathon session of either Home Fires or Indian Summer (or maybe both, because why not?). I’m excited to get the sweater finished because, to be frank, I just really want to wear it. It has such nice little details that I just know it’ll be a go-to in my wardrobe.

I’m also chugging away on the body of a new cardigan. I have completely fallen in love with SweetGeorgia‘s Tough Love Sock yarn. It is such a pleasure to knit with and produces some very beautiful, and durable, garments. I’m a wee bit obsessed with the mini bobble stitch, which is not only fun to knit, but just fun to look at. So this is my own funky, fun take on the standard striped cardigan – with wee bobbles.

As for reading, most of it has been scientific papers (yuck!) as I work up a manuscript and those aforementioned presentations (it helps if you know what you are talking about when you speak to a room full of scientists). But in my downtime I’ve been grabbing a few pages of Heir of Midnight, the third novel in the Throne of Glass series.

Linking up with KCCO and yarn along.