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.

Squishy mail time

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In the category of fun mail to receive, squishy mail has a place at the top of my list. I just love coming home to a squishy package with my name on it. This week I received a couple squishy envelopes that mean I have some fun knitting time ahead.

This week…

Knitting: I am almost finished with my Ariel sweater. I just have a bit left on one of the sleeves and then it’ll be ready for blocking. As it finishes up, I’m gearing up to start a new sweater and am having fun swatching and planning as I prepare to cast on.

Reading: I’ve set Prince of Thorns aside for now. I don’t know if it was my mood or the book, but we weren’t clicking last week. I’ll give it another try later. For now I’m reading Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas, the second book in the Throne of Glass series. I enjoyed the first book, so I decided to play it safe and pick up something I was almost certain to enjoy. Sometimes I just really need the certainty of a good book to look to each day.

Watching: This past week, Andy and I went to see the Shaun the Sheep Movie because I’m really just a little kid in a grown up body and because I love, love, love Aardman Studios. So I’ll basically watch anything they make. And, as expected, the movie was adorable, enjoyable, and just fun. I’ve also been re-watching Downton Abbey in preparation for the last season coming up (I don’t want to think about a world without Downton…).

Linking up with KCCO and yarn along.

I will call her Ariel

Ariel sweater by Brandy Velten Ariel sweater by Brandy VeltenI’ve been chugging away on my new sweater design. Lots and lots of smocking. As I kept working, the design reminded me a bit of scales. Not icky, fishy scales (sorry fishes, I don’t actually think you are icky at all), but more like the feminine, alluring scales like you would find on a mermaid, you know, if mermaids were an actual thing. And because I’m grew up as young child of the early 90’s, there’s one Disney-inspired mermaid that is very near and dear to my heart. So I think I will call this sweater Ariel and just keep the fairy tale theme that started with my Rapunzel cardigan going.

(When I was growing up I had a pool in my yard. And I have very vivid memories of pretending to be Ariel, the Little Mermaid, and being captured and hoping to be rescued – the whole bit. I also had an Ariel doll who’s hair met its match swimming in that pool constantly. So there’s a not so tiny part of me that is quite fond of wearing an Ariel-inspired sweater around the halls and pretending to be a mermaid again, secretly. Shh. Don’t tell.)

I’ve finished the smocking of the body of the sweater, which ends at the armhole. Now I’ve just got to finish up the back and front and get started on the sleeves. I am going to try seamless set-in sleeves worked from the armhole down. I have convinced myself that grading it will be easier than a sleeve cap, but I haven’t actually done any math yet, so that idea may quickly go out the window.

I have also finished Shadow Scale. I’ve moved on to Prince of Thorns, which I picked up at the used book store. I’m not sure on it right now. I iffy on the writing style and I’m also not entirely sure what is going on. Maybe that is the way it is meant to be… I don’t know. I’ll give it a little more time before I really formulate my opinion.

Linking up with KCCO and yarn along.

(Guys, I totally thought today was Wednesday, when I do my usual link ups. I didn’t realize I put this up a day late until I was riding the bus home. I blame the Canadian long weekend.)

 

Lace and Stripes Cowl Test Knit

  

A new finished design means I need a few more test knitters! My Lace and Stripes Cowl is extra tall and wide, so it drapes just beautifully. It can also be worn over the shoulders, like a shawl or wrap, for a little bit of extra warmth. Plus, the interchanging lace and stripes make for a fun knit.

If you are interested in test knitting for me, you can find more information in my Ravelry group. 

 

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.

Rapunzel Cardigan

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The Rapunzel Cardigan pattern is now available (thanks to Steph  Misty for suggesting the great name – I loved it and it seemed several other readers did, too!). You can find the pattern for sale on Ravelry or here on the blog.

Designing this sweater was such an experience. It really pushed me to brush up on my math skills, conquer Excel functions, and better understand how different parts of the sweater fit together. (I’m looking at you tricky sleeve cap! I finally conquered you and I want the world to know and celebrate with me.) This pattern was also my first experience working with a tech editor (hi, Holly!) And it was a great experience. I was so nervous about releasing this pattern and having someone go through and double check everything helps me feel much more confident (and sleep easier at night).

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So now I can declare delightedly, I am so excited to release this pattern. Because I love this sweater (wear it all the time in the cold, cold lab), so I hope it finds some love out there with my fellow knitters, too.