Around here…

Photo Jul 22, 8 49 50 AM Photo Jul 22, 8 50 30 AM

 

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.

Cables and pockets

Photo Jun 29, 6 03 39 PM Photo Jun 29, 6 00 00 PM
 

First of all – Happy Canada day to all my Canadian readers out there!

Secondly, go, go, go enter to win a free copy of my Mont Royal Socks pattern over at Emily’s blog!

And last, but not least, it’s finished! This past weekend I put the finishing touches on my cable cardigan and gave it one final block. And since then, I’ve been proudly wearing it to fend off the cool days we’ve had here lately. It’s just what I wanted – a light-weight sweater that is easy to toss on top of a tank as I dash out the door.

The only thing that’s catching me up right now is a name. I’m really horrible at coming up with names for designs. Andy’s great at these sort of things, but he’s being absolutely no help to me with this cardigan. There’s got to be a more creative name out there than Cable Cardigan. Help me! What catchy name does this sweater scream to you?

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Designing this cardigan really taught me a lot: how to evenly space body shaping on a project worked flat, how to work pockets seamlessly with the body, how to calculate the rate of neck shaping on a v-neck, and how calculate the sleeve cap size for set-in sleeves. The sleeves were probably the absolute hardest part, but these articles from Knitty helped me with understanding the underlying principles, and more importantly, the math.

It has still been a giant headache grading the sleeve cap for other sizes, but I think I finally have all the grading tackled and I’ve begun writing up the first draft of the pattern.

Photo Jun 29, 6 01 05 PM  Photo Jun 29, 6 03 56 PM
 

I think this will be the first pattern I seek out a tech editor before test knitting. There is just so many things going on at the same time in the pattern (like waist shaping + pockets), that I want to make sure the pattern is as clear and easy to follow as possible, especially since it is my first major garment pattern. If you have suggestions for affordable tech editors that are great with newbie pattern writers like myself, I am on the hunt and definitely welcome any and all suggestions.

I’m really excited to accomplish this goal. Now I’m looking forward to sharing it with my fellow knitters. Soon…

Linking up with KCCO and yarn along.

Mont Royal Socks

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I’m so excited to announce that the pattern for my Mont Royal socks is now available! You can purchase the pattern on Ravelry or here on the blog.

DSC_0139 I had a great time designing these socks. They are inspired by my trip to Montreal and a wonderful, Quebec-based dyer I discovered while I was there, Riverside Studio. (Seriously check out Kathryn’s yarns. I can’t say enough good things about them and have loved working with her merino sock yarn for this design.)

These socks are perfect for people who enjoy working lace on smaller projects. They feature an addicting leaf motif running along the top of the foot and front of the leg with an accenting lace motif along the back of the leg. Really, I will jump at any almost any chance to incorporate leafy lace motifs into a project. They are one of my favorite types of lace to work because they are so beautiful, but are actually quite a simple lace motif to work.

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I want to send a big giant “thank you” to my two lovely test knitters: Steph and Emily. They both made the test knitting process so easy and fun. I love watching a project grow off someone else’s needles! (Check out their blogs for some “in-progress” posts.) And for some even more exciting news, Emily will be hosting a giveaway for a copy of the pattern next week, so be sure to head over there and enter!

Progress feels good

Photo Jun 25, 8 40 09 AM

Since last week, I’ve made good progress on my cardigan design. Last week I finished up the body and got it blocked. And last night I finished the first sleeve. (It took me three tries to get the sleeve perfect, so it gosh darn better fit into the armsceye like a glove. Don’t fail me now, math).

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I’m quite enamored with this sweater. I generally have fond feelings of almost everything I knit, because making a sweater/hat/pair of socks/blanket/whatever appear from a pile of yarn just makes us knitters pretty awesome people in my book. But this sweater is born not just from a pile of yarn, but also from an idea in my head. Having a tangible, physical object come from a thought is kind of blowing my mind.

Photo Jun 25, 8 38 54 AMI designed this sweater with only myself in mind. I wanted an interesting cable detail down the back (check). I wanted pockets to carry around my keys at work (check). And I wanted it to be fitted, but easily slide over another top (the math tells me this should be a check). I think I will grade the pattern for multiple sizes and take a crack at writing up the pattern. I want to get into garment design and this is good practice. I am a little overwhelmed with the idea of writing up the pattern because I fear no one will understand the pattern. But that’s a problem for Future Brandy – for now I will just enjoy finishing up the sweater and adding it to my wardrobe. Because, look, I made this!

 

The sad tale of my sweater

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I’ve had a bit of a set back. I’d been working on designing a pullover for weeks and I was pretty darn excited about the whole thing. It looked great… in my head. After spending lots of time working out grading the pattern for multiple sizes (and pulling out lots of hair getting the math to work) and making the charts, I started knitting up the pattern in my size. I finished the body of the sweater on Saturday and blocked it.

But I went to bed that night with this little dark spot in my mind. This spot was telling me that the patterning on the front of the sweater just wasn’t obvious enough. It was too short in length along the torso and wasn’t standing out in the yarn I had chosen. I decided I would sleep on it and decide in the morning how to proceed. But when that doubt creeps in, it’s hard to get rid of, and really, I had already decided before my head even hit the pillow that this design just wasn’t working out. The item before me wasn’t matching the picture in my mind.

I think I know what needs to be done to fix it. But I need different yarn and to redo the math, so this design is on hold for now. On the bright side, the body fit quite well, so it wasn’t the sizing that was off. And that gives me enough confidence to try again with something else.

So, this week…

Knitting: I having been meaning to make a everyday, grey v-neck cardigan to add to my wardrobe for a while now. I’m taking this chance to design my own. And if I’m successful, it may become my first real garment design. So far, I’ve finished the ribbing and the pocket linings. Did I mention it has pockets worked seamlessly with the body of the sweater. It’s a great design feature I first found in Andi Satterlund’s Armande, and I love it.

Reading: I need to renew my library card for the year, so I’m currently shut out of the library website and can’t renew my checkout on Crown of Midnight. So for now, I’m back to reading Shadowscale. But honestly, my reading time has just plummeted since I’ve begun designing knitting patterns. There’s just not enough time in the day and I hate that my reading time is what got co-opted into pattern writing. I’m trying to work on it.

Linking up with yarn along and KCCO.

 

Not enough knitting time

Photo Jun 10, 8 40 32 AM

 

This week…

Knitting: For the past few weeks, I have been on such a knitting kick – really inspired to get some more knitting designs released. But I have so much actual work I need to do to collect the data I need to finish my Ph.D. in the next year. All this silly work stuff is much less fun than knitting and is really starting to eat into my crafty time. It doesn’t help that my knitting motivations are so high and my work motivations are much, much lower. But I’ve gotten things done (it helps when you have an hour commute to work each way). I finished adapting my Mont Royal sock motif into a pair of fingerless mittens, which are blocking today. (I love love love leafy lace motifs, and I may be especially biased towards this one, so I’m totally milking it for all it’s worth with the beautiful yarn I got from Riverside Studios.) They will have a matching hat soon I hope, if I can find some time to swatch for gauge on a slightly larger needle.

I also, restarted my poor sweater. I got all the way up to the armholes, but didn’t like how it was fitting (what did I think would happen with 2″ positive ease?!). So now we’re back at the bottom with a bit more fit calculated into the pattern. This thing is going to happen…someday.

Reading: I’m about half way through Crown of Midnight, the second book in the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas. I am enjoying this series, but I’m also kind of glad they are just library books because they aren’t turning out to be a series I would keep long term. But the characters are interesting, the magic and mythology are intriguing, and the action keeps my attention. So they are getting the job done.

Watching: Bob’s Burgers is entertaining me right now. And I can do a pretty decent Linda voice, which amuses me. I’m really looking forward to the new season of Orange is the New Black this weekend – good tv for marathon knitting sessions.

Linking up with KCCO and yarn along.

Tutorial: Short row heel

In my upcoming sock pattern, I make use of the short row heel technique, which is one of my favorite heels because I don’t have to figure out gusset increases/decreases and I prefer the fit. But I know some people are completely intimidated by short rows and heels, so the two together may seem a wee bit overwhelming.

Fear not! Here’s a photo tutorial run-down on how I prefer to work my short row heels. This tutorial is done on a sock worked toe-up, but it would work exactly the same for a cuff-down sock, too.

Knit to the position in the pattern where you will start the heel. On your heel stitches, knit across to the last two stitches.

Now you will wrap and turn the next stitch on the left needle. To create the wrap on the knit side, move the yarn to the front, as if you were going to work a purl stitch. Then slip the stitch from the left needle onto the right needle, keeping the yarn in front of the slipped stitch.

Now, bring the yarn around to the back of the slip stitched – ta da! You’ve wrapped your stitch. Then slip the stitch you wrapped back into the left needle. You should see the horizontal wrap around the base of the stitch.

Now turn your work to the purl side. The yarn should be already in place to work purl stitches.

Purl across the row to the last two stitches.

Now we will work a wrap on the purl side. To do this, bring the yarn to the back, as if you were going to work a knit stitch. Then, just like before, slip the stitch from the left needle onto the right needle, being sure to keep the yarn to the back of the slipped stitch. Then bring the yarn back to the front.


With the yarn in the front now, slip the stitch back to the left needle from the right needle, creating a wrap around it.

Now you will turn the work a knit row and the yarn will be in the back of the stitches ready for you to go. You should see the wrap you just created at the base of the stitch on the needle now in your right hand.
If everything’s gone as planned, should have 1 unworked stitch and 1 wrapped stitch on both sides of the heel.

Now, knit across the row until you reach the stitch just before the wrapped stitch.


Wrap this stitch like you did before on the knit side, then turn the work to work across the purl side. You should see a bit of a gap between the wrapped stitches. This character, along with the horizontal wrap of yarn across the base of the stitch, will help you identify them as you continue working the heel


Now work across the purl side of the heel until you reach the stitch just before the wrapped stitch.

Wrap this stitch and turn sock to work across knit side of heel.

Now you should have 1 unworked edge stitch and 2 wrapped stitched on both sides of the heel.

Keep working across the heel to the stitch just before the last wrapped stitch and performing a wrap&turn. Work in this fashion until you have your desired number of stitches left unwrapped in the middle of the heel. Generally, I aim for about 1/3 of my total heel stitches in the middle between the wrapped stitches.


You will stop working the wrap and turns after a purl row (ready to work a knit row). You should have an equal number of wrapped stitches on either side of the center stitches plus that one unwrapped stitch on either end. In this example, I have 10 wrapped stitches on either side of the heel and 9 center stitches because I have a relatively narrow heel. If you have a wider heel, leave more center stitches for yourself. It may take a couple tries to figure out what fit you prefer.

So now we’ve created one wedge of the heel (in this example, this wedge will sit on the bottom of my heel) and we have to work back out creating a matching wedge (the wedge that will sit across the back of the heel).

So, knit across your center heel stitches until you reach your first wrapped stitch. Now you will pick up the wrap you created and work it with the stitch it is wrapped around to close up the gap.

To work the wrap, insert your right needle into the front of the wrap from the bottom towards the top.


Then insert the right needle into the stitch on the left needle to work it exactly as you would normally work a knit stitch.

Then work the stitch as normal, but pull the new stitch through both the stitch on the left needle and the wrap you picked up with your right needle.

The next stitch on the left needle is another wrapped stitch. You are going to wrap this stitch again, creating a double wrap, and turn the sock to work the purl side.

Now, purl across to the first wrapped stitch. You will now pick up the wrap and work it with the purl stitch it is wrapped around.

Place the right needle through the back of the wrap (behind the purl stitch) from the top to the bottom.


Then place the picked up wrap on the left needle right in front of the purl stitch you are preparing to work.

Now work the wrap and the stitch as if it were a working a purl2together decrease.

The next stitch on the left needle is a wrapped purl stitch. You are going to wrap this stitch again (creating another double wrapped stitch) and turn to work across a knit row.

So now you have picked up one wrapped stitch on either side of the center stitches of the heel and created one double wrapped stitch on each side.

Knit across the row until you reach the double wrapped stitch. You will pick up both wraps as before with the single wrap…

…and work the wraps with the knit stitch.


Then, wrap the next stitch on the left needle (creating a double wrap) and turn to work across the purl side.

Purl across the row to the first double wrapped stitch. As you did previously with the single wrap, pick up both wraps and place the in front of the purl stitch.


Purl through all three loops on the left needle closing up the gap created by the wraps. Then wrap the next stitch on the left needle (creating a double wrap) and turn to work across the knit side.

On the right side of the heel you should be able to see how the top wedge is joining with the bottom wedge, closing up the gaps of the wrap and turns and creating the heel pocket.

You will continue working across the heel, back and forth, picking up the double wraps and then wrapping the next stitch. Do this until you reach the very last double wrapped stitch on a knit row. Pick up the double wraps and work them with the stitch. You should be left with the one, lonely unwrapped edge stitch. Wrap the edge stitch and turn the work to across the purl side.


Purl across the row to the last double wrapped stitch, pick up the wraps and purl with the stitch. Then wrap and turn the last edge stitch.


Knit across the heel, being sure to pick up and work the last wrapped stitch.

And that’s it! Your short row heel is now (hopefully) successfully complete! Just be sure that when you work your first full round of the sock, you pick up the very last wrap you created on your final heel purl row.

I find that wrapping and then working the wraps of those very last edge stitches help close up the potential gap between the heel and the front of the leg that has a pesky habit of occuring with short row heels.


If you are like me and hate figuring out when to start gusset increases or hate picking up the gusset stitches on your heel flap, you can adjust almost any sock pattern to work a short row heel. I think they work the best on stretchier sock patterns, like ribbed or lacy socks, especially if you have a bit of an instep because this heel doesn’t create any extra height for the gusset.

Please feel free to let me know if you have any questions or didn’t understand a particular step. And happy (sock) knitting!

 

 

Third time’s the charm…

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I will conquer this sweater. I am the master of the yarn and the needles. They will not better me. They are inanimate objects. I have a brain and opposable thumbs and I will be the victor of this struggle.

A while ago, I got the idea of a sweater into my head and thought to myself, “Someday, maybe you will be brave enough to design your own sweater pattern and share it’s awesomeness with the world.” So I sketched it quickly on my iPad and set it aside for a bit. But I couldn’t get the idea out of my brain. It was a pesky little idea worm that had wedged its way in there and I just found myself continually thinking about how I really just wanted to knit it …now.

The only problem is that I have never actually knit a sweater from scratch. I’ve modified patterns to better fit me or change the colorwork, but I’ve always had a starting place that someone else had figured out for me. And I knew it had a pretty good chance of working out fairly well. I like that sort of security. I had this fear that I would take the leap into starting from scratch, but that I would just end up sitting in a pile of yarn with my knitting needles thinking, “Okay, so how do I actually start this thing…” Also, the idea of figuring out how to grade a sweater pattern to fit different sizes was eye-twitch inducing (but let’s not go there now because my brain doesn’t want to think about maths on a Friday).

But let me tell you something I’ve learned through this whole “learning to knit” thing, the internet is full of amazing. It is full of beautiful, smart, generous people who have gone through the scariness, figured it out, and are sharing their knowledge with the rest of us (FOR FREE!). (Don’t worry, I’ll share more about these super smarty-pants people and their wonderful knowledge soon, I promise.) So armed with some knowledge, a wee bit more confidence, and my own insanity, I went out, bought some yarn, and just decided to figure this thing out.

So far, I feel like I’ve spent equal proportions of time spent figuring out all the math (and then re-calculating it or second-guessing myself, changing things, and then realizing I had things correct at the start), knitting, and ripping out to starting over. I’m on my third try now. First, I didn’t like the rate of waist decreasing. Then I cast on the completely wrong size. And then I realized that the stitch design I had originally planned to use wasn’t giving me the effect I wanted, so I had to change the chart design and stitch pattern a wee bit. I’m feeling a little more optimistic on this try. So far, the sweater may have won a few battles, but I’m in it for the long haul. I will outlast this stubborn project, and it will have no choice but to give in to me and become a beautiful sweater (whether it wants to or not).