Giveaway and test knit

Thank you to everyone who showed so much love and support for my Blossom set release! In return, I’ve got lots of fun stuff to share today.

First, let’s start with free stuff. To celebrate my first pattern release, Tahnée at Woollen Wilderness is holding a giveaway of my Blossom Cap pattern this week. All you have to do is visit her blog and leave a comment – so easy! Right now there’s only 6 entries, so you have a pretty good shot at winning. Good luck.

Next, I’m on the hunt for some sock and lace loving test knitters.  My first sock design is completed and now I just need a few people to test out the pattern before it is released.

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I’m trying out holding my test knitting on Ravelry, so test knitters can share their experiences, post pattern errors, or ask for help and it’ll all be in one single spot. I’ve created a Ravelry group for my designs where test knitting opportunities will be posted and if you are interested in test knitting for my sock design, you can find more information (than you ever thought you wanted to know) here.

Linking up with KCCO.

Blossom cap and cowl

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My first knitting patterns have been released! You can find them either on Ravelry or in the Pattern shop here on my blog. The Blossom cap and cowl are a matching set of light-weight accessories that together use that special single skein of fingering weight yarn you have in the stash.

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The design started with the cap. I was inspired by the beautiful cherry blossoms that seem to magically appear overnight on campus each year. And for me, the warmer time of the year is the perfect time to show off some lace knitting. All of that got wrapped up together in my brain and turned into the Blossom Cap. And I just happened to have the perfect skein of pale pink yarn stashed away …sometimes hoarding yarn for the right project pays off. With a good chunk of yarn left over after the cap was finished, a matching Blossom Cowl just seemed like a perfect way to continue the design.

I’m so excited to get this design released, so I’m offering a special: if you purchase both patterns you save 25%. And I have to send out a big, ginormous thank you to my test knitters: Tahnée and Steph for helping me both patterns ready for release.

Speaking of test knitting, I’ve started a Ravelry group for my designs that I’m hoping to use as a spot to post about test knitting opportunities for upcoming patterns. If you are interested in test knitting for me (or you just want to stay up-to-date on pattern releases), please feel free to join.

Riverside Studio yarns

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Yesterday I came home to a splendid present in my mailbox – a package of yarn from Kathryn at Riverside Studios. Inside were two lovely skeins that will become the samples of the new sock pattern I am currently designing.

Here’s how the story goes:

Almost exactly a year ago, I was in Montreal for a conference. I wanted to pick up a skein of yarn while I was there, something that inspired memories of my trip and was preferably local to the area. I ended up with a beautiful leafy green skein of Kathryn’s merino single-ply fingering yarn that reminded me of the lovely afternoon spent hiking up Mont Royal the day I arrived in Montreal. Plus, Kathryn’s studio is located in Quebec and her yarns are all sourced from within Canada. I basically couldn’t get any more local if I tried.

I had saved the yarn, waiting for the perfect pattern to use it. I tried a couple patterns, but nothing stuck. Then a few weeks ago, I started working up my own design, inspired by my trip to Montreal and Kathryn’s beautiful yarn. When I had finished, I decided to take a chance and contact Kathryn to see if she would provide some sock yarn to allow me to write up the pattern for publication.

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And she said yes! My first ever collaboration with a dyer for my very own design. I’m pretty darn excited about it all. I asked for a skein of green similar to the one I had originally used to design the pattern, as well as an autumnal, golden yellow. Working with Kathryn was so easy and lovely. I would do it again in a heartbeat. She prepared the skeins for me in just a few days and she even worked to create a new corlorway for the yellow skein to be just as I requested. I’ve even been tasked with naming it. I have a couple ideas in mind… but I’m keeping them to myself for now.

I was so excited to get the yarn, that I immediately cast on the first sample pair of socks. They are working up so beautifully! I can’t wait to watch these socks and the pattern design progress.

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And Kathryn, if you are out there reading this, I’ve said it many times already, but thank you again! Thank you for taking a chance on a newbie designer like myself. Your trust and belief in me and my ideas are worth more than I can say.

Voila… happy feet.

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Project: May Socks

Pattern: None

Yarn: Turtlepurl Striped Turtle Toes in colorway “What is it all about?”

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Finishing up my socks this month was super easy and super fast. These socks practically knit themselves. I used my basic plain, vanilla sock pattern, working from the cuff down. After I had already started, I decided I wanted to do the heel and toes in a contrast color, so I had a small delay waiting for the black yarn to arrive, but as soon as it did, I was back to knitting like a fiend.

I picked up this yarn at this year’s Toronto’s Knitters Frolic. Usually, I tour around the festival a bit deciding on the yarns I want to splurge on, but there were only two skeins of this colorway left, so I immediately scooped it up and held it close and tight. It’s becoming a bit of a tradition to pick up a lovely skein (or two) of Turtlepurl yarn each year at the Frolic. I just love basically all of the colorways (it really can be hard to chose) and I like that I’m supporting a smaller Canadian dyer.

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I have just enough yarn left to knit up another pair of these beauties, so this pair will be shipped off to Austin, Texas for my sister’s birthday. Austin isn’t usually a place where you need wool socks, no matter the time of the year, but both my sister and I tend to suffer from cold-feet syndrome, so I know she’ll get some good use out of these handknit socks.

And, be sure to check out the other great socks made this month for Liesl’s challenge.

Linking up with KCCO.

Rainbow power

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This week…

Knitting: My May socks for Liesl’s challenge are chugging right along. And they make me happy. I’ll be sitting on the subway, lost in my own little world, just chugging out some gray stockinette, and then POW! Rainbow power!

I don’t know why self-striping yarn has such a power over me, but it really is something a bit magical. The stripes, they just appear. I oddly derive such satisfaction at just watching the stripes appear. And from my own personal experience, I have to say that rainbow stripes are some of the best stripes you can have magically manifest from your needles. This pair will be a birthday present for my sister, who, I’m sure, will be so impressed at my superhuman ability to make stripes spontaneously appear in my knitting.

Reading: I’ve fallen so behind on reading. Lately my mind has just been taken over with knitting design. I’ve been reading up a lot on design principles and tips on self-publishing, as well as just sketching, diagraming, and collecting inspirations. And I haven’t budgeted very well for my personal reading time, which has left me about 50 pages into Shadow Scale, the sequel to the great Seraphina by Rachel Hartman. This stalling is in no way a reflection of the book, but just priorities at the moment. I will get back on schedule, soon, I hope, if I want to make my Good Reads goal for this year.

Linking up with yarn along & KCCO.

 

May Mood Board

Slide1I’ve been collecting together ideas, colors, pictures, and patterns that have been inspired my knitting, and I thought it might be fun to share some of the things that have been on my mind lately.

For May, I’m totally smitten with the soft, delicate cherry blossoms that have popped (seemingly overnight) on campus. So I’ve really found myself drawn to pretty light pinks and other floral inspired hues. On my walk to the subway each morning, I pass a shop window featuring the beautiful pairing of sky blue and khaki tan, and I find myself loving that combination more and more each time I pass by. I’ve also found myself really enjoying the eyelet lace trend that seems to have popped up this spring in the knit-iverse. Spring is perfect for lace, and the eyelets bring an endless amount of possibilities for working modern looking, yet light and feminine, accessories.

You can find each of these inspirations, plus more, on my May Inspirations Pinterest board.

So, what are your spring and summer knitting inspirations this year?

 

Taking a step forward

This past week, I’ve been working on realizing a knitting goal of mine: designing my own knitting patterns. Pattern design is something I’ve been thinking about trying my hand at for awhile now, but every time I would spend any amount of time pondering the idea, I would talk myself out of it. It was something I wanted to do, but also a prospect I was completely daunted by.

I have designed and self-published several crochet patterns before (I even had two featured in a book several years ago), but making the leap in knitting just completely scared the crap out of me. I think part of it was that I hadn’t convinced myself that I was comfortable enough with knitting techniques to apply them in new ways or without the guidance a pattern provides. Another part of me felt afraid that I would have nothing new to bring to knitting, I wouldn’t have a voice anyone wanted to hear, I wouldn’t have designs anyone would be particularly interested in. After knitting up so many patterns from some talented and well-established designers, the prestigious world of knitting design just seemed so glamorous, polished, and out of my reach.

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But I really, really just needed to get over myself. Often it is the things that really scare us that end up pushing us to a better place. I’m not too shabby at knitting. I have ideas. And I change patterns for myself all the time. What am I so afraid of? Why not just give it a try? (Plus, I have you guys to help build up my confidence, right?)

So, I started charting patterns, I started swatching, and I started playing around with some ideas over the past couple of days.

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It’s still completely scary and I still find myself doubting my designs and ideas more than I would like. But I’m also stubborn. When I set my mind to an idea, I become a bit obsessed with it. It’s like I’m wearing blinders and everything else just falls away until I’ve accomplished what I’ve set out to do. When I get started on something, it basically drives me nuts until I worked to a level that I feel satisfied.

So I’ll keep reading up on design (the Ravelry group is, of course, great), stashing away stitch inspirations, and swatching until that crazy part of my brain is silenced. And maybe at the end, I’ll have a new pattern or two to share.

Stitch Surfer Socks

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Project: April Stitch Surfer Socks

Pattern: Stitch Sufer

Yarn: Turtlepurl Striped Turtle Toes and Knit Picks Stroll Fingering Solid

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I’ve finished my socks for Liesl’s sock challenge with time to spare this month. I was still in a rather yellow state of mind after last month’s socks. I had almost a full skein of the yarn left, so I dug through my sock yarn scraps (which I apparently think will just spontaneously knit itself into a beekeeper quilt without me) and found some complimentary yarn which just happened to be rather stripy. Perfect chance to try out Stitch Surfer, as it had been on my sock queue for a good while.

The pattern was …fine. It made sense and it was relatively easy to follow once you got started. But I’m not totally in love with it. There are aspects, like the visible wrap and turn on the bottom/back of the socks that I’m not a fan of. And the heel did not make any sense to me in the pattern. I worked it for the first sock, but it was way to short and squat for my liking. I don’t know if I just didn’t work it correctly, as this was a new way to work heels to me, or if that’s just the way it is. Either way, I ripped it out and worked a regular short row heel.

The pattern takes a really creative approach to sock construction, though. And for me it had a nice integration of mindless stockinette + interesting design elements to keep the knitting entertaining without being too complicated. It’s this balance that makes for perfect commuting knitting.

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I also ran into an issue with row gauge. For reasons that, to me, seem to defy basic physics, my row gauge changed when I switched the colors for the second sock. I think the problem arouse from the slight difference in thickness between the two yarns, but I still do not understand why simply working them in a different order changed the row height. It caused my curves to not exactly match up across the two socks, especially on the leg, although they have the same measurements. It’s not something you really notice without close examination, but it bothers me just a bit.

Overall, I like these socks. They are pretty funky and fun. They are bright and happy. And the project allowed me to explore a completely new and totally creative way to build socks. Plus, this pattern is a really great way to use up the larger chunks of left over sock yarn I find myself with because apparently my feet are freakishly teeny tiny.

I’m really looking forward to knitting up next month’s socks. I picked up some brand new striped Turtletoes yarn at this past weekend’s Toronto Knitter’s Frolic and let me just say it is splendid and happy and, and, well, just look at it..

Photo Apr 25, 8 48 39 PMI’m hoping to stretch this into two pairs of socks, one for myself and one for my sister. Because who doesn’t need bright rainbow striped socks to cheer them up every once in awhile?

Growing romance

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This week…

Knitting: My Spring Romance cardigan is making progress. I finished both lace panels fo the sleeves, blocked them, and have started working on the sleeves and the body of the sweater. I’ve got one sleeve all finished up and the second in progress. I’m enjoying the fresh, original construction of the this sweater – short rows and grafting are used to shape the shoulders and sleeves. It keeps me on my toes and pushed me to make sure my wrap and turns are nice and neat. Also grafting 90+ stitches taught me that my kitchener isn’t the neatest, but I don’t think anyone but me will notice.

Reading: I finished Station Eleven earlier this week. I loved it. One of the better books I have read in awhile. I loved it’s clean, beautiful writing along with the creative weaving together of each of the characters’ lives through flashbacks and glimpses of their individual experiences struggling through the terrifying events once humanity is wiped out by disease. It is a dystopian novel, but not the kind you’ve come to expect lately. For a book about the end of humanity, it held a lot of beautiful insights into how we define our lives and persevere.

Now I’m reading The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell.

Watching: I finished Daredevil on Netflix this weekend. I was really getting into it, and then it’s over. Binge watching has that effect, I suppose. Now I’m trying to find something new to pick up, but I’m not feeling very inspired to hunt out something. In the mean time, I may just rewatch Game of Thrones to pass the time.

Linking up with Love your Library, KCCO, and yarn along.

Spring knits…

Spring has arrived in Toronto. At last. It’s splendid. Every year I’m always amazed at the effect the weather has on my mood. Warmer days, lovely afternoon showers, bright blue skies, chirping birds, and a smile on my face.


  

This week…

Knitting: I think knitting lace just fits in so perfectly with spring. I can watch something delicate, soft, and floral grow off of my needles. Perfect for knitting away breezy spring afternoon storms or enjoying sunlight out on the patio while I sip iced tea (if I had a patio, of course. For now I just borrow someone else’s.)

I’m currently working on the lace inserts for my Spring Romance cardigan, which has a splendidly unique construction, starting from the lacy sleeves insets and then working out from the sleeves. Right now it seems a little magical to me, but my curiosity is completely peaked. I don’t tend to knit a lot of lace, but I’ve been enjoying the knitting these panels. They are just enough to be fun and challenging without not overwhelming me, like larger lace projects tend to.

Reading: I’ve totally been sucked into Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. It’s set in a dystopian future where mankind has been decimated by a disease and tells the story of a band of travelling performers. The story is told in a compelling fashion through different character’s view points and flashbacks. I am always amazed at how quickly a good book pulls you in – I was immediately enthralled with the story and connected to the characters so quickly. Needless to say, the writing is effortlessly wonderful.

Watching: So much Netflix binging. House of Cards, The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and Daredevil have been taking up my weekend viewing. All so different, but great viewing.

Linking up with KCCO, yarn along, and love your library.