Captain’s Red

I’m not doing anything as formalized as New Years Resolutions this year, but I do have some vague goals I’m going to try to follow this year.  I’m going to try finishing up some WIPs that have been sitting around my office for too long, I’m going to try learning some new techniques, and I’m going to use up more of my stash.

Ha!

Me and every other knitter.

But, I suppose it can’t hurt to give it a go.

I went spelunking through my stash of sock yarn (it’s started overflowing its box lately, and I’ve been meaning to clear it out).  I found a bunch of small skeins (and even more half-skeins) of sock yarn, left over from projects over the years. Not enough to make a pair of socks in any single color, and generally I dislike making socks with too many stripes or blocks of colors.  (I get really peeved when I have to weave in lots of ends.)

But I did find a couple half-skeins of Knit Picks Stroll in Black and an almost-full ball of Firecracker Heather.And you know what’s tomato red and black, right?

(What’s that? You don’t?  You’re not a big old nerd halfway through Star Trek: The Next Generation?)

It’s Captain Picard’s uniform!The red yarn was almost perfectly the right color of “Command Red”!

Now I just have to decide- is this yarn going to be a pair of Command Red socks, or maybe a Command Red hat, or maybe even a tiny Command Red sweater for a baby nerd?  Choices, choices.

Have you dug through your stash lately?  Find anything good?

Inspiration: Tropical Chickens

Oof!  You guys!  I’m beat!  I had altogether too much fun last week.

I just got back from a week-long trip to Kaua’i with my family to celebrate my Mom’s birthday.  It was so much fun!  Swimming and snorkeling almost every day, delicious food, gorgeous scenery and getting to spend time with some of my favorite people.  It couldn’t have been better!

One of my favorite things about Kaua’i is… a little silly.  You’d think it was the natural splendor, or maybe the crystal-clear water.  But if I’m really being honest… it’s the chickens.Twenty or thirty years ago a bunch of local chickens escaped from their local chicken farms and managed to establish a breeding population.  Now, every inch of the island is covered in the most beautiful, colorful, shiny chickens. They’re like pigeons in the city, only pretty.  And not gross.  And kind of funny, because they’re chickens.

Let’s celebrate the Hawaiian chickens with some chicken-themed patterns.

I think the only thing cuter than an island chicken is a tiny, knit island chicken.

Tiny Chickens by Anna HrachovecThis hat is absolutely hilarious!  I love the crocheted mohawk (I’m sure there’s a more accurate word for this, but I’m coming up blank) and the cute little beak.

Rooster Hat by Shawn TorresAnd these mittens are just glorious!  The blue-and-white colorwork is gorgeous, and the chickens are so sassy and full of themselves.  Too bad it never gets cold enough to wear mittens in Hawaii!

Rooster Mittens by Natalia Moreva

What was your favorite part of your last vacation?

On My… Hook

I figured out what my next project is!  Yay!

It’s a simple, stripey, crochet blanket.  I haven’t crocheted in a long time, and I haven’t made a blanket in years, so I figured it was about time.

I love crocheting blankets, even more than knitting them.  Crochet goes so much faster than knitting, is much thicker (in other words, cozier) than knitting, and you don’t have to worry about it rolling up on you like stockinette.  It’s really the best thing for blanket-making.

I picked three shades of gray (OK, two shades of gray, plus black), along with a lovely medium blue for a pop of color.  (Jo-Ann’s was having a pretty good sale on Lion Brand Wool Ease, so I stocked up.  It might not be the fanciest yarn, but it’s soft, warm, and sturdy- perfect for blankets.)  I cast on about 5 feet of stitches (I didn’t even bother counting- another thing I like about crochet- it’s so easy to improvise!), and started working in a simple V-stitch.  I’ve made a handful of V-stitch blankets before.  They always look good, work up quickly and stay looking nice for years.  I’m kind of winging the stripe pattern, but I think I like how it’s turning out.  I just hope I got enough yarn!  (Though, if I end up having to go back to Jo-Ann’s, it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world…)

Do you ever dabble in crochet?

A Sweater By Any Other Name

I’ve never been great at naming things.  When we adopted our dog, his previous owners had already named him “Ollie,” so we just said, “Sure!  That’s a fine name.  We’ll keep it.”  It’s an known fact among my friends that when I have to name a character for a video game or a D&D campaign, it’s always terrible.  And whenever I put my toe back in the Fiction Writing Pond, I’m never happy with my characters’ names.

Same goes for naming my patterns.  At first, I tried to name my patterns something clever.  Then I tried naming them with practical descriptions.  Then I gave up on that and started just using random girls’ names (which every other designer has already done).  Just try finding a girls name that hasn’t already been used for a piece of knitwear.  I dare you.

Anyway, long story short, I hit upon the idea of naming my designs after places in and around Seattle that I like visiting.  Lucky for me, Seattle has about a million neighborhoods (I’ve lived here since 2010, and I’m still discovering new neighborhoods, there are so many).  And if you start including parks and neighboring towns/cities, well… I could keep designing for years and not run out of names.

You might remember the Ballard Pullover from a few years ago. 

Ballard is a historically Norwegian neighborhood that’s rapidly changing from a cute working-class neighborhood to a super-hipster area, full of bars and resturants.  I love spending a Saturday down in Ballard, hopping from micro-brewery to micro-brewery, with stops for coffee, tapas and board games.  The Carkeek Pullover is another of my favorites.Carkeek Park is a great place for a nice walk with the dog.  It’s got miles of wooded trails (in the middle of the city!), and a nice little beach that looks out on the Puget Sound.  On a clear day you can see the Olympic mountains.  The beach is a great place to look for sea glass, and if you’re really lucky, you might even spot a seal or two playing in the water.My newest sweater is named after a tiny town to the north of Seattle, Snohomish.Snohomish is a really tiny town- it actually reminds me of where I went to high school.  It’s rural and sleepy, but close enough to a big town to not feel 100% like you’re in the country.  It’s nestled in the foothills of the Cascades (gorgeous!).  They have a really great paved hiking/biking trail that I love to visit with my roller skates.  Nothing better than skating down a nicely paved country road on a clear day with the mountains all around!There might be a more logical way to name my sweaters, but at least I have some sort of a method to my madness.

Do you give your projects names?  What’s the weirdest thing that you’ve named?

Inspiration: Is it just me, or is it cold out there?

It’s been dang cold here in Seattle lately.  (Yes, I know it’s January, when it’s supposed to be cold, but still.)  We even got a bunch of snow over Christmas!  It’s been in the 30s in the mornings!  I’ve been wearing my wool coat along with my big cabled sweaters!

(OK, I’m not really complaining- I love getting to wear extra-cozy sweaters and having an excuse to drink hot cocoa.)

But, it’s the time of year when people start working on their year-long temperature scarves and blankets.  Have you heard of this?  Every year I think “Great idea!  I’ll do that next year.”

The idea is that you start a simple project (usually a scarf or afghan, but I suppose you could do this with any project) on January 1st (or 10th, and then you play catch-up).  Every day you knit or crochet a single row or a single square (depending on your design), and then you repeat it every day through the entire year.  But the trick is that each row’s color is determined by the temperature outside that day.  So, if it was super cold, maybe you use a teal yarn.  But if today is in the 60s, you use lime green.  (Or whatever you decide your system is going to be.)

It’s a cute idea!  Simple, fun, and attractive to people like me who like starting long-term projects.

Some people have made cute ribbed scarves.

My Year in Temperatures Scarf by Kristen CooperAnd some people have made gorgeous afghans!

Temperature Gauge Afghan by Nancy StengelI don’t think I’ll be participating this time around, but maybe I’ll get my act together and make one next year.

Have you made any long-term projects like this?

New Pattern: Mukilteo Shawl

What’s that? You thought Friday‘s new pattern pattern was the only one I had for you guys? Ha!  You should know me better than that!

I’ve got a brand-new, super simple (and super fast) shawl pattern for you!  It’s the Mukilteo Shawl!

It’s a garter-stitch shawl featuring a triangular shape, contrasting pinstripes and a cute fringe edging.  Literally, it’s just knitting and increasing.  That’s it!  It’s worked from the center point, and increased on either edge, so if you end up enjoying your Mukilteo Shawl, you could just keep knitting until you get bored (or run out of yarn)- I’d love to see a really massive one!But here’s the cleverest part (if I can toot my own horn for a second).  No ends to weave in!  At all! None! Zero! I know!  You see the cute tassels along the edges?  They’re actually cleverly disguised ends.  I kind of want to put secret-end-tassels on all my knitting from now on.  (I really hate weaving in ends.)And there’s another surprise!  This pattern is in another new collection from Knit Picks, Beginner Bulky Knits.  And would you look at who’s on the cover of that book?

It’s me!  (OK, not me, it’s a very lovely model, but she’s wearing my design!)This is a really cute book, perfect for beginner knitters, people who love working with extra-bulky yarn, or people with short attention spans who want to get through their knitting super quickly.It’s  full of adorable shawls, super-cute hats, mitten and scarves.  What great designs for great, bulky yarn!Get a copy of the Mukilteo Shawl here!

Get the whole book here!

New Pattern: Snohomish Pullover

It’s New Pattern Day!

This is a pattern that I’ve been dying to share with you guys for what feels like a whole year!  It might be my favorite sweater I’ve ever designed.

Introducing, the Snohomish Pullover!It’s a bottom-up, seamless, fully cabled-and-textured pullover.  I absolutely love this design (if I say so myself).  It features a wide panel of all-over cabling on the front and back, bordered with double-twist cables on either side and a cozy knit/purl background.  Plus, there are matching cables down the sleeves, too!  No getting bored here!It looks complicated and maybe a little scary if you’re not familiar with cables, but I promise it’s not!  Every stitch pattern repeats every 4th or 8th row, so once you get all set up, working the cables is a breeze (I bet you’ll even be able to memorize the pattern once you’ve been through the repeat once or twice!).But the Snohomish Pullover doesn’t exist in a vacuum!  It’s part of a gorgeous new collection from Knit Picks, Windward!It’s full of pullovers, cardigans, shawls, wraps, hats, and tunics, all covered in lush, gorgeous cables.  This collection is a winner for sure!If you want a copy of the Snohomish Pullover, click here!

If you want a copy of the whole Windward collection (and why wouldn’t you?), click here!

What’s next?

It’s the after-Christmas knitting let-down.  Not that I really had a lot of knitting I was working on for Christmas, per se, but I did have a couple holiday-related projects (and some work projects) that I finished around Christmas.

Now I’ve got to figure out what to do with myself again!

I could go back to my Papaya Sweater.  I swear, some day I’ll finish it.  I just… need more… enthusiasm.   Or, alternatively, I just need to get off my butt and just knit the dang thing.  (It sits in a big bowl next to my desk and looks at me every time I sit down to work on the blog or send email.  It judges me.)I could start something new… I did receive three skeins of a really lovely merino/bamboo blend in a fantastic, subtle shade of blue.  I just have to figure out what to do with almost 1500 yards of fingering weight yarn.  (Maybe a bunch of socks?  Or maybe a light, spring cardigan?)Or… I don’t know… I could do something non-knitting-related?  Heresy, I know!  But even I like to branch out once in a while.  I’ve dabbled in paper-crafting, cross stitch, embroidery, clothing-making, even bookmaking (like, making books with paper, not taking illegal bets. I’m not a bookie. In non-related news, I’ve been watching a lot of cop shows and reading true crime books over the holidays.  Maybe I need to start watching something else, if that’s where my brain goes).  Maybe I need to find a new project entirely?

Or I could just take a nap with the dog.What are you working on, now that the craziness of the holidays are over?

2017

I’ve gotta say, in some ways 2017 was a big ol’ dumpster fire.  (You don’t need me to explain that, do you?)

But, personally, 2017 had some pretty great things happen.  I’ve been working on some pretty exciting projects (that you’ll hear about soon), both personal and professional, and just generally, my family and I have been doing really well. (Except that Ollie had to go to the vet yesterday because he broke a nail partying too hard at the dog park… sigh. It’s always something with that dog.)Oh, and I got to spend a lot of my time knitting!

I managed to fill my Christmas tree with Arne and Carlos’ Christmas Balls, and I couldn’t be more pleased with how they turned out.  Sure, I haven’t made all 55 (yet), but I got about halfway through the book, which left me with enough finished balls to decorate my whole tree.  Plus, this way, I’ll be able to make more balls next year! Fun!I knit… a lot.  (Surprise, surprise.)  Starting in January with a whole pile of PussyHats, a stack of Mother Bears, a half-dozen or so shawls and scarves.  Plus a bunch of sweaters and socks.  I’ve started slacking off on keeping track of my knitting on Ravelry, so I can’t give you a full rundown of everything I’ve knit, but let’s just agree that there’s been a lot.Plus, I’ve been busy working!  I’ve just about turned this whole “knitting thing” into a real, big-girl job.  I never in a million years thought that I’d be able to make more than pocket change with my knitting, and I’m so thankful for everything that I’ve been able to do over the past (almost) 5 years of running this blog and focusing on pattern design.  Heck, this year alone, I’ve published 11 new patterns, and I have a half-dozen more that are somewhere in the design-math-editing process.  I couldn’t be happier with the trajectory of my new career!I can’t wait to show you what 2018’s got in store for me (there is big news in the works at Casa de On the Needles!).  I know it’s going to be awesome!

What did you get done in 2017? What are your goals for 2018?

Math… After Dark

When I start a project, I like to finish it.

And sometimes, when I’m working on something particularly tricky, I want to finish it right now.  Which can lead to mistakes.  Especially when I get stuck on a bit of particularly tricky math.

Which has led me to make a rule for myself:

No math after dark.

I’ve burned myself too many times with this.  I start working on a particularly tricky part of a pattern, or find a mistake, then next thing I know, I’ve deleted and re-jiggered a weeks’ work in an evening.

And invariably, there ends up being some massive mistake in my “fix” that takes three days to re-fix.

(When I worked in an office, I had a similar rule- no mass emails after 4:00, especially on Fridays.  The few really big email mistakes I made always happened when I tried to send out emails right before leaving work.  Like when I accidentally sent invitations to a group of about 50 “no” applicants to interview with our company.  Whoops!)

I’ve been working on a fairly complicated design lately, and I’m 90% of the way there- I just have a few more tweaks (and a little ripping out and re-knitting) before I’m finished.  I almost finished yesterday, but felt myself starting to get carried away last night (and the growing urge to delete big swaths of data that I was sure were wrong).

But, this morning the sun’s shining (as much as it ever does in Seattle at this time of year), I’ve got my fully-caffeinated coffee and I’m ready to tackle some more math.

Wish me luck!