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What?! More Patterns?

That’s right, knitters!  Surprise!  Another pattern- and it’s one I’m super proud of!

Introducing: The Laura Shawl!521622201It’s a gorgeous (if I say so myself) cabled wrap, almost six feet long and two feet wide.  It looks great wrapped around your shoulders, or cozied up under your chin.  And, frankly, it’s big enough to act as a lap blanket when you go out to eat, and they set you too close to a drafty window.

The Laura Shawl is knit in gorgeous tweedy wool that works great with cables.  Four wide panels of complex cables are interspersed with some knit/purl texture, and the whole bad boy is finished with thick fringe on either end, just to make it feel extra-luxurious.

52162220_21The best part?  It’s part of another beautiful book from Knit Picks, the Woodsmoke Cable Collection.331101This book is absolutely breathtaking.  It’s chock full of 16 lushly cabled patterns- sweaters, blankets, scarves and hats.

I mean, look at these:331101111Really, I want to work up all of these for myself.  (Or maybe have someone else do it so I don’t have to wait?)331101151What’s that? You want a copy?  Buy yourself a copy here!

Or, comment below with a description of your most complicated cable project for a chance to win a free copy!  (The winner will be named next Friday, so stay tuned!)

Summertime, and the living is… muggy

It’s officially been summer for about a week, and it is officially summer.  It’s hot and muggy and there isn’t even a breeze.

(OK, fair enough, it’s “Seattle Hot”, so it’s in the mid-to-upper 70s.  But I’m officially a hot-weather weenie, so it’s hot to me.)

Ollie agrees- he needs a haircut, and is impatient for us to fill up his kiddie pool.13495497_10106435157559480_5717683599402702824_o (1)I’m currently working on a big cabled sweater (a Christmas gift for someone, so I can’t tell you about it) which is just too much to be knitting right now.  All that wool!

What I’d like to be working on is something light and breezy.  Something at a tiny lace gauge.  A lovely, summery tank top.

This tank is simple, drapey and lovely.  If I worked in an office, it would be super cute to wear with a blazer or a light cardigan.

Bonny by tincanknitsIMG_4731-ed-sm_medium2[1]I love the little details on this top- the tiny cap sleeves, the delicate lace at the hem, the split sides.  So cute!

22.2 Top with lace edges by Karen Noe22.1-Top-m_medium2[1]I love the all-over lace and the flattering, swing-y shape.  I would totally wear the heck out of this tank.

Just a Wisp by Pamela SchwabDSC_6755_medium2[1]I can’t wait to finish the big sweater so that I can make myself a new tank top or two.

What summery projects do you like to make?

Blackout!

This Sunday we were attacked by the biggest wind storm I’ve seen since I moved here 5 years ago- maybe ever (which is saying something, coming from Illinois, where gales of wind rip across the state, since there’s nothing taller than a stalk of corn to stop them).  Trees were torn up, power lines were downed, they even had to close the 520 bridge because the waves on Lake Washington were so big, they were splashing up onto the bridge and causing dangerous conditions.

Our neighborhood lost power at about 2:00 in the afternoon.  And we didn’t get it back until the middle of the night- almost 12 hours later.

We didn’t feel safe driving anywhere, since the roads were littered with debris, and we didn’t want to leave the house, in case something went wrong (our house is surrounded by very big, very old trees- charming in sunny weather, scary in a wind storm).  So, we stayed in and watched the neighbor’s 3-story-tall pine trees whip back and forth like blades of grass.  It was kind of terrifying, but also really cool.

So, what did we do for 12 hours of powerlessness?

We played cards, listened to the music on our phones (until the batteries got too low), read books, and (of course) knit.

I continued working on a sweater design that I had already started (you’ll see it soon, but not today).  But, if I’d had time to plan my blackout knitting, I probably would have picked out patterns like these:

I would start with something super fiddly and technical.  After all, with no TV to distract me, I could really throw myself into a pattern like this gorgeous (and futzy) Fair Isle hat.

Electric Snow Fair Isle Hat by Don Godec4127721009_cc9c8f6a81_z[1]Then, when the sun started to go down, I would switch over to a pattern that used super bulky yarn.  With lowered visibility, big yarn is a must, and this hat’s simple design would be perfect for knitting in the dark.  Have you ever tried to knit by candlelight?  It’s not easy.  Trust me.

The Vermonter by Abi Gregoriovermonter2_medium2[1]

And, of course, no power means no heat (at least in my house).  So I would need as many blankets as possible!  This garter-stitch one would be perfect- squishy and warm!

Buncha Squares Blanket by Kay Gardiner and Ann Shayne2188346768_0ffdfd92b9_z[1]

Luckily our power’s back on now and we’re all back to normal (though it still feels luxurious every time I can open the fridge without worrying about the food spoiling).  But next time, I’ll be prepared!

Have you ever had a blackout in your neighborhood?  What did you do to keep yourself busy?

Dishcloth Winner!

It’s drawing day!  I always get so excited for drawing day!  (And I hope you do too!) (And I hope you forgive all the exclamation points!)

So, without further ado, let’s see who wins a beautiful copy of KnitPick’s 52 More Weeks of Dishcloths!32978[1]Drumroll please!

(Here’s where I’d put a picture of the bowl with everyone’s entry slips if I hadn’t forgotten to charge my camera this morning… whoops!)

And the winner is:  Sue!  Congratulations!

Sue, I’ve sent you an email so that you can send me your address and I can get this book in the mail real soon!

Until next time.

(And remember, if you’re not Sue, you can still find all the patterns available for free on the KnitPicks website!)

 

Inspiration: The Killing

I’ve been spending my November holed up away from the damp Seattle weather watching a TV show about the damp Seattle weather.  Because, why not!

It’s one of my new favorite TV shows:  The Killing.  (It’s not new, I’m just late to the party.)   Based on a Swedish show of the same name (but in Swedish… or at least I assume it’s the same name.  I don’t speak Swedish), The Killing is basically the show for people who think Law & Order: SVU is too light and funny.

Luckily for me, I am one of those people.

But, of course, the best part of the Killing isn’t the twisty-turny plot, the great acting, or the insanely brutal crimes.  The best part is Detective Sarah Linden’s amazing sweaters.  How amazing are they?  So amazing.mirielle2I have never seen a woman on TV rock the oversized sweater/puffy coat combo as well as Sara Linden.  mirielle1It’s kind of incredible.mirielle5This one even looks hand-knit!mirielle3I think Sarah Linden might be my spirit animal.  (As far as dressing goes.  She doesn’t smile nearly enough to be my true spirit animal.)

Want to channel your inner chain-smoking, crime-fighting, misanthrope?  Try knitting up one of these over-sized beauties.

The Killing Snowflake Sweater in Fritidsgarn by SKD Yarnsimage_medium[3]Flugeldar by Kiyomi Burginflugeldar8_medium2[1]#224 Weekend Pullover by Diane Soucy224_medium2[1]

Why Knitting is Good for You

Every few months I come a cross an article about “17 ways knitting helps your brain,” or “99 reasons you should knit,” or, in this case “5 reasons knitting is good for you.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALet’s examine what this article says and make snarky jokes about it, shall we?

1.  Fighting off dementia.  I’m not familiar with the research on this subject, but I’d  buy it.  Knitting is a three-dimensional puzzle.  Being able to read a pattern and turn it into a whole garment takes a surprising amount of brainpower.  And, being able to identify when you’ve made a mistake and fix it takes even more.   I imagine that continuing a mentally challenging hobby like knitting keeps your brain sharp through middle age and beyond.   (Or maybe that’s just what I tell myself to justify buying that extra skein of yarn.)

2.  Staying calm.  I totally get this one.  Sometimes, after a stressful day, the only thing that will make me feel better is sitting down with my yarn and a cup of tea.  I get a lovely calm feeling just thinking about it.  Aahhh…

3.  Getting fit.  I call BS on this one.  There’s no way that a sitting-down activity like knitting should be considered exercise (though if it could, I’d be a fitness model).  I have heard of more than a few knitting friends who pick up needles as a way to curtail their mindless snacking while watching TV, but I’ve never had a problem with eating while knitting. (*knit 1, purl 1, eat 1 chip.  Repeat from * until end of row.)

4.  Getting happy.  I’m not sure how happy and calm are separate categories, but I suppose it makes sense.  I know I am always excited when I start a new project, and I  get all giddy when petting a new skein of yarn at my LYS.

5.  Being trendy.  Ugh!  It drives me nuts that this is one of the reasons that people knit now (which, I realize, makes me an annoying hipster).  It’s not that I’m unhappy knitting is popular.  It’s more that I feel regret for teenage me.  I knit for years before I would admit it to anyone (other than my parents and brother, obviously).  All that heartache and sneaking around for nothing.  Dang.

So, why do you knit?  Do you agree with these “Reasons for Knitting,” or do you have your own reasons?

Pattern: Hogwarts Scarves in a Weekend

Sometimes you need a little more magic in your life. Sometimes you need something to keep the chill away while reading your favorite teenage-wizard-themed novels. Sometimes you’re invited to a Harry Potter party, and you need a quick costume accessory.

This Hogwarts Scarf is just what the Medi-Wizard ordered. It’s crocheted at a huge gauge with extra-bulky yarn, so it works up in almost only a few hours. Feel free to make the scarves longer (or shorter) by adding more (or fewer) stripes.

So get out your magic wand (or crochet hook), and conjure up a scarf this weekend!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAGet the pattern for free here:

Hogwarts Scarves in a Weekend

On the Road Again

It’s summer, and that means it’s time for road trips! It’s time to get the heck out of Dodge and take to the open road with nothing but a couple bucks, your faithful hound dog, and a skein or two of your favorite yarn.

(Or, if your boring, like me, it’s time to walk over to your local park and sit in the grass with a can of coke and a skein or two of your favorite yarn.)

I usually have a travel kit set up, but I make a point to restock and update it at the beginning of the summer. That way, I can just grab my project bag and head out the door on a whim.

So what do I keep in my travel kit?

I keep a little tool kit at all times in a tiny zippered coin pouch. It includes scissors, a handful of stitch markers, a couple yarn needles, a couple cable needles, and a few tiny stitch holders.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThen, I can throw my tool kit in whatever project I’m working on. In the summertime, I favor lacy shawls, socks and other small projects (call me crazy, but I’m not into having a big old sweater or blanket on my lap in 80 degree weather.  And yes, I know, I’ve become a total hot-weather weenie when I think that 80 is hot).

I have a stash of several kinds of sock yarn, a bunch of sets of sock-sized dpns, and a couple favorite project bags. When I need an emergency project for the road, I’ll grab a bag, throw in my tool kit, a set of needles and a ball or two of sock yarn (an adult pair of socks takes up about 100 grams of wool), and I’m out the door!  If you like knitting from patterns, think about printing out copies of your favorites, so you can have them ready to tuck into your project bag at a moment’s notice.

How do you take your projects with you when traveling?

Whoops!

I just got up this morning and I realized that I forgot to write a blog post yesterday. I’ve been super good about updating the blog Monday, Wednesday, Friday since the very beginning, but I totally spaced yesterday. Boo. I got caught up at work, and didn’t get home until quite late. (I work at a ceramics studio, and we have a rush order for some custom tiles.)

WP_20130717_009[1]

I promise to get back to our regularly scheduled program on Friday!

The Search for the Perfect Pattern

My absolute favorite part of Ravelry is its searchable pattern database.  It’s super useful.

Imagine, if you will, that you want to knit a small stuffed animal bird.  You don’t want to pay for a pattern, and you also don’t want to have to sew any seams.  That’s a lot of things to have to search for, if you’re just Googleing for it.  Instead, let’s see what we can find using Ravelry’s advanced search tool.

Open up Ravelry, click on Patterns, then click on the “pattern browser & advanced search” button.  (Ravelry was designed by knitters, not by web designers, which is kind of obvious by its semi-terrible user interface.)

Patterns 1

This brings us to a page of ALL of the patterns currently on Ravelry.  If you really wanted to, you could just go page by page and see everything.  Sometimes it’s fun to browse the patterns, but today we’re on a mission.  We’re going to use the search bar and filters to narrow down the patterns that are available to us.  Take some time to see what filters there are available.  Some of the filters are obvious: knitting vs. crochet, free vs. paid, type of item that the pattern is for (sweaters, soft toys, tablecloths, etc.).  Some of the filters are super specific: design elements (lace, ribbing, etc.), construction details (top down, short row shaping, etc.).  Poke around and see what they’ve got.Patterns 2

Every time you click on a filter, you’ll notice that the patterns start to match your selections.  We wanted to knit a bird stuffed animal with no seams, and we wanted the pattern for free, so I clicked on the following filters:

-Free

-Knitting

-Seamless

-Softies

and I put the word “bird” in the search bar, since there isn’t a filter for “Bird.”

Look at all those seamless, free bird patterns!

Patterns 3

When you find one you like, you can click on the picture, and you’ll bring up the pattern page.  From there, you’ve got some options.  Ravelry will link you to where you can find the pattern (in the middle of the page).  Or you can save the pattern in your “Favorites” or your “Queue.”  OR, you could “Cast On” and start a project page for yourself right away.

Patterns 4

I hope this makes your pattern-finding quests a little easier!  Poke around the site and see what you can find.  What else do you use Ravelry for?