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Farrand: Knitty Winter 2016 Pattern

January 30

I’m excited and grateful to have a pattern in the current issue of Knitty, the fabulous online magazine. Farrand is, if I may say so myself, a really fun and easy pattern to make. Malabrigo Rios yarn offers up wonderful colors to pair together. Better yet, the fiber is super-soft and a joy to wear.

Knitty Winter 2016 Ferrand Both

The pattern came about when I fell in love with some Malabrigo Rios variegated yarn. I swatched several stitch patterns in a quest to find the one that showed off the variegated colors in an exciting way. Farrand’s stitch pattern causes the colors to pop, especially framed in solid colored accent stripes. Here the variegated colorway is Diana, framed by the nearly-solid Sabiduria.

Farrand Loop Detail_2

Rios’ gorgeous saturated colors also drew me to pair nearly-solids together in the shorter cowl version. I loved the deep golden Sunset color with the rusty-brown Marte. I hope to give knitters inspiration to try their own favorite color pairings.

Ferrand Short Cowl alone

 Farrand includes instructions for both the short cowl and longer loop versions. Both require just one skein each of the MC and CC. The longer loop version can be looped again for a thick and snuggly cowl:

Farrand Loop doubled

Why the name Farrand, you ask? Beatrix Farrand was an accomplished landscape architect in the first half of the 20th century. I love her garden designs. The stitch pattern reminds me of her use of latticework as a way to bring vertical elements to a garden.

A word about Knitty.com…

Knitty has done amazing things over the years to bring creative, fun patterns to the knitting community…for free. We’re all aware that the publishing industry has faced major challenges lately. I heartily encourage all my readers to consider helping Knitty to keep bringing us quality, playful patterns and articles by becoming Patrons.

Resources:

Photography by my very talented friend Gale Zucker

Knitty Winter 2016

Malabrigo Rios yarn

First Project of 2017

January 4

I almost got it done in time for Christmas….instead it has turned into my first completed project of 2017. This is the hat I designed for Vogue Knitting, Fall 2015. I hate to play favorites, but it really is one of my favorite designs to knit – the cables keep it interesting and I like the finished piece. With snow coming soon I need a warm hat, so I worked on this over the past couple of months.

Vogue Hat 2017_1

I used Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino in the Kingfisher color. I like the teal color. Best of all, the cashmere makes it warm and soft.

Vogue Hat

Needless to say, the pro photographer at Vogue Knitting did a far better job than I did!

Vogue Knitting Hat

Vogue Knitting Fall 2015 photographed by Rose Callahan on May 21 and 27, 2015 in NYC

Resources:

In case you missed it, back issues of Vogue Knitting, Fall 2015 are available here.

Farewell 2016

December 31

My husband recently encouraged me to listen to the Tim Ferris Show podcast. I love listening to podcasts while I knit, and was especially intrigued by an exercise Tim talks about in his Best of 2016 segment. In a nutshell, he reviewed his calendar for 2016 and wrote down his 80/20 analysis: “20 percent of activities, experiences, or people who produced 80 percent or more of my most positive emotions and outcomes.” The same is true of negative emotions and outcomes…20 percent of activities, experiences, or people produce 80% of the negatives.

I hauled out my calendar from 2016 to remind myself of events and people throughout the year. It helped me to face some realities on the negative side…the kinds of things I tend to use “magical thinking” on. I have a tendency to be blind to the truth of situations that I would like to sweep under the rug.

Happily, the positives far outweighed the negatives. I didn’t realize how many wonderful friends I have. True to the rule-of-thumb, about 20% of the people I hang out with bring me about 80% of the positive emotions that come from friendship. A common theme was that my favorite bonding activities are taking walks and (no surprise) knitting.

Designing is a therapeutic positive for me, even when parts of the process leave me filled with insecurities and frustration. In the end, the results are worth the effort.

Another thing that was consistently a positive was going to Stitches events. I love the energy of being around other knitters, I love taking classes, and I love seeing friends. The takeaway? When I look at the calendar of events coming up, I should say “YES” to Stitches and other learning events.

I also love book signings and teaching workshops. So, note to self…plan more of those in 2017.

Vacationing with my husband is great, and so is hiking our old favorite trails in California’s Central Coast.

San Simeon

The upshot of my 80/20 analysis is that I was reminded that my life is really great. It also shows me areas that I can improve upon as we close out this year.

sunset

I’m grateful to all those who read my blog and knit my patterns, and to my great family and friends.

Happy New Year!

Let It Snow!

December 6

Let It Snow reversible scarves

I’m thrilled to release a new pattern, just in time for cold weather knitting….

It’s winter, and there’s nothing I like better than a warm, snuggly scarf. Double knitting makes for a doubly-cozy thickness and it’s reversible. My “Let It Snow” pattern includes instructions for two weights of yarn. The dk version features Berroco Ultra Alpaca Light in two colors:

dk weight Let It Snow Scarf

The heavier Rowan Felted Tweed Aran makes a great width for guys. For this one I’ve used three colors:

Let It Snow scarf Aran

As I experimented with the snowflake motif I liked the play of positive and negative space that emerged. And there’s a sweet little heart on each edge of the snowflake, which I find endearing.

Let It Snow scarf detail

The pattern is written with the less experienced knitter in mind, using the slip-stitch method. This means you only need to know how to knit, purl and slip stitches. With detailed instructions on how to use the charts, you can grab a pad of sticky notes and be all set to start stitching. Knitters who are experienced in working with any of the two-stranded-at-once techniques can certainly use those methods instead.

I love a pattern that lends itself to lots of variations. The Let It Snow scarf can be made with lighter or heavier yarn, depending on whether you’re going for a wide wintery width or a more feminine narrow one. Or maybe smaller, for a child, in primary colors? You can play with solids or tweeds or yarns that transition from one shade to another. As long as you use yarns with some drape to them, you can let your imagination go wild. The pattern includes a “Make It Your Own” section for ideas. Here are a couple swatches I played with:

Let It Snow scarf swatches

I hope you’ll enjoy the new Let It Snow pattern. It can be purchased for $6.00 from Ravelry or Love Knitting.

Let It Snow Pattern Cover

 

Resources:

Rowan Felted Tweed Aran yarn can be purchased online or in person from the Ball & Skein & More in Cambria, California

The wonderful photos were taken by the amazing Gale Zucker

Paso Roble Sunset

December 5

It was a treat to visit my old home town of Paso Robles, California. We were treated to gorgeous sunsets almost every night.

Sunset in Paso Roble

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Another Gimme Shelter Cat Blanket

November 10

I love my local animal shelter! Rescue Village in Geauga County, Ohio, has the most dedicated staff I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. I know I’ve blogged about this before, but it’s really fun to knit blankets for their cats. Thick blankets help to keep the kitties cushioned from the hard bottom of their cages. I love that the shelter sends the blankets home with the cats when they get adopted so they have something familiar to have in their new surroundings.

Despite my friends’ and relatives’ attempts to give me cats, a toy stuffed animal had to suffice for the photo shoot.

Cat Blanket 4

I used the Double Density stitch pattern from my Gimme Shelter Cat Blankets pattern. I used two skeins of the fun Cascade Big Wheel yarn and enjoyed the stripes the yarn creates all on its own. It can be machine washed and dried, which is a necessary attribute for the shelter. The Double Density stitch pattern, worked on #9 needles (two sizes down from the ball band), gives the little blanket wonderful thickness. I’ve seen cats at the shelter happily dig their claws into these blankets and blissfully knead away. Then they curl up for a nap while they wait for a human to come play with them.

You can download the free pattern here and make blankets for your local shelter, too!

Gimme Shelter_Cover

Little Forest: Fall Update

October 31

Lots of people have asked how my new habitat is coming along. (For those of you who missed it, I planted an acre of native habitat on unwanted lawn.) Of over a hundred trees, only two didn’t make it. We also planted hundreds of berry bushes for the birds, plus groundcover plants and wildflower seeds that will come up next spring.

Here’s the comparison, with the top photo from July when the planting was finished, and the bottom photo from early October. As you can see, the trees are thriving and the plants are filling in:

Forest July to Oct 2016

Some of the plants, such as this Black-Eyed Susan, were tiny when we planted them. I can’t believe that in just a few short months they have turned into giant mounds of exuberant blooms!

Black-Eyed Susan

The ironweed has also gown like crazy. It attracts bees and butterflies, and is home to the American Painted Lady caterpillar.

Ironweed

The Echinacea plants are happily blooming. Looking closely, I’m in awe of the center structure. Nature is marvelous, isn’t it?

Echniacea center

As I was leaving my little habitat, I spied this LGB (Little Grey Bird). I hope someone will tell me what sort of bird this is! He reminds me of why I find my forest such a place of joy. It’s gratifying to see the birds flock to their new plants. I love it.

grey bird

posted under Nature | 1 Comment »

Early Fall River

October 18

It’s early Fall, with hints of changes to come.

These little white wildflowers are in all stages at once – opening, in bloom, and fading away:

White Wildflowers Seot 2016

I was mesmerized by the peaceful Chagrin River:

River 3 Sept 2016

River 2 Sept 2016

A closer look reveals changing colors:

River 1 Sept 2016

River Reflection 2016

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Custom Fit: Fun with Sweaters

October 12

I am super excited to finally start my first Custom Fit sweater. The brainchild of designer Amy Herzog, the Custom Fit program allows you to create sweaters that fit perfectly because they are created for your specific measurements.

If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you know that during our recent yarn crawl I ended up with a ridiculous amount of yarn earmarked to make sweaters. That was the impetus for me to finally try Amy’s ingenious program. Do I know how to alter sweater patterns to better fit me? A qualified yes…I still struggle, especially when altering armholes and sleeve caps. At the end of the day, I have limited confidence that my alterations will work as I hope. That’s why I wanted to give Custom Fit a try.

Here’s how it worked:

I signed up for Custom Fit. Once registered, I entered all my measurements into my account. It was easy, since the measuring instructions are very clear. Next I chose a pattern to buy. I wanted my first Custom Fit sweater to be simple so I could easily understand how the program works. I chose the basic v-neck Drumlin Cardigan.

drumlin-finals-web-1_medium1

Once I told the program my gauge it started to create the pattern using my own measurements, plus gave me an option to refine my measurements even further. Rather than “secretary’s spread”, I refer to my hip area as “knitter’s butt.” I altered the hip measurement so that the back would be wider than the front to accommodate where I carry my weight.

I hit a button and out came the pattern I purchased, completely customized for my measurements and gauge. It’s like magic!

Drumlin is exactly the style I had in mind when I bought my gorgeous dk-weight Cestari “Ash Lawn Collection” yarn.

drumlin-pattern-and-yarn_1

When I make sweaters I like to start with a sleeve. It’s a good chance to see whether my gauge swatch is truth or fiction! Miracle of miracles, the sleeve and gauge swatch match and the sleeve is the exact measurements that my Custom Fit pattern says it should be. I can’t tell you how relaxing it was to knit the sleeve, knowing all the shaping was already calculated for me and the final measurements would fit me.

drumlin-pattern-and-sleeve_2

In addition to the online program, Custom Fit can be found in many yarn shops. A trained staff member will take your measurements and get you started in the program. They’re there to help you every step of the way.

 

 

Apple Time

October 4

A harbinger of changing weather is apple-picking time. Here in Northeast Ohio there are lots of wonderful orchards such as Eddy Fruit Farm in Chesterland. I love all the corn stalk and pumpkin decorations.

eddy-entrance-decorations

eddy-building-sign

Picking apples right from the tree is heavenly!

eddy-apples

As we picked different kinds of apples the sun set, making it a memorable evening.

eddy-sunset-clouds

eddy-red-sun

eddy-sunset_

Time for everyone to get out their favorite apple crisp recipes!

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YDT Shop #10 – Harps & Thistles

September 24

harps-thistles_1

The Harps & Thistles Yarn Emporium was shop #10 on my Yarn Discovery Tour. At the outset, I decided that 10 shops would be enough for this year, so this was also my final stop.

The Emporium’s dinosaur is a good representative of the whimsical nature of the store. It’s filled with a large selection of colorful yarns.

harps-thistles_2

The end of the line, stamp #10 was added to my Passport and I was entered into a drawing for the special gift basket for anyone visiting 10 shops. Some intrepid knitters are going to all 15. I’m impressed! I had a wonderful time getting to know Northeast Ohio shops that I wouldn’t otherwise have known about. It’s been a great Tour!

harps-thistles_passport

posted under Events, Yarn Shop | 1 Comment »

YDT Shop #9 – Long Tail Knits

September 22

 

Long Tail Front

It was stop #9 on my Yarn Discovery Tour, and judging by the happy knitters gathered around the table I am not alone in really liking Long Tail Knits. Owner Jeannine Hausch was welcoming and very knowledgeable. As she showed me around the shop’s yarns and spinning supplies, I was impressed by some special lines she carries. For one thing, I am a complete sucker for cashmere. Long Tail Knits has its very own line of hand-dyed fingering weight yarn in a luscious blend of merino and cashmere, with a bit of nylon thrown in for stability. The yarns are shown off on displays with original shawl designs:

Long Tail collage

I appreciate that the store carries products from two local alpaca farms, Whistler’s Glen and Black Walnut.

Long Tail alpaca

I went slightly nuts in this store. Not only does Jeannine carry high-quality yarn, but also she has a few garments for sale. I bought a gorgeous little alpaca-blend Peruvian stranded jacket which I simply must have for winter. I also…you guessed it…bought another sweater’s worth of yarn. Jeannine introduced me to the Cestari line. Not only is the yarn beautiful, it’s entirely made in the USA. I can’t wait to get stitching with it!

Finally, the shop offers all kinds of open knitting times, workshops and events. I don’t know how they keep track of it all!

They kindly added stamp #9 to my Passport.

Long Tail passport

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