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Book: Behind the Scenes of “Sprouts”

May 21

As I worked on my upcoming book, Reversible Scarves: Curing the Wrong Side Blues, I tried desperately to stay organized. I have papers pinned all over my bulletin board (sort of like the reality version of Pinterest). “Sprouts” was a really fun pattern to develop. An early bit of test swatching takes a place of honor in the mayhem:

reversible scarves, book

The wonderful sample of “Sprouts” for the book was created by Susan Claudino, of NoKnitSherlock fame on Ravelry. (You’ll see it in a Sneak Peek posting soon.) Since she knit it, she’ll get to post it to her Projects page.  I’ve been itching to knit one myself, partly because it’s a fun knit, and also so I can post my own  in my AudKnits Projects.

Early in the morning, I happily got started:

Sprouts, reversible scarves, double knitting, Borocco

Berroco’s Ultra Alpaca is a dream to knit with!

Book Sneak Peek – Mixer

April 17

People have been asking me about the scarf I used in my new Binding Off in Pattern YouTube video. “Mixer” is one of the many patterns from my upcoming book Reversible Scarves: Curing the Wrong Side Blues.

Reversible Scarves, Mixer, Cascade 220

Don’t you hate it when you lovingly knit a scarf, only to have it worn with the wrong side showing? My book will be a resource for reversible scarves, using a variety of techniques. “Mixer” comes from the chapter showcasing simple knit/purl patterns. I love the jaunty scalloped ends (if I do say so myself) and the great Cascade 220 Citron color.

My book is available for pre-order (see the sidebar at right). If you order the printed book, you’ll also receive the digital version. The digital version alone is also available.

Photo by Caro Sheridan

A Book is Born

October 24

Reversible Scarves, Cooperative Press, knitting book

 Hmm… What on earth is this pile of knitting?

Shannon Okey, Knitgrrl Studio, Cooperative Press
And why is Shannon Okey smiling?

I’m excited to tell you that the Really Big Project I’ve been alluding to over the past bunch of months is my book on reversible scarves. It will be published by Cooperative Press. I’m very grateful to Shannon Okey, of Knitgrrl fame, for giving me the opportunity to be published!

A few weeks ago I hauled all the scarf samples down to Shannon’s studio in Cleveland. I learned a lot, watching her sort the scarves into groups in preparation for photography. She then showed me the programs she uses to edit the Cooperative Press books. A fascinating process!

If you’re like me, and are tired of sorting through scores of scarf patterns to find the ones that look good from both sides, your wait will soon be over. My book uses a variety of techniques, and plenty of suggestions for customization – enough to keep you knitting gifts and accessories for years to come.

The book is in its infancy, and I’ll be sure to keep you posted as it makes its way toward actual book-dom!

Moebius Madness

September 6

When I signed up for Cat Bordhi‘s Moebius workshop, I had only the vaguest idea of what a Moebius actually is. Wikipedia describes it as “a surface with only one side.” In knitting, I knew of it from intriguing shawls, scarves and cowls that look like strips with a twist in the middle.

The picture below shows the surpise supplies that greeted us in the workshop. No, the apple is not a lilliputian variety – I just put in in the photos for scale to show that  the ball of yarn is really, really huge!

Moebius, Cat Bordhi, ShiBui, Addi

I couldn’t understand, why the giant yarn? Turns out the big yarn and big needles are just right for learning the special Moebius  Cast-On. It also helps when creating a new design – it means fewer stitches to rip out when the unexpected happens. See the variegated yarn in the center of the work? That, oddly enough, is the cast on that Cat so brilliantly teaches. Yes, the knitting starts in the center and works outward! This is just the beginning of where the design process is turned on its head.

 

Moebius, desigining

Wikipedia says, “If an ant were to crawl along the length of this strip, it would return to its starting point having traversed every part of the strip …without ever crossing an edge.”

Here’s the strip I made to start conceptualizing how to create a pattern for the Moebius shape. Not only does it start in the center, but also patterns that slant one way in the beginning slant the other way when they come around the second half of the knitting.

If this sounds like gobbledy-gook, I can highly recommend Cat’s workshops. She also has a terrific YouTube video  called “Intro to Moebius Knitting.”

My Moebius design will soon appear in… well, the Really Big Project that I can’t talk about yet.

ShiBui provided the lovely Highland Wool Alpaca yarn for Cat’s students, and the fabulous Addi Turbo needle came from Skacel.

Yarnmarket Visit

November 16

The field trip to end all field trips…I got to visit Yarnmarket a couple of weeks ago while in Ohio.  

When I drove up, my heart started going pitter-patter just seeing the familiar Yarnmarket logo.  Signs in the window show that the facility houses not only endless yarn and supplies, but also the wonderful, tenacious people who keep Yarndex up to date. (If you’re not familiar with Yarndex, check it out. It’s THE source for finding every kind of yarn imaginable, and is easily search-able by weight, gauge, brand and other terms).

Yarnmarket, yarn store

I love to support my LYS, but they can’t carry every line needed to satisfy my voracious yarn yearnings.  I fire up the computer to  place orders online with Yarnmarket,  sometimes phoning for expert advice to narrow down a selection. When I’ve looked at the huge list  of brands they carry, I’ve always wondered what on earth their company looks like in person.  Now I know: it’s yarn mecca to the nth degree!  A series of  light-industry warehouse units, all connected, housing shelf-after-shelf, bin-after-bin of every conceivable fiber goodie.

To have the opportunity to meet all the nice people I’ve spoken to by phone over the years was a real treat. Deborah Knight (no relation, but I wish we were) gave me a terrific tour of the facility. We started in the showroom, where I learned the stories behind some of Yarnmarket’s special brands. Did you know that Yarnmarket has its own house brand? Named Caledon Hills after the lovely part of Canada where Deborah’s mother lives, the yarn comes in worsted and chunky weights.  I am bowled over by the number of colors available – 72 in each line! My head is spinning with design ideas. To get the full story, you can check out Deborah’s hilarious description of life in this beautiful but technologically challenged part of Canada.

Yarnmarket’s Abbey Collection is inspired by the pastel drawings of an American monk. A dollar from each ball sold is donated to the artist’s abbey. If you want some design inspiration, check out the Abbey Collection site where there are pictures of the pastels. Clicking on the picture will take you to a page showing that particular drawing and the yarns that represent it. I love to see how Iris Schreier has used dye to interpret the pastels.

Deborah offered up many more entertaining stories, and I wish I could have had all my readers along to hear them too! As the day grew later, I had to get down to business selecting yarns for a new – big – project coming up. Jan, a yarn expert extraordinaire, looked over the sketches I brought and helped me to narrow my choices down.

If you visit Yarnmarket, you’ll start off in the showroom, where at least one of each yarn is on display.   With all the yarns the company offers, it might be easy to be overwhelmed, but the room is brilliantly organized. This photo  is of one tiny corner:

Yarnmarket, yarn

Next comes the warehouse tour. This is like walking through some lovely dream involving the ultimate stash combined with the knitter’s library from heaven. It’s another tribute to the powers of organization, as the bins all perfectly labelled and arranged alphabetically – room after room, shelf after shelf. I’ll fess up… the place is so enormous I  got lost trying to find my way back to the showroom the first time. I learned to tell my internal navigation system, “Turn left by the Berroco”.

I want to thank everyone at Yarnmarket for their warmth and hospitality. You’ll be seeing several of their yarns in future AudKnits designs.

Knitty!

November 2

It’s been a few weeks now, but the thrill of having my Eleanor Cowl included in Knitty has not worn off!

Knitty, cowl, lace, knitting

 

Knitty, knitty.com, cowl, lace, knitting

I used Lorna’s Lace’s Shepherd Sport for the pewter cowl above. It’s such an unusual, gorgeous neutral! Eleanor is a quick knit, and Lorna’s Laces’ colors are so abundant, I can see making several of these cowls for friends and also to accent various pieces of my own wardrobe.

I love the warm cashmere blend found in Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino. Purple is a popular color right now, so I made this version of the cowl too.

 Knitty, knitty.com, cowl, lace

 Eleanor was inspired by a pattern I found in a Japanese stitch dictionary. I altered the pattern for the bottom section of the cowl so that it would take on a funnel shape – larger at the bottom to fit over a garment, and smaller at the top to stay closer to the neck.

Knitty, knitty.com, cowl, lace

 

I polled my knitting friends on Facebook about whether to design the cowl to be knit flat, which can make blocking the lace easier, or whether to design it in the round, which makes the knitting easier. The results were split so I wrote the pattern both ways!

Lots of knitters over on Ravelry have been making the cowl. I love to see the various yarns and beautiful array of colors that are being used.  If you want to check out their projects, click here:

As always, I send bouquets of gratitude to Susan Claudino for an awesome job knitting the pewter sample of the cowl.

Springtime Socks

June 2

As you may know, we now have a part-time home near where I grew up in the Midwest. I’m not used to living in the suburbs where other people can see me. In California, the only people who might get weirded out by my photographing socks are the deer and foxes and newts. Well, and my husband at first, but he got over it after a while. Here in the suburbs, I can only guess at what my new neighbors might think as I diligently pose socks around the yard. They haven’t come over to introduce themselves yet. Maybe this is why. (“The lady who used to live here was so…. normal”, they lament to each other, peering into our yard.)

Nonetheless, here are the socks I created using Sockotta Sock yarn and some leftover Regia 4-ply. I adore knitting with jacquard-patterned yarn like the Sockotta. The ever-changing colors keep the knitting entertaining.

 

I find the Sock Wizard software a handy tool for making socks. Once I do a swatch, it’s easy to plug the gauge into the software and come up with a pattern that is exactly the size I’m looking for. I’ve used it often enough to know that I always need to make the heel length longer. And I always put some sort of ribbing into the leg. Even with a good cuff, the legs fall down when I knit straight stockinette.

I’m not sure I’m crazy about the afterthought heel. What is your favorite heel?

Knit Picks Pattern

April 8

I’m excited and grateful to be part of Knit Pick’s Independent Designer Program! The Knit Picks version of my Smock Top Sweater uses their beautiful Merino Style yarn. I’m crazy for the Kenai color seen here:

 

I have a Japanese Maple that leafs out red in the spring. Doesn’t it look like fall?

I appreciate Knit Pick’s including me in their Independent Designers Program. You can read more about it and see other patterns here.

Many thanks to Susan Claudino for doing an awesome job knitting the sample for the Knit Picks Smock Top Sweater! She’s a talented knitter, and you can admire her work on her NoKnitSherlock Ravelry page.

For anybody who’d like a refresher on how to knit smocking, I’ll remind you I’ve posted a YouTube video that demonstrates the technique.

 

Braided Cable Hat – Ravelympics 2010

March 2

There’s nothing like a good challenge to spice up life! I had a blast (in panicky sort of way) participating in Ravelry’s knitting mayhem otherwise known as Ravelympics 2010. Thousands of knitters make projects with the idea of casting on during the Olympics’ opening ceremony and being done by the closing ceremony. Knitters can choose different events to “compete” in – hats, afghans, sweaters or dozens of other categories.

I, of course, had to choose the Designer Biathlon. I love the biathlon events in the real Olympics, and I love to design. But here was the challenge -  to cast on, design a project, write the pattern for it, photograph it, have it tech edited, and then publish it during the allotted time. Whew!

Here’s the result!

I chose Cascade 220 as the yarn, since it comes in so many great colors. The braided cable cuff is made first. I include instructions for grafting stitches together in pattern. When the hat is complete, the cuff is folded up. The circumference is about 20″, which will fit most women.

You may download the pattern for free here:

Smock Top Sweater

January 11

My Smock Top Sweater design, originally published in Knotions, is now available here. And its free!

The traditional style lends itself well to dressing up (maybe with pretty black slacks?) or dressing down (paired with jeans for cozy fall and winter gatherings). Its versatility makes it useful in a time when we are all trying to get the most out of our garments.

The sweater features a form-flattering ribbed body topped by feminine smocking. The turtleneck is knit with ever-increasing sizes of needles to drape softly at the neck line.

Knit from the bottom up, the body’s 2×2 ribbing flows seamlessly into the smocking pattern that adorns the chest. At the top of the smocking, the ribs flow up to match at the shoulder, making for a pretty join.

And now for something really fun….

I know I was a little intimidated the first time I tried to knit smocking. Like a lot of seeming challenges, once I tried it, I nearly laughed at how easy it is. I’ve made a YouTube video demonstrating how to make the smocking, in case you’d like a little guidance.

The updated version of the Smock Top Sweater pattern includes corrections, clarifications, and the addition of metric measurements.

The Smock Top Sweaters that I knit for myself are made from the yarn called for in the pattern, Rowan Classic Yarns’ Cashsoft DK. I adore this yarn! It’s soft against my skin, and the bit of cashmere  content gives it warmth without excess weight.

I caught Stella (my dress form) wearing it early one morning, hanging out by the last of my dahlias.

I hope everyone’s New Year is off to a great start. Happy knitting!

Smock Top Sweater Correction

December 22

A few days ago I was knitting with my buddies at my LYS. In came a gal who was knitting my Smock Top Sweater design, as seen in Knotions magazine. It felt so good to actually know someone who’s making my pattern. My little glow of pride was quickly dashed when she pointed out that there is an  error in the pattern. Two lines were swapped. Uhg.

For those of you who have already gotten the pattern from Knotions, please note the corrected lines for the Back section of the pattern should read:

2. For sizes 30, 38, 45.5, and 53” / 76, 96.5, 115.5 and 135.5 cm only:
 K2, *p2, k2; rep from * to end.
For sizes 34, 41.5, and 49.5” / 86.5, 105.5, 125.5 cm only:
K1, p1, *k2, p2; rep from * to last 4 sts, k2, p1, k1.

For those of you who have already started knitting,  before the armholes start you can just flip the work over so the WS and RS are reversed for the back and for the front. Your selvedge stitch will be a purl stitch, but everything else should work out all right.

I’m so sorry for the inconvenience.

The new pattern can be found on the Smock Top Sweater page.

Braided Mittens for Mom

November 10

As it cools off here in Cleveland, I want to make sure my Mom has something warm on her hands when we take her outside. I had a blast making these mittens for her. The color looks great with her bright blue eyes.

I often wear my hair in a braid down my back. By using the braided cable in the mittens, I’m hoping she’ll be reminded of  how much I love her when she wears them.

Mittens-1

 

Because of Mom’s stroke, one hand has problems with swelling. We couldn’t get commercially-made mittens to fit over that hand. I’m grateful I can knit, so I could make the mitten for that hand wider. A nice custom fit!

In the process of making these, I found another handy use for lifelines. I’ve used them in lace projects, but it only now dawns on me that they’re a good way to mark the beginning of shaping for mittens’ tops and socks’ toes.  I put the lifeline in when I thought the mitten was long enough, then proceeded with shaping the top. The mitten was still too short. I measured the deficiency so I’d know how much extra knitting would be needed. Fixing the problem was a simple matter of ripping back to the lifeline, knitting the extra length that I had already measured, then shaping  the top again. Perfect!

Mittens-Life-Line-1

 

I used Rowan’s Lima yarn. It’s mostly baby alpaca, with some merino wool and nylon mixed in. I liked the yarn’s woven construction.

Lima-Closeup

One of these days I’d like to make a simple turtleneck from this yarn. It’ll help me make that mental shift from California to (brrr) Ohio!

 

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