Today’s prompt asks us to look forward. What new skills, projects and experiences do we hope we might have conquered or tried?
I have three skills I’d like to have incorporated into my designs by the time Knitting and Crochet Blog Week 2014 rolls around.
First, short rows. They are a special kind of knitting magic. You can use them to shape shawl collars, as I did in this little Baby Sophisticate I knit for a friend:
You can use them for bust shaping, which is nice for those of us who are well-endowed but prefer to avoid the giant-sack look. The Shapely Tank by Joan McGowan-Michael is a great example of this:
And you can also use short rows to knit top-down, set-in sleeves in the round, which I think is especially cool. You can see an example here in the FlyAway Hoodie pattern by the phenomenally talented Joji Locatelli:
And finally, I’d really like to try out the contiguous method of top-down sweater knitting, as developed by Susie Meyers (SusieM on Ravelry). If you’re not familiar with this method, do check it out! It’s an ingenious way to knit a set-in type of sleeve in one piece with the body of a sweater. Here’s an example, Papillon by Svetlana Volkova:
Thank you all for making Knitting and Crochet Blog Week so much fun. I found several new blogs to follow and have really enjoyed reading all your nice comments. :-)
Today’s prompt asks us to write about our favorite knitting (or crocheting, spinning, etc.) tool. I’m taking the title a little more literally and telling you about a tool I don’t have, but am seriously coveting at the moment!
For those who don’t recognize the picture, that’s the ChiaoGoo Twist Red Lace interchangeable set. I really, really want one. I like pointy, long-tipped needles, as you can see in this comparison of every brand of circular needle I currently own:
The Addi Turbo shown third from the top is the bluntest circular I own, and quite honestly I hate working with it. I much prefer my pointy needles. My ancient Boye Needlemaster set works pretty well, actually, except the cord is awful. Here’s a comparison shot of the cords for all of the needles above (same order as before). See how the Boye cord is so stiff the needles won’t even go to the side?
I currently knit most of my projects on my Knit Picks Harmony needles, which I like very much, but there are yarns that work better with metal needles than wood (plus the KP set only goes down to size US #4, which isn’t always small enough. The CG set goes down to #2!). The two fixed ChiaoGoo circulars I currently own have convinced me that I NEED this set.
Unfortunately for me, I’d have to buy two sets to get all the needles I need. The ChiaoGoo is split into two sets, one with sizes US #2–#8 and the other with US #9–#15. It makes sense to do it this way, since the connecter can then be narrow enough on the smallest sizes and wide enough on the largest… but I work with a lot of worsted/aran yarn, so I’d definitely need both. And they’re about $90 each, yo. A little too rich for my blood at the moment.
But they’re just SO PRETTY AND POINTY. And look at that adorable fabric case!
I think I know what I’m putting on my Christmas list this year….
For today’s prompt (something different from your usual style of blogging), I decided to show you some of the non-yarny pictures I’ve taken that live in my inspiration file. Time will tell if any of these elements ever make it into one of my designs!
(Some of these photos were taken on trips–see if you can spot scenes from Venice, Florence, and San Francisco! Er… but no points for Venice. That one’s easy.)
I thought it might be fun to compare this year’s post to one I did for last year’s Knitting and Crochet Blog Week, which was on a similar topic. Last year, I said I usually gravitated toward saturated, jewel-toned colors. I did, however, notice that I had started branching out a bit into neutrals and darks–something I hadn’t done much before I began designing.
Here are the projects I’ve finished since then (I excluded designs where I didn’t get to choose the yarn):
Not much has changed! Still a big preference for jewel-toned, saturated colors. My favorites, blue and green, are well-represented, although I think there might be more purple in there than anything else.
Just for fun, how about an infographic to see if my theories hold true? I’ll stick to projects completed since I started designing in 2011, just for simplicity’s sake, and also exclude projects where I didn’t get to choose the yarn color:
Looks like my assessment was pretty accurate. More than half of my projects have been in green, blue, blue-green, or purple. Gray makes a surprisingly strong showing, but other than that, the other colors get pushed by the wayside to some degree.
Maybe I’ll branch out a little more in the coming year. I do have some delicious yellow yarn in my stash right now that would make a lovely sweater….
Today’s prompt calls for an infographic, which is something new for me! (Luckily I’m a Monkey and this doesn’t faze me much.)
I found a neat site where you can make your own timelines, Dipity.com, and decided to do a walkthrough of a sweater design from inspiration to publication.
Below is the result. You can click on the timeline entries to see the details, or for a different and very neat effect, click on “flipbook” in the top corner and you can scroll through them that way!
Note: if for some reason the timeline won’t load on your computer, you can click “Sweater Design Timeline” at the bottom of the image to view it on Dipity.com.
The second day’s prompt is to think of or research a project that embodies the house chosen in the first day. There’s no need to actually make the project (which is good, because my extra knitting time is nonexistent at the moment!).
For this prompt, I decided to choose an assortment of patterns from other designers I’d make if I had the time. I specifically chose ones that would stretch my abilities and knowledge, because I’m a proud member of the House of Monkey!
First up, the Dahlia Cardigan by Heather Zoppetti. (Note: link goes to Ravelry. They will all go to Ravelry. If you’re not on Ravelry yet, you should be!)
Seriously, how insanely gorgeous is that lace panel?? Plus the whole “business in the front, party in the back” thing really appeals to me. It would be a challenge, because the construction method is different and it would be important to get gauge (something I’ve historically had trouble doing in a lace pattern–my YOs always seem to come out too big or too small).
Next up: the Charvet Pullover by Maria Leigh.
I find the biased stripes in this sweater absolutely fascinating. The construction, again, is very different. It’s so different, in fact, that there’s a whole sweater workshop on Knitting Daily to help the knitter wrap her head around the diagonal direction of the work.
Then there’s the stunning Butterfly Dress or Vest by Jennie Atkinson:
This would challenge me enormously because of one simple fact (okay, two simple facts, hehe): I have waaaayy more boobage than the model. The lace pattern looks moderately stretchy, but I’d still have to figure out some kind of bust shaping. In the lace pattern. Um.
And finally, Orca by Chrystal Orel (Creations by Gems):
I find orcas completely fascinating, and I’d love to make myself my own little orca pal someday. But the challenge here is pretty obvious: I don’t know how to crochet, beyond a little single-crochet-edging action. I did find a few knitted orca patterns on Ravelry, but they all involve loads of intarsia, a technique that quite frankly makes me want to chew my own foot off. Plus, they aren’t as cute. So yeah, I think I’ll have to learn to crochet.
I’m not gonna lie–finding these patterns was SO. MUCH. FUN. Maybe one day I’ll have the time to actually make one or more of these….
The first prompt in Knitting and Crochet Blog Week asks us to examine four different houses (a la Hogwarts) and choose which one best identifies with our own crafting style.
I chose The House of Monkey, which is described as follows: Intelligent and with a fun loving side, Monkeys like to be challenged with every project presenting them with something new and interesting.
(You can see the rest of the house choices and their descriptions here.)
It’s not so much that I have to have adventure and excitement in my knitting, it’s more than I tend to fall in love with projects or design ideas, regardless of difficulty level. Pretty much from the moment I started knitting, I identified myself as an adventurous beginner. If I wanted to make a project badly enough, I’d jump in with both feet and learn how to do any new techniques as I went along.
I got tired of scarves and basic hats really quickly, so about a month in I decided to try some socks. I muddled my way through learning how to use DPNs, how to do a heel turn, and how to do kitchener stitch:
I tried a couple of garments that failed spectacularly, so after about six months of knitting I bought some yummy Berroco Ultra Alpaca and decided to cobble together a bunch of elements from different patterns to create my own unique sweater.
It actually turned out better than I had any right to expect–that is, until I realized the uncontrollably itchy nose I’d had the whole time I was knitting the thing wasn’t an oncoming cold, but in fact an alpaca allergy. Sigh. But I digress.
I’m still doing this jump-in-with-both-feet thing in the present day, too. For my newest design, the Concord Grape vest, I fell in love with the idea of knitting the armhole and neck edgings along with the body, so there wouldn’t be any need to pick up stitches afterward. To do this, I had to figure out how to do all shaping without interrupting the edging pattern, which meant double and single decreases on the RS and WS of the work–some of which I’d never done before. I’d never knit anything with this construction, but I jumped in anyway!
I’m pretty happy with my status as a member of the House of Monkey. Knitting and designing like this keeps the whole thing fresh and exciting–which is important when you take into account how many hours a week I spend knitting!
For the second year in a row, I’m participating in the lovely Eskimimi’s Knitting and Crochet Blog Week! If you’re not familiar with this event, you can check out all the details here. Basically, participants take her thoughtful and insightful prompts and use them to blog every day for a whole week. It’s a lot of fun to see how different people interpret the same prompts, and it’s a great way to find new blogs to read.
I’ll see you here for the first day tomorrow!
Here’s the official FO Friday post for the new vest! I put it up for testing yesterday and have several people signed up already, woohoo!
Pattern: my own, tentatively scheduled for release mid-May. Oh, and I decided to go with “Concord Grape Vest” as the name. Concord by itself was making me think of the Concorde–not exactly the vibe I’m going for.
Yarn: Cephalopod Yarns Traveller in Finger Lakes, 2 skeins purchased at Rhinebeck last year and about a tenth of a skein from a nice Raveler who destashed to me when it looked like I would definitely run out.
This yarn is delicious. It’s springy and nice to knit with, and the colors… well, those pictures are unretouched. That’s really what the colors look like in person.
I do highly recommend alternating skeins, however. My three skeins were all completely different, to the point where I know I would have had big blotches of color if I hadn’t alternated every two rows.
Notes: Although I usually try to avoid sewing seams, I wanted to knit something a little more portable than my recent projects (gray sweater, I’m looking at you…). A vest in pieces was perfect. And the seams are short enough that it wasn’t too bad. I’m starting to actually like mattress stitch, can you believe it? It’s fun to see the pieces come together like magic.
Knitting the front and back separately helped me concentrate on the slightly unorthodox shaping, too. Since I wanted the armhole and neck edgings to be knit along with the main piece, I couldn’t do any traditional binding off at the beginning of rows–so the whole thing is shaped with double and single decreases, just inside the twisted rib edging. It was challenging to get the right ratios for the curves I wanted (there are sections with double decreases every row, then double decreases every other row, then single decreases, etc.), but I figured it out!
All in all, I’m pretty dang happy with this vest. It came out just like I envisioned it. :-)
The purple vest is almost ready for public viewing! We did a very successful photoshoot in our new backyard. It has this great wooden fence, which makes an excellent photo backdrop. Here’s a sneak peek from the photoshoot:
I’m done with the Excel sizing (XXS to 4X for this pattern), so the next steps are to lay out the pattern, finalize the chart, and proofread. Then I’ll put the pattern up for testing on Ravelry (likely in the Testing Pool group–if you think you might be interested in testing, drop me a line!).
I also need to think up a name for the pattern. Since it reminds me so much of grapes, I’m thinking maybe Concord Vest? Like these concord grapes:
And I’ve started another project! While looking through my Madelinetosh stash to get ideas for Madelinetosh May projects, I was struck with a colorwork hat idea. I tried to be good and wait for May so I could do the knitalong with everyone else, but I couldn’t stand waiting, so…
The main colorwork pattern is in Tosh Sock in French Gray and Norway Spruce. The lining (to be tacked up when the rest of the hat is complete) is Tosh too, but laceweight so it’ll tuck under without much bulk. I love how the design is going so far!
I don’t know what my deal is, though: usually I’m strictly a DK and up gal, but my last three projects have been on size 2-5 needles. Guess I’m branching out a little…