Just a quick little post here as I get a breather between opening gifts and cooking food for Christmas dinner!
Yarny gifts were acquired.
We’re entering the last week of the Indie Design Gift-A-Long over on Ravelry (check it out here if you want to join in the fun!). One of the best things about the GAL for me is discovering new-to-me designers.
Tanja Luescher designs gorgeous lace shawls and accessories. She kindly answered a few questions for me, so without further ado, here’s the interview!
Triona Murphy (TM): What inspired you to start designing?
Tanja Luescher (TL): I modified patterns or used recipes to create my own very soon. I’m very small, so I had to make changes to get something that fits me. After a course on shawl design by Renee Leverington I felt confident enough to publish my own patterns.
TM: You have such gorgeous intricate lace designs! What is your design process like for these?
TL: In the beginning, I take out my huge collection of stitch dictionaries and see what I fall in love with this time. Sometimes I have an idea what I’m looking for, sometimes I just let the pictures inspire me. When I’ve found one or more stitch patterns, I change some details here and there to make them work for the item I have in mind, and after that begin to knit. In that phase, a lot can happen. A shawl might become a cowl, stitch patterns get added or removed. I have to see the knitting on my needles to know what the design really wants to be. I envy those who have a perfect plan and a pattern written out before they begin to knit. Maybe I’ll get there some day. :)
TM: Are you participating in the Gift-A-Long as a crafter as well as a designer? If so, what do you plan to make/have you made?
TL: I’ve cast on Vining Roses by Natalia Sha, Fairy Ring Socks by Kirsten McTeer, Pleach by Clare Devine and Sand Tracks Scarf by Tracey Lee. I love this opportunity to knit other people’s designs! :)
TM: Is there a design of yours that you love and would like to see more people make?
TL: Yes, Soraya’s Faroese Shawl, I’d love to see it get more attention.
TM: What are your design goals for the next year?
I want to have more than 30 patterns available and answer some submission calls. An idea I’ve already begun with is working with Caterpillargreenyarn’s Shawl Striping yarns and see what happens when you use them for other shapes than the triangles that they are meant for. It’s so much fun to experiment with the gorgeous colors!
What I’m Knitting
I have another FO from the Indie Design Gift-A-Long this week!
These felted mittens are to match Ronan’s aviator hat I showed off last week. Here’s what they looked like pre-felting (along with the yarn I had left—that was some serious yarn chicken with a hand-dyed, irreplaceable yarn):
Yarn: Knit Picks Wool of the Andes Worsted, hand-dyed by my husband!
Notes: This pattern was clear and easy to follow, and I love that it includes sizes from teeny baby to large adult! I made the 24 month size for Ronan. They’re too big even after I felted them to within an inch of their lives, but that’s okay—with luck, he should be able to wear them next year, too. And he doesn’t mind that they’re big:
A few days ago, I received the yarn for three(!) secret deadline projects, so I’m afraid that’s probably going to be all of my Gift-A-Long knitting for this year. But I really enjoyed knitting other people’s patterns for a change. I can’t wait for next year!
PSA: if you aren’t sure what the Gift-A-Long is, come check it out in the Ravelry group! It runs all the way through New Year’s Eve, so there’s plenty of time to get in on the fun.
What I’m Cooking
I knocked out two cookbook challenge recipes this week. First up was this chef’s salad, featuring baked tofu, breaded cauliflower, and eggplant bacon. The salad itself was good (if a little too labor-intensive and fiddly for a salad), but the vegan “ranch” dressing recipe that went with it—OMFG. It tastes virtually identical to dairy-filled ranch! My husband and I practically drank it out of the bowl. Definitely a new favorite!
For my weekly dinner for a crowd, I tried the smoky split pea soup from the cookbook. The smoked paprika that gives it the sort of ham-like flavor turned the soup brown rather than green, but it tasted great.
I also made my favorite beefless-beef stew recipe. This stew often gets “Whoa!” comments from carnivores who aren’t expecting something that tastes so much like the beef stew they’re used to. I used the wine called for in the recipe this time instead of my usual veggie broth substitution, which made it that much richer and better.
I’ve decided to make a huge amount of cookies for a holiday party I’m attending this weekend—so tune in for next week’s Friday Roundup for the results of that!
What I’m Reading
I picked up the first book in a long-running YA series, Margaret Peterson Haddix’s The Missing. It skews a little young, maybe, but it has a bunch of elements I like in my books—adventure, mystery, sci-fi, and good writing.
What I’m Knitting
Thanks to the Indie Design Gift-A-Long (still in full swing until the end of the year!), I’ve finished several projects this week!
First, this adorable aviator hat for my son. Seriously though, I don’t know how this kid is so adorable. I had about 12 unbelievably cute photos to choose from here.
Yarn: Knit Picks Wool of the Andes Worsted Bare, hand-dyed by none other than my husband! He gave me this yarn a few years ago as a present and I was saving it for a special project. I was worried Ronan would find it too scratchy, but he doesn’t seem to care at all! He loves the hat and keeps insisting on wearing it around the house. Mommy knitter win. :-)
Notes: This is a great pattern—very easy to follow. The designer has a whole range of adorable aviator hats in different styles and yarn weights in her Ravelry store, so it was hard to choose just one! This might be my new go-to gift for baby showers, since the finished hat is so darned cute and the earflaps make it practical for fall and winter babes.
I also finished two more projects this week, from the same pattern. I had decided that the GAL was a great opportunity to try a technique I’ve been avoiding for years—steeking! I started out with two yarns I thought were both 100% wool and knit up this coffee cozy:
It looks all innocent there, but it almost fell apart completely! Turns out one of the yarns I used, despite being exactly the same color as a 100% wool yarn I have in my leftovers stash, was actually mostly acrylic. So when I crocheted the reinforcement and cut the steek, the slippery yarn ends started popping right out of the crochet steek. I only managed to salvage it by stitching all the ends down:
So, determined to get this steeking thing right, I tried again with actual wool. This time it worked very well!
I need to work on doing the crochet reinforcement properly on the cast-on/BO row so my edges are a little funky, but the ends stayed secure! And it looks a whole lot better on the inside:
The pattern I used was Bucket List Coffee Accessories by Michele Bernstein. I’m happy to have steeking checked off my own knitter’s bucket list!
I’m working on one more GAL pattern, and then I need to switch over to a commissioned secret design project that yarn just arrived for. But hopefully I’ll have another FO to show off next week!
What I’m Cooking
The next recipe up in my Appetite for Reduction cookbook challenge was a roasted root vegetable Thai-style curry. It called for rutabagas and parsnips, which I never use, but I was surprised to find that I quite liked them both. An even bigger surprise—my son LOVED the roasted rutabaga pieces. He probably ate a quarter of the rutabaga all by himself.
I went off cookbook for my weekly meal-for-a-crowd. This is a spaghetti squash lasagna, made with a totally delicious tofu and basil based vegan ricotta. It came out really, really well! I love the idea of using spaghetti squash to healthify lasagna when I’m craving comfort food, so this is definitely going in the “make again” file.
What I’m Reading
I started a new young adult series this week. I’ve read the author’s previous series and I liked them a lot, so it’s no surprise that I’m already halfway through this one and enjoying it!