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Interview with Designer Gillian Grimm of Birch Hollow Cottage!

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I have another fun interview with a fellow Indie Design Gift-A-Long designer today! Gillian has some adorable patterns in her Ravelry shop, and I’ve already seen several pop up in the KAL/CAL threads in the Gift-A-Long Ravelry group. I asked her a few questions about her design background and inspirations.

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Triona Murphy: What inspired you to start designing?
Gillian Grimm: I’ve always been a tinkerer when it comes to patterns, in both sewing and knitting. I spent several years making adjustments to existing patterns to better suit my needs and that led to designing things from scratch. Once I started down that road there was no going back :)

TM: Your mitten patterns for kids are adorable! I especially like the Gnome Mittens and Little Hedgehog Mittens. What inspired you to start making them? Which one is your favorite?

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GG: Well thank you! My animal mittens were inspired both by the creatures that lived in the woods around us and also characters from children’s books. I was especially inspired by Jan Brett’s The Mitten and some of her other picture books for my first round of animal mittens and I have some new picture book inspired mittens in the works that I hope to release during the GAL! I also draw inspiration from my children and their friends. I’m always looking for ways to create items that they will wear and love and have fun with!

TM: The name Birch Hollow is very evocative. Do you really live near birch trees, or are they just favorites of yours?
GG: Birch Hollow Cottage is, indeed, a real place. Until this spring we lived high up in the mountains in Vermont in a house surrounded by birch and maple trees, plenty of wild animals and two creeks. It was the perfect place to curl up in front of the wood stove with piles of wool and knit and dream away. We’re now living in an old house in Portland, Oregon, which we also love, although I’m not sure anyplace will every compare to our time in the Birch Hollow. :)

TM: Are you planning to participate in the Gift-A-Long as a crafter as well as a designer? If so, what do you plan to make?
GG: Definitely! We try to make Christmas each year as much about handmade and homemade gifts as we can. I’ll be picking out some hat and scarf patterns to make as gifts but I’m also on the hunt for a great sweater pattern that I can make for myself in the new year.

TM: What are your design goals for the next year?
GG: I’ll be releasing most of my animal mittens in adult sizes as well as introducing some more animals into the group. I’ve also got some fun hat projects in the works, plus I’d like to branch out more in the shawl area. I’ve got lots of sketches and ideas and I can’t wait to get knitting.

I hope you enjoyed getting to know Gillian as much as I did! As for my own GAL knitting, I finished a present for my son’s first Christmas. Stay tuned for that soon!

Interview with Designer Tabi Ferguson!

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As part of the Gift-A-Long 2014 festivities (check out the Ravelry group if you haven’t already!), I got the chance to interview designer/spinner/yarnie Tabi Ferguson. See below to find out more about her designs and her yarns!

Triona Murphy: What inspired you to start designing?
Tabi Ferguson: With my first design, Link and Link Cowl. I wanted  a lace motif that included circles but there wasn’t anything in the stitch dictionaries that worked, so I decided to design my own. Now I try to create new motifs in every design I do based on a sketch. I also wanted to design based on the yarns I carry. Each yarn has different characteristics: elasticity (or not), bloom (or not), loft (or not), relative durability, etc. Some designs work better with some yarns.
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TM: Besides being a designer, you’re also a spinner and an indie dyer. How do the three activities compare? Do you find one more difficult than the others?
TF: They all have their fun aspects and their challenges.  I’d say designing is the most challenging but it keeps the mind sharp. Sometimes it’s not the motif that’s the most challenging. I recently designed a sock pattern with a new cable/circle/texture motif that only took a day or so to get charted. The challenge was figuring out how to work it into a sock shape. Let’s just say I have even more respect for sweater designers now!
Spinning is meditation. If I go too long without spinning, I get a little cranky :-) I went almost immediately to spinning luxury fibres, so for the last year  I’ve been concentrating on spinning fleeces. Spinning silk is such perfection, that It’s been a fun change imagining the personalities of each individual sheep based on the characteristics of their locks and spinning to that.

 

Dyeing is relatively instant gratification. Though it takes longer to dye silk because of the extra time needed for soaking, when I’m standing over the dyepots I imagine all the cool things people will knit and spin with the outcome…. which is dry the next day! The challenge is you don’t always have full controll when you’re dyeing so sometimes you have to let go of the colour idea you had in mind and just let things flow. Colour is highly subjective and someone will love it. I also really enjoy seeing the colour combinations customers choose, it gives one fresh eyes!

 

TM: From your design catalogue, it looks like you gravitate toward fingering and laceweight yarns. Do you have any plans to work in other weights in the future, or have you found your sweet spot?
TF: I carry mostly lace and fingering yarns because luxury fibres are very fine and, unless they’re multiple plies, they work best in those weights. But….
It’s funny that you ask that! This fall I brought out a new 50/50 Silk/Yak 4ply and 100% Yak 3ply series in…..Sport/DK! specifically because I wanted to design something luxury for guys. Ok, my guy :-) I also wanted to see if the natural brown yak took the dye with the same intensity as the natural buffalo. The results are exactly what I wanted. Anyway, I threw together a double-sided Fair Isle scarf design from the natural yak and a handspun similar to the Silk/Yak but A) I’ve now worn it more than ‘the guy’ has (oops) and B) I’ve had a few requests for the pattern, so I’d better get knitting one for myself so I can figure out what I did! I did manage to get a neckwarmer version of my Ceylon Cowldone up in one skein of Silk/Yak for the Woodstock Fleece Festival.

 

TM: Are you planning to participate in the Gift-A-Long as a crafter as well as a designer? If so, what do you plan to make?
TF: I’m a little late starting my Holiday knitting, but a pair of fingerless gloves has been requested by mom and the guy really needs a toque, so I’ll be checking out the GAL for those designs!

 

TM: What are your design goals for the next year?
TF: I have a new side-to-side and triangular shawl design based on the design I did for the PLY Magazine Silk issue but using my new Multi-Ply Silk. I think another Fair Isle design similar to the Clouds of Luxury, mixing and matching different luxury yarns. The Ceylon Series or the Link series may get another addition. I enjoy exploring different interpretations and trying new shapes.
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Thanks for being on the blog today, Tabi! If you want to check out her designs, they’re available on Ravelry here. There’s still plenty of time to knit up one of her designs as a gift or for yourself and be entered to win fabulous prizes in the Gift-A-Long!

Updates!

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Whew, lots of stuff happening around chez Triona Designs recently. I’ve released two more patterns:

Bubblicious Hat:

Bubblicious

Nolan Vest, which comes with instructions for v-neck and scoop neck as well as two different colorwork placements:
Nolan green

Nolan Brown

 

I’ve also been hard at work on several secret designs for yarn companies. Some of them are even for adults! Here’s a sneak peek of one that should be released this spring:

Avelina peek

 

And last but certainly not least, I’m participating in the Indie Designer Gift-A-Long on Ravelry for the second year in a row!

GAL logo

 

If you’re not familiar with the event, check out the Ravelry group here for all the info. The fun starts this Thursday at 8 pm EST and goes all the way to the end of the year.

The prizes are killer this year (I personally donated some yarny goodness, but I saw at least a dozen things I’d love in the prize list!). I’m going to pick out a pattern or two that I’d like to make and jump into the knitalong fun.

I have several interviews scheduled with fellow Gift-A-Long indie designers coming up. Watch this space!

New Pattern Release: Ronan Cardigan!

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Now that my baby model has arrived, I’m working my way through pattern releases!

You may remember seeing the Ronan Cardigan sample a few months ago. Doesn’t it look better with my handsome model?

Ronan back

Ronan frontThe pattern is available to purchase on Ravelry here.

Here are the specs:

SIZES
0-3 mo (6-12 mo, 1-2 yrs, 2-4 yrs, 4-6 yrs, 6-8 yrs)

Actual Finished Measurements:
Chest: 16.75 (18.25, 21, 22.5, 24.75, 26.25)”, or 42.5 (46.5, 53.5, 57, 63, 66.5) cm

Length from bottom hem to top of neckband: 9.75 (10.25, 12.75, 15.25, 17.75, 20.25)”, or 25 (26, 32.5, 38.5, 45, 51.5) cm

Shown in 0-3 month size.

MATERIALS NEEDED
Yarn:
Malabrigo Yarn Merino Worsted (100% merino; 210yds/192m per 100g skein); color Emerald; 2 (2, 2, 3, 3, 4) skeins

Recommended needles:
US #7 / 4.5 mm circular needle, 16-32” long (depending on size being worked)
US #7 / 4.5 mm double-pointed needles, set of 4 or 5
US #8 / 5.0 mm circular needle, 16-32” long (depending on size being worked)
US #8 / 5.0 mm double-pointed needles, set of 4 or 5

Notions:
4 stitch markers; cable needle; smooth waste yarn; yarn needle; 4 (4, 5, 5, 6, 6) buttons, 3/4”/20 mm in diameter

GAUGE
19 sts/28 rows = 4 inches/10 cm in reverse stockinette stitch on larger needles.

Burnished Pattern Book Winner!

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The random number generator has spoken:

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Comment #5 is Katinka, who said:

“I usually want to knit all the things, all the time, but one specific fall goal is a red sweater. I just **need** a red sweater — it’s my happy color.
Love your cardi coat! Enjoy the time with your little guy — he’s about to get into a really fun stage of interacting back, if he’s not already.”

Congratulations, Katinka! Send me your address in an email to triona@trionadesigns.com, or a Ravelry PM to otismurph, and I’ll get the pattern book sent out to you!

New Pattern Release and Contest!

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Boy, people aren’t kidding when they say babies are a lot of work, haha. I’ve been working hard to keep up with my knit design work, and I’m afraid my poor blog has suffered. But I’m resurfacing to show off a new design!

Scroll down to the bottom of this post for your chance to win a copy of the pattern book that includes this design.

This is Roundstone Coat, from the Knit Picks Fall 2014 collection, Burnished:

Roundstone backIt’s designed in bulky wool for a toasty outer layer, perfect for fall outings.

Roundstone Front

The bold cable pattern is my favorite part of this coat. It’s challenging enough to keep your interest, but easy enough to be fun:

Roundstone detail

Here are the pattern details:

Available for purchase on the Knit Picks website here.

FINISHED MEASUREMENTS
S (M, L, 1X, 2X, 3X, 4X)

35 (39.5, 43, 47.5, 52, 56.5, 59)” finished bust measurement; garment is meant to be worn with 2-3” of positive ease.

YARN
Knit Picks Wool of the Andes Bulky (100% wool; 137 yards/100g): Masala 24681, 9 (10, 11, 11, 12, 13, 14) skeins.

NEEDLES
US 10 (6.0mm) 24-32” circular needle, or size to obtain gauge
US 9 (5.5mm) circular needle, at least 47” in length

NOTIONS
Yarn Needle, Stitch Markers (at least 6 should be the removable type or safety pins), Cable needle, Stitch holders or Waste Yarn, 6 buttons, 1” to 1.25” in diameter

GAUGE
14 sts and 21 rows = 4” over St st, blocked.

Knit Picks generously provided me with an extra copy of the pattern booklet that includes the Roundstone Coat. The collection, Burnished, is gorgeous. There are at least half a dozen sweaters I want to make immediately!

Burnished KPFor a chance to win the collection, leave a comment by the end of the day this Thursday, September 25th and tell me what you’re planning to knit this fall. On Friday, I’ll use a random number generator to choose the winner. (Contest is open to everyone, so international entries are welcome!)

A Very Special FO Friday

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You’ve probably figured this out from the month of radio silence…

Ronan1Our baby boy arrived on July 1, four days before his due date! We named him Ronan, a good Irish name like his mom’s and dad’s. He’s absolutely perfect and we’re completely smitten with him.

Ronan2We’re still adjusting to the new schedule, but Ronan and I are doing very well. He is generally very sweet-tempered. He does get grumpy sometimes, like when he’s waiting in the car with Daddy and Mom is taking too long in the post office:

Ronan3He likes to be held most of the time, so figuring out how to get knitting done has been a bit of a challenge. I did have a breakthrough about a week ago when I figured out I could knit with him snuggled up in my Moby wrap:

Ronan4I’d love to show off pictures of him modeling the baby knits I’ve been working on for the last few months, but unfortunately they’re all too big for him! He wasn’t a small baby (about 8 lbs and 20 inches long), so I think I’m going to have to revisit my sizing on those patterns. He’s growing at a rapid rate (he should be, with the amount he eats!), so hopefully it won’t be too long.

I did get a picture of him modeling my knit FO for the week, a baby hat for a friend who had her baby boy just a few days before I did. I think he sensed that this wasn’t for him:

Garter Flap HatHere are the specs on the FO:

Pattern: Garter Earflap Hat from Purl Soho (Ravelry link).

Yarn: Plymouth Superwash Worsted. I’ve had this yarn sitting in my stash for years and finally found something to do with it. It’s soft and squishy, very reminiscent of Cascade 220 Superwash.

Notes: This was a quick, fun, easy knit! Highly recommended. And the little tassel and earflaps, which are a little hard to see in the modeled photo of my wiggly son, are so cute:

Garter Earflap flatMore baby photos to come!

FO Friday: Yep, More Baby Knits

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I’m beginning to sound like a broken record, aren’t I?

Confound1This newest FO matches the colorwork hat I knit up a few months ago:

Fair Isle baby hatThe specs:

Pattern: My own (to be named). The hat and vest will likely be part of a baby collection I’ll be releasing sometime in the fall.

Yarn: Knit Picks Brava Sport in Grass and Caution. I got the hat and the vest out of just one skein of the green and less than a half skein of the yellow. Baby knits are tiny.

I’m still impressed with the quality of the Knit Picks acrylic lines. The sport-weight version is just as soft and non-squeaky as the worsted-weight version I used for the baby blanket.

Notes: I went back and forth on whether I wanted to do the v-neck edging in the same yellow-green combo as the hems and armholes, but in the end I decided it would be a little too much yellow. I think I made the right choice. Plus the neckline flows better into the green buttoned shoulder band this way.

I’m planning to knit up another sample of this pattern in a different yarn and colorway, because I want the pattern to have the options of a round neck instead of a v-neck and colorwork placement near the hem instead of at the chest.

Bonus FO for this week:

Golden Pear

Pattern: Golden Pear (Ravelry link) by Melissa Thomson

Yarn: Scroungings from my leftovers drawer… I think this is Dream in Color Classy (the brown) and some varieties of Cascade 220 for the cream and green.

Notes: Not my own pattern, for once (gasp!). I have a friend who’s going into labor at any moment, so I thought I’d whip up a quick little baby hat. I think this took me about 2.5 hours from cast on to weaving in ends, so it was definitely quick! The i-cord loop at the top twisted a little when I sewed it down, but I actually like the look better than straight, so it’s all good. This is going in the mail tomorrow.

FO Friday and New Pattern Release: Oscillation Scarf

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I have a new FO to show off, and a new pattern!

And it’s (gasp) not a baby knit.

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The scarf is part of the awesome Malabrigo Quickies program (small designs that take 1-2 skeins of Malabrigo yarn). You can check out the rest of the Quickies here on the Malabrigo website. There are some ridiculously cute patterns there.

We had fun trying to pretend I wasn’t 36 weeks pregnant in the photoshoot. I think we pulled it off rather well. The bump is kiiinnnd of present in the full body shots:

Oscillation2But I think you still see the scarf first and not just OMG baby!

The FO specs:

Pattern: my own Oscillation Scarf (Ravelry link), available to purchase for $4 US.

Yarn: Malabrigo Arroyo, two skeins in Reflecting Pool. Blue-green yarns are my Kryptonite, so I loooovee this colorway. My skeins were very different from each other, so I alternated every other row and twisted the yarns up the side. It looks neat and tidy in person, and you can barely see it in the photos, even the closeups:

Oscillation3The combo of the winding cables and alternating skeins broke up the pooling you sometimes get with hand-dyed yarns quite nicely. I’m really happy with the way the colorway looks with the pattern!

Notes: This is one of those sweet spot patterns: just interesting enough to keep your attention, but easily memorized so it makes great TV or travel knitting. A good chunk of this scarf was knit at the TNNA tradeshow while manning my booth or chatting (oops, still need to do a TNNA recap post!).

And now, of course, I’m back to baby knits. My little one is due in three weeks, so not too much longer until you get to see some modeled shots!

 

 

FO Friday: Baby Put Together

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Continuing with the theme of baby obsession, here’s my newest FO:

Baby PT fullIt’s a baby version of one of my first garment patterns, the Put Together vest:

Put Together vestThe downsizing added some challenges, especially on the neck/neckband section. I had to rip out and re-knit the neckband five times to get the decreases right so it wouldn’t ruffle.

Baby PT neckband

After all those decreases, I was a little worried about a giant baby head being able to fit through there, so I changed the neckband from worked in the round (as it was in the original) to worked flat with a button. I think it came out cute:

IMG_1218The specs:

Pattern: my own, based on my Put Together adult vest.

Yarn: Madelinetosh Tosh DK in Dr. Zhivago’s Sky for the MC. I used less than one skein for a 3-6 month size! The contrasting color is some Tosh DK Twist I had left over from my Creme de Menthe vest.

As usual, working with Tosh was fantastic. It was nice to not have to worry about alternating multiple skeins, though. And I bought two skeins, so I have one left to play with!

Notes: I was aiming for unisex colors, and I think it worked out pretty well (okay, maybe it’s a little on the boyish side, but close). I can’t wait to see my little one in this!

 

 

 

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