Whew, it’s been really dang busy around here (hence the lack of posts recently!). I’m hoping to get back on a regular blogging schedule soon, but in the meantime… I released a new pattern yesterday, woohoo!
Sweet Gemma should look familiar to regular readers of this blog—it’s only been about 6 months coming, haha:
Here are the specs:
Yarn: Malabrigo Rios in Aguas, 6 skeins. I was worried while designing/knitting the blanket that I would need 7, but it ended up being perfect with more than enough left over to crochet the blocks together.
To minimize color weirdness with the hand-dyed yarn, I knit one square with one skein, another square with a second skein, and then a third square alternating the leftovers of both of the previous skeins. I think it worked out really well!
Notes: The finished blanket is what I’d consider the perfect crib size, about 3ft square. And although it took me a while to finish, it was actually a very portable project. Each square is worked from the middle out, so it was easy to throw my current square into my purse or knitting bag.
I’m so delighted this pattern is out in the world—I hope you like it as much as I do!
What I’m Knitting
While waiting for yarn to arrive for a few secret commissioned designs, I put my time to good use. First, I worked up a couple new swatches for submissions to a yarn company. This pic is a good illustration of gauge at work—size 15 needles with super-bulky compared to size 5 with sport:
And since my yarn still hadn’t arrived when I was finished with those, I started the next square in my cable/lace baby blanket! It doesn’t look like much (or even like a square) yet, but it’ll show its true colors when I block it:
I didn’t get much cooking time in this week, but I did make up some tasty veggie fajitas. The refried beans are canned, but the guacamole, sautéed veggies, and Mexican rice are all homemade. (That’s dairy-free sour cream and cheese—looks pretty real, doesn’t it?)
What I’m Reading
I’m nearly done with book #2 in the Thrawn trilogy—I love this series so much!
What I’m Knitting
I think I’ve finally figured out a cable pattern I like for the Malabrigo Rios blanket I talked about last week! This is most of it, just minus a couple of rounds of cable/lace patterning and a garter stitch border:
I’m a teensy bit worried about how well the superwash yarn is going to hold a block, since I had to pull the square pretty tight to get the pattern to show up well. But oh well, I figure I’ll finish this square off and block it, then manhandle it a bit and see what happens. The nice thing about doing blankets in squares is that you’re not getting unpleasant surprises at the end of knitting a whole huge blanket.
What I’m Cooking
Hey, I’m starting to feel a little better! The morning sickness isn’t quite as bad as before—enough that I actually managed to cook and eat several things this week that I couldn’t have even contemplated a few weeks ago.
First up, my old healthy standby: quinoa, lentil, and kale stew. I’ve made this stew a lot, but it never fails to amaze me that it’s so tasty. I mean, it doesn’t really SOUND that tasty, does it? But it’s delicious, trust me.
I also made some vegan chili from a new recipe. It had several secret ingredients which sounded really odd to put in chili (maple syrup and lime juice???), but it was totally amazing! I also made some really tasty cornbread muffins and a salad to go with:
What I’m Reading
I have several books I want to read, but they’re all checked out at the library… so while I wait, I’m revisiting one of my old favorites. This is the first book in the Hand of Thrawn series by Timothy Zahn, sequels to Return of the Jedi. I liked the new movie, but I have to say, this will always be my favorite account of what happened after the original trilogy!
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
We managed a photoshoot for the lace/cable hat, so I have an FO to show off this week!
Pattern: My own, to be released sometime in the next month, hopefully. I’m kind of stuck for a name—let me know if you have any suggestions!
Yarn: Frabjous Fibers March Hare in color Curiouser. Although the picture above is pretty accurate in terms of color, it doesn’t quite capture the subtle nuances of this colorway. It is gorgeous. I bought the single skein on our recent trip to Seattle because I absolutely couldn’t resist it. The yarn was lovely to knit with, too.
Notes: I’m really happy with the way this hat turned out! I wanted a longer hat to cover the ears, which took some finagling since the lace/cable pattern has a 16-row repeat (meaning length is harder to adjust to taste). But 2.5 repeats worked out nicely. I’m just finalizing the pattern writing and then will have it up for testing in my Ravelry group. Come check it out if you think you might be interested in test knitting!
What I’m Cooking
I made a truly delicious vegetable korma Indian dish this week, but I forgot to get pictures. Oh well. Trust me though, it was amazing.
I did get a shot of my latest recipe from my personal cookbook challenge, though. This is garlic broccoli and chickpeas:
I was kind of amazed by this recipe. It’s just broccoli, chickpeas, and smashed whole cloves of garlic, roasted with a little olive oil and spices… but I couldn’t believe how flavorful it was! Just, uh, don’t make this one if you’re going to be in a small room with anyone for a while, if you catch my drift.
What I’m Reading
After finishing the Terry Pratchett book (sniff), I needed something to read on my phone while putting my son to sleep… so I started in on Jane Austen’s oeuvre! I reread her books every few years—there’s something so comforting about them. This week I read Persuasion and Sense and Sensibility, and I’m just starting in on Northanger Abbey.
What I’m Knitting
By the time this gets posted, I’ll be on the road (yay for post scheduling!). We’re going on a weekend trip to the Washington, DC area—we’re planning to go to the National Zoo, spend some quality time with family, and lots of other fun stuff. And the 9+ hour drive means lots and lots of uninterrupted knitting time, hooray!
This is the current project on my needles:
It’s a hat (hopefully that’s obvious) that features a heavily modified version of a cable and lace pattern I found in one of my stitch dictionaries. I’m having fun knitting it, but it should only take me a few more hours to work out and knit the crown decreases… which means I need much more knitting for the trip!
I’m in mini-panic mode already, trying to figure out what to take with me. I might end up defaulting to a whole bunch of trial swatches… but then I have to take a whole load of stitch dictionaries. Hrm. Maybe I’ll figure out a quick toddler hat. My son’s hats from last year are all too small now, so he needs some new accessories before the serious cold weather hits. (Side note: am I the only one who would be completely mortified to let my son wander around in store-bought winter accessories? I mean, little hats only take like two hours!)
What I’m Cooking
This is actually from last week, but it turned out really well and I forgot to post a picture. Baked falafel in a pita with hummus and grain-free tabbouleh on the side. The tabbouleh recipe I found used bits of cauliflower instead of the traditional bulgur wheat, which I thought was pretty clever!
And for my meal-for-a-crowd yesterday, I made a Mexican lasagna (also known as an enchilada casserole) with homemade guacamole on the side. I used my husband’s killer guac recipe—people were very impressed!
What I’m Reading
I’m still working on The Shepherd’s Crown. I’m dragging my feet a bit on finishing this one, to be honest. The author, Terry Pratchett, passed away earlier this year. I’m still coming to terms with the fact that this will be the last new book I’ll ever read from him, sniff.
My newest sweater pattern is included in Knit Picks’ Golden Morning collection! This is the Elva Cardigan:
This flowy, lightweight cardigan is designed to be worn open or with a skinny belt. The garter fan pattern, charted and described line by line, adds a gorgeous detail to the sweater back, while easy raglan shaping and flattering lines make Elva easy to pull on and hard to take off.
Constructed from the bottom up, the sweater is worked seamlessly with raglan sleeve shaping. The elbow-length sleeves are worked with a slight flare at the cuff and then joined to the body at the yoke.
I’ve been in love with the laceweight-at-a-loose-gauge concept for sweaters since I knit myself a Featherweight Cardigan years and years ago. It was my go-to sweater when I lived in LA: just the right amount of warmth for overactive air conditioning or a cool-ish night, but small and lightweight enough to fit in my purse. So I thought it was about time I designed one myself!
Bonus: laceweight yarn sweaters are very economical. This one only takes 2-4 hanks of Knit Picks Shadow (a really lovely yarn with subtle heathering that gives the finished sweater shine and depth).
I added a little flair with the fun-to-knit lace pattern on the back:
To be entered to win, leave a comment on this post and tell me what you’re planning for spring and summer knitting. Do you switch over from wool pullovers to lace shawls, or carry on with bulky accessories all year round?
I’ll use a random number generator to choose the winner this Friday morning, so comment by the end of day on Thursday to be entered! I’ll ship anywhere in the world, so this contest is open to everyone. Good luck! :-)
Write about another knitter or crocheter that you admire.
After TNNA a few weeks ago, I was overflowing with admiration for my fellow knitting and crochet designers. Most have families, many have day jobs, and all have obligations, but they still manage to produce beautiful, quality patterns for others to enjoy. It takes a lot of dedication and love of the craft!
I was at the show exhibiting through my print pattern distributor, Stitch Sprouts, so I got to chat and hang out with several other Stitch Sprouts designers. Since I can’t pick just one, I’m going to show you my favorite designs from a few of them.
First up, Corrina Ferguson of PicnicKnits. She designs, among other things, stupendous lace shawls. I’m in awe of this one in particular, which I got to see in person at the show:
This is Biellese (Ravelry link):
Next there’s Katherine Vaughan. She has a great mix of accessories, baby knits, and garments in her portfolio. I got to see this lovely tank top design at the show before its official release (it’s since gone live on Ravelry–check out May Dance!):
Heather Zoppetti, the creative wizard behind Stitch Sprouts, is also highly talented designer (although I honestly don’t know how she finds any time to do it–I think maybe she’s figured out how to clone herself).
Here’s one of her new designs, Tulsi. I love the colorwork:
The other cool thing is that this hat is knit in a brand-new yarn, Stitch Sprouts Yellowstone (DK weight, 80% wool, 20% silk). I got to fondle it at the show and let me tell you, it’s dreaaammmy. I may, without admitting anything, have picked up a few skeins for a colorwork hat/mitt design of my own.
Finally, there’s Mindy Wilkes. Mindy specializes in clever lace shawls, and I love that she doesn’t just stick to one weight of yarn. Harvest Moon, one of my favorites, is knit with a worsted weight yarn, Tosh Vintage (which, if you’ve been following this blog for a while, you know is probably my favorite yarn ever):
In the interest of space, I won’t gush about all of the Stitch Sprouts designers (although I will mention that Andrea Rangel, Stephannie Tallent, and Lindsey Stephens of Poetry in Yarn all have some awesome designs I got to ogle at the show too). But let me just say that I left the show feeling inspired (and frankly, a bit humbled) by all the talent.
It’s always a thrill when I can show off something I worked on in secret months ago. :-)
This tee is knit in scrumptious Louet Gems Fingering weight at a loose gauge. I wanted to design a drapey garment that was still figure-flattering, so it has a close, body-skimming fit.
The cable and eyelet pattern at the top adds just enough interest to an otherwise easy knit:
And that picture shows off my favorite part of the design: top-down, short-rowed, seamless sleeves! I’ve been wanting to design a garment with this construction for ages (I even blogged about it during Knitting and Crochet Blog Week last year). I think it worked beautifully for this top.
The rest of the patterns in the collection are GORGEOUS. You can flip through the whole lookbook here: Louet Spring 2014.
The specs on the tee are below. You can buy the pattern for $7.50 through my Ravelry store (no Ravelry account needed for purchase) by clicking on the button below.
Louet Gems (Fingering Weight); 100% merino; 185 yds/169 m per 50gr skein; shown in #67 Sea Foam Green: 4 (5, 6, 6, 7, 7, 8) skeins
US 5 (3.75 mm) circular needle, 29” – 40” long
US 5 (3.75 mm) double-pointed needles
US 5 (3.75 mm) circular needle, 16” or 20” long
US 6 (4.0 mm) circular needle, 29” – 40” long
US 6 (4.0 mm) double-pointed needles
Stitch holders or waste yarn
24 Sts and 30 Rows = 4” square in Stockinette stitch on larger needles
24 Sts and 34 Rows = 4” square in Mock Cable Eyelet pattern on larger needles
I’m delighted to be a stop on the blog tour for Hitch: Patterns Inspired by the Works of Alfred Hitchcock!
The book is now available in both print and digital (PDF) formats. If you haven’t had a chance to check out the patterns in the book, you can see images at the link above or on the Ravelry page for the book here. The patterns and styling for the book are, in a word, stunning.
My pattern in the book is the Francie Scarf:
I was so excited to have the chance to contribute to this book. While I wouldn’t call myself a die-hard Hitchcock fan, I am a huge Grace Kelly fan. She epitomizes style, and, well, grace in every movie.
Inspired by the above promotional shot from To Catch a Thief (definitely a contender for my favorite Hitchcock movie) and many shots of Grace Kelly in gorgeous headscarves, I decided to propose one for the book.
Now, this was definitely out of my comfort zone. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you probably know I tend to stick to sweaters, hats, and mittens, not shawls or lace scarves. Because of this, I knew I didn’t want to make the headwrap too complicated. I decided on a square shape (since this would be most conducive to folding) with no shaping.
The lace pattern is simple enough to memorize quickly, but it still requires attention and thus keeps the knitter’s interest. The yarn I used, Tactile Fiber Arts Larkspur Lace, is a scrumptious blend of alpaca and silk. The Pomegranate colorway I used just glows. Check out these amazing other colorways Larkspur Lace comes in:
The finished piece is light and airy, perfect for scrunching up and wrapping around the neck, or for folding and wearing over the hair. It would be a great piece to pack when traveling, since it provides just a bit of extra warmth and a pop of color against a neutral outfit.
I like to think Ms. Kelly would have approved. :-)
Make sure to check out the rest of the blog tour for fun behind-the-scenes info:
9/28/2013: Sunset Cat Designs
10/5/2013: Knitting Kninja
10/5/2013: Knit One, Heart Too Podcast
10/8/2013: Knit and Travel
10/9/2013: Knit & Knag Designs
10/10/2013: Wooly Wonka Fibers
10/11/2013: Verdant Gryphon
10/15/2013: Impeccable Knits: Shifting Stitches
10/21/2013: Knitwear Designs by Carolyn Noyes
10/22/2013: Peacefully Knitting
10/23/2013: Dark Matter Knits
10/24/2013: Turnknit: Dani Berg Designs
10/25/2013: SweetGeorgia Yarns
10/28/2013: doviejay knits
10/29/2013: Triona Designs You are here!
10/30/2013: Tactile Fiber Arts
11/4/2013: A Knitter’s Life
11/6/2013: Yarn On The House
11/12/2013: Hazel Knits
11/22013: A B-ewe-tiful Design