Finished: Mohair Garter Stitch Shawl

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I’ve been doing alot of knitting lately – the relaxing, garter and St st kind that goes well with bingeing on Netflix. I also realized when I was cleaning house that I had more than just a few, ahem, unfinished projects that were so close to completion it’s ridiculous they’re sitting around 5 rows away from being wearable.

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Here is the first FO off the needles, done and ready to wear. I really love the shape of this one, as it is long and easy to wrap around almost like a scarf.

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It was knit in Silk Mohair print doubled with a strand of sparkly silver tencel. Unfortunately, the pattern was designed by my former boss and not published anywhere, but here is a similar version which would also be beautiful in mohair and sparkles if you’re so inclined.

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FO: Lined Handbag

Square

I bought this kit a very long time ago from Knitpicks – maybe even before I started working at the yarn shop. I was a very inexperienced knitter at the time and did not realize that the bag is entirely intarsia. You have to divide the Chroma balls into multiple little balls, and once you start, you basically end up with about 20 separate balls attached to your knitting.

As you can imagine, that was a little too much for someone new to knitting, and so I stashed the kit in my yarn closet. But as proof of my theory that projects and people do eventually match up with each other, I realized during the summer that this was the perfect birthday gift for a dear friend and that I was more than ready to handle an intarsia project.

FullBag

SideView

My learning curve with this project was to learn how to line a handbag. I was going to post a how-to on lining a bag, except that the truth is I followed other people’s how-to’s, and there are many other crafters out there much more proficient at it than I am. Here are a few that I found particularly helpful: Craftsy and Stitch Diva. Have to admit that lining a bag was not particularly fun, but in the end, I’m glad I did because it really does make for a much better, and more finished, handbag.

Closeup

My best tips for a project like this is to accept that with intarsia, you do just have to keep all the balls of yarn straight. At the end of each row, you will need to stop the knitting and untwist them from each other to avoid a big tangled mess. It is the nature of intarsia.

In regard to the lining, the only thing I would add to what is already in the tutorials I listed is that it really helps to iron your fabric. If you leave the fabric folded and don’t iron out the wrinkles, it makes it harder to pin and sew it straight. It’s a small thing, and very tempting to just not bother, but ironing truly does make life easier!


A Crocheted Birthday Gift

Birthday present for C

Birthday present for C

There is a joke among crafters about only making things for deserving recipients. Anyone who would not appreciate the handmade value, who would refuse to wear the item, or be stupid enough to felt it in the washing machine does not qualify as a worthy recipient. Then there are the people in your life who are so close to your heart and so worthy you would make them a hundred items by hand even if they did accidentally felt one of them.

Whole lotta crocheted merino

Whole lotta crocheted merino

My friend C is someone who falls into that category, so I decided several months ago to make her something special for her birthday which falls this week. Her favorite color is gray, so choosing the yarn was easy. I decided to make her this wrap, which appeared in Interweave Crochet several years ago and has stuck in my head ever since I saw it. It was lots of work, to say the least, as the Sundara yarn I chose was not the weight used in the pattern. I pretty much had to follow the stitch patterns but make my own pattern based on fittings with my friend and calculations from my gauge.

I ended up doing alot of ripping out when things didn’t quite go to plan, and I had to ask her to try it on so I could see what adjustments needed to be made. But there is another proof that she is a most deserving recipient, as she didn’t mind having her birthday surprise be a little less of a surprise, and good-naturedly tried it on as many times as I needed her to.

The view from the back

The view from the back

I think the final result was well worth the effort, and I know she will keep it and wear it for years to come.


A Design from Start to Finish (how this designer earns her keep)

This new design just published a few days ago went through a long process. To be fair, it did sit in the yarn closet for half a year or more to ponder its sins when I got unhappy with it and considered scrapping the whole thing altogether. Usually when I work on a design, I am very focused, and although I put in the hours, it doesn’t take as long in a calendar year because I work better when I’m focused.

I really enjoyed this book because I appreciate it when designers share their sketches and thought processes. Since this particular project was on the needles for a long time, I was extra careful to document everything, and I thought you all might enjoy seeing my process from start to finish. Unfortunately, I don’t have beautiful sketches like Galina’s, but I hope you enjoy it anyway!


It started with The Yarn. I had just bought Freia Ombre Sport and had been toying around in my head with how to best show it off. I’m really nuts for gradated yarns and was so in love with this particular one I left it sitting on my coffee table to just look at.


The inspiration - which hit me on the way to the metro.

The inspiration – which hit me on the way to the metro.

When I was on the way to the metro station one evening, I saw the sun setting with the graphic shapes of the telephone poles and found my inspiration.


I usually do sketches, especially for garments, but the only shortcut I took in this project was to skip the sketching process since I had a visual in my head. So on to the knitting…


The first version

The first version

This photo is the first version. Yes, I got quite a long way in the knitting, and took careful notes and records of everything. I could still write up the stranded version of this pattern, minus the gauge, if anyone wanted it. I was actually quite happy with how this was looking. Considering I skipped the sketching and just started knitting what was in my head, it’s pretty cool I got what I envisioned.

Then my mom came to visit, I showed her the design I was working on, and she gave it to me straight. She flipped it over and pointed out that there were an awful lot of floats on the back. Um, yeah, because just like stockinette stitch curls, colorwork involves floats. Innocently, she looked at me and asked if I thought people would like a scarf with all those floats that could pull so easily.


I really tried to rationalize this one. People spend alot of money to dry clean expensive fabrics. Knitters are used to little pulls and ends that need to be woven back in. Yes, floats on a scarf are much more likely to snag than on a sweater, since on a sweater, they’re all on the inside against the body. But, I thought, it’s not any more fragile than taking care of a lace shawl, and at least this yarn is thicker and much harder to break than laceweight.

But, as mothers tend to do, mine really got into my head, and so this design went to sit in the naughty closet until I could resolve the issue. It took the better part of a year before I found a satisfactory answer.


Closeup_mediumI might still make a colorwork scarf one of these days because I do like colorwork and I stand by my rationalizing. But when I went to Vogue Knitting Live in Pasadena earlier this year, I took a class with Franklin Habit on shadow knitting and loved it. I realized that I had just found a solution that would make my mother much happier, should I still decide to gift her with the finished product. :)

Shadow knitting lends itself quite nicely to shapes and playing with contrasting colors. I knew it would show off the beautiful gradations in this yarn and also better express my original inspiration. Once I realized shadow knitting was  the solution that had eluded me, I tore out all my work and knit the entire thing in a month.


My chicken scratch

My chicken scratch

Last, but certainly not least, is the pattern writing. I spend alot of time on this. I take very careful notes about everything, as I’m knitting. I NEVER knit the whole thing and then start writing because it’s impossible to keep all the details in my head throughout the course of the project. The most important part of pattern writing is making sure that whoever buys it and knits it is able to understand exactly what I did. I make my own charts, take my own photos, and do all my own graphic design. I also am very careful to read, reread, let it sit a few days, and then reread it again before I publish. This is not to say there is never a mistake, but I work very hard to keep mistakes to a minimum because I know how frustrating it is to deal with a carelessly written pattern. Even though this is the most tedious part of the process for me, I try to give it proper attention and time.

I am very happy with the result, and I hope if any of you make the pattern, you enjoy it too. If you are a designer, I’d love to hear about your process, and if you make any of my designs, I’d love to see your projects – in progress and/or finished!


Color On the Move Scarf

Color On the Move Scarf

Color On the Move Scarf

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Closeup of shadow knitting

Just wanted to share my newest design, freshly published on Ravelry. It is always an exciting day when I finally push the publish button, but this design in particular went through what seems like an extra long process. Tomorrow, once I’ve enjoyed my little self-pat on the back for finally getting this finished, I will share it all with you. I hope you all like it, and if you haven’t tried shadow knitting before, I encourage you not to let it intimidate you! I had alot more fun with this project after I decided to do it in shadow knitting.


Julia Farwell Clay

As anyone who follows me knows, I love color. Before I’m drawn to anything else, I’m drawn to colors, and most of my absolute favorite designers revel in it too. After seeing her work in Pom Pom, I checked out her site, and found myself another color enthusiast. If you don’t mind some stranding in your knitting, check out her fun, colorful work!


New Design: Summer Colorblock Top

Summer Colorblock Top

Summer Colorblock Top

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As I mentioned previously, I have been designing a crochet pattern for the 2015 LA Yarn Crawl. It is a for-sale pattern on Ravelry, but will be free to all yarn crawlers who stop in the shop during the crawl! I included ideas for customizing it, as well as notes and a schematic. I hope you enjoy it, and I hope to meet new faces during the crawl, which is only a few weeks away!


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