Helenium

Helenium, my latest sweater design, was published in the Fall 2017 issue of Twist Collective.

The idea for this design came about a year and a half ago, when I was working on another sweater with a brioche ribbing detail. I was a few rows into the brioche section when I felt the need to add some patterning to that design (I’m pretty sure I was inspired by photos of amazing brioche shawls on Instagram).  It was way to late in the process to change that design, so I tucked the idea away to be explored later. When the opportunity to submit a sweater for Fall 2017 issue of Twist Collective came long, I immediately thought back to that seed of an idea from a year ago. Here is my sketch:

helenuim-sketch.jpg

This was the first time I would attempt to design a brioche motif, so I went straight to my favorite brioche book, Knitting Fresh Brioche by Nancy Marchant. I highly recommend this book, by the way. It not only covers the basic stitches, but also includes information on increasing and decreasing, reading charts, fixing mistakes, and lots of brioche stitch patterns.  It took me a few tries to get the flower motif just right, here is my initial swatch (left) and the final motif (right): 

helenium-motif.jpg

I chose to use straight single color brioche for the cuffs and bottom edging so knitters new to the technique could start with the easier stitch and get some practice before moving on to the 2-color brioche with shaping increases and decreases. I wanted to keep the body simple so the yoke would really be the focus of the sweater. 

When you are working brioche, yarn choice is important. One that is slippery or heavy might stretch too much, a toothy or wooly yarn is best. The bloom and halo of Hikoo Kenzie look beautiful in brioche, especially after you block it - this is one of those yarns where the stitches really even out after blocking.

One last thing - fixing mistakes and dropped stitches can be intimidating in brioche knitting, but it really isn't so hard. There are great resources available that walk you through picking up dropped stitches or fixing missed yarn overs (see my gush about Nancy Marchant's book above). If the mistake is a wrong leaning decrease, try fixing it with duplicate stitch - this is much easier than tinking 20 rows of brioche (I know this from experience).

Visit the Twist Collective website for all the details or to purchase the pattern.

GAL 2016 Fantasy vs. Reality Part 3

Left: Lucienne Scarf by Katinka Designs, Right: Shelby hat by Katinka Designs.

Left: Lucienne Scarf by Katinka Designs, Right: Shelby hat by Katinka Designs.

More fantasy knitting today - this time I want to knit the Lucienne Scarf from Katinka Designs! 

This scarf has all of the things I love to knit - cables (lots of those), lace (which somehow always makes the knitting seem faster), and dropped stitches (intentional dropped stitch are fun).  I thinks this would be the perfect Christmas vacation project.  Once you memorize the stitch pattern, you can knit through all the holiday festivities and still be able to join a conversation, play a game, or watch It's a Wonderful Life.

If the long scarf doesn’t fit into your gift knitting schedule, I would recommend the Shelby Hat.  While it lacks those entertaining dropped stitches, it makes up for it with cables, cables, more cables, and pretty crown decreases.  Maybe this is not the best social knitting, but it only requires one skein of worsted weight yarn.  You will have it done in no time.

There are many more great patterns in Katy’s sale bundle, some of my favorites include the Ridley Shawl, Plummy Cowl and Mitts, and the Interwoven Mitts (I knit these last year and love them.)  Go take a look, I'm sure you will find something you love.

GAL 2016 Fantasy vs. Reality Part 2

Left: Milkweed Pullover by Sunday Knits, Right: Broderie Hollandaise by Sunday Knits, photos copyright Sunday Knits, used with permission. 

Left: Milkweed Pullover by Sunday Knits, Right: Broderie Hollandaise by Sunday Knits, photos copyright Sunday Knits, used with permission. 

Today's pattern pick is Milkweed Pullover from Sunday Knits.  

Who doesn't love to fantasy knit a soft, cozy, cabled turtleneck pullover?  The mix of cables and lace, the beautiful raglan decreases, and the ribbed turtleneck make this a stunning sweater. I imagine knitting it in a cushy wool and cashmere blend yarn while curled up on the sofa next to a warm fireplace. I just need to decide which neck option to choose -  she includes three.

In reality, I am more likely to knit Broderie Hollandaise, a pretty textured hat. I can work this in the same wool cashmere blend, but it won't take nearly as long, maybe just a couple of evenings curled up on the sofa.

Carol has a great variety of designs, from sweaters to small accessories, in her sale bundle. You should be able to find one that fits into your gift knitting schedule too.

Indie Design Gift-A-Long 2016

I can't believe it's already time for the Indie Design Gift-A-Long, where did the year go?  This year I have 8 patterns in the sale, including my recently released shawl Sagitta, and an updated re- release of Tucker, a cabled yoke pullover. The patterns will be 25% off when you purchase them in my Ravelry store through November 30 with the code "giftalong2016" (the KAL, chat, and prizes continue until the end of the year.)

In addition to my patterns, there are over 5,000 patterns, from 335 indie designers, also on sale.  As I have been looking through all of those patterns, I once again find myself falling deep into fantasy knitting.  I think it is time to revive my fantasy versus reality series.

Left: Indulgence Wrap by Michelle Krause, Right: Drawstring Mittens by Michelle Krause, photos copyright Leah Michelle Designs, used with permission.

Left: Indulgence Wrap by Michelle Krause, Right: Drawstring Mittens by Michelle Krause, photos copyright Leah Michelle Designs, used with permission.

My first dream knit is the Indulgence Wrap by Leah Michelle Designs. 

I love the graphic zigzag ribbed lines that the lace pattern creates.  I imagine it knit up in a soft plump yarn, keeping me warm on a chilly winter day.  Since I probably don't have time to knit the long scarf I am dreaming about, I might try knitting some thick ribbed Drawstring Mittens.  These are knit with a chunky yarn in 1x1 ribbing, and are closed by clinching up the stitches, no decreases!  A super simple yet brilliant idea. I might be able to fit this quick knit into my schedule, yay!

Be sure to check out the rest of Michelle's GAL designs, there are some beautiful cowls and shawls included in her bundle.

Sagitta

I released a new shawl pattern - Sagitta!  This is an asymmetric shawl with alternating lace and garter stitch panels designed to showcase the beauty of gradient set of 6 mini-skeins.  Cables in the garter stitch sections flow out of the lace pattern and are created with traveling slipped stitches worked over a striped backdrop.  The design looks more complicated that it is because only one color is worked at a time, the cable pattern is created by slipping the contrasting color stitches over the main color rows. The pattern is available for purchase on Ravelry.

The yarn used is Seven Sisters Arts Meridian, a fingering weight 75% super wash merino/25%nylon blend.  I choose the Transition Metals gradient set with a single skein of Citron for contrast.  Seven Sisters Arts has so many gorgeous gradient color ways to choose from, it was really hard to decide on just one.  Karen, the talent behind this hand dyed yarn company, and I had fun putting together color combinations on instagram, here are a few of my favorites:

From left: (all yarn is Seven Sisters Arts Meridian) Grassroots with Mood Indigo; Chartreuse with Azalea; Raven's Wing with Nickel; Transition Metals with Mead.

From left: (all yarn is Seven Sisters Arts Meridian) Grassroots with Mood Indigo; Chartreuse with Azalea; Raven's Wing with Nickel; Transition Metals with Mead.

While the pattern calls for a 6-skein gradient set, I have included a modification to work the shawl with a 5-skein set.  Some of my test knitters chose this option, and were able to work it with 133 yard minis.  If you want to work a smaller shawl with skeins that are less that 130 yards, there are modification instructions below.  I will include these in the pattern with the next update, which will hopefully include the written instructions for the charts (I am working on this version now).

 

Small Mini-Skein Modification

measurements: about 70 inches wingspan, and 16” at deepest point.

yarn:  MC - 400 yards of fingering weight yarn; CC - 5 mini-skeins, approximately 100 yards each, of fingering weight yarn 

Modification Instructions

Section 1 Work per pattern instructions. (26 sts)

Skip sections 2 and 3.

Sections 4-13, work charts per pattern instructions, substituting colors as indicated below. The stitch count at the end of each section is given below.

Section 4 (lace, color CC1) 53 sts.

Section 5 (garter stitch, colors CC1 and MC) 64 sts.

Section 6 (lace, color CC2) 86 sts.

Section 7 (garter stitch, colors CC2 and MC) 97 sts.

Section 8 (lace, color CC3) 114 sts.

Section 9 (garter stitch, colors CC3 and MC) 125 sts.

Section 10 (lace, color CC4) 136 sts.

Section 11 (garter stitch, colors CC4 and MC) 147 sts.

Section 12 (lace, color CC5) 152 sts.

Section 13 (garter stitch, colors CC5 and MC) 163 sts.

Section 14 (lace, color MC) With MC, work rows 1-22 of Lace Chart E three times. 196 sts (Note: An extra repeat is added to this section to increase the size of the shawl, if you prefer, you can work just two repeats of chart E.)

Section 15 (garter, color MC) With MC work rows 1-23 of Garter Chart G. 207 sts.  Loosely bind off all stitches knit-wise.

GAL Fantasy vs. Reality Day 3

Left: Ballyronan by Michelle Stead,   Right: Chasing Waterfalls by Michelle Stead, photos copyright Michelle Stead.

Left: Ballyronan by Michelle Stead,   Right: Chasing Waterfalls by Michelle Stead, photos copyright Michelle Stead.

Today's fantasy knitting is Ballyronan by Michelle Stead, (Crafty Flutterby on Ravelry).

Ballyronan is a cowl with lace and textured stitches that make for a pretty pattern, one that is perfect for variegated or semi-solid sock yarns (and who doesn't have plenty of those).  I think I would to knit it with a yarn that has a little halo, maybe an bit of alpaca or cashmere blended with wool.  A light and airy cowl that is cozy and warm too.

If you want to knit lace, but need a quick project, maybe a last minute gift, take a look at Chasing Waterfalls.  This is a beaded bracelet that only requires 30 yards of leftover sock yarn.  These knit up so quickly you will be able to fill a lot of stockings.  I like the idea of using one as a coffee cup cozy.

Check out the rest of Michelle's pretty Gift-A-Long designs on Ravelry, and her lovely shawl pins on Etsy.

 

GAL Fantasy vs. Reality Day 2

Left: Folklore by Faye Kennington,  Right: 2 Hour Smoked Toque by Faye Kennington, photos copyright Ukeeknits, used with permission.

Left: Folklore by Faye Kennington,  Right: 2 Hour Smoked Toque by Faye Kennington, photos copyright Ukeeknits, used with permission.

Today's fantasy knitting is Folklore by Faye Kennington.

This is a really sweet colorwork hat that is a little bit traditional and a little bit modern.  Its folksy motif is updated with a cool color palette and a slouchy fit.  I think this is the perfect cheery hat for a hike in the woods or a play date in the snow.

If you have way to much holiday knitting to tackle a stranded project right now, I would suggest Faye's 2 Hour Smocked Toque.  This hat is knit in a super bulky yarn, so even though the stitch pattern looks complicated, it is sure to be a quick knit.  Who doesn't have time for a two hour project?  In fact, she says that it can be completed in as little as one hour for a fast knitter.  This is beginning to sound like a challenge.  Now, I'm not sure if I would be considered a fast knitter, but I am shooting for 55 minutes.

You can find the rest of Faye's Gift-A-Long sale patterns on Ravelry.  I am especially excited about a pretty little scarf called Waverleaf and an interesting cowl called Whitefish Ripples, be sure to check them out too.

Indie Design Gift-A-Long

The Indie Designer Gift-A-Long is in full swing on Ravelry.  I have been meaning to write up a post about the designs I have included in the sale (they 25% off until November 27th), but I have been sidetracked by all of the beautiful patterns I want to knit.  There are many.  Yes, I know it is a fantasy to think I can knit them all.  Time for a reality check.

Left: Ribbon Weed by Kate Bostwick, Right: Kicking Horse Mittens by Kate Bostwick, photos copyright Kate Bostwick, used with permission.

Left: Ribbon Weed by Kate Bostwick, Right: Kicking Horse Mittens by Kate Bostwick, photos copyright Kate Bostwick, used with permission.

My pick today is Ribbon Weed by Kate Bostwick of Cowtown Knits.

I love the whole fantasy of this, a cozy super bulky blanket, striking geometric cables, thick squishy wool, long winter evenings with this blanket in my lap as I work on it…

In reality, I should focus on something I know I have the time to finish, like a pair of Kicking Horse Mittens, also by Kate Bostwick.  It still works - warm hands, fun cables, and cozy merino wool.  With the added bonus of slipped stitches over a striped background, this pattern is perfect for me!

Check out the rest of Kate's amazing GAL designs on Ravelry and on her blog, Cowtown Knits.

3 Fun Ways to Use Jul Closures

The Latch Leather Closure from Jul Designs

The Latch Leather Closure from Jul Designs

I love these leather closures from Jul Designs, have you seen them? I just finished a sweater design that uses the Latch Closure (more about that next spring), and I can't stop thinking of ways to use other products from Jul. 

These screw in closures are quite versatile.  They have a post on the back side of the leather that slides through the knit fabric, between the stitches.  A small screw and washer on the back hold the post in place. This means you can position, or reposition, it after the sweater is completed - no buttonholes necessarry. Since they are not permanently attached, you can use them on different sweaters.  I have found that the knitting does not have to be at a large gauge to use them.  The design I just completed was knit on size 5 needles, and the posts fit just fine. When I had to reposition it several times, the stitches bounced right back into place after removing the closures.

There are a multitude of uses on shawls and cowls, take a look at this page for lots of inspiration. However, these are the ways I would use them on sweaters:

1.  Use it to cinch closed your favorite open front cardi when you need a bit of extra warmth.

2. Place one at the base of a shawl collar on a pullover sweater for a boutique designer look.

3. Add a latch on each side for a fun addition to a notched hem sweater.

So, what would you do with Jul closures?

Tucker and Interweave Knits Fall 2015

The fall issue Interweave Knits is out, and my latest design, Tucker, is in it - and on it (right there, on the cover!)  

Interweave Knits Fall 2015

Interweave Knits Fall 2015

Tucker is a minimalist pullover worked from the bottom up in stockinette stitch with garter edgings.  It is a simple sweater that shows off a distinctive cable circling the yoke.  Horizontal, or infinite, cables are one of my favorite features to design with because the are fun to work and satisfying to watch as they take shape. 

photo by Harper Point Photography

photo by Harper Point Photography

I started planning this design with one of my favorite books, Continuous Cables by Melissa Leapman.  This is a great resource for learning the techniques and finding infinite cable stitch patterns.  I didn't find the perfect cable for this design in the book, so I started sketching on graphic paper and came up with this pattern, not too complicated, but not to basic either.

photo by Harper Point Photography

photo by Harper Point Photography

The yarn I used is HiKoo's Kenzington.  This is a chainette-constructed yarn, a knitted tube sort of like an i-cord.  When you first get then yarn in the hank, it is a bit compressed.  However, it blooms to a plump, round yarn when wet or steam blocked.  You will definitely want to swatch with this yarn.  

Here is a bit more info about Tucker:

Finished Size: 36 (40, 44, 48, 52)” bust circumference. Pullover shown measures 36″, modeled with 2″ of positive ease.

Yarn: HiKoo Kenzington (60% New Zealand merino wool, 25% nylon, 10% alpaca, 5% silk noils; 208 yd [190 m]/3½ oz [100 g]): #1000 pavlova, 5 (5, 6, 7, 7) skeins. Yarn distributed by Skacel.

Needles: Sizes 8 (5 mm) and 9 (5.5 mm): 24″ and 32″ circular (cir) and set of double-pointed (dpn).

Gauge: 16 sts and 24 rnds = 4″ in St st on larger needle.

PS - Interweave has sweater kits available on their website.

Favorites

These are few of my favorite things:

Mini-skein set from Seven Sisters Arts

Mini-Skeins - They are little, cute, and colorful. What's not to love? They are even better when they come in a range of gradient colors, like this Ultraviolet color shift set from Seven Sisters Arts. I had the pleasure of meeting Karen, the dyer of these beautiful yarns, at her Fiber Frolic booth last weekend.  It was fun to learn a little about her process in creating a cohesive color collection. 

The While She Naps Podcast - I first learned about Abby Glassenberg from the Craft Sanity podcast. I recently discovered that she has her own podcast - and it is great. She interviews crafters and creative entrepreneurs. You get to hear their inspiring stories, and as a bonus, they give lots of recommendations for fun things like tools, books, and web finds.

Stitch patterns on Pinterest - I love stitch dictionaries, and have plenty on my bookshelf. But lately, I have been using Pinterest it as a place to collect stitch patterns.  Be warned that many of them come from foreign language sites (so you may have to work at translating) and some of them look like questionable copies of pages from books. Still, you can find a lot of inspiring stitches there.

Victorinox SwissCard - This is a credit card sized swiss army knife, and it is one of my favorite knitting notions.  With scissors, a knife, a pen, a straight pin, a small magnifying glass, tweezers, a light, and a 3 inch ruler, I use this tool every day.

 

Marsala Roundup

I just received some beautiful yarn for a design I will be working on later this summer, and it reminded me of the 2015 Pantone color of the year, Marsala.  Of course, I had to go looking for other Marsala colored yarns, just to see what is out there.  Here are some of my favorites.

Yarns that look like Pantone's Marsala

1. Hazel Knits Artisan Sock in Cinnabar

2. Plucky Knitter Sweater in Antiqued

3. SweetGeorgia Tough Love Sock in Terra Firma

4. String Theory Hand Dyed Yarn Tinker Island Fingering in Marsala

5. Mrs. Crosby Steamer Trunk in Vintage Port

6. Madelinetosh DK in Sequoia

 

Sock Week Wrap-up and Giveaway

Today I am showing one last pair of socks I have recently finished. This is yet another plain ribbed sock knit with the Simply Socks Poste Striping yarn I love so much. This pair was knit for my oldest son, at his request.

Simply Socks Yarn Co Poste Striping, Poenari Castle Socks

The colorway is called Poenari Castle, and it has black, gray and acid green stripes. I love that many of the Poste Striping colors are named for travel locations and interesting places. Poenari is a castle in Romania, and is linked to Dracula stories. 

Looking over at the week's socks, it seems like I knit mostly plain stockinette or ribbed socks.  This is a new development, brought on by my recent interest in self striping yarns. I really do love to knit socks from patterns. In fact, I have a pair of Monkey socks on the needles right now, and a lenghty queue of patterned socks I do plan to knit. Here are a few of my favorites.

Double Helix by Jeni Staman, from Knitty First Fall 2011

Deflect by Hunter Hammersen, from Knitty Deep Fall 2013

Stitch Surfer by Louise Robert, from Knitty Deep Fall 2012

Skew by Lana Holden, from Knitty Winter 2009

Do you see a pattern here? Knitty is such a great resource for interesting knitting patterns.  I need to remind myself to check it out more often. Browsing through back issues for patterns I have missed is fun too.

Now for the giveaway.  

What is your favorite sock yarn?  Leave a comment to this post before Sunday May 31st letting me know what your favorite sock yarn is and you will be entered to win a 100 gram skein of Regia from the popular Arne and Carlos line, in color 3655 Fall Night.  This is some pretty special yarn and not easy to come by.

If self patterning yarn isn't your thing, I will offer up two 50 gram skeins of a discontinued rainbow striping color as an alternate prize.  One winner will get to choose which color they prefer.

Be sure to leave your email address or Ravelry ID so I can contact the winner.  The contest will close at midnight on may 31st.

Left: Regia Arne & Carlos in Fall Night. Right: Regia Nation Color in Rainbow

Left: Regia Arne & Carlos in Fall Night. Right: Regia Nation Color in Rainbow

Friday of Sock Week

TGIF. Sock week ends with a pair that will definitely keep my toes warm. 

Regia 8-ply, Berry Fusion Socks

These are knit from a worsted weight sock yarn - Regia 8-ply Color in Berry Fusion.  I love how fast and easy these were to knit.  If I could find more of this yarn in less variegated colors, I would be knitting many more of these thick socks.  As I mentioned earlier this week, I don't usually knit with variegated yarns.  This one is okay, but still, I think I would have preferred a semi-solid or maybe stripes.

Thursday of Sock Week

Thursday's socks are actually knit from a pattern - Eunice from the book Sock Innovation by Cookie A.  This pattern has been in my queue since the book was first published.  In fact, I tried to knit them once with Cascade Heritage Paints, but that yarn didn't play well with this pattern. 

Mrs. Crosby, Train Case Socks

This time, I used Mrs. Crosby’s Train Case. This yarn includes Outlast, a super high tech phase change fiber that is supposed to help regulate your body heat.  I just want it to keep my toes warm next winter.

Again with the purple, here it is called Wild Huckleberry.

 

Wednesday of Sock Week

Wednesday brings another pair of socks knit with Simply Socks Yarn Company's Poste Yarn Striping Sock.

Simply Socks Yarn Co, Ashikaga Park Striped Socks

This time in the Ashikaga Park color - dark gray, light gray, and lavender stripes. These I have worn a few times, and I love how the yarn has really softened up after washing. See Monday's post for more about my love of this yarn.

The leg is knit with a 3x1 ribbing that continues on the top of the foot. The heels are worked with a heel flap, and I don't mind how the stripes look with this construction. I started the heel flap at the beginning of a stripe. After I completed the heel turn, I broke the yarn and advanced it so the stripes continue in pattern on the top of the foot.  Thanks to Susan B Anderson for this nifty idea.

Tuesday of Sock Week

Tuesday's sock is worked in Madelinetosh's new sock yarn, Twist Light

Madelinetosh, Twist Light Care Socks

This is a merino/nylon blend in a 3-ply that is silky soft and a joy to knit with. With so much going on in the yarn, I chose to knit a simple stockinette sock. Although I don't usually go for variegated yarns, I do like how color, called Care, pools. It looks like a watercolor painting. And of course, it has just enough purple to suit me.

For added durability, I knit the heel and toe with Meilenweit from Lana Grossa, a more traditional (not merino) wool sock yarn, which I assume will hold up in the places that need it most. I chose a pale heather gray that will work as an accent with many colors. I expect it will make an appearance on several of my socks in the future (Yes, I'm looking at you, Malabrigo Sock).

Sock Week

It's sock week here at handmaineknits. In the bits of free time I have found between the design projects I worked on this past winter, I have been knitting socks. Apparently, only purple socks. 

Today's spotlight is on a pair of vanilla(ish) socks knit with my new favorite sock yarn, the amazing Poste Yarn Striping Sock from Simply Socks Yarn Company

Simply Socks Yarn Co, Danxia Landform Striped Socks

The color is called Danxia Landform.  Aren't those little colorful stripes wonderful (only one of the six colors is purple).  The heels are knit in a coordinating solid turquoise color also from SSYC. It almost matches the blue stripes in the sock. The leg is knit in a 3x1 ribbing, and the heel is from a Lara Neel pattern, Fork in the Road Socks. I'm still unsure about the heel construction, I will need to wear them a few times before I decide if it works for me. I have been be looking for an alternative to the afterthought heel, which has never fit me quite right. 

I already have plans for the leftovers, this yarn is too good to not use up every bit.  It is a superwash Corriedale/nylon blend. Not quite as soft as merino, but it feels great, and definitely seems sturdier than merino.

More tomorrow....

Cypri Cowl

Cypri, from the winter 2013 issue of Twist Collective, can easily be modified into cowl.

cypri cowl by Amanda Scheuzger

I began by casting on enough stitches to work 11 repeats of Chart A.  After joining in the round, I worked 12 rounds of garter stitch (alternating knit and purl rounds) in my main color.  I continued alternating knit and purl rounds while working Chart A.  When I got to Chart B, I worked only stitches 30 to 57 of the chart on each round, these continue the stitches from the end of Chart A.  I also omitted the edge decreases.  At the end of Chart B, I worked 12 more rounds of garter stitch in the main color, then bound off.  

The final cowl is 9 inches high and about 42 inches around, enough to wrap twice.