Monday, January 30, 2012

A Free Pattern and a couple of Good Causes

This will be a quick post because busy is my middle name right now (hooray for busy!).

1.  Kollage Yarns is offering one of my designs as a free download. This is the Colorblock Scarf, and you can download a pdf of the pattern here.
This scarf is made with Riveting, Kollage's yarn made from recycled jeans. It was designed to use the leftovers from the Xylophone pullover. The scarf is constructed in blocks, with are joined with a 3-needle bind off.  You can easily make it longer,just by making more blocks, or make a wider stole by making 2 rows of blocks.  Adjust the color placement to suit the leftovers you have on hand.  Endless versatility!

2.  Have you heard about World Book Night? Publishers have donated thousands of books to be given away to those with little or no access to reading material.  If you, like me, have a hard time imagining life without a wall of bookshelves and a pile of books on the nightstand, you have to support this effort.  How can you get involved? Sign up to pick up 20 books at a local distribution point (Copperfield's Books is participating in my area) and give them away on April 23, 2012.  You only have until February 1 to apply, so click this link right now. Many thanks to Beth Casey at Lorna's Laces for posting about this event on Facebook.

3.  The lovely, charming and talented Carol Sulcowski of Black Bunny Fibers and Go Knit in Your Hat is holding a raffle to support Summer Search Philadelphia, an organization in which Carol and her husband are involved.  Carol has rounded up some rockstar prizes, and has set an incredibly modest goal of $1000.  I think we can blow the top off that thermometer, don't you? 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

A random collection of images and thoughts

1. Here is another new design. Yes, I was busy last fall.
This is the Lincoln Logs Blanket, made out of Riveting Worsted.  This yarn is the heavier version of Kollage Yarns popular Riveting, made from recycled blue jeans.

The blanket is worked in modular squares.  The sample shown in 9 squares - just perfect for the kids in the back of the car. The yarn is soft, and durable and machine washable, so you won't mind if the Icee gets spilled, or if the blanket falls out of the car in the parking lot. For the couch at home, I'd make the throw with 16 squares.

Find the pattern at Kollage Yarn's website, or on Patternfish.

2. I finished a pair of socks for me. These have been on the needles for over a year, as a pick-up-and-go project. The pattern is just a basic sock, with the leg worked in alternating panels of stockinette stitch and seed stitch, each 3 stitches wide. The yarn,  however, is anything but ordinary.  It is Saki from Prism Yarns, a superwash merino and nylon blend in a color called Ember. The toasty, caramel brown tones look good enough to eat. Even better, look what Laura Bryant put on the back side of the label:

Don't you just love little surprises like that?

3. I've started another sweater out of handspun yarn (hooray!). This is Polwarth from Abstract Fiber. The top was dyed the most gorgeous blood red shade.  It looks rustier in this photo than it does in life.
I spun it as a 2-ply, and I'm getting about 5 3/4 sts to the inch.
This will be a simple pullover - boxes of stockinette stitch divided by bands of seed stitch.  Are you sensing a theme here? I do love the combination of stockinette and seed stitch - such a simple, elegant texture.

4.  If you had told me the 49ers would beat the Saints in a shoot out, I'd have said you were crazy.  I knew the Niners could win, but I thought it would be a low scoring game. Ha! Most. Exciting. Football. Game. Ever.
And I was certain the road to the Superbowl would go through Lambeau Field.  Yet here we are, three days away from a Championship game at home against the New York Giants. I don't know if I can stand it. Go Niners!

5. A bit of a rant. I've had a several opportunities in the past couple of weeks to be in a waiting room with the general public. In three cases, there were women in the waiting room accompanied by small children in varying numbers. In all three cases, the women spent the entire time occupied by their cell phones, while the children had no diversion at all. Why would you expect a small child to sit quietly without entertainment, when you are apparently unable to do so yourself?  Now I'm not saying every kid needs a cell phone of their own (God forbid). But a deck of cards? Paper and pencil? A book, for heaven's sake? Before my son had a Game Boy, we had activity books with mazes and dot-to-dot and word search games to play. Are such things obsolete?
That is all.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Another new design, and The Knitter's Nightmare, Vol. 2

I want to show you another new design from Kollage Yarns Spring collection.
This is Christa.

Christa is an example of a design that was inspired by the properties of a particular yarn.  Kollage Yarns Milky Whey is a blend of 50% milk fiber and 50% soy.  It is soft and smooth and slinky, and feels wonderfully cool against the skin. Like many non-wool yarns, Milky Whey has little elasticity. As a result, it tends to grow. It will grow when you wash it, and it will grow when you wear it. This is just one of those characteristics that comes with the slinky in yarn. Ever knit with 100% silk? Same issue.
I wanted to make a non-shawl garment that would not suffer from the effects of gravity.  I wanted something where the drape and flow and slink of this yarn would be used to best advantage. Christa is the result.

This is a draped front vest. Made in one piece from the bottom up, it has a curved lower edge (I never know what to do with the long points at the front of most draped front sweaters). It is made with an interesting textured stitch that looks good from both the right and wrong side, so you don't have to fuss with arranging the drape.
The collar is integrated into the piece so the flow is not interrupted.
You can wear Christa open as shown or close it with a shawl pin or brooch. I think it would also be interesting worn belted.
For a pdf download, go to Patternfish. For a hard copy, order directly from Kollage.

Nightmare Vol. 2
The handspun sweater is finished. Buttons are attached and everything.  It is soft and warm and weightless. I've been wearing the sweater for the past 2 days and I love it. Except...

The sleeves are too long. No joke.

How much to long? This much.

How did this happen? I know how long my arms are. They have not gotten shorter. My row gauge is exactly what my notes say it should be. How is it possible that I have 2" too much sleeve?

I think surgery is needed. Stay tuned for detailed how-tos. Because my nightmare might as well be a "teachable moment" (lord how I hate that phrase), right?

Saturday, January 7, 2012

From Sock to Sweater, and the Knitter's Nightmare

Kollage Yarns has released another of my designs for Spring, the Lacy Cable Tee.
This design began with a sock pattern I did for Kollage a couple of years ago. Diagonal lace panels are separated by loop cables for a sock that is delicate, yet sturdy. It is interesting to knit, but not particularly difficult. The yarn is Luscious, a cotton and elastic blend that gives great stitch definition.  This yarn is also a great pick for kids, or for those who don't wear wool.

We liked the socks so much, we decided to use the same stitch patterns for a women's summer top.

I get a big kick out of graceful transitions from one stitch pattern to another, so the cables flow organically out of the ribbing at the lower edge. The lace panels are arranged symetrically, forming a series of V-shapes along the transition line. This is a frankly feminine top that would be flattering to many women.

The pattern is available for sale now.  If you like a hard copy, you can order from Kollage. If you like a pdf download (because who doesn't want to have their knitting patterns on their iPad?), you can buy one through Patternfish.

In other news, this week I suffered the knitter's nightmare. You know, the one that keeps you up at night, that makes you break out in a cold sweat. I ran out of yarn.
I wrote a while back about the cardigan I was making for myself our of my handspun. In order to make steady progress, but not neglect deadline projects, I've allowed myself to work on the handspun sweater only during 49er games.  I've enjoyed working on it, but as I began the sleeves, I started getting that nagging worry about my yarn supply.  As I started the second sleeve, I knew it was a pretty good bet I wasn't going to make it.  Sure enough, I ran out of the darkest of my three yarns just before the sleeve cap on the second sleeve.

I don't have any more of the Romney fiber I used to spin the yarn, nor do I have information on the source that would allow me to order more. I could go on a search for more fiber in this particular not quite black color. Or I could go looking for a commercial yarn that was close enough to my 2-ply handspun to pass.  After all, we're talking about less than 25 rows in a sleeve cap, in a stitch pattern that will help disguise any inconsistency in the yarn.

I'm not so much of a purist that using a commercial yarn instead of handspun will spoil the sweater for me. A stash dive produced a ball of Aran weight shetland wool in "natural black", which is just barely darker than the Romney in my sweater. The shetland is quite a bit thicker than my yarns, so I split the 2 plies and used it as a single. I finished the sleeve with the substitute yarn.  Can you see the difference? Neither can I.

I know lots of knitters who go crazy about issues like this.  They would search high and low for fiber which was an exact match.  Failing to find it, they may abandon the project. If they do finish the project, God help you if you compliment them on the sweater.  They feel compelled to point out the imperfection to every passerby.
I have a rather high tolerance for imperfection. I just wanted to finish the sweater so I can wear it.  I will not show you where the yarn changes, even if you ask.  If you happen to see me wearing the sweater, and somehow see the line where the yarn is different, please don't mention it.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Campari - more than an aperitif


Kollage Yarns has just released one of my new designs for Spring.  Allow me to introduce Campari.

With this design, I wanted to make a top that was as easy to wear as a t-shirt, but a bit more refined.  Interesting and feminine, but casual and comfortable. You could wear this just as easily with jeans as with a pencil skirt.

The lace pattern at the hem and sleeve edges creates a fun scalloped edge. While the body is in stockinette stitch for ease of wear, the sleeves use the openwork from the lace border as an allover mesh pattern.

The shaping decreases for the V-neck are moved away from the neck edge, making an interesting detail above the bust.

This is a shape that will flatter many figures.  There is subtle waist shaping, set-in sleeves, and sloped shoulders.

Campari is knit in Kollage Yarns Sock-a-licious. This fingering weight merino, silk and nylon blend is light, comfortable and machine washable. The color we used is Sangria (which makes me happy, because I love red), but I'd love to see this in Purple Heart or Sycamore.

By the way, this sample was knit by my friend, Pat Hellhake (aka Pat the Wonder Knitter). Didn't she do a lovely job? Don't know what I'd do without her, and don't want to find out.

Campari is available for purchase now.  If you want to download a pdf, you can find it on Patternfish. If you prefer a paper copy, you can buy from Kollage Yarns.