Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Happy Accident Cowl(s)

I wanted to give this cowl a proper design layout as per my other designs, but I am sickly and I wanted to get this out in time for my birthday, so it's just not going to happen. Besides all of that, it's a super simple design, very easy to modify with whatever weight yarn you've got on hand—you could probably even mix weights, come to think of it, so take this as a 'recipe' more than your usual pattern instructions.

Others have put out similar designs, but I've found them all to require seaming, and seaming = bleh. So this is an infinity cowl looped with another infinity cowl—each with a twist—worked in the round, all in one piece, no seaming necessary. Yay! Yay for you!

I used Shibui Knits Baby Alpaca, a buttery soft DK-weight alpaca yarn. I used 2 colors, Blush and Nude, and basically cast on enough stitches to loop them around twice, and knit for as long as I could (approximately 6"). It's worked entirely in mistake rib, so it's very, very stretchy. Mistake rib = happy accident. I know I'm usually better at selling than this, but I'm sick and have I mentioned it's my birthday? It is.

I imagine if you have a bunch of scraps you could make this cowl in more than 2 colors, make each loop thinner, thicker, whatever you want—it's a recipe, so add your favorite flavors as necessary. You can even use a different weight yarn—just do a gauge swatch and multiply whatever your gauge is by 40, and cast on that number. When you get to the part where you have to cast off the first infinity loop and cast on the second infinity loop, just leave approximately 3.5" worth of stitches on the needles—it really does not have to be precise—you just need that connecting piece. You'll see what I mean when you read ahead.

Here's the recipe to make one just like mine. Happy birthday to me, and happy accident to you.

Happy Accident Cowl(s)

6" wide per cowl loop, 39" around but super stretchy
2 skeins Shibui Knits Baby Alpaca, 255 yds/100 grams, shown in Blush & Nude;
1 32" circular needle size 6
1 stitch marker
5.25 sts = 1"

CO 212 stitches using one color and Jeny's Suprisingly Stretchy Cast On. Join in round, twisting your stitches once for moebius effect. Place marker to indicate beginning of round.

Round 1: *K2, P2. Repeat * to end.
Round 2: P1, *K2, P2. Repeat * to last 3 sts, end with K2, P1

Repeat 2 rounds for as long as yarn lasts, leaving yourself enough yarn to bind off.

(This is the point at which, if you're using a different weight yarn, you should do a little math and multiply your gauge by 3.5. Subtract the result from your cast on—that is how many stitches you will bind off). Bind off 192 sts using Jeny's Surprisingly Stretchy Bind Off. Pick up second yarn color and knit across remaining 20 sts, then cast on 192 sts using Jeny's Suprisingly Stretchy Cast On.

Now you're going to join this new loop in the round. Before you do so, twist your stitches once for moebius effect, then loop these new stitches through the cowl you just finished—imagine you're creating a chain link, so that these new stitches will be worked around (through) the loop you just created. Both cowls will have a moebius twist, be connected by those 20 sts in the last step, and will also be chained together.
Kinda like this

Repeat Rounds 1 & 2 for this new cowl loop for as long as the yarn lasts. BO using Jeny's Surprisingly Stretchy Bind Off.

Enjoy! As I said, you can use yarn scraps and make thinner cowl loops, more cowl loops, whatever you want—just keep twisting and chaining together! FYI, this is a great TV knitting project, easily memorizable. It took me right through House of Cards, no problem.

Happy Birthday!

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Monday, December 9, 2013

Snow Bunny Hat & Mitts Set

I forgot to blog about this, which is strictly forshame, but it's the holiday season and I've been super busy.

This is the Snow Bunny Hat & Mitts Set, and it's free for a limited time on Ravelry, so have at it folks.

The hat was inspired by the old rabbit fur hats women wore in the 40s and 50s—I doubled a chunky yarn to create the oversized brim on the hat, and did the same for the thick edge on the mitts. The mitts are a little more rocker chic, which updates the look overall.

The set is super comfy and cozy, and should knit up in a night or two—that's the beauty of knitting on size 17 needles!

I highly recommend using Tahki Montana for the set—it's a really lovely, sproingy, wool roving, very, very warm and available in natural, undyed colors. Love love love. Plus it only takes a single skein to make both the hat and mitts—that's a $14 holiday gift knitted over the weekend, and you can't beat that with a stick.

Pattern is available for free until December 25th—Merry Christmas, and enjoy!

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Friday, November 8, 2013

Doomvember Day 7 - APOCKETMITTS!

Today I feel like the virus inside of me has finally taken hold, and a new era of my existence is born. Or like the alien that lay dormant in my stomach, gestating, has finally burst forth to wreak havoc on the world. Or like the reprogramming from the robot overlords, which I've fought so hard against, has firmly settled into my DNA.

Doomsday is here! And my day in the Doomvember blog tour, the day in which I reveal the Apocketmitts!

I can tell you this right now: when knitting maven Alex Tinsley of Dull Roar posted a call for submissions for an apocalyptic knitting book, I squealed like a pig. When I say apocalyptic anything is firmly set in my wheelhouse, please know that it is true. Anything related to zombies, horror, sci fi, and fantasy is just what little Flossies are made of.

I designed the Apocketmitts to be a fairly simple knit with a very useful secret. Because in an apocalypse, secrets can be deadly. The Apocketmitts are not just an accessory to keep you warm and fashionable, they are the key survival tool in any good warrior's cache.

The key to the Apocketmitts functionality is the secret inner pockets. Secured with small, inconspicuous snap buttons, the Apocketmitts secret pockets (two on each mitt, 3" and 4.5" respectively) were made to carry all the necessities of a scavenging vagabond—matches, antiradiation tablets, USB drives, and sundry will fit in the smaller pocket, while the larger pocket can easily house switchblades, shivs, compass, maps, satellite phones, and extra bullets.

The inner pockets blend seamlessly with the rest of the armwarmers—a key feature for hiding your valuables from marauding enemies.
The Apocketmitts are knit from the wrist up in two coordinating colors of Madelinetosh Tosh Merino DK. The hand portion is then picked up from the wrist and knit down, so that knitters have a choice of whether they even want fingerless mitts at all—one could easily just knit the sleeves (for maximum concealability) and leave it at that. The choice is up to you, survivor.

Of course, don't feel like you can't make these without an apocalypse hanging over your head. I was able to store my credit cards, ID, money, keys, and iPhone in my Apocketmitts, making them the ultimate accessory for braving the Winter without a bag. I imagine they are a great anti-pickpocket item as well.

Doomsday Knits is available for pre-order now, and will start infecting the planet in December 2013. You can find a list of the blog tour schedule here. There are several sections to Doomsday Knits—Global Warming, Nuclear Winter, Kill All Humans, Dystopian Dandies, etc. The Apocketmitts belong to the 'Miscellaneous Mayhem' storyline, which makes perfect sense to me.

Whether you're fighting zombies, avoiding robots, undermining alien overlords, scavenging a radioactive wasteland, or planning for the resurgence of mankind, the Apocketmitts are the ultimate badass accessory—Never leave hovel without them!

I just sneak-peeked you an upcoming hat. You're welcome.

Next up on the blog tour is Melissa Lemmon's Oxygenate—don't miss it!

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Monday, November 4, 2013

On Niceness, Kindness, & Other Things Deemed Unnecessary By The Masses

I struggled for and against writing this post. It has something to do with knitting, but it's a larger idea in general: how we comport ourselves online. Although knitting does tie in.

Internet people are abhorrently mean. Painfully, soul-suckingly mean. And by internet people, I am fully acknowledging the separation between a person on the internet and a person in real life. Because I think those are two very different things. There is a psychic split between who we are on the internet and who we are in real life, and the more we are aware of it, the better we will be as people. I really believe that.

In the world of knitting and knitwear design, it is very seldom that anything is new. In the world in general, this is true 99% of the time. The world of knitwear design is a fraction of the world at large. We are still a relatively small community, which is actually a beautiful thing. Here's just one reason why:

If you want to design something in the knitwear community, you can very easily go on Ravelry and do a search to see if your idea has been represented earlier by someone else. This has happened to me before. I meant to write about my own personal experience with it, but never really did—that link is simply hinting at what I experienced.

To sum it up, I thought I had a really great idea for a hat. I was a new knitter, and I thought: "OOH a hat knitted vertically, with short rows, instead of in the round or back and forth. GENIUS!" I had all sorts of grandiose delusions about submitting it to Knitty and it reaching Clapotis-like heights of popularity. I quite literally lay in bed one night thinking all these big thoughts, unable to sleep. I was designing! I knit the hat and wrote out crude instructions, and then realized I should probably do a Ravelry search to see if anything similar existed. And boy, did similar hats exist. Not only did they exist, but the first was actually published by KNITTY. Ok, so my stripes were different. Ok, so my hat was meant to use up scraps. Ok, so I had never even seen the Knitty version beforehand AND had actually taught myself short rows in order to figure out how to make the hat work. In my mind, it didn't matter. The pattern existed, and my 'novel idea' was simply a rehash of something other knitters had already explored. I'm still trying to rethink the hat, because it was my first really technical experience with designing, but I won't publish it as is because too many other similar knitted hats exist.
Oh, little hat. I really thought you were my ticket to the big top. Le sigh. 
Here's the next point, which is the crux of this blog post: I could have published my pattern, and I'm sure any of those designers could have contacted me about copyright. Further, I could have ignored those messages and kept my pattern up, because I know that the legalities of copyright in the knitting world are hazy. Super hazy. So hazy, in fact, that you can (if you want) pretty much get away with anything so long as the work you've duplicated does not belong to a lawyer-wielding knitwear designer (I say duplicated instead of copied since, if it is truly unintentional, then before being contacted you would have had no idea it was a duplicate pattern).

Here's the thing: we are still kind of in the wild, wild west when it comes to knitwear design. Copies and imitations abound. It's pretty easy to get away with, and very difficult to regulate, legally. I have read countless articles on copyright law in knitting and I still don't understand it. So I can understand being confused, truly. Being a smaller industry compared to, say, the music industry, means very few of us are being dragged into court over our designs. Which makes the industry difficult to navigate, but it also means something much bigger, which we sometimes forget:

We have reach. Being small, this industry still allows us, as individuals, to have influence and make change. We may rail against giant things like the government, in which we feel too small to effect change, but in the knitting industry, we can raise our voices and set a standard amongst ourselves over what to do when issues arise, and how those things should be handled. A great example would be Ripple by Wendy Bernard and Coincidence by Mandy Moore.

We are not yet such a giant landscape of people that we can't, to a certain extent, govern ourselves.

It is so very easy to do the right thing, in reality. You can pretty much feel, in your gut, what is morally and/or ethically right, and what is morally and/or ethically wrong. And in the knitwear community, the right and wrong things to do are laid pretty bare, based on gut feelings, previous examples, and several vocalized opinions. I know this to be true for myself, if not for others, because I did not publish my stupid hat. It didn't feel right. And I knew I could do better. There was no law stopping me—I was halted by the examples set by my community, and the rules by which I would hope others would abide, should I ever be in the position on the other side.

On that note, back to the title of this post.

In joining a recent discussion regarding the (somewhat) unwritten rules of decorum I've described above, I have laid myself open to confrontation with some nasty detractors. People who are less interested in making a point than in being mean. I've kept my commentary civil and refrained from attacking anyone, personally or otherwise, and still found myself the subject of attacks. It's been a disappointing and elucidating experience.

I know there are myriad opinions that differ from mine. I know there are people who will read this and think, "I do not agree with a single thing you are saying. I think you are wrong." I'm fine with that; in fact, I encourage it. I want to hear other people's opinions and know why others might disagree with me—maybe I'll learn something. I don't know everything—in fact, with copyright, I pretty much know nothing. But I have an opinion, and if the delivery is right, I'm more than open to hearing the opinions of others.

But in all of that, we should be nice to each other. We should be kind, and we should treat others the way we want to be treated. Sitting behind a computer, it is all too easy to devolve into nastiness and vitriol, and that accomplishes nothing. Again, the beauty of this industry is that it is still small enough that a single voice can effect change and have influence. But when that voice is debasing, when it is used to degrade and humiliate others, it accomplishes nothing. I was the target of some of these voices, and it felt terrible. I felt humiliated, and shamed, and my first reaction was to abandon my own opinion and leave the discussion, which I imagine was the intent: if you're mean enough to an individual that refuses to be mean back, the individual has no choice but to be bullied away, because the discussion is no longer productive or even tolerable.

I'll end with this: I believe we should be kinder to one another. I think it's better for us in the long run; I think it makes us better people; I think, because it is harder to be kind, it forces us to grow. Again, this is just what I think—I don't claim to represent anyone but myself. But I don't think you can make an argument against kindness and niceness. Or if you can, I'd like to hear it. In as nice a way as possible. Winky smiley face.

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Monday, October 21, 2013

Wedding Washcloths, and working through The Stash

I've decided that this is my go-to wedding gift. No idea whether it will be appreciated or not, but in my opinion it's perfect.

This lovely pile of organic cotton....

became these lovely washcloths...

I included a cute little heart-shaped soap, a pretty box, and voila! Wedding Gift. Pattern available here. Have at it.

I went to Rhinebeck this weekend for the first time ever. Completely overwhelming. I only went on Saturday for 2 hours, but in hindsight I regret not going back on Sunday and exploring the food barn, book signings, and demonstrations. Now that I know what I'm in for, I think next year will be better. And yes, I bought yarn for the stash, and yes, I'll share it soon.

On the plus side, I got cider donuts. Which means I've won the Fall.

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Friday, September 27, 2013

Wanna see a magic trick?

Just so it is recorded—yes, I finished the baby jacket in time for the baby shower. I know it's been over a week since it took place, but it did get done; I've just been too busy to write about it.

For anyone thinking about making the Baby Surprise Jacket in the future, the best advice I can give you is to read slowly, carefully, and go line-by-line. Don't bother skipping ahead because it might just give you agita. Better advice? Utilize the Baby Surprise Jacket Ravelry Group. Anytime I had a question, that's where I went.

Ok, ready for the magic trick?

This flimsy, floppy, blippy bloppy piece of fabric, which seems incredibly unruly, shapeless, and terrifyingly useless...

...becomes this!

I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out, and have resolved to make this thing for all babies to come, now and forever more. ALSO, that yarn is out of my stash! Two skeins down, Eleventybillion to go.

Next up on the list of skeins I'm getting rid of:

Sublime Organic Cotton DK. I'm knitting washcloths for The Doo to take to a wedding next weekend. We both have separate weddings to go to as everyone and their brother is getting married right now, and we're both in the actual wedding parties. Have I mentioned I abhor weddings? I abhor weddings as much as I abhor setting piles and piles of money aflame and then dancing around the bonfire in clothes that are uncomfortable, unflattering, and unwearable for any other occasion, clothes which you have to wear because it's a reverse Pay It Forward torture tradition in which the previously tortured pass the torture along instead of doing things differently. Kinda like, someone slapped me in the face, so now I get to slap you in the face. When will the painful chain be broken? Never, I'm assuming. At any rate, stay tuned for the loveliness of these soft-as-a-kitten's-ass organic cotton washcloths which, most likely, will not even be appreciated because they weren't on the pre-approved gift registry. WEDDINGS, ammaright?!? Pin It

Friday, September 6, 2013

Don't Look Down

They say, in knitting, that you should always read pattern instructions from beginning to end to make sure you understand all techniques involved. In working for a yarn and pattern company, I have found this to be true even at an industry level.
The biggest complaint in the company office is that a knitter has not read the instructions thoroughly, and written in queries that could easily be resolved should they do their due diligence and read to the end. Had they read about the gauge they needed, they would have achieved the size they wanted. Had they read ahead, they would have learned to do the bust shaping at the same time as the armhole decreases. Etc.

Should've read ahead, kid
I am a firm believer in reading ahead. I do it in every pattern I start, to make sure I understand the techniques, to figure in whether or not I will have to cut the yarn at any point, to see if placing stitch markers around certain pattern stitches will make keeping track all the easier, to know if it is imperative that I count rows or not. There are several good and worthy reasons to read ahead. It pays to read ahead. Reading ahead is like taking your wallet when you leave the house--in order to get anywhere, you have to read ahead.

I think the Baby Surprise Jacket may be the exception. At least for me. I read ahead and had a little trouble breathing. Being that I'm working from The Opinionated Knitter, in which the pattern appears in 'pattern note' form (as opposed to clearly written, annotated line-by-line directions), it's slightly bemusing to read ahead. The notes refer to a piece of knitting you can look at because you're right there, having knitted it, but if you read ahead, it's like trying to imagine where the windows will go in a building you haven't yet built. Again, maybe it's just me, but I was utterly perplexed. And not just that; it made me anxious. Like Good lord how will I do this anxious.

So I had to stop, turn back, and simply cast on. Cast on how many stitches, Mrs. Zimmerman? Ok, you got it. Knit how many stitches, and then decrease where? Ok, you got it. Working line by line, it didn't seem so bad. Don't they always say you should live in the moment, and not the future?

Like walking a tightrope, sometimes you get further when you don't look down.

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