3.29.2015

What is a Mystery KAL (Knit-A-Long)?

I'm getting ready to release my next Mystery Knit-A-Long (WOOT!) and it's come to my attention that many knitters don't know what a Mystery Knit-A-Long is, or how mine work!
 
What is a Mystery KAL?
A Mystery KAL (Knit-A-Long) is a knit-a-long into which a knitting pattern is broken down into clues. Clues are released one at a time on a set schedule and the participants do not know what they are knitting while they work the clue (i.e. there are no photos). All of my Mystery KAL's are brand new, never seen before, designs... and they are always innovative and amusing!

I don't typically tell knitters what they are making in my Mystery KAL's so part of the fun is trying to guess what your knitting will turn into. (Hint: if you look at my past MKAL's you can see that they are always one-size accessories, like cowls, scarves, or shawls.) I keep the construction unique as part of the guessing game! What you can feel confident in is that if you like my design aesthetic you will enjoy my Mystery KAL's... I'm very careful to keep my design "voice" true (i.e. you won't be knitting a sweater with a beaded intarsia dachsund on it)!
 
How do you sign up?
My Mystery KAL's are announced about 1 month before the first clue releases.  You can sign up for the KAL by purchasing the pattern (either on Ravelry or my website).
 
When you sign up you will be sent a pdf that will contain the schedule for the MKAL, yarn and bead (beads are always optional!) requirements, and any necessary gauge and needle information you need to be ready for the MKAL launch.  
 
(Note: if you are in my M Club you will automatically be sent an e-mail with a download link for the pattern, make sure you are signed into Ravelry when you click on the link so you get updates!)

After signing up, go to my Ravelry group... we've got a great community and everyone LOVES to help pick yarn and beads. I have threads set up to start the Mystery KAL support.
 
Once you have signed up clues are automatically released on schedule and you will receive an e-mail with a link to the updated pdf. With each release, new threads are set up in my Ravelry group to support and encourage you all.
 
What I love about Mystery KAL's....
Often times knitters can see a photo of a project and get overwhelmed by it's intricacy and decide there is not way they are going to attempt the pattern (even if they are perfectly capable of knitting it). With Mystery KAL's there is no photo to incite fear... you just get your clue and follow it word for word. Many knitters find an incredible amount of confidence while working Mystery KAL's as they find out what they (and their needles) are really capable of! 
 
There are forums in my Ravelry group where you can ask questions, post photos, and get all the support you need. We have a no knitter left behind policy, so as long as you want to ask questions and learn, someone is there to aid you!

Please ask questions if you have any.... I'm happy to clarify!

3.25.2015

Cheers!!!! A New Pattern and a Birthday Sale!

Cheers!!!! Guess what?  It's my birthday (I'm turning 28 for the 16th time) and I want to celebrate with you!

I've released Cheers!!! on Ravelry... and decided to have a little one-day sale in my Etsy shop to get this party started!

For today ONLY I'm offering 28% off all my kits AND if you place an order, you'll get a code to download Cheers!!! for free! Can you tell I feel like partying today????

I have 17 kits to choose from... I am running low on stock for a few of them (like Soutache, Rippled, and Cheerio), and when they sell out I won't be re-ordering supplies... it's time to slim down the line a bit so I can bring in some new designs!

So here are the details... go to my Etsy shop, choose some fun kits and use the coupon HAPPY28THAGAIN at checkout to get 28% off. (This sale is only for kits in stock.)

Your sales receipt will contain a link and download code to redeem your free pattern.

And because every photo shoot has one goofy shot:
Thanks again to Patty McGuire for the amazing photos!

A Visit to the Yarn Club... and a new shawl named Cheers!

I'm back from another weekend away... this time I visited The Yarn Club, a fabulous shop in Virginia Beach.  I taught 3 packed classes to a slew of knitters and started their knitting with beads addiction off with a bang!
Unfortunately I didn't get as many photos as I normally do, I was so busy teaching!  We ended up being so many people in the classes that they were held in an empty office space next door, not in the shop, so excuse the lack of yarn in the photos below! (there are even more photos here)
 
I did something a wee bit different for these classes and designed a shawl just for Saturday's class... and then I designed a mini-shawl based on the large shawl so I could teach all the skills needed (integrated I-cord edging, slipped stitches, picking up stitches, working with pre-strung lace, simple charts, and basic lace stitches).  
mini version of Cheers!!!! sitting on top of a larger one!
Goofy phone photo of Tasha and I and our mini shawls!


One of our jobs in class was to name the shawl, so that evening we came up with a name: Cheers!!!

I really wanted to give it a name that related to The Yarn Club. When I came downstairs to the shop at lunch I saw a group of women sitting around the main table, they were all obviously super comfortable, and clearly spent a lot of time in the shop (think Norm and Cliff and Sam, and Woody... I think many of yarn stores are like this!). Yarn Club's logo is a Martini glass, they run a "yarn" tab while people are shopping, and they have a winding bar, and they definitely know everyone's name! So, when Lora, (the owner Andrea's mom, who is an EXCELLENT knitter) suggested Cheers!!! it was pretty much a done deal!

One final thing that needed to be taken care of before I left was photos of our the new shawl! Luckily, Patty McGuire,  whom I had met on Instagram, (and drooled on her knitwear photos) was in my Sunday class and free to take photos with me. (It is still freezing at home, and photography has been really hard to get taken care of!) AND OH MY GOODNESS... she did  phenomenal work, and was so easy to communicate with! Here are a few pics to whet your appetite...

 

I'm releasing Cheers!!! on Ravelry tomorrow, and since it is my birthday there might just be a little promotion to celebrate!

3.23.2015

Fixing Lace Mistakes... my new Craftsy Class!

Guess what?  I've got a new Craftsy class to tell you about (and a link for 50%... see below!).
It's no secret that I love working with Craftsy  and when they asked me to do an in depth technique class on fixing lace mistakes I could not say "no"! When I first learned how to knit I definitely did NOT know how to fix my mistakes and many a project ended up in the UFO pile (Unfinished Objects). As my knitting skills grew so did my confidence to attempt to fix my mistakes, and the more I tried to fix them the better I got at doing it. Now there is seldom a time I need to rip back because of a mistake in my lace (but no worries, I do rip back because of other things!). My hope with this class is that it will help you build your skills and confidence so that you can read your knitting better and rip back less and less often!

This little trailer will really give you a great idea about this class.... (and yes, I did my own voice over, feel free to make fun of me : )! )



I teach simple techniques in the class, like fixing missed yarnovers and decreases... and then I get a little more serious with some lace surgery once you are feeling more confident!
I do hope you will sign up... I can't wait to help you become a more confident and knowledgeable lace knitter!

Use this link to get 50% off my class: Save Our Stitches: Fixing Lace Mistakes

ENJOY!!!!! This class is so fun you might just make a mistake on purpose just so you can fix it!  (OK... that might be a bit of a stretch....)

3.17.2015

A trip to McNeedles (and some New Orleans fun!)

I'm just back from another FUN weekend of teaching... this time I was lucky enough to be invited to McNeedles, which is in Lacombe Louisiana, on the North Shore of Lake Pontchartrain, right across from New Orleans.
From left to right: Pam, myself, Maria, and Cherie!
I always love getting to experience a little local flavor when I travel to teach and this trip was RICH! I knew it was going to be good when I was picked up from the airport by Pam, McNeedles owner, and whisked over to Emeril's on Tchoupitoulas Street.... BAM!
We then headed over the lake and I got a good night's sleep. The next day I arrived at the shop, which is sweeter than sweet. Pam has taken an old shotgun style building (built in the 1800's) and renovated it into a stunning yarn store. I had full classes both Friday and Saturday.... I made my students work... I promise they had more fun than they look like they did in this photo!  There was alot of laughter to go with all that learning!
We went out Friday night to a lively restaurant right on a bayou... I reveled in being able to walk outside without socks and leggings... and was treated to a stunning sunset through trees.
Saturday night I headed to bed early so we could get up and at 'em Sunday! First we had Beignet's and coffee at a Cafe Du Monde satellite shop.
I forgot how much I love chickory in coffee.... SO GOOD! I ate all three of my beignet's and didn't share at all... needless to say I came home with a little beignet baby. We then headed over the lake to New Orleans to revel in the St. Patrick's Day Parade.... want to see?
It started off with a marching band!
These cuties gave me flowers since I took their pic!
Some AH-MAZING St Paddy's day sneakers!
Maria and Pam, my fearless tour guides... (i think Pam looks a little afraid of me in this pic!)
The parade has a hysterical  tradition of the floats throwing vegetables along with beads and candy.... you can read a bit more about it here. I have to say that they were actually handing off the cabbages and potatoes not throwing them at people.... that could knock you out!

I can't tell y'all how I managed to get all the cabbages, potatoes, carrots, garlic,beads, toys, etc I did... what happens in New Orleans stays in New Orleans, right? I didn't get a photo of our whole haul (which was ginourmous) but Maria did snap this one of me feeling just a little in the spirit!

The moral of the story?  The next time you are in Louisiana, you have to head over to McNeedles and say "hello" to Pam, Cherie and Maria... they are the best, and Pam is REALLY good at buying yarn so her store has an excellent selection!  I got some yarn for a new summer sweater I can't wait to share with you all!

3.10.2015

Artichoke French... with a cowl!

 
Oh, this winter has been a doozy!  I wear a wool sweater almost everyday and decided to add another one to my collection.... I had already knit 2 Artichoke French (one for Ysolda's Rhinebeck Sweater collection which is part of the permanent trunk show, and one for Bella) and I've always wanted one of my own! (details on Ravelry)
I did decide to make a few modifications, one because of the yarn I chose, and one to learn something new! First, I didn't include the "ninja" cuffs, one of my favorite parts of this pattern. I knit this with Knitted Wit Aran in Prussian Blue, a super squishy and soft next to the skin Superwash Merino. I had yet to knit a sweater with superwash as it doesn't wear as well but I really wanted to be able to wear this sweater without an underlayer. If I included the fingerless mitts I knew they would pill SUPER quickly and I wouldn't be happy, so I just skipped that part of the pattern.
Next up, I decided to challenge myself by adding a cowl to the neckline of the pattern... something new for me!  I learned alot about what works and doesn't work for cowl design with a little crowd sourcing on Instagram/Twitter/Facebook and then jumped right into it. I even managed to attach it incorrectly (with the RS facing out) and had to undo the pick up row and graft it back in place... a lot faster than reknitting the whole cowl neck!  Thanks to IrocKnits who came up with that brilliant solution!
A few of you asked if I would write up my Cowl neck modification and since it wasn't hard here you go:

Artichoke French Cowl Modification
Note: I chose to work short rows for the last 3 dec rounds (6 rounds total) as I thought this would help the cowl sit better.  These 6 rows were tricksy as the Artichoke French stitch needed to be worked on both RS and WS rows and I just went for it. (I'm not writing this up as it is different for every size and body shape... Carol Feller just came out with a great new class on working short rows that would be helpful should you need support with this!)

Bind off neckline with smaller needle.

With WS of work facing, pick up and knit 80[80, 80, 80, 80, 80] (80, 80, 90, 90, 90) [90, 90, 90, 90, 90] sts around, join for working in the round.
Knit for 3 inches.
Switch to larger ndl, continue knitting in the round for 1 more inch.
*K8[8, 8, 8, 8, 8] (8, 8, 10, 10, 10) [10, 10, 10, 10, 10], m1; rep from * around; 90[90, 90, 90, 90, 90] (90, 90, 99, 99, 99) [99, 99, 99, 99, 99] sts

Work Artichoke French Stitch (9 stitch repeat) around.
Work for 16 rounds total (4 repeats of 4 row pattern).
Purl one round.
Bind off!

Photo Notes: Thanks to my honey for heading over to Taughannock Falls with me yesterday when it warmed up above 32 degrees!  I've never seen Taughannock frozen like this in all the years I've lived here. I think it will be May before all that the ice is thawed!

Re the photo above where I am cracking up:  there was a gentleman just sitting on a picnic table when we showed up at the overlook... right as Max started taking pictures the dude whipped out a flute and started serenading the falls!  I'm afraid I didn't quite maintain the mature composure I'm known for : )!

3.04.2015

Pattern Writing for Knit Designers: a Q and A with Kate Atherley

I've been wanting to share this book with you for quite a while:
Written by my tech editor (and friend) Kate Atherley, Pattern Writing for Knit Designers, is a definitive guide on understanding ALL the many elements that go into knit pattern writing. In fact, a newer designer (or knitter) sitting down with this book might be overwhelmed by everything Kate deems essential to a well written pattern. But, nothing in this book should be overlooked.... it is entirely useful! Even if you aren't a designer, or aspiring one, the content in this book will help you understand how to read patterns more deeply. I certainly wish I had it as a reference when I was starting out!

There have been  fabulous reviews on Pattern Writing for Knit Designers that I suggest you read. I thought it would be a fun twist to do a Q and A with Kate to talk about how she helped me become a better pattern writer.... a very different thing from being a knitwear designer!
L: Do you remember what the first pattern of mine was that you edited? I believe it was for Knitty..... did you shake your head in dismay at any of my snaffus?
Kate:
I had to go back and look; it seems like it might have been the Mr. Popper hot water bottle cover. And it looks like although it was pretty far off the style sheet, it was in pretty good shape. It's funny, actually, because that pattern is not at all representative of your work, in that it uses techniques I don't think I've ever seen you use in another pattern... felting! intarsia in the round! And hot water bottle covers? You're rarely that practical or domestic.

Looking back on my notes, I remember it well, actually. The intarsia in the round was pretty challenging to review... I had to get you needles and yarn and actually knit for that one!

In fact, I would say that it set the theme very nicely for our relationship: you do challenging, unusual and interesting things, and I do often have to get out needles and yarn to be able to edit. Some things I can just read through, and knit "in my head", but that's rarely true of your patterns.

L:
I have learned a TON from you about clarity, consistency, and comprehension,what have you learned from me? 

Kate: I think I learn something with every pattern. That first one taught me about intarsia in the round. Would you be appalled to learn that I'd never knitted anything with beads before we started working together? And you've taught me about lace design and all sorts of fantastic constructions. In fact, I have an element in a new design that's loosely inspired by your work - I work a shawl in two directions, at 90-degree angles. And I've learned a lot about how to check through complex charts and how to proofread long and complicated written instructions for charts. (Multiple colors of pens; print them out; post it notes and rulers; and more coffee.)

L: Is there any mistake I consistently make that you have to correct?
Kate: Not any more . We had to have the conversation about SSK and how you defined it, but I've cured you of that particular bad habit.

L: Is there an element to my patterns that you find really effective?
Kate: I adore that you work really hard to include both charts and written instructions. Sometimes it's hard work for both of us, but I know you're making a lot of knitters very happy. Not all knitters love charts, and so often complex lace patterns are only charted. You're going an extra step - one of the reasons your knitters love you.

L: Often times on my charts you comment that you wish I would include stitch counts and I pretty much always choose not to as they confuse "the picture" for me... can you explain more why you think I should? (and I know you wrote a whole chapter on this exact topic!)
Kate: It's partially because it makes life easier to me to check. After all, I need to check the written instructions against the charts (and vice versa) and it's nice to be able to glance at it to know how many stitches there are. That having been said, where there's repeats, it's not possible (or indeed advisable), and I think in many cases (see answer to next question ) your charts are full of tricky repeats and all sorts of things.


L: We've developed a bit of a "game-on" mentality where I try to make your brain hurt with complex patterns to edit... were there any patterns (or projects) of mine in which you wanted to just throw in the towel and tell me to go find another editor? (Sorry to say....I have another one coming down the pike in this vein!)
Kate:
I may regret saying this, but not so far. Sometimes I have to make more coffee, and you've definitely make me work hard, but I love the challenge. I think it works well between us because we've established a partnership - I'm entirely comfortable telling you if I don't understand something or am just wildly confused, and I'm entirely ok when you tell me that I have it wrong. Because sometimes that does happen! The fact that I work without the samples adds to the challenge, especially when your pattern has an interesting construction. I appreciate your patience when I have to ask questions. But equally, I think the process of the two of us having to think through the construction and how to communicate it, and making sure it makes sense to me without me having my hands on the sample, makes for better patterns!

L: Does how we work together differ from how you work with other  designers? What is unique about it?
Kate: I love that we've developed some fun shorthand... sometimes I can just put ? or a ! in a comment, and you'll know what I mean. And I really enjoy that we can ask questions and collaborate - it's not just about me checking your math, but about a discussion about how to best communicate complex ideas to your knitters. I appreciate that we can have discussions about usability, not just numbers.  Plus you don't mind if I swear in my edit notes.

Thankyou Kate!  I can't agree more with you... we've developed a fabulous comfortable working relationship that has made us both better at what we do! I hope this gives you all more of an idea of exactly how wonderful Kate and her body of knowledge is.

Time for a giveaway... 

Kate has generously donated  a digital copy of Pattern Writing for Knit Designers to giveaway to one of you!  Just leave a comment below by 11pm (EST) on March 6th, don't forget to leave a way to get in touch with you! I randomly choose a winner next week and announce them in my Ravelry group in the news thread and on Facebook!

3.02.2015

Phi For You!

Yeah!  By this time most of this year's M Club members have received their first package and it is time to release the pattern that goes with it so they can get knitting!

Ready for Phi for You?
Here's what the M Club Members received...
Yarn: One AMAZING skein of caterpillargreen yarns, MCN Fingering Shawl Striping in the Phi Colorway (exclusive to the M Club for one year) (see more about this below!)
Notions: Approx. 45 grams Size 6 glass seed beads, and super floss
Extras: All natural lip scrub to exfoliate and moisten your lips!
Goodies: Suckers from Yummy Earth
For the 4th MKAL: A mini skein from Gynx Yarns! (put this in a safe place!)

About the yarn... this might be the most interesting and coolest collaboration I've ever worked on!  I found out about CaterpillarGreen when at Knit Social last year in Vancouver... Stephanie couldn't stop talking about SELF STRIPING SHAWL YARN at dinner, and of course I made her show me the next morning!  Without realizing how coveted this yarn was I asked Cat (Caterpillargreen's dyer/owner) if we could work together on a project and she said YES!
 I designed a top-down Half-Pi Shawl with crescent shaping and then Cat took my spreadsheet and dyed self-striping yarn for it based on the Golden Ratio (Phi). She sent me photos (see below) while we worked on it....there were spreadsheets, and late night e-mails, and a lot of excitement while we worked it out. It was SUPER hard to keep this project secret!
The knitting of Phi for You is relatively simple... I wanted the color to be doing all the work here... there are little touches, like an integrated i-cord edging with elongated stitches so it doesn't get tight, and an intriguing beaded bottom border that makes me feel a little swoony with it's simple elegance...
Phi for You is only available to 2015 M Club members and will be released to the public in March of 2016.... I've got a Mystery KAL coming up (info releases April 1st) that all will be available for all to participate in, whether you are in the M Club or not!