9.12.2019

Proto-Lola: September's Lola's Choice Kit!

I think most of the kits have landed so I can share September's Lola's Choice Kit with you all...

Introducing Proto-Lola!

I decided to depart from the smaller delicate beaded pieces I had been designing for Lola's Choice and make a hat for fall. Lola told me she needed one... with her logo on it!

I used Berroco Catena with Alafoss Lettlopi for this design... I adore Lettlopi but it is a wee bit too "toothy" for hats for me. I realized if I used Catena (which is a chainette construction and SUPER soft) for the brim I could have a hat that is warm, soft and light. I've used both these yarns for Leio and when I did some colorwork with my leftovers I knew they were going to work together perfectly!  I did design the hat so if you want to skip the logo and just have the colorwork "star" go all the way around the hat it is easy to do. And those leather tags were just the finishing touch!

 

My photographer Jamie, is deep into senior portrait season, and Lola decided she wanted her photos to simulate that back to school mood... how did we do? 48 is the new 18, am I right?


It has been super fun to see how others are modifying their Proto-Lola's! Green Tops, Tassles, and extra colorwork! Fun, right

Finally, I did announce a little QUICKIE KAL in my Ravelry group... it was Lola's idea (of course it was!) All you have to do is finish your Proto-Lola by September 30th... (there is a charity component as well).

I do have a few kits for Proto-Lola left, so if you sign up for Lola's Choice now, you'll start with this kit!

xoxo, Lola

9.05.2019

Bering Blanket: A Design in Process!

So, a few weeks ago when I launched the Bering Shawl I got a wee bit excited about making a blanket with the same general construction! I posted this photo on Facebook and Instagram was encouraged to cast on and share a bit of the design process with you! I purchased this natural gradient from Ironwood Hill Farm last November at Knit Ithaca, it is spun from the their Finn sheep after being meticulously sorted by color. With the amount I have I'll be making a square lap blanket, but I'm going to write up the pattern to make it easily customize-able to other shapes and yarn weights. In theory I'll have this done and tested by November?


I'm happy to report that 2 weeks later I have the 4 squares done! Here is the first baby done and blocked! It measures about 19 inches square...


While designing and knitting on this I realized I want the pattern to be REALLY versatile, so that we can get the most out of our yarn. For me it involved a fair amount of math and a spread sheet that looked like this:



For Square 1, I worked with 3 colors A, B and C, with A being the lightest in the gradient. You can see that I used my trusty scale and weighed (and measured) my skeins before I started and then after each section.

The darkest color in the gradient will become the main color and connect the squares together and also be the border. I have a sneaking suspicion I am going to be getting one more skein of that darkest color (or something similar) from the farm as I want the border to not be too puny!

I already have an idea for a second blanket, this one rectangular using Feederbrook Farm Entropy and Harrisville Flywheel I have in stash from Itha-Cowl! Won't that be amazing?

We might need an intervention over here! Halp?

8.28.2019

Tips and Tricks for Knitting a Leio (or any other sweater) in Linen!



THE STORY
Y'all... last year around this time I decided I needed a linen sweater in my wardrobe... I was just getting ready to release Leio (in both Lopi and Catena) and wished I had one in a warm weather fiber.

So, what did I do? I ordered yarn (9 skeins of Quince and Co. Kestrel in Porpoise and started swatching (more on that below).

Then winter came, and the last thing I wanted was a Linen sweater, the Lopi version was perfect, thank you very much!

But this spring I decided to get knitting... there was more swatching as I forgot what needle size I had used in the fall.
Note to self:
You always think you will remember, but you really should make a note on your Ravelry project page, like any other grown-up knitter would do!

And then I started to knit! The two halves of the sweater were perfect travel knitting for my trip to Scotland... whenever I was asked what I was knitting I would say, "oh, you know, just a Uterus" We would all crack up at the look of confusion on the innocent tour guide's face... there is nothing better than an inside joke, right?  (Those of you who have knit a Novus Sweater know what I mean about the Uterine phase.)

Then I came home and got super busy, but I got the front cable panel done on vacation in Greece, and then the side panels done during my garden tour with Jess in Ireland.


All that was left was the collar, which took me a whopping 3 tries to get right... the thing with linen is that it doesn't have a memory and the collar as written was making the neckline too wide and my wee shoulders kept escaping Flash Dance style, which doesn't match my 48-year-old aesthetic! Basically I just needed to pick up fewer sts, and add more short rows to fill in the neckline space. Here's an example of the first neckline... you can see how wide it is (sorry, it is a bad hotel room selfie!)

And now I have ended up with the most wearable summer sweater EVER! The hand and drape on my new baby are superb... the small struggles I had learning how to work with linen were totally worth it (and I get to share them with you, so there is that!)


THE LEARNING
Swatching-
So, I worked my swatch the same way I would for any other Novus Sweater... by casting on for the sleeve and working 6 inches of it. Then I wet my swatch and through it in the dryer (what?) with some towels and jeans until it was pretty much dry. Finally I hung it sideways with weights on it (this simulates the weight of your sweater hanging off your shoulders). Remember Novus sweaters are knit sideways, so you should be more concerned with getting accurate row gauge than stitch gauge! Linen needs to be softened and the act of throwing it wet into the dryer "beats" up the fibers and makes it STUNNING! If you could "feel" through the internet I would have you sample a swatch blocked and dried vs. just blocked, the difference is incredible.

The biggest thing I found was that the swatches I did that weren't correct couldn't really be used again as after they were dried the yarn didn't behave the same. For this reason it is KEY to make sure you purchase some extra yarn when working with linen!

Oh, and remember, if you write down what needle size you use on your sleeve swatch (either with knots in the tail, or in your notebook, or on Ravelry) then you won't need to swatch for your sweater twice.

These blog posts were helpful to me when I was learning about linen and swatching!
  • https://quinceandco.com/blogs/news/114693766-warming-up-to-linen
  • http://knitbot.com/blog/2013/5/22/finishing-with-linen
  • https://untangling-knots.com/2016/05/20/6-things-to-know-about-knitting-with-linen/

Weaving in Ends- In the beginning I was following Hannah's advice above about weaving in ends... but then I found this video about joining balls on tubular yarn (Kestral is a tubular linen tape) and began to do that... it is magical and works really well!



Have you knit with 100% linen before? If not, I think it might be time to try!

7.10.2019

Kairos Cuff: The Story and Technique Behind It!

Have you seen Kairos Cuff July's kit for Lola's Choice? I've actually been working on the concept for this cuff since last winter (I think I first hatched the idea at a Tamale Party at Robin's house). I had a crazy idea that I could design a leather closure that could be used on a cuff (and maybe on other things too!).


I ended up spending a chunk of the winter learning a bit about working with leather (aka learning everything I don't know about leather work). I quickly understood that I wasn't going to be the one to make the clasps and luckily found a leather worker up the hill from me on Seneca Lake who was happy to take on the project. Renee at Uncle Joe's Saddlery makes gorgeous bags, and had all the equipment and know how to make it work! Phew! Renee to the creative rescue! (I even roped in my husband Max to make the technical drawing for the leather die!) This was a community effort!



Besides the leather clasp, Kairos uses a new to me "random" beading technique that allows the beads to POP to the front of the cuff's fabric. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that I'm not that random a designer, I like a PLAN, so choosing beads that allowed for randomness to make a bead stew was total fun. I'll admit that the bead mix had a weight ratio formula to ensure it stayed random. I can't help myself! 😃 The technique I use is easy... you work with randomly pre-strung beads and incorporate them into 1 x 1 ribbing. The pattern includes a link to a full video tutorial that teaches the technique, it takes less than 2 minutes to learn! Here's a little snippet to show you how easy it is!



Oh, and finally? Can I tell you about the yarn? Emma and Laura from Four Purls sent me a few swatches of Emma's Yarn to play with over a year ago... one of them was Bohemian Market on Practically Perfect Sock and when I saw it I KNEW it wanted to be a summer yarn for a Lola's Choice kit... but I had no idea what to design with it. Fast forward to the winter when I learned about Laerke Bagger, a danish knitwear designer, who works with beads in a way completely outside of my wheelhouse. I mashed up Emma's Yarn with Laerke's beading aesthetic, and my new leather clasps for a design completely my own!

Yowsers... nothing like a long winter to inspire, right? Makes me a little nervous for what next winter will bring!

I've been asked if I'll be selling the clasps on their own, as of right now the answer is no, BUT I do have a line of kits in the works (5 colors total),  I'm just waiting on more clasps to be made. For now the only way to get Kairos Cuff is to sign up for my small knitted kit club, Lola's Choice. Working on kits for this club with my crazy alter ego Lola has kept all of my creative juices flowing, and I know you won't be disappointed by the kits coming up!


You can sign up for a 3-kit, 6-kit, or recurring subscription... all the info is right here! Lola and I would love it if you came to play with us!


For those of you who have already received Kairos, don't forget, we have a K(n)it-a-Long happening in my Ravelry group.... come post photos of your Kairos, you can win some pretty fabulous yarny prizes (including some of Emma's Yarn!)

Any questions? I hope y'all are as thrilled about this new kit as I am : )!

5.17.2019

Video Tutorial: Beaded Long Tail Cast On!

My latest design, LoquitaLola's Choice May kit (my small knitted kit club) uses a SUPER easy beaded long tail cast on!


This video assumes you know how to work a long tail cast on, and want to learn how to incorporate beads into it! You are working with beads that are pre-strung on your yarn with a dental floss threader or large eye beading needle.

Here's an example of how it looks on Loquita:

4.24.2019

Knit Alaska Reading List!

I am getting all kinds of excited for our trip to Alaska this summer... and I wanted to share a few of the books I've been reading! (Ok, one of them I read the preview and couldn't quite get into... but that doesn't mean you won't!)


Reading:
  • Two Old Women: An Alaska Legend of Betrayal, Courage and Survival by Velma Wallis- I just found this while googling books about Alaska... and bought it. It is based on an Athabascan Indian legend passed along for many generations from mothers to daughters of the upper Yukon River Valley. I started this last night and might have stayed up a little later than I was supposed to reading it!
  • Snow Child by Eowyn Ivy- When I saw the cover of this book it was utterly familiar to me, I never read it, but I think it was on my bookshelf for a few years. I am so glad I stumbled upon it again. It is based on an old Russian Fairy Tale about an elderly husband and wife who didn't have children and one day build a child out of snow that comes to life. It is set in Alaska, and the prose is just stunning! I highly suggest reading (or listening to) it when you have time!
Already Read:
  • The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah- I have read most of Kristin Hannah's other books and enjoyed them immensely, this one might be my favorite. It is set in Alaska and is written from the perspective of a adolescent girl growing up in a violent and dysfunctional family who escapes to Alaska in hopes of finding a solution. Her story is challenging to read and it evokes the rugged nature of the land beautifully.
  • Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer- (from Amazon) In a compelling book that evokes the writings of Thoreau, Muir, and Jack London, Krakauer recounts the haunting and tragic mystery of 22-year-old Chris McCandless who disappeared in April 1992 into the Alaskan wilderness in search of a raw, transcendent experience. His emaciated corpse was discovered four months later. (also a movie)
Tried to Read:
  • Alaska: A Novel by James A. Michener- In true James Michener style this book starts, oh, a billion years ago with Alaska's history and builds from there... I lost interest around the Woolly Mammoths... don't judge me! BUT, I just found out it is on audible and is 57 hours long... just think of all the knitting I'll get done! (Plus, I can fast forward over the manmoths if necessary!)


Any other suggestions? Maybe a movie or two that must be watched? Or more books to read? Our trip is 100 days away so there is time!!!

Suggestions from Facebook and Instagram! Thanks Y'all... this has become a great resource!

p.s. I didn't bring up Call of the Wild and White Fang by Jack London or the Julie of the Wolves series by ... these are classics, which I know I read when I was MUCH younger. I probably should read them again, I'm sure my perspective on them would be different!

3.15.2019

Kitty Sweater: The Construction

Have you heard about the Kitty Sweater KAL we are gearing up for in my Ravelry group? It is time for a new spring sweater, don't you think?
http://www.nelkindesigns.com/kitty
It is definitely important for you to understand how Kitty is constructed, especially if you are thinking of making any adjustments to the pattern!
Kitty is a seamless sweater that uses my side-to-side Novus Construction in a new way... ready?
Step 1: 
Cast on with the right sleeve of the sweater.

Work the sleeve... this is actually the gauge swatch (the pattern will tell you more about that!)
 
Step 2: 
Provisionally cast on sts for the front and back of your sweater. This is where you will add length for the bodice if you need it!
 
Step 3: 
Then you'll work across all the sts, back, sleeve, front and work the shoulder rows to the neckline split.

Next, you’ll be splitting your stitches for the neckline, working neckline shaping and separating the shoulder from the front and back.



Step 4: 

Then you'll rejoin for the left shoulder and work it!

Step 5:  
  Once the left shoulder is done, you'll put your front and back sts on scrap yarn and then work the left sleeve and bind it off.


Step 6: 
Time for some Origami...
fold your sweater in half at the shoulder! 

 


Step 7: 
Pick up stitches along each edge of a sleeve and coordinating side seam and then work a side panel up.  As you work through the Side Panel, RS rows decrease st(s) from the Front, and WS rows decrease st(s) from the Back.


Step 8: 
Ok, now for some fun! Pick up sts along the bottom border of the bodice!

 



Step 9: 
Work these sts in the round, down until your sweater is its desired length! You've got room to play here!!!

Then, bind off, block and wear!
 


JOIN OUR KITTY KAL, it is sure to be fun!!!!!!

There are still kits available if you want to use the same yarn I did : )!