Thursday, December 26, 2013

New Pattern: Laren Mitts!

I hope everyone is enjoying their holidays!  Earlier this week, this sneaky pattern was published without me even realizing it!  :D  ((Cheeky chevrons, getting all published while I was holiday daydreaming... ))

photo: copyright Harper Point, Knitscene 2013

Anyway, Laren Mitts pattern is now available in the Spring 2014 issue of Knitscene!

photo: copyright Harper Point, Knitscene 2013

photo: copyright Harper Point, Knitscene 2013

They make a great stash buster and gift since they knit up so quickly!

-Sizes 6¾ (7¼, 8)" palm circumference; shown in size 7¼"

-Yarn Zitron Finest Royal Alpaca (100% alpaca; 109 yd [100 m]/50 g):
• #6057 kitten grey (MC), 1 (2, 2) skein(s)
• #6059 porcelain (CC), 1 skein

Gauge: 24 sts and 27 rnds = 4" in Chevron patt on larger needles

• Size 6 (4 mm): set of double-pointed needles (dpn)
• Size 4 (3.5 mm): set of dpn
• Markers (m)
• Stitch holders
• Tapestry needle

Monday, December 23, 2013

Giveaway Winner: Ambah O'Brien pattern

Last week after Ambah O' Brien's interview we held a giveaway for one her patterns, and we have a winner!

Sonya, entry #8, was chosen as the winner!

Sonya, you should hear from Ambah in the next week or so, please contact me if you have any questions!  Have a great holiday season, everyone!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Indie Gift-Along Interview 2 of 2: Ambah O'Brien

As part of Ravelry's Indie Design Gift-Along, I'm interviewing two knitwear designers. In the first interview we met Sarah Jordan (PAKnitWit).  In today's interview we meet Ambah, ambahobrien on Ravelry.

Mirri Collection, Ambah O'Brien

Hello, Ambah!  Welcome to my blog.  Just in case people don't know who you are... Who are you? Where are you? 
Hello I'm Ambah, and I design under my own name. I am an Australian and live in regional Victoria - about an hour away from Melbourne, in a vibrant artistic community.

Sounds lovely to live in an artistic community.  How did you come to design hand-knits?
I am an artist and always making, knitting has certainly captured my imagination and it makes sense for me to make designs based on my ideas. Initially I made some patterns for fun, to try out ideas, encouraged by a positive response I find myself completely addicted to manifesting my ideas into designs!

easy knitted bangle (free pattern!), Ambah O'Brien

Mirri Cowl, Ambah O'Brien
I love your aesthetic, Ambah!  What inspires your designs? 
I am inspired by everything. A need for an item, for example I wanted to knit my son a hooded jacket. Sometimes a yarn gives rise to an idea - I designed my Dreamy Valentine shawl after inspiration from the beautiful Valentine colorway in some Dream in Color yarn I had. Other times I am inspired by fashion, art, nature - life in general really; ideas pop into my head and I go to sleep dreaming about how to make it.

Maroo Mitts, Ambah O'Brien
Do you find yourself working often in a specific style? 
Not really, I love variety. Though as a new designer perhaps a style will emerge.

Magine Shawl, Ambah O'Brien

What is your favorite part of designing?
I do enjoy the whole process...apart from when I am tearing my hear out over something! Its so exciting when I realize my idea is working.

Who are your design heroes? 
How can I choose, I really find something to admire in everyone. I am fond of Kaffe Fassett's amazing work, I love the creativity and energy of Stephen West, I admire Veera Välimäki's beautiful designs. Gosh that is just a few names when I could easily mention a 100 more!

What do you see yourself doing/exploring in 2014?
I have more color work ideas, as well as being inspired by texture - particularly lace designs. I have a cute child's sweater I am mid process with that I am looking forward to finishing and perhaps some ladies cardigans - a personal favourite garment of mine.

Dreamy Valentine, Ambah O'Brien
I can't wait to see what you come up with in 2014! Thank you for stopping by, Ambah!
If you'd like to see the Ambah's latest work, check out her website:

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And, readers, as a thank you from Ambah, she's giving away one of her patterns which you can see here. So the winner of this giveaway will receive the pattern of their choice from Ambah's collection, but even if you don't win, check out her free patterns:  Tassel Necklace and Easy Knitted Bangle.  They'd make a lovely holiday gift!

To enter the giveaway, use the Rafflecopter Widget below and click to enter. Simple as that! The giveaway ends on Monday.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, December 16, 2013

Commission Complete: Twin Boy Blanket

At last, I finished the machine-knitted blanket for the baby boy fraternal twin.  The longest part was the finishing...  Crocheting a border on the quilt was quite a feat using a 2.75mm crochet hook!

blanket being blocked
Instead of hand-grafting all the long strips together, I found a method that worked quite well... I zig-zag stitched them together using my sewing machine.  A zig went into one strip, and the zag went into the other.  This kept the edges bound together and sealed in the woven ends.

The crochet border was added as a nice finishing touch, but also helps keep the edges from rolling inward as machine knitted items tend to do.

I'm already onto the twin baby girl's blanket, and I'll post photos as soon as it's complete!

Previous post on these two blankets:

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Indie Gift-Along Interview 1 of 2: PAKnitWit

Today I'm doing something a little different.  As part of Ravelry's Indie Design Gift-Along, I'm interviewing two knitwear designers. In this first interview, we get to meet Sarah Jordan also known as PAKnitWit on Ravelry!

Mint Chocolate Mitts, Sarah Jordan (photo: © Interweave Knits/Harper Point)

Hi Sarah, and welcome to my blog!  I'm a very curious person, and love to know how others came to this profession... So, I'll start with an easy one.  How did you come to design hand-knits?

I am, admittedly, an obsessed knitter. I learned to knit when I was about 7 years old and was spending a week with my aunt and uncle in Michigan. My aunt had knit for me since I was a baby, and I suppose I expressed enough interest in learning during that week that she put some straight needles and some squeaky orange acrylic in my hands and showed me the basics. I didn't knit much other than simple scarves and the occasional hat until I was in grad school in Philadelphia and lived about a block from Rosie's Yarn Cellar. I was in a pretty intensive grad program, so I started doing a lot of knitting to relieve the stress. I taught myself a lot from the Internet at that point.
After I moved back home and started work, I continued to knit during my evenings and weekends, and that's really when I got good and obsessed, particularly with sock knitting (I'm a self-proclaimed recovering sock addict). During the day, I'm an editor/proofreader for a marketing department, which doesn't have a lot of space for creativity, so I still see knitting as my creative outlet. I also started spinning about six years ago, which has only added to my yarn stash.
I started designing because I got an idea of something I wanted to knit but couldn't find an existing pattern for it. I found that I liked the process so much that I couldn't stop. Most of my designs come about the same way -- I'll get a very specific vision of a item I want to make but am unable to find a pattern out there that looks exactly like the picture in my head. I still wish I had more time to do it (in addition to my full-time job, I have a young daughter, so my time is really limited), but for now, it's something I do to keep my brain working during evenings and weekends.

Newlin Socks, Sarah Jordan

Scullers Socks, Sarah Jordan

And it looks like you've been keeping very busy! 
What inspires your designs?

Inspiration seems to come from everywhere. Sometimes it's from machine-made items that I see on people I pass on the street. Sometimes it's geometric patterns in upholstery or carpeting or wallpaper. Sometimes an image just pops in my head as I'm in that state of half consciousness just before falling asleep (and of course in those instances I have to wake up and jot down some notes so I can remember it the next day). In all cases, I design things that I would want to wear, be they garments or accessories. One technique I can't seem to get away from is stranded colorwork. I love how even with a simple pattern, the knitting looks so much more complex and involved when you add a second color.

Tiled In Cowl, Sarah Jordan
What is your favorite part of designing?

I think my favorite part of designing is starting with an image in my head and then seeing it come to life in yarn. A pretty close second is when someone else knits one of my patterns and loves the finished project.

Who are your design heroes?

I'm really inspired by many other designers, especially those who are so generous with their thoughts and experiences on Ravelry. I feel very lucky to be able to interact with designers like Julia Trice, Nina Machlin Dayton, Marnie MacLean, and Ysolda Teague as easily as I'd interact with a coworker or friend. Honestly, any designer who contributes to the discussions in the Ravelry designer groups is my hero because they're all helping those of us who are (relatively speaking) just getting started.

What do you see yourself doing/exploring in 2014?

As to next year, one of my big goals for myself is to figure out how to use my handspun more often, because frankly it's starting to take over my house! It can be hard to design with handspun because it can be inconsistent and often doesn't fall neatly into the traditional weight categories, so I can see this type of designing resulting in recipe-type projects rather than "normal" patterns. I also want to tackle the long list of patterns that have been on my "to design" list for way too long. I think I may be moving into a cable phase, because some cabled projects are at the top of that list!

Amberson Hat, Sarah Jordan

Sarah, thank you for taking the time and introducing yourself to my blog readers.  Good luck with developing your patterns for your handspun yarns!  Have a Happy Holiday!

Readers, if you'd like to see more of Sarah's work you can find it here on Ravelry, or you can read her blog here:

- - - -

Stay tuned because next week we're having a giveaway and meeting Ambah of Ambah|Knitting Design!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Craftsy BOM 2012 - Blue Quilt Done!

Finished binding this rather large quilt yesterday evening, and took some photos of the finished blue quilt on the ironing board.  Maybe I can get someone to hold it up over their heads so I can take a photo of the full quilt front and back.  In the meantime, here's my too-excited-to-wait photos...

The quilt is bound using DIY binding made from backing fabric scraps.  Since the blocks were medallion-style quilted, then sewn together, this made for a LOT of scraps.

I'm really pleased with how the blocks came together. Doing the free-motion quilting in smaller chunks really let me explore different motifs and techniques.  For new FMQ-ers like me, I found Leah Day's motifs, tips, and tricks to be invaluable.  Her main website is free, and her first Craftsy course focuses specifically on this quilt as well as generally handy techniques for free-motion quilting on a regular home sewing machine.  Those Machinger's gloves that she recommends are not a gimmick.  If you have perpetually dry hands like I do in winter, those gloves saved me a lot of muscle aches. They helped me grip the quilt-sandwich open-handed - letting the machine do it's job without fighting the weight of the fabric.  I'm now using the gloves for all kinds of sewing, not just quilting.

I bought this binding foot off of e-bay to sew on the binding, but I couldn't figure out how to turn corners with it.  So, it's great for straight binding, or continuous binding, but not so much for corners.  Maybe there's some kind of trick I don't know. (?)

 I don't like it when my blankets have a lip or any edge that can snag a toenail.  So, I ended up doing a second pass on the binding with a zig-zag stitch.

Next up... finish the twins knitted blankets and a whole host of  holiday projects!  I think I'm going to wear this quilt over my shoulders while I work on the knitting machine.  It's cold today!

Happy crafting, everyone!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Ruffle Scarf Giveaway Winner

Firstly, if you're in the U.S., Happy Thanksgiving!  I made a pumpkin pie in honor of the holiday tradition, and will meet for a Thanksgiving lunch with friends.  Yay friends!

Next, I'm happy to announce the winner of this week's giveaway!

toffeepopsMon Nov 25, 07:18:00 PM GMT+1Most of my novelty yarn scarf is still in the form of 2 1/2 balls of yarn... I don't think it will ever see the light of day in finished form. Definitely not good first project material. This scarf looks so soft, squishy and cosy. Warmth without great bulk. Thanks for the chance! :)
Em, you've won a ruffly silk-mohair scarf!  It's ready to go, just write me your full address and contact information, and I'll send it off to you.

Thank you all for entering, and have a lovely Thursday!  I hope to be posting a photo of a finished quilt very soon!!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Craftsy BOM Blue Sampler Quilt: Nearly at the finish line

Medallion style quilting definitely has its advantages.  I was able to comfortably FMQ (free-motion quilt) each medallion which is something I can't do easily with a full quilt sandwich.  But, it also is quite tedious.  Putting together each block in order gets a bit tiresome.  I guess I'm ready for this project to be d-o-n-e!

I show you... progress!

A wild, sampler quilt made with scraps of fabric from all over the place.

So close!  I'm almost there!  What's left?  I've got to sew together 4 strips of the blue stand-in fabric (ran out of the original) and random scraps for the back and then even up the edges.  Somehow even though I measured my blocks and I thought they were all the same, one row of medallions is slightly larger than all the rest.  Dunno what I did differntly, but I just need that last gust of energy to finish this up!

Also, some advice.  Keep your fancy yarns away from enthusiastic FMQ'ing.  Tee hee!
Still not sure how I did that.

Also, don't forget to enter this week's giveaway which ends Wednesday, November 27th.  I'm giving away a lovely silk/mohair scarf!  See giveaway post here.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Finished Object & Giveaway!

I just finished two knitting projects that I'd like to share, and one I'd like to give away.

First, the finished test knit...
I just finished a knitted beret/slouch using a pattern by my friend, Dilettant Knits.
A nice tip when you're blocking a beret.  In order to shape the beret, you can wet block it over a plate balanced on a cup.  The curve of the plate opens up the lace patterning, and the cup allows the ribbed edge of the brim to shrink back so it'll stay on your head.

before blocking, the lace is still a bit contracted
Beret: wet blocking on a plate
Beret: wet blocking on a plate balanced on a cup
The other "knitted" project I finished is this spiral scarf using a novelty yarn product made by Rowan.  Rowan, the maker of KidSilk Haze yarn, also made this limited edition product called Kidsilk Creation. KidSilk Creation is a kind of tubular mesh novelty yarn using KidSilk Haze, but the problem is that it's not a very easy product to work with, and Rowan's team only came up with two projects to make with it... the same spiral scarf in a knit version or crochet version which are practically identical.

In any case, a friend gave me a hank in "smoke" color, and I used it to make this scarf which I now offer to you as a giveaway.  The quality of the yarn is great as it's 70% mohair and 30% silk as per the usual KidSilk Haze yarn, it's soft as a kitten, and light as air.  It would make a lovely holiday gift, and it's warm as can be!
Here are loads of people wearing their lovely scarves.

Shown wrapped once around
Shown folded in half and the ends threaded through
If you would like to win it, just leave a comment below, and confirm your entry using the rafflecopter widget!  This giveaway will close on Wednesday of next week.  Thanks for stopping by!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, November 11, 2013

Blue Quilt Progress!

Ack, I thought I had finished more blocks than I really had.  It turns out, I ran out of backing fabric, and I had left some with batting ready to go, but no backing fabric.  I had been using up all of my green fabric as backing for the blue quilt, but I've run out!  So, I'm improvising.  Time to stash bust...

But, I did make some progress.  Even with a bit of the "shaky hands" at the beginning, I got through free-motion quilting six more blocks from the quilt.  Hopefully, I can get all the medallions done this week and get started sewing them together.  There's still binding and washing, too!
little bit of the shaky-hands, but oh well!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Checking In

Hi Constant Reader,

I'm back in the studio, but I'm currently sick. The culprit was/is likely all that traveling that got me down, but no matter.  I've got a lot planned, and a lot to wrap up in the next two months.  You know how it is.  November's shouting out at you on the calendar.  You realize exactly how many things aren't finished that needed to be done by the year's end, and that's where I'm at.  I'm re-organizing my schedule.  I'm not taking on any more knitting-related commissions until next calendar year, and I'll be focusing on my UFO quilting, sewing, and self-publishing projects.

Almost Finished:
Twinsies Boy Blanket (knitting machine project) just needs final panel, washing/blocking
Same Same Cardigan (hand-knitting) just needs blocking

About Half Finished:
Blue Quilt (machine quilted)

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Not Started:
Twinsies Girl Blanket (knitting machine project)
Sugar Block Quilt (machine quilting)
bras/bralettes project (sewing/upcycling)

Monday, October 28, 2013

Indie Design Gift-Along!

Starting Nov. 1st, there's a promotion on all my self-published patterns.  I'm participating in the Ravelry Indie  Designer's Gift-Along promotion where we take 25% off many of our independently published designs.  I've marked all of my self-published designs down 25% with the coupon code "giftalong".  The promotion runs from Nov. 1st to the 15th, and is valid for only my self-published patterns purchased via Ravelry.

My participating patterns can be found here.
The page with all the participating patterns and designers can be found here on Ravelry.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

...still traveling

I'm away from the studio
traveling and visiting family.
I'll leave you with one of
my favorite autumn treats...

pumpkin ice-cream from Amy's Ice Creams

I'll be back soon!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Strikkefestival Fanø, 2013

A few weeks ago, I made mention that I went to a wool and knitting festival in Denmark.  Here's what I saw...

Hand-knit decorations
the shelter at the ferry

Fields of lavender

 Lots of yarn, knitting, accessories, and woolly goodness

Lovely flat beaches (where cars drive through!) with intense high and low-tides

The island is a beautiful place with a sweeping coastline populated by sandy dunes, and the inland crisscrossed by pristine cycle pathways and super-charming thatch-roofed houses.

And, I did manage to bring back some lovelies.  I couldn't help myself.

Donegal yarn with cashmere

Blown-plied alpaca that's so soft and airy

Experimental big-cotton

The festival itself was a nice way to connect to the local style and see what designers are doing.  It seems like the local style focuses on stranded colorwork and tweeds which was up my alley!