27 February 2013

Roundup: Knits on the Net

Are there any knitting skills you'd like to learn, but just aren't comfortable self-teaching? It looks like Craftsy is giving away free knitting classes! I don't know how they've been able to make them free, or how long they'll be offered for free, but you can bet I'll be loading up my cart with as many as possible!

Have you ever knit clothing items for your pets? How about a sweater for a snake?

BBC News covers knitting prisoners on Robben Island. It always seems like knitting programs in prison are successful in helping inmates pass the time constructively. 

What do you think about this knitting shop that sells designer goods knit by "grannies"? I'm a little dismayed that they're not getting any compensation... 

KnitPicks shows you five ways to tie a long scarf. I'm reminded of this adorable scarf-tying video. Do you have a better way to tie?

A Minnesota church started a knitting collective for refugees and immigrants. Not only do they make new friends, but they knit prayer shawls for the needy. Excellent!

Don't forget to enter my giveaway this month! I'm drawing a winner tomorrow!
- YX

23 February 2013

Another FO and a discovery

Greetings from very cold and beautifully snowy Crested Butte, Colorado. I spent most of yesterday in route to this unique little ski town, and I really wanted to share my most recent FO with you:

It's Renfrew, by the lovely Jane Richmond! I made the hat for a young boy in my family who is expecting a new sibling... Since babies normally get an influx of gifts, I thought it might be nice to knit him something that was just for him.

The pattern is great- very simple to follow and creates these adorable little bubbles up the side (or front). The pattern accounts for crown decreases, too, so there's one bubble at the very top that's scaled down in size. This may not seem like a big deal, but I really appreciate a pattern that takes the time and care to properly resolve a design motif.

You might notice that the vast majority of the hat is reverse stockinette stitch... The pattern accounts for the fact that a good lot of us hate purling, so the hat is actually knitted inside out to minimize the use of the purl stitch as you make it. This pleases me. Yes, yes. It does.

I used madelinetosh tosh sport for my hat, and size 6 needles. A different yarn and different needle size, but not enough to really veer to far off gauge. I knitted the beanie version (as opposed to the more popular toque), and was pleasantly surprised to find the hat was small enough to possibly fit on a kid's head. It certainly stretched to fit mine, since I tried it on before blocking. After seeing my petite FO, I was pretty skeptical that the beanie pattern as written would make an adult-sized hat of any sort. It stretched to fit nicely, but I have a small head. I suggest sticking with the size 7s suggested or popping up to an 8 if you're more normal-headed and knitting the beanie for yourself.

One last shot... I love the RED RED RED of the Tosh Scarlet color way:

I'll be updating you about the yarn situation in my tiny town, too... A swift in a store window has been spotted, despite all Ravelry discussions to the contrary...

18 February 2013

Designer spotlight: Alexis Winslow

Over in a Ravelry thread, someone brought up Alexis Winslow's new sweater pattern, Turnstone Pullover, and after queuing it immediately, I felt I just had to come back and do a spotlight on her work.

You'll probably recognize her name from her most popular pattern, Delancey Cardigan, which also has a plus size option that was released after the popularity of the original.
Can we just hold up for a second and talk about plus-sized knits? If you've seen any pictures of me on here, it's readily apparent that I'm not plus-sized, but I find my respect for a designer increases immensely when they offer plus size options. The excellent thing about knitting is that almost anyone can do it. Heck, there are videos on youtube of people knitting with only one hand! There are many plus-sized knitters, and we should have patterns that fit those people. Especially since finding larger-sized clothing in general is so difficult. The ability to make something for oneself is a great way to get something that fits your body, exactly. I'm happy to have sweaters that fit my long torso and arms! Especially arms! I hate sleeve knitting, but not having exposed wrists all winter is a glorious thing.

Knitting for plus-sized men and women isn't just as simple as casting on more stitches, either: Sometimes it requires scaling up a pattern, adding a repeat of a graphic design, or altering a neckline so it won't pull or gape in certain areas. For many designers, it can be an exercise in extensively rewriting a smaller pattern. Although I'm not sure how Alexis Winslow up-sized Delancey, I'm happy to see the option for her most popular cardigan, and I'm thrilled to see her releasing new designs up to a 56" bust.

Moving on... Alexis does some beautiful, lacy patterns, but where she really shines (for me) is in her graphic motifs. Bright, fun stripes and color work, bold patterns. Here are a few of my favorites...

Arrowhead Mittens for Broolyn Tweed. Great pattern, especially the interaction between the chevrons and arrowheads. Total unisex appeal:

Vera Cardigan for Knitscene. Available as an online purchase, I'm shocked that there are only 19 active projects on Ravelry. It's a gorgeous knit, although I'd opt to remove the front pockets. The chevron pattern is especially nice at the back, where inward-pointing chevrons visually pull the waist in. Super flattering:

Arbuckle Hat. Again, excellent unisex knitting. I love the potential for color experimentation. This would be a great ski hat and is adorably Nordic-looking. Would be so cute in a dusty rose/cream combination:

Finally, Bergen Street Cardigan, which is Winslow's second most popular piece. Although it seems kind of "normal" by striped cardigan standards, the neckline is lovely and flattering, and what sells the pattern for me is the dark raglan increases. I love how they stand out as a design feature instead of plainly following the established stripe pattern. Check out the pattern images for a shot of the back increases, too. They're gorgeous:

Isn't she awesome? I'd love to hear what your favorites are in the comments!
- YX

16 February 2013

FO: Rikke

Finally got some images of a hat that has been languishing in my project bag while I focused on Obsidian. The pattern is Rikke, a simple, slouchy, garter stitch toque that definitely has unisex appeal. I'd absolutely wear this if it weren't meant for a family member...

The texture on this is fabulous. I really wish I knew what the yarn was... This was mystery stash, label-less and very pretty. It's definitely a cashmere/merino blend, but I can't recall anything else about it. The yarn gave the hat some excellent texture:

It's soft but substantial, and the hat fits well, although a bit loose on my teeny little head, it'll fit most normal people quite well. The pattern is well-written and free, which is always nice! The only issue I had with the construction was the seam-like line that runs up the back of the hat. It's where the knits switch over to purls on the next round, leaving a little line. My assumption is that slipping the first stitch there would diminish the seam-y look, similarly to the method of slipping stitches to create jogless stripes. Maybe I'll give that a shot next time...
My husband normally doesn't wear hats so far back on his head, but the slouchyness of this hat kind of requires a laid-back fit, I think. The crown of the hat decreases quickly, coming to a little point, which makes the back of the hat a bit poofy. These photos were taken pre-block, and after blocking, the hat seems a bit rounder at the back. It did take some pinning to coerce it into place, though.

So much space in the slouch! I could probably sneak an entire extra hat back there!

- YX

13 February 2013


I owe you guys a FO post... I finished a hat recently, but I need to take photos, so stay tuned to (tomorrow?) for those.

I've happened upon some lovely new things for my queue, recently. Some have come from the new Recommendations feature on Ravelry. If you go to http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/recommended, custom patterns will pop up for you! I'm sure most of you have already found this, and I don't tend to look at mine so often, but perhaps I should. I tend to rely more on my Ravelry friend network to expose me to greatness.

Cookie A. has won me over with Slide, a geometric sock pattern. I normally don't look twice at sock patterns, opting to knit plain socks as infrequently as possible, but these really catch me. At $6.50, the price seems steep (I've bought whole cardigan patterns for that amount!), but I find myself looking through the finished projects quite happily.

Fantome cowl, by Anne Kuo Lukito, is a gorgeous cowl project that has so much potential for color exploration. Unlike the plethora of traditional cowls on Ravelry, this has great graphic panels and looks like something I might pick up at Nordstrom. A pretty, giftable little thing.

Finally, I'm utterly in love with SC.1. Alison Brookbanks has managed to make a sweater similar to the things I'm always knitting for myself, but unique enough to be worth the effort. Imagine knitting this in a neutral and putting super neon camis under it. Love love love:
We're almost halfway through February! Get some lovely wool wash and balm in my giveaway!
- YX

10 February 2013

Hand knitting

What happened to my week? I can't believe it's already Sunday...

I happened upon this Lifehacker post that shows a method for knitting without needles:
I find it interesting... My biggest needles are a whopping size US 50, which I've used once or twice on those lovely, bulky cowls that are quick gifts. Although I don't think this kind of knitting is generally something I'd be interested in playing with too much, it would be effective for making a bath mat with some cotton rope or old towel strips.

It also reminds me somewhat of finger knitting:
For me, this kind of stuff is so fun to teach kids. I remember being at Girl Scout camp as a kid, making quick friendship bracelets by using the finger crochet method:
Have you guys ever tried any of these "hand knitting" methods? Do you think they have the potential to do more than just basic items?

- YX

06 February 2013

Something pretty: Audhumbla

I happened upon this lovely FO the other day: Audhumbla by Ravelry user Mjin:

The pattern calls for aran weight yarn and size 8 needles. There's something about thicker-weight shawls that makes me go all aquiver...

Sporting some beautiful fair isle work, the pattern only had 4 completed projects, each of which show different color schemes. This black and white scheme by Mjin is such a standout, with the halo of the white alpaca blanketing the black, softening the pattern. Love.

The edging is beautiful, too! She knits beautifully! The border is knitted-on after the square is completed-- I'd love to know her secret for picking up those edge stitches.
Such a gorgeous and wearable piece! Thank you for sharing it with us, Mjin!


01 February 2013

February Giveaway

Hey there, yarn fans! In honor of February, our shortest month, I'm giving away some travel-sized products from Aquae Sulis, a knit-related soap shop!

Included in the giveaway are a knitter's balm, which has a really nice lavender scent, and some wool wash:
The set is perfectly sized for your knit bag! In addition, I've included two 50g skeins of Malabrigo Lace in Apple Green and Pearl Ten- they're adorably little and would make a great pair of striped fingerless mitts or a hat:
In order to win this month, go to the Aquae Sulis website and look around, then come back here and post your favorite product! Don't forget to leave your contact info so I can message you when you win!

Happy February! I'll draw a winner at the end of the month!
- YX

January Winner

Alright! Time to see who won January's custom skein giveaway!

Congrats to entry #41, Purplefrog5! I hope you enjoy your yarn!

For those who entered and didn't win, thank you for participating, and no worries! I have another great giveaway coming up in just a few minutes...

- YX