Tuesday, December 11, 2012

A taste of the tropics

Well my dears, I'll be in flight between today and tomorrow. I've been in the tropics for a few weeks and will be going home to cold weather. It's true that heat leaves the body through the head, so a hat is an essential; fingerless gloves don't hurt, either. So here's a new set: Campanulata. It's made from sockweight yarn, so the whole set fits into a quart-size baggie for easy transport in a purse or carry-on

It's named for Spathodia campanulata, also known as African Tulip Tree, Fireball, and Flame of the Forest. There was one blooming next door; you can see a photo of it in the background. The tree can be found in warm climates from India to South America. It was such a treat to see the hummingbirds, mockingbirds and parakeets that came to feed at the flowers each morning! The orange splashes in the yarn are the exact color of the flowers.

The yarn, if you were wondering, is Regia Galaxy Color in colorway 1559 “Jupiter Red.” I've had it for awhile, and it's been the start of several projects. I always frogged them, though; they just never worked out. Apparently this set is what the yarn wanted to be, and I'm thoroughly pleased with it. :) The hat is knit partly flat and partly in the round; the gloves are knit entirely in the round. All stitch patterns are provided in both charted and written form.

Campanulata Cloche and Fingerless Gloves, $6.95 at Ravelry & Patternfish

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Wistaria and Sunshine

“To Those who Appreciate Wistaria and Sunshine.” So begins the advertisement that sets in motion Elizabeth von Arnim’ s lovely 1922 novel “The Enchanted April.” On reading it, two Englishwomen are motivated to rent a mediaeval Italian castle for the month of April, during which time they rediscover love and happiness.

This is one of my favorite novels ever ever ever. I reread it periodically (most recently a couple weeks ago) and I highly recommend it. You can buy a printed copy or download the ebook for free from Project Gutenberg. The 1991 movie wasn't bad either, but like any movie it can't capture the full depth and essence of the book.

I originally thought Wistaria was a misspelling of Wisteria, but as it turns out, they're both legitimate spellings for the beautiful purple flowers.

So of course when there's something inspiring to me, I have to turn it into a knitted object. I give you: The Wistaria and Sunshine fichu / shawlette. It's knit from the top down and combines two leaf-centric Japanese stitch patterns for a botanical effect. It grows on each right-side row to create a wide crescent shape, and the hem scallops form automatically at bind-off. That natural curve sits comfortably on the shoulders for a little bit of extra warmth and glamour when ever you want it. The lace pattern is provided in both charted and written form.

Wistaria and Sunshine
$6.95 from Ravelry or Patternfish.

Friday, October 12, 2012

I Love Yarn

There aren't too many holidays I can get behind. The origins are important to me, and when you find out where most holiday traditions come from, their origins can be surprising, to say the least. (It's worth investigating, if you haven't.) But one day I fully enjoy is I Love Yarn Day. That, as you may have guessed, is today, October 12, 2012. Though I must admit that I seem to celebrate it every day of the year without even trying.

That being said, can I claim that knitting in public was part of my ILY Day, since I would have been doing it anyway? Well, it is I Love Yarn Day, and I was knitting in public. Here's what happened this morning.

Right now I'm working on a pair of toe-up socks in skinny yarn (Trekking XXL, color 310 - wide self-stripes in lovely shades of green) on size 00 dpns. So I'm knitting away on them in a waiting room for about 45 minutes when the guard, Francisco, happens to walk by. It's a small waiting room; there are only two people there; this cannot be the first time he noticed the knitting. The sock foot is about 5" long. He asks, "Is that hat for me?" with a laugh. I laugh too. "It's a sock," I say. "What is it?" he asks. "A sock," I repeat. "Oh," he says. "That's nice."

Happy I Love Yarn Day!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Pattern Photos and the Recipe

So today was pattern photo day. Nothing is quite ready for you yet, but rest assured that in the near future you'll have three new patterns to enjoy - two accessories and a garment. Watch this space!

Meanwhile, I dug out that snickerdoodle recipe I mentioned in my previous post. It came, believe it or not, in a bouquet of flowers. Feel free to give it a try. I'll be baking some this afternoon.

Grandma's Snickerdoodle Cookies

1 ½ c sugar
½ c butter, softened
½ c shortening
2 ¾ c flour
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
¼ c sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon

1. Heat oven to 400° F
2. Mix 1 ½ c sugar, the butter, shortening and eggs in large bowl. Stir in flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt.
3. Shape dough into 1 ¼ inch balls. Mix ¼ c sugar and cinnamon. Roll balls in cinnamon-sugar mixture. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet.
4. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until set. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack.
5. Let cookies cool 5 to 10 minutes. Enjoy!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

When the weather gets cold, I like to BAKE

So autumn is here, and in a big way. Yesterday was in the 80's, but today is in the 40's and rainy. (For my metric friends, that's a change from the upper 20's down to single digits Celsius.) When the weather gets cold, do you know what I like to do? I knit! (Yes, how did you guess?) And I like to wear things that I've knit! (They're warm and cozy.) But you know what else I like to do? I like to BAKE.

Last week, I learned why so many people like Snickerdoodles. They're relatively quick and easy, and do they ever taste good! Since they're rolled by hand into balls, the heat of the oven flattens them out into gorgeous, professional-looking circles of deliciousness. I was leery when I saw that the recipe said to use an ungreased cookie sheet, but due to a combination of the shortening in the cookies and the even coating of cinnamon-sugar, they don't stick at all. Once they come out of the oven, the cookies cool on a wire rack. We have some leftover closet shelving which I use for this purpose. It's long and thin and fits well on the kitchen table. The cookies were a little crispier than I expected - next time, they won't need to stay in the oven as long. They're great dipped in coffee or tea.

The recipe yielded about 5 dozen Snickerdoodles, and we ate them all in less than a week.

With all the Snickerdoodles gone, we were completely surrounded by no cookies. This was unacceptable to baker-me, so the other day when I came across a recipe for the intriguingly-named "Mud Hen Bars," I had to give it a try. (Click here for the recipe at the Cookies and Cups blog.) The resultant dessert is rich and messy, but tastes good. The Mud Hen Bars have a layer of cake on the bottom, a chocolate-marshmallow layer in the middle, and a crispy coating of meringue on top. I learned two things. First, if you're out of mini-marshmallows, the full-size ones can be chopped up very easily and without sticking if you spray your chopping knife with cooking spray. (Blade only, obviously!) Second, I really need to work on my meringue-making skills. The two egg whites should have yielded enough to cover the top, but they didn't quite. Either they weren't beaten enough, or the brown sugar should have been folded in more gently. Whatever; they tasted fine! The marshmallow makes them a little messy, so they're better eaten with a fork than with fingers.

In case you also like to cook when the weather gets cold, here are a couple websites you might enjoy:

Laylita's Recipes, where you'll find lots of yummy Ecuadorian recipes
Cookies and Cups, home of the recipe for Mud Hen Bars
Betty Crocker, while it's not the one I used, they do have a recipe for snickerdoodles that you can try if you're so inclined.

Happy baking!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Sometimes you just want simple.

Here's a new Autumn Freebie for you: "I Fought the Lawn," a garter stitch headband pattern. Everyone needs a headband or two for yardwork or exercise. This is a practical and quick project to make for yourself or as a gift. Since each headband uses only a small amount of yarn, it's great for using up those partial skeins in your stash. Instructions for both solid and easy intarsia-striped versions are included.

Gauge isn't extremely important. Finished length is more important than finished width. Since you will most likely want to machine-wash the headband, it may be a good idea to make it a bit longer than necessary so it will still be wearable if (when!) shrinking occurs. The stretchiness of the garter-stitch will keep it usable despite slight changes in size. Mozart is a little less than life-sized, so the width of the band will appear normal on a human head. :)

Ravelry | Download PDF

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Return of Inverboy

So I was looking for something on my bookshelf the other day and I came across this:

Remember Inverboy, Hero o' the Hielands? These were sketches for three more strips which never got into a more finished form. The page is dated January 3, 2003. I had completely forgotten about them. Reading through them gave me a smile, and I hope it will do the same for you.

In honor of the friends who went to Scottish Day at the RenFaire yesterday (sorry I couldn't go with you, but I hope you had fun!), I present them here for your enjoyment. Click to embiggen.

Inverboy Leaves the Hielands for a visit to (Tantallon Castle) the Southeast


1. Tantallon Castle, ancient stronghold of the Douglas Clan.
(Morag: I think we should paint a moo-ral.)

2. The name is easy to remember if ye keep in mind ...

3. ... it's the same as what birds of prey get when they go to the beach.
[sign reads: Seachill Beach]

Adventures at Tantallon Castle, continued

1. Across the Close, ye'll see Bass Rock.
(Morag: There were birds on the rock, but I never saw them flapping...)

2. Once a fortress, it's now a sanctuary housing 21,000 pairs of birds.
(Morag: No I never saw them at all...)

3. And a coo.
(Inverboy: Morag, come back!)
[caption: Morag swimming]
(Morag: ... Till there was Mooooo.)

South into England to visit the Chillingham White cattle

1. Inverboy: See the cattle, Morag - their website says the current number of "Total Beasts" is 42.
Morag: A moo-ving sight.

2. No relatives of the Hielan' Coo - they're natural clones who've lived in this park for over 700 years.

3. They look good for their age.
(Morag: Send in the clones.)

Maybe I should re-organize those bookshelves more often.

Monday, September 10, 2012

An age and a half, and 6(!) new designs

Well, hello! It's been an age and a half since I last blogged, hasn't it? It's not for lack of things to post, either. Thank you for sticking with me, and I hope to have some interesting things for you today. 
I used to have a pair like this with the
colors reversed and earwires instead
of posts. Have you seen any for sale?
Please let me know!

Since you last heard from me, I've discovered the Vintage Mexican / Latin American Jewelry section of Ebay.  I <3 silver, turquoise and llamas! I used to have a pair like the sunbursts at right, but with the colors reversed and fish-hook earwires instead of posts. One got lost, and I now wear the remaining one as a pendant. I'd love to have another pair like the originals. If you see any for sale, please let me know! (There is a pair with rainbow enamel available, but they're just not the same.)

Oddly, the alloy used in much of the jewelry is called alpaca silver. It is also known as nickel silver, German silver, new silver and paktong, and contains copper, nickel and occasionally other metals such as zinc, tin, lead or cadmium. I'm sure the jewelry wouldn't use lead, but it is used for other applications. I clean mine in jewelry cleaner, but apparently you can also use lemon juice or a mild soap to remove tarnish. (I learned that at wisegeek.com.)

Shepherdess with llamas
You'll find a large number of jewelry pieces I like on my Pinterest Jewelry board. That Margot de Taxco - what a designer!  Fair warning: if I intend to buy an item, I won't pin it until the sale is over. :) Others which may show up at any time. There are some interesting combinations, such as sterling with amethyst, turquoise and coral. Some of them would make great shapes or colors for a knitted piece, don't you think? I particularly like the quetzal birds and, of course, the llamas.

Meanwhile, there's always knitting going on in this neck of the woods. I have released some new designs. Here's a heads-up that if you want to be notified immediately (or ASAP) when I have a new pattern for sale, it's best to follow me on Twitter or Pinterest. Designs will show up there before they show up here. But now, for your inspection: three shawls, a top, a scarf, and a pair of ankle-warmers. Enjoy, and happy knitting!

~ Caroline :)

Flight of Peacocks
Flight of Peacocks is a wide, curved lace fichu with optional beads in the edging. This is my favorite shawl shape because it sits so well on the shoulders without bunching at the neck.
$6.95 at Ravelry | Patternfish

Phasianinae are one-skein wrist or ankle warmers which match the Flight of Peacocks shawl. The name comes from the subfamily in the Latin name for peacocks.
$4.95 at Ravelry | Patternfish

Ivory Palace Fichu
Carmencita Scarf
Ivory Palace Fichu is another wide, curved wrap with delicate lace, is named for the "Ivory Palace" rose.
$5.95 at Ravelry | Patternfish 

Carmencita is a quick-knit, bulky lace scarf which will keep you warm on the coldest days. The scarf in the photo used one skein of Schaefer Yarns Esperanza, colorway "Clara Barton." $5.95 at Ravelry | Patternfish

Cueva de los Cristales, Naica, Mexico
Selenite is a modern asymmetrical capelet with knit-purl texture with seed beads throughout for a little sparkle. It's named for the crystals its patterning resembles. This is one of my favorites to wear - so cozy! Have you ever seen photos of the Cueva de los Cristales (Cave of the Crystals) in Naica, Mexico? Here's a Google image search if you want to see more. Those are Selenite crystals. Pretty fantastic, eh? 
$5.95 at Ravelry | Patternfish 

Tulipa Clusiana
Tulipa Clusiana is a pullover peasant blouse with Bavarian twisted-stitch ribbing for a shapely fit. Sizes XS-5XL, bust 30-62" (76-157.5 cm). It's worked from the top down and almost entirely in the round.
$6.95 at Ravelry | Patternfish

Friday, July 20, 2012

As you may have guessed

As you may have guessed from some of my recent pattern names (Alandaluz, Felicidad), I am learning Spanish. It's muy divertido - a lot of fun.

Learning about a language is incomplete unless the student also learns something about the people who speak it. I've been reading a very interesting book by Charles C. Mann called 1491. [find it here at Amazon]. In it he describes life in the Americas before they were "discovered" by Europeans. It's exhaustively researched and still manages to be entertaining.

"How does this relate to knitting?" I hear you ask. Well, I'll tell you. After learning the language on my own for awhile, I'm finally taking a class. It's great because it's filling in many gaps for me. In class we write sentences to illustrate points we learn. Last week one of mine was this:

En mi casa hay mucha lana. (In my house there is a lot of yarn [or wool].)

That is undoubtedly a true statement. It may even be a bit of an understatement. It was grammatical, too, and correctly conjugated. So imagine my surprise when the teacher did a double take and asked what I was trying to say. "Yarn," I said. I have lots of yarn.

In Spanish, Señora said, "lana" does mean yarn or wool. In addition to that, it's slang for money - somewhat like an English-speaking person might call it "cabbage" or "lettuce." This calls to mind an episode of Jeeves & Wooster entitled "Jeeves In the Country." It contains the following exchange between Bertie and Marmaduke Chuffnell, in which Bertie is trying to find out whether his friend's financial situation is improving:
Bertie: What about the 'oof' situation?
Chuffy: The what?
Bertie: The oof... the dibs, the do-re-mi, the happy cabbage, the oil of palm...
Chuffy: Yes, yes, I do speak English!
Now, in English it's possible to see where some of those terms come from, at least in a general sense. Dough - do-re-me. Cabbage is green. Oil of palm - greases hands so things move more quickly. But why wool? It got me thinking about a statement in 1491 that the Incas counted their wealth, not by gold or precious metals, but by maize and textiles. Gold, silver, etc. were of less importance. In Norte Chico, Peru, archaeologists have found no art, no carvings left by the ancient peoples who lived there. What they have found are mounds, and textiles. There are empty storehouses which were possibly used for storing cotton, in which case (I love this conclusion) "they would  have been, in this textile-mad society, an emblem of state power and wealth, the ancient equivalent of Fort Knox." [p. 212]

So my point is, be proud of your yarn stash. In some cultures, you might have had to lock it up.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Sky Blue Lace

Have you ever wanted a pattern that's good for working while traveling? I have. I favor shawls for this, for several reasons:
  • One yarn: no cutting, and therefore no need for airplane-contraband scissors.
  • One piece: new sewing, therefore no need for needles / clips which are easy to lose.
  • Lightweight yarn: easy to fit in a purse or carry-on.
  • Short instructions: easy to keep track of.
Enter Alandaluz. It's a one-skein, top-down fichu with wings, so it sits securely on the shoulders without bunching or folding like a traditional triangle. It has two lace patterns in the body and an easy sideways edging, but they're fairly intuitive, so it's not necessary to refer to the chart so much. I assembled the lace patterns to look like feathers, with quills at the center and feathery bits at the outside. After blocking it, I also see a resemblance to a dragonfly - also appropriate! Sky-blue yarn just seemed right. (It's Cherry Tree Hill Suri Lace Semi Solid, 100% suri alpaca, in case you were wondering. I've used it before, and it's an absolute dream with only one caveat: it doesn't like to be frogged. The alpaca fibers stick together.)

You want to talk about World-Wide Knit in Public Day (or week)? It's got nothing on me. :) I worked on this fichu in cars, planes, two airports and three countries. As for the name, Alandaluz is Spanish for "winged light." I borrowed the name from the eponymous (and now, sadly, closed) resort in Ecuador. Their etymology: “luz” is light; an “ala” is a wing; adding an ending to the noun makes “wing” into “winged” to connect the two. I've been informed (thank you, Marie-Christine) that the word is also related to the Arabic Al-Andalus, which may be derived from either the Germanic Vandal tribe or the Arabic name for Atlantis. That's entirely possible. I love that the word means something in multiple languages. For more fascinating explanations, see the Wikipedia article here. Given that the region of Andalus covered modern-day Spain, maybe it’s a multi-lingual pun? One of the sections in the article refers to a Berber dynasty called the Almohads. There's a certain similarity in that name to the Spanish "almohada," but I doubt they had anything to do with pillows ... at least not linguistically.

So, there's your new pattern for the day. Another lace fichu is in the works, coming soon. Meanwhile, happy news - do you remember Peter Lorre, the Mysterious? It was originally published by Sanguine Gryphon, which has since divided and become two separate yarn companies - The Verdant Gryphon and Cephalopod Yarns. In addition to the sources of Ravelry and Patternfish, as of today Peter Lorre is now available through Cephalopod. They also have some other great patterns, with presumably more to come. Check 'em out!

Have a fantastic day. Happy knitting. :)

Alandaluz Fichu - $5.95
Ravelry | Patternfish

Peter Lorre, the Mysterious - $6.00
Ravelry | Patternfish | Cephalopod Yarns

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Happiness isn't always what you expect

Georgina's Pin PillowWell hello there! I'm back, and with three new patterns for you. To thank you for your patience between posts and patterns, the first one is a freebie - Georgina's Pin Pillow, shown at left. It's a very easy, infinitely customizable pin cushion pattern available here. (Ravelry link here.) It was made and named for my mom, whom I love very much and who taught me to knit. It only takes a small amount of yarn - I used the extra from the Felicidad cardigan, and there was still some left over. (Don't you just love the Flying Whirl pin-wheel that the pins came in? I do!)

Felicidad Cardi
In addition to the pin pillow, you have two new sweater patterns to choose from. The most recent is Felicidad, which is Spanish for "happiness." It's a versatile cropped cardigan striped with variegated and solid laceweight yarn, which harmonizes the colors and prevents pooling and flashing. Would you guess that the two colorways are the ones shown in the pin pillow photo? The Diamond Trellis Lace pattern is an authentic antique from The Jenny June Manual of Knitting and Crochet, published in 1886. The sweater has been in my mind for some time, and it has only now come to completion. It was worth the wait - it's very light and comfortable to wear, and I think it will become one of my summer staples. (And I'd say that even if I hadn't designed it myself.) Now I want to make one in a solid or semi-solid yarn. The pattern includes 9 sizes, XS-5X (to fit bust 30"-62" / 76-157.5 cm).

The Saga of Felicidad

Felicidad on the beachAs today's post title suggests, happiness - or felicidad - isn't always what you expect. Designing Felicidad was an adventure, and there were times I wanted to throw it across the room. The yarn had a peculiar affinity for the floor, and it kept jumping off my lap as it was being knit until I eventually corralled it in tupperware. (Yup - gravity's workin'.) The sweater was originally supposed to have 3/4 length sleeves, but I didn't have enough yarn. (Note: the XS, S and M - mine is M - can be knit with only one skein each of the Ella Rae Lace Merino!) They were originally going to be the same lace as the body, but they didn't want to be; they fought me, and I tore out more inches than I care to remember. Looking at it now, I believe that the stockinette with picot border works better anyway.

A suggestion for when you knit this or any lace garment that needs to fit: make a big gauge swatch and block it aggressively. Wash, stretch, pin. I made one and blocked it, but not aggressively enough. My first row gauge was 11 rpi instead of 9. This made the back and fronts about 4 inches too long on the first blocking, and I had to rip out a lot of lace. Save yourself the pain. The Ella Rae Lace Merino held up very well to repeated frogging, though, and I would happily use it again.

Light Lyric Coloratura

Here is sweater pattern #2: Light Lyric Coloratura. (Here on Ravelry; Here on Patternfish.) It was completed several weeks ago and somehow escaped blogging. It's another lightweight garment that can be dressed up or down. Though the lace looks complex, you only need to follow one chart at a time, and much of the body and sleeves are simple stockinette. Yes, there's seaming, but that adds to the stability of the sweater. Another plus: the pattern includes 9 sizes, XS-5X (to fit bust 30"-62" / 76-157.5 cm). Curvy girls, rejoice! I particularly like the way the hem lace skims the hips and thighs, which are my particular trouble spots. Also, an open cut with no buttons means no pulling at the front - just flattering drape.

Are you wondering about the name? Here's the story. Operatic voices are categorized according to their range, weight, and color. A light lyric coloratura soprano has a very agile voice which is capable of fast musical acrobatics and clear high notes. Think of Beverly Sills or Kathleen Battle. This type of soprano may sing such light roles as Adele in Strauss’ Die Fledermaus or Gilda in Verdi’s Rigoletto, occasionaly crossing over to more dramatic roles, such as The Queen of the Night in Die Zauberflöte by Mozart. My favorite description, from Opera for Dummies, is that they are "the tweety-birds of the musical aviary." I love to sing opera, though with an untrained voice I do it only for fun, and usually not in public. :) The light lyric coloratura songs are an incredible amount of fun. I also like to sing Gilbert and Sullivan, who added humor to the operatic type music. Fun x 2, at least! The Mikado & Patience are my favorites, though there are also some great songs in Ruddigore and Pirates of Penzance. Come to think of it, some of their soprano characters (Yum-Yum, Rose Maybud, and Mabel) can fit into the light lyric coloratura category as well.

So there you have it - a free pin pillow and two new sweaters. I hope you enjoy them. Happy knitting!

Georgina's Pin Pillow - free!
Download PDF here  |  Ravelry

Felicidad Cardi - $6.95
Ravelry  |  Patternfish

Light Lyric Coloratura - $6.95
Ravelry  |  Patternfish

Monday, April 9, 2012

Florence Foster Jenkins

"Use what talents you possess: the woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best." ~ Henry Van Dyke

So I was thinking about Florence Foster Jenkins yesterday. Here's the Wikipedia article about her. She lived from 1868 to 1944, and she was a singer.

By all accounts (and some extant recordings bear this out), she wasn't a very good singer, but she didn't let that stop her. She enjoyed it, and she was determined, and she performed at Carnegie Hall on October 5, 1944, when she was 76 years old.

Asked to compose her own epitaph, she stated: "Some people say I cannot sing, but no one can say I didn't sing." To which I say, "Brava! You go, girl."

Knitters may or may not be singers, but we can (and should) be fearless when it comes to our projects. Remember, it's only sticks and string, and you're the boss of it. If you need inspiration, laminate her photo and put it in your knitting bag. (Click the picture at right for a larger version.) I think she'd approve.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Hola! It's been a long time between posts, hasn't it? I'm sorry about that! March was an especially busy month for me. I do have a new design for you, though: Summer Comes Early to Downton, a floral wrap double-knit in mohair. You can probably guess what series I was watching when it came time to name the pattern. The wrap is truly reversible, with knitted-on lace at each end. The idea came from someone who requested a "large, graphic floral in red and black." The rose motif was based on a flower in a 16th century Venetian fabric, with my own leaves and swirls added. I knit the shawl in red and black (actually, it's a very dark navy blue, if you look closely). I think it would be gorgeous in light, summery colors, perhaps white and lavender or cream and sky blue. KnitPicks has a new mohair-silk blend yarn, Aloft, which would be perfect. But first you'll need the pattern ... 

Summer Comes Early to Downton
Download for $5.95 from Ravelry or Patternfish

Meanwhile, I have recently discovered Pinterest. It's a great online pinboard, wonderful for visual bookmarking. I'm having lots of fun collecting and grouping things. For years I have been the queen of subfolders, using them to organize my photos and other files. Pinterest makes that so quick and easy! If you have a few moments, you may enjoy visiting my boards. My favorite so far is Paradise. Adam and Eve may have lost Eden for the present, but there are still places where we can see glimpses of it. Imagine the entire earth looking like that, because one day soon, it will! On my other boards, you can see My Designs, Best Knitting Resources, Design Inspiration, Books I've read more than once (and will likely read again), and more. I hope you'll find something new that you will enjoy too.

I have another busy few weeks coming up, but there will be more patterns for you in the next couple months. In the works: a laceweight cardi in 9 sizes, great for the warm weather. The sample is approximately 70% complete. Stay tuned.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

A vintage-inspired capelet pattern

A new pattern for you: the puff-shouldered Darrieux Capelet is named for French actress Danielle Yvonne Marie Antoinette Darrieux, who wore a similar garment in the 1954 film “The Earrings of Madame De …”. Hers was of woven fabric and unadorned except for the brooch she used to fasten it. This knitted, lace-trimmed version is worked from the top down with a knitted on lace border and contains instructions for 9 sizes from 30-62" bust. As you can see, there is a fair amount of ease. When choosing your size, remember that the cross-back measurement (shown in the sizing chart on the final page of the PDF) is more important than your bust measurement.

Knit as shown in a richly colored yarn like Brown Sheep Company's Serendipity Tweed in colorway “Chocolate Lily,” the capelet is elegant enough for any formal occasion. Worked in cream or white, it would be a lovely vintage-style wrap for a bride or other member of the wedding party. Fasten it with a button, brooch or shawl pin. With the current popularity of vintage garments and shows like Downton Abbey, this is both a classic and a fashion-forward garment. The capelet is dressy enough to make in white for a bride, or any other color for members of the wedding party.

I worked much of the garment shown while watching Sherlock, the BBC's excellent modernization of Conan Doyle's mysteries. It's amazing how well  the characters translate to the modern day, and the writers adhere to the spirit - if not always the details - of the originals. Holmes is a consulting detective with a cell phone; Watson keeps a blog. ("A Study in Pink" is title #1.)

Darrieux Capelet, $6.95 from Ravelry or Patternfish

A note about the embroidery tutorial mentioned in a previous post: I have, in fact, put one together for the Cloche Encounter hat. It's fairly extensive, with step-by-step photos. The 4-page tutorial PDF is now part of the pattern and can be downloaded from Ravelry or Patternfish. The pattern itself is unchanged and can stand alone, but the additional 4 pages are added at the end. You can print (or refer to) whichever parts(s) of the tutorial you need. If you've already purchased the pattern, thank you - and please check your library at either website to get the updated pattern with tutorial.

Happy knitting!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Happy Sweater Day

I hear that today is National Sweater Day in Canada. Don't you think we should all have a Sweater Day that lasts through all of the cold weather? I do!

Meanwhile, I have four new patterns for you today. Ironically, none of them are sweaters. I hope you will enjoy them anyway.

Nonotuck Silk Cloche

Have you ever worked with mawata? That is the term for stretched, unspun cocoons. It can be tricky, and there don't seem to be many patterns written for it. I couldn't find any specifically for hats, so I designed this one. You could also use any fingering-weight yarn could be substituted. The seamless hat is knit in one piece from the top down and edged with a vintage lace pattern adapted from a Florence Knitting Silk pattern booklet published in 1882 by the Nonotuck Silk Company in Florence, Massachussetts. Pure silk is not stretchy, so the pattern uses a ribbon tie to adjust it to your head size.

Nonotuck Silk Cloche: $5.95 from Ravelry or Patternfish

Halo Braid Headband and Collar Set

It's been an exceptionally mild winter, but it's still winter. As a change from hat, a wide headband and matching collar knit in lofty wool will keep you both toasty and stylish. A cabled braid (simpler than it looks!) makes a lovely halo, while seed stitch borders add texture and depth. Use two special buttons to fasten the collar. At three and a half stitches per inch, the set works up quickly for yourself or as a gift for someone you love. The headband tapers at the back for a comfortable fit.

Only one skein of yarn is needed for the headband, 2 skeins for the collar if they are being made separately. Set shown used less than two skeins total of Crystal Palace Yarns Iceland in colorway “Periwinkle”. It can be made in any yarn - the pattern measures in lengths instead of widths. Use soft yarn if you plan on wearing the collar next to your skin - the Iceland is warm but itchy. The headband was one of my first designs, dating from 2007. I still wear the one I made back then.

Halo Braid Headband and Collar: $5.95 from Ravelry or Patternfish

Two Double-Knit Scarves

I love double-knitting. It's reversible, which has the benefits of giving two different appearances and having no wrong side. Designs can have longer distances between color changes without worrying long floats that distort the knitting or get caught on things. Here are two patterns for you.

Delysia in yellow and grey is DK weight, and Miss Pettigrew in grey and lime is worsted weight. Both were, as you might guess from the names, inspired by the movie “Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day.” The design for Delysia was based on a pair of earrings worn in the movie by Amy Adams, and the shapes in Miss Pettigrew echo some wrought-ironwork from the railway station scene.

Delysia: $5.95 from Ravelry or Patternfish
Miss Pettigrew: $5.95 from Ravelry or Patternfish

And before I forget, Happy Chocolate Day to one and all.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Absolutely floored

Dear Allfreeknitting.com,

What a happy surprise to open my email this afternoon and find that my Peacock Jewel scarf is your Reader's Choice featured pattern today! I was absolutely floored by the love on the Facebook survey page that I hadn't even known existed. Thank you for featuring my pattern, and thank you to everyone for their kind comments. I hope everyone enjoys making the project. I'll look forward to seeing your FO's!

Happy knitting,

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

An obsession with cloches

Remember this Target commercial? "I could wear hats - if I partook in hat-like things..."

In the end, she determined that she 'totally wears hats.' I agree; I totally wear hats too. Over the last two weeks, I went through a bit of an obsession with hats, cloches in particular. Cloche (French for “bell”) hats were invented by French milliner Caroline Reboux in 1908 and were especially popular during the 1920’s and early 1930’s. Hatshapers.com has an interesting slideshow demonstrating how a felt cloche is made, starting from scratch with a wool batt and a hat form. It's very hands-on, and also a bit messy - kind of like an adult version of fingerpainting with an extremely cool hat as the end product.

Since it's January and I had a nasty cold, I didn't think working with that much water would be good for me. I did have knitting needles and lots of yarn, though, so I decided to knit one. First up: Escargot, from Knitty. It was such fun to knit, and it's so cute! Apparently cloches are like potato chips; I couldn't knit just one. Enter three new patterns: Nefret, La Bonita, and Cloche Encounter. They're all variations on the cloche theme, but each has details that makes it unique. All three are shown at left, with two versions each of Nefret and Cloche Encounter. You can see how different color combinations give each hat personality.

The Nefret Cloche was named for the daughter in the Amelia Peabody mysteries by Elizabeth Peters. Nefret, accented on the second syllable, is an Egyptian name meaning "beautiful." You may recognize some similarity to the name of Queen Nefertiti, meaning "the beautiful one comes." The Nefret Cloche is a versatile beauty which can be knit in a solid color or using contrasting yarn for the picot edges. Several embellishment options are included in the pattern: a blooming rose, an I-cord rosette, I-cord bow, and double bow.

Nefret Cloche, $5.95 from Ravelry and Patternfish

The La Bonita Cloche has a welted hem and ridges. The sunburst / flower accent is knit separately and is reversible. It can be sewn or pinned on. As shown, it's attached with a coilless safety pin which passes through both the shank of the button and the fabric of the hat.

La Bonita Cloche, $5.95 from Ravelry and Patternfish

Cloche Encounter is, believe it or not, the simplest knit of the three. The hem is formed of welts, then the rest of the hat is plain stockinette stitch. The hat is finally embroidered. It looks complex, but don't be afraid - it's not hard, and a full-size diagram is included in the pattern. Watch this space for a how-to post in the near future.

Cloche Encounter, $5.95 from Ravelry and Patternfish

Happy knitting!

Monday, January 9, 2012

A vest to go with the socks

After that little venture into sock patterns last month, I decided that it was time for a change and that a vest would be a good project. Presenting Daughter of the Sea, knit in Cascade 220 Heathers, color 2422 (lavender) with trim in Cascade 220 Wool, color 8010 (cream). The lavender yarn is the same color that was used in the Larkspur Lane socks; they'd make a good set, don't you think?

The pattern name is the translation of the Latin name Cordelia, much favored by Anne of Green Gables. I originally intended to call the vest Cordelia, but there were already a number of patterns with that name, and confusion isn't such a good thing. Enter the translation "Daughter of the Sea," which seemed appropriate because of the mother of pearl buttons used to fasten the vest. Matching buttons are used on a small decorative belt used to accent the back.

Main yarn: Cascade 220 Heathers, 100% Peruvian highland wool, 220 yd / 200 m, color 2422 (lavender) - 3 (3, 4, 4, 5) 5 skeins or about 560 (650, 800, 880, 1000) 1200 yd / 515 (600, 735, 805, 915) 1100 m of any worsted weight yarn.

Contrast yarn: Cascade 220, 100% Peruvian highland wool,
220 yd / 200 m, color 8010 (cream) - 1 (1, 1, 1, 1) 1 skein or about 105 (110, 115, 115, 120) 130 yd / 96 (100, 105, 105, 110) 120 m of any worsted weight yarn.

Notions: Stitch holder, yarn needle for weaving in ends, 7 buttons (shown: Favorite Findings “Shellz,” 5/8”, #1801), sewing needle & thread for attaching buttons.

Construction: Worked flat from the bottom up, then seamed. Stitches are picked up for armhole ribbing, which is worked in the round. Attached I-cord is worked around the hem and front openings.

Skills: Knitted cast-on, knit, purl, increasing, decreasing, stranded colorwork, following a chart, picking up stitches, I-cord.

Notes: The vest is designed to be worn with zero or negative ease. Choose the size nearest your actual bust measurement. Read through the pattern before beginning; neck shaping and armhole shaping are worked at the same time. For a less fitted silhouette, waist shaping may be omitted. Photos show size Medium.

Daughter of the Sea: $6.95 from Ravelry or Patternfish