Monday, September 29, 2014

Vacations and Baby Blankets

Last week I went on a much-needed vacation to Cape Hatteras in North Carolina. One whole week of relaxation and reading and knitting and recharging and spending time with family and friends. I even got in some yarn shopping, of course, at Knitting Addiction in Kitty Hawk (I've been shopping there once a year for a long time!) and Blue Pelican Gallery in Hatteras. I think yarn is new to Blue Pelican because I'd been there before but don't remember seeing much yarn. Now there are two rooms full of yarn and notions and books in addition to artsy gifts and collectibles.

Oh yeah! I almost forgot. Totally cool thing for me: at Books To Be Read in Ocracoke I found a copy of the book my first published pattern is in! I snapped a picture, of course.

I didn't really get too much knitting done -- it's difficult for me to focus on knitting when there's the ocean and napping -- but when I did knit, I worked on a new scarf pattern. I'm super excited by it and I hope you will love it as much as I do.

I did take the baby blanket with me but didn't pull it out once. I know I want to keep blogging about it and it's just too complicated for me to blog from my iPad or phone. Let's get back to the baby blanket now.

When we last talked about it, I showed you the basic plan and the yarn and colors I had chosen. So far, I'm about 1/4 of the way through knitting the blanket.

Let's get started with the border.

I'm using size US 6 (4.5mm) 24" circular needles, Knitter's Pride Karbonz. I love these needles. (Frankly, right now I won't start a project without the Karbonz, that's how much I love them.)

Since I'm knitting the whole blanket in one piece, the cast on is fairly big, but not unmanageable - 164 stitches. You can't see it in the pictures - I should learn to take better pictures - I used a crochet cast on so that all edges of the blanket will be cohesive. (I did a video of crochet cast on here. Don't worry that it's for provisional, use your working yarn and it's the same thing.)

A couple notes about the border:
  • Every row ends with slipping the last stitch with the yarn in front. This is a very neat and tidy selvedge edge.
  • The border pattern I chose is an interesting two-row knit/purl rib pattern from one of Barbara Walker's stitch dictionaries that is completely reversible even though the two rows are worked differently.
After you work the beginning border, you'll continue to work the border on the right and left side, though they are different. Once you get into it, though, you'll be able to easily see the pattern and you shouldn't get too confused.

Let's say you don't want to knit and purl and you want an even easier border? Knit every stitch, knit every row! Change it to garter stitch. I would recommend doubling the number of rows knitted so it stays more square with the side borders and so you'll want to adjust the amount of yarn you buy for the border.

My pattern for the blanket is a work in process. I'd love to get feedback from you if you're knitting along with me. I've uploaded the draft pattern to Dropbox and made it available to anyone that wants to download it. Please note that I may be uploading revised versions of the pattern as I go along but I'll be sure to post to the blog if I change anything. The link to the pattern is:Roxanna's Baby Blanket (Draft)

Let me know what you think!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

"Pay If You Want" -- Revised

An upcoming pattern: Inclination
Just a quick note about Rodeo Knits: I've decided to discontinue the "pay if you want" experiment I started about 15 months ago. In those 15 months, I only had 14 requests for free patterns. I'm a little surprised by those numbers; I suspected they would be higher.

I see quite a few downloads of my free patterns on Ravelry, but not so many requests for paid patterns for free. I wonder if the mechanism I put in place to request a free pattern was just too much for knitters that would impulse download free patterns and then never knit them. There was still a cost and the cost (name, email, pattern requested, some information in exchange for the pattern) was just too high.

I'm tempted to try an experiment where I put a coupon code on Ravelry for any pattern for free and see what happens. Last autumn, I offered two cowls to one group on Ravelry and, wow, did they get used a lot. I loved it. The coupon was used 348 times!

Thanks for stopping by for this short post. Stay tuned for the baby blanket I'll work on while you follow along.

Friday, August 29, 2014

"We're Having a Baby!"

Baby blanket designing in process
Is there another phrase that instantly sets a knitter into motion like "We're having a baby!" from one of your friends? Or friend of a friend? Or family member of a friend of a friend? It's definitely a major trigger, along the lines of "This winter is going to be the coldest winter in living memory."

The last time I heard those four words, it was uttered by my parents in reference to their friends. (No, I don't have another little brother/sister on the way. One is more than enough and he's got two great kids of his own and I'm happy just to be Fun Uncle Steve.) So, of course, it sets off a series of questions I'm sure you're familiar with:
  • Boy or girl? -- Girl!
  • Traditional or non-traditional? -- Surprise me!
  • Fussy or easy going? -- Easy going!
  • Good friends or acquaintances? -- Great friends!
  • Pink, purple or yellow? -- All of the above. And gray! And lots of color! They're not afraid of color!
By the way, "not afraid of color" is another four-word-phrase I love to hear. I like to think I have pretty decent color sense, even if old pictures of me in seafoam green dress pants and bright pink button down shirt with yellow tie might tell you another story. I'd share those pictures but I'm not sure the pixels on your monitor are ready for that kind of horror.

So now I'm working on a baby blanket for a new little girl that won't arrive until December. That's plenty of time to finish a blanket for just about anyone, depending on how ambitious you want to be. I, maybe not smartly, want to be very ambitious.

So here's my design process for this blanket:
  • It's for a baby so I don't want a blanket that's heavy, rough, scratchy, difficult to wash.
  • Pick a yarn that feels nice to the touch, easy care and light.
  • Pick a pattern that's fun and interesting for me to knit.
  • Buy enough yarn for the pattern I have in mind.
  • Knit.
I start by looking through yarns and patterns on Ravelry, especially for baby blankets, to see what yarns other people are using and I also think back on yarns I've used before and I might enjoy again. Last winter, I taught a knitting class using SimpliWorsted by Hikoo and liked it a lot. I looked up it's smaller cousin, Simplicity, and decided that would the perfect yarn for this project. Time will tell.

In the project "brief," I was given the colors gray and pink as a jumping off point. I picked out a gray and a pink that I liked together and then, for fun and to flesh out the scheme, added two darker pinks, a lavender and, for a splash of color, a bright citronella.

For pattern ideas, I turned again to Ravelry and also Pinterest. Most of the baby blankets I came across, though pretty, relied on stripes for multiple colors and I'm not really into stripes right now. No stripes and no ripples and no chevrons. I broadened my search from baby blankets. For example, a blanket pattern might get some inspiration from quilt patterns. In fact, this current blanket takes a little inspiration from the modern quilt idea. One of my favorite quilt ideas is larger blocks of patterns stacked or in a line and put together in a random manner.

So now I have six colors and the idea to have blocks of pattern/color and a border around the whole blanket. Enter Barbara Walker and her stitch dictionaries, in particular, Volumes 1 and 2 (blue and red). I picked out quite a few different patterns, matched them together, fudged pattern repeats and lengths and finally settled on seven patterns:
Roxanna, the baby blanket
  • faux/mistake rib for border
  • slip stitch cable
  • slip stitch texture
  • knit/purl diamonds
  • knit/purl woven blocks
  • stockinette lace
  • knit/purl lace
Randomly assign colors to patterns, move patterns around, use Excel for pattern placement and now I have the basic framework of a baby blanket pattern, tentatively called "Roxanna" after the new baby's mother.

I'd like to invite anyone that wants to join to get in on the baby blanket knitting fun with me. I've already worked at putting a design together and I'll share it freely with anyone that comes to the website to get it. After we finish the knitting, and if we're happy with it, I'll put the pattern together and offer it for sale on Ravelry.

For this project, I'm using Size US 6/4mm needles and I purchased the following colors of Simplicity by Hikoo (it also helped that the yarn was on sale at FiberWild!):
  • four skeins Gun Metal Gray (#37)
  • two skeins Bubblegum (#21)
  • one skein Make Me Blush (#44)
  • one skein Framboise (#14)
  • one skein Lavender (#23)
  • one skein Citronella (#06)
I can't stress enough that I don't know for sure that this is enough yarn. I haven't done specific maths and I haven't knit the blanket all the way through yet. This is my jumping off point. If you're knitting along with me, I expect you to use your best judgment and, if you decide to buy more yarn and have too much, how awesome would a matching Baby Surprise Jacket be?!

In the next post, I'll discuss casting on and the border pattern. I'd love to know if you're knitting along with me. Let me know in the comments, on Ravelry or on Twitter.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Exciting Things Are Happening: A Real-Live Book!

60 Quick Luxury Knits

60 Quick Luxury Knits, published by
Sixth&Spring Books. Photography by
Jack Deutsch and text copyright © 2014
by Sixth&Spring Books. Used by permission.
It's happening!

I'm so excited to let you know that I'm included in the newest installment of the "60 Quick" books from Sixth and Spring: "60 Quick Luxury Knits." I've had my first looks at the other projects in the book and I'm definitely in great company, some very beautiful projects have been selected and mine is one of them.

Introducing the Solid and Stripes Infinity Scarf.

It's knit with Cascade Yarns Venezia Sport in two colors. The denim blue and spring green are a bright and cheerful mix of colors but I could imagine this in so many other great color combinations: think school colors or black and white or monochrome or one self-striping and one solid or even variegated. It's knit in the round, a long tube, and then grafted together for a seamless tube. And the intarsia section (switching from one color to the other) is so simple you will hardly need to keep your pattern handy once you get started.

This is a super exciting time for me and everyone (okay, it's just me) at Rodeo Knits. "60 Quick Luxury Knits" will be released in August and I just learned last week that I'll be included in another exciting project. Of course, I can't talk about it yet because, well, mainly I don't know much but as soon as I do/can, I'll post here first. Actually, probably on Twitter first but then here. Definitely.

If you want your own copy of "60 Quick Luxury Knits", check out your local yarn store or, if you want, you can order from Amazon here: 60 Quick Luxury Knits: Easy, Elegant Projects for Every Day in the Venezia Collection from Cascade Yarns® (60 Quick Knits Collection). (Side note, if you order by clicking that link, I get a little tiny bit of thank-you from Amazon.)

Happy knitting!