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Showing posts from 2014

Stress-Free Knits - A Hat

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I run into fellow knitters pretty often and one thing I hear a lot is "I need to make a hat for... " and "How do I knit a hat?" Everyone wants a hat, needs a hat, makes a hat. And there are so many hat patterns available. Hats of all kinds: lace and fair isle and big floppy and tight beanie and cabled and felted and beaded and... well, you get the idea. The patterns are out there. Go get one. (I would, of course, suggest my Bluestone plaid hat when you want a really special gift for someone.)

But, really, sometimes you just want a basic hat. All the fancy is great for hats for yourself. You know what went into it. You have all the pleasure of wearing that hat and knowing how you made it. But gifts for non-crafters? C'mon. Admit it to yourself. They generally aren't as impressed with what a hat looks like as you are. They don't notice fancy tubular cast on or intricate cables and lace. They say "Hey, this hat is comfortable and it keeps me warm and…

High Fashion - A Rectangular Poncho That's So Easy to Knit!

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Poncho - it's such a weird-to-me garment. They can be high fashion or "I made it with my grandma" (not that there's anything wrong with making anything with your grandma; I encourage it!). And who can forget the poncho craze ignited by Martha (Stewart) when she was released from prison and showed off a crochet poncho.

A poncho is basically just a square or rectangle or circle--polygon would be the right word--with a hole in the middle so you can stick it over your head. Fancy with lace or home-y with double crochet or granny square-esque  motif, poncho designs are all over the place. You may remember my first poncho pattern, Ruffner. Ruffner starts with a provisional cast on, a length of lace is knitted, then the provisional cast on is picked up and added to the live stitches, more lace is knitted and then you finish off and have a poncho with no sewing.
I loved designing Ruffner and I'm very pleased with the finished projects I've seen. Of course, I'd li…

Gentlemen Wear Plaid Hats: Bluestone

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If you poked around in my closet a couple years ago, you'd find hanger after hanger of plaid shirts. Okay, I'll be honest, my closet is still fairly full of plaid shirts. (Eddie Bauer and I have had a long, unhealthy-for-my-wallet relationship.)

Plaids and tartans have been a mainstay of knitting patterns for a long time but they're often clunky or, in my opinion, not really effective. I think part of the problem may be that plaid doesn't necessarily translate well from woven fabric to a knitted fabric. Knitted fabric can be too thick and bulky and when you add in colorwork and stranded yarns, it gets thicker and bulkier.

Because of my affinity to plaids, I tried it over and over again but I was never happy with the results. Then, about a year and a half ago, Webs Yarn Store posted a blog with a new-to-me technique for easy knitted plaid. Go read about it. I'll wait.

I swatched a few different times to practice this plaid technique and I really love it. It has limi…

Colorful Cables and You - Gift-A-Long Interview with Andi Smith

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Hopefully you're taking advantage of the Indie Design Gift-A-Long pattern sale (25% off  bunch of patterns with coupon code giftalong2014, if you don't remember!) and finding all kinds of new designs and designers that you didn't know you were missing but now are loving so much.

I know that I love the community of knitters and crocheters and crafters that I'm a part of just because I'm able to wrap some string around two sticks in the right manner and create all sorts of beautiful and useful projects. And meeting one of these other knitters and crocheters and crafters in public is especially wonderful. But sometimes, you have to settle for just meeting online.
I'd like to introduce you to a new-to-me knitting designer, Andi Smith. Andi, knitbrit on Ravelry, has been designing for eight years and also helps other designers bring their patterns to life by making sure their patterns are as correct as possible, a tech editor par excellence. Let's get to know…

Getting Gifty, Getting Discounty

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I know you don't want to hear it. You've been trying to ignore it for a really long time but you can't
hide anymore. It's going to happen.

Winter. Is. Coming.
Everyone you know is going to start eyeing your steady parade of scarves and hats and cowls and wraps and toboggans and beanies and gloves and mittens and shawls and... you get the idea... and scheming how they can get one of their own. Short of knitting it themselves, of course, and mostly without paying for it.
But that's okay, you like most of these people and you really like to knit. And now you can justify that extra skein of yarn you really wanted to use but didn't know what to make. So here, permission, go knit for your family and friends and, maybe, if you're feeling generous, for someone you don't know just to brighten their day and warm their winter.
Go knit for a stranger! I think that's one of my new goals: knit something for a stranger. A hat would be perfect, I think. They'…

A Bridge and a Scarf

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I know, you're expecting another baby blanket post but, well, no. That project has sadly been sidelined for just a bit. I've got a big project to get out the door and back to New York in a short amount of time. I can't give much away but it's really great alpaca /merino blend that's so soft and will be an amazing infinity scarf in a super amazing deep fuschia/purple color. I'm enjoying it so much.

For several months, I worked on a new scarf pattern and it's just been released! I'm in love with it right now. It's got symmetry and graphic lines and texture and cables. I'm actually really looking forward to the coming winter so I can start wearing it. Introducing: Fayette Scarf!

A little wider at 11", Fayette is a statement scarf, something you may want to wear all day long. And since it's knit in fingering weight (sock) yarn, the scarf is light and easy to wear and shows off the texture and eyelets nicely.

I knitted with Miss Bab's Yu…

Vacations and Baby Blankets

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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…

"Pay If You Want" -- Revised

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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. S…

"We're Having a Baby!"

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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" …

Exciting Things Are Happening: A Real-Live Book!

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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 f…

A Yarn, a Building and a New Scarf

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Recently I've been swatching and experimenting with a new-ish yarn from Classic Elite Yarns called Cerro. It's the dyed version of the naturally-colored cotton/alpaca blend Canyon. Initial reaction: buy it and use it.

First, the look -- a sport weight yarn, Cerro comes in a variety of more muted, dusty colors. Canyon has a smaller variety of similarly-hued natural colors. Unlike some other yarns with both dyed/undyed versions, Cerro and Canyon work well together. There is a very slight sheen to the yarn, more like eggshell-finish paint than satin finish. In other words, not flat. The yarns capture and reflect light just enough to be very interesting. 
Second, the feel -- I haven't used a cotton/alpaca blend before and I'm hooked. Soft like cotton and smooth like fine alpaca, there are no fly aways or fluff. I did have a little trouble splitting the plies if I was a little too careless, but nothing that was unmanageable. A quick unknitting and fixing the split stitch wa…

Baby Surprise Jacket Revisited Again

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As I've been thinking a lot about the Baby Surprise Jacket pattern lately - teaching a class, knitting for a friend and writing a blog post - I dug into my knitting memories and pulled out one of my favorite projects of all time.

A little back story: when I worked on the project I ultimately title "You Are My Sunshine," I was going through a phase where I was experimenting with mosaic knitting, a technique of color work using two colors but only knitting with one at a time. Alternately knit two rows with each color and, with well-placed stitches, you'll have a colorwork pattern that looks far more complicated than it is. My Clendenin cowl pattern is made with mosaic knitting.

Many years ago, after knitting several Baby Surprise Jackets, I experimented with marrying the two -- jacket and mosaic knitting -- together into one pattern. The Baby Surprise Jacket is all garter stitch and so, I thought, perfect for mosaic knitting. I think it was successful.


I love how the f…

Favorite Pattern: Surprise! It's a Baby Sweater!

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Into every knitter's life there comes a pattern that you will return to over and over and over again. I suppose it's true for any craft-type thing: favorite recipe, favorite painting style, favorite genre of writing or music, etc. You can probably think of a pattern off the top of your head that you've made several times and will gladly make several times more.

For me, it's an unlikely pattern -- a baby sweater. I don't have children. My nephew and niece are too far away and too rarely seen to get knitted garments (they grow too quickly and I have no idea what size they are for knits). Not very many of my friends have children or are having children. But still, a baby sweater.

I was introduced to Elizabeth Zimmermann's Baby Surprise Jacket about eight years ago. This was before I even joined Ravelry. How did we find patterns before Ravelry? I can't remember how I discovered the Baby Surprise Jacket pattern but that doesn't even matter. I did find it an…

An Evolution of Stripes

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Spring has finally arrived in Appalachia, even though the weather has decided it still would rather be ornery than cooperative and pleasant. Even with the wildly ranging high and low temps and storms marching up the valleys and along the river, trees are in bud, grass is greening and even the early spring bulbs have started blooming.

Is there anything happier than a bright yellow daffodil?

With Spring comes the promise of fresh veggies, fresh air and fresh ideas. Even Spring gray skies are brighter than Winter's.

I'm decidedly very glad to see the seasons changing.

Last week, I was going back through my pins on Pinterest (yes, I've given in to the website of evil collections) and browsing the blogs I follow on Tumblr -- you can follow my Tumblr at http://rodeoknits.tumblr.com/ -- and decided that I want to work up a design that is easy to wear and has just a little drama.

I started swatching a sweater with oversized shrug-like sleeves and, the best thing (if it works), kn…

Slumps. And a Free Pattern Coupon Code.

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Yesterday it was almost 70° F (I don't know Celsius-conversions, sorry) and today the weather guy tells me the temps are going to plummet to about 20° F.

Ugh.

I don't know about you, but I get into slumps. I've fallen into a bit of a post-Winter Olympics knitting slump. I wind yarn into balls, swatch projects, sketch designs; but nothing gets past the start. It's times like this when I really turn to Ravelry to find a new project.

Sitting in my queue is a pair of slippers (Stippers) I only made once for my dad and, because of the way hand knitted gifts sometimes work, I got them back. Now he needs another pair of slippers, something warm and woolly and maybe a little taller because I think he might shuffle too much and they slip down over his heels. Or maybe just a pair of socks?

Suddenly, this doesn't seem like the cure for a knitting slump like I thought it might be.

Maybe I can help you. If you're feeling in a slump (or even if you're not), I've deci…

A Workman Is Only As Good As His Tools

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It should come as no surprise to anyone who knits (or quilts, or crafts, or is a mechanic, a photographer, a cook, a human being), I love tools and gadgets. Gadgets I can do without. I can resist gadgets. I don't need lot of stitch markers and counters.

But tools. I do love tools. And when I find something new that I like, I want everyone to know.

Fair warning: I'm not affiliated with any of these companies; these opinions are my opinions only. But if any of them (one in particular) would like to work something out, you know how to find me.

Two of my favorite tools are my current knitting bag and a new set of needles.

My Knitting Bag If you see me out and about at a yarn shop, most likely, my knitting bag won't be far away. I can't remember if I saw one a friend owned first or if I found it online first but my Tom Bihn Swift knitting bag is my favorite. It's the perfect size for carrying multiple projects (because I'm definitely not monogamous to knitting proj…

Method To My Madness: Picking Colors

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In the last post, I showed you the new hat I made for my mother. In preparation for writing the pattern and re-knitting a sample to make sure I don't miss an important step, I went shopping for a yarn that I just had a hunch would work really well with the pattern. I want a lighter weight so that the doubled hem isn't too thick and bulky and overwhelming. I wanted current colors and I wanted a yarn that is easily accessible to many different knitters, but also easily substituted for another yarn.

I turned, as I did for another hat, to +Berroco YarnUltra Alpaca Light. I love how soft, but strong, the yarn is. And the colors are great. The alpaca-half also adds a nice halo to the yarn and should mix the stripes together pleasingly.

Picking colors is one of my favorite things to do. I am, by no means, trained in fashion or design or the arts so I have to rely on simple intuition and some tricks I've picked up along the way. Mind you, there are so many better places to learn a…

And Then There Was a Hat

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Newsflash. It's January in the northern hemisphere and it's cold. Cold with a capital Polar Vortex. I don't think it's been this cold since last winter! Crazy how seasons work sometimes.

Wool hats. Alpaca hats. Any-kind-of-warm hats. Now's the time to dig 'em out and get 'em on your heads.

"So Steven," people ask me, "what is your favorite hat pattern?" (Well, of course, they ask me that in my head. Usually, it's just people looking at my hat jealously.)

I have one hat I wear more than any other. It's Malabrigo Worsted and has a wide hemmed brim, so it's two layers of wonderfully warm and soft merino right on my ears. I love it.

We've established many times that I'm a fan of provisional cast on and a hemmed brim is a perfect time to dig out your provisional cast on skills and go to town.

I whipped out another hemmed brim hat a couple weeks ago for my mother. She requested a slouchy hat. So many hats give a person tha…

Another Stitch, Another Obsession: Brioche Knitting

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You'll remember from several months ago when I was obsessed with star stitch. From that obsession, three new patterns were born: Carriage Trail, Quarry Creek and Ridgeview. (By the way, each are available individually in my Ravelry store or together as an e-book called "Stars Shine.")

When I'm knitting, I think a lot about how we-knitters can rearrange two simple stitches, knit and purl, into almost infinite combinations. And with simple adaptations to those two stitches, even more patterns can emerge. Knit the stitches out of order and, voilĂ , cables! Throw in some planned holes and decreases and, tada, lace! Knit with two colors at the same time and, presto, fair isle! It's all just knits and purls.

Lately I've been looking at a lot of pictures of sweaters online, mostly from designers. Knitwear that has graced the runways of London, Paris, Milan, or New York. I see a lot of what looks to me like brioche stitch. Consider me inspired. I grabbed needles and s…

So You Want to Learn to Knit?

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Once upon a time…

Okay, it was a couple weeks ago.

One knitter said to another, "I only know how to make scarves and I want to do more." The other knitter replied, "No problem, if you can cast on, knit, purl and bind off, you can make anything you want." And thus a knitting class was born.

That seems a little too easy. It also involved rounding up several other wanna-be knitters and the materials and the pattern and the space.

Where? Panera. Easy. Good food and a private room where we won't bother anyone.

Who? A ragtag group of old and new friends. And everyone, super nice.

What? I placed a call to Fiber Wild, a yarn store I've shopped with before online. I spoke with a clerk, maybe Nicky or Natalie or Jennifer (I can't remember), and explained the situation: short notice and need yarn and needles for eight. She assured me I could place an order online and it would arrive in time. I put out an email to all the new knitters asking for color choices and …