Monday, November 21, 2016

#giftalong2016 - My To-Knit List

In just about 24 hours, the big Indie Design Gift-A-Long sale starts on Ravelry. I don't know if you have to be a member of Ravelry to take advantage of the sale -- 25% off (using coupon code giftalong2016) of 5,106 patterns by 335 designers from 33 countries! It's so inspiring to see how creative crafty people can be.

I started making my list of projects that I want to make -- mostly hats and small quick things. I find that they are the perfect type of thing to clear my knitter's brain between big projects or when my creativity starts to fail.

Just seeing how other designers create and combine and innovate helps fire the synapses in my brain.

So I've put together a list of five designs that I would like to tackle during the GAL/KAL while I'm also working on some of my other designs. I'd love to know what you're excited to make, too.

No Place Like Home - a pair of slippers by Carolyn Macpherson. I met Carolyn during last year's GAL. Or maybe the year before? I don't remember now. She's so very creative and inspiring and enthusiastic. Carolyn also has a YouTube channel and I love to listen to her chatter on about yarn and projects and such while I'm knitting. These slippers look just right to gift to my mom and my aunts, something quick and small and, if a gift is needed quickly, just right to have in my arsenal.
Trondra - a fair isle hat by Emily K Williams. I love the construction of this hat and the way the colors fade and ombre together into each other. Plus, I'm really dying to know how Emily created the "swirl" at the top of the hat. I don't really like hats that fit tight to my head because I they make me look like I've got a pinhead. Plus, all the possible color combinations? Two-color fair isle patterns are so classy!
Flaming Beanie - a two-color brioche cable hat pattern by Lady in Yarn. I've been avoiding two-color brioche, mainly because I don't really like being "trendy" and it was so popular last year. I have to get over that and embrace the popular. Sometimes. And I love cables, especially in a hat. In-the-round is the best way to work cables, in my opinion, because it's easier to "read" the stitches and work the pattern. I'm curious to find out if that holds true with brioche stitches.
Soviet Hat - a cable hat by Solène Le Roux. Again - cables. I love cables. The pattern description says there are instructions for making the brim longer and I'll definitely do that. I like to fold my ribbing up and make it double thick. And a pompom on top! Sign me up. You oughtta know by now that I love a good pompom on top of my hats.
Beeswax Hat - a cabled/textured hat by Amy van de Laar. I don't know if it's the cables, the texture or the honeycomb texture I like most about this hat but I'm in. I adore a DK weight yarn in hat knitting. It's warm enough for most cool days but not so heavy that you'll die if you go indoors or get in the car. It's such an interesting texture, too. Combining knits, purls and cables is one of my favorite things right now.

As I was looking through these patterns again, I noticed that every one of these designers comes from a country I'd love to visit, too -- Canada, Scotland, Sweden, France and Australia! It's like my own mini world trip without having to get off my couch. Too bad, though, I'd love to go yarn shopping in each one of those countries.

I really need to win the lottery!

So tell me - what patterns/projects are you excited about?

And don't forget to check out the patterns available in the GAL sale that starts November 22, 2016. All of the participating designers are listed in the GAL forum here (I'm number 238.) Come say hi!

A few of the patterns I have offered in the GAL sale. Use coupon code giftalong2016 from
November 22, 2016 at 8:00 pm US EST to November 30th at 11:59pm US EST on these and
thousands of others!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Winter is Coming. Will You Be Ready?

It's that time of year, folks. The northern hemisphere braces for cold weather and winter holidays and pumpkin spice everything; while the southern hemisphere rolls their eyes at northern-centricities. (I'm making all that up but you can bet, if I lived in the southern hemisphere, I'd be irritated that just as my weather starts to get hotter, most things turn to winter. Or at least that's how I imagine it would be. I've never actually been to the southern hemisphere. This is all pure fiction. Don't hate me.)

But knitters, in general, don't really care about the season. Most knitting takes too long to knit "in season." If you're anything like me, you're probably knitting three or four season changes ahead. I just started a sweater that I'm sure won't be ready until next winter season. But I started now. Because. I don't need a reason.

In my part of the country, winter is slow in coming. It's almost 70 degrees today! Middle of November! I'm really ready for scarves and hats but it's still too danged hot. But I know it will happen and I know my friends and family will start looking at my hats and mittens and scarves and cowls with that "uh, where's mine?" look. You know it. It's all puppy dog eyes and "oh, that's so pretty, it looks so warm" and "Hey! Give me that!"

Some people are very pushy. It's the nature of cold weather and wool.

Fortunately for me, this is also the time of year for the Indie Design Gift-Along on Ravelry, which kicks off on November 22, 2016 with a nine-day 25% off sale offered by indie designers on selected patterns. There are games and contests and drawings and all kinds of fun all the way through December 31, 2016.

I love this time of year because hundreds (literally multiple hundreds) of talented and creative indie designers get together to promote the best of their designs and, more impressively to me, their fellow designers and creators and to celebrate each other's abilities. It feels very "we love everyone" and that just makes me happy.

I'll be looking for new hat patterns mostly. Hats are nice and quick and portable and I personally can never have too many hats. Over the next few days, as the list of designers is released and I start looking through everything offered, I'll show off the hat patterns I like and why I like them.

So what kind of things do you like to knit as gifts, something quick and easy?

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Back to School: Knit a Hat

About this time of year I always get nostalgic for the good ol' days. The days of new clothes, new paper and pencils, new crayons, new teachers. Back to school. Okay, I get it, it's November, but c'mon, with climate change and everything it's still 80 degrees in eastern USA and that's summer weather in my book.

I loved the promise of learning new things. That promise wasn't often broken, but let's not get bogged down in the public school system of the USA. Blah.

I still get excited by learning new things. It's the constant expanding of my mind, making the mental connections between A and B, that I find so intriguing. YouTube is an amazing resource for someone like me that wants to constantly find new hobbies or new ideas. If I can make a suggestion for a YouTube channel that's really exciting to me right now, I'd suggest Corning Museum of Glass because they have all these long demonstrations of people working with hot molten glass and it's fascinating and perfect for marathon knitting sessions.

When I first started designing patterns, they were simple scarf patterns. And I'm sure they were terrible and full of errors. I had never even heard of the concept of a tech editor back then. Frankly, it was even before Ravelry, so I'm sure I didn't even know there were people that were designing patterns independently. I just knew that I was teaching a scarf-of-the-month class and needed patterns. I wanted patterns that actually taught something--lace, fair isle, texture, cables, etc.

And then I was introduced to the rush you get from teaching. Well, maybe not "you" you, but teachers. Not just school teachers. Anyone that passes information along to someone else in a way that helps them learn and grow. A teacher. It's incredible. And addictive.

I developed a cadence and a language to pass ideas along. I learned when to encourage and when to push. I learned more from my students than they did from me (cliché alert). But it's true. I learned how to fix more mistakes than I'd make in 10 lifetimes of knitting. And mostly I learned that I love to teach.

So when a local librarian reached out to me on Twitter and asked if I'd be interested in teaching a knitting class at her library, I jumped at the chance. We hashed out the details and tomorrow, I'm going back into the "classroom" for the first time in several years to lead a class in a beginner's hat. It's actually the best kind of project to get back into teaching or back into knitting. The mistakes that can be made are few (though I'm sure I'll be surprised) and every hat will be a success. They may not be the same size, but they'll be hats!