accessory

Indie Gift-A-Long 2017

It's time once again for the Indie Gift-A-Long, an annual coordinated sale and KAL by indie designers. As always, you can save 25% on any patterns in the GAL with promo code giftalong2017 through 11:59pm EST on 11/28. Of course I have a selection of designs available in the sale:

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But enough about me--you already know I exist, because you're here! The GAL is all about community: designers supporting designers, knitters supporting indie designers, and so on. Here are some of my favorite GAL picks that I'm contemplating adding to my queue.

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Knit Me With Your Best Shot by Mary Annarella. I had the pleasure of trying this sample on at a trunk show and it was gorgeously flattering. I am definitely feeling pullovers more than cardigans this year (forever cold club!) and I think this classic style would work well in my wardrobe. However, I don't think I have any stash suitable for this and I'm trying to use up a good chunk of my stash before I buy any new sweater quantities.

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Rib Run by Jennifer Dassau. This simple cable and ribbed hat is super appealing to me. I already have an extensive hat collection, but there's always room for one more, right? Most of my hats are worked in hand-dyed yarns, and this looks like a good excuse to play with a beautiful solid color.

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Calentito by Kristen Jancuk. These adorbale slipper socks have been in my queue since the day they were released, so I'm definitely snapping this one up! I have quite the stash of sock yarn and some partial skeins, both of which will be perfect to use up in several pairs of Calentitos. 

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Wheatly Socks by Kerri Blumer. Can you tell that I really, really need to knit more socks? I would love to have an overflowing handmade sock drawer, and a long-term goal of mine has been to work on knitting more socks! I love this simple textural stitch pattern, it would be perfect for some subtle semi-solid skeins I have.

I'd love to hear what you're stocking up on during the Indie GAL and what project you're planning to cast on first!

The St. Bega Set

Earlier this month, I had two new designs released with The Fibre Company as part of their Autumn 2017 Collection: the St. Bega Mitts and the St. Bega Cowl.

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Worked in their new Arranmore Light yarn, both pieces are simple and rely on knitted tuck accents to gently shape the fabric and add texture. The cowl features a column of tucks at one location, while the mitts sport their tucks on the top of the wrist.

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Aside from the knitted tucks, it's all relaxing Netflix knitting--stockinette worked in the round with 2x2 ribbed trim!

Summer Shawl Bundle

For the month of August, I am offering a Summer Shawl Bundle: 4 shawl patterns for $12!

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All four patterns use fingering weight yarn, and are great options for stashbusting or cranking out one last sweet summer project. Clockwise from top left, they are:

Advice From a Caterpillar, a triangle shawlette with a ribbed and cabled stitch pattern. This is the smallest shawl of the bundle and requires the least yardage. Shown in Gynx Yarns Single Merino, it requires 400 yards and measures 39" x 15.5".

Klystron is an asymmetrical shawl knit on the bias in two colors. It's knit mostly in garter stitch, with brioche stripes, and you'll need to understand intarsia to knit this. Shown in Shalimar Yarns Aerie, it requires 700 yds (420 yds MC & 280 yds CC) and measures 72" x 21".

Papelillo is a lace pi-shawl, worked from the center outwards. The lace patterns are both written and charted. Shown in Dragonfly Fibers Pixie, it requires 950 yards and measures 34" in diameter.

San Drea Shawl is another asymmetrical shawl, this time with stripes, short rows, and a lace border. This one is definitely a good stashbuster! Shown in Manos del Uruguay Fino (MC) and Shibui Knits Staccato with Nylon (CC), it requires 850 yds MC and 110 (120, 130) yds of CC1 (CC2, CC3) and measures 80" x 24.5"

Which one would you knit first?

New Pattern Release: Klystron

Earlier this week I released my Klystron shawl pattern!

  All photos by  Lindsey Topham

All photos by Lindsey Topham

I wanted to play with color and texture in this pattern, so I combined garter stitch, brioche, and intarsia. This asymmetrical shawl is knit end-to-end. It uses intarsia to create a smaller accent panel of contrast color (the purple) which runs along side the main body of the shawl, while regular rows of brioche interrupt the garter stitch fabric. Shaping is worked at the ends of rows and on either side of the off-center spine, to separate out the two colors and to create an unbalanced arrow shape at the end after binding off:

The yarn is Shalimar Yarns Aerie, which is a gorgeous single-ply blend of merino, kid mohair, and silk. Thanks to the silk and mohair, the yarn has a subtle sheen and slight fuzz which really elevates plain garter stitch to the next level. 

Klystron is available for purchase on Ravelry for $5.

Brioche Cowl FO

In January, my good friend Kirsten gave me a beautiful skein of local wool she had hand-spun and hand-dyed. It's wooly and sheepy, but not irritating, and the resulting yarn is lightweight and airy rather than being a dense, bulky yarn.

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It's beautifully thick-and-thin, ranging from super bulky to super fine and plied with a weaving yarn. It's the kind of thing I wouldn't actively spin myself since I can't intentionally spin irregular yarns, but I love the play of color and texture! The skein was giant so I decided to knit a cowl end-to-end in the hopes of using up every last yard.

I chose brioche because it's fun to knit, I don't have many brioche accessories, and I thought it would play nice with the yarn's varying thickness without having to settle for garter stitch. Not that I hate garter stitch, but sometimes you want something more interesting! I cast on provisionally and knit on a US 10.5 needle until the strip was long enough to loop around twice, blocked it flat, then twisted it intentionally and kitchenered it closed. Surprisingly, I didn't use up all my yarn! I think I have enough left for a pair of super simple fingerless mitts, or at least that's what I'm hoping for.

I'm anal-retentive enough that I didn't like how the edges waved in-and-out when the yarn had a particularly thick or thin section. I wet-blocked it using blocking wires along the edges and stretched it to the max for this more open fabric, and in hopes of getting nice straight edges. The edges looked great when I took the cowl off the board but after a few wears the yarn is back to its original wildness. Life blocking lesson: don't fight the yarn. I KNOW this but I also like to see how far I can push the rules ;)

This was a really satisfying, quick knit and it's a great addition to my cold-weather accessory wardrobe. The teals and blues go with a lot of my clothing and I like how versatile long cowls like this are, with the choice of leaving it open or looping it double. Thank you so much for the yarn, Kirsten!

New Designs: Seismite & Ribbons

I know I hinted at less designs...but these were completed awhile ago! Such is the nature of the biz, us designers are always working months in advance so I'm not necessarily busy when releases finally come out.

First up is Seismite, a fun and free hat pattern I released earlier this month. If you'd like to snag this one, just sign up for my weekly newsletter to receive it.

 Photo by Lindsey Topham

Photo by Lindsey Topham

I dyed the yarn myself under the tutelage of the Kangaroo Dyer and this project is perfect for it! It was my first attempt at dyeing a speckly yarn and while the speckles aren't as pronounced as the skeins I've seen from official dyers, I'm pleased with the watercolor effect I wound up with. I only used up half the skein, leaving me with enough yardage for a second Seismite or some fingerless mitts.

I also contributed a cardigan to SweetGeorgia Yarns' Spring with SweetGeorgia Vol. 2 collection for spring. Meet Ribbons!

 Photo by SweetGeorgia Yarns

Photo by SweetGeorgia Yarns

This long stockinette cardigan features graduated stripes of eyelet texture along the hem and cuffs, allowing you to play with fun color combinations! The set-in sleeves are shaped with decreases since you work everything in one piece from the bottom-up, which means no seaming. It's a simple, easy-going silhouette that works with jeans or a dress. I wouldn't wear it with this dress, I was only taking a modeled photo to share with my sample knitter Joni!

Let Them Knit Cake

At the end of April I released Let Them Knit Cake, a Marie Antoinette inspired pattern collection as part of the Malabrigo Freelance Pattern Project!

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From the introduction of the ebook:

"Let Them Knit Cake is a pattern collection exploring the intersection of history and fashion viewed through my personal lens as a knitwear designer, a source of inspiration I’ve begun to explore recently. Here I turn my focus to Marie Antoinette, the iconic French queen who is remembered by the public at large for her beauty, glamorous style and perceived superficiality. I’ve interpreted rococo fashion for the modern knitter by examining portraits of Marie in addition to reading accounts of her sartorial choices.

The phrase “let them eat cake” has been falsely attributed to Marie; while an agreed upon fallacy in the academic community, pop culture holds tight to the wrongful association regardless. So as a historian-cum-knitting designer, why not use it as the basis for this collection’s title? I wanted to play upon our familiarity of the phrase and make a reference to the usage of the terms ‘cake’ and ‘frosting’ in the sewing community. ‘Cake’ refers to basic foundation garments in one’s wardrobe (plain tanks, versatile jeans), and ‘frosting’ means fun, maybe frivolous clothing (party dresses, maribou trimmed nighties). The four pieces shown in this collection appear to be frosting on the surface—due in no small part to the saturated and exhilarating colors of Malabrigo Yarn—but I hope that they will take the place of cake in your handknit wardrobe, as essential pieces you wear day after day."

Let's take a closer look at each piece, shall we?

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The Polonaise Cardigan, shown in Malabrigo Silky Merino in size 36", is knitted bottom up in one piece starting with a wee lace hem. No shaping in the body, but a small pleat on the upper back (in addition to armhole shaping) helps narrow the silhouette through the bust. I worked the bow with a combination of intarsia and stranded knitting, but you could easily work the whole bow in one color with intarsia, and use duplicate stitch to add the 'shadow' accents instead of stranding that color. After the body is complete, stitches are picked up around the armholes to work short row sleeve caps, and the neckline is finished with an I-cord edging.

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The Coronation Tank, shown in Malabrigo Arroyo in size 34", is also worked from the bottom up in one piece. Large cables gradually shift from the center of the tank to the outer edges following princess seam lines as the stockinette center of the front expands. Waist shaping takes place on the back of the tank creating subtle corset lines, and a smaller cable detail decorates the chest. I love the versatility of tanks that can be layered as vests in the fall and winter, which is why I showed it here over a blouse.

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The Fargeon Mitts, shown in Malabrigo Silky Merino in size S, are quick mitts that you can easily make using the leftovers from your Polonaise Cardigan. Knit from the bottom edge up, they feature a ruffled edging that transitions into a wide ribbed pattern and a thumb gusset.

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The Dauphine's Stockings, shown in Malabrigo Sock in size M, are knit toe-up with a short row heel. The lace pattern on the tops of the feet continues up the shin and repeats on the back of the leg, but grows to accommodate leaf motifs for the calf shaping.

Since the goal of the collection was to do 'modern Marie Antoinette' and not 'recreation-level authentic costumes' I made sure to style them with modern clothing, though with a few nods to the original inspiration. Those shoes, for example--exactly what I had in mind and I nabbed them at the Salvation Army! What do you think? Would you be able to work these pieces into your current style?

You can find the patterns on Ravelry by following the links throughout this post. The Polonaise Cardigan and Coronation Tank are available for $7 each, the Fargeon Mitts and The Dauphine's Stockings for $5 each, and the ebook is available for $18.

Armored

Now that the Winter issue of Knitscene is hitting newstands and mailboxes, let's take a look at my featured designer collection! Because oh yeah....if you didn't notice, I'm the featured designer of this issue. :) Yay! From the beginning I decided I wanted to design thematically as opposed to separate pieces--partially for that Project Runway, fashion designer type experience but also because it excited me to create a body of work meant to be shown together. I really like thinking thematically, it turns out, so I have several collections in the works for the future (aka, stay tuned!) The inspiration for this collection is medieval armor and the story of its inception is interesting. Last year I spent a lot of time online dating and as it was the first time in my life I was actively dating and not relationshipping, I purposely set the bar low in terms of who I would accept dates from in order to expose myself to as many different types of people and experiences as possible. I had my general standards, for sure, but I wanted to avoid falling into the trap of only dating my 'type' (men similar to those I had previous relationships with.) Anyways, I wound up accepting a date with a guy and we went to the Higgins Armory Museum, which is now closed so I'm glad I had a chance to see it then! We took a swordfighting workshop and looked at the collection, wherein I got really excited about all the details on the armor and took a bunch of pictures with the express purpose of turning them into designs and he probably thought I was a freak. (But that's okay because for reasons that had everything to do with him and nothing to do with my knitting freakiness, there was no second date.)

haubergeonAll fancy photos by Knitscene/Harper Point Photography, armory photos by me

The Haubergeon Sweater is most directly inspired by a specific piece I saw at the Higgins Armory, this suit of armor featuring a lattice-like pauldron (shoulder armor). I instantly saw a lattice cable pattern! I played with different shoulder placements of a cable design but threw some of them out the window for being too bulky, or for encroaching too much on the chest which I knew had the possibility of looking weird on someone with a larger bust than I. Ultimately I mashed up the idea of cabled arms/shoulders with the silhouette of a haubergeon (or hauberk), which is a chain mail shirt, giving this sweater its longer tunic length and the cropped sleeves.

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I played more fast and loose with the Gothic Gloves, historically speaking. They aren't directly linked to a specific style of armor, though I drew inspiration from more decorative, mixed-metal pieces and jousting gloves. The cuff shape is very recognizable as being medieval-ish and I approached the mixed metal aspect with two different colors, some stripes and a small colorwork motif. I want to thank Carina Spencer for her Sugar Maple pattern--knitting that piece, with its paired increases and decreases to form the pointed hem without increasing the overall number of stitches, helped me figure out how to shape the point of the cuffs and keep the stitch count consistent.

cuirassiers copyThe Cuirassier's Cardigan is another more artistic rendition, if you will. I saw several lovely cable-like details on suits of armor at the Higgins Armory and sought to create a simple, everyday cardigan with a few special touches. Something that was less Ren Faire than perhaps the gloves! As such, the only tie this piece has to armor are the flowing lines and small cables which grow out of an otherwise plain background. I-cord edgings are among my favorite because of how clean they are, and I felt that paired with a zipper closure instead of buttons, they helped keep this from looking too knitting-y (where a ribbed buttonband would have taken it away from the original intent.) I like the jacket/blazer feel of this piece, which was entirely unintentional!

greaves2And now, my absolute favorite piece of the collection: Ornate Greaves! Greaves (leg armor) could be quite plain but I followed in the footsteps of more decorative pairs with the kneecap cable design and purl ridges along the calves. This was extra special because I used my friend Laura's yarn, Gynx Yarns Merino DK. I love the above-the-knee length for these, partially because of my love for thigh high socks and stockings! Practically speaking though, it's a great choice for extra warmth and it gave me more space to play with the cable design.

In terms of yarn choice, I had two purposes. The first was to pick companies that represented something to me as a designer, and the second was to create a cohesive color story.

  • The Haubergeon Pullover is knit in The Fibre Company Organik, as I used another of their yarns for my first ever Knitscene pattern (the Mountain Nettle Shawl, in Acadia.)
  • The Gothic Gloves are knit in Brooklyn Tweed Loft, a company on my knitting bucket list to design for--maybe this will be the first step towards a future collaboration? ;)
  • The Cuirassier's Cardigan is knit in Valley Yarns Colrain, as a thank you to Webs and the Elkins. Without my job there I might not be a designer at all, let alone the one I am today with the friends, fans and industry connections I can directly attribute to Webs.
  • And the Ornate Greaves are in Gynx Yarns Merino DK, because Laura deserved to be in Knitscene for taking a chance on me in our multiple collaborations, and I wanted the world to be exposed to her beautiful yarn.

When I first envisioned the collection, grey was the color that popped to mind because duh, metal. While a monochromatic, all-grey collection would be really beautiful, I am first and foremost a person that loves color and I wanted to showcase something more 'me', and an all-grey palette would not be fitting. The gloves use a neutral oatmeal and a gold for a warmer play on the silver and gold of mixed metals, and the copper of the cardigan is to represent a different metal--the warmer half of the collection. On the cooler side, we have grey legwarmers because I HAD to have one grey piece and felt a neutral color was more wearable for an accessory like this. The pullover color is a bit of a reach, but I was looking for a cool, elegant color that fit with the rest of the palette rather than being a bright pop. Purple was a sought-after color in medieval Europe, after all!

My biggest goal for the collection was to draw inspiration from armor while creating modern and wearable pieces as opposed to costume items. Because of that, it's not a 100% historically accurate look at medieval armor but I am beyond pleased with the end result. What do you think--did I pull it off? Can you see yourself or someone you know wearing these pieces?

(Many thanks to Amy Palmer at Knitscene for accepting my proposal, the other folks at Knitscene for the fabulous styling of these garments, the yarn companies listed above for their excellent yarn support, and Robin Shroyer for writing a great article about me and for creating possibly the best interview ever!)

Free Pattern: Rainbow Slip Mitts

smilehI have a free pattern for you today! These were inspired by some work I'm doing with my friend Gail, The Kangaroo Dyer. She put together these colorful mini skeins in her Poet Seat Fingering base--she calls it her 'first aid kit' for color--and gave me a batch to play with. I decided to put them to good use in this super easy pair of handwarmers! They are worked flat and seamed partially up the side to create an opening for the thumb. Rainbow Slip Mitts

Finished Size: 7" around, 4.75" long (17.80cm x 12cm)

Yarn: approx 50 yards of natural and scrap amounts of 5 colors. I used RainCityKnits MCN Fingering in Natural, and a Kangaroo Dyer Poet Seat Fingering Mini Skein Kit. This is a great way to use up precious leftovers!

Materials: US 3 (3.25mm) needle, tapestry needle

Gauge: 30 sts by 38 rows = 4" (10cm) in rainbow slip pattern. Gauge is not crucial for this project.

Using natural, CO 49 sts leaving a long tail to seam with at the end. Row 1 (RS): Slip 1, *p1, k1; rep from * to end. Row 2 (WS): Slip 1, *k1, p1; rep from * to end. Repeat these 2 rows until work measures 1.5" from beginning. Knit 1 row, then purl 1 row. Begin rainbow slip pattern.

Switch to pink (or your first color). Row 1 (RS): K1, *slip 1, k1; rep from * to end. Row 2: Repeat the last row. Row 3: Knit. Row 4: Purl.

Switch to orange (or your next color). Row 5: K2, slip 1, *k1, slip 1; rep from * until 2 sts remain, k2. Row 6: P1, k1, *slip 1, k1; rep from * until 1 st remains, p1. Row 7: Knit. Row 8: Purl.

Switch to yellow. Row 9: K1, *slip 1, k1; rep from * to end. Row 10: Repeat the last row. Row 11: Knit. Row 12: Purl.

Switch to green. Row 13: K2, slip 1, *k1, slip 1; rep from * until 2 sts remain, k2. Row 14: P1, k1, *slip 1, k1; rep from * until 1 st remains, p1. Row 15: Knit. Row 16: Purl.

Switch to indigo. Row 17: K1, *slip 1, k1; rep from * to end. Row 18: Repeat the last row. Row 19: Knit. Row 20: Purl.

Switch to pink. Row 21: K2, slip 1, *k1, slip 1; rep from * until 2 sts remain, k2. Row 22: P1, k1, *slip 1, k1; rep from * until 1 st remains, p1. Row 23: Knit. Row 24: Purl.

Switch to orange. Row 25: K1, *slip 1, k1; rep from * to end. Row 26: Repeat the last row. Row 27: Knit. Row 28: Purl.

Switch to yellow. Row 29: K2, slip 1, *k1, slip 1; rep from * until 2 sts remain, k2. Row 30: P1, k1, *slip 1, k1; rep from * until 1 st remains, p1. Row 31: Knit. Row 32: Purl.

Switch to green. Row 33: K1, *slip 1, k1; rep from * to end. Row 34: Repeat the last row. Row 35: Knit. Row 36: Purl.

Switch to indigo. Row 37: K2, slip 1, *k1, slip 1; rep from * until 2 sts remain, k2. Row 38: P1, k1, *slip 1, k1; rep from * until 1 st remains, p1. Row 39: Knit. Row 40: Purl.

Switch back to natural. Knit one row. Row 1 (WS): Slip 1, *k1, p1; rep from * to end. Row 2 (RS): Slip 1, *p1, k1; rep from * to end. Repeat these two rows once more, then work 1 more WS row. On next RS row, BO all sts in pattern and leave a long tail to seam with.

Weave in ends. Using your tail from casting on, seam the bottom of the mitt 2" up the side. Use the tail from your BO to seam the top of the mitt 1" down the side. This will leave a 1.75" opening along the side for your thumb, but adjust the length and placement of side seams as needed to comfortably fit your hand. Repeat for the second mitt (they are identical.)

IMG_1776 editedHappy slip knitting!

It's KAL Time!

Looking for some knitting motivation? Join the Accessorize Yourself KAL! From August 15th to September 30th, choose any of my accessory patterns and knit along with us in my Ravelry group. My currently available self published accessory patterns will be 20% off from now until the start of the KAL with coupon code ACCESSORIZE, so if you've been waiting to pull the trigger on one of those designs, now would indeed be the time! Of course, I am offering lovely prizes to the victors. The grand prize for one lucky person will be a one-of-a-kind skein of Valley Yarns Charlemont Hand Dyed, a Blue Sky project bag and 2 free patterns of their choosing (from my self published patterns only) from now until the end of 2014. You'll want to save at least one of those because I have some awesome fall releases coming up!

KALprizeAn awesome OOAK skein!

I'll also pick two runners up who will each receive 1 free pattern of their choosing, same stipulations as above.

Head on over to the KAL thread and join in! What better way to close out summer and kick off fall right than with a beautiful accessory and sparkling Internet conversation, eh?

Adventures in Wonderland

IMG_5376smAll photos in this post by Lindsey Topham unless stated otherwise

I've once again teamed up with Gynx Yarns to bring you an amazing accessory collaboration! Meet Advice From a Caterpillar, my contribution to Laura's Alice in Wonderland themed kit she is debuting at SSK this month.

Laura contacted me asking if I could whip up a one or two skein accessory design to fit her planned theme and of course I had to say yes. She is always a joy to work with--not only is the yarn beautiful, but she trusts me as a designer and lets my imagination run wild. Laura dyed up three exclusive Wonderland inspired colorways just for the kits (my shawl uses 'Wonderland') and asked Little Skein in the Big Wool to contribute a matching project bag. Take a look!

kit collagePhotos by Gynx Yarns - yarn colors from L to R are Wonderland, Cheshire Cat & Caterpillar

I happen to have one of those project bags myself (advance perks y'all!) and the construction is FABULOUS. Really sturdy and the fabric is adorable.

In case you couldn't guess it from the name, my shawlette drew inspiration from the Caterpillar. I have to admit, I am a bigger fan of Through the Looking Glass but I wanted to go with the original book for this one. I was imagining the cables as wriggly caterpillars at first, then I realized the cables' transition to ribbing and back again was an apt metaphor for metamorphosis. Caterpillar to butterfly, Alice to Big and Little Versions of Herself, and so on. Pretend you're an art student and fill in with your long-reaching explanation of choice.

blog collageAs luck would have it, this turned out to be the most perfect photoshoot yet! Lighting, location, styling--everything was on point to create a magical mood.

If you're not attending SSK, look for kits/preorders to appear in the Gynx Etsy Shop around July 22nd. I'll make an announcement when the pattern is available for individual sale. Til then, beware of the Jabberwocky, eh?

Birthday Hats

Sometimes, even when you're crazy busy (like "I probably shouldn't sleep for the next month" kind of busy)...you can manage to make something for people you love. I hinted at it on Instagram with this picture, but I made each of my parents hats for their birthdays this year. It's been a few years since they got anything handknit (selfish knitter for life, yo!) and I figured it was time once more. My mom's was at the end of February, so she already got her version of my Tamborim pattern because she admired mine at Christmas so much. Hers is sans pom-pom and the length is slightly shorter. My dad's birthday is today--hopefully you get your hat in the mail before you see this blog post, Papa!--and for him I decided to improvise.

papahatcollagePlease ignore my terrible lighting and bad self-photography skills.

I used the brim construction from my Free Cecily Hat, but worked it for longer so he has a nice thick brim to cover his ears when walking, hiking or cross-country skiing. The body of the hat is an oversized garter rib pattern that I "made up" but probably already exists: Knit all sts on Rounds 1 & 2, *k2p2* on Rounds 3 & 4. I winged the crown decreases and tried to keep the ribbing intact as it narrowed. Yarn is Dream in Color Classy, possibly in Cloud Jungle--I had it in my stash without the label.

I'm really pleased with the end result! Sometimes it's nice to create without writing everything down with plans to publish it, and I like knowing that my papa now has a one-of-a-kind creation.

P.S. My birthday is at the end of the month and I would not say no to a hat. #jussayin

Hooker's Startitis

I am a pretty newb crocheter. My most notable project to date, a cute summery tee, is currently languishing half-done. (Oops.) I enjoy the rhythm of crochet, but my excuse is the same one for selfish knitting--I don't have time! 98% of my knitting time is devoted to design work and at most, I manage to squeeze in a small accessory project to break up the monotony of creating beautiful things you then have to send away instead of showing off. It's a hard life, this designing. Cue violins. Anyways, last night I tried the crochet chain provisional cast on for the first time instead of the usual provisional cast on with waste yarn I use when knitting. LOVE it, so much easier. Unfortunately, picking up a hook made me start daydreaming about all the crochet projects I'm dying to start. What better way to spend a snow day than fantasy yarn shopping?

decodaisiesThe Holla Knits KAL* just kicked off this week and I wish I was right there with everyone working on a Deco Daisies of my very own! I love this sweet and flowery cowl, which I think would be perfect in a color changing yarn with long repeats like Knitting Fever Painted Desert. I'm thinking something pink and purple-y for the ultimate feminine neckwarmer.

fallfieldsI loved this sweater so much that I bought the issue of Interweave Crochet as soon as I saw it. Once I have time, it's waiting for me! Of course, as a Tosh addict I couldn't resist dreaming of Madelinetosh Tosh Sport color combinations for this. I love Heuchera but have yet to use it in any projects and would make it the main color of the Fall Fields Cardigan so it can take center stage.

sugarsparklesMy coworker and crochet design maven Sara once said that hand-dyed yarn looks great in crochet and I couldn't agree more. I love Fable Fibers' colorways and couldn't pick just one! This yarn sudden death match comes down between Orchid and Lucky Penny, both in Fable Fibers Story MCN. Each would give the Sugar Sparkles Shawlette a different vibe and I can picture either color at home in my wardrobe.

I'd love to grow my crochet queue, so share your favorite patterns or designers with me!

*There are tons of cool prizes in the Holla Knits KAL, including my self-published patterns and the Pantonal pattern collection--incentive to join in if you've been waiting to whip up any Holla Knits patterns!

Pantonal III: Tamborim

The end is nigh--er, I mean here!

collagePhotos by Topham Photo

Tamborim is the final installation of the Pantonal pattern club. Emma's Silly Pattern Naming Theme continues! Since the color is called Samba, I went Wikipedia-ing to find related terms that also happen to be cool sounding words, et voila. A tamborim is a type of Brazilian drum used in samba music. The more you know!

IMG_0432smallestThis super quick slouchy hat features garter stitch triangle details on the body for a simple but effective textural detail. I love the way Laura's tonal dye work looks here, the harmony of design + yarn are really working for me. It starts with a picot turned hem (side note: I love turned hems! They look so clean!) and is topped with a pom pom--optional if you like, but mandatory if you know what's good for you. Especially if you live somewhere snowy. Pom pom is non-negotiable!

We shot this in front of some really fun graffiti of a soundwave in downtown Northampton. You can read all about the project and see more photos here!

Tamborim will be available to you non-club riffraff on June 1, 2014.

It's Electric!

*cue The Electric Slide and memories of dancing to it in middle-school gym class* Ahem! Now that little bit of reminiscing is out of the way, I bring you: Elektrocute!

IMG_7337smAll photos by Lindsey Topham

Elektrocute is a graphic two-color cowl featuring a whole mess o' patterns! See: gradient transitions, zig-zags, and the cutest widdle lightening bolts ever. You won't get bored knitting or wearing this one, and it's sure to make you stand out from the crowd.

blogI'm sporting the longer 44" length (which can be worn open or doubled over) while Mary rocks the close-fitting 28" length. Both sizes take less than 2 skeins (one of each color) of Madelinetosh Pashmina. I've had Pashmina in my stash for over a year now but this is my first time using it--for shame! I can't think of a better luxury than treating yourself to this deliciously scrumptious yarn and then wrapping it around your neck. Not to mention the endless color combinations...

I wanted to try something a little different for this photo shoot, which is how we wound up with shots like this:

IMG_7294smI always enjoy starting my day with picking leaves out of my hair before work, don't you?

You can snag Elektrocute on Ravelry now.

Pantonal II: Canephora

If you hate feet, look away quick!

IMG_4406smallestAs always, photos by Topham Photo

Meet Canephora, the second installment of the Pantonal club collaboration between myself and Gynx Yarns! This is my first ever sock design because trying new things is fun, right? So this experience was a mix of that "wow this is way easier than I thought it would be" feeling and the "wait this is TOO easy am I forgetting something important?!" sense of panic. Aside from a few minor snafus, these babies went pretty smoothly and I'm thankful for that.

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The name continues in my theme for this project--the Pantone color is Carafe, Laura's version is called Cafe, and canephora comes from the Latin name for Robusta coffee, Coffea canephora. I'm not a big coffee drinker, since I try to avoid unnecessary sugar whenever I can and I'm too much of a pansy to drink my coffee black! So this is my dose of toasty coffee-brown goodness.

Available to non-subscribers on May 1st.

Pantonal I: Lecanora

Photos thanks to Topham Photo

The first installment of Pantonal, my club collaboration with Gynx Yarns, is now out! Yarn has been shipped, PDFs have been emailed, and I can't wait to see Lecanora on the needles of club subscribers.

I'm supremely happy with this lovely lace stole. While I've designed patterns with lace touches before, this is my first all-out lace attempt--charted and everything!--and it worked out fabulously. I love how the lace patterns flow into each other and get progressively lighter and more ephemeral as you work from the center outwards.

I decided to be a little theme-y with this club and based the pattern names off the color names. This color is Lichen, and Laura created a gorgeous and interesting mix of green and grey with hints of reddish flecks. Lecanora is a genus of lichen...you get the idea!

Itching to get your hands on the pattern? If you're not a club subscriber, you'll have to wait until April 1st.

Let's Get Pantonal!

My only gripe about this industry is the timing. Because everything is done so far in advance, I work on things for months that I can't share here--and I'm bursting! This seedling of an idea started long ago, in a galaxy far far away...And by that I mean I messaged Laura, aka Gynx Yarns, on Twitter and asked if she ever wanted to do a yarn & pattern club collaboration. I met Laura through the network of Holla Knits, as she provided yarn support for multiple designs including my Wallpaper Cowl. (Check out her gorgeous version, which totally made me fall in love with her yarn!) Here's our baby: Pantonal!

Pantonal is a 3 month club of semi-solid/tonal colorways based off the Pantone Fall 2013 Color Report. To go along with Laura's fabulous colorways, I've designed three corresponding patterns! Here's all the sneak peek ya gonna get:

From left to right we have: November's sock, October's lace stole, and December's simple textured hat. The patterns get progressively easier from October to December, so when you're slammed with holiday knitting these babies aren't adding to your crafting stress levels! Keep 'em, gift 'em, hoard the yarn and call it your precious like Smeagol--whatever works!

I strove to push myself as a designer for this project and I'm really proud of the outcome. While I've knit socks and complicated lace patterns before, these are my first designs for both of those categories and it was a lot of fun to test my limits. And while color is always an important part of the design process, usually I come up with a design idea and then pick a color--this time I had to work backwards, so that Laura's yarn could be showcased as beautifully as possible.

What are you waiting for? Sign up now! Spaces are limited and only available until September 16th. Colorways and patterns are exclusive for 6 months, so if you can't wait to get your mitts on these designs you better join in! Plus there are fun bonuses like coupon codes from both of us for club subscribers...and maybe we'll unveil another surprise once the club starts?

Can't wait to see you in the club!

Fresh Valley Pattern Goodness!

My oh my, more new patterns?! Welcome my newest contributions to the Valley Yarns pattern line: the Bricklayer Set and the Chandelier Shawl! (Photos thanks to Webs.) Warm yourself with the Bricklayer Set from Valley Yarns. This easy color work set is worked using slipped stitches and only one color per row. Sideways garter stitch bands are a fun change from ribbing and add an extra layer of construction intrigue!

This accessory set works up super fast and (I think) is also super fun. I swapped the colors between the mitts and the hat for that extra special dose of ~why the hell not~ but you could of course match them. And think of how beautiful it would be with a color changing or hand dyed yarn for the background color, like Noro Silk Garden or Madelinetosh anything!

The Chandelier Shawl from Valley Yarns is a sweeping, cozy, cable-and-lace shawl for chilly days.

So this is one of those samples that I wish I could keep. It's gorgeous and SO WARM! But I don't have the time or inclination to re-knit a worsted weight shawl for myself, even if it is on the speedy side compared to a fingering weight shawl. Sheffield has a really nice halo because of the angora content, though I think this would look equally good in a mohair blend, or maybe even something shiny to jazz it up!

Publishing with other people is always kind of a wild card, you never know how they are going to style it and when they are going to release the patterns. Case in point--if I were self-publishing these two, I would have spaced them out and not piggybacked onto the Brooklyn Bridge Mitts release. The upside though is that Webs always does a great job with the photography and location for Valley Yarns pattern shoots and this is no exception. Always a pleasure to see your designs being showcased beautifully!

Brooklyn Bridge Mitts

Thaaaat's right: new pattern time! All photos in this post by the amazing Topham Photo. Introducing the Brooklyn Bridge Mitts!

Show off your Brooklyn pride and warm your hands with the Brooklyn Bridge Mitts, no matter what 'hood you call home! These mitts feature traveling cables that mimic the arches of the Brooklyn Bridge, set on a reverse stockinette stitch background that transitions to stockinette after the cables are completed. A thumb gusset provides a comfortable fit and you can opt for individual finger holes or a completely fingerless treatment. With two lengths and two sizes to choose from, plus cute buttoned cuffs, you'll be whipping up a perfect-for-you pair of mitts in no time!

The blue sample is Malabrigo Silky Merino and the pinkish grey variegated sample is Malabrigo Arroyo. I love how the pattern looks totally different but still works in the different bases. Single ply, plied, variegated, solid, semi-solid--it's all good! And you've probably figured out by now that I'm OBSESSED with cute buttons so gotta have any excuse to work those in. The ones on the blue sample actually have tiny pictures of the Brooklyn Bridge which is what kickstarted the whole idea!

I asked my BFF Kerry to help me model, which is how I wound up with awesome high school senior portrait-esque shots like this:

Nothing like a great pair of mitts to win your friends over and provide you with a barrel of laughs when sitting on a dock at 8am on a rainy day, amirite? These babies are MAGIC!

Head on over to Ravelry if you want to snag a copy. Big thanks to the lovely folks at Malabrigo, who sent me the yarn as part of their Malabrigo Quickies program.