Category Archives: design

She who hangs out in graveyards

I’m not sure where the last week has gone – somewhere in a haze of knitting, fatigue, real-world job and catching up on movies, I blinked and it was suddenly February 1st. February already? Really? We’re a month into the New Year already? Well, if you say so. But also, if it’s only just February that means that in my part of the world at least, we’ve got 2 if not 3 more months of cool weather ahead. More than enough time to keep knitting mittens and gloves.

Jan15-OzDrusilla

Way back last May at the Knitter’s Frolic in Toronto, I bought a skein of merino/cashmere/nylon yarn from Kim at Indigodragonfly Yarns. It was a dark, gothic-looking colour named “Not another teen vampire movie.” So naturally, that was coming home with me. I started pondering what to do with 100g of DK and settled on gloves, and soon started adding up in my head that Kim works with three different weights of merino/cashmere/nylon yarns, and wouldn’t those all be wonderful to wear around your hands? I certainly think so. I had the gothic theme all planned out, and was considering vampires, and before I knew it Kim was off and running dyeing colourways and naming them all after characters from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and taking pre-orders for full kits of the ‘Buffy Collection’ as it was being called by the fall.

Jan15-Willow1

Well, the final ends were woven in at the end of 2010 and I finally managed to get out for a photo shoot last month, and now the patterns are available for you, dear knitters. I present to you the ‘Midnight Collection’ – three patterns all inspired by the world of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and the vampires, werewolves, and witches therein. I would hazard to say this is not the last time I’ll turn to this world for design inspiration, especially if Kim keeps up dyeing these awesome colours, but for now I have to say I’m very pleased with this set. All 3 patterns are available individually from Patternfish or Ravelry (links below) for $5-6 each, or from Indigodragonfly Yarns as patterns or as full kits. Also, if you are a Ravelry member or are purchasing from Indigodragonfly, you can get all 3 patterns for $12, essentially 3-for-the-price-of-2. How’s that for a great deal?

Jan15-Drusilla1a

‘Drusilla’-inspired Gothic Gloves are a simple pattern for women’s gloves, with that touch of vampire at the cuff. They are written for both DK-weight and fingering-weight yarn (in case you are deciding between warmth or light elegance), and come in 2 sizes. This pattern uses twisted stitches and some basic cable twists, and uses a chart.

Jan15-Oz4

‘Oz’-inspired Midnight Mittens, are an Aran-weight mitten pattern written in one size, suitable for both men or women, featuring a toothy, textured pattern over the back of the hand. These are ideal for warmth as well as speedy knitting! This one also makes use of a few basic cable twists, slipped stitches, and knit/purl texture, and also uses a chart.

Jan15-Willow3

And finally, the ‘Willow’-inspired Nightblooming Mittens, are where you can show off your mad knitting skills in a lighter, fingering-weight mitten, with plenty of leafy vine cables blooming across the hand. Instructions include charts. These also come in 2 sizes and would be fun to modify as fingerless mitts also, as a variation. These, I have to say, might be my favourite of the whole collection.

Months after this crazy Buffy-knitting ride began, I’m very glad to finally show them off to you.

Gothic Gloves (for Drusilla, and other lady vampires)
On Ravelry | On Patternfish
Midnight Mittens (for Oz, and other werewolves)
On Ravelry | On Patternfish
Nightblooming Mittens (for Willow, and other witches)
On Ravelry | On Patternfish

Jan15-OzWillow3

I’m also very grateful to my test-knitters for their generous help in working on these patterns and helping to make them better: Bridget, Drea, and Jacqueline of the Purple Purl knitters. Thanks, ladies!

Happy knitting today, whether you are knitting fannishly or otherwise! And stay warm.

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Closing out the knits

As 2010 winds down I’m happy to be finishing up a couple (if not all) of the projects currently on the needles. I got my Elizabeth Zimmerman fair isle yoke sweater finished a few days ago (will happily do a finished object post about that next time), and now that my bit of gift knitting is done I’m also finishing up the last of the 3 patterns for a collection of mittens and gloves I’ve been working on with Indigodragonfly yarns.

Dec30-WillowMitts

It’s been a consistent project the last couple of months and is just about ready for unveiling – Kim is even taking pre-orders for a full set of yarn and patterns, which is a new thing for me and pretty darned cool. I have got to say, Kim’s yarn is very easy to work with. I chose to do a set of 3 patterns as single skein projects with each of her 3 weights of Merino/cashmere/nylon blend, in worsted, DK, and sock. It’s delicious stuff. (FYI: the full set of patterns will be available soon, individually and as a collection, and you’ll be the first to know.)

Dec-IndigodragonflyMCNsock

Because these are inspired as a generally gothic collection taking after characters from the Buffy the Vampire series, Kim has been delighting in naming a series of colourways according to characters and quotations. This one is for Willow, and is so named ‘My world is askew,’ but she’s got others in the mix for several characters.

I’m hanging at her place for the rest of 2010 and it’s a relaxing time so far, featuring knitting, sitting, and co-hosting by Otis the dog. He is terribly stressed out, as you can see.

Dec30-Otis

I hope your last knits for 2010 are enjoyable ones! I am looking forward to exciting new knits in 2011.

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Hit or Mess

As I continue on these simultaneous and co-dependent paths of Knitting Things and Also Designing Things That Other People Might Want To Knit Too, I am learning that sometimes there is a fine line between creativity and frustration. Sometimes I get hit with five ideas at once and I love them all to bits and pieces and want to cuddle them and make everyone love them as much as i do, but then I don’t have time to act on all of them at first and then the ideas Must Wait and then I get Impatient. Other times I find myself having nothing to knit that does not involve making a set of decisions before progressing forward, or ripping out and re-doing, and the Creative Process starts to look a lot like Walking Around With A Black Raincloud Over My Head. (Or, that could just be today’s weather. Whichever).

This weekend was such an occasion/process for me. This month I assigned myself the task of knitting a Fair Isle Yoke cardigan from Elizabeth Zimmerman’s instructions, knowing that it involved relatively quick worsted weight knitting and that I had the yarn in my stash all ready to go, and therefore that this should be pretty easy as far as my knitting life was concerned. But of course, because my knitting brain tends to reject things that seem too easy, I also assigned myself the task of inserting a fair isle panel near the cuffs on the sleeves, even though this wasn’t in the original instructions. I was also motivated to do this in the interest of saving yarn – I have a limited amount of the dark brown (main colour) in use for the body and sleeves, and so inserting other colours onto the sleeves is a way of extending the lifespan of the dark brown skeins.

Nov22-EZsleeve1

Of course, this also meant choosing fair isle motifs to go on the sleeves, AND front-loading the decision about what colours to use for said motifs (rather than waiting until after the sleeves and body were done, and making said decision after having started the yoke). I procrastinated on this step like CRAZY. I let the sleeve cuff sit there, barely started, for a week. I gave myself 9 different shades to choose from, even though I only needed 4-5, which of course only made it harder for myself. And then when you add in the voice that says “make it better, make it more than that, dummy,” even simple tasks become challenging. I got there in the end, after a few tries and after convincing myself that it really is totally OK if it’s something fairly simple and not seven different kinds of complicated, but truthfully, I probably wouldn’t have agonized over it so much if I wasn’t also agonizing over other things.

Nov22-WillowV1

Take this wee mitten cuff, as Exhibit #2. It’s almost half a mitt, even, and I was really enjoying working the motif on it, and I also rather like the colour. But the more I kept knitting it the more I started to re-think it, and am not entirely convinced of the stitch count for the fit, the complexity of the motif, or even the matchup between the pattern and the colourway.

So, another thing that feels like a mess is going to get ripped and restarted, and I’ll start again and it’s going to be better the 2nd time around, but by the end of Sunday I was really starting to wish I had some knitting to turn to that didn’t involve the entire fate of the project being left to my decisions. And then, I realized that I do! I do have such a project. I have the Pi Shawl. Which is stockinette and easy, and, um, also now in the five-hundred-and-mumblety-mumblety number of stitches phase.

Nov22-PiShawl

And now I’m not sure if I don’t actually prefer the mess.
Go figure.

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Filed under design, elizabeth zimmerman, fair isle

The Crazy In Progress

Over the last few weeks I’ve had the chance to go back to working on a little set of designs that I’ve had on the brain since the summer, and have been able to sink into properly now that the knits of the summer and early fall are finished. It’s going to be a set of 3 mittens/gloves, in a sort of mini-collection, all using Indigodragonfly merino/cashmere/nylon in different weights.

All I really needed to go on were Kim’s colourway names. This project idea lodged itself in my brain back in May at the Toronto Knitter’s Frolic, when I picked up a skein of the MCN sport/dk in a deep dark purple called ‘Not Another Teen Vampire Movie,’ and then a little later on when I snagged a skein of the MCN sock in a deep dark red called ‘Happy Goth.’ Clearly, gothic somethingorothers needed to be made with these.

Nov16-OzMitts

So then I emailed up Kim and said “hey, you know if I had a skein of the MCN worsted to complete this set, we could have a nice little gothic mini-collection going.” And she said “Oh yes, something dark and blue/green, maybe for Oz. Definitely not Jacob. Oz.” And so these mittens are coming along nicely in his colourway labelled “Hootenanny – Well it’s chock full of hoot, just a little bit of nanny.”

We may, in fact, be a little bit crazy about this. But I’m willing to bet we are not the only knitters who walk around with characters from Buffy the Vampire Slayer on the brain, and it works just fine as a design inspiration, so no matter. I’m still mulling over the final pattern names, but in my head, they correspond alternately to Drusilla, Oz, and Willow (for the vampire, werewolf, and witch contingents). And if nothing else, well. Delicious merino/cashmere gloves and mitts for all. I am enjoying this little project and am aiming for a winter release when they’re all finished. I just love knitting gloves, they are so satisfying in the end, and mittens are just as satisfying while also being quicker to knit.

In other news, I’ve finished the stockinette portion of my Elizabeth Zimmerman fair isle yoke cardigan, and am now pondering the sleeves, and the diversion of placing some colourwork panels down near the cuff. It’s never a dull moment here at Knitting To Stay Sane, I tell you what.

I hope your warm and wintery knits are going well! Stay warm.

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Staked

I’ve got a design to tell you about, and I’m super thrilled over it. It’s my pattern contribution for the Indigodragonfly ‘Smart-Ass Knitters’ single skein yarn club, and I’ve had it in the works for a while. Because this is a pattern currently exclusive to the club and because not everyone in the club may have received their packages yet, I’ll put up this handy club-approved photo of Otis, the Indigodragonfly Yarns resident dog, to allow for a bit of spoiler space. You can scroll down for the good stuff.

OtisSpoiler

Back at the end of last winter Kim messaged me (on Twitter, not via email, so instantaneous was the need for this discussion apparently) to ask me if I wanted to be involved in the club, and naturally I needed no time to make THAT decision. Then she asked me (I still have this saved) “How would you like to design for a colourway called ‘And then Buffy staked Edward. The end?’” And I believe I said “I think I would feel really really really good about that.”

The colourway name was pretty much all I needed to go on. The “Staked” pattern is the lovely result:

Oct8-Staked6

I do love me some twisty cables, and I thought they were especially appropriate with the vampire-slayer-themed colourway. I went looking for some nice stabby motifs, including one more than a little reminiscent of a stake-through-the-heart. I really love the way it turns out in the dark colourway, it has a subtle but dramatic appearance.

Oct8-Staked4

The cables continue onto the foot but eventually diminish, decreasing symmetrically on each foot until only stockinette (and possibly dust and darkness?) are left behind.

Oct8-Staked5

I love them. I think this is one of my favourite patterns I’ve done so far. Kim’s Merino Sock 2-ply is a wonderful yarn to work with and is also becoming one of my favourite sock yarns.

The only bummer (for you), is that the pattern isn’t yet available outside of the club – but it will be in the spring, and I’ll be sure to let you know about that when it happens. (If you’re interested, signups are still open for the 2nd half of the club, here.) But I just couldn’t resist showing it off!

More to come from me this week – some book reviews on the go, and almost-never-ending Pi Shawl progress.

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Making the deadline

On Friday, during the van ride down to Rhinebeck, I knitted the 2nd sleeve.

On Friday night, I sewed the sleeves to the body over margaritas.

Oct16-Royale2

And on Saturday, I wore the finished sweater to Rhinebeck. (Royale, available on Ravelry and on Patternfish.)

Oct16-Royale1

It was awesome.

I also bought some yarn. More about that tomorrow. There’s some more knitting and drinking to be done first. Hurray for knitting weekends!

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Filed under design, finished object: sweater, sweaters

Weekend socks

Timing is a wonderful thing.

This week I am pleased to show you a sock pattern of mine, published in the November 2010 issue of Canadian Living magazine (on newsstands now!) and also generously available for free on Canadian Living Online. I received my own copy in the mail yesterday and proceeded to thoroughly geek out over it. I may continue to do so by looking at copies in the grocery store lineup. Heh.

Oct13-WeekendSocks

This is a basic, worsted-weight sock pattern, intended to encourage knitters to take the leap into sock knitting. The advantage with worsted-weight socks is that they are pretty quick compared to fingering weight, so even if you are only putting in an hour or so of knitting a few evenings a week, you can see progress before too long. And if you’re intimidated about making your first pair of socks, having a bit of speed on your side can be a real boost. I’ve written this up for 3 different sizes so that different kinds of feet can be easily acommodated!

As this is also meant to be a “learn to make socks” kind of pattern, part of my assignment involved doing up a series of photos to follow along with the pattern, and you can see them online here, in a photo slide show. You can see the sock as it grows, from the leg through the heel turn, and a picture of the toe.

Oct13-WeekendSocks2

But as for the timing…good job there, people at Canadian Living who are in charge of these things. When I was writing this up a few months ago it was not at all cold enough to feel like I was ever going to get to the point of wanting to pull on thick homey socks to wear around the house or inside boots. Well, lo and behold, just as this pattern hit the newsstands, as of yesterday the temperatures started to get pretty frosty overnight, and this morning after I got up the first thing I did was pull on my own pair of these. They are wonderful, and I say screw slippers. Heavy wool socks for everyone!

My own pair and the photographed sample were done up in Louet Gems worsted, but a variety of yarns could be used. I have to say though, I love this yarn. I hadn’t spent much time with it before, but I feel pretty confident saying that I will be spending more time with it in the future. It’s soft, wears pretty well, and I can throw it in the washing machine if I want to, and the colours are gorgeous.

Happy fall knitting, blog friends!

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Filed under design, free pattern, socks

Lamplight shawl

It never rains but it pours, it seems (well, yesterday it was actually pouring. Cut to me, realizing my umbrella also didn’t make it with me in my move. Hah), with design work, and by some fluke of timing I get to tell you about the shawl pattern I finished over the summer, on the heels of my two pattern reveals last week. This is the Lamplight shawl, a pattern I worked on for Michelle at the Sweet Sheep. Her maternity leave carried on a bit longer than anticipated, so that’s why this is coming to you in September instead of in August as originally planned!

Aug22-Shawl5

Michelle gave me one of her Super Soft skeins to work with for this project, and the yarn really is extremely well suited for shawls, as a soft and lofty 2-ply light fingering weight. It feels very nice in your hands to work with and blocks up beautifully. If you were to substitute yarn, I would recommend choosing something similar in the light fingering weight category. The advantage with these Super Skeins that Michelle does is that they have over 900 yds in a single skein, so you don’t have to stop to change yarn halfway through.

Aug22-Shawl1

In designing this I wanted to combine two motifs, as that is a pattern that I like in triangular shawls, and to use stitch patterns that include purl rows on the wrong side, for ‘resting’ as it were. I like that this allows for a bit of comfort and slightly speed with the process. Additionally, I wanted it to be modifiable to be able to be produced in a smaller, scarf-sized version, and so the instructions include both the large size (pictured) and the smaller size. The smaller size takes about 375 yds, the large one about 800 yds.

Aug22-Shawl4

This is currently available as a Sweet Sheep exclusive, and is available for download here.

Thanks very much to my friend Smitha who obliged me with some modelled shots of the shawl! I think she looks great. Too bad I had to take back the shawl when we were done. And thanks to Michelle at the Sweet Sheep for the design opportunity!

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Filed under design, finished object: shawl

Take Two

I told you I had another thing to show you that I was getting done for this weekend’s Knitter’s Fair in Kitchener-Waterloo. Lo and behold, it is done, though I regret muchly that I wasn’t able to wrangle a clothed-person photo session with it. I can ensure you that I have in fact put on the final sample and I love it and am very glad Kim is letting me hang onto the sample, otherwise Things might Happen and one doesn’t like Things to Happen when there are precious skeins of yarn hanging around.

Sept10-StageDoor4

This is the Stage Door cardigan, for Indigodragonfly yarns, and will be available at the fair tomorrow in print copy, as also will be the yarn I made it in. It is delicious. Merino/Silk DK, in a colour named “I am filled with ennui (dramatic sigh)”. Kim took the name inspiration from a Glee line spoken by (I think) Kurt, ergo the pattern name had to take theatrics into account, n’est pas?

[ETA]: Now available on Patternfish, and in my Ravelry store.

I’m quite happy with the end result. It’s long, shaped (high waist), and very easy to throw on and then pull off again. I kept the foundation simple with stockinette because quite frankly, when there is 50% silk in the house, drape is what you want. Mmmmm, silk.

Sept10-StageDoor2

The detail around the neck and collar are also a win for me. Just enough interest and texture to keep you paying attention, but not overwhelmingly so. And it’s very comfy. At 20 sts/28 rows over 4 inches, it’s also pleasant as a fall-to-winter knit.

Sept10-StageDoor5

And with that, my weekend is drawing very close to starting. I’ll be back next time with more purchasing details on this and the Allons-Y shawl/scarf from my last post. I hope your weekend is knit-a-riffic, whatever corner you’re in!

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Filed under design, finished object: sweater

Allons-Y

[ETA]: This pattern is now available for sale on Patternfish, and in my Ravelry store.

I’ve been a busy little bee the last few weeks, as per usual getting one or two things ready for the knitting fair! For the Kitchener-Waterloo Knitter’s Fair this weekend, you will once again be able to find a new pattern of mine at Tanis Fiber Arts.  Tanis has been wanting a quick ‘single skein’ shawl pattern all for her own, and since she has two different lines of fingering weight yarn, I wanted to come up with something that a knitter could make with either one.

Sept9-AllonsY8

This is “Allons-Y” (french for ‘let’s go!’), and is shown here in Tanis’ Purple Label cashmere/merino/nylon blend in the rich and gorgeous ‘poppy‘ shade. It is very soft and has a pleasant weight around the neck. Can’t you just feel the cashmere radiating through the photos?

Sept9-Allonsy9

I wanted something that would combine a couple of stitch motifs for a nice scarf-like effect, in the nice versatile way that small shawls can be. You could wear this over the shoulders on a chilly day, or tuck it around your neck or under the collar for just a bit of extra insulation.

This uses 4.5mm needles and a single 100g skein of Tanis’ fingering weight, with just 7g leftover from my sample in the Purple Label (slightly shorter yardage than the Blue label merino/nylon fingering weight). A nice bargain! Experienced lace knitters will probably be able to knock this off pretty quickly, and adventurous new lace knitters who are looking for a second or third project to try will find it approachable enough. The shawl follows typical triangular shawl construction, and is worked from the centre neck down towards the edge, with a garter stitch edging and yarnover increases. Reverse side rows are worked purlwise, because if you’re going for speed, (not that I would ever be impatient to finish things, no no no…) you want to have that nice purl resting row waiting for you.

Sept9-AllonsY3b

Thanks also to Bridget Allin of Needles in the Hay, who I accosted…errr, who obliged me with a quick photo shoot in her shop.

See you at the fair this weekend, folks – and with one more thing I’ll have to tell you about tomorrow. (Heh). ;)

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Filed under design, lace