Category Archives: design

My multiple comparative gauge swatches bring all the boys to the yard

One of my projects this week has been getting design plans off the ground for the inspired-by-Neville fair isle cardigan, and it’s been great fun to map out. (Fair warning: if you’re looking for an exact copy of his Deathly Hallows sweater, this won’t be it. I will be leaning a bit closer to a true Shetland style sweater, and so won’t be including the pockets and hoodie, and will be varying the border and peerie patterns just a bit. But still, I can promise you it’s going to be awesome, I can feel it.)

I was happily swatching it up earlier in the week, getting a sense of the patterns and colour combinations – because as it turns out, even when you are using black, cream, and five shades of grey, you really do have to spend a bit of time getting it right. (I sort of think this is half the fun, but don’t tell anyone.)

Aug18-LongbottomSwatches

So anyhow, I had it nicely planned out and I liked the fabric I was getting at 8 sts to the inch. Then, I did a quick bit of math and realized that since this is going to be a men’s cardigan, therefore even the smallest size was going to have a cast-on number of nearly 300 sts.

Then, I cast on a new swatch, at 7.5 sts to the inch, and it turns out that fabric is still totally awesome and will save everybody a few dozen stitches at the cast-on. I’m thinking of you, dear knitters. It was totally worth it. Start practicing up your colour-work for fall, kids! (I can’t understand why the back-to-school television ads don’t lead with that, tsk.)

Stay tuned until next time, when I’ll have another sock pattern to formally introduce you to. I’ll be coming to you from Edmonton for the weekend, where I will sadly not be running the half marathon that was to be the purpose of the trip (SOB), but I shall have a friendly visit with relatives all the same.

Keep on knititng!

21 Comments

Filed under colour-work, design, fair isle, swatching

Colour toolboxes

Thank you all so much for the lovely feedback on my Firefly socks in my last post – it is always so reassuring to have knitter-geek solidarity. It’s been a sock-a-riffic summer so far, and still with a bit more summer time to go!

Another one of my ongoing projects this summer has been to spend time thinking about colour. I’m planning some colour-work designs in the fall and winter ahead, and in addition to sharpening my fair isle skills have been pondering colour theory and ways to practice colour knowledge in a compatible fashion with knitting. As much as has been written on colour theory, most of it assumes your medium is something mix-able, like paint or pastels, and I’ve been thinking about how to work through various ideas and colour brainstorming in yarn form. It’s also been neat to think through more ways of teaching this kind of thing, should future such opportunities come up.

Aug14-Crayons1

One suggestion I got from another instructor at the Haliburton Arts School in July (herself a painter) was to go and get the full 96 pack of Crayola crayons – it has a wider variety of hues than your average box of pencil crayons, and at a much friendlier price than most formal art supplies. It makes for easy graphing or colour-testing to check out colour combinations, when you want options for, say, magenta and periwinkle instead of just pink and blue. And the boxes still come with sharpeners inside! Ah, childhood memories.

Aug14-Crayons2

I do love that they wrap the crayons with the spectrum in mind – you can tell at a glance which colours belong to the blues or the violets, right when you’ve picked them up. I also find it interesting that the number of reds and violets, as well as blues and greens, far out-number the other shades. I suppose these must be the shades that kids reach for most often?

But then, there is still the question of the yarns themselves.

Aug15-PaletteColours

Inspired by a photo circulating on Pinterest which displayed embroidery floss on clothes-pin bobbins, I decided to create my own yarn “paintbox” with my colour-work yarn (here, Knit Picks Palette). I have so many colours to choose from if I were to start making selections for a design that it gets unwieldy to pull out all the yarn at once (those two big tubs are starting to get heavy…and overstuffed…oh yes, let’s definitely get some of that yarn into garment form!), but this way I can have them all in a box at a glance, and sort all the shades according to their hue.

It is the awesomest. If I want to look at, say, all the blue-greens, there they are! I think pretty soon my (smaller) Cascade 220 stash is going to get the same treatment.

Aug15-Palette2

Ah, colour. So much fun, so little time.

28 Comments

Filed under colour-work, design, fair isle, knitting knowledge, stash

Socks for big damn heroes

Ladies and gentlemen, I promised a full update when my new sock patterns were up for online consumption, and I’m pleased to finally do so!

Hi, I’m a geek. Have we met? I mean, sure I love artsy things, and inspiration can and does come from everywhere. But sometimes, my friends, that inspiration is television. I like television. I like other things, too, but you know, I like television. And I like talking about it. I never understand it when people watch a show every week and then don’t feel the urge to go blather about it (or via email, since, as established, I’m a geek) with a friend the next day. Working with said inspiration is also pretty easy when you are working with yarn dyed by friends who share said television geekery. Last winter I did some mitten patterns with Kim’s yarn, inspired by her Buffy-the-Vampire-Slayer themed colourways, and this summer I’ve been at work on a few sock patterns which are all named for Firefly characters. (It took me a while to come around on Firefly, and why I should care to go watch a show that only lasted one season. Then I got the DVDs and discovered why. It’s awesome.)

The mittens and gloves came in a set of 3 (one for each weight of Merino/cashmere/nylon yarn), so somehow it seemed natural that the Firefly socks should also come in a set of 3. (one for each…kind of sock yarn? Sure!) So then I had to pick three characters to work with, and it turned out that was the easy part. I present to you, officially launched online, three Firefly-inspired sock patterns – all worked for 2 sizes, all designed with Indigodragonfly Yarns in mind. (If substituting, work with a yarn that will allow you to obtain the same gauge.) Each are available for individual sale on Patternfish and Ravelry, for $6. If you’re purchasing on Ravelry, you can get all 3 as a collection, for the price of 2. (Links below).

July25-Mal2

These are called “O Captain My Captain”, for Captain Malcolm Reynolds, and are worked in the most practical of sock yarns – superwash merino 2-ply. I love this yarn, it’s the same one I worked with for my “Staked” sock pattern last fall, and is very versatile. I envisioned these socks as being the ones as potentially for either men or women, so I wanted to keep the lines simple but still with a bit of excitement to them – much like Mal himself. But as noble as Mal is, he’s also a little bit broken and twisted, so that’s exactly what these cables do. There are instructions on how to “place” the cable breaks, and that placement is entirely up to you. You could break the same cable in the same place all the way down the foot, or alternate around the leg.

July25-Mal1

On Ravelry | On Patternfish

These are worked from the cuff down at a stockinette gauge of 8 sts/inch, on 2.5mm needles, and socks to fit up to a size 12 women’s or size 10 men’s foot should be fine with one 375 yds/100g skein of the Merino sock.

July25-Kaylee1

Next up is “Kaywinnit”, for Kaylee, who is most at home in the ship’s engine room but still longs for girlish frills and pink ruffles. So, I wanted a sock that would be relatively simple, but still with a bit of frills. I hope to have accomplished that with these, where there is a chevron/garter “ruffle” at the top of the cuff.

July25-Kaylee2

On Ravelry | On Patternfish

These are also cuff-down, and once you’re past the cuff it’s pretty smooth sailing with a knit-and-purl textured pattern down the rest of the foot, and if you’re lucky to snag some of the Shiny Sock (includes silver) while it’s still going, you can also look forward to a few sparkles! This sock yarn behaves a little more like sport-weight, so even on 2.5mm needles this pattern assumes a stockinette gauge of 7 sts/inch. If substituting yarns, look for something a little heavier than your usual sock yarn.

Finally, for the fanciest lady on the Firefly ship, these are called “Companion.” Plain socks wouldn’t do for Inara, I mean, have you seen the number of silk gowns she has to parade around in? No no, even just cables wouldn’t do. This gal needs some beads as well. So, after a few years of wanting to play with beads, I finally broke them out for Inara – this is my first beaded sock design.

July25-Inara4b

If you’re not inclined towards beads, they are easily omitted from this sock – and you’ll still have a few twisted cables to keep your interest – as they are placed with a crochet hook and not pre-strung. You’ll also need to pay attention to your “stopping place” with the beads, i.e. don’t go right to the toe. Stop placing the beads once you reach the point when your shoe is going to come into the picture. I have to say, though, I really like the elegance and extra bit of sparkle they add.

On Ravelry | On Patternfish

These are also worked cuff-down, and are the most advanced of this little collection, involving twisted-stitch cables as well as the bead placement. But if you’ve got experience with that sort of thing, you’ll find yourself getting into a rhythm pretty easily. They also assume a stockinette gauge of 8 sts/inch, and are worked using Indigodragonfly Merino/cashmere/nylon sock.

July25-Inara3

My goal with this little set of socks was to come up with a set of patterns that was not only consistent with the Firefly character aesthetics, but which also used a variety of techniques for a variety of skill levels or interests. Each pattern does something a little bit differently than the other. I hope you’ll find one (or two?) in there that sparks your interest!

These days, my needles are full of projects and ideas, so with any luck this fall will have more designs coming your way. Socks are for all occasion, but sweaters and other accessories are just the ticket for cool weather, so those are in the plans for sure.

I’ve also got to find something new for a regular not-designed-by-me project, so that’s something I’ll put my mind to in the next few days. Until next time, happy knitting!

18 Comments

Filed under design, fandom, socks

Pretty cunning, don’t you think?

I’ve been getting steadily busier the last couple of months here at Knitting to Stay Sane, with designs and designs-still-being-dreamed up. I have a list of sweater plans the length of my arm. At least two shawls. And no fewer than two Harry Potter inspired knits, now that the final film has been released and reminded me of how fun that sort of knitting is. (Neville’s cardigan, man am I ever ON IT when Sock Summit is over. Plotting has begun.)

Speaking of Sock Summit, I have the great fortune to have three designs that will be winging their way to Portland along with me. These are the Firefly-inspired knits I alluded to a week or two earlier, and I am well pleased with them. They’ll be making their debut in the Indigodragonfly booth (#1001), and then in full release online via Ravelry and Patternfish some time in early August. (In other words, when I’ve had a few days to recover from Sock Summit, and let the SS shoppers have a few days of exclusivity and glee. ;) ) So if you’re headed to Sock Summit, these can all be yours this week! If not, I’ll be sure to give the heads-up on this blog when they are available for all.

So dear readers, I am pleased to give you a sneak peek of the Firefly-inspired sock patterns that will soon be making their way out into knitting world, each showcasing a different yarn and different set of techniques.

‘O Captain My Captain’ is for Mal, and features not just noble, upright cables…but broken ones, too. Broken cables for a broken guy. These ones are intended for either men or women, and are shown in the ‘Captain Tightpants’ colourway of Indigodragonfly Merino Sock.

July25-Mal1

‘Kaywinnit’ is for Kaylee, and uses simple stitches and texture for a combination of practicality and frill. Our shiny gal deserves a bit of both in her life, don’t you think?

July25-Kaylee1

And finally, ‘Companion’ is for Inara, to whom I gave not just my precious twisted cables – no no, she deserves just a little bit more – but the application of a few beads. The beads are optional, but so darned gorgeous. And her yarn is the merino/nylon/cashmere, no less. Doesn’t a space geisha deserve that extra luxury?

July25-Inara2

I’m very happy to show you these socks, as they’ve been waiting patiently for a while.
And now, I’d better get back to the grind – there’s not just knitting but packing to be done!
Happy Monday!

12 Comments

Filed under design, fandom, finished object: socks

Things I’ve been doing

I’ve been short in the blogging this week, but not in the to-do-ings. Things I’ve been keeping busy with include:

1. Finishing up some sock designs for Indigodragonfly, to appear in her booth at Sock Summit 2011, in just 11 short days. (Note: dates on calendar may be closer than they appear). They are all Firefly-inspired, and you can catch a glimpse of Kaylee (above) and Mal (below) here. Inara is the third, to follow. I love them.

July15-KayleeMalSocks

2. Finishing up a pair of Jaywalkers that have been on the needles and in my purse since April and I had sort of almost given up hope of finishing. But slow and steady wins in the end, and now I have another pair of Lorna’s Laces Jaywalkers (9th? 10th pair?) in ‘Montrose’, to add to the sock drawer.

July15-JaywalkersMontrose

3. Being really frustrated that I’m still not running. (Yes, I’ve started physiotherapy. No, this does not make me feel much better about having to cancel a 2nd half-marathon in 3 months.)

4. Cooking up some designs for the fall. Man, I love cables. (As does this Tanis Fiber Arts DK, in garnet. Man, I love garnet.)

July15-TanisDKcardi

5. Reviving a healthy obsession with Harry Potter inspired knitwear.

6. Preparing to head off this weekend for the Great North Woods, or more accurately, the Haliburton School of the Arts, where I’ll be teaching a week long workshop starting Monday, on sweater knitting. I basically love everything about sweaters, and though I am filled with equal parts delight and anxiety over teaching a week long workshop for the first time, I think probably the delight will win, since sweaters are awesome. (And usually so are knitters).

Catch you next time! And in case I’m gone all week, as my friend Jane likes to say, kids, don’t burn down the internet while I’m away.

Happy knitting!

17 Comments

Filed under design, finished object, finished object: socks, socks, sweaters

Summer logic

I think if one so happens to be sitting down to knit with a shiny, pink, girly-ish sort of skein of yarn, then one should definitely also have a pink, girly-ish sort of drink to go with it.

June15-KayleeSocks

I mean, that’s just the only reasonable thing to do.
Right?

I thought so.

23 Comments

Filed under design, socks

Stop the madness

There will come a day, hopefully one day very soon, when I am not stubbornly transfixed by selecting colour combinations of Knit Picks Palette for potential colour-work designing. I am very sorry to announce that so far, today is not that day.

June13-Palette

I keep endlessly shuffling them around, deciding “okay this time for sure” that I’ve got it, swatching it up, then not being entirely happy with it and trying again. I think that this time I might have it…but then check in again tomorrow morning and we’ll see about that.

June13-Palette2

This weekend as a change of pace from that, and distraction from the fact that I am still not back onto running and need to figure out what the hip woes are actually all about (show me a runner who can’t run and I will show you the dictionary definition of the word “miserable”), I allowed myself to be kidnapped by knitters into the city. On Friday it was ‘Drunken Knitters’, a monthly gathering of Toronto knitters in a pub, which I always mean to come in for and almost never actually do. Just in case any of you think I am the only one cracked enough to take on colour-work or lace while under the influence, I can reassure you there were knitters present doing both of these. This includes Michelle, who was working away on stranded mittens on 2.0mm needles, and pausing between sips of Guinness to pet her progress happily.

June10-DrunkenKnitters

I hung out some more at Lisa’s and got some free kitty cuddles, visited the Purple Purl, and knitted a bit. I met up with Jane who, fresh from a visit to the camera store for new toys, stuck a hat on my head and took pictures of it. As one does, when one hangs out with knitters.

June11-JanePhotos

June11-Socks

When next we meet, I hope to have solved the colour decision, or at least have moved on to another set of knitting decisions. Happy knitting! Keep the yarn close by.

12 Comments

Filed under colour-work, design