What I'm Reading/Watching: November 2014

This month I did a lot more watching than reading. I blame a large amount of deadline knitting on that!

I did read one book though. It was Lena Dunham's Not That Kind of Girl. I love her show Girls on HBO, so I decided to read the book. For me, it was hilarious and sad and sometimes a little disturbing. Much like her TV show. A good read for Lena fans. I definitely liked it!

I've also started reading another Rachael Herron book. I 'm reading Cora's Heart. I'm about 60 pages in and enjoying it. I love Rachael's books! I have Pack Up the Moon already purchased and on my Kindle for future reading.
That's pretty much it on the reading front. As for watching, I've been rewatching Season 6 of Parks and Recreation, getting ready for the new season to start in January.
And then I've been watching Hallmark Christmas movies. Like all of them. My TiVo is working overtime to record them. My process of watching the Hallmark movies goes like this: Start watching movie. If, after 20 minutes I'm not feelin' it, I delete and move on. All these movies are cheesy, but some are too much, even for me. A couple of my faves have been A Holiday Engagement (I watch this one every year) and the new Cookie Cutter Christmas. I have a few more of my faves waiting on the TiVo for me.

So that's it. I have "sort of plans" to read some Christmas-y books in December. Not sure though. With the made-for-TV movies and the books - that might be a little too much!

What have you been reading or watching? I want to hear about it!

Wonder what I read/watched last month? Check out this blog post.


Sock-Yarn Shawls II: Monarda

In today's Sock Yarn Shawls II featured pattern post, it's the last of the small one-skein shawls. It's Monarda:
I love this shawl. I'm going to go ahead and say it's my favorite one in the book. I really love how this design came together for me. It's knit from the top-down and can be adjusted to be bigger if you want. I have serious plans to make a larger one!

The stitch pattern is one I used a few years ago, in my Timberland shawl:
Timberland was one of my earliest patterns, and while I do like it, it just doesn't do that beautiful stitch pattern justice. So I decided to play with it a bit, and Monarda was born.
It's no secret around here that I love the look of garter stitch and lace together. And this pattern just marries them perfectly for me.
I hope you love it like I do! The shawl in the book is knit out of the always lovely Madelinetosh Tosh Sock. I love this so much. It's a staple in my stash.

Stay tuned for next week - I'll be showing off some of the larger shawls in the book, starting with Starlit!

 Want to read more blog posts from this blog series? Click here

Image from Sock Yarn Shawls II by Jen Lucas, Martingale, 2015; used with permission. Photos by Brent Kane. All rights reserved.



Sock-Yarn Shawls II: Jasmine

Today's pattern feature from Sock-Yarn Shawls II is another small one-skein shawl. It's Jasmine:
Jasmine is a small short-row shawl worked from the bottom up. Like Juniper, you start with the lace pattern and then transition to the stockinette short row body. The sample is knit out of some lovely Dragonfly Fibers yarn.

I named the shawl Jasmine because the stitch pattern reminded me of perfume bottles (I don't know, my brain is weird). Maybe the kind of bottle a cartoon genie would come out of. ;)

This is definitely the smallest shawl in the book. A true shawlette. Even with it being small, there's still some great ways to wear it. A small shawl like this tucks perfectly into your jacket.
I especially like turning these tiny shawls into a 'sort-of cowl.'
I just tie a loose knot underneath the shawl to keep it in place!
I think this shawl goes great with my "Does a bear knit in the woods?" shirt, don't you?

Stay tuned - I'll be back on Thursday to talk about Monarda (which might be my favorite shawl in the book).

Want to read more blog posts from this series? Click here.

Image from Sock Yarn Shawls II by Jen Lucas, Martingale, 2015; used with permission. Photos by Brent Kane. All rights reserved. 


Blog Interview: Vicki Twigg

When I received an email from the kind folks at Interweave about receiving a review copy of Twigg Stitch by Vicki Twigg a few weeks ago, I knew I had to get my hands on one (and get one for you too...more on that at the end of this post). I was seriously intrigued - a new twist on reversible knitting? That's something I need to know more about. I'm so pleased that I was able to get in contact with Vicki and conduct a little interview. 

Jen: How did you get started in designing knitting patterns?

Vicki: I don’t really remember a time when I was not designing. I have made plenty of other peoples patterns through the years but often altered or tweaked them somehow. The earliest of my own designs were probably doll clothes, sewn, knitted or crocheted. I’ve knitted since I was about 5 so that’s quite a long time now.

J: How did you come up with the Twigg stitch? What makes it different from other techniques like colorwork and double knitting?

V: I wanted to make a two-sided version of a two-color rib. I could see the finished look in my mind so I played with yarn until I worked out how to knit it. Twigg stitch is different from other methods in various ways, unlike double knitting it is a single fabric, it does not have the floats on the back like Fair Isle and it’s worked with both yarns at the same time unlike Brioche. They all have their own unique qualities and my hope is that Twigg stitch gives knitters another option.

J: You designed so many different pieces for this book. Do you have a favorite? Why do you love it?

V: That’s a hard question, I love them all when they are on the needles. I do like to work with thinner yarns generally. The mobius may be my favorite, it’s a very satisfying shape to make. I think it appeals to my liking for interesting patterns and visual complexity, although it’s quite easy to knit once you have cast on.

J: Can you tell me a little bit about your book writing process (timeline, pattern inspiration, etc?) 

V: The publisher has a well tried and tested timeline for the whole process, about 2 years from original proposal to finished book. You begin with a period of writing the text and patterns, and knitting, then everything is submitted to an Editor (I was very fortunate in working with Ann Budd). After that comes a period of refinement with the editor and team, including tech editor, and photographer (or illustrator). 

The choice of patterns came partly from a desire to put in items that are small enough for knitters get started in the technique. I am planning to move on to larger items including sweaters and shawls.

The inspiration is partly from the shapes necessary to make the projects, and partly from the nature of the knitting or the particular stitch I have chosen, for instance the shape of the Mothwing was an original idea, but one which was influenced by the way that stitch pattern increases. And the Lake Shore wrap was the realization of an idea I had about 5 years ago, where this technique was the perfect way to knit it.

J: What are your plans for the future? Anything upcoming you can share with us? Any more books? 

V: I am still working on new designs and technical experiments, I don’t see that ending. I would love to continue to make patterns and new techniques available in the future. I have some sweater experiments on the needle now and several lace shawl ideas to develop. I can’t think of a better way to spend my time.

Thanks so much Vicki! What a cool technique. There are so many patterns in the book I'd like to try. The Mobius Infinity Scarf on the cover for starters: 
The Double Diamond Beanie is a great unisex hat. My husband may need one - perhaps in the colors of his favorite sports team!
And the Snowflake Earflap Hat would be perfect for me. :)
If you want to see all the beauties, you can check out all the patterns on Ravelry. Or you can leave a comment on this blog post and I will be giving away a copy to a random commenter! I will be drawing the name on Monday, Dec. 1, 2014. Please include your Ravelry name or link to your blog so I have some way to contact you should you win.

Don't want to leave getting the book up to chance? You can purchase your copy here.

Photos courtesy of Interweave/F+W.


Sock-Yarn Shawls II: Cinder

On Monday, I showed you how to do the bind off for this shawl. Now it's time to show you the whole piece. It's Cinder.
This shawl has similar features to lots of the shawls in the first Sock-Yarn Shawls book:
After working the stockinette portion of the body with that traditional triangle shaping, I decided to ditch the center stitch on the lace edging. I've never designed a shawl like that before!
The tiny block-like lace pattern looked like cinder blocks to me and my stitch group. Cinder seemed like a good name for the shawl. This shawl is knit out of one skein of Adorn from Three Irish Girls. One of my favorites to use for both shawls and socks.

Stay tuned for one more week of the small shawls from the book and we'll be ready to move up to the larger shawls!

Want to read more blog posts from this series? Click here.

Image from Sock Yarn Shawls II by Jen Lucas, Martingale, 2015; used with permission. Photos by Brent Kane. All rights reserved. 


Designer Interview: Jennifer Chase-Rappaport

Today I want to share my recent interview with Jennifer Chase-Rappaport. She's a wonderful designer that's participating in the Indie Design Gift-A-Long on Ravelry

You can see all of Jenny's Gift-A-Long Sale Bundle here.

Jen Lucas: How did you get started in designing knitting patterns? 
Jennifer Chase-Rappaport: When I was a kid and my mom was teaching me to sew, I was really impatient with the idea that we had to follow a pattern. (but not brave enough to try to figure out how to sew without one at that point.) When I learned to knit during college the same thing happened, but by then I was ready to try to wing it. I think the fact that there were no machines involved was very empowering for me. Later, I spent about 10 years working as a buyer in a couple of LYS’s. Any time I wanted to bring in a new yarn, the question would be “What will we do with it?” I always felt both obligated and intrigued to figure out what the answer to that question would be. Almost all my patterns are one-skein projects, and I think it’s a result of that LYS experience.

JL: Can you tell me a little about your design process? How does your design go from idea to finished pattern?
JCR: Ideas usually come to me when I’m doing something else altogether, rarely when I’m actually trying to come up with one. Most of the time I start with the stitch pattern or texture - sometimes I know exactly what it wants to be, but often I have to swatch it for a while to figure that out. Then I usually knit at least 1 prototype per size and write while I’m knitting. After that it goes to my amazing tech editor, and then to testing.

JL: When I first saw your Huntress Shawl in Knitscene I was in love! Can you tell me more about that design specifically (the inspiration, the construction, etc.)?
JCR: That’s a funny one…The shape came from thinking about how to get maximum coverage at the front of the neck without a lot of bulk so that the shawlette could be worn under a close fitting motorcycle jacket. It had totally different stitch patterns when I submitted it to Knitscene. (it’s now my “Spitfire” pattern) The editor swore she could see a wolf hiding in the geometric pattern, and asked if I could rework it to fit a future issue with a section influenced by dreams and fantasy. Pictorial knitting is not usually my thing, but I love a good challenge! I’m so glad I gave it a try.
Huntress Shawl
photo credit: F+W Media/Interweave
JL: Do you have a favorite stitch dictionary or where are your favorite places to find stitch patterns?
JCR: I’m lucky to have a branch of the Japanese bookstore Kinokuniya nearby, which has amazing knit and crochet books. I have two stitch dictionaries that I got there that I love. I also take a lot of inspiration from textures and patterns of everyday things, and have fun translating those to knitting. That will figure into a lot of the projects I have lined up for next year.

JL: What are your designing plans for the future? Anything upcoming you can share with us?
JCR: I’m trying to diversify my portfolio a little right now, so I have a hat pattern coming in December. After that, some more hats and shawls and maybe my first ever sock. Making more things that will appeal to both men and women is going to be a priority in 2015.

Thanks Jenny! I always love being able to chat with other designers and hear about their process.

To see more of Jenny's designs, check out her Ravelry designer page.  You can also check out her Ravelry group!

Jenny is just one of almost 300 designers (including me) participating in the Indie Design Gift-A-Long. The pattern sale is going on now through November 21st. 25% off selected designs when you use the coupon code "giftalong2014".  You can see a whole giant list of participating designers here.

Happy knitting and gifting! :)


Sock-Yarn Shawls II: Waveland

Welcome back! It's Week 2 of the Sock-Yarn Shawls II Blog Series. Today I'm going to tell you about Waveland:

I think this is such a sweet little one skein shawl. It's a top down shawl, starting with garter stitch and ending with a small attach-as-you-go lace border. It combines my two favorite things - garter stitch and lace.
I love the way the shawl drapes when worn like a scarf.

I choose a lace panel for the border that is also worked in garter stitch. The edging is so simple, I didn't even make a chart for it in the book. It's super easy to memorize and quick to complete.

Just a few more weeks to go and the book will be here. I look forward to everyone getting one into their hands and knitting bags!

Stay tuned for Thursday, when I show off Cinder. Earlier this week, I showed you a little tutorial on how to do the decorative bind off at the end. In a couple days I'll have lots more photos of the shawl to show you.

Want to read more blog posts from this series? Click here

Image from Sock Yarn Shawls II by Jen Lucas, Martingale, 2015; used with permission. Photos by Brent Kane. All rights reserved. 


Tutorial: Faux Crochet Bind Off

Later this week, I'll be talking more about the Cinder shawl from my upcoming book, Sock-Yarn Shawls II. I love the bind off at the end of the shawl - a sort of faux crochet bind off (I've also seen it somewhere called a looped bind off). It's a great one to know and you can add it to the end of lots of shawls!
I've made a little video to explain the whole thing:
As I said in the video, you can add it to the end of any top-down shawl, you just need to have a multiple of 3+2 stitches on the needle before working the bind off. You do that, and you're good to go!

The written instructions for this bind off look like this:

Row 1 (RS): K1, *YO twice, SK2P; rep from * to last st, YO twice, K1.
Row 2 (WS): K1, *(K1, P1) into each YO of double YO, K1; rep from * to last 3 sts, (K1, P1) into each YO of double YO, K1.

Bind off knitwise on RS.

(Note: SK2P = sl1, k2tog, psso)

Hope you enjoyed this little tutorial. You can see more of them on my website!


FO Friday: Flamingo Fun

Here I am. It's another FO Friday and I'm showing off yet another one of Stacey's amazing cuties. This time, it's a flamingo!
I got this guy as part of the kit club that arrived in September (I think...it's been awhile). I think my niece L is just going to love him! I've only made her one little toy so far, but now that she is getting older, it's time she get some bigger, better toys from auntie!
I had to make a few minor mods to the pattern, only because I was a bad crocheter and didn't check my gauge (which is sort of important, especially with the kit clubs, because you get enough yarn to make the project plus a teeny bit extra when your gauge is correct). I already went down two hook sizes because I'm apparently the loosest crocheter ever...next time I will go down three and check my gauge.

Even with eliminating a couple of rounds, he still turned out so adorable! I look forward to make yet more of Stacey's patterns. I think this flamingo was the 7th one of her patterns I've done this year. I think it's safe to say they are my favorite things to crochet.


Sock-Yarn Shawls II: Zuzu

It's time for the next installment in the Sock-Yarn Shawls II Blog Series. It's Zuzu!
This shawl is a triangle, but knit from the bottom-up. Once you work a few set-up rows, you repeat one row over and over, creating some interesting texture with the openwork pattern.
Now, that looks seriously squishable (and trust me, it is). It's followed up with a little increasing in the garter stitch section, then a few short rows at the end. Easy!

I designed this one on the fly while Alex and I were out of town last year. I won't go into all the details, but we were on a little weekend getaway, Alex got a wee bit (ok...a lot) sick and we ended up staying at the hospital for a few days. I didn't have a lot of knitting with me on the trip, but I did have one extra skein of sock yarn in my suitcase (like you're surprised by that fact). Anyway, the husband's completely fine and perfectly back to normal (well, normal for Alex...haha) now and the design has kind of a crazy story. The original design was good, but it needed a little tweaking, so I made the bottom openwork portion larger and added the short rows at the top. Cathy then reknit the sample out of the wonderful Shalimar Breathless. Yum.

I also took a photo of myself wearing this one. My new thing is I kind of like tying the shawl on the side. I think it's cute and a good way to wear these little one-skein shawls.
Oh and here is a photo out-take. Because when you are home alone all day and need photos for the blog, you have to set the little timer on your digital camera.
Oops. Caught myself adjusting my shawl instead of smiling for the camera. :)

Stay tuned for next week where I'll be talking about Waveland and Cinder. I also have a little tutorial for the decorative bind off used at the end of the Cinder shawl.

Want to read more blog posts from this series? Click here

Image from Sock Yarn Shawls II by Jen Lucas, Martingale, 2015; used with permission. Photos by Brent Kane. All rights reserved. 


Sock-Yarn Shawls II: Juniper

Today, I want to talk about the first shawl pattern in the book, Juniper.
This shawl is a bottom-up short-row shawl. One of my favorites to knit and wear! Juniper was a shawl I designed for a magazine a couple years ago. The magazine unfortunately stopped making new issues and I was left with an unpublished pattern and a perfectly lovely shawl . As soon as I had the go-ahead to make Sock-Yarn Shawls II, I knew it had to include it.

I'm totally in love with the lace pattern along the bottom.
The lace edge is worked with two charts. So, with extra yarn, you can add extra repeats of the first chart before working the second one. The second chart will then get you set up to work the short rows in the stockinette portion.

I knit the sample in the book out of a beautiful sock yarn from Huckleberry Knits. She has tons of great fingering weight yarn in her shop that would be perfect for your own Juniper. Sorry not sorry about what clicking that link does to your wallet.

The shawls have just arrived back to me after being with my book publisher for many many months. I've been wearing Juniper almost nonstop. Here's my favorite way to wear it:
(Side Note: I bought that shirt on super clearance ($11) from ModCloth last year. It's possible I bought it because it reminded me of a ball of yarn.)

I think this one is going to be a hit with the knitters. They're so fun to make!

Stay tuned I'll be back on Thursday to talk about the next shawl in the book - Zuzu.

Want to read more blog posts from this blog series? Click here

Image from Sock Yarn Shawls II by Jen Lucas, Martingale, 2015; used with permission. Photos by Brent Kane. All rights reserved. 


Sock-Yarn Shawls II: A Blog Series

It's time to finally officially announce details about my new book, Sock-Yarn Shawls II. Hooray!

The book will start shipping on January 6th. You can get your hands on it a variety of ways. Here are a few of them:
Over the next few weeks I'm going to be doing a little blog series about the book. Each shawl in the book is going to be featured in a blog post. I'll be including all sorts of stuff. Story behind the design, tutorials, easy modifications and lots more!

I'm so proud of this book. I really think there's a shawl pattern for everyone in the book. I definitely explored more shawl shapes and more yarn combinations with this time around.

So, stick around, there's lots of more to come....

Image from Sock Yarn Shawls II by Jen Lucas, Martingale, 2015; used with permission. Photos by Brent Kane. All rights reserved.

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