2014: A look back

2014 was a crazy one, that's for sure.
  • I left my full-time lab job to work in my design business full-time.
  • Another beautiful niece came into the world and has been bringing much joy to the family ever since. Love that baby.
  • My dad successfully went through chemo and radiation and is cancer-free. He still has some other serious health challenges he is facing and has been bouncing between the nursing home and hospital the last few months, but we are hopeful that he will get stronger and be home soon. Plus we want to take him to the casino to play penny slots. 
  • Alex was hired full-time at the company where he had been contracting for the first few months of the year. Hooray!
  • I taught at my first knitting convention, Vogue Knitting Live, and that was extremely awesome. 
  • I finished my manuscript on book numbers 2 and 3 this year. And turned in an idea for (hopefully) book 4. I was crazy with the book writing!
As for the knitting and crocheting....
  • I had 13 crochet FOs, 9 of which were Freshstitches patterns. I may have a problem. 
  • I finished 2 sweaters: Dutchess and Hitofude
  • I knit and designed lots of new things, many of which you will be seeing in 2015!
Goodreads told me I read (or listened to) 25 books in 2014. My favorites were The Night Circus, Ready Player One and The Fault in Our Stars. I really didn't get back into reading until about halfway through the year, once I get settled into my new job working from home.

Some goals for 2015:
  • Melissa and I are going to try to read 50 books in 2015! 
  • Design a sweater (not sure if I'll release it as a pattern, but I want to give it a shot)
  • Release 10 self-publish patterns (I already have been working on a collection of 6 for the late winter/early spring that I think you are going to LOVE).
  • Continue to work on getting into a good working-from-home schedule. Every week the routine gets easy/better and I want to continue to work on improving the schedule. Especially when it comes to the sample knitting. That area I need to make major improvements. Procrastinating on sample knitting is so dumb. You can only knit so fast! :)
How was your 2014? Any big plans for 2015?

Happy New Year and thanks for sticking around the blog another year!


Sock-Yarn Shawls II: Harvest

When my BFF Jenni was knitting the Harvest shawl sample for Sock-Yarn Shawls II, I couldn't decide what to name it. It contained all these lovely cables along with the lace and used my favorite colorway from Hazel Knits, Hoppy Blonde, but I was completely lost on a name. Fortunately, I surround myself with good, creative people, like Laura, who came up with the perfect name - Harvest.
Another one of the semi-circular shawls in the book, but with cables and a knitted-on cable and lace border. I'm really pleased with this shawl.
I've been wanting to add a cabled border to a shawl for sometime and this was the perfect shawl for that detail.
Jenni was so great and patient with me on this shawl. She worked that border more times that I care to admit. I did lots of tweaking and adjustments to the border pattern until I got it just right. You know you have a good friend when she's willing to rip out cable and lace multiple times for you!

Stay tuned for Thursday. I'll be talking about the final shawl of the book - Sunburst.

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.


Flamingo FO

The story of the flamingo:

A couple months ago I decided to crochet little L a flamingo. I thought since I've knit and crocheted her big sister so many things and she either gets a matching one or something smaller, it was time I crochet her something just for her. I tried to be smart and give it to her while big sister C was visiting my brother and family in Fargo. It's not that I don't want to make C things, I love to make her all the things, I just thought it would be nice to make something just for the little one for once. So my plan mostly worked until C arrived home. The next day I receive a phone call that goes like this:

Me: Hi Mom!
My Mom: Someone here needs to speak to you.
C (in the cutest pitifully whiny voice): Auntie, can you knit* me fwamingo?
Me: Of course I'll make you a flamingo.

She was so jealous of her sister's flamingo. I just can't say no when it comes to the nieces! So for Christmas, C got her flamingo. Pattern from Freshstitches.
She opened and was so so excited. I think it was one of her favorite presents of the day! She hugged and loved on her new flamingo she named "Purple." I'm so glad she loved it.

*we're still working on the difference between knitting, crochet and needlepoint. She thinks they're all knitting.


What I'm Reading/Watching: December 2014

Last month was all about the watching. This month? It was all about the reading. Well, listening. With lots of sample knitting to do this month, I got really into the audiobooks. I listened to Paper Towns by John Green.
I picked this one because I loved The Fault in Our Stars so so much. I enjoyed Paper Towns (although, admittedly, not quite as much as The Fault in Our Stars) and look forward to reading/listening to more of John Green's books.

Then I listened to The Night Circus.
I loved this book like I love Harry Potter or A Separate Peace. I think I will be rereading (and re-listening) to this one for years to come. I didn't want it to end. This book was originally part of my knit group's book club from a few years ago. I never got around to reading it then (I blame full-time lab job and almost full-time knit design job on the lack of reading I was doing at that time) and I'm so happy I made the time for it now. Amazing book.

And then I listened to Ready Player One.
I was unsure about this one at first. It had been on my Goodreads "to-read" list for awhile but my Goodreads friends had given it mixed reviews. I'm glad I listened to Laura and bought the audiobook. I loved having Wil Wheaton reading it to me! I really loved this book too. I even bought one and sent it to my brother in Fargo to read. I think he's going to love it too.

After those last two books I felt like I needed a book that felt a little more "real." You know what I mean. :) So, I've started listening Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. I'm about a third of the way in and am enjoying it so far! I'm still working on reading Cora's Heart. I haven't had a lot of time to pick up a physical book (or in this case, Kindle), but I'm reading a few pages each night. I am really liking that book too. Hopefully I'll finish that one up soon!

As for watching, just more made-for-TV Christmas movies, along with some of my favorites - White Christmas and It's a Wonderful Life!

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: Daylily

Merry Christmas to those celebrating today! Whether your celebrating Christmas or not, I hope everyone is having a lovely day. Today it's time to talk about Daylily, the circular shawl in my upcoming book. Just a couple more weeks and the book will start shipping. Hooray!
This shawl is the only full-pi/circular shawl in the book. I just love it. This was the first one I've ever designed and it certainly won't be the last.
The shawl starts at the center and is worked outward. On Monday, I showed you a video tutorial for the circular cast on for this shawl.I especially love that because it's worked in the round, you don't have to purl! For me, that means this shawl can work up extra fast.

If you want to make this shawl even larger, you definitely can. With extra yarn you can add additional rows of the feather and fan edging at the end.

I think this would be a great project to gift for next Christmas. This shawl shape is great for all body types and sizes or could even be used a blanket!

Stay tuned for next week when I'll be finishing up the blog series with the last two shawls in the book - Harvest and Sunburst.

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: Sparrow

Today it's all about Sparrow, the last of the mid-size shawls in Sock-Yarn Shawls II.

The story of how Sparrow came to be is an interesting one. My book was all done, but a few weeks after I had sent everything off to the publisher, I received a request for one more shawl for the book. The new book contains fewer charts than the first one (and many of them turned out to be smaller in size than the first book), and so one more shawl was needed to keep the book at the right length and look we were all going for. I was happy to add another shawl to the book! It was fun after having a few weeks off from designing shawls to get the call to design one more. I felt so refreshed and ready to go on shawl design again and Sparrow was born.

I LOVE the shape of this shawl. This was the first one with this shape I've designed, but since then I've used it for my popular Savanna shawl, as well as a couple more upcoming patterns. It's started with a few rows of half-circle shaping, and then you transition into a wedge construction. You can wear these shawls so many different ways!
My Sparrow shawl is knit out of Hazel Knits Entice. Yum. One of my favorite yarns! I'm so glad I had a chance to add one more shawl to my book to include another shawl with Wendee's lovely yarns.

Stay tuned for Thursday, when I'll start talking about the large shawls in the book!

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.


Tutorial: Circular Cast On

On Thursday, I'll be telling you all about my Daylily shawl from Sock-Yarn Shawls II. It's a beautiful circular shawl that starts from the center and worked outward. It starts with a circular cast on, which isn't hard, but it can be a little tricky/confusing at first (at least it was for me!). So, I've made a little video to help you.
Hope that helps you. Once the book is available on January 6th, you'll be ready to start your own Daylily!

Need more knitting help? Check out my other tutorials on my website.


New Pattern: Under the Big Top Socks

I'm so excited to blog about my latest pattern - the Under the Big Top socks!

These socks were originally a part of a Three Irish Girls club kit earlier this year. Written for 3 sizes, they are designed to fit a variety of feet.
I love lace patterns that incorporate both knits and purls on the right side of the work. So much texture.

The socks are of the top-down, heel flap variety. If you're like me and enjoy that kind of sock knitting, I think you'll love these socks. They were a blast to knit. And interesting enough to knit that casting on for the second  one isn't a problem. A win for sock knitters! :)


I hope you enjoy this pattern as much as I do. It's been a good long while since I've released a sock pattern. Good thing I have plans for more sock designs in 2015!


Sock-Yarn Shawls II: Lycopod

I often get questions about where I get names for my shawls. Naming the patterns is one of the toughest things for me. I'm not super creative when it comes to names. I have a list of street names I keep on my iPhone called "Street Names That Sound Like Good Pattern Names." More recently, I've been getting into naming my patterns 'nature-y' things. As a science nerd at a heart, I especially enjoy naming things using the scientific name that is sort of related to it.

lycopod [lahy-kuh-pod] : nounany erect or creeping, mosslike, evergreen plant of the genus Lycopodium, as the club moss or ground pine.

I think if you Google image search lycopod, you can see how it's kind of a fitting. I like it and think it's a great name. :)

When I found out that Martingale was putting this shawl on the cover of my book, I was thrilled.
I love the lace pattern in this shawl. It's definitely a challenging knit - even though you are only working lace stitches on the right side row, you are working a lace stitch for almost every stitch. There are very few "plain knit stitches" on the right side. Probably not the best project for knit night or tv watching, but I think the knitting challenge is worth it. The result is so beautiful. 
Lycopod is the only true traditional top-down triangle shawl in the book (Cinder is pretty close to a traditional top-down triangle, but has a couple twists at the end of the shawl). Quite the change from the first book.

Whether you think the name is clever or not I hope you enjoy knitting this shawl!

Stay tuned for next week. There's another video tutorial and by the end of the week I'll be talking about the large shawls - like Daylily.

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.


WIP Wednesday - Rainbow Socks

I've started yet another pair of self-striping socks. I can't help it. I love having the easy knitting for knit nights, kid birthday parties, sitting in the car, etc. This round of stripey socks is all about the rainbow.
This yarn is from Knitting Fever. It's KFI Luxury Collection Indulgence Cashmere in color 609. I bought this yarn when I was teaching up at Needles 'n Pins in Wisconsin last month. I couldn't resist it.

I am trying the Fish Lips Kiss heel for the first time on these socks. Sarah has mentioned on her podcast several times, and I've heard about it a few other places so I decided to give it a try.

I. Am. In. Love.

At first, I thought, 'what a weird name for a sock heel.' But after I finished knitting one, I got it:
It totally looks like fish lips! It fits so well and was so fun to knit, I think this will be my new go-to heel for my self-striping socks.

There's no shortage of self-striping sock yarn around here, and I'm already thinking about what yarn I'm going to pick when these socks are done. The gradient stripes yarn I purchased from KnitCircus is definitely calling my name. I'm looking forward to those being my next socks with a FLK heel!


Sock-Yarn Shawls II: Demeter

It's time to talk about the next mid-size shawl in my upcoming book, Sock-Yarn Shawls II. It's Demeter.
I'm obsessed with this shawl. Obsessed. It's a shawl containing small lace motifs and traditional half-circle construction. What's not to love? :)

You'll notice that there's more shawls with this construction in my book. The reason? I took a class with Myra Wood at Stitches Midwest last year about pi shawl construction. I've been incorporating pi-shawl shaping into my many of my shawls ever since! I love the challenge of getting the stitch pattern to fit with the pi shawl increases. And I love the way the finished shawls drape. I may or may not have another half-pi shawl design on my needles right now. I wasn't kidding that I'm obsessed.

Stay tuned for Thursday, when I'll be talking about Lycopod, the cover shawl!

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.


Yarny Christmas

Every year, my knit & crochet group has a little Christmas party where we have some sort of gift exchange. For several years we bought something new. Last year, it was gift from your stash. This year is different. It's going to be awesome.

It works like this - everyone participating picks a yarn from their stash (between 350-600 yards), puts it in a brown paper bag with a tag inside that Laura was kind enough to make. The tag contains your name, your Rav name (for queue stalking) and shoe size (in case someone wants to make socks for you, they don't have to sneak around trying to figure out how big to make them). Everyone picks a random bag and makes sure they didn't get their own yarn, but doesn't reveal whose yarn they got. Then you knit or crochet the person something with that yarn. Our only rule is no bringing it to stitch night, because then you would reveal the secret of who you're knitting/crocheting for. The plan is to pick a day in late July/early August and have a little party and bring the finished gifts. It's going to be so fun!

Here's what's going in my bag:
It's some lovely Anzula Cloud. I've used this yarn for my Aberdeen scarf and Pendleton shawl and I absolutely love it. I'm already so curious whose going get it and what they're going to make me! :)

Someone told me about this sort of gift exchange when I was teaching at Vogue Knitting Live in October, and it seemed like such a fun and cool idea. The woman who told me about it is part of the Madison Knitting Guild and they do this, just on a much larger scale than our group of about 10. When I told my knit group about it, they were all so excited about the idea. It's going to be so fun to see who ends up with my yarn and what she ends up making!


FO Friday: Christmas Owl

This past weekend, Alex and I had several kid birthday parties to attend (we're in the "all the friends are married and now are having babies" stage of life). One party we attended was for a 1-year old boy with an owl-themed room. I knew what I had to do:

A Christmas Owl! Stacey had some kits in her shop a few weeks ago, and I snatched one up with the birthday boy in mind.
I stitched this guy as written, no mods here! The only thing I did different was use yarn for the eyes, instead of attaching the included safety eyes. Since the kid is only one, it seemed like the smarter/safer choice. You know I'll end up just using the safety eyes included with the kit on another Freshstitches pattern later. :)
I have a second owl kit, which I plan to make sometime this month. I think I may have to keep that one for myself - he will be the perfect addition to my owl-themed kitchen at Christmastime!


Sock-Yarn Shawls II: Floe

When people ask me about getting started as a designer in the fiber art business I almost always tell them the same thing: you have to get used to rejection - fast. I don't want to be negative, but it's true. I think most of us designers that are submitting to magazines, yarn companies, books, etc. would agree - you're going to get rejected sometimes. Maybe even more than you get designs accepted. And you have to get used to it. It doesn't mean that your design was bad, it just might not fit the theme of what they were looking for, or they may even have something similar coming out that you don't know about. In my email newsletter last week, I talked about how Wallingford was a rejected magazine design that has become one of my most popular patterns. And today, here is Floe. A rejected magazine design that I reworked a bit and added to my new book.
I'm super super proud of this design. I decided that for this shawl I wanted to knit the border first, but I didn't want to pick up slipped-stitches or anything along the edge. Instead, I used wrap & turns to create live stitches along the edge of the border. When you get to the end of border, you just pick up your second color and start knitting on the stitches already facing the right way to work the short row body. I am definitely going to be working on some more designs with this technique. It's so fun to knit!
There's lots of ways to play with color in this shawl. You could knit it all in one color, or even use a variagated or self-striping yarn for the body. I think it would be lovely.
Just because a design wasn't right for one publication, doesn't mean that you should give up and throw your pattern in the trash. Sometimes a little adjustment is all you need to perfect it so it's ready for the next thing that comes along. And, I think that this shawl is going to be a favorite among the knitters! :)

Stay tuned for next week. One of the shawls I'll be talking about is the cover shawl - Lycopod!

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.



The Mystery Shawl KAL is officially over in my Ravelry group. I had so much fun watching all the knitters work the shawl clues. I think this one was my favorite of all my mystery shawls I've done! Now that the KAL has ended, I have compiled all the clues into one pattern for you, and renamed it Harebell.
This shawl is knit from the top center outwards, with 4 charts. Charts include written instructions, as usual. :) There are tons of ways to customize this shawl. I include in the pattern notes how you can add or take out charts to make it your own.
Harebell is knit out of a laceweight yarn. I used the lovely Cascade Yarns Forest Hills for mine. I can't wait to use this yarn again for another shawl.
Shawls with this shape are quickly becoming my favorite. There's so many ways to wear them. Drape it over your shoulders or wrap like a scarf - no matter what it looks so pretty.

If you're a quick knitter you could still crank one of these out for gift-giving. I was surprised at how quickly this shawl flew off my needles. I hope you enjoy this pattern as much as I do! 

Happy shawl knitting! :)


Sock-Yarn Shawls II: Sierra

It's time to talk about Sierra - the lace stole that I included in Sock-Yarn Shawls II.

Just like Starlit, this one is worked up with the Twisted Fiber Art Muse yarn (660 yard ball). My obsession with gradient yarn is deep. :)
I found this stitch pattern in one of my Japanese stitch dictionaries. I had been wanting to use it for some time. It's so beautiful, I decided that it didn't need complicated shaping to go with it. A nice, rectangular stole is the perfect way to show off the lace!

My dear friend, Cathy, knit up this sample from my book. She has lots of family in California & Nevada, and with the peaks and valleys in the stitch pattern, Sierra seemed like a great name for this one!

The book includes instructions on how you can adjust the size of the stole if you want. So if you are looking for a smaller scarf or a huge wrap, you definitely can make it your own.

Stay tuned for Thursday, when I chat about Floe, a shawl that went from a rejected magazine submission to one of my favorites in the book.

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


A Trio of Turkeys

Thanksgiving may be over, but that's no reason to not show off the trio of turkeys I made for my nieces.
I get these ideas in my head sometimes. Ideas for things I don't really have time for (like crocheting 3 turkeys). But it had to be done. And they loved them! The oldest of the three is 4 and she loves her "special knitted toys" from auntie. I'm working on teaching her that these are crocheted...but I'm glad she cherishes my handiwork.

The pattern is (of course) a FreshStitches pattern. It's Amigurumi Alvin the Turkey. I also think he could be worked up in peacock colors. Which is good, because I have a peacock-obsessed friend with a baby. That baby may need a peacock in a few months for his birthday.

So now it's onto the Christmas gift knitting. I don't have much to do, but will probably have a late night or two in coming weeks to get it done. Oh darn, I have to stay up late, knit and watch cheesy Hallmark Christmas movies. :) Working on Christmas knitting? Let me know what you're making over in the Ravelry group!


Sock-Yarn Shawls II: Earth and Sky

Today's Sock-Yarn Shawls II pattern feature is Earth & Sky - the "sister" (daughter? relative?) of Briargate from the original Sock-Yarn Shawls book:
I used the exact same construction as I did with the original Briargate. This time I inserted a smaller stitch pattern for the lace portion of the shawl. It ends with a nice loopy edge, which is one of my favorite details to add to shawls. A couple weeks ago I shared a video tutorial for the faux crochet bind off.

This is another one of the shawls I've been wearing a lot since the big box o' book shawls came back home to me:
Earth & Sky is knit out of Fiesta Yarns Baby Boom, a lovely merino/nylon blend. It's listed on Ravelry as a sport weight yarn, but in my opinion it's on the lighter side of sport weight. Really, any fingering or sport weight yarn would work great for this shawl. As for the Baby Boom I used, I love the hint of blue in the brown yarn. I think it pairs nicely with the blue yarn used for the lace. This is definitely another shawl where you can play around with color!

Stay tuned - next week is another week of multi-colored shawls from the book. I can't wait to show them off to you!

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. 


Survey Says...

I've been working hard in the last few weeks to come up with ways to make things more interesting here on the blog and in my business. I have lots of ideas floating around in my head, but I want to hear what you think too!

So, if you have a minute and don't mind, please fill out this quick survey. Taking my knitting-related survey is completely optional and so are the questions! You can skip whatever you don't want to answer. :)

I mentioned before that I've started working on tutorials for the blog and I'm really enjoying doing that. I'm hoping that the survey results will give me some more ideas - I want to know what you want!

Thanks for taking the time to read my blog and for taking my survey. Happy knitting!

Survey link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/BNYY2SK


Sock-Yarn Shawls II: Starlit

I've drawn the winner for the giveaway of Twigg Stitch by Vicki Twigg. Using a random number generator the winner is....Linda Rumsey. Congrats! Please check your Ravelry mailbox for a message. Thanks to everyone for entering! Didn't win the book, but want one? You can get one here. And now, back to your regularly scheduled blog series.... :)

In today's Sock-Yarn Shawls II pattern feature, it's the first of the larger shawls--Starlit!
This is the last of the traditional bottom-up short-row shawls in the book. I think the gradient yarn really adds a lot of interest to the shawl. How about you?

The yarn I used is Twisted Fiber Art's Muse in the Phantom Evolution (you'll need the large 660 yard ball to complete this shawl). I love this yarn. And I love the colorway. You may remember I used this same exact yarn for my crocheted Honey, Honey Shawlette:
Anyway, back to Starlit. I love that this shawl is a little bit bigger than the usual short row shawls that I make. There is an almost endless number of ways to wear it!
The shawl would be great in lots of colors, not just gradients. I also think it would be very pretty doing the lace in a solid color, then switching to a variegated yarn or maybe even doing stripes in the stockinette short row section. Definitely a shawl where you can play with color!

Stay tuned - I'll be back on Thursday to talk about another larger shawl. It'll be all about Earth & Sky!
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.

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