What I'm Reading/Watching: January 2015

Like last month, I'm still on a huge reading kick. There's been lots of reading and listening to books going on around here!

After finishing Fangirl at the very end of December, I turned around and listened to Landline. And then read Eleanor & Park on my Kindle. I might have become obsessed with Rainbow Rowell and her writing. :)

I also listened to Bossypants by Tina Fey.

I finally finished Cora's Heart. I had a hard time getting into this book. I still liked it a lot though.

I'm the last one on the planet to read Gone Girl, but I finally started it! I had bought the hardcover of the book when it first came out and then it just sat on the book shelf. I'm hoping to have some more time in February to read more of this book!

As for watching, I'm currently re-watching Friends on Netflix. Because it's there and I love it. :)

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.


Potter's Shawl

I'm very excited to show off my Potter's Shawl, which is in the new Spring Issue of Interweave Knits.
This shawl is a top-down garter stitch shawl with a knitted-on lace border. I really love the stitch pattern in the lace border. It's a ton of fun to knit! The shawl is knit with two skeins of Shalimar Breathless, one of my favorite fingering weight yarns to work with.
Interweave Knits has been one of my absolute favorite knitting magazines for years. I'm so honored that they chose my shawl pattern for the Spring issue.
The photos are so amazing, aren't they? They're totally making me think of spring and all the light things I want to knit!

You can get your hands on this pattern a couple different ways. You can purchase the digital version of the magazine or look for it at your local bookstore or LYS when it hits newsstands February 17th!

Photo Credit: Harper Point


Photo Tutorial: Blocking Top-Down Crescent Shawls

Yesterday I told you all about my new pattern, Beddington. I thought today I would show you how I blocked the top-down shawl.
When my shawl came off the needles, it looked like this:
Not exactly pretty and not a shape that's easy to wear. Let's look at a close-up of where I started the shawl:
I want that cast on to be the top center of my shawl. But what I don't want is to have a weird point there. So, first I give my shawl a bath:

Then I gently squeeze out the excess water with an old towel. Make sure you use an old towel....sometimes if there is excess dye, a little bit can get on the towel. That's something you don't want on your fine guest towels! :)
Ok, so now the shawl is damp (not soaking wet) and I spread it out on my blocking mats (I got mine from Knit Picks). I don't recommend blocking on something you care about (family heirloom quilt, the carpet, etc.). The shawl probably won't bleed more dye, but if it does, you will be sad.
Since I want to get rid of that pointy part at the top center, I find the easiest thing to do is run a blocking wire or two through the yarnover holes along the edge. I got my blocking wires off Amazon a very long time ago. Lots of online yarn shops have them. Your LYS may carry them too! Once I have my wires in place along the edge. I place a few pins to keep it straight.
Ok, the top edge is almost done, now for the bottom edge, where the real magic happens. I like to decide which point of the lace pattern I'm going to accentuate, and I run a blocking wire through the lace at the same point of the lace repeat. Again, I pin in a few spots to hold the wire. You will probably need a couple of wires to do the edge (I used three for this particular shawl).
Then I fiddle a bit with the placement of the wires. I might stretch one side a little more or try to fan out the lace a bit at the bottom edge. Then I take the top edge and pull up a little to make it crescent-y. You'll notice below that when I do this I have one bottom edge points not held by a wire. I think it's easier to get it into shape when I do it this way. I pin that one point by itself on each side.
Depending on the shawl, I might get out a yard stick and measure to make sure everything matches up and is even. Most of the time I use the notches in the interlocking mats to gauge that it's even on both sides. Now I'm done. I impatiently wait for my new shawl to dry.
When it's dry the top is nice and straight and ready to wear. Hooray!

Harebell on Ravelry and Monarda from Sock-Yarn Shawls II are two of my favorite shawls that I've blocked in the same way! I love these top-down shawls and I love to make sure the top has a straight edge.

How do you like to block your top-down shawls? Do you use blocking wires or only pins? I'd love to hear about it!


New Pattern: Beddington

When Paula at Done Roving contacted me about designing a shawl with her new Frolicking Feet DK Gradients yarn, I was happy to help. My love of gradient yarns grows more each day, and I was excited to design a shawl with it. So here it is - Beddington.
It's a top-down crescent-shaped shawlette. It uses just one ball of the Done Roving Frolicking Feet DK Gradients, but there's pattern notes on how to make the shawl larger if you want. I think a giant DK gradient shawl using 2 balls of yarn would be so beautiful!


The color I used is #4 Maine Wild Blueberries and guess what? I have a second ball to give to one lucky winner! Just leave a comment on this post and I will be selecting a winner at random on Feb. 5, 2015. Just leave your Ravelry name in your comment so I have a way to contact you should you win.
Tomorrow I'll be posting some photos on how I like to block these types of shawls. The top-down shawl is so fun to knit, but I think the blocking is the best part! I'm excited to show everyone how I block my shawls and I'm interested to hear how other people like to do it.

Hope you enjoy this new pattern and I can't wait to give away that ball of yarn to one of you. Good luck! :)



Needle Review: Knitter's Pride Trendz Interchangeables

Recently, I was sent a set of Knitter's Pride Trendz interchangeable needles to try. I was excited to give these needles a test run - I've never knit with acrylic needles before!
First I gave the US Size 8 a try on a worsted weight shawl:
I loved knitting with them! The point was sharper than I was expecting it to be, making it easy to work all those lace stitches. The needles also have a little bit of flexibility to them. That was something I hadn't really experienced with other needles before and I also liked. When you have to perform a lace stitch taking up 3 or more stitches at a time it turns out that flexibility is nice! I liked the needles so much that when the worsted weight project was done I cast on for a DK weight shawl with the US Size 5 needles:
I'm having the same enjoyable experience with this shawl! I'm glad I worked up a second project with these needles before I posted my review: with other interchangeable sets I have the problem that no matter how hard I tighten the cord to the needle I manage to unscrew it while knitting. I had no loosening/unscrewing of the cord to the needle with either shawl. I'm considering that a total win! I don't have to tell you that having a needle fall apart in the middle of a lace project is just about the worst thing ever in knitting. I also found the join from the cord to the needle extremely smooth.

You can get the Knitter's Pride Trendz Interchangeables as the deluxe set (pictured above), as a starter set (US 6, 8 & 10 needles) or as a chunky set (US 13, 15 & 17 needles). Something for everyone! The deluxe set retails for around $40, making it a very affordable option for a needle set. If you are looking for a new interchangeable needle set, I think you should give the Trendz a try!
Disclaimer: I received these needles for free in order to review them. My review is 100% my honest opinion. I did not receive any payment for this review nor did I agree to publish a positive review. You can read my full disclosure policy here.


Sock in Progress

I mentioned in my TNNA recap post that I had started a new pair of socks. Self-striping, big surprise there. :)
Another bright, cheery rainbow pair. I'm loving the stripes on these socks so far.
This yarn came from Webs. My knit/crochet group has caught the self-striping sock yarn bug again, and we placed one giant order of self-striping sock yarn (and other stuff too....gotta love the Webs discount). This yarn is the Regia Stripemania 6-ply in 6367 Rainbow.

The stripes are definitely keeping things interesting. I love watching the yarn change while knitting!


The Dangers of Destash

Last week I found myself checking out destashes of Knit Picks Felici on Ravelry. This is dangerous. You will end up buying someone's yarn.
Knit Picks Felici in Schooner

Knit Picks Felici in Martinique


Then, over the weekend, I found myself going through my stash of self-striping yarn. My stash of the striping yarn isn't really low enough to justify this purchase. In fact, I found enough to make about 6 pairs of socks out of Felici or Felici Sport alone. Plus some hand-dyed. And some other random yarn whose stripes were made by machine like the Felici. I guess now I'm prepared for should all yarn companies discontinue all the self-striping yarn on the planet! :)


A Sneak Peek

Over the last few months, I've been working on a little collection for the early part of 2015. It's a collection of gradient shawls! I love the gradient yarns so much that it seemed like a fun idea to do an ebook containing shawls knit out of them. Here's a little sneak peak:

I sent the shawls off to Mari, who works for Stitchcraft Marketing, and she planned a photoshoot with Caro Sheridan. She sent me this photo of Caro shooting one of the shawls:
I can't wait to see the final photos and get these patterns out to you! My plan is two release a pattern every two weeks starting mid-February. Lots of fun shawl shapes and color choices to explore with these shawls!

Have you caught the gradient yarn bug like me? If you have a favorite, let me know. You know me, any excuse to add to the stash. :)


FO Friday: Rustic Cabin Socks

While at TNNA, I managed to finish a pair of socks. They were the perfect easy knitting to take with me on a work trip.
Like my rainbow socks I finished up last week, I knit these toe-up using the the Fish Lips Kiss heel. I think now that I have knit two pairs using this heel I have it memorized. The ultimate mindless knitting! :)
I used two skeins of the Knit Picks Felici in the Rustic Cabin colorway to make these. I used almost the whole ball for each sock. I stopped when I was getting to a point where I would have to increase to make the long cuffs fit properly.
I really love this yarn. I picked up the Rustic Cabin and two other colors when Knit Picks put the Felici back up on the site a few weeks ago. I hope they bring it (along with the Felici Sport) back every now and then. It really is one of my favorite yarns to use for simple socks!


The TNNA Recap

This weekend I went to Phoenix for TNNA, the trade show for needlearts professionals. I had a great time, as usual. I don't have tons of pics, but here are the ones I got:

The flight there it was all about sock knitting and listening to Landline.
I loved seeing the Halos of Hope display at the convention center. I'm already thinking about my Hat KAL/CAL for Hope this year!
 This display was super cool too:
Halos of Hope President, Pam, stopped by my book signing at the Madelinetosh booth and snapped this photo of me signing her book:
I got some lovely yarn from at Anzula. I'm pretty excited about this Cole yarn and what it all will become:
I also got some Bearfoot from Mountain Colors. I think I'm going to turn this skein into a little shawlette (surprise, surprise):

There was some alcohol involved in the trip. Corrina, Heather and I enjoyed some Tequila Sunsets while out with the Anzula crew on Monday night:
Tuesday it was back home. That plane ride involved starting a new pair of socks and watching A Mighty Wind, one of my favorite movies.
When I arrived back at the airport in Chicago, I had to get my coat and hat and warm things out my suitcase.
It's good to be home, but I'm definitely missing that nice Phoenix weather today! 


FO Friday: Rainbow Socks

I believe everyone should knit rainbow socks. They really improve your mood when knitting/wearing them!

As I talked about in a post last month, I decided to try the Fish Lips Kiss Heel for these socks. I am so glad I did. They fit my feet perfectly!

The yarn I used is KFI Luxury Indulgence Cashmere in color 609. I knit the second sock with the color sequence going in the opposite direction as the first sock. I'm not one that cares about super matching socks. It kept things a little interesting while working on the second one. I ended the socks with a K3, P1 rib and a yarnover bind off that was nice and stretchy.

I have some other rainbow yarn in the stash. I'm sure I'll be casting on more rainbow socks with this heel very soon!

I would love to hear if there are other sock heels you have tried and loved. I'm loving the FLK heel and will be using it again, but would love to hear about other ones too. I'm hoping that 2015 will be the year of the stripey socks for me!

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