Top Blog Posts of 2015

I've been loving a lot of the 2015 round-ups I've been seeing on all the craft blogs I read. I decided I needed one too. You know me, such a follower. :)

So here it is, my top blog posts of 2015!
From top-left:

  1. Indie GAL Feature: Shawl Patterns
  2. Needle Review: Knitter's Pride Bamboo Interchangeables
  3. Photo Tutorial: Moving Stitch Markers
  4. Free Pattern: Buckhorn Cowl
  5. A New Hobby?
  6. The Pattern Checklist
  7. Indie Design Gift-A-Long 2015
  8. Flash the Self-Striping Stash
  9. A Good-Smelling Shawl is Important to Me

Thanks for reading the blog in 2015. I still love to blog and have big plans for it in 2016. Hope you stick around for all the fun!

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Mysterious Deryn

My annual Mystery Shawl KAL has come to and end. Thank you to everyone who participated this year! I had great fun watching everyone knit the shawl. They're all so beautiful.

I've renamed the pattern to Deryn and it's now available in my regular pattern format.

This is a semi-circle shawl with the volume turned up. The middle of the shawl highlights a clever sideways-knit section, adding interest to the traditional shawl shape. The piece is finished with a knitted-on border that is quick to knit and fun to work.
This shawl pattern really came together after teaching Lovely Lace Borders at Stitches Midwest in August. There was a student in the class who was asking about attaching borders to other borders to  make a shawl. That got me thinking.
The middle section of the shawl is knit by working sideways, in the traditional way you think of a knitted-on border. However, at the same time you are adding stitches to the other edge. This creates live stitches so once you finish working sideways you can continue working from the top down without having to break the yarn or picking up stitches. And, I've created a tutorial video if you find that part of the pattern a little confusing.  

This is definitely one of my favorite shawls I've designed. I hope you all love it as much as I do!


Mountains Cowl

I swore I wasn't going to make any gifts this year.
 But then I did. Oops.
 This is the Mountains Cowl by Julie King.
It was the first of two quick crochet cowls I made for gifts (I'll show you the other one later this week). I used three colors of Caron Simply Soft Party and I made the large hood size. A great, super easy pattern!

How did you do with your gift knitting and crochet? Get it all done? :)


The Big Reveal

Last December my knit and crochet group added a little twist to our holiday gift exchange. Usually we have a plain old yarn swap but last year we each put a skein of yarn in a brown bag and then exchanged. You then had to take that yarn and knit or crochet something for that person with the yarn they put in the bag.

A great idea, right? Someone in one of my classes in 2014 belonged to the Madison Knitters' Guild and they did the same thing, but on a way larger scale. There's only like 10 of us. :)

I had a beautiful skein of Anzula Cloud that I put in my brown bag.
I had no idea who had my yarn. At one point I thought it was my BFF Jenni. Then I thought it was Vickie because she asked to borrow my sock blockers. Turns out, Melissa had my yarn. And she made me a very gorgeous Tilt:
 It's so beautiful!
As for the gift I made - I had Vickie's yarn and I made her a Bandwagon:
The yarn she put in her bag was Mountain Colors Crazyfoot in the Sierra colorway. It was beautiful sort of muted rainbow. It was super fun to knit!

We all enjoyed the idea of making things for each other that we decided we were in for another round for next year. I had some Fiberstory Glow Sock that I really really love and have been playing around with for awhile. The yarn/gift exchange is perfect for it - what I really want for this yarn is for it to become something just for me!
We also decided to increase the yardage for this next round. Last year, we said between 350-600 yards. This year we're going up to 900 yards - giving everyone more options and making it easier for the crocheter to make a shawl if she wants. :)

Do you do any kind of gift exchange with your knit and crochet group? I'd love to hear about it if you do!



If you follow me on Instagram you may have seen this photo earlier this year. The start of a new shawl with a pretty sweet working title.
I finished knitting it months ago and last week finally had it ready to publish. I decided to rename it to Aranthera.
 As the days get colder and darker, a pop of color is the perfect thing to cheer me up when I have to venture outside. A great piece for layering, Aranthera is a sideways-knit shawlette that can be easily worked until you run out of yarn. Find a nice, bright skein of sock yarn from the stash and brighten up your winter days!

The shawl start with just six stitches and worked sideways with alternating mesh and stockinette sections. A few rows of garter stitch separates each section adding a little visual interest. If you've knit my Hogmanay shawl and enjoyed it - you'll love this one too. It uses the same construction!



Indie GAL Feature: Bulky Patterns

The Indie Design Gift-A-Long will be coming to an end soon, so today I'm going to feature patterns you can make quickly - because they use bulky or super bulky yarn!
  1. Winter Brunch Shawl by Laura Chau, photo copyright: Laura Chau
  2. Daisy Cloche by Triona Murphy, photo copyright: Triona Murphy
  3. Lapsang by Clare Devine, photo copyright: Clare Devine
  4. Earbuds by Knitwise Design, photo copyright: Knitwise Design
  5. Mixta by Talitha Kuomi, photo copyright: Talitha Kuomi
  6. Sartorial Cowl by Star Athena, photo copyright: Star Athena
  7. Twist on a Classic by Lee Meredith, photo copyright: Lee Meredith
C'mon, you know you can whip up one more gift. :)

There's still time to join in the Gift-A-Long fun. You can read all about how to get in on the fun and prizes here. Happy gifting!


Jen's Weekly Gems

Every week (or so) I post links to things I found around the Internet. Enjoy!

 Find any online gems this week? 


Book Review: Sweet Pickles

When I received a review copy of Sweet Pickles earlier this month, I got excited. I love knitting for babies and kids and with a new nephew on the way (hooray!) the book couldn't have arrived at a more perfect time.
The authors, Anna and Heidi, own a yarn shop in Norway and have their line of yarn, which was used in the book. I greatly appreciate their approach to designing. From the book:

"Whether designing for women, men, or children, our goal is to create interesting designs, sometimes with a whimsical touch of color play, and always with a minimal amount of finishing work."

As the subtitle suggests, this book contains 27 patterns for babies and toddlers. What's great is that a lot of these patterns go way beyond toddlers. Many of the patterns are written to fit kids up to 8 years old or higher (some as high as 12 or 16 years). As my nieces grow older, it's getting harder and harder to find good kid patterns to knit. This book is solving that problem for me. There's so many things I'd like to knit them. Like the Arrow Sweater:
Or the Cool Kid Hooded Hat:
The Zigzag Sweater is written for so many sizes that I could make matching sweaters for my nephew on the way and my three young nieces. They would all look great in it!
I love that the patterns in Sweet Pickles are sweet and simple. Perfect quick knitting for the kids in your life!

You can see all the patterns from the book here.  You can get your copy of Sweet Pickles from the Martingale website.

Images from Sweet Pickles, Martingale, 2015; Photos by Anna Enge and Heidi Gronvold. All rights reserved.


Indie GAL Feature: Toy Patterns

This week's Indie Design Gift-A-Long pattern feature is all about the softies. My nieces love when I make them toys. In fact, I think the only toys they love more are ones involving those loveable characters from a recent kids movie with a talking snowman and huge ice palace. I know I can't compete with Elsa, but I do the best I can. :)
  1. Garden Slug by cheezombie, photo copyright: cheezombie
    There's a crochet version too!
  2. Hippocritter by Ellen Kapusniak, photo copyright: Ellen Kapusniak
  3. Lumpy by bunnymuff, photo copyright: bunnymuff
  4. Woobie Baby Bunny by Kris Carlson, photo copyright: Kris Carlson
    I made a Zebra Woobie last year, also by Kris!
  5. Intrepid Fox by Ella Austin, photo copyright: Ella Austin
  6. Acht the Octopus by Rachel Henry, photo copyright: Rachel Henry
  7. Tubby Tabby by browneyedbabs, photo copyright: browneyedbabs
I think my nieces would enjoy all of these!

There's still time to join in the Gift-A-Long fun. You can read all about how to get in on the fun and prizes here. Happy gifting!


A Variation on Varia

When I knit Alex Tinsley's Varia Hat in October, I was hooked. I loved everything about knitting it. The little bit of stranded colorwork with the simplicity of stockinette in the round. It's a beautiful and easy pattern and I wanted to knit 100 more of them. I've been longing to knit some hats for my nieces, and so I got to work right away. I finished one of them already, and Miss C loves it!

This is a variation on Varia. I knit through the first section of colorwork and finished off the rest of the hat in stockinette stitch. I also adjusted the stitch count slightly to make the hat kid-head-sized and to account for the fact that I was using bulkier yarns. I paired up two yarns that I had in the stash - Madelinetosh Tosh Chunky and Red Heart Reflective.

I wasn't sure if I would like using the Red Heart yarn. It has this sparkly/reflective strand running through it and I thought maybe it would be a little scratchy. Not at all! I really liked using it. I have some leftover so I plan on working another "Varia Variation Hat" for Miss L!

Miss C loves her new reflective hat. I definitely unlocked "Awesome Auntie Achievement."


Book Review: Enchanted Knits for Dolls

When I was at TNNA back in June, I saw the samples for Nicky Epstein's new book, Enchanted Knits for Dolls. My BFF, Jenni and I ran into Nicky on the show floor and (probably/very) unprofessionally went insane telling her how much we loved the new doll clothes. So when I was asked if I would like a review copy of the book, it was a no-brainer. I have to show off this awesomeness to my blog readers!
As the subtitle suggests, the book contains 25 costumes for 18-inch dolls. So, of course, with a 5 year old niece who just loves her expensive, name-brand 18-inch doll, I knew this book would be worth looking at more in depth.

The majority of the patterns in this book are for the intermediate or experienced knitter and I think are rated appropriately in the book. The doll costumes contain tons of special little details, which definitely turns the volume (and the difficulty level) up on these patterns. These are nothing like the doll clothing freebies you would find around the web.

To complete the look for these doll clothes you're going to need more than just needles and yarn. Pattern material lists include "narrow strips of leather for wrists" (Peter Pan), embroidered ribbon (Red Riding Hood) and glue (Magical Dragon), just to name a few. Enchanted Knits for Dolls is perfect for someone like me who loves to knit but occasionally dives into other crafts as well.

The book goes far beyond a regular knitting book. It has recipes (that is not a typo - recipes!). There are a three recipes that go along with the doll costume. I think my niece would really love to sample the Sparkle Egg Birds' Nests while playing with her doll dressed in the Forest Bride costume. Enchanted Knits for Dolls also has some magical knits for kids too. What little kid wouldn't want a Unicorn Hood? I kind of want one for myself. :)

The book also has a "Teach Your Kids to Knit with Nicky" section, which shows all the knitting basics in step-by-step photo tutorials. The patterns that follow are perfect for new kid knitters - My First Purse and Pair of Ponchos.

As usual, I want to make everything in the book, but here are a few of my very favorites:

I look forward to making my niece something from the book in 2016!

Nicky Epstein's Enchanted Knits for Dolls: 25 Mystical, Magical Costumes for 18-inch Dolls is now available. You can find it at your local LYS, bookstore or online. For more information, visit the Sixth & Spring website.

Photo copyright Nicky Epstein/Sixth & Springs Books.


Indie GAL Feature: Crochet Patterns

It's Monday, so it's time to talk Indie GAL patterns! I thought today it would be fun to feature some crochet designs that are a part of the Indie Design Gift-A-Long. Crochet is quick, making these patterns perfect for gifting. There are lots of great crochet designers that are a part of this year's GAL. It was very hard to narrow it down to a few designs to show off today.
  1. Flower Pixie Vest by Amanda Michelle, photo copyright: Amanda Michelle 
  2. Christmas Tree Centerpiece by Darleen Hopkins, photo copyright: Crochet by Darleen Hopkins
  3. Walden by knottygnome crafts, photo copyright: knottygnome crafts
  4. Allée by Janet Brani, photo copyright: OneLoopShy Designs
  5. Frostberry Hat by Sarah Jane Jackson, photo copyright: sarahjanedesigns
  6. Oblak Mittens by Elitza Chernaeva, photo copyright: Elitza Chernaeva
  7. Amigurumi Dragon - Clancy by Kate E. Hancock, photo copyright: Kate E. Hancock
Aren't they lovely!? I wish I had time to make them all.

There's still time to join in the Gift-A-Long fun. You can read all about how to get in on the fun and prizes here. Happy gifting!


Jen's Weekly Gems

Every week (or so) I post links to things I found around the Internet. Enjoy!

Find any online gems this week?  



Like I mentioned last week in my blog post about Faro, sometimes you gotta design the things you want for yourself. I did it again - with Regalo:

A slouchy hat is a super quick gift to knit and has an added bonus – you don’t have to worry too much about fit! This hat starts with ribbing that flows into a beautiful, wavy lace stitch pattern.  Swirling crown decreases give the piece an elegant finished look.

Regalo starts at the bottom with simple ribbing that flows into the lace stitch pattern. I love ribbing that looks like it belongs with the lace!
As with all the patterns in the Nifty Gifty Collection you can buy the individual pattern or get the entire collection.

I hope you've enjoy this eBook. I loved putting it together and look forward to maybe doing a second installment next year!


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