Tuesday, July 16, 2013

It's About Time

A new pattern and a new blog post.
I thought I would take you through the steps of my design process for my new shawl, Boardwalk.

1. Purchase yarn that speaks to me.
While visiting my daughter in Philly I stopped by Loop and bought some yarn, including Madelinetosh DK. I had a gift certificate from Loopy Ewe and later purchased more Madelinetosh DK. I can't remember if it was intentional to purchase these 2 yarns to go together or not. The William Morris does have a hint of the blue running through it.
These yarns were destined to go together, but it was going to be tricky.

Madelinetosh DK, William Morris colorway, purchased at Loop in Philadelphia, March 17, 2012.
Madelinetosh DK, Celadon colorway, purchased from Loopy Ewe online, March 26, 2012.

2. Lust over these yarns for more than a year and finally start swatching.

I wanted something other than the typical garter stitch stripes and played around with horizontal ribbing or welting. I love the texture of this stitch pattern where you alternate sections of stockinette stitch and reverse stockinette stitch. I wanted to do it with 2 colors and when you alternate colors it is best to change on even rows. The stitch pattern I wanted to use changes on odd rows. I don't know anyone who likes to weave in ends so I fiddled around with the concept and figured out a solution. Now what to do with this stitch pattern, how do I place it in whatever I was going to make?
I decided a shawl would be the most practical, I knew I didn't have enough yarn for a garment, but too much for a hat or cowl and everybody (at least in the knitting world, or at least on Ravelry) loves shawls.

I prefer crescent shaped shawls; I visualized both colors edging the shawl and the body of the shawl worked in just one color.  After the edging is worked, stitches are picked up along one edge and the body is worked in short rows.

3. I finally started my first shawl on May 28, 2013 (gotta love Ravelry, I know just when I started my project).

The tapered ends are a little tricky, but after that it is autopilot knitting.
Stitches are picked up and short rows are being worked.

4. Blocking. I love the texture of the border, but it was a little too springy for the desired drape, so I decided a wet block was in order.

5. Naming the pattern. I decided to ask my Facebook knitting friends to suggest a name. This was the photo I submitted.

Boardwalk was suggested. My local knitting friends were all looking forward to enjoying our new boardwalks in the coming weeks after the devastation of superstorm Sandy. The name boardwalk just immediately evoked positive feelings and made the local knitters smile. A winner.

5. Now for some creative photography, especially since my model was on vacation. My friend Frank Parisi helped me get some great photos for the pattern. You can see more photos for my pattern on Ravelry. He took the photos and I did the editing; I edited my head right out of the picture.

I happened to wear my second Boardwalk to a summer party and liked the photo my daughter took with her phone.

6. When I work on a pattern, I often make it more than once. Even though it is relatively easy, I wanted to make sure I had all of the counts perfect for anyone else who wanted to make it. I hope there are no mistakes in the pattern. I made this one 3 times, because it was so much fun. My son, James Punderson, amateur photographer, took photos of my third one for me. This Boardwalk was made out of a light worsted yarn, project details are on Ravelry.

I had a test knitter who lent me her sample to photograph. Her project is here on Ravelry.

                                                  James Punderson
                                                         James Punderson

                                    James Punderson
7. The pattern goes through lots of rewrites and reformatting; friends read through it for grammatical editing, my other son creates the schematic for me and then I am finally ready to publish. When I think everything is ready, I make it available on Ravelry, Etsy and Craftsy. I make it available on my blog (which will take you to Ravelry where you can purchase the pattern). I look forward to seeing more projects show up on Ravelry as they are added.

Island Heights Cultural and Heritage Association Garden Tour.
In case I didn't have enough for you to look at in this post I wanted to add some photos from a garden tour we had in town on a beautiful day in June.


Thursday, May 30, 2013

knit to flatter, a sweater challenge

This spring Amy Herzog taught her Knit to Flatter class at Lion Brand Studio, NYC. I decided it would be the perfect birthday treat for myself and my twin. It is not your usual knitting class where you learn a specific technique.  Her class gives knitters the knowledge on how to choose the right design for your body shape and how to customize those designs for you. Even a non-knitter would like this class.

She took photos of us in tight fitting clothes and we figured out from our outlines whether we were top heavy, proportional or bottom heavy. We then discussed what details of a sweater would be most flattering to the different body types. She challenged everyone to make one of her designs, encouraging us to of course make changes.

I already had her book. I also had a bag of worsted weight yarn that I had won at a yarn crawl that would be perfect for a sweater. My criteria was that I wanted to use the yarn I already had and a pattern from the book. I chose the Coin Cable Cardigan. Fortunately, the only worsted weight pattern in the book also was good for my body type (proportional). Details of my project are on Ravelry. The process is below.

The first step was to swatch. I swatched in stockinette stitch and the coin cable stitch pattern.

The sweater was a bottom up, one piece design. I first knit a long band of the coin cable stitch pattern and picked up stitches along one side to knit up to the armholes.
coin cable stitch pattern bottom band

At the same time I knit both front bands using the same coin cable stitch pattern. Knitting the corner was quite fiddly and I wasn't sure I liked the way the front band fit into the corner. I was hoping it would work itself out in the blocking which it pretty much did. However, if  I were to make it again, I think I would make some adjustments at that stage.
the rows of the front band seem to be too many to fit into the stitches of the bottom band

The sweater was knit in one piece and worked up to the armholes. I adjusted the length by shortening it below the waist shaping. The waist shaping was in the back, similar to a sewing pattern, rather than the sides as most knitting patterns.
back waist shaping started
I worked the fronts and the backs separately. I placed locking stitch markers on my work to mark the decreases and increases. There are only 5 because I had to borrow some for something else. I love visual markers in my work. The waste yarn is another visual marker, placed in the row where I started to work my armhole decreases to make it easier to measure my work from the armhole to the shoulder shaping. I took note of the number of rows I worked so the back and right front could be worked to the same number of rows as the left front and therefore all match each other. Sometimes just relying on measuring knitting doesn't always match.
left front
Now the fronts and backs are completed. On the right front I used a locking stitch marker for my visual clue for measuring instead of the waste yarn. That was what was convenient for me at the time.
body completed

Now for the fun part (can you hear the sarcasm in my voice?). I knit the back neck trim, attaching it to the body as I knit it. Better than having to sew the pieces together, but quite fiddly. After blocking, I realized the back neck was quite wide. It was not enough of a problem to do it over.

back neck trim

Now for the actual fun part. I decided I wanted to work the sleeves from the top down, not the bottom up as written. The pattern called for knitting a band of the coin cable stitch pattern, picking up stitches along one side and knitting the sleeve up and sewing the sleeve into the armhole. No more coin cable stitch pattern for me (I didn't really enjoy knitting that stitch pattern). I picked up stitches around the armhole, worked short rows to shape the sleeve cap and knit the sleeve down. Sounds easy, right? I did work it a couple of times to get a smooth look to the short rows and to get a good fit. I do love working a sleeve that way however.
sleeve cap, no sewing

I also decided that I wanted 3/4 length sleeves, more flattering to me. I had to decide how to finish the sleeve and since the coin cable stitch pattern is on a background of seed stitch, I decided to finish the sleeve with seed stitch.
seed stitch trim on my 3/4 length sleeve

The knitting is finished.

The ends are woven in and the sweater is blocking. I love using a blocking board so I can easily block to the right measurements. I stuck a towel inside, but it still took 2 days to dry.

Now for the button. The hole created by the cable is the buttonhole. I love this idea. However, the existing hole dictates that a 3/4inch button be used which I think looks too small when you only have one button for the whole sweater.  Fortunately, I had the foresight to pick up a couple of buttons from Melissa Jean at  Maryland Sheep and Wool, one being oval. I think it is perfect for this sweater. In real life the color of the sweater and the button match perfectly (and I didn't have my sweater with me!).

The sweater is finally ready to wear. 
a selfie of my sweater

It was fun taking her class in person, but you can read her book , Knit to Flatter, or take her class on Craftsy and get the same information. She has a fun Fashion Friday post on her blog where she visually demonstrates her philosophy every week. You can catch her blog posts on facebook too.

Amy Herzog and me
The sweater I am wearing is my Comfy Cowl Neck Pullover pattern, which has the top down sleeve as an option. I wanted to design a sweater that would be my go to sweater, that I could just wear all the time, not a statement piece. Ironically, it fits in pretty well with Amy's philosophy.

What body shape do you think you are and what sweater details tend to look good on you?

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival

This weekend is the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. It has been going on for 40 years! I have been hearing about it for a few years now, but this was my first trip there. So here is a little pictorial review of the show, taken with my phone.

This was the main walkway into the Festival. Lots of festival type food.
This is the largest building full of vendors. There were several smaller barns jam packed full of people.

Lots of grassy areas full of more vendors.

This vendor hand makes her own pin cushions, they were exquisite.
Tons of spinning supplies, from fleeces, to roving, to spindles & wheels.

Dueling fiddlers.

There's lots of sheep, pens and pens of all varieties.
These guys are waiting their turn for their competition.

Sheep shearing.
Fleeces for sale.
Lots of lamb to eat at the Festival, lamb burgers, kebobs, enchiladas,  chili, tamales, gyros and more.

Podcaster meet-up, I am here with the Knitgirllls.
They have a great video podcast.

More tents with lots of indie yarn companies.
Stash enhancement.
Thank you to a new shop in the area, Chelsea Yarns for putting together a bus trip. I didn't have to drive, I could just knit!  I made quite a bit of progress on a sweater I am knitting.