Friday, January 15, 2016

Sam's Christmas Sweater

And finally, some pictures.  More about the process in yesterday's post.

The sweater was modeled after Joe's Graduation Vest (I still owe you some posts on that, don't I?).  I changed the colors a bit but used the same pattern.  Knitpick's Palette was the yarn of choice, and I used less than one skein of every color used.

Raveled: here






Thursday, January 14, 2016

How to Make Your Christmas Season More Stressful


That's right.  If there's ever been an authority on creating more stress for yourself, I'd like to throw my hat in the ring for the title.  There's a big part of me that thrives on deadlines and coming in right at the buzzer.  At the end of a 5k or 10k race, I enjoy digging deep and finding my last bit of energy to finish in a mad sprint.  It seems I have adapted this same tactic when I approach my knitting, especially when knitting before Christmas!
So, on the 18th of December, I decided that Sam needed a new sweater vest for the holiday season. Things started great.  I cast in the morning and sat knitting among the kids while they played.  As Clara napped in the afternoon, I enjoyed some hardcore knitting while Sam enjoyed a show... or two.  Before heading out to the bus stop in the afternoon, I was just about ready to start armhole decreases and add in steek stitches. 


But then the Christmas season hit.  I wasn't worried about the project and kept putting it off to do silly things like wrap presents, send out Christmas cards,  and hit the grocery store way too often.



The project was small which made it quite convenient for throwing in my Field Bag  and bringing it along while waiting for tables and other holiday season excursions.

Then I realized I had to pause and actually take some time to figure out what I was doing.  When I originally cast on, I took some measurements, did a gauge swatch and started knitting.  When it came to the top of the vest, I took a garment out of Sam's closet and measured, planned, and fumbled my way through to the end.


And two days before Christmas, I had something that looked like this:

Now, here's the tricky part.  I always think that this means I'm almost done.  It doesn't. 2x2 ribbing in fingering weight yarn isn't the quickest of knitting ventures.  Especially when you're in a Christmas fog and don't cast on enough neck stitches.  That's right- a sweater of any sort will NOT fit over a giant toddler noggin if the neck hole is not large enough (lesson learned).  So after ripping back and re-knitting I was left with just the ends to weave in on Christmas morning.



Or so I thought.  Enter younger toddler sister.  Who, despite being incapable of living an hour a day off my hip while I prepare dinner, ends up being totally capable of  operating a pair of small scissors.  Thank you, fine motor skills.

By no means was the sweater destroyed, but it was enough to put last-minute-knitting-mom into a tizzy as I frantically tied whatever ends I could and reinforced cut stitches.  Lovely, no?!


But, by the time we were ready to head out to relatives, a sweater vest was complete... along with all that other stuff people make you do for Christmas!

And as the rest of the day was such a blur, the finished sweater vest did not get much time in front of the camera.

More soon...





Friday, January 8, 2016

When Good Knits Go Forgotten


Welcome to 2016!  I hope you all enjoyed the holiday season.  The down time was much needed and appreciated in our neck of the woods, but it's good to be back on a schedule and to be making goals for the New Year.

In the midst of the New Year productivity, we decided to switch our kids bedrooms around.  Clara moved into Sam's old room, Sam moved into Elise's old room, and Elise moved into Clara's old room. *phew* Not an easy task!

With all the moves came cleaning out closets and drawers.  I have a box of hand knits stowed away in the back of the nursery closet.  I thought I had gotten out all of Elise's old knits for Clara to put into rotation but to my surprise, I found this beaut' tucked in bottom:



So, while Clara was busy wearing her Merriment Cardigan around town all Christmas, this one was sadly tucked away.  The good news?  It fits!

The sweater was knit for Elise for Christmas back in 2011.  Although I limited use/wear to the holidays back then, now I'm just happy Clara has a chance to wear this hand-me-down-hand-knit while it's still chilly!












































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Monday, December 14, 2015

Inside Scoop- Merriment Cardigan and Bonnet

Wow.  I feel like this has been a long time coming.  These two patterns have been my focus since I quit my job in October (well, these and raising three small children!).


I've known for a long time that these were the patterns I wanted to kickoff my "comeback" with.  The sweater and bonnet set are very dear to my heart.  When I think back to the time I spent creating them last year, it was blissful.  I was off work for almost two weeks at the holidays.  That amount of time away from the job was unheard of in my life for many years.  The company I worked for started everyone off with two weeks of vacation.  I didn't get Christmas Eve or New Years Eve, so vacation days were always saved for this time.  What this meant is that I went many years without a vacation of more than just a long weekend here or there.


Last year I knew I was winding down.  Joe was about to start his last semester of grad school, and I knew I would soon be the one home with the kids.  But I wasn't yet, and I cherished those weeks around the house.  My nights were spent knitting on the couch, in the light of the Christmas tree, listening to audio books.  I'm pretty sure I listened to every book by L.M. Montgomery along with Little Women.  With the extra free time and no work commitments, knitting was exciting to me again.  It wasn't a burden or something I had to get done because I had a duty to fulfill, I was creating for the very love of it.  Like I said: blissful.



I started with Clara's stocking, posting pictures on Instagram and seeking the opinion of the knitting community along the way.  I loved what had resulted from this power session and it made me fall in love with knitting all over again.  I decided that since Sam and Elise both had knits to match their stockings,  Clara also needed something special I could hand down to her.



The end product made me giddy.  So much so that I wrote up a quick version of the pattern to share.  I promised a pattern for both, along with multiple sizes and just couldn't deliver on the time line I was hoping for.  Winter came and went, and demands of everyday life started to press in again.  I ended up working a little longer than expected, so when I finally 'retired' I knew exactly what was going on my needles.



So here I sit, typing in the light of the Christmas tree, reminiscing about last year, and thinking about what this year has brought.  A chance to stay home with my kids, a chance to make knitting/creating/designing a bigger part of my life again.  I have agonized over this pattern.  Writing, rewriting: top-down, bottom-up, steeked in the round, flat with no steek, lice stitch removed, lice stitch back in.  I wanted it to be as special for your little one as it has been for mine.



And maybe even bigger than this, I wanted this pattern to represent who I am as a knitter and designer.  I'm back, and there may be no stopping me this time!


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Friday, December 11, 2015

Merriment Release

Just a quick post to let you know that the Merriment Cardigan and Bonnet Pattern are now available on Ravelry.

I've been looking forward to sharing this set for so long!  You can purchase the cardigan and bonnet separately, or purchase together for a discount.

For this weekend only, use code "MERRIMENTBLOG" for 20% off individual patterns or "BLOGSET" for 20% off the already discounted bundle.

So hop to it!  Find the Cardigan here and the Bonnet here!

More details and pictures coming soon!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Midwestern Knits/ Beechwood Hat and Cowl

To wrap up the updates on patterns released since I've been away, I'm excited to share a bit about Midwestern Knits.



A while back, I was asked by fellow knitters Carina Spencer and Allyson Dykhuizen if I would like to contribute to their project which focused on Midwest designers who have a love for the Midwest.  I was beyond excited about the idea and thrilled to contribute two accessory patterns to the book.

The book features 13 designs that are divided into four categories: Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall (we do like our seasons here in the Midwest, right?!).  Tucked into the Winter section, you will find The Beechwood Hat and Cowl Set.



As a young girl, my last hoorah of summer was always spent in Ludington, Michigan in the company of friends and extended family.   Ludington State Park is comprised of three campgrounds: Pines, Cedar, and Beechwood. The Beechwood campground is nestled in the back of the park amidst towering trees, calm streams, and rolling hills.  It was there that many of my earliest memories were formed. 


 With our 10-speed Huffy bicycles, the world was ours.  We could get anywhere we needed to go, with a band of friends right at our side.  It was the best of both worlds- the carefree lifestyle children often enjoy with the freedom to decide our own itinerary.  We filled our days with hiking, swimming, and riding, while our nights held promises of campfires, smoky clothes, and s’mores.


My grandfather, who lived in a more suburban area, enjoyed his time in the great outdoors.  Back at home, Grandpa loved watching the squirrels and birds in his backyard.  In Ludington, he would collect acorns to bring back for the coming winter.  He took advantage of the all the free time his grandchildren had by putting us to work, all while teaching us the value of a (literal) dollar.  Grandpa would hand the kids each a brown grocery bag, send us up into the woods, and pay us a dollar when we came back with a bag filled with acorns.



This set was inspired by those late summer afternoons, the time spent among the meandering trails of dark soil searching for acorns, filling our bags full.  Making our forever Midwest Memories.


A couple months ago, I led a (my first ever) knit-a-long for the set.  If you haven't tried cabling without a cable needle, it's a great pattern to try the technique on! Here's the set I knit for myself, which has become my 'everyday' hat and cowl here in Michigan since the weather has gotten chilly.  



Both hat and Cowl is knit from less than two skeins of Three Irish Girls Springvale Worsted (which is totally luscious and perfect for the cable and garter combo!).  The colorway used in the book is Driftwood; pictured above, Skipping Stones.

You can purchase the hard copy of the book directly from the website, or download the ebook with all 13 patterns on Ravelry.  The hard copy of the book also come with a code to download the ebook into your Rav library.  Individual patterns will be available for download later in 2016.





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Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Frances Hat

So has it been a whole week since I last posted? Yikes!  I promise it was for good reason.  I have been busy working on my Merriment Cardigan pattern and got a little carried away.  The good news is that it is written up and just about ready to send of to the tech editor (yay!).  It's a process I hope to become more efficient with, but I am learning every day :-)



The second design I worked up for Swan's Island Yarn was a color work hat- tones of gray and pops of orange.  The palette reminds me of a rainy fall day, when the wet leaves truly pop against the dreary background.



The pattern for the Frances Hat can be found on Ravelry.  The yarn is again from Swan's Island Yarn and can be found at your local yarn shop or online.

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