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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Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Paige Mitts

This first design I have to share with you are my Paige Mitts for Swans Island Yarn Company.  I had the pleasure of visiting Swans Island "headquarters" on a family trip to Maine in 2014 (the week after Clara was born).

Visiting Maine was a dream. In many ways, the terrain reminded us of northern Michigan... but different.  Big hilly expanses gave us a sense of being home, but the rocky terrain and blooms (oh, those sea air blooms!) put us in another world.  

To have the chance to tour Swan's Island Yarn put the vacation on a whole new level.


At the end of my visit, I was loaded up with yarn to play and experiment with, including a few skeins from the All American Collection.  I got busy working and designed two patterns for the release of their sport weight line.  

© 2015 Swans Island / Gale Zucker

The Paige Mitts knit up quickly in two skeins of  Swans Island All American Wool Sport Weight.  Although they are knit in low contrast, subtle tones here, the yarn comes in 36 different shades.  I plan on knitting myself a pair in a high contrast red and white (when, not sure... but that's the plan!).

© 2015 Swans Island / Gale Zucker

This yarn is the bee's knees to work with.  Seriously, I'm not kidding!  The stitch definition and 'grippiness' of the yarn makes it the perfect choice for colorwork patterns, small and large.

If your LYS doesn't carry it, it is available to order directly from their website.

Paige Mitts are available through Swans Island Yarn, as a pdf download via Ravelry. 

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Monday, November 2, 2015

Catching Up

Although there hasn't been much time for knitting in the past few years, there has been some!  This week, I plan on sharing a few patterns that I have published in this whirlwind of life, that never had their moment of fame on the French Press Knits blog.

Here's a little sneak peek- swatches!

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Friday, October 30, 2015

This is Me

So let's recap a bit from yesterday's post, yes?  I was setting the stage of what life has looked like for our family over the past few years and contemplating how knitting/French Press Knits fits into the picture:

- full time job
-3 kids under age 4
-husband= full time grad school

So knitting.  Sadly, it just hasn't been fitting in.  

Last week, on Instagram, I alluded to some new developments in our lives.  Joe, who graduated earlier this year, has just started his first teaching job.  For the first time in a long while, I have the option to stay home.  And guess what?  I did it!

This is what I have dreamed of and hoped for since Elise was born, but life got crazy, and the years trudged on.  Now that I have spent the last five years praying that this day would come and it finally has, I. AM. TERRIFIED.

What it all boils down to is this:  My job has been my excuse for not getting things done.  I've let it be the excuse for not keeping our house clean/organized and I've let it be the excuse for not releasing new patterns/knitting more.  

In my own defense, the past few years have been beyond crazy.  I feel like there has been pressure and stress coming in from every facet of my life.  And if there were any moments of downtime, I felt the need to just do something totally mindless.

My last day of work was two weeks ago.  Right before I quit, my head was spinning.  There were so many things I was holding back from doing that I didn't know where I wanted to start.  As far as knitting goes, I have been dying to find a moment to write up the pattern for Clara's Christmas set from last year.  The problem is, our house is my current work in progress.  I have spent the past couple weeks cleaning closets, painting, updating hardware, etc

It has felt good to be so productive at home, and I finally feel like things are getting whipped into shape.  The other day Elise came home from school and declared, "Mommy- It's like we have a whole new house!".  I think I'm on the right track :-)

Now that things are being managed on the home front, I plan to officially start my  knitting career... if you can call it that!  When Elise is at school, I still have two little ones at home, so it won't be easy.  I'm working on finding babysitters for about 6 hours a week.  It isn't much, but I need to start somewhere, right?  

Excited to see where this takes me and looking forward to sharing everything that's been floating around in my head for the past few years.

No fears- just time to do it!
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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

FPK: A History Lesson

  I know it's been a while since I've had much of a presence online, and it's time that all changes (I hope).

I think we'll kick this post off with a little FPK history lesson.  Here it goes:

Back in 2009, I discovered Etsy. I was fascinated by the idea of being able to create and be a part of a community of makers.  I've always enjoyed 'doing'- making things with my hands and having a tangible product for my work.  I love to be able to stand back at the end of a day and have a sense of pride in the work I can clearly see before me.

Although I had a full time career at the time, I still had time on my hands.  I was looking for the creative outlet that my job lacked in providing me, and I found it in Etsy.  I opened my shop and started designing some simple chunky knits that were easy to get on and off the needles.  I poured myself into branding my products and loved the rush of a sale (even if they were very few and far between).

A couple months after opening the Etsy store I started experimenting a bit with felting.  I had felted before, but I had a pair of ballet flats that I had a vision for.  I was hoping for a pair of slippers that looked just like them- basic flat, single strap with button across the toe.  The French Press Felted Slippers were born and soon selling like hotcakes.


It was fun for a while, but our house kind of turned into a slipper factory.  My husband and I both worked full time jobs and would come home every night to 'knitting time'.  I'm pretty sure I had us on some kind of quota to meet.  Oh yeah-  Did I mention that Joe had to learn to knit so I could meet this slipper quota?

It wasn't long before knitters started contacting me about the slipper pattern.  They all seemed to suggest that I get on Ravelry and offer the pattern up for sale.  At this point, I had heard of Ravelry, and had actually logged on... and quickly turned away because I thought there would be too much of a learning curve.  I was busy enough between my job and this Etsy world, right?!

Wrong!  (You knew that was coming, right?!)  I started by posting some FO's.  Many were projects I had whipped together for the Etsy shop, slippers included.  The love from knitters started pouring in. Again, I was asked to write up the pattern and decided it was time to go for it.

So, that being said, let' talk a little about my French Press Felted Slipper Pattern.  Can I admit that it's not your typical knitting pattern?  I wrote this pattern long before I knew about tech editors and test knitters.  My confidence in publishing came from the fact that I had knit about 200 pairs and could orally recite the pattern to you if I needed to.  It doesn't look like a standard knitting pattern, and more like a step to step guide to making felted slippers, with many pictures along the way.  Updating the pattern has always been on my 'to-do' list, but I don't want to completely lose what it is.

  Anyway, soon after publishing my first couple patterns, I started to immerse myself in the world of Ravelry and it literally changed my life.  Knitting became my passion, and the knowledge I acquired from forums, patterns, and conversations with other knitters taught me so much about this new obesession.  

I stayed active with the blog and knitting, but 2010 brought more change for our family.  2010 was the year we became parents.  

At first, things were no big adjustment.  I was on maternity leave and my very cooperative little one would sleep most of the day and I knit like the wind.  But before too long, I was back to work.  

And then soon after that, Elise was on the move.  And somehow, we managed to have 3 kids in 3.5 years.

If all this wasn't crazy enough, there were even more changes coming for the Bernardi family.  For the past 10+ years, my husband and I have worked with the high school youth group at our church.  Through these interactions with students, my husband decided to go back to school to become a teacher.  He left his family company, where he has worked his whole adult life to gain experience in a school system and then enrolled as a full time graduate student.

So the big question over the past few years has been: Where does FPK fit in to our lives?!

To be continued...
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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Late Resolutions

So I do realize that January is halfway over, but some things need to be said, even if late.

The last few weeks I have been pondering different goals I have for the year 2015.  I never was much a a 'resolutions' person in my younger years, and I'm not sure I'm quite there yet- but I welcome the idea of a fresh start and reassessment of skills and perspectives.

When it comes to knitting, there are always new techniques I would like to learn, along with an ever growing list of things to make.  In 2015, I am putting it out there, making it public.  If nothing else, you all can hold me accountable and hopefully just saying it publicly gets me moving.  I don't want the list to be too extensive, and I know I never have time to design and write and knit all the things I would like, so I decided I will focus on skill and techniques.

So, with that, here is my list of knitting goals for 2015:

1.  Learn Brioche
          I have long loved the brioche stitch and would love to incorporate it in to designs.   I have been eyeing up some classes on Craftsy, and even have a gift card for a free class.  Time to put it to use!  Have any of you taken either of the Craftsy Brioche Knitting classes?  There's Brioche Knitting Made Easy and Explorations in Brioche Knitting.  Recommendations?

2.  Learn Double Knitting
          Hilary tells me it's not too hard, she has a couple cowl patterns that utilize the technique beautifully- I think it may finally be time to read up and cast on!

3.  Steeking
          Yes- it freaks me out.  I don't think I'm alone, but I also think, that like many things in knitting, it's not going to be as difficult as it sounds (maybe?!?).  There are many projects I could implement this one on.  I would love to knit myself a fair isle cardigan... my goal is to make this happen, by way of steeking, in 2015.

What about you-  any 2015 knitting goals?  I'd love to hear them and see progress along the way.   Let's hold each other accountable in this knitting community!  I plan on posting my goals, and progress on them, on Instagram along with the hashtag: #2015knittinggoals . Will you join me?

Friday, December 26, 2014

Stocking Duos

Thank you for all the lovely feedback on Clara's Stocking and Sweater Set.  Sometimes I feel a little guilty when I go on a bit of a knitting binge and get so many positive comments on my projects and how quickly they fly off my needles.  I think that maybe just posting pictures of the FO's is unfair, that as a full disclosure I should also take pictures of the piles of laundry, mail, and toys that accumulate during my tunnel-vision knitting frenzy.  And with that being said- you know it exists.  In order to put time in to knitting, other things are definitely sacrificed (but I am off work for 2 weeks this holiday season, so that helps, too!).

Today I wanted to share each of the kids stockings and the knits that have gone with them.

First up, Elise:

Elise's stocking was actually designed after the outfit she wore at her first Christmas.  Since she was born at the end of November, and much of December was spent figuring out (rather trying to figure out) the whole parenting thing, there wasn't a stocking in time for her first Christmas.

You can flashback to Elise's stocking here.

Sam, on the other hand, had his stocking first, and the hat soon followed.  Actually, Elise and Sam both got hats to match their stockings the year I knit Sam's (find pictures here).

I know, I know- Sam only got a hat.  The green yarn from his stocking has been discontinued and I've had trouble finding a green to love just as much.  That being said, his hat has gotten more wear than the girl's stocking knits combined.  He still wears this little hat with the brim down, as pictured.  It's kind of a knit that has grown with him.  To see the flashback to Sam's stocking, check out these posts.

And last but not least, we have these recent knits.  

So it's not just Clara that has the bonus stocking knits, it has actually become a little tradition in our house.  I figure that as the kids grow up and have families of their own, I will still have their stockings, but they will have something to take with them.  What about you, what do you plan on doing with all the special things you make for your kids?  Do you save them, do you have  a special way to store them for later use?  I would love to hear your thoughts!

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