Happy Thanksgiving 2017!!

Drawn Thread We Give Thanks
Drawn Thread, “We Give Thanks” (stitched in 2000, framing by yours truly) — apologies for the fuzzy photography!

Happy Thanksgiving to all my American readers out there! And a very happy Thursday to the rest of the world! Wherever you are, it’s good to remember to be grateful every once and a while, and to thank out loud the people, places and things that make our lives worth living.

So if you’ll pardon me getting personal for a moment–thank you to my brother, Bill, and my sister-in-law, Karen, and two the world’s most talented, beautiful, amazing, fun, intelligent, feisty, and joyous nieces in the world (not that I’m biased), Ella and Lauren (Lolo). And to my friend, Deborah, and all my friends and family all over the country. You’ve really come through for me these past few months, and I am truly grateful.

Since this is a knitting and needlework blog, here are some of the things I am grateful for in that world–the continued popularity of knitting which has made so many resources available to all of us, and especially the superheroes behind Ravelry who make the knitting world hum. If you’re not already on Ravelry, you don’t know what you’re missing.

I am especially thankful to the helpful and supportive people of Knit Picks, who have published three of my knitting patterns this year: Tree of Life socks, Kitty Mitties, and another which is coming out next week (stay tuned!). Their Independent Designer Program (IDP) is a great way for beginning designers to get their first break, as it were.

I am also grateful for the new DMC colors and the continued success of my favorite needlework designers.

I am also thankful for my best blog friend, Stitch Bitch, who is not only an inspiring and prolific cross-stitcher, but is also wicked smart and funny.

And thank you for my handful of readers! Without you, I’m just shouting in the dark.

Knitting at the Movie Theater Part II: Blatant Self-Promotion

When I was writing my last post on “Tips for Knitting at the Movie Theater,” I had originally intended to include a list of some of my favorite patterns for knitting at the movies, but since I had already included links to Jen Reilly’s “Super-Fast, Ultra-Cozy Scarf” and TenTen Knits’ “Snow Cowl,” I figured that was enough. However, my Midwestern guilt continued to gnaw at me until I realized that by far the most common patterns I knit at the movies are my own, the “Lucky Horseshoes” scarf and the “Stardust Variations” cowl. Both are quite simple designs which can be completed in a couple hours, and both are very popular as patterns and finished items on my Ravelry and Etsy shops (links in right-hand column). So please pardon the blatant self-promotion (decidedly un-Midwestern; must be my California side showing through) as I recommend my own patterns.

“Lucky Horseshoes” involves some simple cabling, but if you’re comfortable with cabling (especially cabling without a cable needle), it should be a piece of cake. The pattern is sized for cowl, medium scarf, and long scarf, and if you can really adjust the look completely with your choice of color and statement button.

“Stardust Variations” is a simple cowl pattern knit in the round, but the bonus is that the pattern is calculated for several different gauges so you can make one in any gauge from sport to super bulky, depending on what’s in your stash. It’s a great way to use those random skeins of hand-dyed yarn you purchased because you just couldn’t live without them or that you have lying around left over from another project. The super bulky version (shown below on its own) would be particularly great for knitting at the movies.

Thank you for looking at my designs!

Keeping my Olympic Promises

Knitters of the world, unite for marriage equality!
Just a dark blue stockinette project I’m working on, some beautiful yellow mohair hanks, and voila!

As part of Ravelry’s Ravellenics celebrations, my fledgling (very fledgling) knitting design company, Moon & Sixpence Knits, pledged to donate all its proceeds during the 2014 Winter Olympics to the Los Angeles Human Rights Campaign (you can read my original post about this here, just scroll to the end). This effort was spearheaded by Bristol Ivy, who enlisted a lot of other designers to participate in this donation ring in support of the LGBT community in the face of Vladimir Putin’s crackdown on their basic human rights. I don’t intend this blog to be a political platform, but this happens to be a cause that means a lot to me and I’m so glad that the knitting community is doing their part. Putin doesn’t know what he’s up against!

So today, I went ahead and made my donation based on my meager sales (hey, every little bit helps!) and sent the amount to Bristol Ivy so she can announce the big tally. I know my contribution wasn’t that large, but it was heartfelt. Let’s keep fighting the good fight!

By the way, you should check out Bristol Ivy’s design site on Ravelry — they’re classic and beautiful, and I know you’ll see something you want to make right now.

Valentine’s Day Wrap-up

While I don’t currently have a significant other in my life, I do have two cute-as-a-button nieces who will always be my Valentines. I live in southern California and they live in northern California, so I decided to send them some candy and little gifties for Valentine’s Day. My sister-in-law’s birthday is on the 17th, so I can conveniently send everything in the same (only slightly late) package.

Below are some pics of the two coffee cup cozies I made for my sister-in-law to accompany her Starbucks gift certificate. As the mother of two kids under four, she appreciates a good cup o’ joe. To quote Dave Foley’s character in NewsRadio: “I don’t know what caffeine is, but I’m pretty sure that without it, your head explodes.”

The one on the left is the “Reusable Hot Coffee-Cup Sleeve from Joelle Hoverson’s More Last-Minute Knitted Gifts and the one on the right is the “Boxy Cozy,” a free Ravelry download pattern from Leah Michelle Designs.

For my niece Lauren, who is currently sporting an adorable “Cindy Lou Who” topknot, I crocheted a bunch of little ponytail holders in a variety of colors, some with flower buttons attached. Basically, you just take a regular elastic ponytail holder and crochet around it in a shell stitch, ruffle, loops, or even a simple single or double crochet (click here for a video tutorial). If you string the buttons (I used ones with shanks) on the yarn before you start crocheting, you just slide them up to the ponytail holder when you want to attach them. Easy. The finished holders were super cute, but, sadly, you’ll have to take my word for it since I forgot to take photos of them before I put the package in the mail.

For the family, I made this (very badly photographed) crocheted heart garland they can hang over their fireplace or the entryway to the living room, or wherever. I used three different heart patterns and multiple yarn scraps either from my “remnants bag” (I can never bring myself to throw out yarn until there’s only a microscopic bit left) or from several years ago when I subscribed to the Yarn of the Month Club for awhile. Details below. (Again, pardon the photography — I was running out the door to make the post office cutoff time and I underexposed the photos.)

Crocheted Heart Garland
This is the Heart Garland, gathered and tied together in loops. Peeking out on the left, you can see one of the small white hearts at the ends of the garland.

[Note: the following paragraph is only for the hard-core crochet geek. Welcome, kindred spirits!] If you’re at all interested, here are the details on each heart, from left to right (all the patterns are free on Ravelry):

  • “Modernes herz — Modern Heart” by Carmen Rosemann: one strand of Lily Sugar ‘n’ Cream (color: hot pink) and one strand Conjoined Creations Pastimes (color: “Clue”), size H hook
  • “Modernes herz — Modern Heart” by Carmen Rosemann: two strands Tahki Cotton Classic (color 3447) and one strand Suss Perle Cotton (sugar pink), size J hook
  • “Crocheted Hearts Motif” by Luba Davies: one strand Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Superchunky (color 16002), size J hook
  • “Valentine’s Day Heart Crochet Pattern” by Petals to Picots, size large: one strand of Rowan Cashsoft Chunky (unknown color, deep red), size J hook
  • “Heart Crochet Pattern” by Petals to Picots: Rowan Cotton Rope (color 063, lavender), size J hook
  • “Heart Crochet Pattern” by Petals to Picots: two strands of Exceed Wool L Print by Hamanaka (color 402, variegated light pink/white, red, purple, self-striping), size I hook
  • “Crocheted Hearts Motif” by Luba Davies: two strands Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino (color 340042, raspberry) and one strand Conjoined Creations Pastimes (color: “Clue”), size I hook
  • “Modernes herz — Modern Heart” by Carmen Rosemann: two strands of Lion Brand Wool Ease (color 139, “Dark Rose Heather”) and one strand of Suss Shine (color: “rose quartz”), size I hook
  • “Valentine’s Day Heart Crochet Pattern” by Petals to Picots, size large: one strand of Crystal Palace Puffin Print (color: 0204, “Dotty Grapes”), size H hook
  • “Valentine’s Day Heart Crochet Pattern” by Petals to Picots, size large: two strands of Tahki Cotton Classic (unknown number, deep red), size I hook
  • “Modernes herz — Modern Heart” by Carmen Rosemann: two strands of Crystal Palace Cotton Chenille (unknown color of coral pink), size J hook

The mini-hearts at the beginning and end of the garland were the “small” version of the “Valentine’s Day Heart Crochet Pattern” by Petals to Picots. The rope was chained using two strands of Lily Sugar ‘n’ Cream in ecru with a size J hook; there were 42 chains in between each heart. Phew! Over and out.

And wishing you all a belated Happy Valentine’s Day!

The Olympic Games: Special Scandinavian Knitting Edition, part two

Just a quick post today to update some information from yesterday’s post. Lisa Shroyer at Knitting Daily has written a short article/preview-of-coming-attractions, called “Sport Your Stitches,” about the Norwegian National ski teams and their uber-cool knitted sweater uniforms. The article contains a couple of neat archival photos, and Shroyer mentions that she’s working on a longer article on the subject for the upcoming issue of knit.wear.

Apparently, Dale of Norway has been making the ski team’s sweaters for every Olympic games since 1956. Having recently completed my first Scandinavian-style fair isle pattern (a Christmas stocking pattern by Debbie Bliss — photos of which were tragically lost in the push of the wrong button on the camera), I’m gaga over these geometric, snowflakey patterns.

Dale of Norway has published a book with hand-knit patterns for all the sweaters going back to 1956. Knitting Daily has also assembled some patterns “inspired by the Games” into a booklet. My favorite pattern was the Cross-Cultural Pullover, and I thank this article for reminding me I already own the pattern.

On a more serious note… it’s so heartwarming to know that the knitting community is also responding to the unconscionable treatment of the LGBT community in the Soviet Union. If you are a designer, please consider joining Bristol Ivy’s donation ring. And who doesn’t love a rainbow?

Jumpers and Mary’s Maids and Sherlock, oh my!

This is a bit of a “catching up” post since I am going to try to cover a few different topics about last week’s Sherlock, “The Sign of Three,” before discussing (briefly) the latest episode, “His Last Vow” in a later post. I have also realized that, in my Sherlockian zeal, I have allowed the entire month of January to pass without announcing my knitting and stitching goals for the year or explaining the enigmatic “2014 Smalls SAL” banner in the sidebar. Yikes.

First, in my last post on the Sherlock episode, “The Sign of Three,” I neglected to mention Annie Modesitt’s latest colorway devoted to this episode. Called “Mary’s Maids,” the colorway is based on the dresses Mary (and Sherlock — I love how they bonded over wedding arrangements) chose for her bridesmaids. The dresses are your typically unfortunate, ill-fitting bridesmaid’s fare, but the colorway is a gorgeous “celebration of purple (sorry, Lilac) in subtle, semi-solid beauty” and you can view it in all its splendor (sorry, splendour) here. And while lilac bridesmaids’ dresses are an abomination unto the Lord, Annie Modesitt has managed to make all the shades of purple (one of my favorite colors) work together.

Second, inspired by my favorite quote from Sherlock’s best man speech — “I could go on all night about the depth and complexity of his [Watson’s] jumpers” — I realized this would be a good opportunity to showcase some of my favorite patterns for men’s sweaters (or “jumpers”). I can’t guarantee they would all be favorites of John Watson, but I could see him looking bemused yet fiercely loyal in some of them.

John Watson's Jumper
John Watson’s Jumpers have two Facebook pages, a Tumblr, and their own fan fiction page. I’m not kidding.

So, in no particular order, I present:

I promise that my next post will have actual knitting and stitching content. Time to set some goals! Til then, the game’s on!

*I’m going to avoid showing all the pictures of these beautiful sweaters, partly out of respect for copyright and partly so as not to clutter up this entry with pictures. So enjoy a little “action shot” of Martin Freeman, as John Hamish Watson, wearing a jumper. Pattern available on Ravelry, of course.

It’s official, I’m a knit-iot. But here’s a giveaway!

Debbie Bliss Magazine Fall/Winter 2013
Debbie Bliss Magazine Fall/Winter 2013

This story falls under the category of “You know you have too much stash when…”

The other day, I needed some size 5 double-pointed needles for the Susie Rogers’ Reading Mitts, so I headed over to Skein, my LYS in Pasadena. While I was there, I also picked up a copy of the latest Debbie Bliss Knitting Magazine (Fall/Winter 2013), after carefully checking my Ravelry library to see if I already had it (there are some cute Christmas patterns in this issue, including one for a Santa-style coat for dogs. Awww…). Anyway, after I got home, I discovered that I already had this issue. It had been sitting on my bedside-table, staring me in the face for two months, and I had just never gotten around to recording it on Ravelry. D’oh!

If you have so many knitting magazines you can’t keep track of them all, it’s time to take stock of your life. Or, better yet, host a giveaway contest.

Congratulations! My “knittiocy” (like “idiocy” except for knitters… do you think it will catch on?) is your gain! The first person to comment on this post and tell me something “knittiotic” that he/she has done will win the magazine. Good luck!

UPDATE: The prize has been claimed by reader chickinboots! Feel free to leave comments though — I’d love to hear from you.

Valentine’s Day Elf Hat for Ella

Pointy Elf HatSometimes the titles of books can be misleading, especially when they make promises like “these are the kinds of patterns you can make as last-minute gifts.” Yeah, right, I thought, as I eagerly plunked down money for Joelle Hoverson’s beautifully produced Last-Minute Knitted Gifts and then again for its equally gorgeous More Last-Minute Knitted Gifts. Even though I felt an irresistible urge to own both books, I must admit I was skeptical about their titles’ promises: “You don’t know how last-minute I can get!” I dared them silently.

However, this is the fourth project I’ve completed from the two books and so far they more than live up to their promise. When the pattern says it’ll take 2-4 hours, it takes 2-4 hours. I started yesterday afternoon and I was finished by evening. The other project I’ve done is the “Soft as a Cloud Cowl” (twice) from the second book and the “Airy Scarf” by Brenda Overstrom from the first. Muddy picture of said scarf below:

Airy Scarf by Brenda OverstromThis most recent project, “Pointy Elf Hat,” was a snap. I knitted it with size 13 needles in Lion Brand Wool Ease Thick and Quick (my “go to” bulky yarn) in “blossom” and the heart was crocheted with a size I hook and one strand of Suss Coolaid (discontinued) and one strand of perle cotton. I found the heart pattern (free!) on Ravelry, of course. It’s from Kara Gunza’s blog “Petals to Picots” and it’s called “Valentine’s Day Heart Crochet Pattern.”

When I look at this hat, I’m reminded of Stephen Colbert’s running joke about George W. Bush: “Great president? Or, the greatest president?” Is this an adorable hat? Or, the most adorable hat?” It will, of course, look even more adorable (if that’s possible) on the world’s cutest niece, Ella.

This is the other hat I sent in my Valentine’s Day package:

Jester Hat for EllaI finished this years ago (2004?) and I guess I was just waiting for the perfect little girl to give it to. Soon she’ll have a little sister to share her hat with — or maybe Auntie Kate will have to make another one? The pattern is “Tri-Corner Hat” by Cathy Campbell for Crystal Palace. Happy Valentine’s Day to all!