Saturday, May 28, 2016

European Lillian

In my last post I talked about how I'm looking for travel knitting because I'm going back to Europe! I'll be there for a month, visiting Germany, Austria, Hungary, Slovakia, Scotland, and England! I'm so excited (if you couldn't tell by all the exclamation points)! I've been watching the weather and researching what I should pack. I decided I needed to knit a sweater to bring with me.

I knew that it needed to be a cardigan which would be more versatile while traveling. I also knew that I wanted it to be from stash. One of my resolutions for the year is to knit one pattern from every pattern book I own. So I went pattern searching and decided on the Lillian Cardi from Madder Anthology 2: Simple Pleasures. Guys, this is not only an amazing pattern but an amazing book. I want to make all the things.

I used Knit Picks Swish Tonal, sadly now discontinued, which is a worsted weight 100% Superwash Merino. This was so nice to knit with! It was smooth and had great color but seems very durable.

I used a US 7 needle, my gauge was perfect for the row but off for the stitch so I made the 47.5 bust size which is gave about 5 inches of positive ease for me. This amount of ease adjusted for the tight gauge so the 47.5 fits me perfectly, I couldn't be happier.

This was a really quick knit, 13 days from cast-on to unpinned from blocking. I feel like I should forever knit worsted weight sweaters because that was mind blowing. I decided that the only blocking the sweater really needed was on the ribbing. I made an adjustment to the length of the sweater by shortening the body by 1.5 inches (I have a short torso and I didn't want it to hang past my butt). In addition to shortening the body I omitted the pockets, I like the classic clean lines of the cardi without the pockets.

I loved that the pattern had seamed sleeves! My gauge is always tighter in the round so I had decided for my next sweater I would seam the sleeves so gauge didn't change. I didn't have to change anything because this pattern already incorporated it! I will definitely be knitting another of these sweaters, probably in a solid because that would work best in my wardrobe.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Irish Memories

I've been on a shawl kick recently! Last year was the year of socks, this year I'm all about the shawls again (I started my knitting addiction with shawls). My recent FO shawl is Westknits Vertices Unite, what a friggin' amazing pattern! Stephen West is a genius. Plain and simple, I'm not sure I've knit from another designer who is so innovative! I'm a bit of a fangirl and have knit 6 Westknits patterns, I don't think I've knit that many patterns from any other designer. And, I'm not sorry about it.

The yarn I used was all purchased on my trip to Ireland in January of 2015. What an amazing trip! I stayed with a friend from college and was in the country for 10 days. It was freezing cold, this central California girl was shocked by the cold, but it was a great trip. The yarn I used was Dublin Dye and Life in the Long Grass LITLG, both companies that dye in Ireland. I bought them all with the intention of making a shawl, I just wasn't sure which one.

Vertices has sections of striping, solids, short rows, increases and decreases, live stitches, and picking up for an i-cord bind-off. I loved seeing how Stephen's brain works, this pattern was complex but brought me so much knitting joy! It made my brain work and kept me entertained.

I made the large size and the shawl turned out exactly how I wanted it too. It's more like a cardigan/wrap hybrid than a shawl. It's amazing! The names of my colorways were (A) Winters Sea, (B) Coastal, (C) Smoke Monster, (D) Quiet Forest, and (E) Emerald Eve. The only change I made to the pattern was using color C for the i-cord bind-off verses color D (C matched better with the rest of the shawl than D did). I used US 4 needles and 1,240 yards of fingering weight yarn! In my Rav notes I have weighted out how much (in yardage) I used of each color in case anyone wants to use scraps and need a yardage estimate.

This was not a long project, looking at my Rav stats, it took me 15 days from cast on to blocking. I raced through it to get to each new section. I'm making another trip to Europe starting in the middle of June this year and my Irish Memories will definitely be making the journey with me in place of a cardi.

Little secret, I've got another Westknits shawl on the needles right now! Anyone have suggestions for the perfect travel knitting patterns? I'm thinking 2 pairs of socks and 2 shawls. Let me know of some awesome patterns I should bring with me! Here's some photos from my trip to Ireland! This beautiful country inspired my shawl.

Cliffs of Moher 

Giants Causeway, Northern Ireland

Irish cemetery and church

Dark Hedges, Northern Ireland

Guinness Factory, Dublin 

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Tone it Down?

I haven't talked about a knitting project in a few weeks as I wrote a mini series about the Initiate Knit Design Challenge hosted by Frenchie of Aroha Knits. Along with doing the design challenge I have also been knitting away on my WIP's and creating a few FO's. One of my recent FO's is my Castra Shawl, which I have dubbed my Mermaid Castra.

I talked about my Castra in a previous WIP's post and I finally have it finished! I told you before and I'll tell you again, I am completely obsessed with my Stitches West haul from 2016. Both yarns for this project are from SW2016 and they were so wonderful to knit with! I purchased Glider Mongo from The Altered Stitch booth first, it's a superwash merino/nylon blend, 600 yards, in the color way, you guessed it... Mermaid! TaDa! I know, I'm so creative with my project naming.

This was a really cool booth at Stitches because they had collected online and etsy dyers and brought them all together in one place! I'm one of the obsessive Stitches knitters who plans out what booths they have to see on their map with a reminder on why they wanted to see them. But anyway, so excited that I got to touch/see/smell some of the yarns I have only seen on etsy! Talk about a fangirl moment! Once I bought my skein I was like "Sierra, really another crazy speckle dye! Girl, you're bad," and then thought "I really need to tone this down because it's going to clash horribly with my hair," so I went on the hunt.

I wanted to find a skein of yarn that pulled one color from the multi to really make something pop! I walked around market and went to Lost City Knits which was also my map/list. I follow them on insta and loved the shawls they were showing from their new pattern book. It was in this booth that I found my second color, the most absolutely perfect matching yarn for Mermaid. Lost City Knits Foothills Fingers, 100% merino, 560 yards in the colorway Cranberry Cornflower.

Honestly, these yarns were made for each other even though they were dyed by two different people. I just had to make sure that they met. Though the bright hot pink really didn't tone down anything, these yarns needed to be knit together. Castra was the new release that Anthony Casalena debuted for Stitches. I liked it in one color but knew, that for me, it needed to be in two colors. Castra is a garter and lace crescent shawl that incorporates short rows and mesh lace. This was a very easy pattern, lots of simple short row repeats and garter. The lace was really simple, but also not boring. It kept me on my toes while I was at work.

There's a different book in my post-blocking pic because I finished FNKC and passed it on, my bad!

This was a very quick knit, less than two weeks, but as always it took me a while to block and weave in the ends. I'm really very happy with my new shawl. It grew quite a bit with blocking, the shawl was knit on US size 7 so that isn't really surprising. You can see the difference in the pre and post blocking photos. This was the first pattern that I have knit from Castalena, I will definitely take a look at his other designs because I really like how Castra turned out. I have quite a bit of each yarn left so they will probably show up as stripes/contrast in other projects. Until next time, Sierra

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Initiate Knit Design: Day 5

Last day! Last day! Last day! The final day of the design challenge focused on putting our math into a pattern format. This was probably the easiest part of the whole challenge! I'm so used to looking at knitting patterns that it wasn't difficult to translate what I had in my design notes into a pattern.

There were a few different parts that I wouldn't have remembered to add had I not been reminded. Notions were part of the pattern I had never considered adding, they are just things I have in my knit bag. I guess at this point I don't really look at much in the beginning parts of the pattern other than fiber content, needle size, and yarn weight. It was a good reminder that beginners will also be using my pattern and they may need that guidance.

I was able to get my basic cast on and stitch count into my pattern but I didn't have my chart done so there wasn't much else to add to the pattern. I am so glad that I participated in this challenge, it really gave me the confidence that I can do this. Even if my patterns aren't great right away or I haven't found my niche yet, I will. Eventually I would like my patterns to inspire people to knit everyday but unique items that easily fit into their wardrobe. I'm looking forward to future designing, it's going to be a blast!

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Initiate Knit Design: Day 4

Math...that's what the challenge was for the 4th day. There's a reason I was a history major in college, I don't do math. But honestly, knitting math really isn't that bad. It makes more since, math wise, than anything I did in high school or college. I know the shapes that are supposed to come, how they are increased and decreased. Stitches per inch converted to four inches then into one inch has never been an issue. This comes in real handy working with people in the yarn store, converting swatches into gauge and yardage into how many hanks.

When I pinned out my swatch I had already started to work the changes that I needed to make. I wanted the waves to be more shallow and not get so close to the edge of the piece. So I had to double the amount of stitches in the outside section so there was enough room for the waves to flow but not get close to the edge.

Taking the row and stitch gauge into consideration I had to choose how long and wide I wanted my wrap to be. Following that decision it was simple multiplication to reach the numbers that I needed.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Initiate Knit Design: Day 3

Day three was the first time we physically worked with the yarn, and honestly it was kind of difficult. I started off with yarn that matched the colors I wanted almost exactly but it was too thin. The YO's in the pattern weren't open enough, I was hoping for a loose beach effect but I just wasn't getting that with the lace weight doubled. I wanted the YO to really Pop but they weren't. So back to the yarn stash.

Decided on fingering weight wool and wool nylon blend for the swatch. They weren't the perfect colors but the weight was what I wanted and they were the same fiber. I also went up two needles sizes from a US 4 to US 6, six is my favorite needle size to work with! I started with a lace weight yarn doubled but it didn't really have the heft that I was looking for. I wanted to actually feel the yarn not just have some wispy piece of fabric!

I found actually knitting the swatch very difficult, surprising as that is. I didn't have a stitch pattern that I was following so I found placing the decreases and the YO in the right place harder than I thought. Having the YO sit on top of each other at the crest of the wave involved a lot of swearing.

Once I finished my swatch I realized I actually didn't love it. I was hoping for more subtle and shallow waves, to achieve this I think that I have to put two YO on top of each other before moving them over a stitch. For such an experienced knitter I found swatching without a pattern to read not very pleasant. Next time I'm designing without a stitch pattern I'll make my chart before starting my swatch. Another difficulty I was running into was finding the time to complete my daily challenge! Working full time really restricted my time; I have so much respect for the designers who work full-time, are mommy/daddy, and designer. Props to you my peeps, props to you.  --Sierra

Friday, May 6, 2016

Initiate Knit Design: Day 2

I looked forward to my morning email from Frenchie for the design challenge. I read it in the morning before work and then was able to think and plan during the day. Before my day started I also looked through the #initiateknitdesign tag on Instagram to see what the others designers were coming up with. Everyone's were so different! Even with only three categories to choose from, all the inspirations were unique. Crafty people make me so happy with their unique-ness.

Day 2: Sketching & Stitch Pattern Selection

I am definitely NOT a pen and paper artist. I have absolutely no skill with drawing, my work is impressive to 15 month olds and thats about it. I but had to suck it up and come up with some kind of design drawing for my wrap.

This is the wrap design idea that came from my mood board. I was really inspired by the colors that are present in the sand photo and decided to use those as the main colors. I thought adding cream/white fringe on the ends would work well with the beach theme. I took the ocean theme further and carried it though in waves created by YO's and K2TOG. Part of this days challenge was to chose a stitch pattern. I didn't actually use a stitch pattern and created what I was envisioning. 

To follow my inspiration photos I divided my color changes with a whole row of YO and K2TOG not just the meandering waves. I am very happy about how well I was inspired by my mood board. I can feel the ocean vibes working in the sketch and that makes me very pleased. 

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Initiate Knit Design: Day 1

Sorry I missed a post last week, I was away on the coast for my 24th birthday! But I'm back and excited to talk about the Initiate Knit Design Challenge I recently participated in. The challenge was coordinated by Frenchie @arohaknits on Instagram and I had such a great time! There were about 200 people on insta participating in the challenge and everyone had such unique ideas! I'll walk through the design process and show what I did on each day. Having to finish things in one day made me focus and prioritize my time, I enjoyed having some semblance of a pattern when I was done!

Day 1: Creating Your Mood Board

Before we started anything for our design process we had to chose a "theme" to base our design off of. The theme was nature inspired, so forest, ocean, or mountains were the three categories. Frenchie started us off with something many of us do for inspiration, a mood board. Pinterest is my most used mood board for inspiration. I don't always take my board as literally as this challenge suggested. Most of the time I like to create something similar to an image I have found and base my design off of that. I've never worked with a theme so this was a different experience for me. Of the three categories I chose ocean and proceeded to go to Pinterest to pin and search to my hearts content!

These photos above were my design inspiration collage. When choosing our theme Frenchie also discussed what we would like to design. We started of simple with basic scarfs, wraps, and cowls (things that don't have any shaping). I based every aspect of my wrap design on these images, I kind of found it surprisingly difficult. It was nice to go back to these images and remember what I was designing from. While this kind mood board of images was not something I was used to doing, I enjoyed the challenge. 

I'll be back tomorrow to discuss Day 2!