Monday, October 29, 2012

While the East Coast ...

... of the U.S. gears up for Storm Sandy (the "perfect" storm?), we are partly sunny here in the Pacific Northwest (although we're also set for a little bit o' rain over the next several days, but nothing like what's expected in the east).

I thought, in the middle of all of this stormin', I would share with you a recently completed Slouching Towards Tassels Cap - from one of my accessories' collection testers. Nicole (of The Knitty Gritty of Hooking Around blog) and I have been Ravelry friends for a few years; we read books together (she's the co-moderator of my Ravelry group) and swap fiber occasionally. I was really thrilled that on very short notice she managed to whip up this test cap - even though she's super busy with work, two small children and a husband. Check out this wonderful hand-spun goodness in an awesome colorway that does not speak to fall or winter at all:

She also did a really great job with the tassels, and her husband took some amazing photos (he has a small photography business, in case you were wondering):

Now doesn't that cap just make you all happy, despite the weather?

Friday, October 26, 2012

Fiber and Squares and the Case of the Missing Blog

Hello everyone, and welcome to Fall! Halloween came a wee bit early for me this year - my blog went boo! in the night ... last Monday night around 6:00 pm to be exact. It went for a little trip to the other side until Wednesday morning, when it magically reappeared back in this universe. I have no idea where it went, or why it went where it went. But disappear it did. I'm so glad it's back.

So, I'm still elbow deep in fiber - some for projects with deadlines, but most associated with the join-along for my accessories collection. I'm going to initially play along with everyone by making an Enveloped Cowl for one of my models using the very soft and squoishy fiber to the right.
Picture taken with new cell phone camera.
Not too bad.

I know I've said it before, but I'll say it again - I love, love, love this yarn. Progress cowl pics next week. Also next week, the collection will be visiting The Underground Crafter - the week of Halloween. I love that.

I also made another square, this time for donation to a group blanket being made for someone who's been sick. A bunch of us donated either one or two squares, one person is putting the squares together into a blanket, and yet a few others donated yarn for the blanket finishing or postage money. The recipient picked the colors she wanted (mostly grays of all sorts and black accent), so here's my contribution:

The Snowfall square, my 9" x 9" version
I should also mention that the top and bottom photos were taken with my new 35 mm camera - a Canon Rebel. It's still film (!), but I'm thrilled to have a new, working camera. I still have my old camera, but it needs some serious mechanical tlc, so it will become my back-up camera.

Well, everyone, that's all I've got this Fee-Fi(ber)-F.O. Friday. Definitely get yourself over to The WonderWhyGal's blog, because I have no doubt there's a whole bunch going on over there.

And may you be candy and trick-or-treater rich this Halloween. Werewolves of London, indeed.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Making the Most of the End of Fall

We're about to start our rainy period here in the Pacific Northwest, so I took a late afternoon walk yesterday in an effort to take full advantage of whatever dry weather we've got left. I've recently bought a new phone - one with a camera. It's not the most up-to-the-minute from a technological standpoint, but considering I hadn't bought a new phone in the last six years, almost anything would have been an upgrade. Here's my first time playing with the camera outside - it did manage to catch the great late afternoon sky:

Friday, October 19, 2012

The Real Star This Fee-Fi(ber)-F.O. Friday

Well, everyone, I'm feeling a little post-accessories collection afterglow, but the party must end because I've got other deadlines and projects to get a'movin on.

Nevertheless, I thought you might like to see a few George Bailey outtakes. He absolutely stole the show in a few instances.

Ooooh, a lap to jump onto.
Ok, I've had enough of this,
I'm outta here.
Yes, I am shameless.
There's a Ravelry JAL (join-a-long for those who aren't familiar with the lingo) that I've set up and people are slowly making their way to it. We'll be getting our patterns and deciding on yarn for the first week or so. The JAL is slated to go through the first week in December, in part, to accomodate anyone from the accessories blog tour that might like to join us. Everyone is welcomed, no matter which pattern you might like to work up. I'm going to start with another Enveloped Cowl for one of my models. I'm still waiting on the decisions of the other two so, who knows, I may be making three of them!

Next week I should be back with other FOs, as well as an update on my Froggy blanket, since I've received all of my swappees' squares.

It's really great to be elbow-deep in fiber this Fiber Arts Friday. Now definitely head on over to the WonderWhyGal's blog and see what fiber everyone else is elbow-deep in. Ain't that sentence construction grand.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Autumn 2012 Accessories: Wrap-up

Well, people ... I've done it. I've properly introduced my first five babies ... er ... designs in my first-ever collection. I'm so thrilled with the response; it's been very positive - I cannot thank everyone enough. I've also learned a lot in this process for which I'm pleased and grateful.

I did have some help. One of the biggest shout-outs I must make is to my wonderful test stitchers. They all helped in ways big and small in making the patterns as error-free as they possibly can be at this juncture.

I do need to show off one of my tester's finished accessory - Kim (Kimothy76 on Ravelry) tested the Enveloped Cowl for me. Besides her very insightful questions and comments, she also had the good sense to pick wonderful yarn and then do an absolutely fabulous job with her first ever broomstick lace project:

I knew she would turn out one sassy cowl, and she's as fashionable as they come, don't you think? Kudos to a beautiful rendition of one of my designs, Kim. You've done me proud!

All of the individual patterns I've introduced, as well as the e-book, are in the Ravelry database. The collection is very reasonably priced at $14.99, much less than if one bought each of the patterns individually. Additionally, there is one more design to be included in the e-book by November 15th, so it's actually 6 patterns for that price - not too shabby. Of course, anyone who purchases the entire pattern collection prior to the release of that final design will receive it once it's published.

On the e-book note, I have winners of the three e-books I'm giving away as part of this collection introduction. Each unique person who left a comment received one number (except those who are associated in some way with the project) - so I plugged 1-13 in the random number generator. Out popped 7 and 12, and then I chose 3 just because it felt good to me, so the corresponding winners are:

                                                      Kathryn Ray

Congratulations! I'll be getting in touch with each of you about delivery of your prize.

Finally, my collection is going on a wee bloggy tour! Commencing next week, the collection will be visiting the following blogs, each of which will review the collection and then give away one e-book from the comments they receive:

                            w/o 10/22: Knitspiring Odyssey
                            w/o 10/29: Underground Crafter
                            w/o 11/5:   Bits 'n Pieces
                            w/o 11/12: Life on the Double Point
                            w/o 11/19: Wisdom Begins in Wonder
                            w/o 11/26: Knitted Bliss

Each of these women will have a unique take on the collection, so I hope you will visit each blog and check out what they have to say.

FYI - This was Thanksgiving in Canada - I'll take it!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Autumn 2012 Accessories: Day 5

Here I am at the last day introducing my accessories collection. Sigh.

This final piece is a quick project that came together, or more accurately flowed from, my fingers in absolutely no time. Please say hello to the Slouching Towards Tassels Cap:

This very stretchy stitch pattern is rather versatile (oh, that word again) - change yarn weight and hooks to size up or down; the two I worked up in Brooklyn Tweed Shelter and Loft will probably fit most head sizes. The tassels are easily made and added at the end.

Only one skein of either is needed for a cap. All in all, an inspired little design. If I do say so myself.

I'm going to have some final words tomorrow, as well as announce the three winners of their very own accessories e-book, so if you haven't commented previously (and ok, even if you have), definitely feel free to leave your thoughts here today.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Autumn 2012 Accessories: Day 4

Today's installment of my accessories collection introduction is quite special and close to my heart. Almost two years ago to the day, I blogged about my very first foray into design - my Rustic Elegance shawl. I was so excited about the piece but never wrote up the pattern. (I should note that I still wear that piece all the time as a cowl.) It's been pinned and repinned quite a bit on Pinterest, which surprised and pleased me since it was far removed from any response I ever expected from that first design effort.

Fast forward to today, and my introduction of the retooled Rustically Elegant Shoulder Warmer. This piece will also be published a little later this fall in an F+W Media booklet. It was the call for that booklet, plus the knowledge that the original had been pinned with some frequency, that led to the redesign. I thought a cowl neck plus an asymmetrical edge would give the design a fresh new lease on life. I'm so glad I did!
I was limited in my yarn choice, so I eventually went with Patons Lace & Sequins held double. It is super warm, very comfortable and easy care (although technically able to machine wash this fiber, I still might want to hand wash the piece to save the sequins).

The best aspects of this Rustically Elegant Shoulder Warmer is its versatility and ability to look good on most any body type. This sample (the smallest neck circumference) is shown here on two very different body types - with great results. The top shot shows the cowl unbuttoned and on one side; the bottom shot all buttoned up for warmth and worn on the opposite side. Versatile, versatile, versatile. I love that!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Autumn 2012 Accessories: Day 3

Hello Everyone, and welcome to Day 3 of the Autumn 2012 Accessories collection introduction.

I am ready to introduce probably the prettiest item of the collection - the Le Bouquet Stole. I have been sitting on this lace pattern since the end of last year; I am so thrilled to be able to present it here.  As feminine as this is in stole form, it's also a very versatile piece simply worn around the neck. I just folded it over once during the photo shoot, but it would look equally great fastened with a shawl pin.

When wearing as a stole, its got hidden buttons so it will stay easily around the shoulders. I've designed it with three different circumferences - make the size closest to your yoke measurement, and then customize with button placement.

This stole can be made with a wide range of yarn weights. I've swatched with sport and dk weight, both of which looked great. One tester used light worsted weight! I actually hooked it with this yummy hand-dyed fingering weight silk:

This perle silk (2 ply) actually had a little "bite," which worked up quite nicely. Blocking was a light spritz before and after pinning. I do warn that you may be tempted to skip the blocking because the stitch is so texturally interesting, but I urge you not to since the blocked circumference is the key to a great fit.

I can easily see this in a darker colorway with a lighter colored ruffle or a tonal treatment - the possibilities are limited only by imagination and preference. I can't wait to see how this design gets interpreted!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Autumn 2012 Accessories: Day 2

I want to thank everyone for the positive comments and response yesterday to the introduction of my accessories collection. Let's move forward today to the second design:

Enveloped Cowl
There are times when the perfect stitch pattern comes together with the perfect yarn in a great design achieving fashion accessory harmonic convergence. Based on the feedback from all three of my models, the Enveloped Cowl seems to fit that bill. Each loved wearing this incredibly soft, lush and warm cowl - thanks to the superwash merino cashmere yarn. I love the fact that this stitch pattern, incorporating broomstick lace, is incredibly easy to memorize (which fact is confirmed by my test stitchers) yet looks like you expended all kinds of crafty energy.
The Enveloped is also a testament to the power of a few well-conceived details: the cowl 's edging, while an easy three rows, delivers a big design wallop; and the buttons along one edge increase the styling possibilities. The key is to choose lightweight buttons - heavy button material would negatively weigh down that side.

For those of you who may not have yet tried broomstick lace, I share with you this nugget: both of my cowl testers had not attempted the technique prior to this test. I posed the opportunity to each of them; they both took up the challenge based virtually on my word that it was easy-peasy. As you'll see next week (when I showcase one of the resulting cowls), they were more than up to the task. This written pattern contains a good amount of visual aids that will nicely augment all of the web broomstick lace resources. In a phrase? Just dooooo iiiiiiittttt.


Friday, October 12, 2012

Autumn 2012 Accessories: Day 1

Today is the annual "I Love Yarn Day," and I can find no better way to celebrate than with the introduction of my first design collection: Accessories, Autumne, 2012.

To say I'm excited would be an understatement. While it might be a small collection by most standards - only 6 pieces - it represents a major accomplishment for me, and one that's been in the planning for a while now.  

To fully share and enjoy the fruits of my labor, I'm going to introduce each piece in the collection ready for its close-up (there's one that isn't quite ready just yet) on each of the next five days. Once the piece is announced, I'll add it to the Ravelry database, and then the final e-book will be logged onto my Ravelry patterns page. Each pattern will be available for purchase on its own or as part of the e-book. Next Wednesday I'm going to be awarding three e-books from all of the comments received during the entirety of the collection's introduction; two will be chosen by the ubiquitious random number generator, one will be chosen by me based on whatever moves me next Wednesday. Hey, it is my collection, after all.

You can click on the image below to view the entire pattern preview or download the pdf version if that is more convenient for you. (Note: there is some minor conversion issues uploading the pdf to Google docs, so don't be surprised if some of the fonts look different in the downloadable pdf version).

Without further ado, I'm pleased to introduce the first pattern in the collection:

The Piaf Scarf

I decided to start with the only knit pattern in the collection because it's incredibly versatile (the start of a theme) and works up lickity split in heavier weight yarn.
You know George Bailey had to get
in the middle of everything.
Named for the great French singer, this easily memorizable lace pattern came to me while I was working on a different  project last year. For this particular sample, I used Lion Brand Fishermen's Wool held together with Schulana Kid-Seta Lux for a surprisingly soft and warm fabric that's got just a little bit o' bling. A complementary color is also used for the fringe - I used Brooklyn Tweed's Shelter in the birdbook colorway - and it (the fringe) adds just the right lush touch:
The Fishermen's wool bloomed nicely when I soaked it for blocking; it was also incredibly warm while it was being modeled.
I'm finishing up a second sample in Brooklyn Tweed Shelter and Loft. It's working up well - very springy. (Note: Jared isn't kidding when he writes that Loft is "gently spun." I broke the first ball I tried to wind not once, but twice!)
I'm so thrilled to share this with all of you - now definitely head on over to the Wonder Why Gal's blog to see what Andrea and the gang are getting themselves into this week. 

Friday, October 5, 2012

And The Final Froggy Blocks ...

... are completed and on their way. The color choice for this swap was inspired by a frog (and thus the name of the block swap). While we might think of frogs as being green, they actually have a fair amount of mid-to-deep toned brown (as the stock photo to the left illustrates), thus the green and brown theme. All of the swappers used the same five yarn colorways in creating their blocks. We all, however, had free reign in the ways we combined those colorways, as well as the blocks we made (as long as they were 10 x 10). My final 10 blocks, in no particular order:

L-r: Spring Fling, basic Granny Square (from my head), Kata,
and Tartan Plaid from Nicky Epstein's Block by Block.
It's not yet in the Ravelry database.

R-l: Centrific, Simple 10 Petal Square, I Love The V-Stitch Block,
and a modified Forever Lace block.

L-r: Crown Jewels and August Sun.
While I thoroughly enjoyed making each of these blocks, the Tartan Plaid and August Sun were probably my two favorites from this set. There are post stitches in the August Sun that makes it full of texture; the vertical stripes in the Tartan Plaid were made with crochet! I rate all of these blocks (with the exception of the granny square) as intermediate. They each are a great way to test your stitch skills.

Now that all of my squares have been mailed, I'll await receipt of my final blocks, add a few additional blocks of my own, and then complete my blanket. I'm really excited to see how each of my fellow swappers put their blocks together.
Now definitely head on over to Andrea, the WonderWhyGal's blog, and check out everyone else's fibery fun on this Fee-Fi(ber)-F.O. Friday.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Recent Postcards

I've recently received the following two postcards:

This, from a German doctor, highlights both the words of Henning Sabo and the calligraphy art of Katharina Pieper. The verse:

Midst light I am
And light is all I see
I am a stream of light
No shadows
For everything is: light
And light is:

The second is from an 11 year-old from Poland, and highlights the Palac W Antoninie:

I know very little of the architecture from the Polish monarchy, so this building sent me on a quick Google search (it's purportedly neoclassical). While it seems to now be a hotel, it was part of a string of castles that housed the Polish monarchy; these castles now seem to be the Polish president's residence.

Oh the places we'll go and the things we'll learn.