More Swatches

No really…swatches are all I’m knitting these days.

I’ve probably explained this before, but for me a book usually goes 1) have an idea, 2) source yarn, 3) swatch and write patterns, 4) send yarn and patterns off to magical stunt knitters to turn into projects, 5) get the patterns into proper book format and have them edited, 6) get projects back and take photos, 7) more editing, 8) printing.  Now there’s more to it than that (I left out the traditional ‘all my ideas are crap’ crisis that invariably happens somewhere in the middle), and there’s some overlap (for example, a few of the pieces for Curls 3 are actually already finished while the last few patterns haven’t yet been written).  But that’s the general process.  And now? Now I’m in that swatch swatch swatch and write patterns stage.

One of the swatches I’m totally happy with (meaning it’s ready to move onto being knit and formatted and edited and generally made official) is this giant cable in Bijou Basin Ranch’s Tibetan Dream.  I’m a sucker for a big cable, and this one goes together in a sort of unusual way that’s a lot of fun to do.

And I’m also loving this simple little bit of magic in Miss Babs Sojurn. The yarn is so amazing I didn’t want to mess around with it too much…just that simple little braided line is enough (plus you get to feel all clever for making your knitting turn and go sideways…I promise it’s not as tricky as it looks).

They either are or will soon be with knitters, and I’ll be working on cooking up schemes for more of the yarns.  If you want to check them out (or see the earlier swatches), you can find all the Curls 3 posts here.

Good Mail (once again!)

So when I told you the yarn for Curls 3 was going to be awesome, I really did mean it!  I don’t think I’ve ever assembled quite such a colorful bunch, but I’m totally loving it!

Here we’ve got Tibetan Dream by Bijou Spun in Lilac Ombre (this is the yarn I showed you when we talked about how to get the kinks out of caked yarn…take a look at this and compare it to the pictures in that post to see what a difference it makes).

And this is Silky Victoraia by Blue Moon Fiber Arts in Sugar Plum Fairy Dust.  You can always trust Tina to nudge me ever further out of my color comfort zone (and to make me very happy about it along the way)!

If you want to check back in on all the Curls 3 yarns to date, you can find them over here, and we can take turns seeing who is more surprised to see me working with all these bright shiny colors!

Armored

I told you there would be some lacy business coming up, and you know I’m not the type to lead you astray (temptation, yes; astray, no)!

armor

I suppose the pattern on this one may be a tiny bit too small scale to truly scratch the lace itch, but the result totally feels lacy to me.  Elle, sample knitter extraordinaire, said it reminds her of chain mail, which I totally get.  I sort of love the idea of a little wisp of knitting (and this is a silk/yak blend by Bijou Basin…wispy is exactly the word for it) as armor against the world.  I’m pretty sure that’s one of knitting’s superpowers!

Unwrapped

Now that the books with goody bags have found their way to their new homes, I wanted to do a little post to show everyone what was in there (seriously, I’ve been getting questions from folks asking).  If you’re one of the folks who is waiting to open your package for some reason and doesn’t want the surprise spoiled, you should run away now!

goody 1Now, my natural inclination was to fill these things with a bit of actual glitter.  But because that would have led to swearing and cursing of my name (not to mention vacuuming…and who needs more of that), I restrained myself to just using glitter tape.  That seemed much more civilized.

goody 2Once you fought your way past that, you could start to get a sense of what might be in there.  (Last chance for you folks who want the surprise to skedaddle.)

goody 3Inside you’ll find lots of handy things to make your knitting more fun.

Starting on the left there is an adorable tape measure from Spud & Chloë.  If you’re anything like me, your tape measures are always going missing (I assume your tape measures and my tape measures are all off at a swanky party together without us).  This one so cute it should be easier to hang on to!

Next up we’ve got Allure fiber wash from Bijou Basin Ranch.  Everything Bijou does is amazing (I just may have some more of their yarn on its way to me for a new project), and I was so excited to hear they’d launched a fiber wash.  I’ve washed several of my own projects in this, and I love it.

Then we’ve got a super handy needle gauge from Knitter’s Pride.  This is another one of those things that non-knitters just don’t understand how we could need so many of, while knitters know you always need about two more than you currently have.  I love how portable this one is and plan to tuck it in my travel knitting bag (because despite the best intentions, I totally cannot tell a 1.5 from a 2, and that leads to all sorts of headaches).

And finally, a wee baggy of my very favorite stitch markers.  I find them super useful (light weight, removable, don’t snag, fit anything up to about a size 9 needle).  I tucked about two dozen in each baggy, but if you’re the sort who needs a lot of stitch markers, you can find them in bulk (around 300 of them for under ten bucks) over here.

They’re all things that have a happy home in my knitting tool kit, and I hope they’ll be useful in yours!  Many thanks to the fine folks at Spud & Chloë, Bijou Basin Ranch, and Knitter’s Pride for donating these goodies.  And tremendous thanks to all of you who were lined up to get them when the sale opened (crashing the server has now moved from being a source of panic to being a source of tremendous amusement).  I’ll have to see what sort of fun I can put together for next time!

A Piece of Scrap Yarn

You know that line in a lot of my mitt patterns? The one that says ‘set thumb stitches aside on a spare needle or piece of scrap yarn?’  Yeah, I’d really sort of suggest you take the piece of spare yarn option.  I know that means you have to dig out a bit of extra yarn (hint, don’t use the yarn you’re knitting with, use a nice thick one of a different color) and a needle, and sometimes that’s too much of a pain, but if you can, it’s the best choice.

 

Why?  Two reasons.  First, when you try on the mitt, the bit of spare yarn will curve and bend around your hand (your hand being played here by the lovely Rosamund).  Second, when you start working over just the hand stitches again, the scrap yarn will let the fabric on either side of the thumb stitches smush up closer to each other than a stiff, straight spare needle will.  That will help you have a tidier transition to the rest of the hand (which in turn makes it easier to pick up extra thumb stitches later).  It’s totally the better option!

This post brought to you my my feeling that, if I was going to bother finding a darning needle and doing it right, I might as well tell you guys about it too.