I’m supposed to tell you about these things…I really am

You know that thing that happens over on ravelry every year about this time?  That thing where a whole bunch of designers (literally hundreds) put a whole bunch of patterns on sale for 25% off for a hot minute?  And then everyone hangs out together in the chattiest group you ever did see and knits and jokes and has contests and gives away prizes and generally engages in some sort of combination of cheerleading and holiday festivities right through the end of the year?  That thing called the Indie Gift-A-Long?

Yeah, well I’m playing too!  Except this year, instead of featuring patterns I already had available individually, I broke some of the most loved patterns from the books out from their papery prisons and made them available as stand alone patterns.  Normally I don’t like splitting up books (because I’m a cranky old man and think books are better when taken all together), but this seemed like a perfect chance to do it on a limited basis.

There are fifteen patterns (three each from Knitter’s Curiosity Cabinet I, II, and III, Silk Road Socks, and Fine Things for Plain Occasions).  They’re on sale for 25% off during the Gift-A-Long (all the details on that are right here).  And they’ll only be available through the end of November (after which time they go back to being tucked up inside the book where they belong!).

And really…if you don’t like any of those, go check out the other patterns in the sale (there’s a link at the top of my sale page where you can find them all)…there’s pretty much guaranteed to be something amazing there you absolutely need!

Something new to learn…

One of my very favorite things about knitting is how it will let you be as exacting (or as mellow) as you want.  Want to dive into the nuances of increases and decreases?  Pull up a chair, we can talk about that all day.  Want to stick staunchly to ‘I increase with yarn overs and decrease by jamming the needle in two stitches instead of one’?  Well that’s cool too, you can make just about anything that way.  Want to talk about the finer details of how to get stitches on and off your needles? There are literally entire books about nothing else. Want to stick to the one cast on and bind off you can do in your sleep?  More power to you.  There’s room for everyone!

So when I heard that Jen was doing a book on helical knitting, my first thought was “Oh yeah, isn’t that the really exacting way to deal with skinny stripes?  I probably should know more about that.”  And I mean it is…helical knitting is pretty much the tidiest ever way to handle one row stripes when you’re knitting in the round.  But, as with most things in knitting, it turns out there’s rather a lot more too it if you want to dive in!

And Jen is totally the person to explain it to you.  She’s done books on Lace and Cables (those are links to the delightful free video tutorials she’s done to support each of those books…they’re fabulous and you should watch them…you will absolutely come away knowing something new).  She does a consistently excellent job of walking you through techniques in a clear way (lots and lots and lots of step by step photos) that makes them feel approachable, even if they’re new to you (and you’ll probably learn something that makes your knitting easier or more efficient or more fun, even if the technique isn’t new).  And she does it all again in this book, this time for helical knitting.

As in Jen’s other books, the focus is on skill building.  And the best (and most fun) way to do that is with projects.  So as soon as she’s laid the groundwork, she gives you a pattern to put your new skills to work on.  Then she introduces something new (garter stitch instead of stockinette, how to do shaping while maintaining your helix, how to make thicker stripes or use more colors) and gives you patterns to practice those skills on too.  The result is something that provides a huge amount of information in a very practical way without ever leaving you feeling overwhelmed.

There are seven patterns officially in the book (pictures of them above).  But because it’s an ebook (and because Jen is awesome) it’s easy to tuck in some extras.  When you buy the book, you’ll also get access to four other fabulous helical patterns that use the skills you’ve learned with the book (photos of them below).  And, if you happen to get it during the ebook release period (that’s between now and November 27 UK time), you’ll get a code for 10% off the lovely yarn used in the book.

The ebook is available both on ravelry, and on Jen’s site (if you buy it there, you’ll get the ravelry version too, don’t worry!).  Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m feeling the itch to knit up some of the stars or hearts from earlier this year with stripes because how ridiculously cute would that be?  What would you knit first?


Pssst…the pictures in this post are Jen’s and are used with permission!

You don’t have to put up with it…

You know how you look at a skein of yarn and sometimes the greeny bits are all over here together and the bluey bits are all over here together and the the yellowy bits are all over there and it looks all gorgeous and tidy? And then you start knitting and the colors can sometimes all stack up on each other and do something…unexpected?⠀

Yeah, so that (mostly) happens when the length of yarn you need for one row of knitting lines up just so with the lengths of the loops the yarn was in when it was dyed (so if every row of your knitting takes one loop of yarn, all those red spots will line up on top of each other). And it can be glorious…or it can be horrid. So it’s worth knowing how to deal with it if it happens and it’s bugging you.⠀

One of the easiest ways to deal with it is to use a stitch pattern that needs different amounts of yarn on different rows. Think about a stitch pattern with a bunch of increases on one row and a bunch of decreases on the next row. Those rows will take different lengths of yarn to knit, so they’ll break things up. The same is true for patterns that have slipped stitches (slipping a stitch takes less yarn than working it) or patterns with stitches where you wrap the yarn around the needle a whole bunch of times (that takes more yarn than just wrapping it once).⠀

This is a swatch of the stitch pattern for Dippers, and it breaks up pooling beautifully. Those little twirly bits use just enough extra yarn to sweet talk the most colorful yarns into behaving!⠀

This is a swatch of the stitch pattern from Nugatory (another of the currently discontinued patterns that I hope to bring back out soon).  On this one, you make long loops on one row (that uses extra yarn) and then slip those long loops on subsequent rows (that uses less yarn), so it works perfectly with yarn that likes to pool.

Other patterns that work great with yarns that likes to pool are:

  • Any of the patterns in Firmament (the dip stitches are great at this)
  • Patterns like Entrapment, Misprision, Collusion or Permutation wher you have a contrast color on top of a background color (use the one that pools as the contrast color, it works beautifully)
  • Patterns like Marooned or Whippersnapper or Rampant where you slip or double wrap some stitches (the double wrapped or slipped stitches work wonders)

So the next time you’ve got a yarn that’s misbehaving, look for a stitch pattern that uses more yarn on some rows than on others, and it may well sort everything out!


Stomp down memory lane…

You know that faintly horrified sensation you get if you look at old journals or college essays or most anything else you did Rather A Long Time Ago?  That mix of ‘oh my goodness, you thought this was good’ plus ‘ooooooh, you were such a sweet little baby’ with a bit of ‘my goodness let’s make sure that never sees the light of day?’  Yeah, so taking a look at nine year old blog posts is all that plus the knowledge that they’re on the internet and the internet lives forever and you can be assured that anyone who wants to mock you will be well armed.  All of which is a rather round about way of saying that I was looking up one of my very earliest patterns the other day, because they’re about due to come back out.

If you’ve been around here for a while, you’ll know that I took my earliest patterns down a few years ago.  I’ve brought them back out from time to time when the mood (and the yarn) feels right.  And I’m pretty sure this yarn is the perfect excuse to bring one back!  It’s one of Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks That Rock yarns, but I can’t quite tell if it’s the lightweight or the mediumweight.  But I’ve got feelers out to sort that (and the colorway name) out and will report back when I know more!