A bouquet of daisies

Now that my latest design, Miss Daisy, is available in my Ravelry, Craftsy and Etsy stores, I thought I’d share a few of my test-knitters’ versions. This round of test-knitting was a real treat, and I’m so pleased with how the pattern works out in all different sizes! (all photos are used with permission. Clicking on photographs will take you to each project page on Ravelry).

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Photo courtesy of ViolettaIvanova. Yarn used: Spud & Chloe Sweater.

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Photo courtesy of MelliferaMel. Yarn used: Mellifera Yarns Merino Aran.

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Photo courtesy of Madamour. Yarn used: Malabrigo Merino Worsted.

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Photo courtesy of deepgreenandblue. Yarn used: Debbie Bliss Donegal Luxury Tweed Aran.

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Photo courtesy of Emma-Saru. Yarn used: Malabrigo Merino Worsted.

When yarn and pattern click

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Some yarns are so pretty, you just have to have them. You don’t think much about what you’ll make with them. That’s what happened with my Malabrigo Worsted in Alpine Pearl. It was so pretty as a skein, so I just bought it. But when I used it a few years ago to make a Trendy Shawl I ended up feeling that it wasn’t the best use for it. Knit up in garter stitch, it seemed a bit muddled or messy to me. Not to mention, the yarn was too bulky for a shawl and I barely wore it. So my shawl got frogged and my beautiful Alpine Pearl lay dormant in my stash.

I was looking to knit a goodbye gift for a friend, and needed something practical, a useful item that wouldn’t be too high-maintenance but still would feel luxurious. I thought about my Alpine Pearl and searched Ravelry to see what others had made with it. I came across a beautiful project on Ravelry, which highlighted the variegation of the yarn perfectly, without  the elegant design being obscured by the color changes. A match made in heaven!

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Pattern: A river runs through Mitt by Aimee Pelletier

Yarn: Malabrigo Worsted (Alpine Pearl colorway)

Time to Knit: a couple of days per mitten

My mods: no mods!

What I thought about the pattern: Great. Well written, good layout, easy yet interesting to knit. Thanks to this pattern, I learned how to cable without a cable needle finally! I love it!

What I would do differently next time: nothing! This is a great go-to pattern for gifts. Very nice.

Name that shrug contest!

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EDIT: Thank you everyone for your suggestions! I have selected MISS DAISY to be the name of this new pattern, after a suggestion I got on my Facebook page. Congratulations to the winner!

Ta-da!! Look what just fell off my needles. Do you want to help me find a name for it?
If I select your suggestion, you win a copy of this pattern AND any other one of my patterns!!

Here’s how to participate: either follow this blog, “Like” my Facebook page, join my group on Ravelry, or follow me on Instagram, and leave me your suggestion in any of these places.
If I select your idea, you win a copy of this pattern AND any other one of my patterns!!

Contest closes on Friday, Feb.7th.

(Please allow until the end of the month for this pattern to be written up, edited and tested)

Shrugging along!

I’ve come to love shrugs. Shrugs are pretty great. Especially when they are teeny-tiny!

1) They take no time at all to knit.

2) They are perfect to use up that lone skein of luxurious yarn laying in the corner (you know the one, you impulse-buyer you).

3) They are versatile: They dress up a simple shirt and jeans look, and they bring out the colors of a pretty dress.

4) They are the perfect present for little ladies, who seem to have a fondness for them.

Have I mentioned that I have a little lady of my own now? She is still itty-bitty and doesn’t have much say when it comes to the contents her wardrobe yet. I wish I could spend hours sewing and knitting intricate, time-consuming things for her, but since that isn’t possible anymore, I want to maximize the bang for my buck so to speak.

All this to say: I am so excited about this little shrug I’m working on! The design isn’t quite finished yet, but everything is falling into place I think, and here’s a little preview/teaser just for you.

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New Year Resolution #1: Selfish Knitting

So. New Year resolutions. Yea or Nay? (I almost wrote “yay”, ha)

I have a few resolutions floating in my head, nothing set in stone. Perhaps writing them down here will make them more likely to happen!

One thing I want to do this year, for my own sanity really, is to carve out some time for “selfish knitting.” My definition of this would include knitting more things for myself of course (rather than just for my children or for gift-giving). But also, and this is trickier for me to do: not always knitting with a potential design in mind, or heavily modifying an existing design that falls short of what I want.

Rather, the idea would to just knit recreationally sometimes, mindlessly really, from a great pattern that someone else has completely worked out. Trying to get back the feeling of meditation that you can get from the act of knitting, knitting in the round, stitch after stitch to create a sea of stockinette, or chanting the instructions to yourself as you work a lace repeat.

So: here’s my first Selfish Knit of the year, which I did as part of a Knitalong on Ravelry– A first for me! That was fun!!

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Pattern: Sprig by Alana Dakos, a “preview” from the upcoming Botanical Knits 2 collection

Yarn: Cascade 220 Heathers in Birch Heather

Time to knit: about 3 weeks, but I knit most of it in 10 days.

My mods: I started with the smallest size for the neckline because I wanted to make sure that it wouldn’t gape. Then I increased until I got the raglan stitch counts for the second size, and added the number of underarm stitches of the third size. So I ended somewhere between size 2 and 3 for the bust and sleeves. My detailed mods are visible on my Ravelry page.

What I thought about the pattern: A really neat and clever design, surprisingly straightforward and pretty fast to knit. I loved working the neckline, I will definitely use this idea of working “attaching as you knit” in the future. I liked the little finishing touches, which make the sweater look really polished. I do think it fits well but I had to mix-n-match the stitch counts to achieve this. On the other hand I am not getting the boatneck effect, but honestly, even though it looks lovely on the model with nothing underneath, I wouldn’t love it as much with a bra-strap or t-shirt peeking-out of it.

What I would do differently next time: I wouldn’t use Cascade 220, which is one of the yarns that is suggested, the resulting fabric is a bit too stiff, lacking drape. I was hoping it would grow a bit during blocking but it did not budge at all, which is a good thing in general! The alternate yarn suggested is 50% alpaca, so the drape would be better, though I’d worry that the gorgeous neckline details might get lost in the alpaca fuzzies.

I think I might also skip the waist shaping altogether, it’s a bit snug-fitting at the moment (leftover pregnancy weight notwithstanding) and possibly make longer sleeves, though that might mess up with the balance of the design.

Hand-knit-downs

The other day I was sorting through baby clothes (this is a big part of my life nowadays!) and I came across this lovely little cardigan that I had painstakingly made for A while I was pregnant with him. Here’s a photo of him at 4 months wearing it:

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Baby A

It’s a pattern called “Korrigan” by a fantastically talented French designer (her line of yarns is also gorgeous). I remember that, even in a 6-month size, it seemed to take forever using fingering weight yarn (I used madelinetosh merino light in the Candlewick colorway).

I was really proud of the result, it looked really precious and beautiful, and had that special heirloom quality.

Z now wears this little cardi often, and seeing her in it brings back so many memories of her brother as a tiny baby. I love that these sweet hand-knits that I poured a lot of love into are being worn by my second baby as well :)

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Baby Z

New pattern: Kyoto crossover cardigan

I so love this one!

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Next on my designing to-do list was coming up with a pretty yet practical unisex crossover cardigan. I think they are so great for babies. As always, I wanted the design to be seamless and fun to knit.

I’ve been obsessing over this pretty stitch for a long time now, but before I actually gave it a try, I had the impression that it would be a bit fiddly to knit. As it turns out, it’s really quite easy and fun to work, and the result is just so gorgeous. It looks especially interesting in slightly variegated yarn.

I used the beautiful Madelinetosh tosh dk (colorway: Curiosity) for the sample seen here. It’s a gorgeous yarn and machine washable too! (I have to admit though that I always handwash my handknits. I’m just paranoid that way, ha!)

Kyoto is available for sale in my Ravelry, Craftsy and Etsy stores. Sizes range from 3mo to 6yo.

A look back on 2013

After feeling for a long time that I should just give a final send-off to this old blog, I’m realizing that I still get a lot of visits (hey, I’ve been around for 6 YEARS, which is pretty unbelievable). It’s also nice to have a record of what I’ve made and where I’ve been. I’ve lived in 4 different states/countries since starting the blog!

I’ve also been inspired to start blogging again by Lauren and Rae, who are both very cool and driven ladies (not that I know them IRL, but I feel like I do! You know how that goes). They also have managed to get their ducks in a row with 2 young children at home, so I feel like I should get more organized and give this a try. Here’s a good resolution for 2014! More blogging, more regularly.

Rae just had a great Top 5 for 2013 post, and boy, she’s been busy! Things haven’t been exactly quiet around here either, but since I haven’t documented much of the behind-the-scenes stuff, I though this post would be a good way to catch you up!

#1 Thing That Happened in 2013:

I had a second child! She is my little knitting assistant from the previous post. She was born in late September after a pretty exhausting but uneventful pregnancy and a lightning-quick labor — although she was technically born inside the hospital, I didn’t make it to the delivery room, ha!

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I have to admit that I am still a little traumatized by my new mom-of-two rhythm (or should I say total chaos) but I vow to do all I can to get it somewhat under control.

#2 Thing That Happened in 2013:

I’m more than a little bit proud to say that the money I earn from my knitting pattern sales can now be considered an actual income, and things really took off in 2013 for me, with a few patterns that became “hits” and a serious increase in sales overall. My Entrechat, Latte Baby Coat and Tiered Baby Coat patterns have been especially popular.

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I no longer feel a bit embarrassed/stumped for an answer when people ask me what I do besides take care of my kids (which is of course a very respectable and busy-making occupation in and of itself).

It’s so rewarding to make real money from something you absolutely love and I’m so grateful for every person who supports this little enterprise by buying my patterns.

#3 Thing That Happened in 2013:

I started treating my knitting pattern business like an actual business. Much progress could still be done here, but I’ve started doing things I had previously neglected:

- I’ve started selling my patterns in places other than Ravelry, I now have an Etsy and Craftsy stores and this has been a great experience for me so far. Craftsy especially has worked out great.

-I’ve started paying more attention to social media to get more connected to my customers and people who appreciate my patterns in general. So I now have a Facebook page, a Pinterest and an Instagram. I don’t think I’ll do the Twitter thing for now though, but I will definitely emphasize blogging more.

- I’ve gotten a couple of my patterns professionally translated, to test the waters, and it has been a positive thing, so I think I will get a few more translated at least in French over the course of the next few months.

-I’ve started thinking of knitting-related purchases as business expenses, and I’m so happy I don’t have a nagging sense of guilt when I buy yarn anymore :)

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Lovely lovely yarn

#4 Thing That Happened in 2013:

I now put a lot more thinking into which designs I publish. I have notebooks full of ideas and it would be nice to have the time to turn a lot of them into patterns. But the truth is that I still have precious few hours every week to devote to knitting and pattern writing, so I have to be ruthless. I have a few strict conditions that a design has to satisfy in order to be selected, but this will be the subject of another blog post :)

What about you? What is your roundup for 2013?

A new knitting assistant

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Hello everybody, miss me? Here’s little miss Z, who explains in part why keeping the blog up to date has been a challenge of late. 

As you can see she is already very fond of yarn, just like her mommy! As we say in French, “ça promet!”

If she lets me, I will catch you up this week on what I’ve been up to. But right now someone is grumbling a lot, so, I bid you farewell for now.