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Archive for the ‘knitting’ Category

If it’s a Wednesday night there’s only one place you can find me – T-Bone’s Records & Cafe. Why? Because it’s Stitch ‘n Bitch night! My favorite night of the week! Do you have a group of friends that you knit with regularly? If not, you should! Knitting (and crafting of any kind) is always best when shared with others. And if you can’t find a local group to join, then create one! That’s what I did!

When we were living in Columbia, SC I had a group that got together weekly for coffee, stitching, and shared stories. For those with kids, it was a break from the chaos. For those in school, it was a break from studying. For all of us, it was a break from the constant buzz of busy lives and something we all looked forward to. We even caught the attention of the local newspaper!


When we made the move to Hattiesburg, MS I was leaving behind not only a lifetime of friends and family (I had lived in Columbia my entire life!) but I was also leaving behind my crafting community. A community that was built on shared interests and a love for the handmade and grew to become a family of sorts that rode the peaks and valleys of life together. I knew NO ONE in Hattiesburg. Not a soul. How was I going to survive?

But you know what? Knitters are EVERYWHERE. And it turns out I didn’t have to venture any farther than my front yard to meet my first one in Hattiesburg. Her name was Heidi and she lived just a few blocks away! She was walking her dogs and stopped to chat. When she asked what I do for a living I sheepishly (ba-dum-bum!) said that I used to be a librarian but was now pursuing knitwear design. I expected her to go “huh?” but instead, her face lit up! “I’M A KNITTER, TOO!” she exclaimed. And BAM, in an instant, a friendship was born.

After that, it seemed like Hattiesburg knitters and crafters started coming out of the woodwork. But it wasn’t until I met my friend, Sam, that the idea to form another knitting group became a reality. Sam knew other knitters/crafters from a group that used to get together regularly and mentioned that she missed the camaraderie. It was then that Hub City Crafters was born.

Every week we descend on the local record shop/cafe, eat some great food, drink some great beer and coffee, and talk about what’s going on in our lives. We are an eclectic mix of ladies and gents who knit, crochet, embroider, make jewelry, and more! These gals (and guys!) have seen me through each of my pattern releases and are my best cheering section when the self-doubt creeps in. They are also my best “idea-bouncer-off-ers” when it comes to the look (or the name!) of any design I’m working on.

What would I do without them? I don’t know and I don’t want to find out. I can honestly say that ALL of my closest friends here in Hattiesburg I have met through my knitting group. What started out as a handful of people has grown to two (sometimes three!) tables full of laughter (and sometimes even some stitching). We’ve made coffee cozies to sell in the cafe for Habitat for Humanity. We’ve yarnbombed downtown Hattiesburg. Who knows what’s next on our crafty agenda!

So take some time to create with others. In my opinion, it is a requirement when it comes to your own creative growth. And thankfully, with websites like Ravelry and Craftsy, even if you live in a place where getting together in person is not an easy task, you can still be part of a community that can nurture and help grow your own creative side. If you are looking for a crafting community in your area to join, there are two great places to search! If you are on Ravelry, you can browse their groups by location to find a group near you! There is also a directory of local Stitch ‘n Bitch groups at stitchnbitch.org.

By the way, all of YOU are part of my creative community, too, and for that I say Thank You. xoxo

 

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What’s new?

Well, the cowl design I was working on is now in time-out. I’m not 100% happy with it (I think a change in the yarn will help) so I’m going to revisit it towards the end of summer and get it out in time for fall. I can’t think about cowls right now anyway! Spring has sprung here in Mississippi! And this warmer weather makes me crave more lace! Something light! Something airy!

So a new lace shawl is in the works! I am almost finished with the knitting (it’s a lot farther along than the pic above) and hope to get the pattern out to my tech editor and test knitters in a couple of weeks! If you’re a lace lover, I will be posting a call for test knitters in my Ravelry group and on my Facebook page so watch those spaces! And yes, I created a Facebook page yesterday! So give it a “LIKE” if you’re on Facebook! I wanted a place where I could post quick announcements, show sneak peeks at new designs and post calls for test knitters, etc. So I hope you’ll join me there! I know the timing kinda sucks on this as Facebook is getting some backlash about the current reach of Pages but I’m giving it a shot and hope you’ll join me on the journey!

Another “new” thing for me is starting an Etsy shop. I had never sold my patterns on Etsy in the past because they didn’t have an automatic download service for digital files and I felt that the whole wait-for-me-to-email-you-the-file system was kind of clunky. But now they DO offer instant downloads so I’m open for business there as well. So if you’re on Etsy, “favorite” my shop so you can keep up with its growth! I’m excited about building up my pattern collection there!

I also have a “new friend” that came into my life this past weekend. Darby the Dressform! She and I are becoming fast friends. She’s modeling my Flower Market Shawl above and will probably be making several modeling appearances in the future. Next to the dogs, this is the third thing in the house that I now have lengthy one-sided conversations with during the day. And I’m now getting to the point where I don’t scream when I turn the corner and catch a glimpse of her out of the corner of my eye. Progress!

So what’s new in your world? I hope it’s starting to warm up where you are! What do you like to knit when the weather heats up?

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Hello 2014!

Yes, I know it’s February and we are well into 2014 but I feel like I’m still getting acclimated to it. So it still feels like the start of a new year to me.

I haven’t posted since October! Yikes. I got completely sucked into the chaos of the holidays. My grandmother passed away in November (at the young age of 102!) so between that and Thanksgiving and Christmas, we fit in three road trips to South Carolina (600 miles one way) in the span of about 5 weeks. I seriously felt like I was living in our car. I am thankful to be home and able to stay put for a while.

In my last post about my Halona pattern, I mentioned how I had designed it to use in lieu of a winter coat since winters down here in Mississippi “are really not too bad.” Oh boy. By uttering those words I had unknowingly sealed our fate. This has been the worst. winter. ever. Apologies to everyone in America! It’s all my fault! Even as I write this, it’s doing some sort of combo snow/sleet/rain thing outside. I’m wearing wool socks, two pairs of pajama bottoms, three shirts and a scarf. Layers, people. It’s what’s keeping me alive right now.

Just last week it sleeted for probably 18 hours straight. The roads were a mess and walking outside was done at your own risk. Our front yard looked like a winter wonderland except that it wasn’t snow! It was pure sleet. Gross.

So I did the only thing I knew to do! I hunkered down with plenty of knitting and kept myself warm with copious amounts of coffee… 

Those are my marigold socks that I started two years ago. I was going through my hibernating projects and decided these need to be finished. That’s true for a lot of other projects. Maybe 2014 will be my year of finishing stuff.

I did start (and finish!) several things over the past few months! Since practically everyone I know had a baby, there was a lot of baby knitting and crocheting, including several hats and this blanket, which was my favorite, by far…

The pattern is Girasole by Jared Flood and I really loved knitting it. I hadn’t knit lace in a long time so it was great to get back to it.

I also designed a cowl that I just need to tweak a bit and then write up the pattern! So hopefully I can do that soon! Then I’ll need test knitters! {hint hint}

I hope you are staying warm where you are! And if you’re reading this in the southern hemisphere, please send the warmer seasons our way! I am D-O-N-E with winter.

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New Pattern: Halona

halona-6

Halona is now available for purchase on Ravelry, Craftsy, Patternfish and, of course, here on my blog!

Halona is a semicircular shawl with an elongated wingspan to help with draping (and wrapping!). The finished size is approximately 74 inches x 20 inches, depending on gauge and how severely you block it. Instructions for the body of the shawl are written and the border has both written and charted instructions so you can pick your preference. The pattern is super simple to memorize and knits up fairly quickly so you can have it ready in time for the cooler fall weather (which a lot of you are already experiencing! Jealous!).

halona-4

The pattern calls for 455 yards of a solid worsted-weight yarn and 245 yards of a long strand variegated worsted-weight yarn (the sample uses Cascade 220 and Noro Kureyon). I think it would also look great using two solid colored yarns! Also, the “wrong side” is gorgeous so I’m declaring this sucker reversible.

When I was designing this shawl I was really wanting something I could use instead of a coat this winter. While it does get cold down here, winters are really not too bad and having to lug around a coat or even a jacket seems like overkill sometimes (and because of that I will sometimes go without and freeze my tookus off). This shawl is perfect to wrap up in when I head outside and I can just leave it draped over my shoulders the rest of the time. A win-win!

halona-2

A couple of my test knitters expressed an interest in knitting another one in a fingering- or sport-weight yarn which would make it a light and airy shawl perfect for spring and summer. A shawl for every season!

HalonaPreview

Oh, and I’ve started a Freckles & Purls group on Ravelry for Ravelers to discuss or ask questions about my patterns and just chit-chat in general about knitting, crocheting and life. I’ll also use the group to find future test knitters and maybe have some fun promotions and giveaways! So if you’re on Ravelry, stop by and pull up a chair!

Also, many thanks to my friend Whitney for modeling for me! I definitely owe her a beer.

Or two.

halona-3

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What Next?

While I was working on the yarn bombing of Front Street I realized that I really really really don’t like working on just one thing. It makes me antsy! I kept dreaming of what I’d be able to work on when the yarn bombing was over. And that list of future projects kept growing. The day after the yarn bombing felt like Christmas! What did I want to start first?

New design

The first thing I started working on was a new design! (Whaaa?!?) I know, right! It’s about time! I’m still swatching things. (Recognize that yarn? It’s what I had left over from my Flower Market Shawl! So one design lends a hand in the creation of another.) I’m excited about this one! More details will come!

My next two projects have not been started yet and both are sort of new-to-me crafts. The first being hand embroidery. I’ve done a teensy bit of embroidery but never anything huge or difficult. There are so many beautiful hand embroidered masterpieces out there and I’m ready to try and create one myself with the Daisychain ABCs Crewelwork Sampler from Alicia Paulson, the creative mind behind one of my favorite blogs, Posie Gets Cozy.

Daisychain ABCs Crewelwork Sampler by Alicia Paulson

You can buy everything – the pattern, crewel wool and pre-printed fabric – in her shop Posie: Rosy Little Things. And there’s a flickr group, too! (Where I’ve been drooling over everyone’s samplers before getting the courage to start my own!) The pattern includes a template if you want to use your own fabric and she also gives similar DMC thread colors if you’d like to do it with embroidery floss instead. And each letter has full instructions on stitch-type and color (and included are instructions on how to do each type of stitch!). I’m excited (and still a little nervous) to start this!

Now there’s one more thing I’m itching to try. Sewing clothes! My mom always made clothes for us growing up. She made our prom dresses and her mother-of-the-bride dresses. And each one was impeccable! She tried to teach me when I was younger but I guess I wasn’t ready. Well, I’m ready now! And it seems like the universe is in full support. Have you noticed the increased interest in sewing these days? Did you watch The Great British Sewing Bee? If not, go now! It’s a competition show to find the best home sewer in England. I won’t spoil it for you. The entire first season is only 4 episodes long and they are all here on YouTube! You could watch it all in one day! I loved it so much! ♥♥♥

Since my mom is 600 miles away, I turned to Craftsy to teach me the ins and outs of apparel sewing. I signed up for Sewing Studio (a great class for beginners that teaches you how to make a pillow and a pencil skirt) and the Sassy Librarian Blouse Class because that blouse is SO CUTE! ♥ I’ve watched both classes from beginning to end and it finally makes sense to me! Christine Haynes (instructor for the Sassy Librarian Blouse) completely demystified button bands, collars, pintucks and set-in sleeves. I’m not afraid of them anymore! This whole thing is definitely doable.

I’m also excited to make the super cute (and super popular) Staple Dress by April Rhodes.

STAPLEphotomashup

My only problem is picking out which fabric to use! I’m sure I’ll end up doing what I’ve seen others do and make several of these in different prints! So many options! And it’s such a great wear-anywhere dress (and good for beginners, I hear). I’m excited about giving it a try!

Boy, I think all of that should keep me busy for a while. And I’m sure I’ll sneak in some small projects here and there (as I get distracted by other shiny objects – did you see that Heather Bailey is launching a line of embroidery patterns?! Squeeee!). Whatever happens, I can rest assured knowing that I’ll be having a very crafty summer. ✂

What are your craft plans for the summer? Will you be learning something new?

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Back in January, my awesome crafting group (the Hub City Crafters) started tossing around the idea of doing a yarn bombing in downtown Hattiesburg. We thought the perfect time would be the Spring Art Walk in April and the perfect “partners in crime” would be the always-up-for-quirky-fun-stuff duo of Jason and Adam who own CLICK Boutique downtown (they just opened their online store so go buy cute things from them!). They were thrilled to have us yarn bomb their streetscape and even gave us two mannequins to bomb as well! (I decided to “bomb” them with some crocheted dresses and someone bought one of them! Score!)

First we measured everything – trees, parking meters, tables, chairs, door handles, mannequins – and starting handing out assignments. Everyone had about 6-8 weeks to finish their part(s) and we installed everything the morning of the Spring Art Walk (April 13). It was a HUGE success. Everyone loved it! (So much so that we got several requests for other yarn bombings around the city. Unfortunately, deadlines were too tight for us to pull them off. Yarn bombings take a lot of time to plan I discovered!)

Here is the big announcement email that CLICK sent out that morning:

ClickEmail

The installation:

Front St Yarn Bomb - Spring Art Walk 4/13/13
Front St Yarn Bomb - Spring Art Walk 4/13/13

Front St Yarn Bomb - Spring Art Walk 4/13/13
Front St Yarn Bomb - Spring Art Walk 4/13/13
Front St Yarn Bomb - Spring Art Walk 4/13/13
Front St Yarn Bomb - Spring Art Walk 4/13/13

Art Walk:

Front St Yarn Bomb - Spring Art Walk 4/13/13
Front St Yarn Bomb - Spring Art Walk 4/13/13
Front St Yarn Bomb - Spring Art Walk 4/13/13

We took it down after 12 days (before it got really icky). It really was a ton of fun and it was great to get such wonderful feedback from the community. It also brought some attention to our group which brought us new crafty people to play with! Yay! I can’t wait to do it again! (Well, yes I can. I am actually enjoying working on my own projects these days, thankyouverymuch! More on those later!)

I hope this has given YOU a little inspiration to plan your own yarn bombing! Go spread some happy! xoxo

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So I guess the title of this post could have two meanings. The first being Yay! Spring is here! The birds are back! The flowers are blooming! The second being the *chirp-chirp* of crickets as this blog has been very very quiet lately! Well, as for the latter, the past few months have been filled with ups! And downs. One big “up” (and my main timesuck the past couple of months) has been the planning and implementation of a yarn bombing in downtown Hattiesburg that we successfully pulled off this past weekend for the Spring Art Walk. The yarn bombing deserves its own blog post so stay tuned for that! It ate up a lot of yarn and I drank up a lot of coffee!

A big “down” happened in February as an F-4 tornado came through Hattiesburg and destroyed hundreds of homes and buildings (on my 36th birthday, no less!). Thankfully, no one was killed.

Taken Feb. 12, 2013 – two days after the tornado hit. This is at our local Red Cross (just 1/3 of a mile from our house). It was completely destroyed.

These were taken April 11, 2013 – two months after the tornado hit. Still a lot of clean-up and rebuilding left to do.

I think I went into a bit of a funk after the tornado. I didn’t really want to do anything! I didn’t knit. I didn’t crochet. I had gone out the morning of for a”birthday run” but didn’t lace up my shoes again until more than a week later. I wanted to limit my exposure to all of the devastation. It had wiped out most of the old beautiful trees in front of the university. It changed our city. But, life is really starting to move forward here in Hattiesburg. We are busying ourselves with outdoor concerts, art walks, festivals. Yarn bombings! Spring is definitely bringing new life to our city!

And of course, once I started running regularly again, my mood started to lift! Go figure! That, coupled with the warmer temps, made me long for my knitting needles and crochet hooks. It even made me crave a bit of sewing!

So I decided to embrace this newly awakened sewing urge and finish some quilt blocks I had been slacking on for a quilting bee (before really buckling down for all of my yarn bombing projects).

Spring also gifted me with a nice surprise this week! I received Patternfish’s April newsletter and was shocked to see that my Flower Market Shawl pattern made the Prime Minister’s list of favorite patterns for 2012! She narrowed her original three page list down to only 18 patterns! Her kind words about my pattern were the icing on the cake (and a bit of a “pinch me” moment)! It was definitely a great start to my week!

I hope that Spring has brought you a few lovelies as well! And maybe inspired you to pull out your sewing machine, knitting needles, crochet hooks, or that project that’s been languishing. It is definitely my most favorite season of the year. I just wish it lasted longer down here! It’s starting to feel like summer already!

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Six Years of Entrelac

Entrelac Scarf

I realized the other day that today marks six years since I posted the pattern for my Entrelac Scarf on this blog. It was a pre-Ravelry era, and I posted it here because I thought maybe one or two of you would be interested in it. (And you were! Actually more than one or two of you!) I never imagined I’d ever write knitting patterns, and this one came out of pure frustration at the lack of decent, well-written, easy-to-understand instructions for a simple entrelac scarf. So I did my best to create just that and put it out there for anyone who wanted it.

Then Ravelry happened.

The pattern was added to Ravelry on May 9, 2007, when Ravelry was just shy of one month old, and from there things just soared. I added it to Craftsy in January of this year, and between those two sites, it has been downloaded more than 50,000 times! Since it was added to Ravelry, it has consistently ranked in the Top 50 Scarf Patterns (it’s #36 as I write this) out of over 22,500 scarf patterns (and that number grows every day!). The same is true over at Craftsy where it has consistently stayed in their Top 20 list for ALL Free Knitting Patterns (it’s ranked #1 as I write this!).

It was published in Spool magazine’s Winter 2011 issue and has been used in dozens of yarn shops around the world to teach knitters the art of entrelac knitting (including a few classes taught by yours truly!). It was even used by Staci Perry for her online Entrelac tutorial.

I never imagined in a million years how successful this pattern would be, and I must say that it really planted the design seed in my head. Of course, it took me five years to come out with my next pattern (my Flower Market Shawl), but I promise new patterns are in the pipeline!

I just wanted to take a moment to say Happy Birthday to the little pattern that launched a new path for me. And to the thousands of knitters out there who have downloaded and knit it, I say THANK YOU. ♥

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Entrelac Scarf Tutorial

I Tweeted and Facebooked about this back in December but realized I never gave it the proper blog post it deserved!

I was honored to be contacted by Staci Perry of verypink.com asking if she could film an entrelac tutorial based on my Entrelac Scarf Pattern. Those of you familiar with Staci’s tutorials know how wonderful they are!

If you are new to entrelac knitting (or intimidated by it!) this video will make you an entrelac pro! You can download my pattern and follow along as Staci walks you through every step!

And please visit Staci’s website for more wonderful tutorials!

 

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Would you believe that one of my New Year’s Resolutions was to blog more often? Heh.

So what’s been happening the past several months? My Flower Market Shawl pattern is now available on Ravelry, Patternfish and Craftsy and has been a great success! I am thrilled with the feedback I’ve gotten on it. I even got an email from Patternfish congratulating me on its success and telling me to “DESIGN MORE!” OK, OK, OK! I’m workin’ on it!

Of course, I’ve been knitting and crocheting (and not finishing) about a gazillion projects. Well, I did finish one sweater but I haven’t a) sewn it together or b) found buttons for it. Maybe I’m a “process knitter.” Someone who enjoys the actual knitting and not the actual finishing. Ahem…

Three of my current (constant) works in progress are:

Aidez Cardigan

The popular Aidez cardigan! I was watching everyone (and their brother) knitting this sweater and I had to get in on the fun. I’m a sucker for anything with cables. I have a cabled cardigan that I bought at Target years ago that I wear all the time and people always ask me if I made it and I sheepishly (ha!) answer “no.” So I wanted to find a pattern that had that “comfy cabled cardi” feel to it so I could retire the store-bought sweater and proudly answer “YES!” to that question. Aidez fit the bill perfectly. I am just two sleeves away from finishing it! Just in time for warm weather! My timing is truly impeccable.

Marigold Socks
My second go-to project (and the one that serves as my small, portable project) is Marigold Socks. Some of you may recognize this stripey goodness from a Chevron Scarf I was making for myself. Well, my heart was definitely not in it and it never seemed to get any longer! The Scarf That Never Grows became a big joke in my knitting group so I rrrrrripped it out and decided on a fun stripey pair of socks instead! I do not consider myself a sock knitter but I do have a pair of Pomatomus socks that I made years ago. I wore them a few weeks ago and was reminded of how incredibly comfortable handknit socks are. They’re like a hug for your feet! So I may become a sock knitter after all!

Ruffle Rose Pillow

The Ruffle Rose Pillow is one of my current crochet projects. I never thought I needed a ruffly crocheted pillow until Allyson over at The Sweatshop of Love convinced me that indeed I do. My bed needs one (or more?) of these! This is my current “mindless” project that I usually pull out at knit night when gossiping intellectual conversation starts to take up most of my attention.

Another project I’ve been working on is ME! I’ve been trying to get into running for years. I would start running, injure myself, stop running, rinse, repeat. Since 2012 is my 35th year on this planet I decided THIS IS THE YEAR I BECOME A RUNNER. So I put my money where my mouth is and hired a running coach. He has me running three days a week and cross training three days a week. So I’m now doing an hour of some form of exercise six days a week. Sometimes I feel like exercising is all I do. Whew! It is exhausting but so rewarding! If any of you are on dailymile please add me as a friend! Lord knows I could use all the encouragement I can get.

This post is becoming super-sized so I’m going to end it here. I do have more things to share but I’ll save them for another post! I promise I’m going to start blogging more! Instead of a New Year’s Resolution, I’ll call it a Leap Year’s Resolution! Yeah!

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