December 18, 2014

Quick project tutorial: Record yarn bowls!

If you follow me on instagram, you may remember my excitement when I hit upon this idea many months ago:

Made a broken record into a yarn bowl! It's not perfect, but I think this concept could be awesome with some practice!

(caption: Made a broken record into a yarn bowl! It’s not perfect, but I think this concept could be awesome with some practice!)

A photo posted by Lee Meredith (@leethalknits) on

I had a broken record, so I made it into a bowl, but with a hole chipped out of it, and then I realized… I could thread yarn through the hole and use it as a yarn bowl!

Experimented a little more with the record yarn bowl idea - eeeek it's working!! Needs a bit more perfecting but I'm loving this idea! Thinking about both a blog tutorial and selling them around Portland... Fluevog store event is off to a great start! Fun to mix all my samples in with the fancy shoes. Come by before 9 if you're in portland!

So then I played around with the concept, made a bunch to bring to an event where I was selling things, but in the end decided it’s not something I’m going to make to sell as a regular thing.  Shipping would be annoying, and I wouldn’t be able to sell them for much since they do break pretty easily if you drop them, so they’re not like a long-lasting high-quality item (I sold them for $6 at the event, just a fun cheap impulse buy kind of thing).  They totally function as yarn bowls, but not to the same extent as nice ceramic bowls, since they are very lightweight and bounce around if the yarn ball pulls.

Record Yarn Bowl

What they are is a fun thing to make in 5 minutes for yourself and for knitting friends!  They are SO quick to make, and cheap if you have access to vinyl records no one wants to listen to (thrift stores, record store 50 cent or $1 bins, or sometimes records stores have free boxes in the front to give away crap nobody wants) – I imagine this being an easy project you can make a bunch of one afternoon, and bring them to your knit night to pass out for everyone as a fun holiday gift, or just for the heck of it!

Record Yarn Bowl

So, here’s what you need:

  • A vinyl record (one that’s too scratched up to listen to, or that no one would want – don’t melt anything good, it would make me cry!)
  • Scissors (big ones that are okay to use for this kind of thing, not nice ones obviously)
  • An oven
  • An oven-safe bowl
  • Gloves (things will only heat up to around 225 degrees, so knit wool gloves should be enough to protect your hands, while letting you use them) or oven mitts
  • Optionally, another bowl or two for shaping your yarn bowls into different shapes and sizes

Record yarn bowl tutorial shot

Before I make a bowl, I usually wash the record, with dish soap like a dish – it’s much easier to wash a flat record than to clean the bowl after it’s been made!

Record yarn bowl tutorial shot

Heat up the oven to around 225 degrees (anywhere from 200-250 should be fine). Turn your oven-safe bowl upside down, and place the record on top, then put that in the oven:

Record yarn bowl tutorial shot

While it’s in there, put on your gloves and get your scissors ready…

Record yarn bowl tutorial shot

Leave it in for about 2 minutes, or until you see it melt down over the bowl.  Don’t leave it in extra long, as it may get too melty and fume-y.  If you take it out as soon as it’s soft, the fumes shouldn’t be bad, but of course keeping the room ventilated is a good idea!

Record yarn bowl tutorial shot

So, take it out, and immediately make your cut, to form your hole for the yarn to go through.

Record yarn bowl tutorial shot

There are lots of different ways you can do this – the simplest is as you see below, just a straight line diagonally into the edge:

Record yarn bowl tutorial shot

Once the cut has been made, it will already be starting to harden back up again (by the time I took that above photo, it was already hardened), so put it back on the upside-down bowl and back into the oven for another couple minutes.

Record yarn bowl tutorial shot

When it’s re-softened, take it out and put it inside a right-side-up bowl (either the same one you’ve been using in the oven, or a different one), and form your bowl shape, and your yarn hole.

Record yarn bowl tutorial shot

For the bowl shape, remember your yarn needs to fit in there, so it can’t be crazy wavy in and out (which is how the record will naturally want to bend).  For the yarn hole, if you made a cut like the one pictured, then spiral the strip into a tube.

Record yarn bowl tutorial shot

For other kinds of yarn holes, just remember you’ll want to be able to get the yarn in and out, so make a hole with a slit or opening of some kind.  After the tutorial are lots of photos of different bowls I made while experimenting, so you can get ideas for different kinds of holes.

Record yarn bowl tutorial shot

Once things are formed, just hold it all in place how you want it for about a minute, and then it should be hardened up and finished!  If you mess it up somehow when forming the shape, just stick it back in the oven for a minute to re-soften.

Record yarn bowl tutorial shot

Here’s that finished bowl in action!

Record yarn bowl tutorial shot

You can also form bowl shapes around the outside of an existing bowl, if you want a different kind of yarn hole – I think this one was made that way, so it’s wider / more open:

Record Yarn Bowl

So that’s it, so easy and quick!  Now here are a bunch that I’ve made!

Record Yarn Bowl Record Yarn Bowl

Record Yarn Bowl Record Yarn Bowl

Record Yarn Bowl Record Yarn Bowl

Record Yarn Bowl Record Yarn Bowl

Record Yarn Bowl Record Yarn Bowl

Record Yarn Bowl Record Yarn Bowl

Record Yarn Bowl Record Yarn Bowl

Record Yarn Bowl Record Yarn Bowl

Record Yarn Bowl Record Yarn Bowl

Record Yarn Bowl Record Yarn Bowl

If you make some bowls, I would love to see them!  If you post a photo on instagram, @leethalknits to show me, or tweet @leethal, or add photos to my old leethal flickr group :)  Have fun!

Filed under: general crafts,gifts,home stuff,quick project,tutorials — leethal @ 11:10 am

December 16, 2014

New pattern set: Twist on a Classic mitts + What a Twist hat!

New bulky, QUICK patterns, just in time for last-minute holiday knitting!  This is technically one new pattern, plus one pattern re-release, but they are available together as a new matching set.

Twist on a Classic mitts What a Twist hat

Twist on a Classic (ravelry link) is a new pattern for fingerless mitts – they are fun and speedy to make, they are cozy in bulky yarn (but can also be made in lighter weights), they are custom fit to your hands, and they have a classic look that would be pleasing to any giftee ;)  But also, I recommend making a pile for yourself, as I have done since designing them – I’m wearing the red/orange pair right now as I type and I love them!!

Twist on a Classic mitts

What a Twist (ravelry link) is a re-release of my Pink Squish Hat pattern from Knitscene in summer 2013.  The pattern rights went back to me, so I made a leethal-style pdf, renamed it, and now you can buy the pattern directly from me.  It’s not a typical leethal pattern – it’s designed in a single weight/gauge (bulky weight, 13 stitches to 4 inches), and there are no modifications or variations offered – but, it is constructed in a cool modular way that makes knitting it really fun!  And it’s reeeally cozy to wear!

What a Twist hat

When I made plans to self-publish the hat, one thing that bothered me was that I wasn’t able to squeeze a hat out of one skein of the recommended yarn, I had to dip into a second skein, leaving almost a full skein left over.  So, I thought, how about I design a pattern that’s perfect for using up that almost-skein, for an item that pairs well with the hat?  So that’s what I did!  2 skeins of Quince & co. Puffin (or other similar bulky yarns) are the perfect amount to make a hat and a matching pair of mitts!

What a Twist hat Twist on a Classic mitts

They are fun to make together, since they use a lot of similar techniques, and they are definitely great to wear together, both being covered in bulky cables and garter stitch squishiness!

Twist on a Classic mitts What a Twist hat

So, you can get the patterns individually (from my site, hat/mitts, or on ravelry, hat/mitts) for $5.50 each, or you can get them together at a discounted set price – $8 for both.

What a Twist hat What a Twist hat

I don’t need to say much about the hat; it’s pretty straightforward, and I posted about it back when the magazine was released.  Several projects have been posted on ravelry, so you can see what other knitters had to say over there.  I made this new sample above with the contrasting crown cable, but I’m actually not into how that looks, so I recommend just using one color throughout ;)

Twist on a Classic mitts

But I will tell you more about the mitts!  They are made sideways, so they’re custom fit around your hand, and the cable is knit modularly with no picked up stitches, just simple short rows (no wrapping), with increases and decreases connecting it as you knit to the adjacent sideways sections.  The mitts are joined together with 3-needle bind-offs, and the thumbs are knit in the round.

Twist on a Classic mitts Twist on a Classic mitts

They can optionally be made with a contrasting color cable, which is a fun way to show off a small amount of a special yarn, like I did with my handspun sample…

Twist on a Classic mitts

…which are solid color handspun for the main yarn:

Twist on a Classic mitts

They were originally designed for bulky weight, but since they are custom sized around your hand, they can easily be made in any weight.  The pattern as written works well down to around aran weight (or anywhere from heavy worsted through all levels of bulky/chunky weights).  Here is my aran weight sample:

Twist on a Classic mitts

(That’s a recycled hand-dyed yarn, which slowly changes colors from orange to red.)

Twist on a Classic mitts

There are modification notes included for going down to lighter weights, and/or making longer mitts, and also for changing the placement/width of the cables, for if you’re using a lighter weight and want to expand the cable… I started a new pair today using a wider cable modification, again with a special handspun yarn as the cable panel:

Decided last minute to include some modification notes in the pattern I'm releasing tonight, which meant casting on another sample to test a mod idea - looking good!

An awesome tester knit up a mitt with the wider cable mod, and the longer length mod, which you can see on ravelry.  The way the pattern works, if you are a somewhat experienced knitter, once you make one pair normally so that you understand how the parts all fit together, you can pretty much make them any weight, any size, custom cables if you want, etc.  But of course, you can just follow the pattern exactly as written and not have to think about mods!  Lots of options!

Twist on a Classic modified mitt in progress

They are worked continuously from beginning to end – if you make the single color version, you never break your yarn, including for the 3-needle bind-offs and other finishing steps, so you only have 2 ends to weave in.  If you make a contrasting cable, then you’ll just have the 4 extra ends to weave in from the cable.

Twist on a Classic mitts

The pattern is written for 2 lengths, and then there are the mod notes included to go longer.  The shorter length (only for bulky weight) knits up SO quickly – they take me about an hour per mitt, and I am not a fast knitter!  The longer size is for nice long mitts in the bulky weight, or shorter length mitts for the aran weight range, like my red sample.  They are still a very quick knit, even in the lighter weight.

Twist on a Classic mitts

The pattern includes full instructions for all techniques used (cast-ons, bind-offs, sideways edge techniques, cables), and process photos to help you along.

Twist on a Classic mitts

I love every pattern I design, but something about these makes me a little extra excited, how they are SO quick and fun to knit, and have such a simple look that can be really plain and classy, or totally wild and wacky, depending on yarn choices.  I love them!!

Twist on a Classic mitts

I hope some of you are able to take advantage of the release date and whip up a few pairs for last-minute gifts!  If you do, please snap a photo and throw your projects up on ravelry – seeing your versions is my favorite part!!

Twist on a Classic mitts

Happy holidays!

Filed under: gifts,hats,knitting,quick project,self-publishing — leethal @ 7:30 am

November 26, 2014

New pattern: Jonathan!

It’s time for another pattern and the beginning of yet another new trio!  Jonathan (ravelry link) is a 2-color brioche scarf (written especially for brioche beginners!), very gender neutral…

Jonathan Jonathan

…and it can be made extra big and/or extra colorful if you want…

Jonathan

…and there are HIDDEN GOATS!!

Jonathan

Goooaaattttsss.  Goatsgoatsgoatsgoatsgoats.  Three different goaty goat heads!

Jonathan Jonathan

(There are non-goat cables also.)

Jonathan

I recommend wearing it while visiting your local goat friends.

Jonathan

There’s a little guy with little horns and a beard, a longer-faced guy with long, twisty horns, and a four-horned dude with small bottom horns and curving top horns.  I made a goaty mosaic just for fun, to show the different goat styles.  These goat cable patterns were adapted from an awesome original non-brioche goat cable design by Cyn, available for free on her Half-Assed Knit Blog.  Many thanks to Cyn!

goat cables!

This is the first pattern in a new trio – the leethal Dark Trio (on ravelry here).  It will be 3 different gender-neutral accessories, each with some kind of hidden evil!  First, you get evil hidden goats in Jonathan, and then Warren and Andrew will come within the next couple months!  (All will have not-so-evil options, and the evil will be subtle, kind of; don’t expect like a big 666 across your forehead or anything like that!)

Dark Trio image

So, more about Jonathan!  You can choose how wide you want your piece by picking your yarn weight accordingly – worsted weight will make a nice standard, wide-ish scarf (around 8-9 inches).  The navy+grey sample is in aran weight (Berroco Remix).  Use a bulky weight for an extra wide wrap-style item, like my bulky sample, which is in Cascade Eco+ held double for the main color, with lots of different bulky yarns used for the changing contrasting colors (it’s about 13.5 inches wide).

Jonathan

I made a swatch in sport weight (Brown Sheep Lanaloft), with the non-goat cable pattern, and it ended up about 7.5 inches / 19 cm wide, a decent scarf width, if you like your scarves more narrow.  So choose your weight as you like!  Anything goes!  I mean, anything goats?  Sorry.

Sport weight swatch of part of my upcoming brioche pattern!

Then once you choose your yarn and start knitting, you can pick from the three different goat patterns, plus the non-goat pattern, which can all be used in any order.  The navy+grey sample has goat #1, goat #2, goat #3, then a wee bit of the non-goat pattern at the top until the yarn ran out.  The bulky sample just has goat #2 on the end, then the non-goat cable pattern for the whole rest of the piece, until the main color yarn ran out.

Jonathan Jonathan

There are very detailed instructions for how to do 2-color brioche, so if you’ve never done brioche before, even if you don’t know anything about it at all, you’re all set.  The pattern breaks everything down for you, and there are photos to help.  (I will quote one of my test knitters: First time with brioche, and I’m loving it! When I first saw it I thought, “there is no way I’m going to be able to do that” but it is reading fine, and the pics help too, and I’m really enjoying the knit :) it’s almost relaxing!)

Jonathan Jonathan

And then there are photo tutorials for the cables as well; the cables in brioche are basically the same as normal cables with a cable needle, you just work the stitches in the brioche stitch pattern.  The cable patterns are all written and charted, so you can use whichever is easier for you.

Jonathan

Of course, you can get different looks depending on the kind of yarn you use – brioche is naturally squishy, but my navy+grey sample actually has minimal squishiness because of the nylon/cotton/acrylic/silk/linen fiber blend.  Still looks nice, just not so springy.  The bulky sample is super squishy, both because of the fiber content (mostly all wool) and the bulky weight worked at a tight gauge.

Jonathan

Check out the scarves made by my fabulous test knitters – they used a variety of different weights and yarn types.  Thanks test knitters, you are the best!!

Jonathan

If you have a metalhead loved one in your life, or just someone who loves goats, or scarves, you still have time to knit some goats before Christmas!  And speaking of the holiday season, since everyone has sales on the brain right now, through the end of Thanksgiving weekend (until the end of the day on Monday, December 1st) you can get 25% off this pattern with the coupon code holidaybrioche (on my site or on ravelry).  This discount is only good for the individual pattern (the trio price is still the best deal, if you’re going to want other evil patterns!).

Jonathan

And I’ll leave you with this guy’s face.  Happy holidays, knitters!

Filed under: knitting,pattern Trios — leethal @ 8:19 am

November 13, 2014

Gift-a-Long!

It’s that time, knitters!  The 2014 Gift-a-Long (or GAL) has just begun!!  The GAL includes a massive sale (293 designers, 3822 patterns total) through Nov 21st, and knit-a-longs (/crochet-a-longs) through the end of the year, with TONS of opportunities to win prizes!  There are 1866 pattern prizes that will be given away to winners throughout the GAL, which you can win by participating in the group, posting your works in progress, playing the games, etc.  (If you like the numbers, check out the stats page, with a giant infographic about the participating designers and stuff.)

GAL 2014 pattern collage

I have 20 accessory patterns in the sale – you can see them all here.  There is a mix of older and newer, some less popular patterns that I love and think can make great gift knits, and some popular old favorites.  The sale is 25% off all the patterns (that’s all 3822 of them!) with the coupon code giftalong2014.

Wobble Bass Junction Wizzö Barry in yellow

Rumours long loop stripy cowl ten 10 yard cuffs! Krewe cowl

ALL patterns by me (and all participating designers) are eligible to knit for the GAL, including patterns from outside publications (like my designs for Knitscene, Twist Collective, Holla Knits, etc), and ALL paid (not free) patterns are eligible for prizes.  So if you already have one (or more) of my patterns that you haven’t gotten around to making yet, this can be a push to get to it – knit it now, post it in the GAL group, and hopefully you’ll win a prize!  The only rule is that you can’t have already cast on before now – GAL things don’t need to be finished before the end date, but they do need to be started after the start date (Nov 13th).

So, check out the GAL ravelry group for all the details, KALs, games, and other fun stuff!  And now, part of being a participating designer is promoting each other, so we each got connected up randomly with another designer to interview (and more to tweet about, pin on pinterest, etc, so my social media will be all GAL-ified for the next few weeks!).  I was hooked up with Katherine Rollins, designer of some beautiful accessories featuring lots of colorwork and fun ruffles.

Gathered Dusk Path of the Peacock

Interview!

What’s the first thing you ever knit?
A: Do you mean finished? The first thing I remember trying to knit was a Kaffe Fassett design from the book, “Glorious Knits.” I was a teenager pretty new to knitting and I hate to say that I worked one multicolored repeat but never finished the jacket! The first finished projects happened late in high school and college. I knit huge traditional Icelandic Lopi sweaters for almost everyone in our family!

What’s your favorite thing you’ve ever knit (or, one of your favorites, if you can’t choose 1 absolute favorite!)?
A. When I finally learned sock knitting in 2007, I got hooked. I love socks!

Is there a knitting technique that you haven’t tried yet that you are really wanting to explore?
A. I haven’t tried Mosaic knitting but I am intrigued.

Is there a technique you’ve recently tried for the first time and LOVED?
A. Lace! I need to explore it more.

What’s your favorite yarn you’ve ever used?
A. Okay this is a hard question. I haven’t explored near enough yarn to answer fully. My taste runs to luxury yarns but my wallet doesn’t always follow! I loved using Kashmir by The Woolen Rabbit. But I have enjoyed knitting with Knit Picks Capra and Capretta yarns. I have a Wollmeise skein and a Madelinetosh skein in my petting box. I need to use them but haven’t decided on a pattern.

Is there any local yarn in your part of the world (North Carolina) that you love and recommend that people check out?
A. There is a really fun cotton yarn made one state over in Virginia, Wolles Yarn Creations. The yarn has long color changes. I knit a Holden Shawlette from it and I hope to design a shawlette for it one day.  The other local yarn that has come on the scene recently is Silver Spun from Feel Good Yarn Company. It is an intriguing combination of cotton, silver, and lycra. I want to design some sporty socks with it.

What’s the one thing you wish you were knitting right now?
A. That changes from moment to moment! I would like to be knitting right now either a shawl or a blanket of my own design. Coming up with the right design, now that is the trick!

Evening Tide Ruffled Ascot

Thanks for the interview, Katherine!  (Click the photos to go to the pattern pages!)

Mt. Hood Snow Cap

So, I considered doing a quick round up of some of my favorite designs/designers here for the end of this post, but then I thought, there are so many, I won’t know when to stop!  So instead, I’m going to keep it local – here are my neighbor designers here in Oregon:

Star Athena (I love so many of Star’s designs – a few favorites are the Pendleton CowlMt. Hood Snow Cap {pictured above – I have plans to make this for myself and embroider snow on Mt Hood with thick white wool}, Galanthus, Interval, and Lebowski); Shannon Squire (tons of beautiful designs, including Mosaic Mason Jar Cozies which could be an excellent gift knit {pictured below}, and I really love the Tytonidae Cowl and the Mesh Leaf Cowl); Larissa Brown (lots of fabulous designs – I especially love Lichen, Layer Cake Blanket, and Cane Sugar Mitts); Marnie MacLean (so many fantastic sweaters, really gorgeous shawls – a couple favorites are Foothills Shawl and Estival – and she has some beautiful crochet patterns as well!); Michele Bernstein (I want Thrumbelina on my feet right now!); Birch Hollow Cottage (adorable kid stuff and toys); Carol E. Herman (love the Topiary Fingerless Mitts); Galzanne Knits (some really nice cowls and hats); and Sheila O’Keefe (the Snowflake Coaster is such a perfect gift knit!).

Mosaic Mason Jar Cozy

If you want in on the fun, go join the group, check out the designer list (you can browse through the designer names quickly here, but check out the thread for photos so you can discover new designers!) and buy all the patterns you want during the sale period right now!  But remember, you can knit not-on-sale patterns for the GAL, and posting in the group can win you awesome prizes!  Yay!  Happy knitting!!

Filed under: gifts,hats,knit-a-longs,knitting,lots of links,portland stuff — leethal @ 5:00 pm

November 4, 2014

New pattern: Tionne! (my first sweater pattern!!)

Tionne sweater! Tionne sweater!

I’ve done it!  After 7 years of designing knit accessories, I’ve upped my game and released my first garment pattern!  (Find Tionne on ravelry here, or on my website here.)  It’s a stripy asymmetrical pullover sweater, which can be worn in any direction!

Tionne sweater!

Aaand, it’s for any weight yarn, custom sized to your body, by measuring your gauge, taking measurements of yourself, and filling out a worksheet to find all your custom pattern numbers.   (If this part scares you – it’s 2 pages of easy-to-calculate math, all adding/subtracting/multiplying/dividing; if you have a calculator app, and you go through it slowly and carefully, you’ll be fine!  It’s super important to get accurate numbers, so you can’t just wing it… but you can do it, I believe in you!)

Tionne sweater! Tionne sweater!

Tionne features a stretchy, garter stitch, solid color cowl neck on one side, which can be flipped around to be the waist instead, making the striped, wider side into a huge cowl neck, with a fitted waist:

Tionne sweater!

The striped side has an eyelet pattern, so that you can use the eyelet holes to scrunch it up with ribbon, or even sew some buttons on and use the eyelets as buttonholes, so the stripy neck can be styled in different ways.  (Or it can simply fold down around the shoulders, like in the top photo.)

Tionne sweater! Tionne sweater!

The sample is in Hikoo Kenzie worsted weight yarn (on the lighter side of worsted) – I am completely IN LOVE with this yarn!!  It’s a blend of New Zealand Merino, nylon, angora, alpaca, and silk noils.  It is soft but durable, tweedy, with a subtle halo and I just want a pile of it in every color to use it to knit all the things!  (Seriously.  Love it.)

Tionne sweater!

Here’s what this wacky sweater looks like flat:

Tionne sweater

Oh and there’s a short sleeved variation included as well!  My first prototype was a short sleeved one; some changes were made to the pattern after I made this one, but you get the idea.  It’s in bulky yarn (knit loosely), which I don’t really recommend for a short sleeved one – it works, but it’s a bit cumbersome for something with no arm coverage.

short sleeved Tionne short sleeved Tionne

This is a variety of bulky yarns, for some stash-busting action.  The awesome pink and orange neons are Space Cadet Elara, as is the grey in the middle – the leftovers from my giant Mikkey cowl.  The beige is Berroco Blackstone Tweed Chunky, the dark blue is a random handspun I had in my stash, the neon green is leftovers of the handspun used to make this Unbroken hat, and the grey at the bottom is some leftover Austermann Natura from my Maurice cowl.

short sleeved Tionne

For a better example of the short sleeve variation, Sarah - The Sexy Knitter - test knit this version and took awesome photos!  Here is her fabulous many-colored short sleeved Tionne:

Sarah's Tionne

And now, some details about construction…

I kind of love grafting - it's easy, and it's like magic! How do you feel about grafting?

The sweater is worked partly flat, partly in the round, using short rows combined with increases & decreases, provisional cast-ons, and grafting, to make for a totally modular construction, with no picked up stitches or sewn seams.  The six sections are all connected as you knit, with 4 seams to graft with kitchener stitch at the end (only 2 for the short sleeved variation), making it completely seamless.

Section 1 – sideways garter stitch – is connected seamlessly to section 2 using my sideways edge cast-on technique (simple short rows + increases as you knit, to avoid picked up stitches and make a smooth join):

Tionne sweater

Here’s a detail shot of where sections 3, 4, and 5 all come together, with a grafted bit there in the middle:

Tionne sweater

The sleeves are knit in opposite directions, but the cuffs are identical, so they will fit comfortably, with exactly the same number of garter stitch rows around.  The first sleeve is worked flat, side to side (starting with Judy’s magic cast-on to work outwards in both directions, ending by grafting it together), and the second sleeve is worked in the round down to the cuff, then uses what I call a sideways-edge bind-off technique to work the cuff sideways around (grafting it closed).  The second cuff is worked with a stockinette stripe in the middle, to match that detail on the first cuff:

Tionne sweater

There is a very simple slip-stitch faux-seam where the colors switch, to deal with stripe jogging, for the parts worked in the round:

Tionne sweater

The pattern includes a detailed schematic, a diagram showing how to measure yourself, 16 process photos showing how the piece is constructed (on their own pages, so you don’t need to print them if you don’t want to), photo tutorials for the crochet provisional cast-on and Judy’s magic cast-on, and step-by-step instructions for grafting the different sections (some in stockinette, some in garter).

Tionne sweater!

Want to know the backstory of my design process?  I had no plans to design a sweater anytime soon, at the beginning of this year, but then in March I took a trip to my local Japanese bookstore.  One book caught my attention instantly, because of the piece on the back cover (below, left), and when I started flipping through it, there were several more eye-catching items that looks fascinating to me…

Japanese knitting book Japanese knitting book

And then I reached this page, below.  I think I audibly gasped when I saw that page.  That sweater shape, I became obsessed immediately.  I bought the book, to take the inspiration home with me, and I couldn’t stop thinking about that sweater shape.  I loved the cabled design in the book, but the basic shape of it, that’s what I couldn’t stop thinking about…

I spent days thinking about how it was made with all straight lines, no shaping really, and because of this, even though I had zero experience with garment design, and I had only even ever knit ONE real sweater before, I thought I could maybe, possibly, use that shape concept as a jumping off point to come up with a sweater design of my own.  With the parts coming out in different directions like that, the shape seemed a perfect fit for the techniques I’ve developed over the years, which modularly connect knitted sections worked in different directions.

Japanese knitting book

And the other aspect that made me obsessed with the idea was how the shape looked like it could be flipped upside down – the sweater in the book wasn’t meant to be, but if the two sides were both wide enough to fit around the waist, then it seemed like it could work that way!  And if the two wide sides were different, like one worked sideways, and the other worked around, one with negative ease, and the other without, different lengths, etc, then you’d end up with two completely different sweater styles when wearing it the two different ways.

So days were spent obsessively thinking about this, working it out in my head, how the parts would all work, and I had to try it out somehow!  So I dug through my craft stash and found parts of old reclaimed sweaters, cut them to size, and sewed them together into the shape I had in my head.  It was a seriously wonky piece, but I wanted to see if it would even work at all, and also see how the proportions should be and stuff.  And it worked!

original proto-prototype of Tionne sweater

So I used what I learned from that, and wrote it all out into a knitting pattern, while it was fresh in my head.  While trying on the proto-prototype and examining it, I realized that if the sleeve parts were left off, it could still work.  So I decided to use some bulky yarn and big needles, and try out the pattern with a short sleeved variation, quickly – I needed to test it out while it was fresh, and my obsession hadn’t worn off.  I dug through my stash and grabbed all the bulky yarns that would work together, using neutrals for the main colors and brights for the contrasting.  And I knit my prototype!  And it worked!  The pattern needed some adjusting here and there, but overall, it worked.

short sleeved Tionne

Okay so that point is when I knew I had taken this obsessive inspiration to the point where it needed to go before I could let myself get back to my regularly scheduled work – for about a week (maybe 2?), I’d basically let myself put everything else on hold while I followed that process through to having a complete pattern draft.  Now that the pattern was designed, I could plan ahead, and let it sit for awhile; I could come back to the pattern draft later and know what I was talking about.  (If you’re like me, you might sometimes jot down or sketch ideas that strike in a moment of excited inspiration, then go back to them several months later and have NO idea what you were talking about.  So, if I’m really into an idea, I make sure I write down coherent thoughts/plans/diagrams/etc so I can follow them later.  Writing out the entire pattern is ideal for my future self!)

Tionne color decisions

So, planning ahead.  I thought hard about how I wanted my official sample to be – I decided on worsted weight, and after swatching a square with some that I had on hand, I landed on the Kenzie.  I ended up spending an entire month deciding on colors (such a hard decision!) – I even photoshopped a bunch of my top color combos into a sketch of the design (or what I sort of thought it would look like, since I hadn’t actually knit it yet), to help me decide.  Final color choices ended up being Malbec and Boysenberry (that’s top center in the grid above).  I got the bag of yarn around mid-May; by this time of the year, I was unable to even think about the sweater design, while my focus was on Adventure Knitting and other design responsibilities, so the yarn sat there for quite awhile…

I can't wait to finish up my in-progress design samples so I can cast this on!

Until I was finally able to cast on in early September!  I revived the pattern, refreshed my memory on the whole concept, and started knitting!  I made this sweater as quickly as I possibly could (since I’d originally wanted to release the pattern in early fall, but it was already too late for that, sadly), getting the pattern all perfected as I knit it, finishing it by the end of the month.

Officially back to work on my first sweater design! Had to put it on hold for months for adventure knitting; I finally cast on the sample last night!

And it was awesome!  And I was so happy!  So then I had it test knit throughout October, by some fabulous test knitters – see their projects on ravelry! – and that was my first sweater design process!  Bam!

Tionne sweater!

Oh so then throughout the year, since I had this plan to release my first garment pattern, I did lots of brainstorming about other future garment ideas… and I came up with two more ideas that I’m super excited about!  So, Tionne is the first pattern my in leethal Full Body Trio (on my site here).  Lopes and Chilli will come next year; this will be a spread out trio, many months between each pattern release.

Tionne sweater! Tionne sweater!

The future two designs will both be versatile, wearable in different ways, like Tionne is.  If all goes according to plan, neither will be a pullover sweater like Tionne, they will both be other kinds of garments.  I’m hoping that if you like Tionne, and you like my general design style, you can be confident that you’ll like at least one of the future patterns, hopefully both!!

Tionne sweater!

Something else I love about this pattern: it’s almost entirely garter stitch worked flat and stockinette worked around, so very little purling – only 2 of the 6 sections involve purling, the other 4 are entirely knit.  And there is no shaping, it’s all just straight lines.  So, even though there are weird construction techniques used, all the long rows of plain knitting make this an excellent multi-task knit!  Once you get each section set up and know what you’re doing across/around the rows, it’s easy to knit mindlessly while focusing your attention elsewhere.  I knit a chunk of the middle section in a movie theater, while watching Snowpiercer!  (I’d never knit in a theater before, it was VERY exciting.  I think I might have even mentioned that already on the blog, but it was so exciting I had to tell you again, hah!)

Tionne sweater! Tionne sweater!

I really hope a bunch of you get inspired to make a Tionne in really different kinds of yarns.  The Kenzie works excellently, so I highly recommend it if you want a sweater that looks like mine… but if you have a different kind of vision, go for it!  I think it could look rad in a lightweight yarn worked super loosely, for a transparent kind of look – like the looks of this sweater, or this sweater, or this sweater.  If you do end up making any kind of Tionne, be sure to post your project on ravelry so we can all see it!

Tionne sweater!

That’s Tionne!  It’s weird, but I love weird!  I hope you do too!

Filed under: clothing,knitting,pattern Trios — leethal @ 5:57 pm

October 30, 2014

Book review / interview with Cirilia Rose!

Magpies, Homebodies, and Nomads by Cirilia Rose

I’m so excited to share Cirilia’s new book with you!  Magpies, Homebodies, and Nomads: A modern knitter’s guide to discovering and exploring style, by Cirilia Rose, will be officially released on November 4th.  I was sent a review copy (woo! and further disclosure: I’m friends with Cirilia) and I’ve very much enjoyed reading it and admiring all designs, wishing for the free knitting time to make my favorite pieces!

Magpies, Homebodies, and Nomads by Cirilia Rose

I got to see the sample knits at a sneak peek show thing she did at Stash in Corvallis over a year ago, so I’ve been eagerly awaiting the book ever since.  So many beautiful knits!  (You can see them all on ravelry here.)  In addition to the 25 patterns, the book also includes several fantastic essays on style, with topics like Think Like a StylistSubstituting Yarns, and Looking for a Come-Up (AKA Thrifting).

Magpies, Homebodies, and Nomads by Cirilia Rose

I’ll flip through a few of my favorite items here for you…

Magpies, Homebodies, and Nomads by Cirilia Rose

Magpies, Homebodies, and Nomads by Cirilia Rose

Magpies, Homebodies, and Nomads by Cirilia Rose Magpies, Homebodies, and Nomads by Cirilia Rose

Magpies, Homebodies, and Nomads by Cirilia Rose

But this is a quick book review because we need to get to the fun part – Cirilia answered a bunch of interview questions for us!  Some book related, many not so much.  Let’s go!

Magpies, Homebodies, and Nomads by Cirilia Rose

The Magpies section of your book is all about special single skeins – what’s the most recent extra special skein of yarn you added to your collection? And/or a single skein purchase that stands out in your memory?

Zealana just made a yarn called Cervelt. It’s made out of red deer down from New Zealand and is exclusively available at String in NYC. I have a single ball of it and I’ve been joking that I’m going to go out for dinner and just leave that instead of paying. Designing a special one ball project is on my to-do list, actually.

The Nomads section is about traveling, and wearing your knits out in the world; you also give a helpful list of styling recommendations for traveling – I love the tip about bringing an oversized sweater or cowl to function as a blanket/pillow as well as its intended purpose. Any non-style travel tips that add comfort or ease to long days of transit or hotel stays?

I am a creature of habit so I always pack my own tea and toiletries. I’ve also gotten pretty into the habit of doing a little Lisa Eldridge style beauty routine on longer flights, and in my hotel rooms, I think my skin is pretty happy about this. I also always pack knitting, reading material and workout gear but…sleep usually wins.

You talk a bit in the book about your experience as a stylist – any funny embarrassing moments on a photo shoot set that you’d like to amuse us with?

Yes. Oh goodness, yes. The first time I styled a man it was for Norah Gaughan’s men’s collection for Berroco. I didn’t understand men’s pant sizes at ALL and the poor guy couldn’t even pull them up. He was a good sport (and a total babe), but I was really, really embarrassed.

I love the way you talk about color – recommending that knitters step outside their comfort zones when choosing yarn colors. Do you have a favorite color or color combo of the moment, this season, that you find yourself wearing constantly?

I’m really loving black these days, actually. It makes it easy to get dressed and since I’m living in a city it helps me ward off unwanted attention. I once read that people who wear black lead colorful lives, and I definitely agree. That said, I’m liking really clear royal blue, vivid and weird oranges and interesting pastels, especially when they lean neon. They all look great with black!

Is there a color you always thought you hated when you were younger, and then something made you change your mind?

Orange has really wormed its way into my heart, partially because of Norah’s love for it and partially because it’s such an underdog in the knitting world. It’s consistently a low seller alongside yellow and brown. I love it, especially when I think of it in food terms (something I recommend in the book). It has a piquancy that is addictive.

Can you tell us about a favorite store in another country that you wish would expand to open a branch in your city?

Yes! Tiger, an incredible Danish dollar(ish) store.This has become my favorite stop in Iceland. Where else can you find pastel marble Easter eggs, radiant orchid headphones, crocheted nylon baskets, sequined cat masks, novelty yarn and a four-pack of toothbrushes all for the cost of a pizza?

When you were in high school, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A journalist. And I think that’s pretty much what I am, in some form. I research, report and distill, I just didn’t think it would be about yarn!

What’s the first cassette tape and/or CD that you ever bought or picked out for yourself?

Probably something superbly 90s like Smashing Pumpkins or Luscious Jackson. I still love a 90s vibe, I’m glad it’s back in fashion.

What’s your favorite TV show to binge watch while knitting, that you’ve watched all the way through more than any other show?

Well, the usuals, Freaks and Geeks, Gilmore Girls, Buffy, Firefly, My So-Called Life, etc. My favorite show that no one ever seems to know is a British comedy called Peep Show. I also adore Parks and Recreation. I can’t pick a favorite character, they’re all amazing. So much heart, and whoever names the characters did such a great job, they rival Strangers with Candy in that realm.

What’s the most recent movie that you saw and loved?

I really enjoyed Drinking Buddies, which is part of the whole mumblecore movement. It felt natural and heartbreakingly accurate about how hard relationships can be. I also LOVED Under the Skin, even though I spent most of it in fetal position and that was in the theater!

What’s the most recent book that you read and loved?

I’m not an amazing reader, as much as I’d like to be. Sustained attention isn’t my strong suit, sadly. Pretty Good Number One went very quickly for me and made me even more excited to go back to Japan one day (I lived there for the first two years of my life). I’m in the middle of #GIRLBOSS and I’m really liking it. She echoes a lot of what I have always said, namely to not wait for opportunities to fall in your lap.

What’s the most recent knitting pattern or project that made you gasp when you saw it?

The sweater that my friend Carolina Swallin made for our machine knitting class. She used to design for H&M and she has her own line of incredible accessories but she really blew it out of the water. All of Stephen’s Crazy for Color collection. I saw Fox Paws by Xandy Peters in person at Rhinebeck and got pretty sad that I never have time to knit for myself!

A link was recently circulating amongst knitters, to a list of all 118 sweaters that appeared in Twin Peaks – do you have a favorite Twin Peaks sweater?

Anything on Audrey Horne.

I love your cat, Goldstar, who shows up often in your instagram feed – can you tell us about a particular move that he charms you with?

Goldstar is actually a not-so-dainty lady and I have been head over heels for her since day one. She is abnormally cuddly and will tolerate nearly any amount of snorgling. One of her funnier habits is being so relaxed she falls off the couch or my lap mid-stretch. The poor thing is a total klutz and I love her for that.

I favorited your Bjork swan costume on ravelry before we ever met, over six years ago – love it! Since it’s October, what’s your favorite costume of a past Halloween (besides that one)?

Oh man, that was in the early days and fairly last minute! I should reprise it and do a better job. I pick extremely dorky, unrecognizable costumes. I’ve been Jane Goodall, Emily Litella and Bob Ross. This year my boyfriend and I are going as Harold and Maude. I just realized I’m kind of stuck in the 70s! I’m okay with that.

Magpies, Homebodies, and Nomads by Cirilia Rose

Thank you so much, Cirilia!  That was fun!  (Side note – I feel so bad about misgendering Goldstar, especially since I have a lady cat with a gender-neutral name who gets mistaken for a boy cat often.  Ooooops!)  Bob Ross is a brilliant Halloween costume idea!

Links time!

Filed under: books,knitting — leethal @ 12:49 pm

October 16, 2014

Third pattern in the Bulk Trio: Mikkey!

So I released this pattern earlier this year, at the tail end of winter, but it was very silly timing because it’s a WARM piece of knitting, a great fall/winter knit… so I held off on blogging about it until it made more sense to say… Hey, check out Mikkey!  (on ravelry here)  A cozy, thick, squishy, double layered cowl!

Mikkey!

The stitch pattern is made with slipped stitches, one color worked at a time – it’s reversible and looks totally different on the two sides:

Mikkey!

The pattern is for any gauge, best suited to yarns in the aran to bulky range, so you’ll get different looks with different weights.  The grey+neons sample at the top is bulky; the above yellows+greens sample is aran; the red+aqua sample below is worsted held triple stranded, for a super bulky kind of weight.

Mikkey!

You can choose from different sizes as well as weights, making it more or less wide, and as long as you like.  The three samples shown represent different widths and lengths; widths+lengths can all be mixed and matched as you like (for example, the grey+neons sample is very wide, but the shortest length option – you can make it wide and longer, or short and less wide, etc).

Mikkey!

This sample was made in awesome Space Cadet Elara bulky weight yarn (colors: Dark Skies, How Dare You, Tickled) – 3 skeins grey, 1 full skein orange, and 1 partial skein pink (exactly 290 yards / 265 meters used in main color, 190 yards / 175 meters used in contrasting colors); size US 13 (9mm) needles.  It’s SO squishy and cozy!

Mikkey!

The red+aqua sample was made with Stonehedge Fiber Mill Shepherd’s Wool Worsted, held triple stranded (Red, Lakeshore) – 2 full skeins each color (250 yards / 230 meters per skein, so approx the same as 333 yards / 305 meters of super bulky weight yarn total); size US 15 (10mm) needles.

Mikkey!

And the yellows+greens sample below was made with Madelinetosh Tosh Merino heavy worsted (Filigree, Terrarium) – approx 75 yards / 70 meters of the dark shade, 35 yards / 30 meters of the light shade, and Jill Draper Makes Stuff Adirondack aran weight (Antique Gold, Straw into Gold) – approx 90 yards / 80 meters each color; size US 10 (6mm) needles.  The combination of soft, single ply, subtly variegated merinos + more wooly, plied solids worked REALLY well here!

Mikkey!

There are two versions of the pattern – a simple color version and a more advanced switching colors version.  The simple color version looks good on its own, and it works very well to change colors in wide color blocks throughout, like you see in the sample above.  The switching colors makes diagonal lines, zig-zagging around the whole thing, as the main color and contrasting color switch back and forth:

Mikkey!

This version is best with just one main and one contrasting throughout, to avoid things getting too busy, but one of the colors could be a variegated or self-striping (the other a solid) if you like.

Mikkey!

And then there’s the construction!  This is a double-layered cowl that doesn’t twist at all, made with straps running through holes to join the one end to the other.  (It’s actually the same construction concept as Superduper, so you can check out the diagrams over there if you want a visual of how it works – scroll down here.)

Mikkey!

You can get different looks depending on how you wear it – which sides are facing out, straps in front or back, etc…

Mikkey!

Folding the inner layer out a bit reveals the inside pattern, so both sides of the stitch pattern can be seen at once:

Mikkey!

The straps are made long enough that they can be pulled through the holes to one end or the other, making the layers the same size, like above, or different length loops, like below.

Mikkey!

You can pull the layers so the inner loop is snug around your neck, for extra warmth, the outer loop hanging down:

Mikkey!

So that’s Mikkey!  Super versatile, both in how you make it and how you can wear it.  This pattern is definitely suited to making a few different versions for your winter accessory collection, since they can be made to be so different from each other!

Mikkey!

Mikkey is the third pattern in my leethal Bulk Trio (on ravelry here), which also includes Lemmy and Wizzö (wondering about the names?) – so you can save by grabbing the whole trio for $12; each pattern alone is $6.

Mikkey!

This pattern isn’t a very quick knit, but the other two can knit up very quickly, if you’re on the lookout for quick gift knits!  The ebook for the Bulk Trio is just about to be released later today (the three patterns have been out for awhile, but I slacked on getting them grouped together into 1 pdf) – so you can save space on your computer/ipad/etc by using that single file with all 3 patterns instead of the 3 separate pdfs.  Same patterns, just condensed a bit.

I hope if you make yourself a Mikkey that you post a project with photos on ravelry!  I love to see your leethal projects!!  Happy gift knitting season!

Filed under: knitting,pattern Trios — leethal @ 12:34 pm

October 6, 2014

Fall season events and stuff!

I have some exciting events coming up!  First:

fluevog event poster

This Thursday, here in Portland, I’ll be at the Fluevog store on SW Stark, just a couple blocks from downtown Powell’s, for their Yarnie Evening!  You can find details on facebook here, or in this ravelry thread here.

Coloring Book print book

I’ll have pattern books for sale, as well as some of these record yarn bowls I’ve been playing around with:

Experimented a little more with the record yarn bowl idea - eeeek it's working!! Needs a bit more perfecting but I'm loving this idea! Thinking about both a blog tutorial and selling them around Portland...

It should be a fun time – I hope you can stop by!

And then, next month up in Seattle, I’ll be once again teaching at Knit Fit!  It’s November 8-9, and I’ll be teaching 2 classes, plus the Game Knitting night, which has become a fun annual tradition.

Knit Fit!

This year I’m teaching a brand new class on no-pattern hat knitting, and I’m teaching the sideways edge cast-on and bind-off class again.  Find the full Knit Fit! schedule here.  For the Game Knitting night, we’ll be knitting to one of my favorites – 10 Things I Hate About You!

leethal hats

I’m really excited that my 2013 TNNA boothmate Alexa of Tin Can Knits will be there this year!  And my roommate from that same TNNA, Andrea Rangel, who is a regular at Knit Fit!, will be back again this year - it’ll be like a TNNA reunion :-p

In other news… I have designed my first ever garment pattern!  It’s a stripy pullover sweater, and it’s scheduled for release at the beginning of November.  You don’t get to fully see it yet, but here’s a peek:

a peek at upcoming sweater a peek at upcoming sweater

It’s about as leethal as can be – designed for any weight yarn, at any gauge, custom sized to your measurements, constructed modularly, with no picked up stitches, and some grafting but no sewn seams.  You start by making a gauge swatch to get an accurate gauge measurement, then you fill out a worksheet to get all the numbers to plug into the pattern, and fill the blanks.  Then you just knit your sweater, all customized for you!  As for the knitting, it’s mostly stockinette (mostly in the round) and garter stitch (mostly flat), which means there’s very little purling, and it’s great TV/movie knitting.  I even knit a chunk of my sample while watching a movie in the theater – that was a first for me!

Slowly becoming a sweater... Now you get to see the stripes! I kind of love grafting - it's easy, and it's like magic! How do you feel about grafting?

I put my sample up as a ravelry project, so I might add more photos there as the release date gets closer, and I’ll post more peeks on instagram/twitter too, later in the month.  I just wanted to let you know it’s coming, since I’m super excited about it!  The sample you see is in Hikoo Kenzie, which I absolutely LOVE.  A new favorite yarn for sure!!

That’s all my newsy stuff for now, I think.  I haven’t yet posted about Adventure Knitting: The Mysterious Trunk now that the knit-a-long is over, but that’s because I’m waiting until the print book is ready, and I’ve been slacking a little on getting it done, keep getting distracted by other matters… so, soon.  But yeah, this year’s Adventure Knitting is all revealed on ravelry, so you can look at all the awesome projects that were made for the knit-a-long, and you can buy the whole thing together in an ebook now, if you like what you see!

Okay, happy orange leaves and spicy flavors season!  Hope you have something fun on the needles!

Filed under: knitting,portland stuff — leethal @ 8:09 pm

October 3, 2014

Book review: Gertie Sews Vintage Casual

Gertie Sews Vintage Casual

Book review time!  First things first – the generous publisher sent me a lovely review copy of this book, Gertie Sews Vintage Casual by Gretchen Hirsch, which is why I’m blogging about it.  That doesn’t mean it’s not an awesome book!  Oh, it is!

Gertie Sews Vintage Casual

What immediately caught my eye was the artwork – so great!!  The book is A Modern Guide to Sportswear Styles of the 1940′s and 1950′s, and the artwork and overall graphic design of the book are just perfect.

Gertie Sews Vintage Casual

But that’s just a bonus – the book is PACKED with sewing (and style!) information.  Not at all just a pattern book, the first 125 pages are chapters on…

Gertie Sews Vintage Casual

…vintage style (detailing different varieties of styles from the past, inspiration, etc), fabric & supplies (breakdown of different fabric types, tons of info about tools and notions), working with woven fabric (SO MUCH info about seams, necklines, waistlines, hems, pockets, stitches, and more!), working with knit fabric (again, so much info about stuff you’d need to do with knits), 20 pages on fitting (so much detail there!), and patternmaking (all you need to know to actually draft the patterns).

Gertie Sews Vintage Casual

So, I’m not much of a sewer – I’m self-taught and have never really used patterns.  For the last couple years I’ve really been wanting to find the time to teach myself how to sew from patterns… and this book seems like a fantastic resource to help me learn!

Gertie Sews Vintage Casual

There are great little illustrations throughout, and photo tutorials to show complex steps, details, etc.  It seems like a fabulous resource even for advanced sewists who know what they’re doing, with all these very specific techniques included (so many different specific types of seams, for example).

Gertie Sews Vintage Casual

And just tons of helpful info and tips – I was pleased to see this page, as I hate the idea of wasting time on a muslin that’s useless after its initial purpose is served.

Gertie Sews Vintage Casual

And then we have the patterns!  The Wardrobe section of the book includes 10 patterns, each with at least 1 variation, usually more, making 34 different items.

Gertie Sews Vintage Casual

There are lots of basic staple type items, and some more complex pieces.  I love this wrap dress!

Gertie Sews Vintage Casual

A simple pattern like these great cigarette pants includes variations for: 40′s style wide-leg pants, pedal pushers, flared shorts, sailor shorts (so cute!), and jeans.  So once you get the hang of that one pattern, you can make a ton of totally different items!

Gertie Sews Vintage Casual

This fitted cardigan is a variation of the pin-up sweater pattern – love it!

Gertie Sews Vintage Casual

The a-line mini-skirt looks like a basic enough project that I might need to try it as one of my first ever sewing-from-a-pattern projects!

Gertie Sews Vintage Casual

The pattern instructions have illustrations for any complicated steps, along with the written steps.  Love the vintage style of it all!

Gertie Sews Vintage Casual

Side note:  One of my favorite people, Jasika Nicole, posted on tumblr about how excited she was when this book came out, because she’s a huge fan of Gertie patterns – “Gertie is my favorite vintage sewing enthusiast and her patterns are wonderful.”  Since then, she’s posted 2 photos of items she made from patterns in the book.  She mentioned that the 40′s sleeveless blouse pattern “instructions were a little wonky” so the more complex pieces might really be for more advanced sewists (like her!) but her top turned out adorable in the end!  I will probably be sticking to the simpler of the projects until I get some experience under my belt, but if you know what you’re doing, you can make some awesome clothes with this book!

Gertie Sews Vintage Casual

 

Filed under: books,clothing — leethal @ 4:21 pm

September 5, 2014

leethal Knitter’s Tool Tins!

Exciting thing!  The awesome knit designer Sarah Wilson (who I got to meet and hang out with awhile back), aka The Sexy Knitter, in addition to designing fabulous patterns (I love this and this!), makes these handy Knitter’s Tool Tins

Knitter's Tool Tins with leethal photos!

And for this month only, there are 5 Tool Tins available featuring my photos!  So cool!!  She sent me one of each (for free, blogger disclaimer) so I’ve had a chance to check ‘em all out, and try out the tools.  Each tin is filled with all that you see here.

Knitter's Tool Tins with leethal photos! Knitter's Tool Tins with leethal photos!

In a Tool Tin, you get: a colorful tape measure, tiny scissors (she just launched a new kind of scissors this month, sharper than her old style, and all different colors – I tried them out and they totally work, while also being adorable), a stitch holder, a cable needle, a double-ended crochet hook in 2 sizes, 5 stitch markers (very cute!), and 3 types of sewing needles which stay on the lid of the tin with a magnet!

Knitter's Tool Tins with leethal photos!

These are the 5 photos of mine which are available on the tins right now:

Pigment shawl Color by Number Plaid Cowl

Above, Pigment (in Malabrigo Chunky) and Color by Number Plaid Cowl (in Malabrigo Twist).  Below, Lerro in Anzula Cricket.

Lerro shawl

And then two really different samples of Mikkey, the yellow-y one in Jill Draper Makes Stuff Adirondack and Madelinetosh Tosh Merino, and the neons one in Space Cadet Elara.  The photos all look a little different on the tins, but they look nice.

Mikkey! Mikkey!

The tins are $25 plus shipping in Sarah’s etsy shop – the ones with my photos will only be around until the end of September!  Unless you place a wholesale order; anyone can order in bulk at the wholesale price (you don’t need a special wholesale license), $150 for a dozen tins, and you can continue to get old designs after they’re retired.  (If you have a dozen knitter friends/family members, this could make a great holiday gift purchase!)  You can also get all 5 of these leethal tins at the discounted price of $100, through September only.

Knitter's Tool Tins with leethal photos!

But hey guess what – Sarah is offering a coupon code to you, leethal knitters!  For the next 10 days only, enter code LEETHAL to get 20% off your order of $25 or more from The Sexy Knitter etsy shop (except for the wholesale/bulk orders).  She has tons of cute stitch markers, knitting patterns, the scissors and tape measures by themselves, and other assorted knitter gear, like needle gauges and project bags… Use the code to save 20% off all of it!

Knitter's Tool Tins with leethal photos!

One last fun note:  If you have a knitting photo that you think is tin-worthy, Sarah is always looking for new tin photos!  Show her your photo (contact her through etsy) and if it does get picked to be used on tins, you get the tin for free!  I know mine are going to get lots of use!

Filed under: knitting,random stuff — leethal @ 7:30 am

August 26, 2014

Adventure Knit-a-long is moving along!

Now that we’re around halfway-ish through the knit-a-long (ravelry link), I want to show you some peeks of how it’s going!  You can still totally join and catch up – we’re currently still in the section 1 week, section 2 goes out this Thursday, and section 3 next Thursday.  Since section 1 has been out for close to a week now, I hope it’s okay that I post a few spoiler-y photos to show you glimpses at the stitch patterns and stuff!

I’ll show you the mystery trunk stuff first… if you don’t want any knit spoilers, stop scrolling when you hit the big sun picture.

So, in the first blog post, I posted the first part of the story, about finding the mysterious trunk.  Here’s a bit more of the story, taking off from: A big, old steamer trunk sits near the window, filled with wooly mystery.  You hope for something awesome as you unfasten the metal clasp…

adventure kal illustration

You find a stack of notebooks, filled with notes, symbols, and sketches.  Flipping through the first one, you realize these are knitting patterns.  Short stitch patterns, handwritten out, page after page.

Adventure KAL 2014 illustration

One compartment holds another notebook and some loose papers with sketches and writing on them… a hand, what looks like a cup of tea leaves, more symbols… you open up another compartment. Whoa.

Adventure KAL 2014 illustration

Not only was she a designer, it seems that the owner of this trunk was also a fortune teller.

Adventure KAL 2014 illustration

You see an old Ouija board, but what catches your attention more than that is what looks to be a homemade version of a Ouija board, drawn on paper and pasted onto a piece of cardboard…

adventure kal illustration

So that’s when adventurers made the first trunk discovery, and received this printable board in their first mystery pdf:

This is the first item found in the Adventure KAL mysterious trunk. Cast on day is this Thursday, and another item will be pulled out of the trunk next week!

The main point of the board was to help choose between the 6 different shape options (of course, details about the shapes/items were sent out to help make a non-random decision).

Adventure KAL shape sketches

The setup knitting section went out, and then another item was discovered in the mysterious trunk!  There are story pages to go along with all the discoveries, but I’ll just show you what the are…

Adventure KAL illustration

Adventure KAL illustration

Adventure knitters found a printable fortune teller – it can be folded into a fortune teller of our childhood, or it can be used flat as a spin-the-bottle wheel.  Either way works to choose stitch patterns randomly from the first set of 8 patterns included with the section 1 pdf.

Adventure KAL 2014

And then last night, more items were discovered in the trunk!  First, a few decks of cool looking tarot cards were found (in the story/illustrations)…

Adventure KAL 2014 drawings

Adventure KAL 2014 drawings

… along with a set of handmade divination cards with names and symbols matching the stitch patterns!  Knitters received a printable page of these cards (complete with back side pattern), which can optionally be colored in, if that sounds fun.  I colored a set with colored pencils:

Adventure KAL 2014 cards Adventure KAL 2014 cards

Okay if you don’t want to see any knit peeks, stop scrolling now!

Adventure KAL illustration

And now for some section 1 glimpses!  Here are most of the stitch patterns, which are meant to all be used in any order!

Adventure KAL 2014 Adventure KAL 2014

Two of those patterns can be knit in 2 colors if you like.  Below is one of my samples, worked with the 2-color versions, patterns chosen in random order using the spin the bottle method.  The beginning of this piece as seen here can turn into a triangle, a strip (aka scarf), a loop (aka cowl), or a bent strip (like an L-shaped scarf).  This is in sport weight wool, pre-blocking on the left, and post-blocking on the right.  Blocking really helps with these pieces!  (The patterns used here, in order from bottom up, are: Hebe, Vesta, 2-color Pallas, Astraea, 2-color Libra, Sun, 2-color Libra.)

Adventure KAL 2014 Adventure KAL 2014

Here is a worsted weight cotton 1-color rectangle section 1, which will become a dishcloth (patterns: Sun, Taurus, Virgo).

Adventure KAL section 1 peek

And section 1 of my crescent sample, in worsted weight, large size:

Adventure KAL section 1 peek

Below is a post-blocking closeup of that one.  I love how this turned out SO MUCH, I can’t wait to show it to you completely.  I originally planned to use 2 colors – less than half a skein for section 1 (here), then a full skein of the other color for section 2, then the remainder of the first color skein for section 3.  I hadn’t really worked out how much yardage I’d need, or how big I wanted it to be, etc, and I ran out of yarn way early for that plan.  The partial skein for section 1 was good, and the full skein for section 2 was good, but section 3 takes about as much yarn as the first two sections put together.  So I used another entire skein (but a smaller skein) to complete section 3, and I really love the end result!  (By the way, I added the yardage to make the sample how it was meant to be, according to the pattern, but this shape is actually super flexible – if you run out of yarn early, you can just bind off and it’s totally fine!  Or you can work the last section extra big, if you have extra yardage, to use up the last of it and make it as big as possible.)

adventure section 1 closeup

This image below was intagrammed when I finished it because I loved it so much and couldn’t wait to show it to you, even if that meant pixelating it into blurry mystery.  (Also, I wanted to show proof that the shirt project does indeed work out.)  For the rectangle shape option (which can be made as a square), the pattern includes instructions for making two rectangles and sewing them together to make a boxy shirt.  I made mine as squares; I made the front using all lacy patterns, in random order, and then I made the back in one repeating pattern for the whole piece to go faster.  I LOVE how it turned out so much!!

mystery shot of adventure KAL project

So that’s all you get for now.  If you are participating in the KAL, you’ll get section 2 (including spoiler photos), and stitch patterns 9-16, on Thursday, so soon!  Oh, if you want to see more, check in with ravelry!  So many awesome projects have been going up!  The spoilers thread has dozens of photos of projects that all look totally different from each other, so cool, and then lots of knitters have put photos in their project pages, but mostly behind the mystery shots, so click the photo arrows to check them out.

Adventure KAL illustration Adventure KAL illustration

I’m super happy with how this has been going!  I can’t wait to send out section 2 and see the projects grow!

Filed under: knit-a-longs,knitting — leethal @ 5:44 pm

July 1, 2014

Adventure Knit-a-long #2!!

It’s beginning!

Adventure KAL drawing!

The second annual leethal Adventure Knit-a-long is now available for pre-order; cast-on will happen in August!  (It’s here on ravelry.)

If you have no idea what I’m talking about, the Adventure Knit-a-long is something I did last summer for the first time, and it was very much fun (it’s now on my site and on ravelry as Adventure Knitting: A Day in the Woods), so it’s back for another go!  It’s a mystery knit-a-long inspired by Choose Your Own Adventure books – tons of options, choices to make in every section, countless possibilities for your one-of-a-kind finished item(s)!

Here are some photos of items knit with last year’s pattern collection, to give you an idea of how different your adventure knits can be from each other:

adventure knit items! adventure knit item!

adventure knit item! adventure knit items!

This year’s will be very different from the first one, totally different items, constructions, stitch patterns, story… the choose-your-own-adventure aspect will be a bit different too (not so much mimicking the format, but more of its own thing this time), so be prepared for possibly unexpected elements!

There will be a total of 24 different stitch patterns (all both written and charted).  You can make your entire piece one solid color, or add optional contrasting color designs or color changes.  All items are knit flat, using increases and decreases for shaping; some items/shapes are more complex than others, and same with the stitch patterns, so pattern difficulty ranges around adventurous beginner to experienced intermediate.

It will be given in foldable book format just like last year’s (see the video on this page to learn more about the DIY book format), in addition to the normal pdf format, plus some extra printable things.

Adventure knitting!

Here are some notes which are also in the pre-order pdf…

There will be six different shapes to choose from, and some shapes can be made as different items (there will be 10+ items total); they can all be made in any weight yarn, and any size, although some item types will be better suited for lighter weights or heavier weights.

I’ll give away a bit about the items, to help you brainstorm about what you might want to make before the KAL begins.  There will be many different types of neck accessories.  Pretty much any kind of neck accessory you like, you’ll be able to make it (some form of it).  There will also be some small items, simple things if you don’t want to commit to much before knowing what it’ll look like, and some simple but large items.

You can basically use any yarn you want for the KAL.  If you pick a yarn from your stash that you’d like to use, there will likely be an item that will work well with it.  Most items will need 2-3 skeins of yarn, but there are those smaller items that take less than 1 skein.

All items can be made in one solid color only, or can use optional contrasting color(s) for simple optional color patterns; or you can use multiple solid colors in wide stripes or blocks.  All yarns should be solids or semi-solids, or self-striping with really long color sections should work – not busy variegated colorways.

Try to use yarn that will block well (like wool; though there is one item that’s meant for cotton) – blocking will be somewhat important to smooth everything out.  Also, yarn with good stitch definition is recommended.

As for yardage, because your yardage needed will depend on your yarn weight, item choice, and desired size, there won’t be really precise yardage estimates given, but the patterns will be written in a way to help you use up all your yardage and not run out.

Adventure KAL drawing!

The KAL schedule is:

  • Thursday, August 14th:  Setup section released
  • Thursday, August 21st:  Section 1 released
  • Thursday, August 28th:  Section 2 released
  • Thursday, September 4th:  Section 3 released

In addition to those pattern section releases, you will get some other stuff throughout the KAL as extra pdfs.  That’s still a bit of a mystery for now, but if you read the pre-order pdf text you might get a hint!

The setup section on August 14th will involve very little knitting.  That week is when you’ll make your shape/item choice(s), pick your yarn, cast on, and knit a few setup rows to get ready for the first section.  So the real knitting begins when section 1 is released on August 21st.

But, the sooner you sign up the better, because the KAL price will go up as the adventure goes on.  Right now it’s $8 for the pre-order; once the setup section is released, it’ll jump to $10, then 11 then 12 for sections 1 and 2, and with the final section the price will raise to the final $14.

So if you want in on the adventure, pre-order on leethalknits or on ravelry, download the pre-order pdf to read a bit of the story, start thinking about your yarns, and chat about our upcoming adventures in the leethal ravelry group!  I will be there to answer your questions, and I may post new pictures or other kinds of mystery hints in there as the month goes on.

Adventure KAL drawing!

Want to learn a bit about the story?  Okay, here’s the first page:

You arrive at your aunt’s house on a pleasant, breezy day in August, bags packed with a couple weeks’ worth of clothes and books. She has invited you to housesit while she’s on vacation, since she knows you’ve always loved her cats. As you walk up to the front door, you realize what that nagging has been in the back of your head throughout the five hour journey – you forgot your knitting! And you’d been so looking forward to spending these weeks in a cooler region, so much nicer knitting here than where you’ve been for the first month of summer! You curse your forgetfulness and cross your fingers, hoping there’s a good local yarn shop nearby, as you knock on the door.

After saying hello and going through the housesitting checklist, you casually ask about the LYS situation. She says she thinks there is a small shop downtown, not far from here (huge sigh of relief!), but you’ve reminded her of something. When she was tidying up the attic a few weeks ago, she came across a trunk that had belonged to her aunt, your great aunt, and had ended up with her several years back – she’d always meant to sort through it but it had gotten hidden behind some boxes and forgotten over the years. She’d popped it open, and seen a bunch of yarn and some hand-knit items. Since you’d be here housesitting in a couple weeks, she’d decided to leave it there for you to have first dibs on anything that interested you, since you’re the only big knitter in the family.

“So you might want to take a look at that trunk first, before hitting the yarn store, just in case there’s any useable yarn in there.”

You think, cool, I might save a few bucks. You never met that great aunt; you might remember her name coming up in some of your dad’s stories, but you’re not sure.

So once you’ve gotten settled in, played with the cats a bit, and your aunt has left on her trip, you pull down the attic ladder and head up. A big, old steamer trunk sits near the window, filled with wooly mystery. You hope for something awesome as you unfasten the metal clasp…

Adventure KAL drawing!

There is one more page of story text in the pdf, so I won’t spoil too much here.  I’ll just say, there’s a bunch of exciting stuff in that trunk!!  It’s full of knitting related things, and more, all of which will work together to make up your adventures!  Throughout the knit-a-long, you’ll be given things that were found in the trunk, and you’ll use them to create your knits.  You’ll see…

I’m so excited to finally be announcing this – it’s been in the works since last summer when the first one was a success, and I started really planning this year’s way back in November (this instagram caption is about the beginning planning of this KAL!).  It has evolved a lot since then, and I’m really happy with how everything is turning out!  I can’t wait to go on adventures with you!

Filed under: knit-a-longs,knitting — leethal @ 12:03 am

June 26, 2014

New pattern: Krewe!

I released a new single pattern - a lightweight cowl, perfect for some summer knitting!  (on ravelry here)

Krewe cowl

Krewe is made with slipped and twisted stitches (how-to included), and then full columns of stitches are dropped all the way down when you’re finished knitting, to make the beaded necklace inspired look:

Krewe cowl Krewe cowl

It’s designed to use multiple contrasting colors, as you see in my sample, but it also works well with the same 2 colors throughout, or with a self-striping or variegated color as the contrasting color (with a solid color as the main color, which is the outline color).  A version like mine uses approximately 280 yards / 256 meters total DK weight, close to half and half main color and contrasting.

Krewe cowl

This is my first pattern release in a long time that’s not part of a collection – that’s because this was designed in collaboration with Infinite Twist to make into kits!  Kits include 6 mini-balls for the contrasting colors, the main color yarn, needles and some other fun notions, this pattern, plus my new free mitts pattern (which I’ll blog about separately), Blur.  The amount of yarn included in the kit is enough to make both the Krewe cowl and a pair of mitts!

Infinite Twist Krewe kits!

There’s the Dawn Patrol colorway (above) to make the items just like mine, the Dusk colorway with 6 beautiful shades of different purples (with the same Dovecote grey main color as mine), and the Terra colorway with greens and blues for all the contrasting mini-balls and a dark brown for the main.

Infinite Twist Krewe kits! Infinite Twist Krewe kits!

The yarn is called Helix; it’s a springy plied DK weight, hand-painted – a perfect fit for the dropped stitch design!  I really love Infinite Twist (I blogged about the company awhile back) and I loved knitting with this yarn!

Krewe cowl

If you want to think outside the box a little with this design, on the other hand, it can be made really differently from my sample.  The pattern includes notes for how to make it any width in any weight yarn, and any size/weight can be made as long as you want by just stopping when you like the length.

Krewe cowl

You can even make your Krewe as a scarf or a big wrap instead of a cowl if you prefer.  The piece is a simple rectangle shape, so if you don’t seam the edges together into a loop, it works great as a flat piece as well.

Krewe cowl

My awesome test knitters made Krewe in a variety of different weights and sizes – since I only made the one sample, I’ll show you some of theirs!

Here are a couple more cowls in DK weights, like my sample – on the left is blissfulolivian’s in a few different DK yarns (218 yards total used) ; on the right is zigzaggyknits’ cowl with a variegated yarn as the contrasting color (247 yards total used):

Krewe by blissfulolivian Krewe by zigzaggyknits

Here’s a cowl in sport weight by likeleigh with a self-striping yarn as the contrasting color (165 yards total used); and a heavier cowl in worsted weight by annaknitsalot (180 yards total used):

Krewe by likeleigh Krewe by annaknitsalot

And a few lighter versions in fingering weight yarns.  First a small, airy cowl by drdomestiKated with a self-striping sock yarn as the contrasting (171 yards total used):

Krewe by drdomestiKated

A big lightweight cowl by rgoriginals (blog here) in fingering weight yarns (472 yards total used):

Krewe by rgoriginals

And a small scarflet version by knittinluv with a striping sock yarn as the contrasting (139 yards total used):

Krewe by knittinluv

A couple testers made awesome giant wrap versions!  Here’s a huge wrap by SadieLou in aran weights (650 yards total used):

Krewe by SadieLou

This measures 20″ wide by 65″ long!  So cozy!  This was made with 5 pattern repeats across and 22 pattern repeats long.

Krewe by SadieLou

And another wrap, by ChaoticK also in aran weights, just about the same giant size!  (21″ by 62″ to be exact; made with 6 pattern repeats across and 18 repeats long.  The yardage is very different – 341 yards total for this one.)  The photo on the right shows the piece with the stitches only partially dropped, so you can see how the knitted piece looks before the stitches are dropped:

Krewe by ChaoticK Krewe by ChaoticK

And speaking of how the piece looks as you’re knitting it, here’s a shot I took while knitting:

Silver lining to all day spent in the passenger seat: a big chunk of knitting got done! @infinitetwist yarn!

And my piece immediately after dropping the stitches, before blocking:

Post dropping, pre blocking. So wiggly!

All that kinkiness blocks out nice and smoothly!

Krewe cowl Krewe cowl

If you make Krewe, whether with the Infinite Twist kit yarns or other yarns, as a cowl or a scarf or wrap, etc, be sure to post your project on ravelry so we can all see your interpretation!

Krewe cowl

Happy warm weather knitting!

Filed under: knitting,yarn — leethal @ 6:03 pm

June 4, 2014

New pattern in the Betiko Collection: Lerro!

Lerro is here!  (on ravelry here)

Lerro shawl Lerro shawl

The twisted+slipped stitch colorwork shawl design for the Betiko Collection (that means it has the same kind of modular construction as Betiko and Biratu; on ravelry here) has a fully patterned version, with twisted stitch patterns all throughout the body, and a simple variation with twisted stitch designs only around the edges and garter stitch stripes in the body.  As with all Betiko Collection patterns, the modular sections are made with short rows, no picked up stitches, no seaming, and you’ll only ever cast on and bind off a few inches worth of stitches.

Lerro shawl

The fully patterned shawl is designed for fingering weight yarn – the sample is in Anzula Squishy (love!).  It measures 55 inches / 140 cm across the length (with the top edging laying flat in a straight line) and about 12 inches / 30 cm tall in the center.  The size of the fully patterned version can be adjusted by changing your gauge – use a yarn heavier than fingering if you want a bigger finished shawl.

Lerro shawl

This version is definitely an advanced level pattern – the slipped and twisted stitches are not hard to do, but there’s a lot to keep track of.  The big shawl body stitch patterns are only charted, and you need to be able to read your stitches.  But, once you get the hang of how it works, you only need to pay attention to the chart for the main color right side rows (every 4 rows) – there are pattern guidelines given that make it so you can knit the main color wrong side / contrasting color right and wrong side rows by reading your knitting and mostly ignoring the charts.  It’s a huge project, but it goes smoothly once you get on a roll with it, and it’s so much fun to watch the patterns grow!

Lerro shawl

If that’s still too much going on, there’s also the simple variation pattern!  This one is for any weight yarn, any gauge, and can be made pretty much any size, custom sized/shaped to your preferences.  My sample is in Anzula Cricket DK weight (wow I really love this yarn so much!!).

Lerro shawl

My sample happened to turn out to be the exact same length as the fully patterned sample – 55 inches / 140 cm long – and the height is a little bigger, about 13 inches / 33 cm tall in the center.  This version of the pattern is designed for 3 colors, as you see here – one main color throughout and 2 different contrasting colors.  But, because it’s simple stripes in the body, you can definitely play around with other kinds of color combos, like a self-striping yarn for the contrasting throughout, or completely different yarns for both outer edging colors… using the same main color for the first three sections is recommended, but beyond that you can totally experiment with colors on this one!

Lerro shawl

The edging stitch patterns (top edge diamonds and outer edge) are both charted and written, so for the simple variation you don’t have to read charts if you don’t want to.  You do need to read your knitting, to keep track of the wedges and things, and it’s a bit complex, so it’s probably an intermediate level pattern.

Lerro shawl Lerro shawl

The pattern pdf includes process photos and diagrams, how-tos for twisted stitches and other techniques used, notes given on chart pages to help prevent you from needing to constantly flip between pages (also quick links between pattern pages for if you’re using the pattern digitally)… it was thoroughly test knit by many awesome testers to make it the best it can be!  Check out all the different kind of versions made by testers over here on ravelry – some awesome color combos!!

Lerro shawl Lerro shawl

To go with the pattern, I made a few new tutorial videos for my sitetwisted stitches, and fixing some basic knitting mistakes.

Lerro shawl

If you’re wondering about the name, Betiko is a Basque name meaning eternal, as that shawl is forever customizable, and Lerro is a Basque word for line (and Biratu is a Basque word for twist or rotate).

Filed under: knitting — leethal @ 2:21 pm
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