Hi readers! I am excited to tell you that I have a new page on my website: print patterns! An assortment of my most popular patterns (kind of a random selection actually, based on things like formatting, not just on popularity) are now available in high-quality printed format; you can see them all on that page, where you can link to the pattern info pages to learn more about the patterns, and click over to buy them through MagCloud.
When you buy a print pattern there, you’ll also receive a digital copy of the pattern (not the ravelry digital version in your rav library, just a pdf of the print pattern, but that way you can get started right away!). The pricing of the print patterns there is the same as my print patterns sold in yarn shops; if you want to save on shipping, you can always ask your local yarn shop if they carry my patterns ;)
And speaking of yarn shops, if you happen to own or work at a yarn shop, the other big website update I just completed is my wholesale page. It’s now all up to date, with a current downloadable line sheet, and previews of all available patterns.
So those are my announcements of what’s new right now… as for more exciting new pattern type news, I have been working hard on many things, including this year’s Adventure Knit-a-long!! But you’ll learn more about that very soon (like, next week!) so I won’t say anything else for now. Lots of other things I’ve been working on lately are supersecret, so I don’t have much to show you for now.
I just got this Ikea cart thing (way discounted, woo!) and filled it with my in-progress / soon-to-be-in-progress projects, meaning yarn which has a planned purpose and needs to be knit up asap. I have A LOT of knitting to get done in the next few months! Ah, who am I kidding, the next few months, I have A LOT of knitting to get done like always and forever. So many exciting project ideas, so little time!
So, I’m hard at work on Adventure Knitting. I have a collection in the works, which includes that stripy project in the corner up there, which is not supersecret – I’ve posted some insta peeks at that one (below). That collection was originally meant for a spring release actually, but due to timing issues, and more thinking on it, I decided it’s actually a better fall collection anyway, and I don’t want the Adventure KAL to be so late in the summer like it was last year (when it happened in August). I’d rather push the KAL to earlier in the summer, then release the collection after that, when we’re thinking ahead to cooler weather, so yeah, that collection is something to look forward to a bit later in the year…
And then I’ve been working on several secret things, one in the so-not-leethal yarns pictured below! And another in a secret yarn I can’t show you, but it is fabulous and I can’t wait to show you eventually.
And then there’s a collaboration project in the works which is VERY exciting – I’m working with awesome Portland designers Star Athena and Shannon Squire, local yarn dyer Blue Moon Fiber Arts, and our photographer friend (and sometimes designer) Vivian Aubrey. This is actually the idea for which the seed was planted several year ago between Star, Vivian, and I – I blogged about it briefly here back in 2012 – but it got put on hold for years, and then evolved. We’re really excited to have brought Shannon and Tina of Blue Moon on board, and the ball is officially rolling!! Here is an epic pile of Blue Moon yarns:
As for more personal life update stuff – I was down with a horrid flu for the last few weeks, so things have been slowed down a bit. There were a few days, two weeks ago, when I felt like my body was trying to kill me and I couldn’t even knit, and then I was well enough to knit simple things but not really do anything else, for like a week… and I’ve been kind of slow and blah for about the last week. Yesterday and today I’m finally feeling just about normal, so yay for normal! (I think my furry buddy was a bit worried about me when I was really sick.)
Here in Portland, the weather is turning, the weeds are going crazy, and I’m trying to enjoy the nice bits and not think of the uncomfortably hot days ahead… I got this beautiful poppy plant for the front yard which makes me happy to look at everyday, and I’m growing tomatoes, strawberries, and blueberries in the back yard (and the wild blackberries, which involves mostly cutting them back, and keeping a small-ish patch to harvest). I made granola yesterday for the first time, and it went really well – had my first warm weather season breakfast this morning: yogurt, blueberries (store bought for now), banana slices, and granola, yum! (I’m a very seasonal breakfast eater – oatmeal everyday October-ish, through May-ish, and then cold cereal/yogurt topped with granola, berries, and other yummy things in the warm/hot months, one thing I love about summer!) Anyway, to sum things up, the weather is super nice right now, the yard work needing to be done is overwhelming and awful, but berries are good, and flowers are pretty.
So that’s all for now… you can look forward to Adventure KAL news very soon! Happy springtime!
Lopes, the second garment pattern in my Full Body Trio mini-collection (after Tionne), has been released! (On ravelry here!) If you follow me on social media at all, you saw plenty of peeks a couple months back when I was making the first sample – I was posting all kinds of close-ups on instagram, revealing things like the sleeves (and the fact that it was an item that had sleeves), the seed stitch edge, the drop-stitch wedges…
But the BIG REVEAL when the pattern was released last Thursday night was that it’s a cardigan that can also be worn as a skirt!! TAH DAH!
It’s a springy/summery, drapey, flared, airy, swingy wrap cardigan, with short sleeves which can be turned in and laced closed, turning them into the functional pockets of the wraparound skirt!
I made a video showing you how it works and some different ways it can be worn:
That was fun! (Many thanks to Pete for whipping up that background music for me!)
So, here are things about the pattern… It’s written for any yarn weight/gauge, though nothing heavier than worsted is recommended, and working at a loose gauge for maximum drape is ideal. (I made a prototype to figure out shaping/construction/size stuff, in bulky weight, and it is totally ridiculous and unwearable. Part of it is that the sizing is all wrong, so that all got fixed in the pattern, but the bulky weight is really not a good fit for this item.)
The samples were made with Hazel KnitsLively DK, the beautiful Sedge colorway (which very much shifts colors depending on light!), knit at a very loose gauge (size US 8 needles on the shorter sample, US 7’s for the longer sample), and it was a fantastic yarn fit. Hazel Knits is an awesome yarn company, local-ish to me in the Pacific Northwest (based in Seattle), and they do dye-to-order if they don’t have the color you love in stock – turn around is two weeks (or less!) on custom dyed orders – there are so many gorgeous colorways, it was really hard for me to choose just one, but I really love the Sedge so I made a good choice!
Lopes is custom sized to your body, using your own measurements, and you can make it shorter or longer, as you prefer. You’ll need to make a good gauge swatch, take a few measurements on yourself, then fill out a worksheet with some math (very easy with a calculator app) to find your custom pattern numbers. (This is the same as how Tionne works, except Lopes is much simpler than Tionne, fewer sections and fewer numbers to find.)
The measurements of the piece are based on the measurements of your upper body, so the cardigan fits nicely around the back/shoulders, and around your waist, so the skirt fits. The fronts of the cardigan are therefore usually wide, overlapping quite a bit, for a double-breasted kind of wrap style sweater.
The cardigan flares out a lot, which makes it nice and swingy and fun to wear…
…but, as you saw in the video above, you also have the option of using ribbons/laces to cinch it around your body for a more form-fitting look.
The piece flares out with short row wedges, worked with a drop-stitch pattern – the fabric is already meant to be light and airy, so the dropped stitches make it more so, and the garter stitch borders add some texture. Of course, the skirt is designed to be worn over another skirt layer, or opaque leggings, or as a beach coverup, etc. Even if the fabric wasn’t see-through, it would still be scandalous to wear it without something under, since it’s open in the back!
That wraparound, open-back design makes for a very comfy, moveable skirt, as you can see in the shot below where I guess I’m being a dinosaur? Photoshoots are silly.
The sleeves/pockets are in garter stitch, giving them nice stretch while functioning both ways, and they have braided cables running down the centers, matching the braided cables along the bottom edge. And eyelet holes around the bottoms, for lacing up the pockets.
They are worked last, out from live stitches left in the body, in the round with short row shaping. Here’s a closeup of the sleeve cable joining the body:
(Side note: I had originally designed this with plain garter stitch sleeves; the idea to add the cables came to me as I was knitting up the sample, and I’m SO glad it did! Test knitters agreed that the sleeves are one of the best parts of the pattern. Love them!)
The short sample has very short sleeves, which makes the pockets not very functional, only meant for putting my hands in; the longer sample has sleeves about an inch longer, making the pockets more functional, but they still can’t hold very much. If you want really functional pockets for holding stuff, it’s recommended that you go about another inch or so longer than these sleeves.
As you see, the sleeves can be worked in a contrasting color for a nice effect, especially when worn as pockets (I think). These sleeves are Hazel Knits Lively DK in Low Tide (the leftover yarn from my Warren hat – those skeins are big!) – I love the subtle variegation just on the sleeves. I think the whole piece is best in a solid/semi-solid, but that contrast works very well to my eye!
And you can play around with some other color pop ideas like I did in my longer sample – the beginning and ending edges are in a contrasting dark grey color (AnzulaCricket in Elephant), and the last panel is in a contrasting lighter green yarn (Anzula Cricket in Key Lime).
As for yardage, my shorter sample used just under 3 skeins of the Lively DK – approx 730 yards / 670 meters total, and my longer sample used 3 full skeins plus all the contrasting bits, totaling up to approx 1100 yards / 1000 meters used. I normally wear a size large; you can see my very approximate yardage estimates for all yarn weight and sizes here.
Let’s see, what else about the pattern? Oh, buttons! Buttons are always fun, of course. Let me show you mine! My yellow button came from an amazing little button shop in York, England. I’d been saving it for just the right project, and I think it’s a perfect fit here!
And the second button there was found in my stash – I don’t know where it came from but I’m assuming a bag of old buttons from a thrift store, or from Knittn’ Kitten, since that’s where most of my random stash buttons came from. There’s a deer on it!
The back side buttons on this sample are yellow as well, also random stash finds.
The other sample features antler buttons, bought at Paxton Gate in North Portland. Love them!!
This sample is special, by the way, a first for me as a designer – I hired a sample knitter to make it! Local knitter Chantal knit the whole body of the piece, and I just added the sleeves and did the finishing. It was so weird and cool to have an almost finished pattern sample handed to me! Hours upon hours of work that I didn’t have to do myself. Not that I didn’t love knitting Lopes, because I really do love this pattern and I (mostly) enjoyed making the first sample, but, two in a row? With tons of other deadlines and work projects on my mind? The pattern would have been delayed a month probably if I’d done it myself, not because that’s how long it took, but because I’d have had to wait till I finished other deadline projects first before finishing it… Anyway, that made me feel like I took a new step as a professional designer, and Chantal did a great job, so hooray! Thanks Chantal!!
And many thanks to my test knitters as well, but super especially to Megan, of the Stockinette Zombies video podcast! (She shows her Lopes test knit in this episode, keeping the fact that it’s a skirt a secret since the pattern wasn’t released yet – thanks for that, Megan!) I had a too-tight deadline for testers on this project, since I was eager to release it asap, and Megan is the only one who actually finished it 100% so she’s awesome. (Don’t worry, other testers tested all the parts of the pattern, and the pattern was also tech edited – thanks Ashwini! – so it’s been fully checked and is up to my quality standards!)
Okay now I’m going to get into a lot of detail about the design process for Lopes, so if that doesn’t interest you, just check out the pattern on ravelry and thanks for reading this far! ;) Here we go…
For my first garment pattern, Tionne, I blogged all about how I first got the design idea, and my design process… once I had that design concept in my head, I decided I wanted to do a trio of garment patterns, so I started casually thinking about other garment ideas, and the idea for Lopes just came to me. I don’t have any kind of story about it; I don’t even remember how I first thought of it. I just had a thought one day, something like, what if I made a really simply shaped, flared piece, in three panels, and there are sleeves which can fold in and become pockets, so it can be worn as a cardigan and a skirt? Hmmmmm… and then eventually Lopes was born!
Oh but, my original design concept was for the three parts (the two sides and the center, between the sleeves/pockets) to all be the same width across, and I stuck to that all the way through completing the first sample, which is why this happened. When it was done and blocked, it was WAY too big. Horrible fit. I was in denial the whole way though until it was completely finished, partly because the gauge stretched A LOT with blocking, and I’d measured my swatch without stretching it so much, so that was my fault and it really did get much larger than I expected it to… and part of my denial was just not wanting to frog and re-knit because I was in a big hurry to get it done and out to test knitters. So, when it was almost done, only partially blocked, with the needles still in one half-done sleeve, I took some quickie photos to send out with my call for testers, and I really did think the fit was going to be okay at this point:
Looking back at these shots now, blech, it’s so obvious to now-me that the fit isn’t okay. The sleeves are so droopy, for one thing. Anyway, then I finished it, wove in all the ends and everything, and blocked it completely. And then I did another quickie placeholder-photos shoot. It was during this shoot that I reluctantly came to the conclusion that it was NOT OKAY and something needed to be done. As you can see, I tried playing around with making it look cool as it was, but it just wasn’t working.
At that time was when I re-did my original math based on the actual post-blocked gauge, and posted this panic-y instagram, when I was still thinking the pattern was okay as it was, but that the whole thing should have been smaller. After lots more measuring, calculating, etc, I realized that actually that wasn’t true, and most of my sample was actually okay as it was (yay!) but the pattern needed to be re-written. It just wouldn’t work for all three sections to be the same width. So I re-did all the worksheet/numbers stuff, re-wrote parts of the pattern, and figured out how to go about fixing this sample.
I decided I could make the whole thing sized correctly by significantly shrinking the two center panels, and the sleeves; I tweeted about this and Kirsten suggested the excellent idea of grafting first, cutting second, so I could make sure the new sizing was good before doing anything permanent. That turned out to be a REALLY helpful idea, because I did indeed need to unravel and re-graft the first panel!
So I grafted, un-grafted those stitches, re-grafted, it was good the second time, so I cut and unraveled. Unfortunately, even though I was trying to be super careful, I cut the wrong strand (I thought it was the right strand! It was hard to tell what was happening!) and made a new hole next to the grafted stitches, so I had to graft that closed too.
For the second panel, I cut first, grafted second. So then the center section was the correct size, fit to my body.
The other major re-do was to completely frog both sleeves, graft up the armpits several stitches to make smaller holes, and re-knit them. Here it is after the first was finished, for comparison; of course, the bigger one is post-blocking, and the smaller one is pre-blocking, knit with kinky frogged yarn. But I made the sleeves MUCH smaller, which really gave the entire sweater a much better fit!
So that was that – I re-blocked the center and the sleeves, and it fit perfectly! Phew! I was so relieved when I tried it on and it actually fit right, unlike the first time when I tried it on and kind of convinced myself that it was okay before finally admitting that it was not. And the pattern got all fixed up and written to work for all sizes, and to fit right for everyone! Hooray!
So, overall, even though it was an annoying process, I learned a lot, I ended up with the best possible pattern/sample, and it all turned out for the best!
Okay I think that’s everything I have to say about Lopes. The third garment pattern in the Full Body Trio (Chilli) will probably be coming near the end of the year; I’ve got to spread out these garment patterns, they are exhausting for an accessory designer! There will be some exciting non-garment things coming soon, though! Happy knitting, everyone!
I am not much of a sweater knitter – I’ve only knit a few sweaters, in my 10+ years of knitting – but I am slowly trying to change that, trying to learn more about garment shaping and design, and making myself some awesome wardrobe additions, with the limited for-fun knitting time that I have here and there between work projects. So, when the publisher (STC Craft) offered to send me a copy of this book for review, I was super excited – seems like a perfect book for learning more about different types of knit sweaters!
Knit Wear Love: Foolproof Instructions for Knitting Your Best-Fitting Sweaters Ever in Styles You Love to Wear is a book of super customizable basic sweater patterns, or “meta-patterns” – I love the illustrations showing the different versions of each pattern in simple line drawings, shown here on the back cover:
There are 8 basic meta-patterns – pullover, cardigan, vest, cowl (neck), tunic, wrap, tank, and bolero/shrug. Each pattern is written for 3 different gauges, each gauge being a different style version, and they are all written for 12 sizes. The patterns are all given in kind of spreadsheet format, neatly organizing all the numbers by gauge and size, and then each meta-pattern has a fill-in-the-blank worksheet version, where you can fill in all your specifics for the sweater you want to knit. Great way to present these customizable patterns!
Each meta-pattern has three styles (each in a different weight/gauge), but there are a total of 8 different styles represented, so each style is only used in a few of the meta-patterns. The styles are: vintage, casual, sporty, bohemian, modern, romantic, classic, and avant-garde. Here are the three pullovers, in romantic, modern, and classic:
A big part of the point of this book is to learn which styles/elements you like best, so you can make your perfect sweaters that you’ll love to wear the most. And I learned something about myself! Based on style elements, the styles I love the most in theory, or that I love the most to look at and think about design and stuff, would be avant-garde first, and elements of modern and bohemian. But in the reality of the actual sweaters, thinking about what I’d most love to actually have and wear, the versions I felt an instant I-want-that! connection with while flipping through the pages were actually classic, casual, and sporty! I would wear the crap out of this texture-tastic classic pullover:
And, oh man, this casual cardigan, yes! So comfy!! (I also gravitate towards browns…)
And the sporty version of the tunic pattern – love it!!
I like a lot of the other styles too, but I’d want to mix and match elements probably. Here’s the vest in avant-garde and modern styles – I really like the switching stripes in the modern one:
One of my favorite things in the book is the pages explaining the different styles – mood boards for each one, and detailed descriptions, including fibers, fabrics, colors, and examples. Since all the meta-patterns don’t include versions in all the styles, these notes can help you to actually create a version of any meta-pattern in any of the styles! Or a mixture of a few styles. Like, using the weight/gauge from one style, but making adjustments to the fit, texture, fibers, etc, to add elements of another style, for a totally personalized version.
There’s lots of great technical info too, about fit, sweater knitting generally, using stitch patterns, changing up necklines, sleeves, etc. Overall, totally my kind of knitting book, with all the customization and personalization, excellent stuff!
So yay sweater knitting! Now I just need a bunch more hours in the day so I can find the time to knit some of them. Someday… There are several versions in bulky and aran weights, so maybe I’ll start with one of those so it’ll go more quickly! Anyway, I’m glad to have the book in my library now so it’s there when I want it :)
Happy April! I have a few things to blog about to start off the month… firstly real quick, I just want to let EU knitters know that you can now, once again, purchase my patterns through ravelry (or my website), including collections/ebooks, yay!
Next, I made a word list for a photo-a-day challenge for this month! Feel free to repost this image anywhere you want to share:
I’m doing the whole challenge (planning to take one photo each day, each based on that day’s word), and you can challenge yourself to the whole thing as well, or you can just pick and choose some words that sound fun to you, or participate only on days when you feel like it, or whatever works for you! Post your photos (tagged #leethalPAD) on instagram, tumblr, twitter, flickr, or anywhere else you like. I’ll be posting mine every day on instagram, twitter, and flickr, and probably some of my favorites on tumblr. This was today’s photo for April 1st, Sky:
Moving on… I have a question for you: have you ever had a weird issue with my blog, like a virus type thing (a window popping up that looks sketchy, etc)? I just had a report that someone was sent a link to a specific blog post of mine and her Windows computer crashed, after first showing a popup window that she clicked on, and she was told by a computer repairman that my site had some kind of Windows-specific bug… Anyway, I am definitely not asking you to start clicking around, especially if you’re on Windows, because I don’t want anything bad to happen to anyone else, but I’m just asking that if you have already experienced any weirdness, please let me know (email me at leemeredith at gmail dot com), so your input can help me get to the bottom of whatever this is. (I’ve already done a lot of searching and scanning my site and blog and haven’t found anything wrong yet.) Fingers crossed that I can find the problem and fix it and no one else will have any bad experiences on my site!
Speaking of website stuff, I completed a minor update of leethalknits.com. It’s a little better for mobile now, I think, just some minor changes to the layout, and I’ve switched out a lot of the rotating background photos (in the top left-hand corner) for newer shots, so you can hit refresh a bunch to see some of those (there are 18 randomized images). I also changed the all patterns page to no longer include the quick knits pattern thumbnails – there are so many patterns now, and I figured those can just be separate on their own page.
So, I’m really happy to be starting a new month – March was really weird for me. A lot of the time I thought the month was cursed. A lot of stupid little bad things happened (like: needing new tires after having a flat, wasting a bunch of time+money trying to deal with a stupid plumbing problem and then needing to hire a plumber anyway in the end, my site being down a bunch, fearing my blog may have been lost forever, and then that possible blog hack issue, a big power outage, major ant problems in our house, blah blah blah) but actually some really awesome things happened between all the bologna. So, I’ll share with you some of the positive highlights from my March!
Pete and I took a completely spontaneous overnight trip to Crater Lake last weekend! I haven’t started sorting through my real camera photos yet (I took a ton, of course!) but here are two instagram shots above. It was WARM but with tons of old snow – the best part was that the road from the main parking lot to the viewpoints was closed to cars for the winter, but plowed and open to people walking. And we got there early since we stayed in a hotel somewhat nearby, so we walked a mile to the big viewpoint almost totally alone, and got to see the majestic views with no cars around and hardly any other people. This is a major national park, which almost all the time is either A) open to cars and filled with people and tourist traffic, or B) completely closed all winter except to skiers and snowshoers, due to normal winter weather (at least, that’s what we gathered, I could be wrong, but I think the road we were on is not normally plowed during the winter). So this insanely warm winter we’re having allowed us to have this rare experience of seeing this amazing natural sight in a way that hardly anyone ever gets to. We felt SO lucky and happy that we made such an impulsive decision to take the trip!
And then, the days just before that trip with Pete, my parents came to visit, and we took them on a day trip to the Oregon coast (Newport area, then down to Yachats) – my highlight of that day was the tide pools at the Yaquina Head Lighthouse just north of Newport. We went to see the lighthouse, but we didn’t know about the tide pools! Such an amazing surprise! I also have yet to sort through my photos from that day, but you can see a starfish above, and here’s a video of bioluminescence in the wild, soooo cool!!
We also took my parents to Corvallis (on the way home from the coast), up Mt Hood to hike to Mirror Lake, to the International Rose Test Garden, and (because it’s a required element of any trip to Portland) out for lots of awesome food! Above is Pip’s Original Doughnuts and breakfast at Jam. We packed so much fun times into 2 1/2 days!
Earlier in March, I spent two days shop hopping with some new knitter friends for the annual Rose City Yarn Crawl – my first time doing that! (I’ve had trunk shows for the crawl before, but never had actually participated as a crawler.) I visited several shops out in the suburbs that I’d never been to before, and they were all really excellent shops! Great job, Portland metro area! I look a little silly in that selfie group shot above, but I think everyone else looks cute, so there you go.
And then, after a half-day of crawling, I took a color theory workshop that was super cool. I made a color collage and mixed polymer clay colors to match the colors in the collage – all those colors were made from mixing bright fuchsia, bright cobalt blue, zinc yellow, and white clay. It was lots of fun!
As for work stuff, the March dumbness wasn’t just with home/life and website stuff, I also had some major frustration with knit design stuff. Above is the happy bits – I’m so happy to have released the final design in the Betiko collection, and I love how Zulo turned out and everything, and I’m totally loving my upcoming design that I worked on throughout the month (pictured above right).
But, that upcoming design gave me lots of trouble… I spent a weekend going through some intense sweater surgery – ripping, cutting, grafting, re-knitting – and went through several major pattern rewrites throughout the month. Three nights within one week I was up working till around 3am, to stay on top of my self-imposed deadlines. All that trouble getting it just right was worth it, because I LOVE the final sample now that it’s fixed, and I’m REALLY happy with all the pattern rewrites and the final(ish) pattern. It’s being tested right now, and I’m planning on a release date of April 16th if all goes well.
So, hooray for a fresh new quarter – after the weird, up-and-down, mostly not-great March I had, I’m feeling optimistic about this new month and ready for great things!
She visited me at my home here in Portland, and then I took her out on the town to a food cart dinner and my neighborhood knit night (pictured below). She was awesome and her blog project is SUPER awesome – throughout the year she’ll be traveling to places like New Zealand, Iceland, Norway, Argentina, Germany, Belgium, Peru… the list goes on and on, those are just some especially exciting ones. I’m really looking forward to following all her journeys! Anyway, you can read/see her post about me here, and watch the video interview!
Somewhat related: My studio had gotten so overwhelmingly cluttered and disorganized over the last couple of years; I’d go through phases of spending chunks of time on one area, but then piling new stuff up… I just am terrible at maintaining order. So, when Kimberly set up the visit, that was the kick in the butt I needed – some outside force beyond just me wanting to get it in order, an actual reason to clean things up. Here are some embarrassing before shots I took around the beginning of the year:
So, with a mission to get it looking photogenic for the visit, and channeling motivation from years of following Unfuck Your Habitat on tumblr, I spent the better parts of about five days on it, and here’s how it looks now…
Because of all the STUFF I have packed into this small room, and how colorful all that stuff is, it kind of always looks messy even when it’s not. But if you can look past the colors, you’ll see clear table tops! Ooh yeah!
Everything in its right place. So satisfying.
(Note: You can go to my tutorials page to find links to tutorials for the coffee can cubbies shown above, as well as many projects that were shown in photos of my living room area in the 80 Skeins blog post.)
And I even did some small extra projects, like hanging Interweave calendar pages that I’d had sitting around for like 3 years – you can see them above the window on the right in the above photo, and here’s a better shot of them:
Because one thing I’m terrible at is putting yarn away where it belongs, I’ve devised an elaborate yarn storage system so everything has a place, and I can try really hard to put it all away right away in the first place, instead of tossing it onto a table top or an overflowing box on the floor. So, full and almost-full skeins/balls go in the colored shoe cubby spots hanging there in the closet, and in the more decorative yarn-holders you’ll see in other shots; big partial-balls go in that white hanging unit in the closet below, with the drawers, smaller partial-balls go in the white tube-ish things in the center of the photo below, and then little tiny balls for scrappy future projects go in CD spindles which you can see in a couple of the photos, to the left of my record player. And I have a container for tiny scraps near my ball winder, since I save EVERYTHING because I am a crazy person.
I have a nice selection of craft books in the studio which I may want to access in here, while working or doing other craft projects – stitch dictionaries, knitting technique books, sewing project books, general craft project books… and then I have many shelves full of other craft/knitting books in the library. I still have several bags and boxes full of stuff that needs to be sorted through, but it’s a space in which I can actually do projects now! Empty floor space, clear table tops, access to sewing machine, etc, etc! Functional studio!
And working at my desk is so much nicer now. When it was messy around the whole room, I’d be able to focus on my computer and ignore everything around me, but it would be a lingering source of stress all the time… or something. It’s just a much more pleasant workspace now!
Another mini-project I did awhile ago – swatch pin-board thing above my turntable! It’s just the 3-pack of round cork trivets from Ikea.
With nothing pinned up:
I also did some unfucking in the library, including doing this zine display project inspired by a photo that I’d reblogged on my tumblr awhile back. This is not nearly all my zines – notably, my collection of Croq issues is left out of this display, in their own space on the shelves.
I love this little room so much, so cozy and book-filled!
Another big project I did recently is my 2014 bookkeeping for taxes. Being inspired by Bristol Ivy’s stats charts in her Stockinette Market reports, and also by some talk in the ravelry designers forums, I decided to make some charts of my own sales numbers.
This is probably of no interest to most blog readers, but I figured lots of designers, aspiring designers, and maybe other crafty business types, might be interested, so I’m sharing!
First, my design gross income breakdown. This is everything I do related to knit design, so it does include knit teaching, but it does not include the freelance gigs I had in advertising last year which were not related directly to leethal or my knit design.
The above chart in more detail:
My total design income
74% online pattern PDF direct sales (self-published patterns, direct to customers, almost entirely through ravelry / my website)
11% wholesale print patterns & books (sold and distributed to yarn shops by my distributer)
5% wholesale to companies for kits/clubs (patterns sold digitally wholesale, to be included in kits, clubs, etc)
3% online wholesale pattern PDFs (sold to yarn shops through ravelry in-store sales)
2% print books sold directly to customers (sold through MagCloud or in person)
1% third party pattern design income (magazine royalties, sales through sites like Knit Picks and Twist Collective, etc – I had no new third party patterns in 2014, so these are all old pattern sales)
Of course, this is specific to 2014, and the full year on average; it varies month to month. In years where I release a pattern (or multiple) through a third party publisher, that percentage may go up quite a bit… but overall, most of my design income does come through direct online sales of self-published pattern PDFs. My patterns don’t tend to be great sellers in yarn shops, for whatever reason. I never know if that means I should try harder to market to shops, so that number might go up, or if I should focus all my energy where my patterns already do best, and just not worry about wholesale.
Now moving on, a breakdown of that 74% above. This is only direct digital sales, not wholesale or print books, etc. First, collection sales versus individual pattern sales; then a breakdown of those collections, categorized by type of collection:
Collections are defined (by me, for my purposes) as a collection of patterns which can be bought altogether, and also each individual pattern can be bought separately. “Small collections” are no more than 4 patterns – so these are my trios and the Betiko collection – and “big collections” are Coloring Book and Remixed. (Not included are a few patterns that are sort of technically ebooks, but that I consider to be big patterns with multiple options, and the different patterns/items cannot be bought separately, like Flying V’s.) And then, “ebooks” are my big ebooks which cannot be bought as separate patterns – these are my two Adventure Knitting books, and Game Knitting. This category’s percentage is so huge because my Adventure Knit-a-Long is grouped in there.
And then I categorized all my individual patterns sold by type and did some analysis on what’s most popular. The total sales per type has a lot to do with how many of each pattern type I have available, which is why I made the second chart. For the second chart, I divided the sales total by the number of patterns I have of that type, to get the average total sales per pattern, to get a better sense of popularity of different types of patterns.
For example, I have a lot of hat patterns – 25% of my total sales of individual patterns come from hat patterns, but I have more hats than anything else. When I divide the sales total by the number of hat patterns I have, the sales average per pattern drops down much further, instead of being so close to cowls and shawls, which means hat patterns are not actually so popular. Shawls, on the other hand, are the other way around, their per-pattern average shoots way up above all other pattern types, so the shawl trend seems to still be strong, for now at least.
Lastly, I did a quick basic chart of my annual pattern sales since I began selling pattern PDFs in 2008. This says some valuable things, I think. Mainly, that if you’re a new designer, in the first couple of years, know that my experience is the norm, of sales getting higher year after year, as we have more and more patterns in our catalogs. For me, even though I did quit my day job in 2008, in those first years most of my income came from other things – freelance writing, photography, teaching, selling of handmade items – and over the last few years I’ve been focusing more and more on selling patterns and little else.
That 2013 peak is a result of a couple things: I released some popular collections that year (mainly, Coloring Book, and my Short Stripes Trio, which has been by far my most popular of all my trio collections), and I had a huge giveaway which gave my sales a giant bump in the fall. In 2014, my only really successful release was the Adventure Knit-a-long; nothing else gave me a big bump (and I also had fewer total releases than 2013) – but my 2014 dot is higher than where it would be if you were to ignore 2013 and go along the same pre-2013 line, so the 2013 bumps helped a bit even if 2014 went down from the previous year. So there’s kind of evidence that just chugging along and not having any really huge successes, but regularly releasing patterns and keeping at it, can result in a slow & steady upwards climb; in order to make a big jump, you do need something big (or a combination of big things) to make that happen, but that big jump won’t necessarily mean too much for the future (although it sure is nice at the time when it happens!). That was a bit rambly, hopefully it made some sense.
So there’s that! In more current design news, I’m way behind schedule, but I’m really hoping to have my second Full Body Trio pattern done and released by the end of April, which will be in the Hazel Knits yarn pictured above (fingers crossed that everything goes well!) and then I have a collection planned that I wanted to get out before this summer’s Adventure Knit-a-long… which may push that KAL later than I’d wanted. Last year it was in August, and I wanted it to be earlier this year, like start around July 1st, but that just won’t be possible if I try to do this other collection before. So chances are, I’ll aim for releasing that collection around June (or possibly spread throughout May-June, not sure yet), and then Adventure KAL will be in August again.
And I am just sucking at the whole #yearofmaking thing. I’ve taken some photos here and there that I need to sort through and upload… and I think the whole studio unfucking was a big deal, in my world of making, since now I can use it for future making! Here’s a shot of the one and only zentangle drawing I did, after I bought a book a couple months ago – I bought a new pen the other day though, so maybe I’ll do more soon!
Phew! What a couple of weeks it’s been! Yesterday I noticed that my blog wasn’t loading, and it seemed to have completely disappeared from my website admin panel, so that 24 hours or so was kiiinda super stressful, thinking my entire blog had been deleted somehow! But, obviously, it was not; my web host found some permissions issue, which they promptly fixed and all is well! On top of that scare, in the last few days I’ve had a flat tire (then had to buy 2 new tires), a broken shower (that I wasted hours trying to fix and then had to call a plumber in the end), and early symptoms of a cold, blech, but I hope after a weekend of rest (and KNITTING) things will be back to normal soon enough :)
It’s a leethal kind of lace shawl pattern, so it’s not lace weight! The fully patterned version was designed in worsted-ish weight (the yarn is called DK, but it seems to me like a standard worsted, yarn labels can be weird), but it can totally be made in a lighter weight, knit loosely, for a more lacy looking lace shawl.
Like the other collection patterns, there is the fully patterned version (lace in all sections and panels), and a simple variation, with stockinette stitch in the main body, lace only around the edges and in the triangle wedges.
My simple variation sample is in fingering weight, the main color being 1 full skein of sock yarn, and the edging in a contrasting partial skein. The simple shawl can be made in any weight, any gauge, any size, and you can even customize the shape (making it more short and deep, or long and narrow, etc, as you like).
The fully patterned version is in a standard size, the size of the sample (pretty darn large), but the size is adjustable by working the main body section more or less to make it bigger or smaller, or by adjusting your gauge.
The yarn used in the main sample is Three Fates Yarns Themis BFL DK (which is labeled as DK weight, but appears as a worsted weight), 3 skeins in Orange Love Machine. I loved working with this yarn!
My simple variation sample is in Three Fates Yarns Terra Sock fingering weight, 1 full skein (460 yards / 420 meters) in Fremont, 1 partial skein (120 yards / 110 meters) in Netarts. Love these colors, especially that pop of the gorgeous contrasting edging color!
There are two different outer edging patterns, thinner and wider edges – either edge can be used in either shawl version, so you can choose depending on how much yardage you have or whether you want a bit of extra size. My simple sock weight has the wider edge, and my worsted weight has the thinner edge (which makes them actually about the same size, because of the gauge difference).
I have a feeling this orange shawl is going to get a ton of wear by me! It’s big enough that it can wrap around twice and tie for extra bundling as needed. (I don’t know what I’m doing in that photo, but I like it!)
And while my medium-sized sock yarn shawl is smaller, it’s still big enough to wrap around the neck nicely, or even to cover the shoulders a bit… you can make the simple version any size though, so you can easily make a GIANT one if that’s what you want!
The pattern pdf is kind of massive, but that’s because of all the variations and patterning – all the lace patterns are charted and written, there are tutorials for the provisional cast-on and the short rows, and there are detailed schematics and process photos. It has been heavily tested and edited, and you can see some beautiful other versions by my awesome test knitters on ravelry here. I especially love Lisa’s because it looks so different from mine, so delicate and lacy and PRETTY, not a normal leethal-style looking knit item! Kate’s is also worth pointing to – it really works in the colorful variegated yarn! Many thanks to all the fabulous knitters who helped me test and edit this lengthy pattern!!
So, Zulo finally concludes the long-term Betiko collection, which began in 2010! That’s when Betiko was first released* (originally as my first ever mystery knit-a-long), but then I didn’t decide to turn it into a collection until 2013, when I released Biratu, then Lerro last year, and now it is DONE. Let me tell you, it feels good for this to be crossed off my giant design to-do list!
And I am super happy and proud of the entire collection… which is really more like 8 patterns, pretending to be 4 patterns, since they all have two versions. I plan to never do patterns this complex again, and to never do a collection spread out like this again… but in the end, I’m glad I did this one, because I love all the patterns, even if they are a bit overwhelming at first glance. The great thing is, if you knit one of them, then you know how the construction works, and you can knit any of the other ones without needing to read most of the general construction-y info pages, since they all work the same way. And they’re not actually hard to make, they just have lots of versatility ;)
*In case you didn’t know – if you were an early buyer of Betiko before the collection began, you can use coupon code betikoknitter to get the collection with the $6 you spent on Betiko subtracted from the total.
Side story: Above is the first collection graphic I made a couple weeks ago, getting ready for the collection to be complete… then last week, when I completed the final sample, I posted the below photo on instagram. It got a record number of like clicks! Omg you guys were into this shot! So, I was inspired by your instagram enthusiasm and I made a brand new collection graphic, at the top of this blog post. And I love it! So glad that happened!
Oh, if you’re in Portland, these two shawls will be hanging out at the Three Fates Yarns trunk show at Happy Knits this Friday and Saturday for the Rose City Yarn Crawl! Check ‘em out! (I’ll also be around at a few shops throughout the weekend, so say hi if you see me! I’ll give you a postcard or button!)
Another side note… now that this collection is done, I have another very similar collection in the beginning stages – it will also be a small group of patterns all using the same construction, just like this one, except not with the two different versions for each pattern. Simplified. But fun. I’m really excited about it! Once I have things to show, I’ll be posting about it on instagram, twitter, and my ravelry group :)
And speaking of my ravelry group… it’s been real quiet in there lately, and that’s a bummer, so I’m going to make an effort to make things more fun over there! Which means, I’ll be posting more about what I’m doing, and announcements and stuff (the kinds of things I usually just post on twitter – since not everyone is on my preferred social media outlets, I’ll repost things from twitter and instagram in the group), and we can hopefully get some conversations going! Let’s all hang out together, leethal knitters!
Well I hope you like Zulo** – it’s a great knit for this transitional weather season, since it can be warm or not so much, depending on how you make it and how you wear it. Happy knitting everyone, whether you’re in this weird early spring here in the pacific northwest, or that brutal long winter over in the northeast, or wherever else in the world you might be!
**Betiko is a Basque name meaning eternal, as that shawl is forever customizable, and Zulo is a Basque word for hole (as in eyelet holes, in lace).
First things first, my knittas, there is a lot going on this week and TWO different days are calling for sales! My birthday is on Wednesday (Feb 11th), so I’ll have my traditional birthday sale, same as the last few years – but of course the percentage goes up each year!
Enter coupon code lees33 to get 33% off any of my patterns/ebooks on Wednesday Feb 11th – the sale runs midnight to midnight west coast time. (Through ravelry or my website.)
This is valid for all self-published patterns, ebooks, collections, including the Betiko Collection which will have the fourth pattern released later this month, and the price will raise then. (I’m so sorry I’m not able to offer this discount to knitters in the EU, I wish things were different! If you want a collection/ebook, email me at leemeredith at gmail and we can work something out to make it happen.)
And then 2 days later, it’s Galentine’s Day! Last year, I impulsively did a twitter Galentine’s giveaway thing – I’d just released a new pattern, so I tweeted that if you bought the new pattern, I’d gift a copy of it to your friend as a Galentine’s Day gift. That was a last-minute quickie thing, but then I loved the idea and held on to it for this year!
So, for Galentine’s Day on Friday (Feb 13th), for 12 hours, from 7am to 7pm US west coast time (10am to 10pm east coast) if you buy a pattern on ravelry for a gift for a friend (you must use the ravelry “send as a gift” option), then I’ll gift that same pattern to you! Ebooks/collections are eligible – gift any of my self-published patterns/ebooks to a friend, you’ll get the same thing for yourself. Then you can knit it together!
Again, this won’t work neatly for EU knitters, since you can’t “send as gift” through LoveKnitting, but we can make this work! If you’re in the EU, we can do it the other way around – you buy the pattern for yourself normally (in the time frame above), then send me a ravelry message or email (leemeredith at gmail) and tell me the username or email address of your Galentine friend, and I will gift it to them, and tell them it’s from you.
(I’m having a hard time finding photos with gal friends – I rarely take group photos when out with people. I more often take photos of things likefood or knitting when hanging with lady friends.)
What a week this is! Beside those two things later this week, this evening will be exactly 10 years since my first date with my now-husband. Our first date included a coffeeshop (Gypsy Den in Costa Mesa), dinner at Native Foods, and a weird orange county sports bar for drinks (I don’t know why; we didn’t know many places to go in that part of the world). There happens to be a new-ish location of Native Foods here in Portland (Clackamas, actually, but close to where we live), so we’re going there for dinner tonight, and then maybe to a weird bar afterwards for the memories :-p
It’s been an amazing 10 years, and I am so glad that I replied to a MySpace message from a guy I knew a little in college who wanted to go on a date. I told him something like “I don’t really date, but I’ll hang out with you” because I’d had a few bad date experiences, and in my introverted awkward mind I thought life would be easier if I didn’t define things as “dates” or something like that. So our first date wasn’t really a date, but it was a fun time talking for hours and hours. Our second date started with him surprising me when I got off work (I was a barista at a Border’s Cafe at this time in my unfocused life, after graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in art) on Valentine’s Day, with a couple of burned CDs of music we’d talked about and a homemade card (above), and I took him to my favorite pizza place, where I’d worked in high school, and then we awkwardly watched a movie at my parent’s house, where I was living at the time. I’m aware I’ve used the word awkward multiple times in this paragraph; it was an awkward time in my life.
Anyway, that was ten years ago; now we live in a city we love, in a great house we own together, with the best cat ever, and I’m self-employed doing what I love, and life is great!! Happy ten years together <3 All these photos here were taken within the first few months we were dating, in 2005.
They have illusion knit pentagrams and/or stars (your choice) on each hand…
…and eyes on the palms.
From the pattern:
The eye on your palm can have good or evil meanings.
Hold an eye outwards towards someone looking at you with malice, to ward off the evil eye – there are many cultures with beliefs about the evil eye, and with eye symbols meant to protect from it. Several cultures even combine hands with protective eyes, like the Hamsa hand symbol used throughout the Middle East and North Africa.
Or, hold your hands up to your eyes, palms out, to become disguised as Tenome, a creature from Japanese mythology with his eyes in his hands, or The Pale Man, a terrifying monster from Pan’s Labyrinth.
Or, for fans of specific shows, your palm eyes can turn you into the Seer from Once Upon a Time, or a Sister of the Sibylline from Doctor Who, if you wear your mitts on the wrong hands to put the eyes on the back sides.
Oh, and they also happen to be comfy, functional fingerless mitts for everyday wear! I’ve been wearing them a ton – the garter stitch and slip-stitch panels make them nice and cozy.
This pattern is designed for sport weight yarn, and includes four sizes, ranging from women’s small to men’s large. The other sample is the largest size, in Brown Sheep Lanaloft Sports yarn:
This is an intermediate level pattern – it’s not hard to knit, but there is a lot going on, and you’ll need to read your knitting and keep track of the different segments (be able to tell knits from purls, and see which part is the slip-stitch panel versus the illusion knit panel, etc). It’s worked in the round, all in one piece. The eyes are made with twisted and slipped stitches.
The illusion knitting is just knits and purls. I’d knit an illusion piece years ago, a piano scarf for Pete (pattern: Counterpoint Scarf by Jennifer Crawford), and it was fun and easy, but this was my first time designing with it. It was fun! Maybe there will be more of it in the future, if I come up with any other ideas…
I’m just finishing up putting Jonathan, Warren, and Andrew all together into an ebook, so if you buy the Dark Trio you’ll be able to download each individual pdf and/or the ebook with all three patterns (which will take up less memory than the 3 separate pdf files). This trio goes well as a set, if you want to be fully decked out with the scarf, hat, and mitts at the same time. (Unlike my othertrios, which include multiple neck items so they can’t be worn at the same time, unless you’re into that kind of layered look!) I should do a quickie photoshoot of us wearing all the items at the same time :-p
Now that this trio is complete, I’m on to finishing up other incomplete collections – first up will be the final shawl in the Betiko Collection, and then the second pattern in the Full Body Trio! After that, I’m planning a brand new mini-collection which I’m REALLY excited about, but I’m also really into those two upcoming designs, so lots to look forward to! This is a glimpse of a swatch of pattern ideas for the lace Betiko shawl:
A note to you blog readers: I’ll be raising the price of the Betiko Collection (both the full collection and the individual patterns – see all on ravelry here) after that final pattern is released in a couple weeks, since each pattern is actually like 2 complete patterns and they are so much more complex than most patterns. Prices will probably go up just a little, but for now you can still get all 4 patterns (which is really like 8 patterns) for $16 before it goes up. (And if you bought Betiko by itself at any point, from back before the collection was a thing, then you can use coupon code betikoknitter to get the $6 you paid off the price of the collection.) Just wanted to let you know!
Yes, the knit-a-long for this collection happened about 5 months ago, I know… there are reasons I waited so long to blog about it after it was over. The main reason was that once the KAL ended and the ebook was released digitally, it took awhile for me to make the print book version… and then I finished it and was so happy with it, but then I had second thoughts about how my Adventure Knitting collections were listed in the ravelry database (they had each been listed as a single pattern instead of as an ebook), so I went through a lengthy process to change that… And it was the holidays, blah blah blah, so now here I am, finally showing and telling you all about it!
Above left is the DIY book version that you can print & bind yourself if you have the ebook, and to the right is the print book, if you want it on your bookshelf but don’t want to DIY it. So, I said some things about this collection when first announcing the KAL, and then when I posted sometime in the middle of the KAL, so I’ll keep some things kind of basic here to not repeat too much.
The story is that you find a mysterious trunk. And you look inside…
Yeah, I made a video to go with the book, and my husband composed custom music for it. We are nerds; it was fun!
So, as you just saw in the video, inside the trunk you find yarn and needles…
…and a bunch of knitted items…
…and handwritten/drawn design notebooks and scraps of paper…
…and a bunch of cool fortune telling stuff!
That’s the trunk story – what you actually get in the ebook is the full story and patterns in ebook format (easy to read on a computer/tablet screen), plus the DIY book of the whole story and patterns, which you can print out and bind if you want to:
And you get printable pages of all the fortune telling stuff – everything you get is pictured below. So you can print everything out, then read the story and follow along when the story talks about the different items found. These all relate to the knitting patterns, by the way.
I talked in my last Adventure KAL post about the board, the fortune teller, and the divination cards, so you can see/read more about those there. The fourth item found was a numerology sheet.
And along with that, a second, smaller set of divination cards was found at the end, so that all the stitch patterns are represented on cards, as well as a blank fortune teller so you can fill in your favorite stitch patterns. So, in the end, there are 4 different fortune telling methods you can use to choose between all the stitch patterns.
The stitch patterns can be picked at random (or by asking the spirits!) using these items, or using just your favorite item out of the options. Or you can forget the whole randomizing aspect and choose your favorite stitch patterns to use.
The divination cards are all printed on the back cover of the print book, as you can see below (there are 2 stitch patterns per card, on top and bottom, for 12 cards total). Because all these things can’t be included physically with the print book, they are all downloadable on my website (at the bottom) – so if you buy the print book, you can download and print out some or all of the fortune telling items, as you like, to use with the pattern. If you want to print nothing, you can use the cards on the back cover by tossing a small object (like a loop of yarn) up over it and seeing where it lands.
So, that’s what you get, now onto the knitting! You can knit countless items with this pattern collection, as everything is mix&match-able, all any gauge, any size, 1 or more colors, etc…
The 24 stitch patterns are all designed to be used together, in any order. Many of them blend seamlessly from one to the next; some are more like stripes, cutting across the piece; several can be made with or without a contrasting color. All the patterns are both written and charted, and they use a variety of techniques, for different experience levels.
You can pick and choose what kinds you want to use and which ones you want to skip. There’s a page which groups the patterns into different categories, to help you choose if you don’t want total randomness. If you choose all lacy patterns, they will blend together in any random order, like you see below. And a lot of the not-lace patterns also blend like this.
Below is an example of a few blending-together type patterns in a solid color, with one of the 2-color patterns cutting through as a stripe, but it still all kind of connects together from each pattern to the next:
And here is a piece that used lots of the 2-color patterns, switching between a few different contrasting colors (all the same main color throughout) for a more colorful item:
And then there are the shapes – 6 different shape options, which make 10+ different item options.
First, the rectangle. A small rectangle in cotton makes a dishcloth; a long, narrow rectangle can make a scarf or cowl…
…and 2 rectangles sewn together can make a top. Instructions are included in the pattern for the top:
This one was made in a merino/linen blend, sport weight knit at a very loose gauge, as a layer garment.
There’s also an option called the “swatch-style basic rectangle” which is not on the bias, just a plain rectangle with no shaping. You can use this shape to try out some stitch pattern combos in a small dishcloth, or to make a more basic scarf or cowl.
The white piece above / at the right below (click to see it big) was my swatch of all 24 stitch patterns, in a row, making a short scarf.
Next shape is the triangle – this can be made small as a kerchief, or large as a shawl. The i-cords are optional, depending on what kind of item you’re making.
This is a small head kerchief in sock yarn (Anzula Squishy).
There are some ways you can make other kinds of triangles using other shape patterns – there’s a modifications section in the ebook which didn’t fit into the print book, so it’s available on my website.
The strip or loop shape can be used to make a scarf or a cowl, any size (width/length) you like.
This big, squooshy cowl was made with aran weight Quince & co Osprey (left over from my main Biratu sample).
The cowl gets seamed to join in a loop, on the bias. This sample used the purple as the main/only color for the first section, and then switched to grey as the main color, with purple contrasting stripes, through sections 2 and 3, giving it that purple triangle.
I made this experimental cowl below, trying out the idea of switching colors for every stitch pattern. I was not happy with the effect, it hides how the patterns work together and makes everything too busy, so I didn’t use this cowl as an official pattern sample. But, I still love it as an accessory to wear!
It’s a smaller cowl than the purple+grey one, perfect around the house size that doesn’t flop in my way a lot. It’s in Cascade Soft Spun, which is labeled as aran weight (I think it’s more on the light side of bulky).
Next is the bent strip shape. This one can be made more long and narrow as you see here, for a bent scarf, or it can be made super wide as a shawl.
This was made in sport weight yarn – Brown Sheet Lanaloft Sport.
Again, the i-cords are optional, so you can tie it into a cowl if you want to:
And then there are two shawl shapes – first the crescent:
It’s asymmetrical, worked from the top center outwards, so you can stop whenever you want, or when your yarn runs out. I used three colors as you see here, with no 2-color patterns, but it’s just like any other shape – you can use all 1 color, or 1 main color and contrasting color(s), or a self-striping yarn, etc.
Mine is in worsted weight, and I used three full skeins (down to the last inch! oh not quite though – I actually had to use a different yarn for the last inch), in all lacy patterns, and it’s HUGE and I LOVE it! The gold-green shade is Dream in Color Classy, the light grey is Fly Dyed 5 ply TLC english wool, and the blue is an unknown wool (from a craft swap or something years ago).
It wraps around twice and ties really nicely – that’s how I wear it most of the time:
The last shape is the polygon, which is like a giant blanket-style-shawl shape:
Mine is in bulky yarns – Brown Sheep Lanaloft Bulky and Patons Classic Wool Roving, and then Malabrigo Chunky for the one single 2-color pattern contrasting color.
Some knitters have made this shape in lighter yarns, and some have skipped the third section, for different looks – you can check them out on ravelry. Lots of options for all kinds of different items!
So that’s that! I took a ton of photos, having much fun with the mysterious trunk photoshoot – you can see them all on flickr here. And the book is filled with silly little drawings like these:
I am SO happy with this collection, and all the details, but honestly, I spent way too much time on it. 2015’s Adventure KAL will be simpler, fewer items, I just can’t afford that much time spent ;) I tell you this because I know it was a bit TOO much for some, too many options/items/etc, overwhelming for a lot of knitters… so this year’s (coming in the summer) will be not as crazy. More like the first Adventure Knitting collection, which had 4 items and 20 stitch patterns (still a lot, but not SO much).
If you have the book, I hope you have tons of mysterious fun with it – post your projects on ravelry so we can all see them! Happy adventure knitting!!
Warren is a hat that can be made as either the evil version…
…or the chaotic version.
Both versions with chaos arrows pointing outwards from the crown centers (inspired by the symbol of chaos):
The evil version is a large size – fitted on a large head, or slouchy on a smaller head. I designed it with metalhead guys (such as my husband) in mind, so it’s sized for a man, but not only does it still look good slouched on a lady head, but the pattern also includes detailed notes on adjusting the gauge to modify your size.
This version features satanic symbology around the hat body – this symbol to be exact – done in twisted stitches (written and charted).
The chaotic version has random-looking twisted stitch lines all messy around the bottom (also written and charted), and then a reverse stockinette stitch body up to the crown. The pattern gives instructions for working the body inside out as all knit stitches for easier knitting (if you’re not a purl person). This version is given in small and large sizes, again with notes for adjusting gauge to modify size.
The crown arrows are made with twisted stitches and decreases, and then a centered double decrease brings each arrow in symmetrically; the crown is also written and charted.
The hats are made with DK weight yarn – my chaotic sample is in gorgeous Hazel Knits Lively DK, Low Tide colorway, and the evil sample is in Berroco Vintage DK, Douglas Fir colorway, which is perfect for gift hats since it’s machine washable and dryable. (Unlike a lot of my patterns, this isn’t an any-gauge pattern; it’s meant to use DK, or to use sport or light worsted weights for modified sizes.)
As you can guess, I designed this hat with my metalhead loved one in mind, but it’s also a good hat for fans of horror genre stuff, and shows like Supernatural, Buffy, etc… I imagine there are probably lots of people who’d like satanic symbols on their heads, right? There’s Pete doing his best sulky metalhead pose…
This pattern can be purchased by itself (on leethalknits or ravelry), or in the Dark Trio collection* (on ravelry here) – right now that will get you Warren and Jonathan the goat scarf, and the third pattern, Andrew, will be released and delivered to your inbox in a couple weeks!
As usual, many thanks to my awesome test knitters – you can see a few of their versions on ravelry. If you make a Warren hat, be sure to post photos on ravelry so we can all check it out! :) Happy evil knitting!
*A note to EU knitters: I’m sorry that because of the VATMESS horribleness I don’t have a way to sell you the trio collection right now, just solo patterns. Hopefully something will be sorted out soon to make ebooks work through loveknitting (how single patterns get to you, in order for taxes to be paid to each country), or something else… for now, I can try to work out manual collection prices for you somehow, if you email me, like if you buy all three patterns of a trio individually, I can partially refund the extra cost (which might need to have a chunk taken out, for tax/fees). I haven’t planned anything out like this since I’m really hoping it’s not a long-term thing that I’ll need to deal with. Anyway, that’s that, single patterns should work fine, but not the trios (or any other collections), for now.
I was a big fan of Talitha’s work on The Fiber Factor back in 2013; I LOVE her winning design for the first challenge – Nigamo – and I was way into her whole style and way of designing for all the challenges.
So, of course I also love her design approach for her new book. For each design, there are two different versions, knit differently, and/or sized, finished, or styled differently, making each design into a rocker style and a boho style.
There are several designs in this collection that I like a lot; today I’ll be showing you the Osci hat:
Talitha turns a very simple twisted rib hat design into two totally different looking cool pleated hats, the fitted boho version and the slouchy rocker version.
The pattern includes five different sizes, and the boho and rocker versions are made in different heights, with different numbers of pleats. So not only are there the standard boho and rocker styles, but you could also play with the sizes to get an even more custom style; for example, a medium sized rocker hat vs an extra large size (for extra mega slouch) would make for more different looks. You know how I love options!
Aaaand they are giving away one copy of the pattern to a lucky commenter! Comment on this post about the pattern – which version do you like best, boho or rocker? I’ll choose a winner at random on Friday the 16th at noon (west coast time). Also, on Friday, check in with Classic Elite’s blog – one commenter over there will win the grand prize: a free printed book (+ the ebook download) and the yarn to knit the project of their choice from the book!
Happy 2015! Do you feel like now we’re officially in the future? I do. 2015. Damn. Anyway, I have some things to share with you and tell you about! I’ll start with the older news… In late December, the 4 days after Christmas, I released a free pattern via social media. (Here it is on ravelry.)
The bulky weight Insta-hat pattern was posted in 4 mystery parts, on instagram and tumblr (and linked from twitter and my ravelry group). It was like a quick mini-mystery-knit-a-long for after holiday knitting stress times, and I think everyone had a lot of fun! Yay!
There’s the finished hat – I made 4 samples because they were SO quick to make! And I topped one with a pom-pom; the extra-long sized version works well both long and slouchy, and with the brim folded under for extra ear warmth. This one was made with this recycled hand-dyed yarn I made many years ago.
Last year’s post about my first calendar talks in more detail about the calendar in general. This year’s is all photos of knitting on the needles. And there’s a blank one that you can download to use with your own square-format photos.
Kim also released an ebook about Year of Making, which I bought and it’s great (like everything Kim makes!), so I recommend that for some making inspiration. Check out the table of contents page down below to get an idea of what’s in the ebook…
So, I decided to get on board for 2015, but loosely… I won’t be posting a photo of what I make every day on instagram, but I will try to put photos of each day’s making up in this flickr set. I’ll instagram the good stuff, and I’ll probably put up some tumblr posts of bigger projects here and there. I’ll just see where the year takes me!
Something I love about Kim’s experience with her first year of making is how she ended up getting really into making things she had never done before, like making soap, and painting. I don’t have plans to learn any big new kinds of making, but I do want to get more into sewing this year, and maybe more drawing, and more spinning, and I’ll just see if anything else calls out to me! (Above and below are pages from Kim’s ebook.)
As for my “rules” for myself, for what I’ll count as a #yearofmaking thing… like I said, I plan to be very loose, not strict at all, so missing days is fine – when I’ve done year-long project things like this in the past, I tend to get stressed out about it as the year goes on, and I don’t want this to cause any kind of extra stress in my life. I usually do some kind of making every day for my job, knitting on a design project, etc, so I mostly won’t count work-related making in this, although sometimes I might, depending on the specifics.
An allowance I’m going to give myself is that house projects can count as the making for the day; if I spend a chunk of time working on cleaning up my studio (which relates to being able to use the space for future making), or if I do some kind of house organizational/decor thing, which might not necessarily be “making” exactly, that counts for me. I had a sort-of-resolution last year to get my studio in order, and it had ups and downs throughout the first half of the year, and then it just got out of control and ended 2014 worse than how it started. So, studio sorting will be a not-so-fun year of making project for the beginning of this year, so that I’ll have the space I need to do sewing projects and fun stuff like that!
Another of my first projects, which I plan to start today, is to make a 2015 planner – I want to be more organized about my work this year, release more patterns, give myself deadlines, stay on track, so I’m going to experiment with an analog paper calendar book. I bought a plain spiral-bound notebook, and Pete’s uncle gave me this great set of nice colored pencils for Christmas (thanks, Terry!), so I’m going to get to work drawing out monthly and weekly calendar pages. Then I’ll plan my year of design, and it’ll be there on paper, much harder to move around than iCal fake-deadlines, which I always end up bumping as designs take longer than they should!
One other random, making-related thing I want to show you… I made some photo books and I’m really happy with how they turned out, so I plan to make more! I wanted some kind of print versions of all the digital photos we’ve taken over the years, on trips and stuff, and I thought it would be fun to make these books instead of just making old fashioned albums :-p
I put the best of Pete’s and my instagram photos into yearly insta photo books; I’m going to start the 2014 edition soon. The insta books include captions for the photos, so in the future we can look back at what we did each year. And then the other 2 are photo books of trips we took, no captions or anything, just a physical book we can have on the shelf. Now that I’ve made a few and I have templates, I can make more pretty easily, of older trips, and future ones! (I used iWork Pages, same as how I make my knitting patterns, to make the PDFs, and then I had them printed by MagCloud, which does very affordable paperback book printing, as long as the page count isn’t too high, since the price is per-page.)
Okay that’s some making, and plans for 2015 making. The first week of the year has been a little off, but I’m hoping it’s going to be a good one! Let’s go!
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!
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.
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!
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-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
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!
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:
While it’s in there, put on your gloves and get your scissors ready…
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!
So, take it out, and immediately make your cut, to form your hole for the yarn to go through.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Here’s that finished bowl in action!
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:
So that’s it, so easy and quick! Now here are a bunch that I’ve made!
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 (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!!
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!
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!
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!
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.
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 ;)
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.
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…
…which are solid color handspun for the main yarn:
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:
(That’s a recycled hand-dyed yarn, which slowly changes colors from orange to red.)
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:
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!
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.
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.
The pattern includes full instructions for all techniques used (cast-ons, bind-offs, sideways edge techniques, cables), and process photos to help you along.
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!!
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!!