January 28, 2009

vortex! and a journey through my design process…

vortex, no-point

surprise! the secret pattern i thought i’d get to share with you when the spring knitty went up in march just got released today as a surprise in the winter issue!  so exciting!

vortex with point

there are two different versions – with a point, and without (although the no-point version does have a little bit of a peak).  each version includes adult and child sizes.  (my first time designing a child size hat – i’d love feedback from anyone who knits this for their kid!)

vortex with point vortex, no-point

so, i wanted to take you on a kind of journey through my design process that led to vortex.  i originally started designing the hat over a year ago!  i wanted to submit a design for the spring ’08 knitty, but couldn’t finish it in time.  since i didn’t want to submit a wool hat for the summer issue, i used the extra time i had to keep re-designing until i got it just perfect, and submitted it for fall ’08, and now you finally get to see it in winter, which is good because i think of it as a winter design more than any other season.

vortex, no-point

when i first starting designing, i knew i wanted to make something involving aspects of my spiraling stripes hats, but crazier and more complex.  and i knew i wanted to design with noro, because, at the time, i had never even knit with noro, and i had seen so many gorgeous noro project on ravelry that i knew i could do something great with it.  i worked out a concept, with a ziggy-zagging brim, swirling colors, and a roomier shape, and ended up with this:

pre-vortex hat #1

pre-vortex hat #1 pre-vortex hat #1

way too big – it could be worn as a beret-style hat, but that wasn’t what i was going for.  so i ripped out a section to bring it in, resulting in this:

pre-vortex hat #1 reshaped

pre-vortex hat #1 reshaped pre-vortex hat #1 reshaped

i liked it, a lot, but… i needed to take it further.  i decided a few things: i wanted to stripe between two noro colorways to bring out the design, and i wanted a bigger point!  and the brim wasn’t quite right, something needed to change there…  so this was my second version:

pre-vortex hat #2

pre-vortex hat #2 pre-vortex hat #2

i loved it! but still, it needed some changes.  first of all, if you’re gonna have a hat with a swirling point, why not make it a serious point?!  and then the brim… that subtle wave was nice, but i wanted more.  and then the method of increasing made for all those bumps; something needed to be done about that.  so my next redesign ended up being my final pointed version!

vortex with point

big fat wavy brim, huge point, no more increase bumps, perfect! well, perfect for me… i knew it wouldn’t be for everyone, and i wanted to make more people happy, so i’d need to make a no-point version.  my first attempt at that re-design resulted in a major failure!

pre-vortex "no-point" version pre-vortex "no-point" version

not only did it still have a little point, but it was waaaay too small! so, that one got frogged, and i managed to get it right on the next try…

kid size vortex from top adult and kid size vortex hats

that’s the kid’s size next to the adult size.  success!  so, that was how vortex came to be.  i thought this journey might be helpful to any aspiring designers who get frustrated when an idea doesn’t work on the first (or second, or third, or fourth) try!  just keep at it!!

here’s another example of the no-point version, knit with my recycled hand-dyed self-striping yarn for a pretty different look:

hand-dyed vortex

hand-dyed vortex hand-dyed vortex

oh and a question… any interest in the patterns for the older versions? that first non-striping one, and/or the first striping version with the smaller point?  i have the patterns all written up, so i was thinking about posting them here in case anyone’s interested, probably after vortex goes into the knitty archives in march.  just let me know.

anyway, i hope you like the pattern!  now i need to go get all these hats into ravelry!

Filed under: hats,knitting — leethal @ 4:35 pm

January 24, 2009

winter sickness, go away! i’m done with you!

well well well it’s been awhile. sorry about that.  so that cold i had around the holidays left, i was all healthy, then ten days ago i got hit with a fever and a whole different crappy cold that still hasn’t left completely.  i spent about six days on the couch with the energy to do nothing more than knit.  so, i did a lot of knitting, but yeah, i have a lot of catching up to do.  with no energy to blog for all that time, and with nothing really to blog about, i’m back now but without much to say.  i have a bunch of projects now in the works, but not ready to talk about yet.  i’ll give you one photo sneak peek at a future knitting pattern-type-thing (yes, it will be a pattern, but oh so much more!)…

fullhousehat01 fullhousehat02

i’m also knitting a personal project for myself from someone else’s pattern (which is a rarity) – a bonnet using this handspun yarn (trying to modify it to be me-sized, hoping it works!)…


during my sick days, i also finished up this hat, which starts out with a 100% recycled spun art yarn i made awhile back (1 strand recycled wool, 1 strand recycled alpaca blend, 2 strands of secondhand thread, fabric scraps, and recycled/vintage/secondhand buttons and beads) and then i used up the rest of my “happy” handspun (one of the first yarns i ever spun), and a tiny ball of navajo plied i spun up to try out the technique, and then some leftover handspun single from one of my first yarns…

recycled handspun hat recycled handspun hat

so those are some highlights of the knitting i did.  something else fun i did while couch-ridden – i uploaded about 300 old photos from 2004 and 2005 to flickr!  the ’04 set is mostly silly shots of old college friends, but the ’05 set is filled with fun film play and all kinds of experimental stuff.  some of the shots are in my photo portfolio website, which hasn’t been updated in forever (on the to-do list!).  here are a few that aren’t…

120treesgreen 120zooplants 120fair06


shortstopstrip fairbwroll01 zoobwcactus photoboothstrip1 holgaxprocessedbb1

p033 p038


sd06 holgapigeon af02

ok that’s enough of those.  let’s see, what else?  oh, yeah, last night i found out it was pie day, so i made a pie!

apples pie top

it was my first pie ever, and i messed up on a few big things, but it still turned out great!  i forgot to peel the apples (don’t know how that happened!) and i didn’t have enough sour cream, but it didn’t seem to matter much.  soooo yummy!  so, now i’m gonna try to make more pies, now that i know i can! the recipe i used was from the posie gets cozy blog: sour cream apple pie:

whole pie

oh also, i’ve been spinning a lot the last few days! there’s a specific reason for it, which is to be announced later, but the awesome thing is that it’s gotten me hooked back into spinning! so, hopefully i’ll be adding some new yarns to the shop in the next few weeks, yarny yarny yarnyarn!

ooooh it’s snowing!  it’s pretty as long as it doesn’t stick….

Filed under: hats,knitting,personal,photos,recipes,yarn — leethal @ 9:59 pm

January 14, 2009

belated 2008 recap!

2008 was a huge year for me!  i quit my day job, lucked out with several dream-come-true crafty jobs, got engaged, got a kitten, made some amazing friends, really settled into my new portland home.

so i put together a massive flickr mosaic (divided into 3 images) of my favorite things i made throughout the year, in semi-chronological order.  i limited it to things i made (so no garbanzo shots, haircut, ring, etc) and it’s not even close to everything i made, just an assortment of significant items – things i loved making, things with some kind of special meaning or connection to events of the year, samples of a craft i got really into, you get the idea.  click over to the flickr image for links to each individual photo.

2008 #1

2008 #2

2008 #3

so i’ll leave 2008 at that – it was a great year!  as for 2009, it’s off to a pretty darn good start so far.  i have some super exciting things coming out in february and march, i’m continuing to blog for craftstylish and threadbanger, i have some secret projects in the works that could be unbelievably awesome, i’m designing several knit things that i wish didn’t take so long because i can’t wait to show them to you……  yeah, i am seriously excited about everything happening this year!

and i have a list of things i want to do this year (resolutions i suppose, but i don’t like to call them that).  i’m going to list them here because that may better motivate me to do them!

  • issue #2 of do stuff!
  • natural dyeing
  • more spinning, get better
  • shoot more film and start developing it again
  • get photos displayed around portland
  • organize studio and keep it that way
  • get better at the bookkeeping/business part of freelancing

so there’s my new year post, a little late, like most things in my life these days!  welcome to any new readers who may have found me through the scarf pattern or bad movie bingo.  hope you stick around!  i don’t blog super frequently, but i try for quality over quantity, for the most part.  anything you want to see more of this year?  let me know!

oh, and one more thing, if i were to be sent a coraline box, i would definitely blog about it, wink wink nudge nudge!

Filed under: general crafts,personal,photos — leethal @ 2:15 am

January 8, 2009

free pattern: waving chevron scarf!

wavingchevronscarf03 wavingchevronscarf02 wavingchevronscarf16

this one has been in the works for quite some time, i’m so happy to release it!  super simple, it’s a basic garter stitch scarf with some increases and decreases forming the waving shape and chevron point, and 3-color striping to make it pop!

wavingchevronscarf14 wavingchevronscarf01 wavingchevronscarf13

this sample uses 3 shades of malabrigo worsted merino and size us 10 1/2 needles, but the pattern is written for any yarn weight, needle size, gauge – you just cast on as many stitches as you want for the width and knit until it’s long enough.  i can’t wait to see some knit up it super bulky or super fine yarns for a totally different look!

wavingchevronscarf10 wavingchevronscarf07

of course, you can also modify the striping pattern – try a self-striping or variegated yarn, or use a single solid for a simpler scarf, or try big color chunks instead of 1-row stripes.  the only thing i wouldn’t recommend is 2-row stripes because that will create a defined right side and wrong side, which i made sure to avoid in designing the scarf.  by striping between 3 colors, 1 row each, you get completely equal sides on your scarf.

wavingchevronscarf11 wavingchevronscarf12

because of the wavy shape, this scarf is actually really comfortable (and cute, i think) as a headband!  as a blindfold, it’s just silly, but the malabrigo is so soft, i wanted to be wrapped in it!  (photoshoots are fun!)

scrap scarf wavyscarf.jpg

those are my first two versions – the one on the right was my original construction of the design concept.  stockinette stitch and 2-row stripes made for a clear right and wrong side, no good, plus curling.  it also uses k3tog decreases instead of sk2p, causing holes along the chevron point (not visible in that shot, but they’re there).  so, i did some rewriting, and started knitting the one on the left with scrap yarn.  that’s the exact pattern i ended up with, but once i decided it was right, i put that one aside and knit it in the malabrigo for the pattern sample.

if you want to make a leftover scrap-busting scarf, gather all your tiny balls (5-20ish yards is fine) and knit the pattern exactly as it’s written, striping 3 colors at a time, switching to a new ball every time one runs out.  i love how it’s looking!


as for getting your hands on this free pattern pdf, it’s on my patterns + yarn page, along with all my other patterns of course, and it’s on ravelry here.  you can click here to download it directly from ravelry (no need to be a member, but you should be!) but be sure to check out my other patterns if you haven’t already!

and, since this is a free one, here it is right here on the blog in case you prefer it that way!

When switching between 3 yarns, just carry each color loosely along the edges.  You’ll be knitting with one yarn, while the other two each hang from the two sides.  At the beginning of each row, bring the new yarn over the old, always the same way for a neat edge.  Be sure to untangle your yarn balls every couple of rows or you’ll end up with a huge mess!


y = yarn (or color)
kfb = knit front and back (increases 1)
pm = place marker
sk2p = slip a stitch, knit 2 together, pass the slipped stitch over (decreases 2)
k = knit

Here’s the pattern:

(y1):  cast-on (example scarf is 26 stitches)

row 1 (y2): kfb, pm, sk2p, k to last 1, kfb
row 2 (y3): knit all
row 3 (y1): kfb, k to marker, sk2p, k to last 1, kfb

Repeat rows 2 and 3, switching yarn with every row so you will rotate y1, y2, y3, y1, y2, y3.

Repeat until there are no stitches between the sk2p and the last stitch (kfb).  That’s one section, now you’ll bring the chevron back over to the other side by switching the odd and even rows.  So, starting with that last pattern row, this is what you’ll do:

(odd row): kfb, k to marker, sk2p, kfb
(even row): knit all, removing the marker
(odd): knit all

Now start back at row 1 of the pattern (but ignore the y#, just keep rotating 1,2,3,1,2,3).

Keep repeating the whole thing, so the chevron waves from one side to the other, until the scarf is as long as you want (the sample scarf has 8 sections). Finish at the end of a section – knit the row in which you remove the stitch marker, then bind off the following row.

Weave in the ends, and block as needed.  I lightly wet blocked the sample by spraying it with water and laying it flat on a towel overnight.

i can’t wait to see your versions!!

Filed under: knitting,tutorials — leethal @ 4:08 pm

January 2, 2009

holiday adventures, 2008

ok this is going to be a mostly personal post, but there are a few craft projects thrown in to keep it fun.  these last couple of weeks have been totally nutso, so i have quite a bit to catch up on.  i’ll try to speed through stuff, but there’s a lot i wanted to share, so i’m sure this will be a pretty long post…  here i go…

so i left portland on dec. 17th – this is what the city looked like on the way to the airport that day:

12/17 snowy streets

it had been snowing off and on since sunday the 14th, but was scheduled to stop soon…  so off i went to southern california to hang with my family in the sun and a little not-too-cold rain.  i took some neat photos out the plane window above the storm clouds…

above the oregon clouds above the oregon clouds

oh yeah and i was sick.  just barely starting to get a cold, i could feel it in my throat.  well, at the house, my mom and brother ben (who is temporarily living there) were both sick, so as soon as i joined them it hit me full force.  i spent that thursday, friday, saturday on the couch with my mom and lots of kleenex doing pretty much nothing.  feeling too crappy to knit sucks hardcore.  by sunday i was much better, but it never left completely, still – it’s the neverending cold!  not cool.

on sunday we got my brother paul from riverside and brought him home.  then on monday spud died.  it was extremely sad, but we all knew he was crazy super old and shouldn’t have even lived as long as he did.  he had a super happy life and was the sweetest dog ever, and i’m really thankful i got to see him and i did a little photoshoot with him 2 days earlier…

spud06 spud03

then what happened was that everyone kind of decided to not be too sad about it because we are never all home together and we wanted to enjoy our time together, so we went on with our holiday days and had a super good time.  matt (3rd brother) came home from la on tuesday evening, so all 4 of us kids were at the house together for almost 2 whole days – we hadn’t been together for more than just dinner since probably the xmas before i moved to portland, and even that was less than a full day.  so it was awesome.  we stayed up crazy super late watching bad movies and being silly.  i wish my whole family would just move up here, then i wouldn’t have to miss them so much!

the highlight of the whole time was that we crafted together!!  it was so unexpected!  when paul came home on sunday, he mentioned something about wanting a shirt that said something, and i said something like, i could show you how to make one, not thinking he would actually want to.  but he did!  and so did ben, and they kept bringing it up!  so on tuesday night when matt came home, we bought some shirts and freezer paper and they got working on their designs.  all three of them made superrad shirts and were so into it, they made more after i left and took freezer paper with them to make more!

matt + paul carving

that’s matt and paul hard at work carving their stencils.  and these are their designs… ben did a mos def cd cover that he sketched into a stencil, and then he added his blog name to the side later; matt did t-rex from dinosaur comics; and paul did the positive and negative versions of ride a bike:

bensshirt matt's shirt

paulsshirt paulssecondshirt

as soon as the shirts were dry, they had to model…


they are beyond silly.  that one below on the right is their 90’s band pose, or something…

boysinshirts22 boysinshirts18

if you want to laugh at them (or with them), there are tons more shots on my flickr.   moving on… some other crafty things – i made mitts for both my mom and matt, but different kinds.  recycled sweater ninja mitts for my mom, with hand-dyed yarn stitching, and binary-printed oven mitts for matt, a computer nerd who likes to bake bread.  (i didn’t make the oven mitts, just printed them.)

mom's mitts binary oven mitts

and speaking of gifts, i sure got some awesome ones!  i’m so lucky to have such amazing loved ones!  i finally have a couple elizabeth zimmerman books (i was horrible not to have already had them, i know!) and i’m so excited about every single book i got, i love books!  some of these (hookorama, diy screenprinting, diy: the rise of lo-fi culture, and the slingshot) were gotten with xmas money from in other words on ne killingsworth – we all went there to shop because i’d read they need some extra support right now.  it’s an amazing store, i definitely recommend checking it out and buying lots of stuff there!  they are the last surviving non-profit feminist bookstore in the country, so we need to help them continue to survive!  i also got a superrad camera wallet, and pete’s parents and uncle all found great stuff too!

xmas gifts - fiber arts xmas gifts - diy-y

and i/we got some great cooking stuff, since we’re getting more good veggies and trying to cook/eat healthier and stuff, and i guess we’ve been mentioning it to everyone.  my parents and grandma gave us the veganomicon (yay!!) and a new (huge) frying pan and spoon/spatula set, and pete’s family gave us a veggie chopper thing (so awesome!), measuring cup/spoon set, cutting boards, and a personalized signed copy of vegan a go-go!

xmas gifts - cooking

and then to finish my holiday adventures story, as you know if you live in portland, i got back on xmas day to this:

12/26 snowy streets

well that was the next day, since i got back after dark.  i got into the airport around 8, so because of the driving conditions, we had xmas dinner with pete’s family at the airport!  it was surprisingly great – we ate at stanford’s, where i got a homemade veggie burger with smoked gouda and roasted veggies, probably the best veggie burger i’ve ever had!  oh and, my family had our xmas dinner on xmas eve since i was leaving the next day (our traditional spaghetti dinner) so the airport dinner didn’t really feel like it was xmas.

12/26 snowy streets 12/26 snowy streets

then the next day was kind of supposed to be our xmas day with pete’s family, but we ended up driving around for most of the day in snow traffic in search of a shovel (which were sold out everywhere, of course) so we could park in front of our apartment.  it was quite a day.  but once that part was over, we finally got inside and opened presents, and had a third holiday dinner, this one made by pete and me!  pizza with mac n cheese, hashbrowns, and cashews, bean and cheese taquitos, and couscous with veggies!  our kind of dinner!!

pete’s parents stayed in town until the 31st, and took us out to amazing portland breakfasts every morning!  portland is such a breakfast town, and we rarely go out ourselves because we’re not morning people, so it was a fabulous holiday gift to be taken out to all our favorite spots!  in case you’re curious, we ate breakfast at: old wives tales (e burnside), jam (se hawthorne), vita cafe (ne alberta), cricket cafe (se belmont), and juniors (se 12th).  i highly recommend every one of them!  i discovered that my new favorite thing is a scramble with hashbrowns, veggie sausage, and veggie gravy.

oh and then, to finish the whole holiday season, new years eve was super fun.  star came over and we played bad movie bingo and drank hot buttered rum and girly juice cocktails with orange vodka.  we played to sisterhood of the traveling pants, which was definitely bad, but not quite ideal for bingo and way too long; and crank, which was, hmmmm, yeah probably the worst movie ever.  the role of women in this movie was to decorate a poolside, sit inside balls and act as ornaments in a fancy hotel, and start to be raped on the sidewalk but then decide it’s hot and be into it.  great for bingo though!  anti-feminism was marked on the bingo card like negative minutes into it.

then on new years day pete and i watched the entire second season of 30 rock!  spread throughout the day, of course, mixed up with some scrabble.  30 rock is so good. so good. i can’t even express. i love it so much.

so that was my rollercoaster ride of a holiday.  now that i’m all up to date here, i’ll be bringing you some fun project posts and other good stuff soon, hopefully.  i have so much catching up to do!  happy new year!!

Filed under: books,personal,photos,portland stuff,printing — leethal @ 9:06 pm
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