Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Too Cute Heart Sweater

I know I'm bias, but I think my niece is super duper cute. I also LOVE this sweater. Yes, it's my pattern, but I still think it's one of the cutest things I've ever seen. And in case anyone is wondering I had sketched this idea long before all the heart sweaters started cropping up at department stores.

This is a new pattern I'm working on for Knit Picks IDP. The pattern is now in the testing phase, so if you're interested here's the link.

This past weekend Brian, Suzie and I took our nephews and niece to Hillridge Farms. They have a huge barn full of hay where the boys spent over an hour throwing themselves/each other into the hay. Our niece was so overwhelmed with exciting things to do she struggled to decide which one she wanted to do first. It was a little chilly and overcast, but it was perfect weather for us to try out the new sweater, and for me to get a few pictures.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Display your hand knits!

Maybe this is just me, but I tend to let most of my knit items sit in a bag in my closet. Some of them don't fit me, because they are sample size 32" bust (which I am not!) and others are just shawls that I don't wear, or only wear very occasionally, and a couple I have never worn for whatever reason. Anyways, with the exception of Brian's bookshelf of comics our 'dining room' is my office. I spend a lot of time sitting on the floor in front of the coffee table even though we have a couch, and I have a desk, I do spend at least half of my work time at my desk. So what better to inspire me than some knitting right? I saw a branch on Pinterest as a clothing rack, and we did it at the yarn shop, and I decided I wanted one at home too!

I found the perfect branch while walking around the lake near our apartment. We were dog sitting for my in-laws and I left the branch there, and well, it got thrown out. I guess it's fair to say that I understand why a random branch on the porch could be seen as trash. So when Brian and I were walking around the lake again a couple weeks ago I was on the search for an even more perfect branch. This time we decided we wanted one so long that you could see it from the front door. Now you can see just the empty half of the branch on one side, and the whole branch with samples from inside the dining room/office. But why all this jabbering, I should just show you a picture!

The first picture is from the dining room, and the second from the kitchen side. The photos are terrible, I know, we don't have great lighting, these were taken and night, and now you know why I don't do my own pattern photography!

But what about hats and mittens? Oh, I made a 'clothesline' out of waste yarn and pushpins, and then got some clothespins at the dollar store. Whabam! 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

WIP Wednesday: Feather and Fan Scarf

I actually finished two projects this week, and I'll show pictures of those later. Here's one of my WIPs, a feather and fan scarf made with Louet Gems in sport weight. Did you know that MadelineTosh uses Louet for all of their bases? I heard EllaRae does too. I really like this yarn, and I like the mustard color too. Right now the scarf looks a bit like a wrinkled mess, but I know it's going to be lovely once it's blocked. Now I just have to finish knitting the darn thing.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Fiddle Knits Designs: The Mythos Collection

I'm really excited today to be talking about The Mythos Collection from Fiddle Knits Designs. The Mythos Collection features 7 shawl patterns that are all inspired by myths and gods. Each shawl has a different construction. The e-book has lots of photos and each pattern has written AND charted direction. My personal favorite is the Allure shawl below.

I also had the chance to ask Erica Jackofsky, the designer of Fiddle Knits Designs, a few questions related and unrelated to knitting. 

MC: This collection is inspired by myths and gods, what made you choose this theme?

EJ: I've been interested in mythology for as long as I can remember. I'm honestly not sure where or why I developed the fascination. Over the years I've studied mythology on my own, taken college courses in it, listened to various lectures via the Great Courses and iTunes U, and watched whatever movies and documentaries I could get my hands on. Every so often I'm struck with the urge to go back and review the myths and legends. One of these times I was knitting as I was listening to a lecture and I decided it would be a fun idea to combine these two of my interests along with a new found love of dyeing yarn.

MC: You use a lot of different construction styles in this collection, top down, bottom up, side to side, do you have a favorite shawl construction? 

EJ: My favorite is whatever I happen to be using at the moment. I'm very fickle like that. I'll be working on a sideways shawlette and think, this is awesome! It goes so fast. I'm only working shawls like this." And then when that's over and I move on to the next one it happens again. I guess this is a good thing because I stay happy with whichever project is in the works. From a design standpoint all the construction methods have their perks. It's easier to plan yardage for a top down or sideways shawl than it is for a bottom up. However, bottom up constructions have more possibilities for border patterns (in my opinion).

MC: How did you begin designing? Do you have any words of wisdom, or caution, to others who want to design knitting patterns?

EJ: I started designing because I have this mental block about following patterns myself. Go figure. Any time I followed a pattern I'd alter it so much into what I wanted that I decided it was time to just learn how to build designs myself from the ground up.

Words of caution I'd say if you want to turn designing into a what you do for a living than be careful what you wish for. It becomes really hard sometimes to have your primary source of income also be what you like to do as a hobby. I don't have time to knit anything that's not a pattern I'm working on to publish. Also, you do a lot less actual knitting than you might expect. Knitwear design isn't just sitting around writing down patterns and knitting all day with your favorite podcasts going. Mostly it's website building/maintenance, paperwork for the business end of things (like sales tax, contracts, and such), writing proposals, writing emails to knitters with questions or people you're working with, taking photos and photo editing. If I get to end my knit with an hour or two of knitting I'm thrilled!

If designing is something you want to try, either for yourself or professionally, I'd recommend purchasing lots of stitch dictionaries and books on techniques. The Knitters Book of Finishing Techniques and Cast On, Bind Off. Are both great. Also, join the designers groups on Ravelry.

MC:  What's your guilty pleasure? 

EJ: I like to watch braincell killing mind candy TV shows/movies when I'm deadline knitting!

MC: Ok, one more, what are your top 3 junk TV shows to watch when you're on a deadline? I personally love to watch marathons, yesterday I watched a LA Ink marathon while panic knitting/frogging a sweater. 

EJ: My 3 most favorite series I've ever knit to are all of the Stargate series (aliens and mythology references, what could be better?!), Battlestar Galactica, and Legend of the Seeker. I go back to those every so often.  My current true guilty pleasure shows have been back seasons of Project Runway, Ugly Betty, and at the moment, Once Upon a Time

Friday, October 12, 2012

I posted photos of this shawl back in July. I made it with Swans Island Organic Merino Fingering, an amazingly soft and squishy yarn in lovely colors as a shop sample for Warm 'N Fuzzy for my design your own shawl class. Well, the shawl itself has gotten a lot of interest while hanging in the shop, and so I'm finally going to write and publish the pattern. The shawl is off in the mail to Katy to be properly photographed (you'll see from the evidence below that I'm a terrible photographer) and this pattern is ready to be test knit! If you'd like to test knit this for me, I'm doing it in the Free Pattern Testers Group on Ravelry.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Lola's Lace Shawl

I posted photos of this shawl a while back. Well, I've finally published the pattern! Lola's Lace Shawl is currently available only to email subscribers. Feel left out? Want to join in on the fun? Well here's what you missed: October Newsletter: Free Exclusive Pattern and New Patterns from Mari Knits.

Don't forget to sign up for the newsletter so you don't miss out on anything!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

New Pattern: Two Hands Make A Heart

I met Mira from Baah! Yarns the first time I attended TNNA in January 2012. She is super friendly and  I absolutely adore her beautiful yarns! The first pattern I designed with her yarn was the Katy & Kevin Cowl. Then I had an idea for these mittens, and I had enough yarn left over from the cowl to make the first pair of mittens. This was way back in February. I submitted the pattern to Knitty for First Fall, and I was (obviously) rejected. I was heartbroken. I believe these mittens to be adorable and clever, and I've never seen anything quite like them before. I thought that for sure they would be accepted, but from heartbreak comes inspiration! I've knit a second pair with the same idea of an image that wraps around the edge of the hands, and these heart mittens are just the first in a series of three! The image charts will be the same size for all three of the mittens/mitt/gloves so that you can use any chart with your preferred glove style! The rest are still in the workshop, but I'm so excited to publish the first today! So, without further ado: Two Hands Make A Heart.

As always thanks to the amazing Katy Doyle for the photos!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Yarn: Not just for knitting!

I have always had a love for crafts. Ever since I was a teenager I have loved decorating my walls. I painted a mural in my bedroom when I was 15. It started with me drawing on the wall with pencil. My mother was pretty understanding, and the mural is still on the wall. 

Unfortunately I live in an apartment, and I can't just draw/paint on the walls when the mood strikes me anymore. Landlords don't tend to be as understanding or supportive of my creative impulses. In Beijing I crafted a large tree in our living room from construction paper. Although I have some more paper crafts in the works (they are in the cutting stage) I want to share something that I did over the weekend. The best part: It only took 15 minutes and a few things I already had sitting around!


I inserted one pushpin into the corner of the wall, then inserted a bunch more randomly. I looped the yarn around the corner pushpin, then around each of the other pushpins, always wrapping around the corner one in-between wrapping other pushpins. Brian thought this looked pretty cool too, so we decided to do the adjacent wall as well, so it's a whole corner! 

I apologize for the bad photos, it's rainy here and our bedroom isn't overly bright. Oh, why did I choose white linens when I have white walls? Have you seen those clorox commercials where the person is diving into a bed full of germs? That commercial is frightening, and since college I've always had white linens so that I can bleach the life out of them (literally!). 

Thursday, October 4, 2012


Brian thinks Twitter is the stupidest thing ever. When Twitter first began we were in Peace Corps, and I remember reading about how someone 'tweeted' something or other in an People magazine that my mother had sent. I didn't really know what it meant, and thought it was some sort of new slang. I finally asked Brian, and he didn't know either. About 6 months later we actually asked someone in America, and they told us what it was. Facebook status updates without Facebook as far as I see it. But hey, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em! Right? Well, I've joined the Twitter bandwagon. I have 2, yes 2 whole followers. If you would like to be #3, or maybe even #4 you can find me here: https://twitter.com/mariknits

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

WIP Wednesday; Knitting: Fun or Torture?

I blogged about my WIP Pine Cone Shawl a few weeks ago. After that post I was inspired/motivated/guilted into working on it. When I would get really sick of the other things I'm supposed to be working on I would work on this shawl. This version is smaller than the original, because I was trying to keep it to one skein. As you can see it has not been blocked, and looks kind of lame right now.

But oh, it gets worse. I haven't finished binding off yet! Why? Because I ran out of yarn!!! UGH!
There are 45 stitches left, yes, I counted. 45 stitches!!! So much for making it all out of one skein eh? Surprisingly this is the first time this has ever happened to me, and it sucks! Anyways, maybe this will be an FO by Friday, but I won't hold my breath. 

Monday, October 1, 2012

Malabrigo October Stockpile Design Challenge

the Malabrigo Junkies group on Ravelry is hosting a series of events for October Stockpile. One of the events is a design challenge. The challenge is to come up with a pattern that uses just one skein of their highly variegated yarn. Of course you could knit these patterns with any of their yarns (I love them all!) But they are trying to feature some of the highly variegated colors that are so popular, but seem to be underrepresented in patterns. So, here's what I'm working on. It's an envelope bag/e-reader. Here you can see I stole my husband's kindle for the photos. The bag is knit completely in one piece, with no seaming! Boy, do I really hate seaming. The bag is knit from top to bottom, and then the sides are picked up. It has a magnetic snap closure and a hook & eye closure on the sides, so that you can completely open it or use it as a bag. Instead of trying to explain it maybe I should just post some pictures eh?

Anyways, I'm currently in the testing phase. If you'd like to test knit this for me please let me know! Otherwise, I'll keep you posted on what happens next!