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Monday, April 30, 2012

Interweave Knits: Seaglass Shell

The hot topics for this summer are lace and showing off your back. :)

© Interweave Knits Summer 2012: Seaglass Shell
The design for this top was inspired by my memories of hiking in the mountains during the snow melt when you can admire beautiful waterfalls and creeks full of water rushing around rocks and boulders, tumbling towards the valley floor and then hurrying along to the sea...

Considering that I made my sketches for this design at the end of last year (winter) I must have already been looking forward to Spring, haha!

On the other hand, if I transport myself to summer, I can also totally see how Interweave's team came up with the name "Seaglass Shell" for this piece. Just imagine the boulders becoming glass pieces that are being rolled around by the waves (Rivulets) and becoming more and more rounded...  ah, yes, the beach! :)

I really like how the front of the top looks so deceptively simple (Stockinette stitch) with just a bit of lace peaking over the shoulders...
Lace peeking over the shoulder to the front (© Interweave)
...and then, the back has a little surprise in store: the top drops away into a low back line revealing a misty lace of rivulets and boulders - or sea-glass and waves. Perfect for the upcoming summer parties!

Rivulet and Boulder lace Interweave)
The lacy back panel is sandwiched and sewn together with the low cut back panel and the front piece at the side seams so that there are no peek-a-boo accidents. :)

Now, this lace is a bit more challenging as both lace patterns, the Rivulet and Boulder lace, are worked on RS AND WS rows so that you will have to pay a bit more attention when knitting. But then again, it's just for one panel and not a whole garment or a long scarf.

It makes for a great little project to try your hand in "Knitted Lace" (pattern worked on RS & WS rows) instead of just the RS rows (= "Lace Knitting").

And if you can get your hands on this Manos del Uruguay Serena (60% baby alpaca, 40% cotton, sport weight, distributed in the US by Fairmount Fibers) or similar yarn, you are going to feel like being in heaven! It is so buttery soft and a dream to work with that you don't want to let go. When you wear the shell, it's so misty light that you barely feel that you're wearing something. Better double-check before you step out of the house, haha! :)

And here is a little peak behind the scenes:

When a design is accepted by Interweave, you are usually required to size your pattern for 5 (!) sizes. Keep that in mind when you start working on your sample size model. I highly encourage you to think your design through before you knit a single stitch to ensure that your pattern can be naturally sized for the larger sizes.

You want to look at any areas that require shaping (e.g. waist, armholes, necklines) to make sure any patterns can flow nicely or are centered for ALL sizes.

In the case of this back lace panel, for example, I dreaded the waist shaping because I would have to figure out a nice degrading of the lace designs at the side seams...not fun...

That's when it hit me that it actually wouldn't be visible because it was underneath the Stockinette back panel! Then why bother? How about having a small strip of just Stockinette stitch run along the side seams that will absorb the decs and incs for the waist shaping and keep the lace going straight up? - Better make sure that it works out with the armhole shaping when it becomes visible again...

It was a good thing that I took a moment to think it through because it saved me a major headache and made the instructions for you that much simpler. :)

Sizing calculations for centering & placement of lace patterns on back panel
The pattern is currently only available by buying the Interweave Knits Summer 2012 issue. Down the road it will be added as a single pattern for purchase in the Interweave store and thereafter through my own website and Ravelry.

Happy Knitting!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Blog Catch-Up

Oh, boy, I've been sooooo busy over the last couple of months that my poor blog has suffered substantially. :(

Well, here we go with my catch-up blog entries.

I will start with the most up-to-date happenings and start back filling the posts. So, if you check back make sure to scroll down to find "older" posts as I would like to keep the project's timeline.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Beaded Family Wrist Warmers

I am busily getting ready for my full day "Knitting with Beads" workshop that I will be teaching this year at the Estes Park Wool Market on Thursday, June 7, 2012. I am really excited about this opportunity to share my love of knitting with fellow knitters. And add to that a full day of play with beads! It can't get much better than that. :)

Besides learning how to read/create charts and finding out about the many different techniques for knitting with beads you will actually design and start knitting your own beaded Garter stitch wrist warmers!

Beaded Family Wrist Warmers
Obviously it would be a great idea for me to have a couple of beaded wrist warmers along as samples to show not only what works well but also what might not be the best choice. Don't we all learn from mistakes more than from successful projects? And I sure had some disappointments when designing these wrist warmer samples which I will be happy to share at the workshop. :)

But here is a successful design that I call the "Beaded Family Wrist Warmers".

It all started out with me wanting to use one of those traditional Norwegian patterns of dancing children or adults and convert it for beads. But as I was fiddling around with the beading chart my mind wandered off on one of its typical "what else can you do with this design" explorations and oh, boy, did I come up with lots and lots of other ideas. I wish I had more time in the day to keep up with my mind! :)

The one idea that made me pop up, literally, and was nearly a 'duh' moment was when it occurred to me that I could make a whole family circling the wrist warmer - just like you see on some decals on cars. I myself would LOVE to wear my family around my wrists and be constantly reminded of how lucky I am. :)

And as an added bonus, I would have a great Mother's Day or birthday gift for my mom that was coming up very soon. Ooh, I liked that idea.

Now, as I was thinking this idea through, it would make sense to allow other knitters to customize their family line-up to their needs to make it a really useful pattern. So, back I went to fiddle with the charts some more to allow a mix and match of the individual designs. I ended up with a chart for a

  • mother
  • father
  • son
  • daughter
  • dog
  • cat
that can all be put together so that they are holding hands, well except the dog and cat; they are free standing.
Chart for mother

I was able to size the designs so that a typical 7" cuff can accommodate 2 adults and up to 6 children! If you don't have that large a family, you would center your family line-up and have just the triangle edging around the back.

Then came the next decision: How wide should the wrist warmer be? I know that for at home use I like them to be on the shorter side whereas in fall/winter I like them to be longer to keep the draft out from my coat sleeves... So, I made one sample cuff shorter and one longer with instructions on how to adjust them to your need. And watch out when you work the longer version: depending on which side of the chart you will add the extra length will determine the direction the family will face - looking at you or at your fellow friends. :)

Writing the Pattern

Now that I had my samples knitted up it was time to tackle the pattern writing. It's always quite time consuming because you have to be so precise in your instructions and can't assume anything. I don't know the level of knitting experience the purchaser will have. Or, at least that's the standard that I am using.

The other thing I like to do with my patterns, besides precise instructions, is to add pictures to show visually a perhaps tricky spot or to help you double-check what your work is supposed to look like at a certain stage...and sometimes I forget to take those progress pictures while I work up the sample because I am so enthusiastic about finally knitting or trying to finish... that I need to knit another one just to take that important picture!

Yep, I should know by now to keep my camera close. But then I do knit all over the place, at my boy's soccer practice, waiting to pick them up from school, at knitting groups, late at night, etc. when the setting is not right to take that progress picture. What to do then? Obviously, I should stop knitting and set it aside until I can take the proper picture. But do you know how hard it is to stop and wait!? It takes a mighty dose of will power - at least for me. :) So it comes down to - is it really worth to finish now and then redo a portion - or - can you wait, take the picture, and finish then?

Pattern was written, charts were made, progress pictures and a short photo tutorial for how to work a "Bead Stitch" were in the camera, and now it was time to format everything and get that all important cover page photo - the one that represents your work - that sells the pattern.

A brainstorming session was in order to figure out what I wanted to convey with my cover photo. And how do you photograph wrist warmers so that you show enough of the design but don't give it away? It also can't be too busy, else it would distract from the design. So what items would help me tell the story without overpowering the piece?

That's when I realized that I LOVE to receive snail mail and it would be a great gift to my mom to write her a letter, take some time out of my busy day and just think of her. The photo shoot was set: a cup of coffee with great chocolates (received from a friend over at ButterflyForge.com), a nice letter paper, the cuffs and my husband to take pictures. :)

And there you have it - a finished pattern.

If you would like to purchase your own copy for $4, here is the link:

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Designer's Challenge: 1st Place for Beaded Peacock Socks

Thank you all for voting for my first time ever toe-up Beaded Peacock Socks over on the March Designer's Challenge thread!

1st Place Winner in the March Designer's Challenge on Raverly
They've placed first and even though it has been super rewarding and educational to design these socks already, the yummy yarn price just tops it off! :D

Thank you Knit Picks and Cascade Yarns for supporting our Designer's Challenge Ravelry group of talented designers of all ages and skill levels.