Would you like to knit some gifts with me this year? It’s time for a knitalong! But more about that in a minute.
It has been so busy here at Bravewood and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down at all. I mean, not any time soon. I have this new podcast going on, which is super cool, but I haven’t quite figured out how to balance the podcasting with the blogging. I don’t want to neglect my old blog just because the podcast videos are all new and shiny. I also don’t want my blog to just turn into shownotes for the podcast.
It’s a challenge.
So, here I am thinking that I should at least give my blog readers an update on what’s happening because I know that not everyone has the time or the inclination to sit and watch a podcast video. I would love it if you would give it a try, though. My podcasts are pretty short, compared to a lot of the other knitting podcasts out there. Plus, there’s coffee.
I have a few new patterns in the works and at varying levels of completion. One is waiting on an answer from a popular yarn company about whether or not they want to publish it. Another is in the test knitting stage, which will take a while. That one is scheduled to go live next Spring. I am also working on a really cute and very quick knitted decor project. I don’t have any photos of it yet, so you’ll have to come back and read my next blog post for more information on that. I am also working on putting together my first ever collaboration with a couple other artists that I have met through the magic of the internet. Right now, it’s in the super secret squirrel stage. Sorry, if I told you, I’d have to… well, let’s just not think about that.
SO, there is a lot of stuff going on that I really can’t show you ANY photos of. And what’s a blog post without photos?
BUT, I can tell you about my first ever knitalong that I am hosting on my podcast. [ I know, finally something I can actually talk about, right? ] I am calling it the Sneaky Gift KAL and it is starting September 1, 2017 and running through January 1, 2018.
The idea behind the KAL is to share stories of the sneaky ways we have to hide those gift knitting projects from the people we love while still making sure that we have enough knitting time to actually get them finished on time. The struggle is real! So, show off your WIPs, share your knitting/crocheting/crafting stories and post those finished objects in the FO thread for a chance to win.
You can officially join the club in my podcast group on Ravelry. Link to the
group is right HERE. And, of course, you can get information by watching my Little Woolly Things podcasts on YouTube. There will be prizes at the end of the KAL, so please check it out. I only have 10 people in my group so far, so your chances of winning a prize are pretty darn good. And it has been my experience that a knitalong can be a great way to make a new knitting friend or two, either from somewhere far away or just down the street. I have really been enjoying my foray into the online knitting community. I hope to see you there!
P.S.: You can also post your works in progress on Instagram with the hashtag: #sneakygiftkal
Hello, crafty friends, and welcome to Little Woolly Things! I have been knitting my little fingers to the bone, so I have some new things to show you. And I’m also working on a very scary project, too, that I’m not ready to unveil yet. I will tell you about it, but it’s not ready for public viewing quite yet.
So, the first thing I want to show off is the WIP that has been getting most of my attention for the last few weeks. I am working on this Summer top design as my contribution to a knitalong in one of my Ravelry groups. The KAL started May 1st and is open until July 31st, so I’m not into that end of the KAL, deadline is approaching crunch yet, but I’m really trying to avoid pulling an all-nighter to finish a project that I got myself involved with just because I thought it sounded like fun. At my age, pulling all-nighters is just not fun anymore. I would really like this project to continue to be fun all the way through, so I’m working on it diligently now, in the hopes of finishing it before the deadline. We shall see how that all works out.
I turned that little swatch into a square neck yoke, and then I had to decide how to handle the sleeves working from the top down. I’m pretty sure I changed my mind about fifteen times. Then, I picked out a lace pattern to add some extra interest to the design, picked up stitches along the edge and started knitting. Easy, right?
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And then, I sat up last night to do some more knitting after the kiddos were in bed and thought, “Hey, why don’t I watch Gone with the Wind while I’m knitting. I don’t remember ever watching it before and it’s a classic that I should probably be familiar with.” Or something like that. So, I started watching this wonderful old movie. I did not realize how incredibly long Gone with the Wind is! Have you seen it? Do you realize that it’s nearly FOUR HOURS LONG???
I did not stay up long enough to watch all four hours of it. You might suggest that I could have forwarded through the overture, intermission and entr’acte music, but as a musician, I just can’t bring myself to do that. I love the music and I want to hear it as much as I want to see the movie. So, to sum it all up, I know what I will be knitting to for the next couple of nights. And isn’t Rhett Butler just a cad? And Scarlett? Absolutely scandalous.
So, that’s where I am on the Summer top project. I have another project to show off, and this one is actually a finished pattern, ready to be your next project. It’s a quick, easy knit, with some simple embroidery to top it off. I call it the Cornflower Cowl.
Ravelry users can purchase the pattern here. And if you’re not a Ravelry member, you definitely should be. This website has everything knitting, crocheting, spinning, weaving and otherwise yarn related. And while you’re there, check out my Ravelry store.
I have also begun to venture into the YouTube world, of late. I recorded one knitting tutorial video and uploaded it for all the world to see. I am planning to record more tutorials soon, so subscribe to my channel: Little Woolly Things, and watch my one tutorial video on how to work the linen stitch. YouTube will notify you when I upload the next video, so you can watch whenever you have the time and want to work on a new knitting technique. I also receive email notifications whenever you leave a comment on one of my videos, so if you like it, let me know in the comments right there on YouTube. If you have a suggestion for a tutorial that you would like to see, please share that, too. I will try my best.
And that leads me right into the big, scary project that I am putting together. I have been working on a Little Woolly Things podcast. I actually recorded “Episode 1” but decided to use that experience as a dress rehearsal for my next attempt. Let me tell you, talking about your knitting projects to your videocamera for any length of time is not as easy as so many podcasters make it appear. Did you notice my cheery greeting at the beginning of this post? I’m working on that. I think it will take a few episodes for me to work out my podcast format and remember to breathe normally in front of the camera.
I am hoping to talk about more than just knitting and crochet in this podcast. I would tell you all about it, but then you wouldn’t need to watch it. SO, I will leave you wondering just a little bit and hope that you will watch my podcast when I finally release Episode 1. It will be worth the wait.
So, that’s the news from Bravewood. Be brave, friends, and have a wonder-filled day!
All of you knitters and crocheters out there know how the story goes. You’re young, you’re in love with this new crafting thing and you just can’t stop yourself. You have to have yarn in order to knit (or crochet). You buy a skein. Then, you use up that skein but your project isn’t finished yet. Who knew that anything could use up more than a skein of yarn?? You go back to the craft store to buy more yarn. While you’re there, you see another color that you really, really like, so you add it on to your purchase with no idea what you’re going to do with it, but it’s just so PERFECT and so gorgeous that you know you will make something completely amazing with it.
You start scanning the internet for the perfect project for that yummy skein that you just bought, but everything that you really want to make requires two skeins – or more! But you only bought one. Now, what?
That’s right. Back to the craft store. But, you know, it’s a fun place to browse around in, so it’s not so bad.
Before you know it, you have amassed a basket full of wool in the living room, a storage tub full of acrylic blends in the closet, a wheeled storage box full of fingering weight under the bed, a stack of tubs full of yarn in the corner and you’re using another one as a nightstand. Your family all know that they will receive something made with yarn for birthdays and definitely for Christmas and you can be commonly identified as “the one over there in the handknit shawl/hat/scarf/sweater.” You justify all of this yarn with the knowledge that you can always create a gift for someone out of your yarn stash at any time. You will never be without a project to work on. Boredom no longer exists.
Tell me, am I the only one?
So, you decide to slow down on the yarn. Use up some of your precious hoard before you buy more. We call this a “yarn diet” and it works about as well as a calorie-counting diet does, especially when the holidays roll around and you start planning out your gift projects. You paw excitedly through your bins and boxes of yarn looking for the right yarn for every project. You find a skein or two, but either the colors you have aren’t quite right or the color is perfect but it’s too chunky or too fine (gift projects need to work up quickly, after all, if you’re going to get them all done), or the yarn you want to use isn’t machine washable (all gift knits should be machine washable), or whatever. SO, you get online and order yarn for all of your holiday projects. This is most of your Christmas shopping, so you’re really saving money, right? DIY is the way to go.
So, you start making things. You use a lot of the yarn that you bought for the holiday gift projects, but there’s always some left over to feed the stash some more. But hey, there are birthday presents to make, too! And every once in a while you have to make something for yourself. You’ll get to it.
And then, you decide to make a rule for yourself. You must finish one project before you can buy yarn for a new project. I don’t know about you, but that resolution doesn’t usually last long for me. I am not a monogamous knitter. My creative brain comes up with ideas for new projects faster than I can knit them up. I actually have a Trello board set up to keep track of my new ideas and which stages my projects are in. Now, if I could just get my workspace that organized, I would be unstoppable! [cue evil laugh]
Sorry, I’m getting a little off track. I might have had enough caffeine today. Back to the subject.
After a while, though, (there is no set amount of time, as individual results may vary) you find that your stash has grown beyond your ability to work up within your lifetime. It’s a horrifying thought, but the truth is that it’s time to push some of your babies out into the wide world.
Now, the way I see it, there are four different approaches to this dilemma.
Method number two: gift some of your yarn to a friend.
I have done this, but in very limited amounts. I once gifted some of my precious handspun (by me) yarn to a very good friend as a Christmas gift because I knew that she would properly appreciate it. And I still, technically, “made” it for her, since it was my handspun.
Method number three: donate to a thrift store.
I actually did this last Summer. I took every storage tub full of yarn that I had, opened them up and looked at every single skein/ball/cake of yarn in each box and asked myself if I would really enjoy working with it in any way. I know that’s a pretty broad question, but it was my first time. I found that about 1/3 of my stash was actually yarn that I didn’t like the feel of or didn’t even want to look at. Wow! Into the donate box it went! And then into the back of my car and then directly to the thrift store before I could change my mind.
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It was really nice, actually. I now know that I can go to my yarn stash at any time and I will only find lovely yarn that I know I really want to work with. My stash is so much more inspirational, now. Which can actually cause me to spend a lot of time dreaming up more projects, if I’m not careful. With great creativity comes great responsibility, I guess. I mean, the kids need me to cook dinner. I can’t just dream about my yarn all day.
Method number four (which realistically isn’t an option when we’re talking about something with as much crafting potential as yarn): throw it away.
Yup. Into the landfill. I know, it’s not really an option for me, either, but I just thought I’d throw it out there (ha ha) in the interest of being thorough.
If you can’t bear to take any of these approaches to your excess yarn, you can always continue to hoard it and let your children and grandchildren deal with it someday after you’re gone. I actually loved using the yarn, crochet hooks and knitting needles that I inherited from my husband’s grandmother, but she really didn’t have that much yarn stored up. And every time I use one of her crochet hooks, I think of her, which makes me smile. I sincerely hope that there is someone else in your life who will love what you leave behind (someday) in your stash, too. And I hope that you will stay creative, in one form or another, until the end of your days.
It’s finally here! Tassels and stripes and unique shaping with colors and textures! This is an idea that I have been playing with in the back corner of my mind for quite a few years. I worked it up as a shawlette using novelty yarns and ribbons about 15 years ago, but it wasn’t really perfect, so I never published it. Recently, it crept into my thoughts again and I decided to give it another go. This time, it’s a hodgepodge of textures and colors, but without the eyelash novelty yarn that no one wants to work with, anyway. It’s really better this way.
So, In honor of my Sedimentary Shawl pattern release, I thought I’d share a tiny part of the pattern with you. This tassel tutorial comes straight out of the pattern, which you can purchase from Knit Picks right here. The pattern and tassels both require a wide variety of yarns, from Aran weight to lace weight. There have been skeptics who said that it couldn’t be done, but with a lot of trial on my part (so you don’t have to) with different needle sizes and stitch counts, I have hit upon the magic combination that allows these different weights to drape and flutter nicely in the breeze. They really do play together very well, if you know how to handle them.
So, without any further ado, here is the tutorial.
Sedimentary Shawl Tassels
Knit Picks Paragon yarn in Almond and Doe
Knit Picks City Tweed Aran in Tahitian Pearl
Knit Picks Stroll Fingering in Koi Pond
Knit Picks Luminance in Strength
one yarn needle, one 4×6-inch (10×15 cm) piece of cardstock or cardboard for wrapping tassels, two ¾-inch (1.9 cm) wooden beads
Cut a piece of Stroll Koi Pond yarn about 3 feet (1 meter) long. Thread onto yarn needle so that yarn is doubled.
Bring yarn up through the hole in one bead, holding onto the yarn tails underneath.
Wrap yarn around the bead and through the hole until you have used up all the yarn on the needle.
Cut another piece of yarn and continue in the same manner until the entire bead is covered. Cut the yarn, leaving a tail for sewing to the shawl.
Next, using one yarn at a time, wrap yarn around your cardstock to create a 4-inch (10cm) long tassel. Cut each yarn at the bottom of the card and begin the next color at the bottom, where you left off. You can use as many wraps as you like. I used about 15 wraps of the Paragon yarns, 12 wraps of the City Tweed, about 40 wraps of Luminance and 20 wraps of Stroll.
When you have finished your last wrap (I used Stroll last), cut your yarn leaving about a 2-foot (60 cm) long tail. Thread yarn end onto yarn needle. Stitch through the top of the yarn wraps using a backstitch all the way across the top of the yarn wraps.
Then, after you’ve stitched all the way across, do it again backwards across the yarn wraps, making your stitches offset from the first row of stitches. These don’t have to be pretty (thank goodness) because no one will see them.
Then, slide the card out from the center of the yarn wraps. Fold the stitched edge together and stitch through the backstitches to hold the tassel together.
Now, take the yarn with the needle up through the yarn-wrapped bead (this will be very tight) and then back down through the bead again.
Flip the tassel upside down so that you can see the stitches in the center of the tassel and stitch securely to create a knot. Cut your yarn.
And then, use your scissors to cut through the yarn loops and trim the bottom edge evenly.
And this completes your tassel. If you are making them for my Sedimentary Shawl pattern, you will need to make one more, then sew them securely to the long points at either end of the shawl.
I’m going to be tote-woolly (bad pun) honest. I started writing this blog post yesterday and then realized that I was just rambling about pretty much nothing, so I decided to delete it and start over again, because, you know, I could go on and on about all of the things going on, but it would take me until next week to list them all for you and I just don’t have the time for that. I have a rehearsal dinner to plan (because my son is getting married next weekend). Sorry. I know you were looking forward to that list, but I really wouldn’t want you nodding off in front of your computer or your smartphone. If you happen to be in the company of other humans, that might be a little embarrassing.
Anyway, since this is supposed to be a blog about woolly things, there have been a few recent happenings in the woollier part of my world that I can share. I had a design proposal rejected. I have not given up on it, though. I am keeping it around and planning on refining it some more. It might work with just a color change.
I also finished a shawl pattern and got the photos done. Yay! As soon as it goes live, I will shout it to the world. You can count on me.
And I have another pattern finished that just needs the photos. There is actually a little sunshine happening out there today, so I just might see if I can talk my 17-year-old into modeling for me. She was pretty good-natured about working with me on my last photo shoot, and I do believe the battery for my camera is actually charged right now, so that’s a bonus. It’s easier to get photos done, that way. Ask me how I know.
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I am also working on a new project, of course. It’s so new, in fact, that I don’t even have an Instagram pic to show you yet. I started playing around with a 2-color linen stitch and I’m really liking it. I’m actually “swatching” in the size and shape of a cowl, so that I can write up the pattern if it turns out to be super fabulous and then, I won’t have to work it up again. I sometimes cheat like that.
I’m actually pretty excited about this one. The best designs are the ones that capture your imagination and just won’t let you go. My Gypsy Caravan Shawl was one of those. I didn’t realize how much this one had gotten hold of me until I was at my acupuncture appointment this morning and I was lying there (supposedly relaxing) thinking about some really cool things that I could do with it. I came up with three different ideas! Thought about them all the way home and decided which one I like best, so my plans for this evening will definitely include a little bit of woolly experimentation. I have never seen anything like this before (not to say that it has never been done), so I am really excited to see how it will turn out. Wish me luck – or better yet, skill.
This week’s blog post is brought to you by homeopathic sinus tabs, herbal compresses and lots and LOTS of tea. Oh, and coffee. I can’t leave out the morning cup of coffee because, let’s face it, without the morning cup of caffeine, the headache would be a lot worse than it already is.
When my husband peeked into the bedroom to check on me this morning and ask me how I was feeling, I think I said something in my head but what came out was more like, “Uuuuuuurgh.” I can’t be completely certain, though, because my ears are plugged up and I can’t hear much.
So, if you haven’t guessed, I have a head cold. Not only a head cold, I have a whopper of a head cold. Normally, I try to avoid sounding sound wimpy, but I haven’t had one like this in a very long time. I won’t try to gross you out with the details because this is about knitting, not snot, right?
In the words of my 14-year-old daughter, “I’m sick and dying.” [slight exaggeration]
But, the sun is shining and it’s Saturday as I write this, so the hubby and all but two of the kids (who are currently reading and napping) are out helping my parents-in-law and doing outside things, so it’s pretty quiet in the house. And since I have been left largely to my own devices today, I have been moving from room to room with my tea mug in one hand, a supply of tissues and my current almost finished project in my arms, mom-style, kind of like carrying an infant with you wherever you go. It even hung out in the bathroom with me (over the side of the tub) while I tried to steam my sinuses open with a hot essential oil bath. [Sorry, no photos of that.]
This project is so close to being finished, I can almost taste it! You know the feeling, right? I’m on the last row before the bind off. THAT close! You can’t put down a project when you’re on the LAST ROW, for goodness sake! I might be just a little bit obsessive about it.
The last row on this project has about eleventy-million stitches in it, so I’m really hoping to have it done by next week. That’s not much of an exaggeration. Just keep knitting, right? As I am typing this, it is sitting on the end table beside me begging me to pick it up and keep working. It wants to be finished, too.
If you’ve been following me on Instagram, you may have seen some obscure photos of a wildly striped design in some very bright colors. (see photo above) Yep, that’s the one. This is actually the second time I have knitted this up and it’s going to be sent out to my tech editor very soon. Well, as soon as my eyes stop watering enough to finish typing it up. It’s going to be fabulous! I can’t wait to show you the whole thing, but you and I will both have to wait until it goes live for that. In the meantime, you can anticipate asymmetrical stripes, bold colors and lace. I promise I will let you know as soon as I possibly can.
Here is a photo of our adorable (and somewhat obnoxious) bummer lamb. Her name is Jessica and she is getting so big!