Category Archives: designing

Insta Janu-February

Bet you didn’t notice that I forgot to post an Instagram roundup of my January goings-on. I didn’t notice either, so this time you get January and February smashed into one Insta-double-whammy. (I promise it’s not as painful as it sounds).

Insta Jan Feb 14

During the first part of January we were in Aspen, CO where the band played a couple of shows, one of them was a big New Year’s eve bash. The shows were excellent and we toasted the new year in grand fashion. It was such a fun trip and we were even able to squeeze in a visit to a natural hot springs pool nestled in the mountains, and a couple of days of skiing. Back home in Texas, I’ve spent the past month and a half working, working, working, with a few stolen moments here and there for doggie snuggles and knitting and crafting. I released my Wayfinder Mitts pattern, re-released my Hill Country Hat pattern, and am wrapping up a new design submission that I’m super excited about. I had a birthday just a few days ago and celebrated with lots of sweet treats, good friends, and wonderful mail surprises from Joey, who is already back out on tour.  Now I’m getting ready for some warmer weather (aren’t we all?) and looking forward to casting on a couple of new knitting projects.

 

 

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Hill Country Sessions

I’m excited to finally share the article I wrote for the Spring 2013 issue of Pom Pom Quarterly!  I’d like to add a note that the album that the article discusses, Israel Nash’s Rain Plans is now out via Loose Music in Europe. 

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Hill Country Sessions

As a knitter married to a touring musician, I try to join my husband on his travels as often as my schedule will allow and I always bring my knitting along for the journey. This particular trip finds us down in Texas Hill Country about an hour’s drive outside of Austin, Texas. We are here for two weeks while Joey records guitar for the upcoming Israel Nash album with some of our closest friends.

ranch

photo by Tim Underwood

The setting is perfect for recording an album: there are nine of us holed up in a big ranch house that is surrounded on all sides by tree and cactus-covered hills. The closest neighbor is over a mile away; too far away to be disturbed by any music that goes late into the night. The cathedral-ceilinged living room has been transformed into a recording studio; the cowhide rug on the floor is crisscrossed with cables running from the many guitars and amps to the mixing board and analog tape machine.

Joey guitars

Photo by Tim Underwood

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As the band sets up their gear, my friend Laura and I set up our gear. We are staking our claim to the two lounge chairs on the back patio that overlook the valley that provides a stunning view at sunset. It is an idyllic setup for us: the guys will record their album while we lounge within earshot of the music, knitting away and enjoying each other’s company. I’ve brought along a ball of tweedy yarn and some circular needles and a vague idea for a slouchy hat that I want to make.

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The day fades quickly into night and I find myself knitting stitch after soothing stitch as I listen to the sounds of a song coming to life. The song they are working on has a dark and beautiful sound, and has most definitely been inspired by our isolated surroundings. It is the ideal soundtrack for knitting and watching the moon rise above the hills.

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One afternoon we decide to go on a walkabout to tour the natural springs that are in the area. We hike down into the valley, careful of our footing as we walk over chalky white rocks and through dry branches and thorny grasses. There is an artist living nearby that creates intricate sculptures out of the flat rocks that are abundant in the area and we happen upon a few of her works and study them with appreciation. As I survey the many precisely-placed layers of rocks, I am reminded that much like recording an album or knitting, some of the best creations are made slowly by building layer upon layer, stitch upon stitch.

sculpture

photo by Tim Underwood

As the days pass by, my hat is taking shape at a leisurely pace. I’m picking it up and putting it down often between dips in the swimming pool, walks to pick wildflowers or trips into town to refresh our stores of food. I’ll knit a few rounds as we’re all sitting around in the evenings, listening to the day’s work and discussing the songs left to be recorded. Just as I’m not in a rush to finish my hat, I’m not in a rush for my time here to be over, but before I know it I am binding off and weaving in the ends and packing my bags into the car to head home.

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Our trip has been full of so many fun memories that are forever linked in my mind with the songs that were recorded while we were here. And when the album is released and I hear the songs again, you can bet I will also be listening closely to see if I can hear sound of my knitting needles clicking away in the background.

Free Pattern: Hill Country Hat

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Originally published in Pom Pom Quarterly 4: Verdant Stitches, I’m happy to now offer the Hill Country Hat knitting pattern as a free Ravelry Download. The Hill Country hat knits up quickly in a bulky weight yarn and has a good amount of slouch. The finished size is 20.5 inches in circumference by 9.25 inches long, brim to crown.

Materials

Bulky weight yarn- approximately 142 yards/130 meters

Sample shown in Queensland Collection Kathmandu Chunky Tweed (85% merino, 10% silk, 5% cashmere; 142 yards/130 meters/100 g) in the colorway Oatmeal (108)

US 10.5/6.5 mm 16”/40 cm circular needles

US 10.5/6.5 mm double pointed needles (DPNs) or size needed to obtain gauge below

Tapestry needle for weaving ends

Stitch marker

Gauge

14 stitches and 20 rounds = 4”/10 cm in stockinette stitch, after blocking

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New Knitting Pattern: Wayfinder Mitts

photo by Nikki Mann

photo by Nikki Mann

I’m excited to announce that my Wayfinder Mitts knitting pattern is now available as a Ravelry download. Worked in Madelinetosh DK, each Wayfinder Mitt is cast on at the bottom edge and knit in the round. The top and bottom cuffs are worked in 2×2 rib, which stretches nicely to fit the wearer. The directional cables flow out of the ribbed cuff and are mirrored on the back of each hand. Thumb gussets are created by increases placed at the side of each mitt; after increasing, thumb stitches are placed on waste yarn and later picked up and worked in the round. Instructions are provided as both charted and written.

photo by Nikki Mann

photo by Nikki Mann

MATERIALS

DK weight wool yarn – approximately 115 yards/106 meters

Sample shown in Madelinetosh Tosh DK (100% superwash merino wool; 225 yards/206 meters/100 g) in the Antique Lace colorway on hands measuring 7.5″/19 cm in circumference.

US 6/4.0 mm (or size needed to obtain gauge) dpns, two circulars, or long circular for magic loop

Cable needle

3 Stitch markers

Tapestry needle for weaving ends

Waste yarn

GAUGE

22 sts by 30 rounds = 4”/10 cm in stockinette stitch

FINISHED SIZE

8”/20.5 cm long by 7”/17.75 cm in circumference (unstretched) to fit hands measuring 6.5″/16.5 cm to 8″/20.25 cm in circumference.

Visit the Ravelry pattern page here or buy now.

photo by Nikki Mann

photo by Nikki Mann

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Coming Soon: Wayfinder Mitts

wayfinders

A while back I started playing around with arrow motifs and incorporating them into my knitting. The Wayfinder Mitts were originally envisioned as a pair of grey stockinette fingerless mitts with an orangey-red arrow down the back of the hands, either knit using intarsia or possibly duplicate stitched on afterwards. After a while that idea started to feel too plain and I tried to think of a way to make them more interesting. I came up with an interesting stitch pattern for the cuffs that also featured directional arrows, but then I fell in love with the cuff idea more than the original idea and decided to file that particular stitch pattern away for something bigger and better. Another issue I had with the idea of doing a stockinette mitt is the fit. I wanted something that was fitted– not slouchy, so I knit a prototype that decreased towards the wrist and increased for the hand. Unfortunately when wearing the mitts, they would bunch awkwardly when you rotated your hands at the wrist, so I went back to the drawing board. Some of the best-fitting fingerless mitts I’ve ever worn have had ribbing on the wrist portion, so I went with a 2×2 rib for the arm and wrist and stockinette for the hand and added a two stitch traveling cable to the back of each hand for the visual interest. I really like the way these mitts turned out and the ribbing makes them easily stretch to fit most ladies’ hands nicely. This pair was knit in Madelinetosh Tosh DK, but they could also be knit in a heavy worsted or aran weight in a more rustic wool for a pair of manlier mitts. The pattern is being tech edited now and I’ll be releasing it very soon!

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Back in the Saddle

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I’m a lazy knitter. Not the kind of lazy knitter that makes mistakes and doesn’t bother to fix them— (I may be lazy, but I’m still a perfectionist). No, I mean the lazy kind of knitter that will set a project aside if there’s a section coming up that I need to devote my full attention to like calculating increases or looking up a particularly stretchy bind off. That is exactly what happened to me recently and it spiraled into an entire month of no knitting.

I’m slowly slogging away at a design idea (perfecting it, actually) and I was getting near the end of a ribbed edge where I wanted to try out a tubular bind off. I set the project aside, planning to research the best method of doing the tubular bind off, and then a crazy insane December happened and I kept thinking I didn’t have time to do it properly so it just sat there. For a whole month. Not a stitch knit.

Fortunately, my knitting mojo has returned post-holidays and I found some time to pick it back up over the weekend. The first thing I noticed was that all the ribbing I had knitted back in the insane days of December was worked in the wrong needle size. (What kind of burnout makes mistakes knitting their own pattern? Further proof that December was just a crazy month that I’m glad to see the end of). So instead of spending a nice hour or so knitting a beautiful tubular bind off and feeling the satisfaction of completing something that’s been on my mind for a month, I had to rip back quite a bit of ribbing and then start over with the correct needle size. All of that and I’m still not ready to tackle that dang tubular bind off.

The good news is that even though this design is taking me FOREVER (I’m not even going to talk about how I’ve got a whole second piece to REKNIT after this one….) it’s going to be a really killer design so it will be worth all the trouble. AND I’ve recently brushed off another design that has been waiting in the wings since summer time and all it needs is a quick tech edit and some photos, so I should have something to release fairly soon.

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Insta November

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November started out with Joey still out on tour and me adjusting back to home life after my trip to visit him.  The band played the Iceland Airwaves festival in Reykjavik and Joey brought me back some lopi wool as a souvenir. This leg of the tour ended with the guys playing two shows opening for Pearl Jam in Dallas and Oklahoma City and I went along for those shows.  It was a good time and it was really fun to get to watch the guys play in front of such large crowds.  I spent a little time working on charts for a cabled knitting pattern I’ve been working on, and decided I wanted to make a few tweaks to the cables I have been using.  The design is going to be a really good one and I’m glad I went back and made the changes, but that also means I have to reknit an entire piece of the design and with the small amounts of knitting time I’ve had lately, it seems to be very slow going at the moment.  I’ve also been enjoying having Joey back home for a few days before he heads out again until Christmas.  Henry sure hates it when he leaves, so we make sure to spend lots of time snuggling and watching movies in bed when he’s away.  We also got to spend a couple of nice days with family for Thanksgiving, which is always a good way to move into the month of December.

Charting

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There is an interesting interview today on the Brooklyn Tweed blog with Leila Raabe on her latest design for Wool People 6. I particularly enjoyed the discussion on how she uses Illustrator to create chart mockups during her design process. I’m currently working on a cabled design of my own, and have found that charting the pattern out before knitting it up has been really helpful in visualizing the finished piece. By using charts in my design process I’ve been able to play around with the design by moving different cables around within the overall layout and my idea has morphed into an even better design in the process.

Do you like knitting from charts? Though they seemed intimidating at first, I feel like my understanding of knitting took a huge leap forward once I learned how to read charts. If you don’t know how, I would urge you to take the time to learn.  Links to a few good tutorials are below.

Knitty

Wise Hilda

Webs

 

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The Perils of Knitting While Touring With a Rock Band, or How to Fix a Mis-Crossed Cable

I guess it was bound to happen. I was knitting backstage in Amsterdam and I looked down at my knitting and noticed something funny. For the first time in my knitting life I had mis-crossed a cable.

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My mistake was only a few rows back so I could have ripped back and reknit, but I was feeling kind of adventurous. I remembered the Yarn Harlot’s wonderful post about fixing a mis-crossed cable and decided to give it a go. I poured myself a whiskey drink and then took the cable stitches off the needles.

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I dropped each of the cable stitches down past the point of the mistake.  I momentarily questioned my decision when I looked at the mess I had made, but felt a little bit of hope after I placed the loose stitches back onto a DPN in the correctly crossed order.

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I used a crochet hook, pulling the loose strand back through each of the stitches and placing them on another DPN until I worked my way back up to the top.

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Success!  I celebrated by putting my knitting away and finishing my whiskey drink.

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On Rock Shows and Knitterati in London

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I arrived in London while Joey and the band were at the BBC recording an interview.  I made my way to the venue for that night’s show, where the tour bus was parked and unloaded my bags.  I decided to venture down Upper Street, knowing that Loop wasn’t too far away.  While I was window shopping, I got a text from Joey saying that he was just a couple of blocks away so I headed back in his direction and spotted him quickly.  We must have love-radar because he spotted me at almost the exact same moment.  We had one of those movie-scene greetings, where time stands still and you’re hugging and kissing in the middle of a busy street in a fabulous city- it was pretty magical.  Hand in hand, we strolled down towards Loop and popped in.  I got to finally meet Meghan Fernandes and Lydia Gluck of the wonderful Pom Pom Quarterly, and Meghan helped me pick out a British yarn. (I snagged that gorgeous skein of hand-dyed BFL sock yarn from The Uncommon Thread shown above).  Meghan also told me that Stephen West was knitting in their upstairs room, so we headed up to meet him as well.   Stephen was very nice, knitting away as we all talked about music- it turned out he would be attending the Iceland Airwaves festival that Joey would be playing soon.  We left the shop with my skein of beautiful British yarn and, sadly no pics with Meghan and Lydia or Stephen.  (I blame the jet lag for not thinking to snap an iphone pic at least).  Meghan and Lydia came to the show that night and I had a great time hanging out with them.  It was so lovely to meet them both and I hope to work with them again soon.

 

It’s-a-small-knitterly-world-post-script:

Since I was unable to stay on tour with the band through their Iceland show, I sent Joey with the sole purpose of making sure to snag me some Lopi yarn while he was there.  This  morning he popped into a coffee shop to ask where he could buy some yarn, and who else was there but Stephen West, knitting away with the WestKnits Fun Squad?  I now have a sweater’s worth of Lopi on its way home to the states with my wonderful knitwear-loving husband.

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