The Shalane Sweater

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The Shalane Sweater is my newest beautiful thing. And I’m super proud of it. I originally bought a pile of Berroco Summer Silk to knit someone else’s pattern, and I actually worked the entire front of that lovely sweater. And then I realized I had screwed up the patterning - so I had to rip it all out. And once I ripped it out, I didn’t have the oomph to start all over again.

I’ve wanted to use this ribbon lace that I used for the top portion forever. Like seriously, for over a decade. And I realized that it would be perfect with a comfy summer sweater that was constructed sideways!

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Want to make your own Shalane Sweater? Head on over to Ravelry to get the pattern!

What’s the best part of this sweater? It is completely customizable. So I thought I would list here a bunch fo ways that you can change up this sweater easily!

LONGER OR SHORTER SWEATER BODY

This is the easiest modification of all! When it’s time to cast-on the body stitches every size casts on the same number. If you want the body of your sweater longer, just cast on more stitches. If you want more of a crop-top style, just cast on fewer stitches. The way the instructions are written the only other thing you need to do is to make sure you bind off the exact same number of stitches that you cast on. See? Super duper easy.

MORE OR LESS BODY WIDTH

This one is a little trickier, but not much. Let’s say you want a custom body width. So instead of a 60” bust you want a 64” bust. What you need to do here is add more rows of body by starting on a different row of the lace repeat. You always want to end the body Lace Chart on Row 24, so it seamlessly transitions into the Neck Chart. So for example the 60” bust size starts the Lace Chart on Row 1. If you wanted to add 4” total, you need about 16 more rows - 8 on the front, and 8 on the back - so 4 more rows on each end. In this example, you would just start the Lace Chart on Row 21 - no matter what row you start on the ribbing for the sleeves blends in perfectly. And then you just need to make sure you add 4 more rows on at the end before you do the second sleeve! Don’t forget that when you are making any adjustments that require more length or width, you might need more yarn. Don’t be caught losing a game of yarn chicken!

WIDER OR NARROWER NECKLINE

The neckline for all the sizes is the same. Do you want a wider boatneck? Here’s what you do. Every 3.5 rows equals one inch - so if you say wanted an inch wider on each side you would just want stop 4 rows before you the neck shaping chart begins (on Row 20), and place your seaming marker. Then instead of the working the first stitch of the row in stockinette, you would slip the first stitch on Rows 21 & 23, and then knit the last stitch on Rows 22 & 24 to make that nice slip stitch edging. After the neck chart is complete, work the first 4 rows of the rest of the body in the same manner - slip the first stitch on Rows 1 & 3, and knit the last stitch on Rows 2 & 4.

Do you want the neckline to be narrower? In this case you would just want to work the edge stitches of the first 4 rows of the neck chart in stockinette stitch (so you have a nice edge for seaming) instead of doing the slip stitch edge. And then do the last 4 rows of the neck chart in the same manner!

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SLEEVE ADJUSTMENTS

Making the sleeves shorter or longer is as simple as working more or fewer rows of sleeve ribbing. Want the sleeves wider or more fitted? You can easily cast on whatever number of stitches you would like for the sleeve as long as it is a multiple of 4 stitches plus 1 extra. So 33 stitches works for a more narrow sleeve (8 times 4 plus 1) or for a super wide sleeve you could do 53 stitches (13 times 4 plus 1). You just want to keep in mind that you might want to cast on more or fewer stitches for the body.

Also if you change the sleeve count, it will affect that first row of lace you when you cast on the body stitches. Don’t want to fuss with that? Just do another row of rib, cast-on the stitches you need, and then when you come back work all the cast-on stitches as purls and then work rib for the rest of the sleeve. It will work just fine!

So get your copy of Shalane and make it your own! If you have any questions about changing things up you can always shoot me an e-mail. My e-mail address is right on the pattern!

OPP - Other People's Patterns

Yes, I amuse myself. If you are anywhere near my age you might be singing that song to yourself. You’re welcome.

See now, I never have time to knit OPP. Knitting (and now crocheting) my own stuff, and doing the design work, and the tech editing, and all the other assorted things I do to make a living keep me very, very busy. But that doesn’t mean I can’t love on other people’s patterns! So each month I’d like do a round up of patterns that I loved and I figure I would do this first one from some of my best knitting friends!

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First up is Boothbay by Jen Lucas. When I first saw this I thought she named it booth bait lol. So that’s what I still call it in my head! This gorgeous shawl uses 200 yards of the main color and 6 beautiful gradient colors in 100 yard minis. I love breaking up the gradients with the strong main color - so many gorgeous color combination options.

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Next up is Gumusservi from Heather Zoppetti. This gorgeous cowl uses her custom Stitch Sprouts buttons and doesn’t it just make the yarn from The Fiber Seed sing? It just feels like ocean waves. And even though The Fiber Seed relocated to Ohio - like we are going to - it still feels like a Florida yarn company!

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Royal Rainbow is from Angela Tong. She named this pattern after an element from one of my boys’ favorite video games when they were younger - Katamari Damacy. So now I’ve stopped singing OPP and I’m humming the theme to that video game. This is another gorgeous pattern that makes the most of mini skeins - these are from Knitted Wit.

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Finally we have Wrong Lever from Barbara Benson. This gorgeous cowl is another lovely use of semi-solid yarn - I’m particularly in love with the edging at the bottom of this one. Eyelets and cables just go together like peanut butter and jelly, don’t you think? And this gorgeous yarn reminds me of grapes!

Check in next month for another installment of OPP!

Jacey

So over twenty years ago - oh my it hurts just to type that - I was pregnant with my first child. Who I had been told was a girl. So I picked a girl name - Jacey. And had a girl baby shower. Oh my goodness all the girly things. But I kept having dreams - see now I had been sure this child was a boy. So every night I would dream about my little boy. So I only took the tags off of ONE outfit. One my friends. It was a tiny pink sleeper with a sheep on the front. Was the sheep some sort of sign about my future business? Who knows. But then the baby came and it was NOT a girl. I had to have an emergency c-section and the first glimpse I caught of my baby was the sight of pee shooting straight up in the air. That ain’t a girl thing y’all.

The nice thing about it all is that I exchanged all those beautiful girl things for store credit and ended up getting a full wardrobe for my Jeremy plus a lot of necessities I still needed. And when I got pregnant with my second child in short order, that child was going to be Jacey. But nope. I got me a Justin. And I wouldn’t trade either boy for anything in the world, but unless I could convince my sons to name my future granddaughter Jacey that name was lost.

And then came this crazy took too long but boy am I proud of it Year of Stripes project. And I named all the designs with the letter of the month they were supposed to come out in. And finally for the design that was supposed to be in January I had the perfect name - Jacey!

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My friend Brenda had provided the yarn for this design and it was gorgeous! Her End of the Row Yarns are hand-dyed in Maryland and she has a beautiful eye for color. So I came up with a sideways chevron design that worked just right for the yarn and I feel fit the name perfectly. The hot pink and strong lines totally fit with the little girl I thought I was having.

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Jacey is now available for individual purchase - slowly but surely all of the patterns from the Year of Stripes will be. Or you can buy the whole shebang for a great price - 14 patterns for $29. So grab two of your favorite colors and make your own Jacey - the chevron stripes work magically with crazy variegated colors so you can’t go wrong.

YARN: 800 yards fingering weight - 400 yards of 2 colors

GAUGE: 18 stitches and 24 rows = 4 inches in Blocked Chevron Stitch Pattern

NEEDLES: Size US 5 - 3.75 mm

SIZE: 80" (203 cm) wide and 28.5" (72.5 cm) at deepest point

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Local Yarn Store Day Kits!

 
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Local Yarn Store Day is coming soon. Saturday, April 27th! You should check out what your local yarn store is doing for it! I will be out at the Craft House – I can’t wait!

 One of the awesome things about LYS day is that there are so many great patterns and knitalongs going on. I designed a long infinity cowl for Stitch Sprouts – which is exclusive to local yarn stores as kits for Local Yarn Store Day this year.

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I love an infinity cowl. This one is totally reversible, and can be wrapped around your neck multiple times. You can use the buttons in any of the rows with yarnovers, so you can fasten it and style it in any way you like. You can wear it long like a scarf or in one long loop, or make yourself as cozy as you want to be! 

 
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Your local yarn store can still get kits – there are limited quantities available, but it’s a fun project in delicious yarn! The kit includes 3 skeins of Stitch Sprouts Yellowstone, my Capricious Cowl pattern, five custom made Stitch Sprouts buttons, and a set of Brittany needles to work up the cowl. It comes in two gorgeous color combos. 

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So have your local yarn store get in touch with Stitch Sprouts asap to order kits! The information page is right HERE. I can’t wait to see your Capricious Cowl! 

Clorissa Cowl

There’s nothing I adore more than getting to play with new yarn. So when the lovely folks at Anzula had a new base available, I just knew I wanted to be the one of the first folks to make something pretty with it!

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The Dottie base is a blend of squishy superwash merino with some nylon and beautiful little dark speckled bits that give it character and depth. The generous 420 yard put up made for a cozy long line cowl that is lightweight and soft, but still plenty of coverage to keep you nice and warm. 

 

The yarn is delicious, as all Anzula yarn is, but it’s sturdy too. The nylon content would be great for socks, and it stood up well to quite a few frogging sessions as I figured out exactly what the yarn wanted to be when it grew up! That’s a very important quality for a designer. 

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The resulting cowl is something I’m very proud of! It starts off with a flat triangle and incorporates garter stitch and a simple lace column that goes all the way down the front of the cowl and is used for sections of the cowl as well. I finished it off with a picot bind off to make for a pretty edging!

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 To get your own copy of the Clorissa Cowl just head on over to Ravelry!

Yarn: Less than 400 yards of fingering weight, shown in Anzula Dottie

Needle: US Size 6 (4.0 mm) circulars – 16” or 20”

Notions: Stitch markers, yarn needle

Finished Size: 24” in circumference and 24” long

Craftstar Studios

Once upon a time, a fledgling designer felt she needed a name for her brand stinking new design company, and so she brainstormed. And she asked for input. And she came up with PicnicKnits. And then she had logos made with picnic baskets full of yarn and she was going to write patterns that helped folks realize that everything in knitting was pretty much some combination of knits and purls and therefore a picnic.

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Ok, writing in third person is super weird. So, let’s cut to the chase and say that I outgrew that name years and years ago. But I could never find something that was quite right. And I worried about changing the name when I had a good business attached to it. And then, I started a new job. For two years I was editor of a magazine. And PicnicKnits kind of slipped into nothingness. But then the print magazine went the way so many print things are going today – that is, it went away. And all of the sudden I was faced with this dead business I had neglected, wearing a name I didn’t love, and oh hey you’re an empty nester now too, and what in the heck are you going to do with your life?

I spent some time really thinking about what I want to do and what kind of business I want, and what I enjoy and so now I am starting on a new path. The new path will include lots of the old stuff. I adore knitting and yarn and knit design. But I crocheted for 25 years before I ever picked up a knitting needle so that’s coming to play too! And there are so many other yarn and fiber crafts I want to explore and master and hopefully someday teach. I do so love to teach!

I will be designing, and doing all sorts of yarn crafting, and tech editing, and teaching! So, come along with me as I really start digging into more and more of the yarn world and sharing more of what I love and make with you. I can’t wait to show you what I have in store!

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Binders!

I am very blessed that I have a dedicated space in my house for my office/studio. When we bought this house nearly 6 years ago, we knew that we needed a space for me to work. So for a few years now the "formal living room" has been my office. It's not a huge space - only 12x13 feet. I do wish it had doors somedays. It would be nice to be able to hide the "creative clutter" instead of feeling like my office is a reflection on my entire house. I should probably work on that!

My studio has 3 walls - one of which has a nice big window. Window office, look at me go! One wall is entirely covered with a double desk. Anywhere I can manage is is covered in shelves. And I need more. So many more. I'm trying to figure out how to house everything I need to house all the stuff I need for my PicnicKnits business AND all the stuff I need to be a magazine editor.

The biggest issue is all the binders. I put out a call a month or so ago to the yarn companies asking for color cards. And boy howdy did they respond. My studio is packed to the gills with binders full of cards all strung up with snippets of gorgeous yarns.

And not to be outdone, I have binders for the magazine itself. Each issue is housed in a nice big ole binder, stuffed to the gills with submissions, layout plans, all the things. The way the deadlines overlap I'm working on multiple issues at one time so there's always 3 or more binders in rotation.

And then there's hobby stuff. Knitting isn't a hobby for me anymore. Don't get me wrong, I still love knitting. I couldn't do this if I didn't. But I've been trying to take up sewing. And a house is only so big - I can't take over every room in the house. 

Oh and by the way - my lovely cubicles won't hold binders. Binders are too tall for cubes. The things you learn the hard way, right? I probably should go back to Pinterest and start looking for crazy innovative floor to ceiling shelving options.

Opportunity Knocked

2017 turned on a dime in January. I was all set to go to the Magical Fiber Fantasy Retreat (which was amazing by the way) when I got an opportunity that changed everything. One e-mail led to three phone interviews led to a week in Indiana led to me being the new editor of Creative Knitting Magazine.

This is the cover for the summer issue of 2017. My first official "all mine" issue will be Spring of 2018. Magazines take a long time! 

It's been a total whirlwind of learning and trial by fire ever since. I had a pretty decent idea of how a magazine came together from working in publishing in the past and being a designer for these past almost 10 years. But now I really know! I know about photoshoots, and first proofs, and second proofs  - not to be confused with second breakfast - and all the people it takes to take a magazine from a squirrelly concept in someone's head (that head now being mine!) to a glossy printed thing on the shelves of your local craft or knit store. 

How's that for a run-on sentence? One of the neatest things about having this amazing group of people to work with is that there are editors and proofreaders to whip my nonsensical ramblings into shape! 

So things have changed around here a bit. My days have a different tempo - there are meetings and phone calls and a lot of emails. So many emails. It's been so long since I worked for a company that I forgot about corporate e-mail.

But I still get to work from sunny Florida thank goodness. I'm not sure I could handle winter in Indiana after 13 years down here. And PicnicKnits is still very much a thing! The magazine editor gig is a part-time job, so I still get to do my designing thing, and my editing thing, and my crazy knitting empire thing. 

So here's to figuring out how to balance all the things and knit and chew gum at the same time!

New Year Do Over

The new year did not start out as planned. I took Sunday - New Year's Day - off. Monday the man was off work, but I thought I would get a few things done - think about plans for the future, all that rot. But as Monday continued I realized I was getting sick. 

And I've been sick since then. I actually got antibiotics for a sinus infection and I feel 1000% better, but I still have this crazy cough. Fortunately on the advice of Dana (of the fabulous Unwind Yarn Company) I got myself some high octane cough drops that are actually quelling the monster. Which is good because I'm teaching this weekend and I need to talk. Not cough. 

So I'm printing handouts and getting myself all ready for this weekend. I'm super excited, because it's been way too long since I've gotten away. And even though I'm teaching and vending it will still be so wonderful to be with my people, my knitters!

On the bright side of starting over, I have some very exciting things going on in the next couple of weeks - so today is a very good day to be starting over. Just gotta get caught up and ready to take my first train ride on Wednesday. Yeah, train ride!!! I'm excited. It's cheaper than driving down to Disney and I get to knit the whole time. (Or put stickers on patterns, you know, whatever needs to be done!).

So let's do a smidge of celebrating my new year by casting on a new project. And you can use the code start to get 50% off any PicnicKnits patterns and e-books. Shop the store right here:
PicnicKnits Pattern Store

And if you're in the Orlando area (or a short ride away!) come see me on Saturday at the Swan hotel at Disney. I'll be the crazy one giving away the free PicnicKnits temporary tattoos!

 
 

 

 

Magical Fiber Fantasy Retreat

Knitting. In Orlando. In January. It's a very good plan. There's Disney. And Universal. And Harry Potter. And all sorts of wonderful restaurants and attractions. The weather will almost certainly be lovely. At the very least I can say with 99.9999999% certainty that there won't be a massive snowstorm.

As of today (January 12th) there are still a few spots left for the retreat which runs January 25th-29th. I will be teaching, and Laura Nelkin (!!!!) will be teaching, so there are a lot of fun class options on Thursday and Friday! You should get on that!

And if you're local (or semi local like I am) there is a Vendor Market on Saturday from 11am-5pm, and in addition to teaching at the retreat, I will be there vending! I will be selling books and patterns. And there are a bunch of other awesome fibery folks vending as well!

Rainstorm Studios

Jeri Brock Woodworking

DaizieKnits

AlpacaJoe

Sheepish Creations

FIbernymph Dye Works

Four Purls Yarn (Truck)

Destination Yarn

Seven Sisters Arts

Shirsty Cat Designs

Galiana Creations

Blue Heron Yarns

SewFlo

Apothefaery

Dimensions Buttons

The Ross Farm

Pawley Studios Handmade Ceramics

Gerschubie Fiber Arts

Personally there are a lot of things there that I would love to get my hands on, but I've been wanting a Pawley mug for my tea for-ev-er! So I'm pretty excited about that!  

But right now I have no time for blogging! I have to start getting ready all the stuff I want to bring to Orlando! Hope to see you there!

Chart Star

This year is all about the learning for me. And the teaching. I've decided that I'm putting the picnic back in PicnicKnits. Picnic as in easy. Making knitting easier. I'm going to teach and I'm going to learn.

KNITTING CONFESSION TIME: 
I've never steeked. And I've never knit brioche.

But this year that's going to change. I'm going to tackle both of them. Heck, I'm even planning to design something in brioche. Maybe not steeking though. I'm leaning towards faster, smaller projects and steeking doesn't usually fit into that niche.

What knitting skills are you looking to tackle?

My first 3 releases of this year are the Alrisha Hat, the Becrux Cowl, and the Chara Shawl. ABC. Because I'm making charts as easy as ABC. One of my big plans for this year is to include tutorials and education with every pattern I release. I'm even going back in time to do some teaching on older designs. 

So to start it off with a bang - I'm releasing the Chart Star Course. This course starts with the e-book that includes the 3 patterns. The patterns contain no written instructions for any of the charts. Now if you're proficient chart knitter, enjoy the patterns! But if not, it's time to learn!

The Chart Star Course includes 15 lessons that teach you how to read, understand, and knit with charts. There are complete walk throughs for each patterns, so that you can finish the course as a Chart Star!

So what are you waiting for? Are you ready to conquer charts?
order Chart Star Now!

And if you already know how to work charts, what is the knitting skill you really want to learn? I'm planning out designs and education for the year, and I'd love to make it so I teach you the knitting things you need to know!

This year y'all

I remember back at the end of last year when I had grand plans for 2016. I had no idea. Not only was it a bad year for art, music, and well pretty much the world,  it was also a very bad year for me. I tried going back into the workforce. Bad idea. I had some big ideas for my business that never came to fruition. Totally my own fault, but still not fun. I found out some things about people that made me sad. Honestly I want to just draw a veil over the whole year. I'm cranking through until New Years, and then I'm calling a full on do-over. 

So in the spirit of making things better I started something new. On instagram I started putting up a daily good word. Some of them are quotes about getting it done (like above), but some of them will be silly. The important part is that it's good. It's positive. Or it's fun. I'm done having bad in my world, and I'm working on the little ways I can make the world a better place. This is one little way I can be brighter. One of the ways I can work towards my goal of being a "bright, shiny light". That's how Jen Sincero describes Dolly Parton and I figure that's a pretty good life goal. You can peruse all the good words I'm putting together on Instagram.

So go on. You do you. Be your own version of a bright, shiny light. I hope your holidays are full of love and kindness. And I hope and pray that 2017 brings us all better things. More love. More light.

A Fresh Start!

Things have been crazy around these parts. Even crazier than normal. I live with a certain level of insanity and I embrace it, but lately things have been just too much. 

But that was then, and this is now. Now is my brand new website. What do you think? Still lots of things to come including full galleries of all of my designs, but it's getting there. 

You may not have known, but for the first half of this year I went back into the workforce. The job was fun and not too taxing, and the people were beyond lovely, but it was torture. After spending 12+ years in charge of my own time, I could not stand being required to be somewhere 30 hours a week. And my business suffered terribly. Because when I got home all I wanted to do was veg. And veg I did.

But I veg no more. 

The last month at work I got to plotting. And to planning. And to getting my ducks in a row so I could come back home, revitalize my business, and take care of my family on MY terms. 

So if you're a knitter, I have beautiful designs and helpful tutorials coming your way.

And if you are a designer, I am spending part of my time doing Technical Editing. I've put my years of designing experience to good work editing patterns for designers, publishers, and yarn companies. And my math loving brain could not be happier. 

Also for designers I have a bunch of other helpful, awesome stuff in the pipeline. So watch this space! 

The other thing I learned from the last year is that I must take care of myself. So while I will be rocking and rolling in the business department, I will also be taking care of me. Because if you don't plan in some downtime, the universe will force you down. Ask me how I know. 

Review: Pattern Writing for Knit Designers

Pattern-Writing

Kate Atherley is THE tech editor. Like if she was editing a pattern for me I would be equal parts starstruck and nervous. A "we're not worthy" Wayne's World style tribute comes to mind. So when she asked me to to review her book, immediately I was kind of honored.

But even though I am an unabashed fangirl, I didn't expect what I got. I've been designing for over 8 years, and I have over 200 designs under my belt. What I got was schooled. But in a good way. The book has so much information. So many little details and suggestions that make so much sense.

The book has such concise, complete information on pattern writing that I'm kind of ashamed I've never read it before. It makes me want to rewrite ALL of my patterns. Every knit designer should have it, not just less experienced ones.

The sidebars with input from knitters are invaluable. There are appendixes with just loads of crucial information - including an extensive glossary of abbreviations that I could use all day long. She talks about software. She talks about copyright. She talks about properly tagging your patterns on Ravelry. She talks about working with publications.

Yes, I am a huge fan of Kate Atherley. But this book is that good. I learned so much from reading, and have tips that I will immediately integrate into my pattern writing workflow. And this isn't even the newest edition - although I must say that I don't find any of the information dated at all. She has a brand new edition that is shipping now on Amazon - and I can't wait to get my hands on that one.

YarnCon!

Two weeks from today (!!!) I will be at YarnCon in Chicago. It has been years (decades) since I've been to Chicago and I'm really looking forward to going back. I've never been to YarnCon of course, but I've heard amazing things about it and I can't wait to get there. What is YarnCon? YarnCon is Chicago's Indie Fiber Fair. There are amazing vendors, and classes, and I'm teaching class there myself!

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We are going to work through a variety of bind-off techniques for knitted lace, including: ace bind-offs, extra stretchy bind-offs, picot bind-offs, crochet loop bind-offs, and manipulating the last few rows of knitting to provide extra stretch for dramatic lace edgings. The fancy finish pictured is from my shawl Evanthe, and both the Evanthe pattern AND the Jovia pattern (which uses a picot bind-off shown below) are part of the class materials.

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This class will teach you skills helpful in any lace knitting you do, and also about how to change things up a bit to make a pattern your own! I would love to see you there in class - it's available both Saturday and Sunday mornings at 10am, which leaves you the rest of the day for shopping and schmoozing and knitting! You can register for classes for YarnCon by using their registration page. Hope to see you there!

Blocking is magic!

So as knitters and designers in the yarn world we all know that blocking is the best thing that can happen to an already amazing piece of knit or crocheted goodness. Blocking smooths out stitches, evens up edges, and can open up lace from a fuzzy lump into something breathtaking.

But in order to block it really helps to have the right tools. When I first started blocking I started with tried and true tool - t-pins. Make sure you get the rust-proof ones, but just to give you a warning, sometimes after a long time in circulation even those can rust - so be careful! Pins are perfect for bringing out points, but not quite as useful for straight edges.

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Enter the wires. Wires are amazing for straight edges. They even have special wires that have flexibility so you can pin them into curves. But for a cheaper line option - straight or curved - you can use cotton yarn or string and pins. You can use any yarn for this purpose, but cotton yarn is really helpful in this case because it doesn't break as easily under pressure.

Finally I came across these Knitter's Pride Blockers. I adore these things. For swatches they cannot be beat. They are so fast and you can make straight (or even pointed edges) so easily. For sweater pieces you can swiftly block your pieces to schematic - it's amazing to me how much faster these are than any other method. The set comes with large and small blockers that have rows of pins. They don't always work with complex lace, but I can always go back to pins for those. Now I just need a few more sets of these so I can block an entire sweater at once using only these wonderful tools.

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So the other important tools in my arsenal are blocking mats - I basically can cover my whole studio floor in blocking mats. I also love having my huge quilters ruler to help me quickly block sweaters or pieces to schematic measurements.

What are you go-to blocking tools and tips?

The Robie Tank

Robie-Feature Sometimes you get a call for submissions from a knitting magazine and you actually have just the perfect thing to send in. The Robie Tank was one of those instances. So I swatched it up, and then was sent some perfect yarn - Solemate from Lorna's Laces. I've loved Lorna's Laces pretty much as long as I've been knitting, but the Solemate (and it's sport-weight sister Sportmate) is like the perfect warm weather yarn. I used the Sportmate in my book Warm Days, Cool Knits, so working with the Solemate was a no brainer.

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The magic of the Robie Tank is in the choice of yarns. You pick one crazy yarn and one solid or neutral. And as far as the crazy yarn, the crazier the better. The Hawthorne colorway of Solemate has like all the colors. You could even choose one of those colors that we knitters affectionately refer to as "clown barf". But the natural yarn I used for the solid breaks up any pooling and turns the multi-colored yarn into something that looks actually planned!

Robie-Lace

Robie is worked from the bottom up - starting with a lace border worked sideways. Then you pick up stitches and work a striped slip-stitch pattern in the two colors. The sweet thing about the Robie Tank is that because it's slip-stitch colorwork you are only working with one color at a time. Add in some waist shaping and you've got the making for a shapely, flattering tank.

Robie-Picot

To finish it off, you work some simple picot edgings around the neckline and armholes. It echoes the bottom lace edging and turns the geometric slip stitch patterned top into something downright girly. The strong lines of the slip stitch give it almost a corset kind of feel. So pick yourself a crazy color and a coordinating solid and make yourself something lovely.

The Robie Tank is available in the Spring 2016 issue of Knitscene Magazine. All pictures are copyright Knitscene / Good Folk Photography.

Professional Organizations

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There aren’t a ton of organizations available for knit and crochet designers. A few years back, some of our fellow designers had a group called the Association of Knitwear Designers – AKD for short. I recall that right about the time that I was interested in joining they unfortunately disbanded, but I know they did have mentoring options. I actually considered trying to set up something in the same vein, but I realized that I wasn’t up for managing something of that magnitude. That’s part of the reason that I set up the YDU forums for established designers – so we could help and mentor each other. Because everyone has something they can learn. Right now the main professional organization that you can join as a designer is TNNA – The National Needlework Association. They have membership requirements, and the current membership fee is $60. Depending on when you join, membership allows you to be included in their directory, and grants you admission to their winter and summer shows. They have been working to have more resources and courses available for designers, but the organization’s main focus is still on the wholesaler-retailer relationship. Attending the shows is a very valuable networking experience however, and there are opportunities to showcase your work at the trade shows.

If you can only attend one show per year, I would highly recommend attending the summer TNNA show. The summer show is more focused on the yarn segment versus the needlepoint segment. More of the yarn and fiber vendors attend the summer show, and the attendance overall is generally higher. It is also a great way to cultivate in person relationships with yarn companies, local yarn stores, and other designers. This year the summer show is in Washington DC, and you have plenty of time to join if you want to attend that show.

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CHA – the Craft & Hobby Association also has membership opportunities for designers, but their memberships are a bit pricier at $165 per year. CHA caters more to larger retailers and usually has one show per year in California in January. I have colleagues who swear by the connections they have made at the CHA show, so I am planning on attending that show next year.

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CGOA and TKGA – the Crochet Guild of America and The Knitting Guild Association are really consumer/hobbyist organizations, however there are benefits to joining. For example if you want to teach at TKGA events, it is required to be a member. Both subscriptions include a magazine subscription,and it’s always helpful to keep up with different publications.

Currently I’m a member of TNNA and TKGA, and I will attend the summer shows for both. It will be my first TKGA event, so I’m excited to experience something new. Which organizations do you belong to?

Evanthe

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Evanthe is now available! This past September I taught a short-row crescent class down at Sheep Thrills in Lauderhill, Florida and this was the result - the Evanthe shawlette. evanthe-picnicknits-knitting-pattern

Evanthe is worked up in one skein of The Fiber Seed Sprout - a fingering weight yarn that is pretty much perfect in every way. The colorway is Sanquis - a rich pink red that's all kinds of beautiful. It's worked from the top down in what I call "the fancy cast-on" with short-row shaping and a patterned body.

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The edging is an elaborate lace floral pattern, that is finished with my favorite - a crochet bind-off.

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Evanthe is available for individual purchase for $7.00 USD on Ravelry. But if you buy it before end of the day Monday, January 4th, then you get it for 25% off - no coupon required!

Needles/Hooks: Size 6 needles (4.0 mm) and  Size E hook (3.5 mm)

Yarn: The Fiber Seed Sprout, 90% Merino, 10% Nylon, 480 yards / 140 grams

Gauge: 18 stitches and 24 rows = 4 inches in blocked body pattern

Size: 62″ wide and 16″ deep

Evanthe is available on Ravelry individually for $7.00 USD 

200 Patterns

Yesterday I hit a milestone. With the release of Trieste Hat and the Trieste Mitts patterns, my portfolio now contains 200 designs. Two. Hundred. I've been designing for a bit over 7 years. That comes out to like 27 designs per year. 27. Which coincidentally is my very favorite number. To celebrate 200 designs I'm having a little end of year sale. If you use the code 200 you get 27% off anything in the PicnicKnits Store. Anything. E-Books, patterns, mix and match however you like - and the code is good until the end of the year! I know, I know, it sounds like a long time but we are in the homestretch people. And between you and me, I'm ready for a new year. Bring it on!

So I though I would highlight some of my favorites from my first 200...

From top left: Halaine, Wendell Holmes, Laresca, Biellese, Bayard, Gaenor, Teasdale, Surrey, and Evanthe.

So I have to say, thank you for all the support. Without all the wonderful knitters and customers I would not be where I am today! Here's to 27 more in 2016!