Dec 222013
 

If you’re anything like me, you had a rude alarm call last week when you realized that Christmas was coming up fast and that it was probably time to start your holiday knitting.  I don’t do a lot of holiday knitting, but when I do it’s always at the last minute and overly-ambitious.

In my previous post, I mentioned how Josh and I are going to Florida (leaving Christmas Eve and returning several days into the New Year).  Our incredibly friendly neighbors have agreed to care for our animals while we’re away and I am beside myself with gratitude.  As a ‘thank you’ I decided to knit them up a pair of hats.  Knowing their preference for cult horror films and the macabre, I thought that using the skull colorwork motif might be a big hit with them.

It’s always a little unnerving knitting something for someone when you don’t know their exact measurements, so I made my best guess about the sizing.

For the smaller hat (upper left) I used Knit Picks Wool of the Andes sport weight in Fedora an Mink Heather, and the larger hat is in Knit Picks City Tweed (DK weight) in Orca and Snowshoe.  For both hats, I cast on 180 sts and worked in k1,p1 ribbing with US 2 needles, then switched to US 3 for the main body and colorwork.  For the decreases at the crown, I kind of improvised doing 18 decreases every other round.  Were I to knit another one of these hats some time, I might make a more inspired crown section, as this one is pretty boring.

Anyway, I still have A LOT more gift knitting to do in a short amount of time.  I’m looking forward to finishing up my deadline knitting so that I can catch up on my millions of backlogged knitting projects over the trip.  We got another big dumping of snow (though, fortunately, the temperatures have warmed up significantly) and I’m looking forward to leaving winter behind during our trip.  It seems like it’s been a long time since we took a real vacation and I’m very excited about taking long walks on the beach in the balmy 70 degree temperatures.

 

Nov 012013
 

I hope you all had a happy, fun, and safe Halloween yesterday!  I actually forgot it was Halloween until about 4:30pm, when I scurried to the store to buy candy for the Treaters.  Despite having a lot of kids in the ‘hood, we don’t get very many Trick-or-Treaters, but I suspect the ones we did get, appreciated the treats!  I was excited to see that one small boy was dressed as a chicken!  What a copy cat!

Anyway, now that it is the first of November, I am excited to tell you all about the Independent Designer Gift-A-Long happening on Ravelry.

This is an event wherein some 170 independent designers are collaborating on a promotion and craft-along (both knitting and crochet!) to drive the spirit of gift-giving.  Now is a GREAT time to start on your holiday crafting and this event is intended to help motivate and encourage those efforts.  Participating designers are offering 25% off on selected patterns starting today until November 15th, but beyond that there is a group where crafters may share photos of their beautiful works, as well as have opportunities to win prizes!

I am including all of my designs in the promotion, even though they aren’t the most “gifty”.  Just use the promo code “giftalong” for 25% off.  However, there are hundreds and hundreds of amazing designs in the pool and I, myself, have been drooling over all of the Pinterest Boards that the organizers created and plan on making a few things.

I’m going to spend the weekend sifting through all of the designs and hopefully next week I’ll be able to show you what I’ve decide to make.

Sep 032013
 

Lots of happs a happenin’!

Featured FO

I whipped up another Renfrew this weekend.  It is very similar to my other Renfrews, though I did mix it up by incorporating a “floral block” with the yoke and sleeves.  The Renfrew pattern fits me so well and I wear them all the time that I want to make a whole bunch more of them.

Also on the Sewing Table

I’m currently working on a knit version of Vogue 8146, which is a pattern for a straight sleeveless dress.  I took 5″ of ease out of the pattern to modify it for my very stretchy knit fabric and actually traced the bust area of the Renfrew pattern (which fits my bust area perfectly).   The dress pattern has four pieces (one front, one back, and their corresponding facings) so I anticipate that it won’t take very long to sew.

On the Knitting Needles

I’ve been obsessed with large scale colorwork projects for a long time and am working on another version of my Oblique Motion with a different motif.  For the yarn, instead of a handpainted  yarn, I’m using a self-striping yarn with long color gradients and I’m enjoying how it’s knitting up!

I finished one Gander sock and love it.  Kiko, obviously, is thrilled.

I am almost done with the body of my Ginkgo Cardigan.  I haven’t knat a sweater with thicker than fingering weight yarn in over a year, so this seems to be a very speedy project.  Plus, it’s worked in reverse stockinette, which is pretty fast as well.

In the Garden

Harvests are coming in steadily.  Still no heirloom tomatoes but lots of other tasty noms.  I’ve been making a super delish fried squash dish with a dill cucumber yogurt sauce that I enjoy almost every day.  I picked ten eggplant this weekend and am going to make up a batch of baba ghanouj.  I harvested the final two small cucumbers before uprooting the plant and tossing it into the compost bin.  I have more pepperoncini than I know what to do with and picked two nice onions (finally – - if you recall, I started them from seed in January).

I grew bored of my normal scrambled eggs and am mixing up my egg consumption by fueling myself with a savory oatmeal concoction (oatmeal cooked in vanilla flavored almond milk, chopped pecans, chives, garlic, two eggs, and topped with cheddar cheese).  It sounds gross but is so yummy!

As for the garden, I’ve been working on revising my beds, which is a lot of manual labor (I actually gave myself a blister on my thumb from using the drill so much!).  This weekend, I procured the materials to make some mini hoop tunnels over the beds to extend my growing season.  So far, for my fall beds, I have beets, onions, broccoli, kale, cauliflower, cabbages, brussels sprouts, peas, and beans that are all surviving the heat and scorching sun.  This week marks a slight cool down, so I’m hoping that it will be more pleasant outside for me to finish my beds.  Gah, I am so sick of the heat!

My sunflowers are in full bloom and the bees are just loving them.  Next year, I am going to plant SO MANY sunflower seeds because they really make me happy!

Human Powered Locomotion

I’ve also been riding my bike some more, at least, when it is not fifty million degrees in temperature.  Two weekends ago, Josh and I were “ride ambassadors” for the annual MS charity bike ride, which took us on a lovely 25 mile loop around the Snake River Valley, starting at Sawtooth Winery.  I liked the route so much that I took my friend Amy on that same ride and we had a splendid time.  I’ve also been doing some rides on my own, which probably aren’t very interesting, and I rode a half-Bogus this weekend at possibly my slowest time ever.

Anyway, those are the happs.

Aug 272013
 

A term in musical theory, Oblique Motion occurs when one voice remains on a single pitch while the other ascends or descends.  An apt name for my latest knitting pattern, the colorwork pattern for this sweater will have one knitting up or down on the right side, while the wrong side remains the same.  If you’ve knit my Unalakleet, you know what I mean.  If you haven’t, what I mean is that the wrong side mirrors the right side, which makes working the colorwork a cinch.

Oblique Motion is a top-down cardigan with an allover diamond colorwork pattern. Cardigan features an upright collar worked in doubleknitting technique that is both reversible and wearable folded up or folded down. The doubleknitting continues down the overlapping front panels so that the underside looks equally pleasing as the outside and provides additional structure. The body and sleeves are worked in normal stranded colorwork knitting, with raglan shoulder shaping. The sleeve cuffs and bottom hem of the body are also worked in doubleknitting so that the fabric lies flat and looks neat on the underside. Cardigan is worked seamlessly and no steek is needed as the colorwork pattern is easy to work on the right side and the wrong side of the fabric.  Pattern is sized from 30″ / 76 cm to 60″ / 152 cm bust, with sizing increments every 2″ / 5 cm

Pattern Difficulty: Advanced. Pattern uses stranded knitting, stranded purling, doubleknitting, increases and decreases in stranded knitting, and grafting using Kitchener Stitch.

This is the first pattern I’ve ever rated as ‘advanced.’  Though, if you are comfortable with the above-listed skills, this is a very easy pattern to knit.  I decided to rate it ‘advanced’ simply due to the number of techniques involved – - as with anything, if you have the skills, it’s easy.  Personally, I love patterns that utilize different skills but are “easy”.  I designed the colorwork pattern to be easily “memorizable” – - I suspect that anyone who makes their way though the first repeat of the first chart will barely have to glance at the other charts for the rest of the sweater pattern.

That said, knitting this sweater is not for the faint of heart.  Consider this: a full length sweater worked with a combination of stranded knitting (and stranded purling!) as well as doubleknitting in fingering weight yarn.  It’s not one of those quick projects you can slam out in a weekend… or five weekends.  Even if you are going to knit the smallest size, you will be using almost 3000 yards / 2300 meters worth of yarn, and double that for the largest size.  This is a project for the Fearless Knitter.

As for what in the world I was thinking when I designed and knat this, it was my attempt to find a good way to use a handpainted yarn in a sweater.  I understand that the design of this sweater might be too bold for some, but I’ve always been drawn to boldness in fashion.

With regards to the handpainted yarn, I had a few skeins of the Knit Picks Stroll Handpainted sock yarn in the Crystal Colorway.  I thought it was such a beautiful yarn and I wanted to make a sweater with it, but even for me, handpainted yarns can be too bold for sweaters.  I tried a variety of different stitch patterns, swatched and swatched and swatched, until finally it occurred to me that I could combine it with a solid yarn and whip up a colorwork sweater.  BAM!

Sizing Information (click for larger view)

Materials Information

Yarn Main Color:Knit Picks Palette (fingering weight, 100% wool, 231 yards / 211 meters per 50 gram skein), Marine Heather Colorway – 6, 6, 7, 7, 7, 8, 8, 8, 9, 9, 9, 10, 10, 11, 11, 11 skeins

Yarn Contrasting Color: Knit Picks Stroll Handpainted (fingering weight, 75% merino, 25% nylon, 462 yards / 422 meters per 50 gran skein), Crystal Colorway – 3, 3, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 6, 6, 6, skeins

Needles: One US 4 / 3.5 mm long circular needle for body and yoke, and set of US 4 / 3.5 mm double pointed needles for sleeves, or size to achieve gauge.

Gauge: 28 stitches by 36 rows = 4″ x 4″ / 10 x 10 cm in Colorwork pattern (stranded knitting) after blocking.

Notions: Stitch markers (6), stitch holders (4), tapestry needle, 1″ / 2.5 cm buttons (12)

Ravelry Pattern Page: Oblique Motion
  $7.00

Aug 222013
 

I know for much of the world, getting some rain isn’t worth talking about.  Until today, I honestly have no idea how long it’s been since we’ve seen any moisture from above… several months at least.  I was actually sitting outside under a hot overcast sky (I wasn’t sure if it was overcast because of clouds or smoke from the fires) working on this here blog when the wind started gusting through the tree tops and the sky completely opened up.  Below is a photograph of my residential street after the storm, somewhat akin to a shallow river, approximately ankle depth.

The chickens completely freaked out – they’ve only experienced one or two rain storms in their lives and today’s storm was a storm to beat other storms.  They calmed down once I managed to herd them into the coop (a process that I hope no one witnessed!).  Once inside, they immediately began shaking out their feathers and preening themselves.  After the storm, they were like kids in a candy store.  So many tasty treats for the eating!

Above, see how brown the ground is?  I actually only provide water to some of the grass.  I threw down hay to cover up the bare earth a few months ago, but we really need to develop some aesthetically pleasing water wise landscaping.

Oh sigh, so much to do… Anyway.

On the Knitting Needles

The pretty yarn that I ordered arrived in the mail today.  I’m going to make me some stranded mittens!

In the last week, I’ve added quite a few rounds to the second sleeve on my Aesa pullover.

And I successfully swatched for my Ginkgo cardigan, have completed the leaf tie, and am almost done with the yoke.

In the Garden

Cutting my losses, I tore out the melons this week.  Watermelons, cantaloupe, and muskmelons are all gone.  Sayonara!

Locally, I’m not the only one disappointed in their backyard garden.  People are articulating that “it’s just one of those years”.   I’ve been drafting a list of revisions to my gardening strategies.  Among them are to buy more locally-adapted seeds.  For this year, I bought most of my seeds from Seed Savers Exchange and Pinetree Seeds, both organic non-GMO seed companies that specialize in heirloom and open pollinated seeds.  However, I’ve been wondering if the varieties I’ve been trying to grow aren’t the best for my area.  By contrast, I bought a few seed packets from local organic seed savers, specializing in locally-adapted seeds, and those have all been doing very well.

Anyway, I’ve been working on getting my garden ready for fall gardening.  I’ve got a big bed of beets and kale installed (photo below) and am working on beds and planting areas for broccoli and other cole crops.  My fall beans are doing very well and my fall peas are already putting out peas to eat!  I’ve got a big broccoli plant that I directly sowed in June that has a nice head growing.  The sprouts on my brussels sprouts are getting bigger.  I peeked at my parsnips and they are quite large.

My summer garden is still producing okay.  Cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, patty pans, yellow squash, eggplant, and peppers are all churning stuff out.

Joy in Wild Spaces

We’ve been doing a bunch of hiking around Tablerock, which is an area of the foothills just beyond our house.  It takes 5 minutes to walk to the trailhead from our front door, and then 45 minutes to hike to the very top (a pretty grueling climb!) and there are a few other trails as well, for longer or shorter hikes.

It’s been really nice hiking way up high and then relaxing with a beer while watching the sun set.  Of course, I hate that our sunsets are so beautiful because of the wildfires.  According to the National Fire Center, more than 450 square miles in Idaho are on fire.

Aug 162013
 

Whenever I finish a big knitting project, I always feel inclined to cast on for eleventybillion new projects.   As of this week, I have final-finalized the pattern for my Oblique Motion pattern and, in my sigh of relief, am so excited about working on some OPPs (Other People’s Patterns).

As an aside, awhile ago, I mentioned how I broke my camera just prior to taking any shots of my knitted piece, and it was this project that I was referring to.  My camera is still in the shop and I’m undecided if I should wait until it’s fixed to take better photos or if these are good enough.  Of course, I strive to do everything to the best of my abilities, but also, I hate taking photos of myself (and my skills are lacking anyway).  This is the design thing I’ve been working on for a great long while and it feels so satisfying that it is done and done!  …except for the photos of course.

So, this morning, I decided to go on a little online shopping spree and procure for myself some indie knitting supplies.  Wanna see my bounty?!?  I love new knitting bounty!  (It’s actually been a long time since I scored any knitting bounty).

Firstly, I got some yarn (because I totally NEED more yarn!).  I ordered some skeins of Sunshine Yarns Merino Worsted (in the Bumblebee and Windstorm colorways) and I’m planning up some pretty colorwork mittens.  You should look at all the pretty pictures on the website, because pretty yarn is pretty.

And then I bought up some indie knitting patterns that I’ve had my eye on.  Fortunately, these will be all stashbuster projects, as I was able to identify some appropriate yarn in my stash for all of them.

This first is one of yellowcosmos’s latest designs, the Ginkgo Cardigan.  I was so excited when I saw this one, a reversible cardigan with a funnel neck.  I’ve knat a few of Connie’s designs and they’re always so well done with really interesting details.  For the yarn, I’m going to try swatching with my stash of Noro Cash Iroha and see how it works out.

(Sorry for the bad telephone photos… that blackish blob is my yarn).

The second one is Elia by Julia Trice, which has some fantastic cables and a neat shawl collar… I must really be into nifty collars these days (this and the Ginkgo cardigan both have nifty collars…).  For the yarn, I’m going to swatch with my Knit Picks Wool of the Andes Tweed.

Third pattern is Manu by Kate Davies, which I’ve wanted to make for a LONG time.  In fact, call me Ms. Procrastinator, but I’ve been meaning to knit a lot of her designs for a long time.  Plan to swatch with some of my large stash of Garnstudio Drops Alpaca, a popular yarn for this pattern.

Finally, I procured Ann Weaver’s Ambergris and am looking forward to swatching with my stash of Plucky Knitter Primo Worsted.  You cannot accurately discern the color of the yarn in my bad photo, but it is a lovely deep blue (Bohemian Blue is the colorway) and I think it is well suited to this sweater with a nautical theme.

Of course, I also have a pile of WIPs that I’m looking forward to getting my grubby hands on.

And as for the knitting that I’ve been spending time with recently, here’s the progress on my sock.  For the heel, I was able to do the increases for the gusset while maintaining the colorwork pattern, and then transitioned to a basic check pattern for the decreases.  I think it turned out really well!  I find this colorwork pattern so mesmerizing… it’s such a simple design but I love how the horizontal stripes create dramatic vertical effects.  As usual, Kiko is in awe of my handiwork.

In my previous colorwork sock attempts, I fiddled with doing a stranded short row heel but that hasn’t worked out the best (it’s been challenging to get my wraps to look nice).  But I think this stranded gusset heel is splendid.  I still have a dream of a fully uninterrupted colorwork pattern with my sock heels, but until then, this is more than satisfactory.

Tell me, do you all have a preferred heel method for your stranded socks?  Also, what do you think the photos of my cardigan?  Should I reshoot or are they good enough???  I am so undecided!

 

 

Mar 012013
 

When it comes to colorwork knitting, there are some motifs that are better suited to doubleknitting rather than normal stranded knitting (even though normal stranding works just fine, too).  For example, if a colorwork motif has blocks of color that are more than, say, 5 stitches long, then it can be a little tricky to manage that long float and still maintain an even tension with stranded knitting.  Furthermore, if those longer blocks of color extend upwards for several rows, the knitter should make sure that they do not twist/weave their floats in the same vertical stitch as the previous row (otherwise, the knitting stitches will not look right).  Knitters who are experienced in stranded knitting most likely are able to manage these longer floats just fine, but personally, I prefer stranded knitting in smaller blocks of color.

The skulls motif that I use for my Skull Mittens and the Kranium Kowl has been one of my favorite colorwork motifs because it’s fun to knit and it seems to make good gifts.  However, it has blocks of color that are as much as 9 stitches long for 3 rows and, anymore, I just find it annoying to bother with long floats like that.

Enter, doubleknitting, a perfect knitting technique for colorwork that has long floats.  Previously, I have expounded upon the merits of doubleknitting ad nauseum… Not only do you not have to worry about managing floats, but your knitting is double-sided, and very very stretchy!

Basically, with doubleknitting, you cast on twice the number of stitches that you would with a single sided stockinette fabric and, essentially, work 1×1 ribbing (but bringing both yarns forward and back as you knit and purl);  the stitches that you knit become the “right side” facing fabric, and the stitches that you purl become the “wrong side” facing fabric and also presents itself as stockinette.

One of the components of doubleknitting that has eluded me until now is the cast on.   In my doubleknitting reference library, there are a vast array of cast on suggestions, but none of them have rocked my world.  Recently, I was fiddling with some different tubular cast ons, and discovered that using Judy’s Magic Cast On is possibly the most perfect cast on technique for doubleknitting.

Check out my cast on edge!  Doesn’t it match nicely with my Kitchener Stitch grafting?!?

For a few years, I’ve been fielding requests from knitters for a doubleknit variation of the Kranium Kowl and I am excited to finally be able to make that happen.  For this doubleknit variation, I used Knit Picks City Tweed DK in the Romance and Snowshoe colorway.  This is the small size and I used only one ball of each color (the sizes medium and large will take two balls).   In order to get gauge, I used a size US 4 needle (and for the cast on and the grafting, I needed a second needle).

The pattern for the Kranium Kowl now includes both the stranded version and the doubleknit version and I am keeping the pattern at $4.00.

Kranium Kowl

  $4.00

Dec 112012
 

Well, it’s time to put my nose to the grindstone and shift my holiday crafting into high gear.  I recently noted that the present date is considerably closer to my holiday crafting deadline than I had realized, and so I opted to drop everything I was working on and re-prioritize my crafting energies.  Unfortunately, I won’t have much to show you for a while.

But, I did finish my shawl over the weekend.

And after I finished blocking her, decided to take advantage of the light dusting of snow we received, and ventured out on a photoshoot early in the morning on Sunday.

This yarn is the Kathee Nelson Art Yarn Ritz Lace that I procured last year at Sock Summit in Portland and it is amazing.  The name “Ritz Lace” totally applies, as it feels LUXURIOUS.  For this shawl (the medium size), I used approximately 67% of the skein, and I am wondering if I have enough left to make a small shawlette.

Anyway, my adventures into soup-making continue.  Still using my new soup cookbook, I whipped up a batch of the split pea soup (which contained, among other things, green split peas, potatoes, carrots, onions, garlic, and bacon).  And yes, this photo is fairly true to color – - I think that all of the carrots gave the soup that yellow tinge.  And except for the peas, I already had everything in my kitchen stores to make this soup, which always makes me feel satisfied and not-wasteful.  Besides adding more bacon than the recipe called for, my only other modification was to add several hefty dashes of cayenne pepper, because I loves me a soup with KICK!

Incidentally, that bread (which clearly shows that my toaster machine needs some TLC because it toasts very unevenly) is a locally made cheddar-scallion sourdough that is AMAZING.  It is by far my favorite bread on this earth, and I am one lucky bread-consuming human, because there is a little market a few blocks from my home that sells THIS BREAD as well as my favorite variety of ice cream in all of the universe.  Needless to say, I take a trip to this market several times a week…

In other news, I continue to do my yoga, in addition to my normal exercise routine, and it is going well.  In the past ten days, I’ve only skipped doing yoga once and that was ONLY because I had gone a bit bananas during a hip opening sequence and pulled my groin.  It wasn’t a painful groin pulling, but the muscles and tendons felt all floppy and without strength, which led me to doubt my ability to hold a pose safely, so I took the next day off.

Anyway, I’ve also decided to retain my membership to the online yoga studio.  The variety of classes, styles, and instructors seems to keep me interested.  I have a tendency to fall back to my comfort zones and do the same thing over and over, and so I like that this variety is pushing my comfort level and encouraging me to “mix it up” (which is always beneficial for exercise activities).   Further, I have never considered myself to have good balance or coordination, and have been surprising myself with my capacity to move into and hold some of the more difficult (for me) yoga poses.

 

Nov 172012
 

Swaddling my feet in cozy stranded socks is an amazing way to achieve a state of comfortable bliss during the cold weather.

Yarn: Knit Picks Palette, Pool, Celestial, and Raspberry Heather colorways
Needles: US 2 and US 3
Pattern: Improvised
Ravelry Project Page 

I flew by the seat of my pants with these socks, casting on my stitches on a whim and with no plan.  I love the finished socks, though I haven’t quite mastered the stranded short row heel (what with my jumbled color wraps).  On one sock, I did my wraps with both yarn colors, and on the other sock I wrapped with just the darker blue yarn, and both heels look equally jumbled.  Perhaps I should consult an actual pattern, ne?

There is also a lesson in color dominance with these socks.  Can you see it?  On the sock to the left, on the toe, there are two little stripes where the dark blue yarn is more dominant than the light blue yarn – - For the toe, I had intended to hold the light blue yarn as dominant, but I guess with those two lines I must have gotten my yarn mixed up.  Oops!

The chart for the main colorwork was about as simple as it gets.  For relaxing colorwork knitting, I tend to prefer simple repeating patterns that I can easily memorize and provide for mindless knitting.

Basically, I cast on 20 sts (10 on each of two needles) using Judy’s Magic Cast On on size US 2 needles, and increased every other round until there were 72 sts around, and then worked this stranded pattern.  After the short row heel, I switched to US 3 needles for the leg, and then back to a US 2 for the 1×1 ribbing.  I also gave these socks a good blocking to even out the tension in my stranding.  Eh voila!  A quick and easy pair of super cozy stranded socks!

 

 

Oct 102012
 

It has now been almost a month since the release of my High Desert eBook and I have yet to write individual posts about each of the patterns, as per my promise.   I keep meaning to, but I’ve been having a mental block about it; I don’t know why.  I used to get this mental block in graduate school and would find myself sitting in front of the computer for hours until I would finally just force myself to start writing something.  That first sentence was always the hardest.

Okay, here goes…

One of the interesting things about the release of the book has been seeing which patterns are the most popular, and that the general popularity of the patterns roughly corresponds to my favorite as well.  For example, the three most popular of the patterns are Tumbleweed, Oleander, and Camas Lily, which are also my favorite.  Don’t misunderstand me, I love the other patterns but these three have really stolen my heart.  And my absolute, number one, favorite of my favorite patterns is Camas Lily.

I had had an idea for a cardigan with an undulating lace pattern sketched out in my notebook for a long time and when this book opportunity came along, this was the first pattern that I set out to make a reality.  And the pattern itself flowed together seamlessly, as though the idea in my head was so thoroughly imagined that I already knew how each element would come together.  Most designs don’t come together so easily, so Camas Lily was really amazing in that way.

I read a lot of interviews with pattern designers and find it particularly fascinating to read about what inspires designers to design what they design.  While I, too, am inspired by architecture, fine art, geology, runway fashion, and the infinite wonder of the universe, at the end of the day, what inspires me to actually design and knit something is more basic to what I want to wear and what I find enjoyable to knit.   While I have discovered a love for sewing garments, I still don’t tend to enjoy sewing my knits; as a result, I tend to design pieces that require very minimal seaming.  I also tend to find knitting miles and miles of stockinette in the round rather boring, and prefer to knit and design pieces that I find interesting to work on.  (Although, a good friend directed me to the obvious advantage to knitting miles and miles of stockinette in the round: subtitled films.)  Stitch patterns with cables or lace are particularly appealing to me because I love watching how the increases and decreases, cables to the front or to the back, come together to make patterns that are both visually interesting and exciting to knit.  The stitch pattern for Camas Lily is a twin leaf motif and it was both stimulating and satisfying watching the leaves grow and grow, as healthy leaves should.

Speaking of leaves, I don’t want to downplay nature as a source of inspiration and how wilderness is significantly more important to me than runway fashion in my design process.  When anyone learns that I went to university in Montreal and Sweden, without fail, their next question is why I live in Idaho (when compared to Montreal and Stockholm, it could be that Idaho doesn’t elicit the same visions of glamor and excitement).  Well, for one, I have a good number of friends here, so that’s important to me.  But wilderness and the ability to escape into nature is a HUGE reason why I choose to live in Idaho.  Over the years, I’ve thought a lot about moving elsewhere (as amazing as Idaho is, it is not perfect), but I feel very attached to the high desert landscapes of southwest Idaho.  Hence, why I decided to make this book my homage to the high desert.

Camas Lily brings together some of my favorite elements in a handknit sweater.  The fingering weight yarn yields a sweater that I find to be the ideal thickness/thinness both for flattering the figure and for temperature regulation (the sweater is neither too hot nor too cold, but is juuust riiight).  Cropped sleeves further enhance the temperature control factor, making it more ideal as a transitional sweater because your arms can breathe if the environment is on the warmer side of cool and facilitates the wearing of super cozy fingerless mittens that extend up the arm if the environment is on the cooler side of cool.  And the advantages of a cardigan, in my mind, speak for themselves: ease of putting on and pulling off, wear open if warm, wear closed if cold, not to mention the universal truth that cardigans are just awesome.  Also, I prefer to wear all cardigans (and the Camas Lily in particular) open like the model in the above photo is wearing it.

One of the reasons I procrastinated writing about these patterns is that I wasn’t sure what I should write that wasn’t already written in the pattern description;  I didn’t want to just copy and paste what I had already written.

However, it occurred to me that a good topic for this blog would be to show you photos of the sweater and different people wearing it!  A discussion a while back in the Designers forum on Ravelry was “being one’s own model” and that is very germane to those of us who self-publish and can be problematic because designers might not be trained models (and we might slouch in front of the camera, or smile awkwardly and crop our face from the photo because we’re self-conscious about how we look).  Having professional photographers and professional models is wonderful for producing higher quality photographs, obviously, and I was elated (and relieved) when Knit Picks said that they would take care of the modeling and photography!  So, here I am, showing you photos of different people wearing the sweater…  from the professional model, to the camera-shy.

These final photos are of my friend Amy (who was the friend with the brilliant insight about stockinette in the round allowing a person to actually watch subtitled films), who was able to test knit a larger size of the sweater.  As you can see, the sweater looks nice on three completely different bodies.  These photos of Amy I just snapped very quickly using my telephone camera, so I apologize if they are a bit awkward.

If you would like to make a Camas Lily of your very own (or for a very special person, who must be extraordinarily special because you knit for them), here is the link to Knit Picks where you can buy a copy of just this pattern for $4.99 or the entire e-book (which includes 6 patterns) for $9.99.  Suggested yarn for this sweater is Knit Picks Capretta (which is what all of the sweaters pictured here are knit in) and that would be an excellent yarn if you are looking for something that is so soft that you would want to spend all of eternity swaddled in it.   If you don’t need to be swaddled in yarnie goodness for all eternity and are interested in knitting this sweater using a more durable yarn, I would personally recommend the Stroll Tonal line, which is what Amy and I both made our Star Gazing Cardigans from, which has a higher nylon content and fantastic colors.

Finally, I promise to continue to give myself a hard time about blogging about the rest of the patterns.  I might not actually post about them in a timely fashion, but rest assured that I will be making myself feel badly until I do post about them.

(Amy decided not to add the buttons, but here she is modeling how it would look if she had.  …OMB, doesn’t she have great hair!)