Category Archives: The Designing Day

It’s getting to be a LONG way around …

border of Lacie Blankie in progress The knitting of Lacie Blankie is progressing nicely. I am now a good way through the Wide Outer Border. Since I am working towards the edge of the blanket, the stitch count has been ever- increasing, so it’s getting to be a LONG way around.

Thank goodness for the availability of circular needles with long cables (I am using a US 8 in a 60″ length). In fact, I just confirmed with Mary Moran of KnittingZone that she has plenty of this size and length needle in stock in case there is a rush of yarn shops and knitters needing them, lol.

Lacie Blankie, a pattern in the making

Cotswold Lace Blanket It’s been over 8 years since my Cotswold Lace Blanket (a.k.a. Lacie Blankie) was selected as one of the winners in Interweave’s Save the Sheep contest and went on tour around the country. For the many admirers of the blanket who have waited patiently for me to publish the pattern instructions for Lacie Blankie, your wait is nearly over!

It’s not that it really should take me 8 years to write instructions, but I’ll give the excuse that there have been many interruptions along the way. You know … those ‘life’ things.

I was pleased and excited that the blanket had won, but that also meant I did not see it again for several years while it went on tour around the country with the Save the Sheep Exhibit. Although I had kept some notes, the knitting had gotten quite rushed near the contest deadline and I was not confident that I had everything needed to complete the instructions without referring to the original blanket.

Over the years following the return of the blanket, I began working on the pattern instructions several times. Since the original blanket is made in handspun yarn, I also wanted to re-knit the blanket in a commercial yarn to show that option.

I think that these creations of ours have a life of their own, and sometimes when something ‘seems hard’ it just means that the right time has not yet come. I think that is what was probably happening, because although each commercial yarn I tried was ‘ok’, nothing yet really gave the excitement and pleasure I had when making the original blanket in my handspun Cotswold yarn. It’s very difficult for me to commit the great deal of time and effort there is in quality writing and layout, proofing and marketing a pattern, if I am not really excited about it. Otherwise it just feels like ‘work’. If I can have a choice, I’d rather be doing something I am enjoying, and such was not the case here yet.

THEN, a confluence of events …

Georgia O'Keeffe's mountain A vacation late last summer took me through Abiquui, New Mexico where I gazed upon Georgia O’Keeffe’s mountain. Do you see the mountain in the background to the left of this photo I took? I am sure you recognize it from its iconic flat top being included in so many of her paintings.

The colors of the miles and miles of desert southwest at first glance might appear to be quite boring – sand and sagebrush and more sand and sagebrush. But on closer inspection, there is wonderful color all around, and Georgia O’Keeffe was a master in capturing this. I gained so much more appreciation of these desert colors and they imprinted themselves in my mind as I drove across miles and miles and miles of open land.

Later in the fall, I was in touch with Laura Nelkin, the design director at Schaefer Yarns who informed me of two of their new yarns. One was Judith, a 100% Prime Alpaca yarn. Umm … the undyed version of this yarn had been one of the commercial yarns in which I had started a blanket, so I already knew the worked and how wonderful it felt.

Judith colorway Georgia O'Keeffe from Schaefer Yarns A batch of colorful Judith yarn was the motivation I needed to put Lacie Blanket back on the active list of pattern publication projects! Laura was excited, too, and we conferred back and forth about which colorway to select for the sample model. My subconscious mind must have kicked in, without initially realizing, I had picked Schaefer Yarns colorway Georgia O’Keeffe!
Lacie Blankie in process The knitting of Lacie Blankie in the Judith yarn is proceeding wonderfully and I am planning the pattern for release later this month. Stay tuned!

You can read more about my original Cotswold Lace Blanket and other collected works from the Save the Sheep Project in the book from Interweave Press – Handspun Treasures from Rare Wools.

A Colorful Relationship

Palette of Colors Shrug Remember the “Up to my ears in knitting” post I made on this blog last month? That was where I was talking about my design project for Lorna‚Äôs Laces and Mountain Colors. Sorry to not be able to say too much about it at the time. Well, that design project launched and was exhibited at the recent TNNA trade show in Long Beach, CA. So now I can share with you’all! I named the design I did for them “Palette of Colors Shrug“.

As two of the pioneers of hand-dyed yarn, Lorna’s Laces and Mountain Colors have come together to provide “Mixed Media” kits that combine their yarns with a custom-designed pattern. Palette of Colors is the first offering by these companies in a limited edition kit featuring both companies’ yarns along with this gorgeous shrug pattern that will show off the yarns beautifully.

I knitted two shrug models in two different colorways — one to be displayed in each of the Mountain Colors and Lorna’s Laces booths at the TNNA show. That was just one of the reasons that I was up to my ears in knitting in December, lol. But working with those yarns was pure joy, and seeing the colorways and texture interact is really intriguing. You should try it.

Lorna’s Laces and Mountain Colors are putting together limited edition kits for Palette of Colors that will include one skein of Helen’s Lace from Lorna’s Laces, one skein of Half Crepe from Mountain Colors, and the Palette of Colors pattern from HeartStrings FiberArts. The kit is offered in five colorways and will be available starting in February to any shop that carries yarn from either company. Colorway combinations that will be offered in these limited edition kits are: (color name of Lorna’s Laces followed by that of Mountain Colors)

  • Sandridge/Chinook (shown above in the thumbnail – click that to see more)
  • Red Rover/Ruby River (shown in pictures on Meg’s Yarn Expressions blog below)
  • Black Watch/Evergreen
  • Gold Hill/Yellowstone
  • Larkspur/Blackberry

Be sure see the nice pictures that Meg Manning of Yarn Expressions took of the Red Rover/Ruby River Palette of Colors Shrug model before the TNNA show opened. I was delighted that Meg commented “I think my favorite find of the show was this.”

Pet the Bunnies

When I and other members of Association of Knitwear Designers (AKD) are asked to knit swatches for TNNA’s Great Wall of Yarn (GWOY), we can make anything from plain to fancy — whatever our design creativity leads us to in showing off the yarn well. bunny made in kid mohair

Over the past few days, I posted about the swatches/mini-projects I made in the 4 yarns I was sent to work with. All you saw in those posts were the final ‘swatches’ I completed for display on the Wall. However, what I did not initially mention is that before I dove into the creative swatches, I did the zen-type of thing by knitting some plain stockinette stitch swatches just to get a feel for how the yarn handles while I let the yarn ‘speak to me’.

knitted bunnies in process of being made Just for fun, yesterday I turned those plain swatches into bunnies! Since I will not be able to go to TNNA this time, I’ve mailed the bunnies to my designer friend Jennifer Hagan (Figheadh Knits), who will be attending TNNA for the first time and offered to deliver these additional ‘swatches’ to the yarn company booths.
So if you will be at TNNA, be sure to stop in at the booths of these 4 yarn companies to pet the bunnies:

  • ShibuiKnits – booths 363/462
  • Colinton Australian Angoras – booth 2243
  • Kaalund Yarns (Jumbok) – booth 360
  • Jarbo Garn – booths 1026/1028
bunny made in kid mohair

Jarbo Garn Tropik from Swedish Yarn Imports

Jarbo Garn Tropik swatch in Elegantly Simple Baby Blanket stitch patternTropik by Jarbo Garn (distributed by Swedish Yarn Imports) is the last of the 4 yarns I was sent to swatch for TNNA’s Great Wall of Yarn. Here it is made up into a swatch of 2 multiples of the stitch pattern used in the Elegantly Simple Baby Blanket and Flowered-Crown Preemie Cap (from my 1989 Itty Bitty Circular Workshop).

flowered-crown-preemie-cap.jpgTropik is a brand new yarn for January 2008. I received the color white — not too exciting, but you can see from the samples I knitted that ‘baby’ came to mind.

The yarn came in a 50g/135 yd ball and is 50% bamboo, 25% combed cotton, 25% acrylic. Ball band needle size recommendation is 4mm (US 6) at 23 stitches and 30 rows over 10 cm (4 inches). However, I used 3.5mm (US 4) on this preemie cap to achieve that gauge after washing and drying. For the baby blanket swatch, I used 4.5mm (US 7) as I usually go up a few needle sizes for lacy items.

The warm white is soothing and the yarn is soft. The fabric is fluid and yiedling; definitely something that will feel good to wear and have next to even the most sensitive skin.

I feel that Tropik will be better used for special items that do not require intensive laundry care. However, with the ability to machine wash using moderate temperatures and tumble dry on low heat, items even for a special ‘going home’ baby hat and blanket such as these would be possible.

p.s. I’ve had some requests to republish the preemie caps that I designed in 1989 as part of my “Itty Bitty Circular Workshop”. I am putting reworking the models and instructions on my 2008 schedule of to-do’s, so stay tuned if you are interested. I chose preemie caps as the hands-on projects for that multi-part workshop because these small items are wonderful candidates for practicing and learning the techniques. And there are always babies in need if you don’t have one of your own.