Thursday, May 25, 2017

Show Us Your Big Easy Blanket!


Get ready to feast your eyes, because I'm about to show off some Big Easy Blanket FO's!

photo by JulieR
 This beautiful green Big Easy was knit by JulieR on Ravelry. She used Paton's Washed Haze Aran in teal, which is a discontinued yarn. Too bad, because this color has my heart! And the fabric is gorgeous! Thanks to Julie for allowing me to use her picture.

photo by nannyknitter62
 This perky purple Big Easy is from nannyknitter62, who has knit the BE twice. This one is from last year and she knit it with The Fiber Company Cumbria in the Castelrigg colorway. It looks so cozy!

photo by nannyknitter62
 And here's nanyknitter62's earlier FO of the Big Easy, which she made with Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks that Rock Heavyweight in the Star Sapphire colorway. Such a regal fabric!

photo by silverwoman

This Big Easy Blanket knit by silverwoman on Ravelry shows off the fabric so well and was knit with Cascade Yarns 128 Superwash in the Silver colorway. I'm so glad she allowed me to use her picture! Striking!

Why am I showing off these beautiful blankets? Why, it's all part of the Figheadh Pattern of the Month! Another part of it is the 30% discount you can still receive on the pattern until May 31. Many have already taken advantage and so can you! There's no code needed--just pop the pattern in your shopping cart and the discount is automatically deducted. Nice!

Ravelry tells me there are 41 projects for this pattern and I have requested lots more photo permissions, so I'll update this post as I receive those. If you want your Big Easy FO added, let me know!

Show Us Your Velutina!


This month's Mirth Pattern of the Month (MPOM) is the Velutina Scarf, which I gave the details to here when it was first published. Since we're in the last week of May, it's time to show off some of your Velutinas!

photo by fantomina

This lovely FO is fantomina's Velutina. She was nice enough to allow me to add her photo to the pattern page on Ravelry. This Velutina was made with Blue Moon Fiber Arts Marine Silk Fingering in the Melusine colorway. Gorgeous!

photo by naarden

This Velutina WIP is being worked by naarden on Ravelry and uses Shibui Knits Heichi in the greenspace colorway. That yarn has been discontinued and is a heavier yarn than suggested in the pattern, but it works! Her project page says it was finished a couple of years ago, so maybe she'll upload some FO shots. I can't wait to see, because it looks yummy so far!

photo by theobroma

Here's another Velutina FO from theobroma on Ravelry and she knit it with Shalimar Yarns Breathless in the Tawny colorway. It looks luscious!

Ravelry tells me there are 14 projects for the Velutina Scarf, and I have requested a couple more photos from knitters who've knit it. I can update this post and add those as soon as I've received permission. 

If you are working on a Velutina Scarf and you'd like your added to this post, please let me know! I love to show off your work.

Only one more week to take advantage of the 30% discount on this pattern. Grab one soon!

Friday, May 19, 2017

May KnitCrate!

 I only vaguely knew about KnitCrate before I was contacted by them on Ravelry about possibly including a couple of my patterns in their Main box. Since my business is knitting design, I have never had the chance to try any of the knitting subscriptions and knew not to tempt myself. I'm usually working on my own projects and haven't time for more...unfortunately. Because, what fun!

Once we got the collaboration worked out, I impatiently waited for my month to come to be a part of the fun. It was so exciting to see it finally happen! Then I wanted one for myself, so I could see just how awesome it is. Well, they sent me one! Let's have a look.


What a treat to see this little teal box waiting for me in the mailbox.


As I broke the seal and started to open the box, I saw the appropriate hashtags--always important!


Then I opened the lid and peeled back the tissue inside and feasted my eyes on all the goodies--the main card with this month's inspirational description on front and the contents list and discount codes on back, the pattern card with free download links to my Honeycomb Cap and Sawtooth Shawlette, a cute dpn holder from The Steady Hand,


two skeins of lovely Tanis Fiber Arts Purewash Worsted in Iris,

(let's look closer at that)


and this little card to help donate something to those in need. 
That's so cool!


The box even matches my current design work in progress. I love teal!

And guess what else? Right now you can get 20% off your first month if you want to try KnitCrate for yourself! Just use my code FIG20 when you get to the checkout and go here to try it!

That discount will only work for recurring monthly subscriptions, though, because the three-month prepaid and the yearly are already discounted for you. Isn't that nice?

The KnitCrate folks are just great, and they're really on the ball scouring the world for knitting and crochet treats for you.  Thanks, KnitCrate, for making yarny pursuits even more fun!

Monday, May 08, 2017

The Big Easy Blanket

Our Big Easy Blanket is the Figheadh Pattern of the Month for May!
This prompts me to say a bit more about it. Well, it turned into more than a bit, but Big Easy is the star here, so let's investigate.


The BEB was released in early 2009 and was our second stand-alone blanket pattern, after the Fir Cone Blanket. We also had two baby blanket patterns that were each part of a set, and they have each since been released as stand-alone patterns, too. Why? Because blanket patterns seem to be a favorite. I'll bet I know why. No shaping and hours and hours of easy, fun knitting!

That is certainly true of the Big Easy. Back in 2009 I wanted to add a pattern for beginners, as I stated in this blog post, and what could be easier than a mix of knit/purl patterns in a big rectangle? It is composed of three reversible stitch patterns alternating with garter stitch and also edged with garter stitch. Once you knit through one set of all the stitch patterns, then you're good to go. They are EASY. Thus the name.


Another reason for the name is because I was working on this pattern when Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast and I wanted to use the pattern to throw some love and support to New Orleans especially. As you all know, New Orleans is known as The Big Easy. The first few years after this pattern was released, all the profits from the pattern went to an organization named PNOLA. This organization was especially attractive to me because they hosted groups of young people to help rebuild the Lower Mid-City area, one of the worst hit by the storm. A few years ago, however, the organization changed hands and we changed our charitable focus, but I am still so glad we got a chance to contribute hundreds of dollars to this worthwhile project. So did many of you with the purchase of this pattern from early 2009 until about 2012. 

But who really knows why a pattern becomes such a favorite? It continues to sell very well and I keep seeing gorgeous blankets being knit with the help of this pattern. There are 41 projects on Ravelry for The Big Easy! It's in fourth place for projects and first place for sales of all Figheadh patterns. This makes me so happy!


The Big Easy is knit in worsted weight yarn, here shown in Cascade Greenland, a yarn of theirs that was so lively and springy, but has been discontinued. Greenland was a heavy worsted weight, so an Aran weight yarn works great for this blanket, and makes it a pretty quick knit. Many have also used regular worsted weight yarns. Here's the Ravelry lineup of all the yarns used by members to knit the Big Easy. (I just love this Ravelry feature and have used it myself at times to get ideas for yarn substitutions.) 

The BEB has a gauge of 4 stitches and 5.75 rows to the inch, but this can be fudged a bit because a blanket doesn't need to fit a body. The pattern has specs for making a lap blanket of 36" by 55.5" or a larger blanket of 46" by 60". I have been asked about making the blanket bigger and I usually say that the easiest way is to just add more rows of garter stitch. Each of the non-garter-stitch patterns are 16-row repeats, so if you start doubling those you could be looking at a house-sized blanket. We don't need that, now, do we? 

The stitch patterns change often enough to make the pattern fun and they make a mesmerizing geometric fabric. Each of the three interior stitch patterns is charted and written out, and there is an organizational chart which helps you to easily keep track of the order of the stitch patterns as you go. 


Now is the best time to try this pattern if you haven't already, because it's 30% off all month long! 
Try the Big Easy Blanket, and if you do, please post your project on Ravelry for us all to admire. I will be featuring your blankets later in the month. I can't wait!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

We Sold Our House!

Whew! Sorry for being away so long. 
I have an explanation, and it's a good one, and maybe you can be helped by our experience this past year.

After 16 years for my husband and almost fifteen years for me, we left our sweet, big house to the care of a wonderful little family of three. We considerably downsized and are now living in a 711-square-foot apartment. 

This all turned out to be a year-long process. About this same time last year we began doing some upgrades to prepare the house for sale. First we replaced most of the old aluminum windows with some vinyl energy-efficient ones. Then we had the carpet ripped out of our living room, dining room, and main floor hallway and replaced with LVT flooring. We repainted the living room, dining room, and hall--trim and walls--and we had crown molding put in the living room and dining room after the "textured" ceilings were removed. We also had the clay hearth tiles replaced with slate ones and painted the firebox. It looked so much nicer!
staged for selling!
In the kitchen, we had a new garbage disposal installed and the accompanying air gap that was sorely needed, as well. We had the basement bath upgraded with a new sink and shower stall and we painted the whole bathroom white. Then we went ahead and painted the basement bedroom white, too. The basement is all finished and even has a little kitchen, but it can seem dungeony if not brightened up.

We then had the patio refreshed by replacing the cover and some mostly-rotten posts and having a big crack in the patio floor repaired before having it all painted. The back yard fence and stoop were all painted a dark grey, and we refreshed some of the exterior window frames. I also painted the front door and we had the mailbox and house numbers replaced. We painted the front stoop the same as the back, as well.
back yard with snow!
During all this craziness we were also majorly decluttering. I cannot tell you how many trips we made to the dump, the recycling center, Goodwill, Value Village, etc. I also shared lots of possessions with our awesome neighborhood Buy Nothing group. We had way too much stuff, y'all, and it was tucked into every corner and cupboard of that five-bedroom house. That house had tons of storage,  and that was our fiercest enabler. A lot of the stuff just had to go!

We were aiming for an August 15 list date, but as August loomed near, we realized that not only was the work not going to finish on time, but that we were getting cold feet about the whole business. The work continued, but we decided to wait about selling.

Flash forward past fall and all the holidays and many discussions and deep thinking and by January 12, we finally had the house on the market. Inventory is low here, so we had our first offer pretty fast. It was a tricky one, however, because it was from an investor who was going to use the house for sort of a rental for a couple of years. We did not want to see that happen, but we wanted to sell the house even more, so we entered into the process anyway. They offered too low, we countered, they accepted pending inspection, and after the inspection, the investor backed out. But he allowed us to have a copy of the inspection report, which was quite nice and quite informative! We also found out that the investor had put offers on several properties and weighed them all against one another before deciding on one. We were actually glad that they backed out of buying our house, because we had always hoped that a family with small children would buy the house. It's in a quiet, safe neighborhood that's two blocks from a really great park and is in walking distance to all the best schools in the area.

Armed with the inspection report, and glad to be past that little hurdle, we began addressing a few of the most important details, like upgrading the electrical outlets and tidying up some plumbing. Later we realized we should have waited, because the very next day after we found out that the first deal fell through, a young couple was shown the house, fell in love, and made a full-price offer! We accepted, and they had their own inspection done. They responded to the inspection by asking for things to be done other than what we had just completed, so we were at it again with the fixes, which included more electrical, some repair of the carport structure, and a new water heater! I say more electrical. It was major! The main breaker box had to be replaced, for one thing, and that alone took until right up to moving day. Yeah, we were trying to get the last of it done with the power being turned off quite a lot. 

Oh, and we both got sick, too. First Fred got a really rotten cold and had to take to the bed while I tried to finish packing and having Goodwill come and haul off big pieces of furniture. Then I got sick for official moving week, but there was no way around it. It had to be done. The last day when we had to clean and get the last of our stuff out was not my best day. But dagnabbit, we did it!

That night we met with the new owners and their little boy so that we could hand over the keys, and we were even more glad after meeting them that they were the ones moving into our sweet former home. They really love the house and we just know that they will have many, many wonderful years there raising their family. 

This was a huge transition for us, but we have settled in nicely. We are trying to pare down what was left of our possessions that won't fit into the little apartment and are taking up far too much space in a local storage space (yes, there's too many boxes and bins of yarn in there). Wish us luck with that. Because we are doing this all to save money to buy a little farm in the country so that we can get a bit off-grid and raise a large portion of our own food. Let it be soon! I've been reduced to a few small pots on a tiny balcony for growing anything and it's spring and I didn't get to put out snow peas nor start my greens and marigolds. Sigh....

I know it will just make us appreciate even more when we have even a small house on a few acres. Right now we are living urban life with all its adventures, but also with all its noise. Construction goes on a block in every direction and at night we sometimes hear catastrophic sirens going off in all directions, and our upstairs neighbor clomps around sometimes like the building is on fire. But the apartment is cozy and has everything we really need...for now.

This past month I have been back at work on the next Figheadh pattern, which will be a men's cabled cardigan! I'm so excited about that, because it's been at least eight years since I designed a men's sweater. About time, right?

I promise I'll be back soon with info about that, and about something else exciting that starts in May! Stay tuned!