Monday, November 28, 2011

Need a Really Nice Gift?

If you're like me, this time of year finds you searching for just the right gift for the people you love. For instance, I think I just about have it figured out for Fred and just about everyone else, but I am still perplexed about my mom! If you have someone that needs a special gift, I have a unique idea for you.

You all know that I work with Ravenwood Cashmere by designing with their yarns. The good news is that Delia and Reed recently started offering samples of those designs for sale from their Web site. Their son Ryan took some gorgeous pictures of them recently, modeled by his wife on the Ravenwood Farm and I thought I would show them off to you.

Here is Melanie wearing the Cable & Lace Beret, the Lace Scarf, and the Bavarian Mitts, all in cream. They make a great accessory ensemble, don't they?

Here she is modeling the beret and mitts in taupe. I love this color.

This is a beautiful fall photo of Melanie wearing the beret with the Brackenhill Shawlette.

But I think this photo is my favorite of all of Melanie wearing the crocheted Kathy's Cowl.

These lovely accessories were hand knit and crocheted by Kelli, Betsy, Shirley and me. Prices for the finished items are all listed here. We plan to offer more of these as we expand the line--we hope to have some sweaters in the future. That leads me to my next topic.

We need expert knitters. We're trying to build a cottage hand knitting group here in the South Puget Sound area. If any of you think you would be interested, please e-mail me at and let's start a conversation. Delia and Reed Rasmussen of Ravenwood Cashmere are committed to paying sample knitters at the top of industry standard for this work, not to mention that you would be working with the most luxurious yarn available. Well, I just had to mention it--it's my personal favorite!

I should also mention that we changed the kit details (all the links above lead to kit pages--hey the kits make a great gift too!) so that these patterns are only available when you purchase the kit. The Ravenwood patterns are presently not sold separately.

Help me by passing the word along. Does someone you know need a special gift too? Is someone you know interested in knitting with yummy 100% US cashmere and getting paid well to do so? I'd love to hear from you!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Men's Top-Down Cardigan

I had to be mean a couple of weeks ago and ask two people who were recovering from a stomach virus and one who was (almost) recovering from (almost) a bad cold to go out in the chilly, wet weather for some pictures of this cardigan on a real person. And that person will NOT allow his head to be shown. My husband hates, hates, hates most (okay, almost all) pictures of himself. I think he's quite cute myself, but I won't argue. I respect his views.

Here is Headless Fred wearing the new Figheadh Fundamental Top-Down Men's Cardigan.

And here is Headless again showing it buttoned up. He says this is his favorite sweater. It fits him perfectly, because I was able to make the sleeves and body just as long as he wanted. He picked out the Cascade 220 Paints in color #9928 and he picked out the buttons.
It was a fun knit and the yarn blocked up beautifully. Fred says it's a very warm, comfortable sweater. I think it may have just gotten him over his little bout with whatever that was--that and the pint of Guinness we enjoyed at the Irish pub just after this quickie photo session in the park, that is. A pint of Guinness is always good on a crisp, fall day.

Thanks to Natalie and Jesse and Fred for coming out in the cold to help get these pictures!

I hope you and yours enjoy some beautiful fall weather this weekend and for those of you celebrating Thanksgiving, enjoy the heck out of that turkey!  

Friday, November 18, 2011

Friday FO #5: Balls!

"Hey, I thought you said balls, not pods." Wait a second...

See? I do not disappoint. I have had this knitted ball pattern on my queue for years, people. Ever since I first got Melanie Fallick and Kristin Nicholas' book Knitting for Baby, I have wanted to try these little jewels. They are so much fun!

They're made with short rows and you only join yarn once to make each ball in two colors. Each ball works up in one piece, you seam the cast on edge to the bind off edge and close up one hole and felt it. Then you stuff it (I used leftover yarn bits--I keep them all!) and close the other hole and there you have it--a ball! Lucy and Malcolm are going to love these! Heck, I want some for myself. Now, if you're looking closely you can see that they could have been felted a bit more--I like to felt knitted or crocheted wool fabric until you can no longer see the individual stitches. I owe the light felting effect to my new washing machine. It's not even one of those fancy front loaders or anything, but I think it's a bit too gentle. I need to get me some tennis balls to add to the mix to jostle things up more. You can bet I'll be making more of these. I made these with some Lion Wool that I had leftover from a crochet design submission a few years back. It felts great. 

And I just have to tell you about mine and Natalie's latest adventure in all things crafty. We went to a meeting of the Tacoma Calligraphy Guild last night (as a part of Art @ Work, a month-long event here in town) and learned Clothesline Caps, a fun hand-lettered font.  My attempts here are rudimentary at best, but I learned a lot. I learned that I need to practice with the watercolor pencils more, for one thing. The folks were all so nice and you can tell they love what they do. I should have taken pictures of all the beautiful examples of their calligraphy. If I get to go back, I'll get some pics for you next time.
Now I must head on away from the computer. I have a date with my cutting mat, rotary cutter, some fleece, and some pom-poms.

But not before I have my Brussels Sprouts Salad lunch! Yawm!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Bring Out Your Woollies!

With temps dropping into the 20's here at night and not getting much out of the 40's during the day, I had to scramble to organize all the warm things. It seems just yesterday I was slipping on the flip-flops. Winter already? They're talking snow as soon as...tomorrow!

Yike! And another yike--I'm about to let you into my closets. Yes, I showed you my yarn stash, my offices, my garden, and now to show you my favorite ways to keep track of the knitted and crocheted yarny items.

This is my non-hanging clothes closet. I have another for all the things that will go on hangers, but I never hang my sweaters. I love these hanging bin thingys instead. They keep the sweaters and vests peeking out where I can see what I have. I am making it a goal to actually wear all of these this year. The one on the right is entirely hand knit and hand crochet sweaters and vests. The one on the left is about half so. I'm aiming for all hand made. Wouldn't that be divine?

This is a couple of shoe hanger bin things I got for keeping all the hats, scarves, cowls, and gloves, mitts, mittens where I can most easily see them in the coat closet by the front door. They have little pockets on the sides and that's where I have several pair of fingerless mitts and gloves. This way, as with the sweaters, I might really wear them all at some point. I am a hopeless "out of sight out of mind" person. If I can't see it, it is forgotten completely!

I even tackled Fred's closet. The man has enough t-shirts that he could probably wear one each day for a year and practically never repeat. This is because he never throws any away (or turns them into rags--my favorite). Some are so thin I wonder how they do not disintegrate in my hands, but I dare not throw them out. That would bring trouble, for sure. Sentimental, he is. Anyway, the sweaters were getting all jumbled up in the t-shirts, so I sorted. I know, I know--it will never stay this way and that is why I had to take a picture. I have to remember that it once looked so neat. Soon it will all be a jumbled, wrinkly mess again. Sigh....
Six of these you see are hand knit by me. I know (again)--I have many, many more than he does. Let's just say I am not one of those who does not knit and crochet for herself. That's just crazy! 

How do you organize your woollies and keep them where you can see them and wear them? Make sure you wear them. Stay warm!

Tomorrow I'll be back to show you what's felting in the washer right now. So cute! It's for Malcolm and Lucy.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Happy Onesday!

Because it's 11-11-11 and of course I couldn't resist mentioning this rare occurrence. Be sure to make a big wish at 11:11 today. This used to be a ritual with my girls and me. We had lots of wish opps (crossing a bridge, going under an overpass, finding a folded potato chip in the bag, etc.) and whenever the clock turned 11:11, we would notice and make appropriate wishes. I still do this one. Today, it ought to count twice as much...or eleven times as much, right?

I'm wrapping up a good week here, and I hope you are over where you are, too.

This week Natalie taught me how to make paper. It was awesome! What you see here are 16 dried sheets waiting to be pressed flat. These were all made from some of what was in my office shredder. Next we'll make a book out of them. Fun!

I also worked on a new hat pattern for babies and toddlers. It has cables and ear flaps! This is the combination of objects I had to assemble in order to block the toddler one. This is one reason I don't throw many things away. You never know when you might have occasion to use these things! (two plastic bowls, beer growler bottle, Chinese soup bowl, tape, face mask)

Here's my FO for the week. I finished the knitting of Fred's cardigan, which will be the sample for the pattern, which should be ready for release next week (yippee!). Today I need to sew the ribbon backing onto the button band and then attach the buttons. I think this may be my favorite button attaching method of all the ones we've discussed.

By the way, this is Cascade 220 Paints in color #9928 and as with all Cascade 220, it blocked out nice and smooth. Fred can't wait to wear it, especially since there's a nasty cold trying to get him down. Get well, honey! I'm sure this comfy sweater will help.

Have a great day and a great weekend and don't forget to make your wish!

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Fundamental Top-Down Cardigan for Women

I am always, always glad to tell you when a new pattern comes out, but this one has me very excited. If you've been stopping by in the past six months or so, you know I've been working on this for a while. We talked about raglan line options, how to attach buttons, and even fancy edge finishing.

Well, now it's all come together for a cardigan for us ladies!

Last weekend Natalie and her boyfriend Jesse and I went to the park to get some shots. It was a perfect fall day for it.
 On this purple one you see I opted for a crew neck and ribbon backing on the button band. Luckily I already had the perfect green and purple Argyle grosgrain ribbon, these Celtic knot buttons, and the Elsebeth Lavold Classic AL in my stash. This cardigan fits perfectly, because I decided how long I wanted the sleeves and the body. That was easy with the seamless, top-down construction.

Natalie did the same with hers in Patons Classic Wool in red and grey, except that she chose a V-neck, instructions for which are also included in the pattern. It was easy for her to do striping to make use of two bunches of yarn that each on its own would not have been enough. These cardigans are great for striping.

This is a very soft, warm cardigan for a chilly day in the park fiddling with spiky chestnut husks, from which the squirrels had eaten all the insides--they are hungry little dudes.

A couple of months ago when it was still only slightly chilly, Natalie got some pictures of the cardigan I made in Schaefer Sandra from this same pattern. I thought I'd try the V-neck version myself on this one. I still like the crew neck best.  

But because so many of you said you prefer V-neck, it's well treated in this pattern, which has separate instructions for all 12 sizes (from size 32" bust up to size 54" bust) in each of its four yarn weights. You can use whatever yarn will bring 6, 5, 4, or 3 stitches to the inch or all of the above! I hope you'll give this pattern a try. It's one you will use forever and not just for yourself. You can make all your friends cardigans and never have to leave your stash. But I know you want to start with at least one for yourself, don't you?

Note: Two of these yarns have been discontinued (like I said--I raided my stash!) but you can use virtually any yarn for this pattern. I'll bet you've got sweater amounts hiding in your own personal yarn mountain--go find 'em!