Introducing: They’re Paisley!

I know, I can’t believe it either, two patterns released in one week! I never thought I’d see that happen.

So let’s get to it. I’m pleased to introduce you to the latest Cowtownknits creation: They’re Paisley!

With pants

Paisley is so hot right now. Really. I kept seeing all these beautiful paisley prints in shop windows and on fashionable bodies and I thought – “Why couldn’t I knit me some paisley somethings?” And then I thought – “Mittens, those somethings should be mittens!” And that’s that. I designed some paisley mittens.

Hero with me in the background

The pattern has four charts: one paisley chart for each hand (the chart is reversed on the other hand), one for the palm, and one for the thumb gusset.

Size: Medium – 8″ / 20.5 cm palm circumference

Front and back stacked

You can purchase the pattern by clicking the “buy now” button above. Until November 15 you can receive a 25% discount when you checkout using the coupon code giftalong. Then you should come and join the Gift-A-Long fun on Ravelry and have a chance at some of the hundreds of prizes. That’s right, I said hundreds.

This time both technical editing and test knitting were brought to you by the lovely Alana Marchetto.

Design Process Series, Installment Two – Yarn Selection and Swatch

Once I had an idea of how I wanted the skirt to look, I needed to move on to yarn selection. In my head I was picturing something with a bit of halo to it, maybe some mohair. Having never worked with it before I didn’t really know what was out there. As it turns out, mohair is usually mixed with something else like silk, and it’s also generally very fine weight, like lace or cobweb. I wanted something a little more substantial than that since otherwise I would have been knitting forever!

I headed to my favorite local yarn store, The Loop in Kensington. I was able to describe what I was hoping to achieve and within minutes the very knowledgeable Diana had it all figured out for me. I came out of there with two yarns: Schulana Kid-Seta, a 70% mohair, 30% silk 2-ply lace-weight yarn; and Berocco Ultra Alpaca Light, a 50% Alpaca, 50% Wool 3-ply sport-weight yarn. The two yarns held together provided just the right weight, strength and texture that I was looking for. I was able to find two coordinating colours that were just beautiful together.      Schul and Berocco Yarn and Swatch

The next step was to draw up a chart of the diamond pattern and then put together a swatch. I’ve learned in the last year or so of designing that “meaningful” swatches are of the utmost importance when designing. They are not only useful for determining your gauge but also trying out increases, decreases, edgings, etc. My swatch for this pattern included not just the diamond motif, but also the stockinette stitch hem that I was planning on incorporating. I was delighted with how this one turned out.

Schul and Ber SwatchIn the end, after submitting my idea to Knit Picks, I ended up with yarn support from them. I was able to find two yarns of theirs that had almost the same properties of those from my original swatch: Aloft Super Kid Mohair, a 75% Super kid mohair, 25% silk lace-weight yarn; and Andean Treasure, a 100% Baby alpaca sport weight yarn. Once received, I made another, smaller swatch in just the diamond pattern with the new yarn.

Knit Picks yarn and swatchThe two swatches matched stitch and row gauge exactly so I was a very happy camper. The two Knit Picks yarns have a little more contrast between the colours, which I actually like in the end. I find it makes the fabric have a tweed-ish look to it. And oooh, is it ever soft!

both yarns and swatches

Stay tuned for the next post – The Submission Process (Yeah, I know, I said that last time, but I realized after the fact that I needed to talk about swatching first).

Merry Giftmas

I decided to knit something for A’s preschool teachers for Christmas this year. I had the same thought last year, but in typical Kate fashion, my thoughtfulness came far too late to actually act upon. But this year I was on it! And to make sure I hadn’t bitten off more than I could chew, I chose a pair of mittens with bulky yarn that would knit up very quickly. Bella’s Mittens, by Marielle Henault, is a ridiculously popular pattern that has been on my radar for a while. I happened to have some beautiful bulky alpaca that C’s coworker (an alpaca farmer) gave me that I’d been saving for the right project. Here are the results…

Bella browns   Bella brown closeup

Bella white closeup

These soft, lovely yarns are really special. The alpacas live just north of the city on C’s co-worker’s farm. She takes the fiber to be spun at Custom Woolen Mills, where they use antique machines to spin the yarn. I just think this is so cool, and particularly environmentally friendly considering that there is essentially zero shipping involved. I am going to try and get more yarn from her in the future!

Bella gift tags

Bella gift with chocolate

Anywho… I printed up a tag for the mitts as I couldn’t bear the thought of them getting accidentally felted. I attached them with a little bow, wrapped them up and put them in a gift bag along with some Two-Tone Peppermint Bark. And now I’m off now to deliver them!