Well, It Happened

We’ve had our first snow of the year. So, this is what it looks like outside my house right now.

First Snow of the Year
First Snow of the Year


Don't think my parsley is happy.
Don’t think my parsley is happy.

And you know, the first snow of the year is always a novelty. You snuggle up in your house, maybe you stay in your jammies all day (ooops), and you notice how pretty the snow flakes look as they slowly fall to the ground. But, it’s gonna get old really fast. Those days of -20 degrees Celsius are ahead of us. Endless days of snow and treacherous road conditions. Children going stir crazy and tearing the house apart. And lets not forget the many layers of clothing to pile onto said kids before you even attempt to leave the house.

But for now I’m going to appreciate a few things.

First, this was the most beautiful fall I’ve ever experienced in Alberta. There were reds and oranges to go along with the usual yellow on the trees this year, and those leaves stuck around a lot longer than I’m used to seeing here.

Second, it’s full-on knitting season now. Ravelry, Pinterest and all the blogs are abuzz with FO’s and WIP’s. I continue to knit year-round but it’s nice to see the seasonal knitters back at it.

Finally, even though I’ve been quite on here of late, I’ve been a very busy beaver. I’ve got 3, count ’em, 3 new patterns coming in the next month or so. They are all designs that I’m quite proud of and I can’t wait to get them out. And they’ll be just in time for something very big, news of which will be coming very soon!

I hope you are staying warm and thinking sweet wintery thoughts, and knitting lots of wooly things to keep you warm through what’s to come.

I Really Get Around

I just want to say a big thank-you to everyone for all the support I’ve been getting. I started this blog, and the designing thing, on a bit of a whim. Now, just a short time later, it has really started to take off. My patterns are becoming quite popular on Ravelry, and sales have been nice and steady. My KAL has more than one participant (a whopping 5 so far!), and the blog is starting to get attention from Pinterest and Tumblr. I have now started a Facebook page, so you can now check me out there… although I have no idea what I’m doing when it comes to that stuff.

The big woohoo for today, though, is that my Jennifer Boot Cuffs pattern was featured on the Berroco blog. I must say, it felt pretty cool to see my work there. I’m starting to feel like I’m spamming the internet, which is weird, but I like it. I guess it’s payback for all those years that the internet has been spamming me.

Thrumming Along

I was recently commissioned by a friend to knit some thrummed mittens for her and her two boys. They are wonderfully warm mittens, perfect for these frigid Cow Town winters. I still had lots of bright colours of Cascade 220 and some taupe-coloured Merino roving left in my stash  so I was able to start on them right away. I decided to do them in a random stripe pattern of four colours. Since I’m terrible at being random or overly creative when it comes to these things, I hit up the handy-dandy Random Stripe Generator, input the colours and rows I wanted, and refreshed away until I found a pattern I liked. Also, since I have a terrible memory, I looked up the Yarn Harlot’s thrum tutorial. Then I did a swatch to figure out how many stitches and rows per inch (aka stitch gauge and row gauge) I had for my yarn and needle choice and did a little math to determine how many stitches I needed. I made a chart in Excel and added my stripes, thrums, thumbs and decreases and badda-bing, badda-boom, I had myself a pattern. I’ll include the chart here for anyone who might be curious, but with the warning that you have to do some reading between the lines (or just go ahead and ask me questions) if you’re going to try and make a mitten from it. I’m also going to show a little detail on how to make thrums.

Lets start with the chart…

The V’s represent where the thrums are added. Dashes are purls.

And now a brief tutorial on how to make a thrum. The usual advice is to make up a bunch so that you can just reach for them when you need them, and that is certainly most efficient, but I am neither usual nor efficient. I usually make enough for a row when I get to a thrum row, it breaks up the monotony.

Pull off a small piece of roving about 3 inches long (our lovely Queen for scale).
Fold each end in to the middle.

Give it a twist. I like to give mine a little more twist just as I’m about to use it as I find they like to untwist if left to their own devices.

And then a little about how to add the thrums…

Insert needle into stitch to knit, place the thrum over the needle, bring the yarn around like usual…
…then pull the yarn and thrum through the loop as usual.
On the next row, knit the thrum and yarn together through the back of the loop.

And then you knit and knit and knit some more. And then you have oh-so-cute, oh-so-warm mittens.

Furry on the inside
Happy on the outside.

A Little History and Clarity

Since I started this blog I have had a lot of friends and family ask me what it is all about. The general consensus is that they really enjoy reading it, they love the projects, but don’t really understand what I am doing. So this post is going to answer some of those questions and give a little bit of back story

I was taught to knit a few times when I was younger, mostly by my grandmother, if my terrible memory serves me correctly. It never really stuck though as I would knit for a bit, make a mistake, not know how to fix it and get frustrated. This girl has a lot of give-up in her, so when I’m not really good at something right away, I usually don’t push on. Unfortunately I see that trait in A, I’ll have to figure out how to get him to try a little harder than his mom does.

The first time I started knitting and actually stuck with it was in my final year of university in Fredericton. I was living with my friend Tamara in a freezing cold house, and we were broke. The funds had pretty much dried up over our extended stay at school, though somehow we always managed to scrape together enough money to keep our White Russian supplies replenished. That Christmas we decided to make presents for our families, a cross-stitch for her mom, and a scarf for mine. When I made a mistake Tamara would show me how to fix it, or I would call my mom and she would talk me through it. I eventually finished the scarf, though I’m not sure I’ve ever seen her wear it.

There were a few more hits and misses over the next few years of knitting: a beautiful cabled sweater that is still in pieces in my basement; a hat for a boyfriend that caused me to burst out laughing when he put it on; a false-start on a uterus when I couldn’t quite get the hang of doing i-cords. But eventually I discovered the joys of knittinghelp.com, Ravelry and the gauge swatch and things improved from then on.

Fast-forward about 10 years. I wanted to knit a little hoodie for P, nothing fancy, just a plain hoodie that she could wear over her shirts on cool Calgary mornings. I searched through available patterns on Ravelry (an online knitting world, aka my happy place) but couldn’t find anything that fit what I was looking for. It occurred to me that I could probably figure out how to make one without a pattern, and I had just found a hole in the market that I could probably fill. Fast forward another 6 months or so and you have the Everyday Hoodie pattern I just released.

So what does that mean anyway? I took my idea, did a lot of math and trial and error, and wrote the pattern and instructions for other knitters to make the sweater. I uploaded it onto Ravelry where knitters can find it and buy it if they are interested. I get paid through PayPal and Ravelry distributes the pattern to the buyer. If someone finds the pattern on my blog, they can click the “buy now” button, which will take them to Ravelry where they can buy it even if they are not a Ravelry user.

A lot of people are also asking if I am selling my knitting. While I am flattered, and very willing to do it, the fact is that there is a huge amount of time involved in hand-knitting things. While a pair of booties takes anywhere from 8 to 12 hours, an adult sweater can take up to a month of working in all my spare time. The going-rate for production knitting is 15 to 20 cents per meter of yarn used, plus the cost of yarn, which can work out to as little as $25 for the Boot Cuffs, but $125 for P’s hoodie. A person who understands what goes into the process and values the quality of a hand-made item will generally be willing to pay that price, but others may be offended.

So, to make a long story long, that’s the gist of what I am doing. The blog is here for entertainment, community and advertising purposes, with the added benefit that I seem to be reconnecting with people I haven’t talked to in years, and meeting new people every day. I hope you all continue reading as it truly makes me happy.

Feeling Renewed

I got a chance to get away on my own this weekend and it has left me feeling completely renewed. I had a little too much to drink for me to say I’m feeling “refreshed”, but having spent a full 24 hours away from the family has everyone appreciating each other a little bit more.

I was at a wedding in Emerald Lake, a spectacularly green lake nestled in the mountains of Yoho National Park, British Columbia. I had a lovely room with a balcony overlooking the lake, equipped with rustic chairs that were begging for someone to come and knit in them. So I obliged. I didn’t have a lot of time between the hot-tubbing and getting ready for the ceremony, but I did manage to get a few rows done on P’s fair isle jacket. I am finding that being on the designing side of knitting leads to a lot more time sitting in front of my computer doing math and writing and less time knitting, but it’s rewarding in it’s own way. I was happy to be able to get all the required math done in order to do some actual knitting while away.

I’m going to need another weekend like that again soon!