Done and Dusted

Remember The Husband’s Sweater Project I started way back in Feb last year? I gave myself 8-9 months to finish his sweater before his birthday in November. I worked on it on and off, in between other projects and pattern releases. It even came with me on a vacation where the needle snapped and I was stuck with no other knitting project. Even with all these expeditions, it still had a long way to go before I could call it done.

My husband had to travel for work for about 6 weeks. Even though I was acting as a single parent while he was away, I also got a lot of quiet nights and lazy weekends. I caught up on some long pending shows and movies and… you guessed it, lot of knitting. I decided to finish his sweater before he came back, else it would never get done. So, this was my only knitting project for a whole month.

Once I bound off the body, sleeves went relatively faster, despite hubby’s long, lanky hands. After both the sleeves were done, I gave it a good soak and man, what a difference it made. This is my first time working with Knit Picks Wool of the Andes and I must say, the yarn bloomed after a wash.

The pullover fits well, albeit a bit too tight for my taste, but the wearer likes it. I will try to block it more aggressively next time to give it some positive ease. Sleeves were an inch too short (read the note about long hands) and I had to work on them again. The above photo was before I elongated the sleeves. The husband approves of it and has been putting the sweater to good use, now that there is a nip in the air.

Pattern: My own. Basic raglan, worked top down
Yarn: Knit Picks Wool of the Andes
Needle: 4mm, circular

 

DIY: Calm Down Jar

We recently transitioned my 6 yo to sleep alone in his bed. We told him about it well in advance so he is prepared. We even bought a shiny bunk bed of his choice to make this transition as much fun for him as possible. To our surprise, the transition was quite easy. Looks like he was ready for this even before we were! But then, there are days (or nights) when he would be lying in his bed and unable to fall asleep. Cue the many calls to mom for water and “I need to pee” et al. Reading in his bed is not possible as the reading light is on the table and his bed is much higher. I wanted something that would keep him engaged as well as calm him down. I went looking on the internet and I saw this wonderful little thing called Calm Down Jars. There are more versions than you can count on your fingers, but I settled on this one.

A quick trip to Itsy Bitsy was arranged over the weekend. I let my kid pick the colors and boy, was he excited! He made this calming down jar (with our help, of course) and he is might proud of it.

1. Glitter Glue from Itsy Bitsy. I love that iridescent blue. Kid has an eye for colors, eh?

2. Glitter. The white is a fine powder whereas the blue one is coarse.

3. Assorted shapes to go in the jar. Kid picked stars. I picked the butterfly ones, because butterflies!

4. Add boiling/very hot water to the jar. I didn’t fill the jar to the brim so that I can adjust the water-glue ratio later. If your water is not hot enough, glue will sit like a blob, so make sure your water is hot, hot, hot.

5. Add 3/4th of glitter glue into it. We eventually added the entire bottle, but add just 3/4th to begin with.

6. Add the glitter. We added half of the blue one and 1/4th of the white one.

7. Give it a good stirring to break up the glue.

8. Add the shapes, howmuchever you please. We added I think 15 of each. Put the lid on and shake, shake, shake it baby.

9. Give it swirl. And see the oh-so-pretty glitter tornado (kid’s words, not mine).

10. And this is how it looks settled. Glitter takes around 3-4 minutes to completely settle, but the shapes dive to the bottom very fast. I wish we had something lighter which would take a little longer, but I didn’t have any choice.

This now sits in the kid’s room and we end up shaking it whenever one of us passes by. Can’t resist the pretty sight.

PS: I wish I had used a plastic jar/bottle, but didn’t have a good one. We will be making another one with plastic bottle for sure.

A new year and some changes

A very happy new year to you all. Hope the new year brings happiness and cratfty goodness.

You all must have heard about the new EU VAT law. Even though I don’t reside in any EU member state, this affects me as my patterns are available for sale for EU customers. Without going into details, I need to pay VAT for the patterns purchased by EU customers. I can either take care of this myself (yeah, right) or have someone else take care of this for me. And I went with the latter.

If you are not in any EU member state, nothing changes for you. If you are, then please read on.

Patterns

All my patterns are still available on Ravelry, but if you are in EU member state and if you try to buy my pattern on Ravelry, you will be redirected to LoveKnitting.com, which will add on the VAT to the pattern price and show you the final price. They then deduct the VAT and give me the actual pattern price. They will also handle the transferring of VAT to the local government. This glue between Ravelry and LoveKnitting should work seamlessly, i.e. pattern which you purchased after being redirected to LoveKnitting, should show up in your Ravelry library.

While it may seem like the price has gone up, that is not the case. As a designer, I am still getting the pattern price that I have set on Ravelry. The “add-on” is the VAT which is deducted by LoveKnitting.

Ebooks

Kudos to Ravelry and LoveKnitting to get this working before the new year rolled in, but there are still some things to iron out. Ravelry ebooks are not directly supported in LoveKnitting, so EU customers will not be able to buy ebooks from Ravelry. If you would like to buy, please contact me and we can work something out. I hope this is temporary and the wonderful teams can get this working soon.

Promotion

Any promotion I might have on Ravelry will be limited to Ravelry. I cannot make this work for LoveKnitting. Apologies for this. I hope this too is resolved so that I can have a sale for my EU customers also.

So, yeah, not a great way to start the new year, but here we are. I continue to be amazed by Casey and his team. They worked through the holidays to make this happen for us. Where would we be without Ravelry? Seriously.

Interview with Kristen Fanning (and a giveaway)

I am back with another interview as part of Gift-Along 2014. And this time, we have Kristen Fanning aka texotexere on Ravelry to share her designs and thoughts with us. She designs under the label ‘Knits Who Say Needle’.

 

What inspired you to become a designer?

I was working at my university during a summer break and didn’t have a lot to do, so I ended up knitting a lot of hats. After the first dozen or so, I was having a hard time finding free patterns that I wanted to knit and I made so many hats that summer that buying that many patterns would have put a serious dent in my budget. So I started to design my own patterns, and eventually decided to publish them.

What aspect/phase of knit design do you enjoy the most? And which one do you enjoy the least?

I like the planning phase the best. I can spend hours playing with charts and choosing the best yarn/gauge.

My least favorite part is photographing the finished piece. No one in my immediate family is photogenic, and we would all rather be behind the camera than in front of it.

Do you find time to knit from other designers’ patterns? Who are your favorite designers?

Lately, I usually only use other people’s patterns for toys. I make them when I need a break. Lately, I’ve been on a Stacey Trock kick. I’ve used her owl pattern about half a dozen times. Of course, I couldn’t resist modifying it and ended up making them all a different Peter Pan character.

Which patterns in your store can be made as quick holiday gifts?

All of my accessory patterns are pretty quick knits and most use less than 200 g of yarn. Fairy Glen and Blackberry Leaves are both the result of last year’s Christmas panic knitting. I did did both in less than 2 weeks.

What gifts are you making/knitting for this holiday season?

Right now I’m making some thrummed mittens for my brother and sister-in-law. Other gifts depend on whom I get requests from.

To celebrate the Gift-A-Long, Krsiten would like to offer you the opportunity to win one of her patterns. To enter, have a look through Kristen’s designs and leave a comment about your favorite design of hers. Giveaway ends 5 PM IST Friday, November 28. A random winner will be chosen from the comments.

Photo credit: All photos are copyright “Knits Who Say Needle” and used with permission.

Interview and Giveaway!

Update: This giveaway is now closed. “resident robin” is our winner. Congratulations! Barbara will be contacting the winner soon.

As part of Gift-Along 2014, I am very excited to interview my first featured designer Barbara aka browneyedbabs on Ravelry.

  • What inspired you to become a designer?
    I had learned to knit as a child but didn’t start knitting properly till I was in my mid twenties and people I loved started having babies. I had hardly any spare money so I would make up my own patterns for things to try and recreate products I loved but couldn’t afford – not always successfully! Eventually, I got good enough that I decided to start writing down my patterns and it all went from there.

 

  • What aspect/phase of knit design do you enjoy the most? And which one do you enjoy the least?
    My favourite thing is seeing other people enjoying my patterns, I still get a little thrill when I see someone add photos of their finished toys to Ravelry. The worst bit for me is laying out the pattern and taking the photos. It takes a surprisingly long time to make a pattern fit neatly onto the pages and look pretty.

 

  • Do you find time to knit from other designers’ patterns? Who are your favorite designers?
    I don’t get a lot of time to knit other people’s patterns, that’s one of the best things about the giftalong. Like last year, I’m taking a couple of months off from designing to enjoy knitting without having to think. I’ve just cast on the Keikomi cowl with some special yarn and I’m really enjoying it. I also really love patterns by Hilary Smith Callis I made myself one of her Starshower cowls recently as a reward for getting some patterns designed by the magazine deadlines.

 

  • Which patterns in your store can be made as quick holiday gifts?
    My quickest toy is Katie Kitty Puppet, it’s a simple knit and if you’re really in a hurry you can skip the finishing and gift it with glue on googly eyes and felt shapes for a child to decorate it with. Dreamy Owl is another quick pattern and is great for babies.
  • What gifts are you making/knitting for this holiday season?
    This year I’m making cowls, slippers and hats. Some for me and some for friends and family. I’ve got to keep them secret though so that there is a surprise on Christmas morning!

Thank you so much Barbara for taking time to answer these questions. I hope you had as much fun with this interview as I did.

To celebrate the Gift-A-Long, Barbara would like to offer you the opportunity to win one of her patterns. To enter, have a look through Barbara’s patterns and leave a comment about your favorite design of hers. Giveaway ends midnight IST Saturday, November 22. A random winner will be chosen from the comments.

It is so hard to choose one from her lovely collection. Look how cute Duncan the Donkey is.

Photo credit: All photos are copyright brownyeyedbabs and used with permission.

New Pattern: Zeppa Shawl

I am so pleased that Zeppa Shawl is released today. This shawl has a story behind it. I got this gorgeous yarn from Helen of Bessie May yarns after looking through all the lovely colors and finally settling on these three colors. I planned to make Entropy vest with this yarn. It was accepted by Petite Purls and they wanted me to use a yarn which was more commercial and available in the US. So, this yarn was set aside for future hoping a good idea would strike soon.

After a few weeks, I thought of using this for a circular yoke sweater with argyle pattern on the yoke. Interesting yes, but very difficult to implement. I knit up a sample in my son’s size (who loved it to bits, BTW) and released it for testing. None of my testers could get the yoke to work. After multiple revisions, I gave up and concluded that this yarn didn’t want to become a sweater.

And one fine night, as I was on the verge of dozing off, a light bulb went off in my mind and thus, Zeppa was born. I am still embarrassed by the failure of the sweater, but as they say, all is well that ends well. Even though Zeppa was ready long back, I had to wait until the weather turned colder.  So, here it is, ladies and gentlemen, presenting Zeppa.

Zeppa is knit from the top-down, like typical half-circle shawls, with increases placed apart. Stockinette section is alternated with colorwork section which look like wedges using short rows. Colorwork stitch pattern is very easy since you are dealing with only one color on each row. This is a good candidate for stash busting as you can use multiple colors on a single wedge. The shawl is knit in DK weight yarn, which makes it a quick knit.

Zeppa Shawl
Yarn: Bessie May Smile

 

Zeppa is available at a reduced price of US $2 (yep, 50% off) until Sep 15 using coupon code “Zeppa50″. Add this pattern to your cart on Ravelry and enter the coupon “Zeppa50″ (without the double quotes) and you should see the discounted price.

Crochet illiterate

I have had this project in my to-do queue since ages. It is the popular Inga bag (I know that is not the name of the bag, but I prefer to call it Inga which is easy to type and pronounce) which looks stunning and apparently easy to make. You make a dozen or so granny squares and stitch them up as it says in the pattern. What could be so hard in that, right?

When one of the Ravelry groups announced a Bag KAL, I thought it to be the right time to work on my Inga. I had all the right materials and I started on my very first granny square. After a bazillion attempts and much frogging and recrocheting with a generous amount of cursing, I successfully crocheted my very first granny square.

grannysquare3_medium2It turned out to be too tight (so I was told by a crochet expert, I am sure she knew what she was talking about). For my second granny square, I decided to use a bigger hook. After making the first square, you would think I would have gotten a fair bit of practice and the second would be relatively smoother. Wrong. The second attempt was an utter failure. I had only 11 “sun spokes” the first time around. And the second time miraculously had 13 of them. I needed 12, but always ended up with a number which was definitely not 12. Now, if this was a knitting project, I could have done a k2tog or a kfb to get the right stitch count, but alas crocheting is not same as knitting the last time I checked. I made so many mistakes, I had to cut the yarn at one place because I somehow managed to create a knot while crocheting. I sincerely tried for two whole days and at the end of the second day when I did not have anything looking like a granny square, I finally gave up.

I can tackle complex knitting techniques. Throw at me intarsia, fair isle, purl 3 together through the back loop and I will master it (it might take a while but I will get there), but as soon as you say crochet, my mind closes up. After this incident, I have finally come to the conclusion that my brain doesn’t have the cells required to process crochet. I cannot follow a simple pattern and neither can I read what I have crocheted. So, the verdict is out. I am crochet illiterate.