28 March 2013

Video Valentine

video

So, here's an outtake from one of the videos I didn't use when applying for The Fiber Factor. In this clip I talk a little bit about Sailor's Valentine. I had a lot of fun making this, even if it was after our flight back from Chicago on Sunday afternoon (as the light was going). So, now you know what I sound like, assuming this thing uploads and works (show me what ya got, Blogger, when I press "Publish", since the Preview gives me nuthin').

And, yes, I did apply for The Fiber Factor, so keep your fingers crossed for me! While magazines put out calls for submissions on the same mood board, I love the idea of sending the same materials to a bunch of designers and see what they come up with. So, six challenges worth $500 each (and bragging rights) is pretty cool. Then the winner of the whole thing gets a trip to Germany - my sister lives in Berlin, so getting to see her would make the trip extra special.

The contestants will be announced in a week or two - I'll keep you posted.

26 March 2013

Pattern: Sailor's Valentine

Sailor's Valentine by Kathleen Dames

Whew! This one has been in the works for a long time. Happily, it's finally ready to meet the world, thanks to liberal doses of mathematics and common sense from the test knitters and tech editor.

Similar in yoke structure to An Aran for Frederick and An Aran for Anne, with a seamless hybrid yoke thanks to the originating genius of Elizabeth Zimmermann, Sailor's Valentine went "cardigan". The seafaring motifs of Reef Knots, Triple Gull Stitch, Sailor's Rib, and Twin Waves are romanticized with the Heart Strings motif running up the center back all the way to the hoods conclusion. And that hood concludes at the front, thanks to it's short-row-heel-style construction.

I hope you like that hood because the amount of re-knitting necessary to make that happen could have produced another sweater! But that's what happens when I get an idea in my head. Sometimes it clicks right away and other times I have to work it until it makes sense. Happily, it worked out.

Sailor's Valentine by Kathleen Dames

Like my other arans, this one jumps into the cables right away. I'm not a big fan of ribbing at the bottom of sweaters - it's not a look for me. However, Knitter's Choice, so if you need to start with some ribbing, go for it. Also, Knitter's Choice is the ribbing at the sides, which I used to add a little shapeliness to this sweater without having to do actual waist-shaping. If your Valentine prefers things a little looser, try Seed or Double Moss Stitch instead, which would make things a little more jacket-like.

Sailor's Valentine by Kathleen Dames

The original Sailor’s Valentines were shell-encrusted boxes brought back from Barbados for sailors’ sweethearts. Today, keep the love alive with Reef Knots, Heart Strings, Twin Waves, and Triple Gull stitch (cables provided in chart form). All those cables combine to make a seafaring sweater of love, perfect for any Valentine (replace the side ribbing with seed stitch for a less-fitted, more unisex sweater). Cardigan is worked flat in one piece, with sleeves incorporated into a seamless hybrid yoke topped off with a turned-heel hood that allows the Heart Strings to continue all the way up and over the hood.

SizesChest: 30 [34, 38, 42, 46, 50, 54] inches

Materials 
Bartlettyarns Fisherman 2-ply 100% Wool 210 yards/192 meters per 113 gram/4 oz. skein; color: Cranberry #378; 5 [5, 6, 7, 8, 8, 9 ] skeinsOne US6/4.0mm 29-inch circular needle Set of four (or five) US6/4.0mm DPNs Stitch markers Coil-less safety pins or other removable stitch markers Waste yarn or stitch holders Tapestry needle 23” (or desired length) zipper in color to match yarn Knit-picker tool, or desired tool(s) for zipper installation

Gauge 
16 sts x 20 rows = 4” in Stockinette Stitch

Skills Needed 
Cast on 
Bind off 
Knit 
Purl 
Increase 
Decrease 
Work stitches out of order (cabling)

Sailor's Valentine by Kathleen Dames

Okay, I don't usually toot my follicular horn, but I really like the way my hair looked during this photo shoot. I wish I wouldn't wrinkle my forehead so much, though ;)

Sailor's Valentine is available for $6 on Ravelry, Craftsy, and Etsy, or by using the button below.

19 March 2013

Spring Break

It doesn't feel much like Spring here, considering the snow that fell last night, but I'm OK with that, since it means I get to wear my woolly sweaters a bit more (an unpublished design today - I will be looking for test knitters soon). And parenthetically speaking of test knitters, I'm about done with the testing phase for Sailor's Valentine and am getting very excited to share it with you.

But now I'm packing for a quick trip to Chicago to deliver a Babe in the Mist to a very special young lady. There will be pictures when I return.

Actually, the packing is almost complete. So, now I just need to figure out what to bring to knit. The project I've been working on is close to complete, so I don't think I want to bring that (it requires blocking wires, which I'm not keen to pack). I have another design in process, but it's not compelling knitting, if you know what I mean. It's perfect when you want to work on something without having to give it too much attention. So, that will come, and I like the yarn a lot.

But I need something else for those times when I want to focus a little more. The caveat is that it shouldn't be a big project, since I have two submissions that have recently been accepted (yay!) that will probably need my full attention when we return to NYC. I'm thinking lace or a little laceweight sweater might fit the bill. There are two skeins of sale-purchase Malabrigo lace in a pale pink that whispers "little cardi to warm you up this icy Spring", but there is also a Neon Rose skein of tosh lace that is practically shouting at me from the yarn jar. Decisions, decisions!

17 March 2013

Happy St. Patrick's Day

With a name like "Kathleen", I must be Irish, right? Well, only a little, but enough to count (1/8). And what better way to celebrate being Irish than designing Aran sweaters? Better than drinking green beer in my book.

An Aran for Frederick
An Aran for Frederick by Kathleen Dames

An Aran for Frederick was my first design in a print publication, the inaugural Jane Austen Knits. I still love it and am so happy that it's been cold enough in New York City this winter to wear it (last winter did not count as winter for sweater makers IMO).

An Aran for Frederick
An Aran for Frederick by Kathleen Dames

Recognize the skirt? When we were doing the photo shoot for Mermaid's Cardigan, I asked Nick to snap a few of An Aran for Frederick styled in a feminine, romantic way. I feel sort of "Rowan" in these.

An Aran for Frederick
An Aran for Frederick by Kathleen Dames

Want to knit your own or one for your very own Frederick? Individual downloads are available from Interweave here. [I am considering releasing the pattern in my own line, which would be available on Ravelry. What do you think? It would mean more work for me in producing the pattern and a change in the contract for this pattern, but you would be able to have it in your Ravelry library. Things to think about...]

14 March 2013

Pattern: Mermaid's Cardigan

Mermaid's Cardigan by Kathleen Dames

It's been a long time coming with this one, but the timing is perfect now, as Spring gets ready to ... spring. The lace sleeves lighten things up and allow for a hint of skin (or contrasting shirt layered underneath), while the princess-seam style waist shaping flatters your figure.

An elegant cardigan just right for a mermaid. Gentle waist shaping follows your curves, and Fishtail Lace sleeves pique the knitter’s interest. By eliminating sleeve increases, the lace is not too difficult and the sleeves blouse out from an i-cord cast-on. To keep the lines clean and the hems from rolling, the entire cardigan is edged in i-cord. Lace instructions are provided in written and chart form.

Chest: 30 34, 38, 42, 46, 50, 54 inches; shown in M/38” with 0” ease

Untitled
Mermaid's Cardigan by Kathleen Dames

Materials Madeline Tosh tosh dk 100% Superwash Merino Wool 225 yards/206 meters per 50 gram skein; color: Baltic; 4 5, 5, 6, 6, 7, 8
One US6/4.0mm 29-inch circular needle
Set of five US6/4.0mm double-pointed needles (DPNs)
Coil-less safety pins or other removable stitch markers
Waste yarn or stitch holders
Tapestry needle
Eight 5/8” buttons

Gauge
17 sts x 24 rows = 4 inches in Fishtail Lace pattern
20 sts x 28 rows = 4 inches in Stockinette stitch

Untitled
Mermaid's Cardigan by Kathleen Dames

Skills Needed
Cast on
Bind off
Knit
Purl
Increase
Decrease

Tech editing by Ruth Garcia-Alcantud
Test knitting by 3catos and elizek (on Ravelry)

Pattern available for $6 on Ravelry, Etsy, and Craftsy, or by using the button below.

09 March 2013

Babe in the Mist

I'm working on a Babe in the Mist in blue Berroco Vintage yarn for my new niece Natasha. There is a deadline 10 days from now, when we go visit our families in Chicago, but I think I'll be finished before then. Best part? Blocking this yarn involves machine washing and drying yet it isn't squeaky to work with (50% acrylic, 40% wool, 10% nylon).

This is a good project for me while I wrap up two upcoming patterns to be released: Sailor's Valentine and Mermaid's Cardigan should be ready next week! And then I need to figure out what comes next.

P.S. I'm writing this from the blogger app on my phone, so apologies for the lack of links. Adding them doesn't seem viable here. There's a link to the pattern in the left sidebar if you scroll down, and I recommend yarn.com as a starting place for buying Vintage online. It's a good baby yarn to try, if you haven't yet.

08 March 2013

Kids Knit

At the end of January I started teaching Isobel, Stephen, and four third graders how to knit after school on Thursdays. So far it has been fun, a bit exhausting, and very interesting. Trying to explain how to do the moves that have been become so rote has been a good exercise for me, and the kids seem to be enjoying themselves.

I joined a group on Ravelry beforehand to get some pointers for how to begin. One great suggestion was to cast on and do a row or two beforehand (knitting into the cast-on row is pretty tough for a new knitter), so you can teach the kids the knit stitch right away. After a couple of weeks of knitting, we proceeded to the bind-off, which is really just knitting with an extra move. Then last week, once their needles emptied, I taught them how to cast on.

Honestly, when I learned to knit, casting on was the most difficult thing. For some reason I just didn't get it. I can't even remember what I did, but it was totally wrong. It took me about half a day to "get it". Luckily, I remembered this and told the story to the kids a couple of times, so that they would understand that it isn't easy if you have never done it before. And then, when you do get it, you've got it. Everyone managed to get it after some one-on-one time with me, both mirroring what I was doing and having me guide their hands to do it, and they all had that same "a-ha!" moment, which was fun.

Next week we'll give purling a try. And then we have a couple of weeks of Spring Break.

My plan is to felt all their swatches and learning "squares" so that we can't really see the wonky stitches and the times I had to decrease umpteen stitches to get back down to 20. Then we will give dyeing a try (or maybe dyeing first, then felting), and ultimately sew all our pieces together to make a blanket to donate to the Project Linus. That way all the hard work of learning to knit won't go to waste, but no one has to be reminded of the wackiness that is their first attempts at knitting. Plus, what would you do with a few wonky squares?

I started with a few skeins of Cascade 220 in Natural and a handful of bamboo US9 straight needles. I also have a bunch of the Pony kids' needles in US7 that we'll try next (there was a problem with the post, and the needles never arrived, so my LYS came to the rescue with the bamboo sets, but those Pony needles are great, since they are a little shorter and the two-color sets help distinguish what they're doing).

After that they will branch out into their own projects. A friend gave us some of her yarn from when she knit (she's a first grade teacher with a young child, so I'll cut her some slack ... for now), so we should have some fun options. Plus, we can dive into my stash (a little).

And, if you're ever feeling a little "stabby" about your knitting, as Bridget mentioned yesterday in the comments, wear some handknits to pick up your knitting students. Someone asked the kids what they were all doing together as we were leaving school, and they all proudly told him about knitting class and then pointed out all the things I had made. It was a very dear little ego boost for me on a grey day.

07 March 2013

Comments and maths

Today, on top of the threatening (but not delivering) weather, and Stephen's stomach bug (at least all the doorknobs, light switches, and bathroom are now clean), I've been wrestling with the final numbers for Sailor's Valentine. It is a lovely sweater, if I do say so myself, but the yoke and hood took me three tries to get right, and making sure my numbers are correct and work across seven sizes is a challenge.
Plus, someone who knits pattern of mine started their project page with "beware this pattern", even though all their comments had to do with the way they like to knit sweaters, not that there were actual things wrong with the pattern. I'm all for Knitter's Choice, but this kind of comment bums me out because there aren't actually errors in there, just a difference of opinion. (This also means such comments shouldn't really affect me, but it's that kind of day.)
Here's an outtake from Sailor's Valentine's photo shoot at the Maine Maritime Museum last summer. I'm hoping to release the pattern next week!