17 April 2014

Button Hunt

Yesterday I went on a button hunt!

If you follow me on Instagram, Twitter (I post most Instagram pictures to Twitter, too, in case you're not interested in joining Instagram), or Facebook (all tweets get posted to FB, if that's more your social media speed), you already saw my adventures, but I thought I'd share some pictures (and a little video) of how the button hunt went. I had grand plans to visit both M&J Trimming and Mood Fabrics but ended up finding some beauties at M&J first. Don't worry, Mood, I'll always need more buttons and come visit you soon. (And there are even more little shops with buttons and other findings in the area that I had "in my pocket" just in case.)

Beautiful Springtime in New York


M&J Trimming's fabulous window display


Choices, choices!


A little something I picked up for myself at Kinokuniya NYC, which is up the street from M&J and across from Bryant Park. I've been to five of the Old Time places on the list, so I have a fair bit of work to do!

Since I was so button-obsessed yesterday, I also did some hunting on Etsy, creating two treasuries in the process: Handmade and Vintage. Though I have yet to shop with the vendors in the treasuries, many of them have thousands of sales and five-star reviews, and even the new vendors seem highly regarded by their customers. I may start designing sweaters just to go with some of those handmade buttons!!!

I hope Spring is treating you well (even if you got some snow like we did here in NYC) and that all your projects are clicking along. I'm working on magazine sample #3 (of 4, if you're keeping track) so am keeping very busy.

Thanks for stopping by, and happy knitting!
xoxo, Kathleen

10 April 2014

Pattern: Upon the Spanish Main

Whew! This one has been in the works for a long time. But a beautiful Spring day seems like the perfect time to release a lovely, lacy shawl, don't you think?

Upon the Spanish Main
Wrap yourself in a luscious shawl dripping with Spanish Lace before heading out onto the deck of your galleon.  A little stockinette over your shoulders, and then the written and charted Spanish Lace flows down your back. This worked-on-both-sides lace is so spectacular, it doesn’t need a separate edging, though it will require your concentration. You will have pride of place on the treasure fleet in this extra-wide triangle shawl!

Knit with one skein of Jill Draper Makes Stuff Splendor sock yarn (or any luscious fingering weight yarn). Two-sided lace pattern provided in both charted and written formats.

Size/Finished Measurements
Width: 64 inches Depth: 19 inches

Jill Draper Makes Stuff Splendor Sock Yarn [80% Merino, 10% Nylon, 10% Cashmere; 435 yards/398 meters per 100 gram skein]; color: Glacier; 1 skein
US6/4.0mm 29-inch circular needle
Stitch markers
Tapestry needle

20 stitches x 30 rows = 4 inches in Stockinette Stitch

Skills Needed
Casting on
Binding off
Reading charts(written instructions also provided)

09 April 2014

What I'm watching (while I'm knitting)

At the moment I seem to have gotten myself into a big sample production cycle (three of six done for the first half of the year, and I'm about 2/3 of the way through the fourth). All this means a lot of knitting, which for me means a lot of TV watching, and I can only watch my 30 Rock DVDs so many times before I become insufferable (I may already be there).

Thanks to my Entertainment Weekly subscription, I checked out Vikings - a scripted drama on the History channel. It is probably safe to say that I have never watched anything on the History channel before. No offense! Up to this point it hasn't really aired my kind of stuff. But Vikings is quite good, if you can get past the really bloody axe battles. The women are strong (and beautiful, of course), the men handsome (and burly - duh, vikings!), there are even a few handknits (check out Ragnar and his blanket below), and I've been intrigued by the Pagan vs. Christian thread that runs through it. I was able to watch the first season on Amazon Prime and the second on my cable provider's On Demand service, though it looks like you can watch all the episodes via the Vikings link above.

Ragnar in his blanket
The funny thing about Vikings is that it clarified a little something for me and Nick. We have similar taste in comedies, but when it comes to drama we diverge quite strongly. Give him something slow-moving, preferably European, and he's a happy camper, and I will take a nap. Give me action, adventure, pirates or aliens, and I'm sold while he finds something else to do. Pretty funny.

For a little whiplash I DVRed all the Alien movies, since IFC decided to run them last week. It's amazing how good Alien and Aliens are (super scary and gory but sooooo good, and I don't even like scary movies - plus, Alien passes the Bechdel Test), and how bad Alien 3 and Alien: Resurrection are (unless you are some sort of crazy complete-ist like me, don't bother)! Again there is a fair bit of gore, but Sigourney Weaver as Ellen Ripley kicks so much butt that I don't mind. She is an amazingly strong character without ever pretending to be a man. It was interesting in reading the trivia and critics's reviews (mostly Roger Ebert) that Weaver was the only female action hero who could "open a movie". I really wish there were more female heroes and superheroes in the movies these days. There was an interesting article about this problem over on The Week's website:

If you watched Girls but didn't think it was funny enough, be sure to catch up on Broad City (only the final episode of the season is on Comedy Central's website, but maybe your provider's On Demand has it). Totally raunchy and heavy on the smoke, it is so funny that it made me (and Nick) cry with laughter, particularly The Lockout (the bit on the subway). Again, this definitely comes with a warning and will certainly not be everyone's cup of tea, but Amy Poehler exec produces and the friendship between the two young women (man, I'm old) is great.

Ooh, were you alive in the 80s? Have you watched The Americans? It's really engrossing. We may have started watching it because they filmed quite a bit in our neighborhood, but Nick and I were totally sucked in. Russian spies in the 80s - sexy and suspenseful without going, well, I guess you would say "full monty", since it's on FX, not premium cable. Generally, I'm not a big fan of the hourlong drama (I just say "No" to procedurals and soapy hospital dramas), but this is good. Just wish they could have kept up the musical intensity that they created in the first episode with Fleetwood Mac's Tusk.

There's more, like I occasionally watch an episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show with the girls, which they love and has inspired the kids to play "newscast", but I'd better get back to my knitting.

Do you watch movies and shows while knitting? What's your favorite? I have two more samples to go after this one, so I could use some suggestions :)

Thanks for stopping by, and happy knitting!
xoxo, Kathleen

01 April 2014


We spent the last weekend of the kids' two-week Spring Break up in Cambridge, which was such a treat for me. To make it a treat for the girls we stayed at the Hyatt, which has a pool. And the real fun was that we got to see some of my dear friends and their kids: a playground with one family, and Drumlin Farms' Woolapalooza with the other.

Though I did not acquire any yarn, we got to see some shorn, spun, and dyed (before it started to rain). I did do a fair bit of knitting, but it's for Jane Austen Knits, so you will have to wait a bit to see it. I hope you will find it worth the wait! And then you will have to wait a bit longer for a couple more of my designs, which have been accepted for Interweave Knits Winter 2015. Whoohoo!

I posted a few of these photos on Instagram throughout the weekend, but I'm getting to know my 50mm lens (and working on editing RAW files) on my Nikon, so the other pictures are from there.

The Charles River with Fenway (the Citgo sign) and
Back Bay (the Prudential Building) across the way

The Charles River looking at Boston University

Swan on the Charles

Have you any wool?

Shorn and unshorn


Watching the shearing

The Shearing

Sheepdog doing its job

Harvard Square's Out of Town News in the rain

Adieu, Citgo

27 March 2014

testing testing

In anticipation of some projects in the pipeline, I've just created an email list for pattern testers. You can join the list here.

What's a pattern tester?
Someone who knits up a project with their own yarn from my unpublished pattern. Generally, you will help me make sure the instructions are clear and that your finished project closely approximates mine (unless we've agreed to any modifications). You keep your finished project and post a pattern page on Ravelry with basic information (yarn brand and amount, needles used, finished size) and photos, which I may included on the pattern page. Bonus points if you blog about your project, post on the social media of your choice, or gush about it on a Ravelry forum :)

Generally, testing takes place after I have created the pattern, knitted my own sample, and crunched all the numbers for various sizes. Depending upon how things are going I may or may not have photographed the beauty shots and given the pattern to the tech editor, but the pattern should be pretty tight (I don't want to waste anyone's time!).

I strive to write clear, user-friendly patterns, but if you've never knit a ____ (sweater/lace triangle shawl/you name it) before, a test may not be the best way to begin. You may want to try one of my published patterns first in said category. I love newer knitters and want to support you, but tests are for making sure a pattern is clear, and I wouldn't want you to start your ____-knitting adventures with something not quite perfect.

What's in it for me?

  • First crack at new designs
  • A chance to get to know other testers, as I usually run tests kind of like KALs in my group on Ravelry
  • Credit in the finished pattern and on the Ravelry pattern page
  • A copy of the finished pattern in your Ravelry library upon publication
  • One pattern of your choice from my Ravelry store (recently published magazine patterns not included until one year after publication)
  • My eternal gratitude
What do I have to do?
  1. Sign up!
  2. Respond to a call for testers. I will include size options and yarn information, so will need to know which size you want to test and what yarn you would like to use. I will also give a somewhat-flexible deadline.
  3. Post your progress in the testing thread in my group, as well as any questions and concerns you may have.
  4. Once the pattern is published (you'll know because you will receive a copy of the finished pattern as a gift in your Ravelry library), link up your project to the pattern page. Be sure to include project information, like yarn and needle used, and a great photo, so I can feature your project on the pattern page.
  5. Revel in the fact that you were one of the first to knit a hot new pattern :)
Hope you're having a good day out there. It's unseasonably cold here in NYC, so I'm happy to be knitting away on a new pattern for the next Jane Austen Knits (and nearing the end of my kids' eternal Spring Break -- don't forget that if you sign up for my regular mailing list, there's a Spring Break BOGO coupon in it for you until the end of March!). 

Thanks for stopping by, and happy knitting!
xoxo, Kathleen

25 March 2014

Notice anything different?

Well, if you follow this blog with a reader*, you probably won't, but I've given the ol' girl a new coat of paint.

What do you think?

The "dynamic view" from Blogger was nice looking but didn't give me the ability to do some of the things I wanted to do on the blog. There are still a few things that I'm wrestling with (back in my day -- oh, so long ago -- I would just hard code everything and use tables to put everything in its place, but that is frowned upon these days), but I think this works for now.

While I was at it, I went ahead and updated the rest of my online presence:

Oof! Now, I'm tired (it doesn't help that I seem to have come down with something: terrible sore throat in the morning, super runny nose and sneezing all day long). Sometimes it feels like being online is a full-time job, but now I need to get back to working on some future designs. And order business cards and get all my IRL identity ducks in a row. A designer's work is never done :)

Thanks for stopping by, and happy knitting!
xoxo, Kathleen

*If you use a reader, which one do you use? I'd pretty happy with feedly but am curious to know what else is out there these days.

24 March 2014

Pinterest: KNIT yourself a cardigan (women's)

I love Pinterest! As a visual person (I'm also quite tactile, hence the fiber arts), Pinterest is one of my favorite social media sites. It's great for collecting images for inspiration. The best part for me is seeing what like-minded (and not-so-like-minded) pinners are pinning. It can take you off in a whole different direction or just make you feel warm and fuzzy.

A couple of weeks ago I started some new boards focused on creating *good* pins for knitting patterns in different categories. And by good I mean pins that link directly to patterns and have some basic information to help other pinners decide if they are interested. This includes
  • pattern name
  • designer
  • category
  • yarn weight
  • yarn content
I decided not to include price information since it can change, nor did I include suggested yarn since these pins are about the possibilities inherent in the patterns. These boards will probably never have thousands of pins, since they are what *I* like.  I've added a page with my latest pins, as well as links to the KNIT boards, but feel free to check out all my boards -- you'll see some of the inspiration for all sorts of things I'm interested in.

Going forward I'll let you know about other boards as they get robust enough (six pins isn't sufficient, to my mind, but it takes me some time to create those good pins -- feel free to check them out).
Follow Kathleen Dames's board KNIT yourself a cardigan (women's) on Pinterest.

I'd love to see what you're pinning, so let me know your username (mine is kathleendames) or send me a pin.

Thanks for stopping by, and happy knitting/pinnning!
xoxo, Kathleen