Category Archives: giveaways

Ridgeback Mountain Giveaway!

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Last summer I designed a hat and cowl set, Ridgeback Mountain Set, for Craftsy. I picked their Highland DK as I really liked the natural brown color and the firm hand. This yarn isn’t soft like merino BUT it feels very comfortable to both knit with and wear and most importantly it will be durable enough to look good for several years.


Both the hat and cowl are knit in the round which has the lovely bonus of all stitches being knit with no purl! The pattern stitches are a subtle 1×1 series of cables. You can knit these directly on the needles without ever needing to grab a cable needle as there are only 2 stitches involved! I love how with just a simple left and right crosses you can create some beautiful textures.

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The hat decreases are all worked into the pattern – you can see that the ‘leaf’ pattern on the crown has the decreases at either edge.

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The cowl is double thickness as it’s knit in the round from side-to-side. This extra thickness gives it great stability so it stands very nicely around the neck. One side of the cowl is stockinette stitch and the other is dense textured stitch. This means that you have a tighter cowl at the back where you want it to tuck inside your coat! When the cowl is finished you undo the provisional cast-on and graft the start and end stitches together for a totally seamless finish.
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Now for the giveaway! Everyone that purchases the pattern for the set in January will be entered into a draw for 3 skeins of the Cloudborn Highland DK yarn that craftsy gave me. Entry is automatic.
I’ll draw the winner on the 1st of February so you can get knitting when the weather is still cold enough to need it!

Happy Holidays everyone

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Well it looks like we’re almost at the end of another wonderful year. I’m getting ready for a relaxing few weeks where I can indulge in the things that I love and plan for the coming year. This year we’ve got a quieter Christmas than usual, my parents and sister’s family are in Amsterdam so it’s just our 6 for Christmas day. When you get used to several years of 13 plus for Christmas then 6 feels tiny! It will make for a very restful holiday I think though, which can’t be a bad thing.


Last Christmas I did a giveaway for Aeschne on Christmas day. This felt like such a Christmas sweater that it made the perfect gift.
This year I did the Gingerbread hunt which was a wonderful success. In fact on the final day every one of the codes was used within 5 minutes!! I felt though that I really wanted to give back to you wonderful knitters before the end of the year. At the start of this year, in January, we had a very rough month. Both cars broke down and we had a very sick little puppy who recovered badly when she was neutered. I did a big ‘fix my car’ sale and you guys bailed me out when I was really in need. I’m grateful for the kindness of the extended knitting community in times of need so it seemed like a good time to give a little back.

For the next few weeks I’m planning on knitting, hopefully reading and playing lots of games with the family. We’ve got shelves and shelves of games in our house that never get enough use but at Christmas they come into their own. I hope that stepping back for a few weeks from normal operation mode will allow my brain to dig up a few exciting design ideas! I’ll be checking in online every few days but bigger queries will be dealt with after the holiday season. The coming year is going to be very busy; I’ll be bouncing from Birmingham to Edinburgh, on to Cologne and hitting Columbus by June. There will be fantastic sales, lots of teaching, and a great big surprise that I can share with you within a few months.

What are your Christmas plans? Do you have any holiday traditions in your family that you just love?

A week of sunshine & a giveaway!

So we’ve got a rare week of sunshine here in Ireland and it feels good!
Its making me want to knit all the summer yarns. Right up on the top of that list is linen. Linen is a fantastic fiber to wear in the summer and best of all it just improves with use.
The most recent design I did with Linen was Nouri for pom-pom quarterly. (Print & digital version here). This uses Quince & Co Kestrel which is a heavy worsted organic linen that is spun using a ribbon structure.

© Nicole Mlakar

If you want to knit a version of Nouri for yourself I’ve got a great giveaway courtesy of Quince & Co! They will give a sweater quantity of Kestrel to the winner of the giveaway.
In the comments below just let me know what color of Kestrel (there are 17!) that you will knit your version in. Only comments on my blog will go into the raffle. I will draw a prize on the morning of the 10th of June (Irish time).
Note: If you live outside of the US you will only have to pay shipping costs, yarn costs are free.

New year sort out

I don’t like sorting and organising myself any better than most people but the time has come to grab the bull by the horns. My office has been accumulating yarn, samples and paper since I started designing and I’m about to be buried under the mountain. I didn’t realise quite how bad I was as keep stuff ‘just in case’. It would appear that I’ve got the yarn remains of EVERY item I’ve designed since I began.

I’ve started by pulling the boxes of yarn into the hall and while I’m doing that my husband is in the office clearing rubbish and reorganising the furniture. It’s a big space but very badly used with several corners that are effectively inaccessible by me due to the furniture placement.

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This is the selection of partially used skeins, some with ball bands but a lot without. I think tomorrow I’ll divide this into colour blocks and willing parties can request what they want!

20151230_160023-1_resizedEspecially as a designer it is so hard to get rid of yarn. What if inspiration hits and you need THAT yarn? Although as I’m discovering, in reality if a yarn has been buried in your stash for a couple of years it is pretty unlikely you’ll dig it out to use.

So I’ve been posting to twitter with the yarn that’s coming out of my stash. Here is some of it; if something interested you just leave a comment and make an offer :-)

First is a huge 250g skein of Cascade Eco + that I use to make Vivido.

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3 skeins of lovely Cascade Sierra:

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2 packs of alpaca yarn direct from Peru; 2 skeins are a fingering weight alpaca/acrylic blend and the other 8 skeins (4 complete and 4 partial) are 100% alpaca in a dk weight.

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Schoppel Leinen Los 70% wool 30% linen which has a full skein of each colour and a partial skein of each.
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A collection of sock yarn; Regina, Mirasol and Wendy Happy.
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And finally…definitely not for sale, the super sweet Lizzie decided that she needed to help out as well :-)
20151230_162822-1_resizedThis renovation of my office is very necessary – I’ve got lots of big new plans and they’re not going to happen in a cluttered space!

Help me pick!

Somehow my 200th pattern just sneaked up on me – I guess that’s what happens when life gets busy!
I’ve got 2 patterns finished and ready for layout but I just can’t decide which to do first.

If you can help me decide which comes first I’ll publish on Christmas Eve and give the first 200 copies away for free (with code).

I’ve put the vote up on ravelry here, go tell me which you want to see as my 200th pattern.

They’re both children’s pattern, one is a pink Anzula girl’s tunic and the second is a red Dragonfly boys sweater. Actually the sweater would perfect as a unisex one as well. The sweater photos need to be redone, I attempted to do them myself as hubbie the photographer is away. But the lack of light and difficulty photographing red didn’t make for the best photo shoot!

First up Pink Anzula:

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Here’s the next one, Dragonfly Fibers Sweater:

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Review: Beaded Lace Knitting

I’ve been send a new book, Beaded Lace Knitting by Anniken Allis to review. (The book is also available in Amazon in the US and UK). Anniken is one of the most prolific (she had nearly 400 patterns!) current designers out there, originally from Norway she now lives in the UK. While Anniken has a wide ranging design style she is best know for her lace knitting especially her shawls. So it does seem fitting that her first book is on lace knitting.

Digging into the book the first part that struck me was the clear and very extensive technique section. Its all illustrated with photos and it contains several cast-ons and bind offs including Provisional Cast-On, Invisible Cast-On, multiple circular cast-ons, Russian Bind-Off and sewn Bind-Off. Basically if you want to improve your lace knitting skills there should be enough in the book to give you a good boost.

In addition to this each of the projects has a skill rating, with the skill level moving from 1 to 3 through the book. These move from basic lace and beads through to more complex all-over lace with extensive beading. Remember as well though that beads are always optional so most of the knitting in the book can probably be done with or without beads.

Now a quick look at the projects. There are 25 projects in total, ranging from lace shawl and lace garments through to lace accessories. Projects in the book have both charted and written instructions so it’s accessible to a wider audience.

I’ve run through the book picking my favourites from each of the levels, although when I did this I realised that often my choices are determined by colour as much as pattern!

From level 1 I love Alexia. A shallow triangular shawl it’s designed to be easily modified for different yarn amounts. It’s worked in 2 halves so all you need to do is weigh  your yarn before you start and then work half to the widest point and the other half to the end.

Alexia

From Level 2, Helena I think is just beautiful. Worked from the centre out, I love the swirling central lace motif. The edge is finished with a knitted on beaded edging. It would take a while but I think it’s pretty enough to justify the hours worked on it :-)

Finally for level 3; Josephine. This pattern is a delicate crescent shaped shawl worked from the bottom up. It’s got lace worked on both the right and wrong side row along the bottom as well as beading. The body of the shawl uses decreases and short rows to create the crescent shape.

Josephine

Now for the giveaway! Post your favourite project in the comments below and I’ll pick a winner next Sunday (28th June) to send a copy of the book to. I’m afraid that the publisher will only send to the US though, so only US postal address :-(

Rakuda winners

Just a quick post to say congratulations to Birgit, Catherine and Touran on winning copies of Rakuda. Can’t want to see how it turns out for you :-)

I’ll have a few quite weeks on the blog here – this week my husband is traveling and my older boys have school exams. Tensions are high in the house!

Wednesday night we’ll be doing a parent swap, with my husband arriving home at 10 and my plane to Columbus for TNNA will be leaving before 8 in the morning. So please everyone keep your fingers crossed for me that everything runs smoothly.

New patterns plus surprises

This blog post is really almost a little news roundup. I’m busy in the planning stages for my trip to TNNA at Columbus next week. This is equal parts work and fun; I get to meet all my friends, fondle new yarns while at the same time selling my patterns to yarn stores. This year I’m extending my autumn/fall KAL to yarn stores. If you’re a yarn store (or if you’ve got one close to you that might be interested) you can register your interest with the newsletter here.

Barkentine

My first pattern with Yarn Stories, Barkentine, was released this week. You may notice that this season I’m just loving loose, drop shoulder lace tops. They just seem the perfect seasonal addition to the wardrobe at them moment! The lace running up the side of Barkentine was designed to echo the sea, for all your maritime adventures :-)

The KAL for Spritz Stripes is moving along very quickly – we’re already on clue 3! Many of the knitters were just astonished when they realised how much the lace grows in this sweater….watch them transform from crop tops to full length sweaters :-) These before and after photos are well worth a look.

Now for the surprise. I just released Rakuda which uses a very distinctive yarn, Cole. I would love to see a couple of versions of this in different yarns (or different colors of Cole if you’ve got some available). Leave a comment below telling me what size you’ll knit and what yarn you’ve got that will work for the pattern….. details of the pattern below. Please don’t enter if you don’t have time in the coming month to knit it!

Leave a comment by Saturday 23 May and I’ll pick 3 winners who get a copy of the pattern.

SIZE
To Fit Actual Bust Circumference up to:
31.5 (35.5, 37.5, 40, 44, 46, 48.5, 52.5, 54.5)” / 80 (90, 95.5, 101.5, 112, 117, 123, 133.5, 138.5) cm.
5-7” / 12.5 – 18 cm positive ease recommended.

FINISHED MEASUREMENTS
Bust Circumference:
36.5 (40.5, 42.5, 45, 49, 51, 53.5, 57.5, 59.5)” / 92.5 (103, 108, 114.5, 124.5, 129.5, 136, 146, 151) cm.
Size 40.5” / 103 cm modelled with 5”/ 12.5 cm positive ease.
Length: 25 (26, 26.25, 26.5, 27.75, 28.25, 28.75, 30, 30.75)” / 63.5 (66, 66.5, 67.5, 70.5, 72, 73, 76, 78) cm.

MATERIALS
Yarn

Anzula Luxury Fibers ‘Cole’
100% Superwash Merino; 180 yds /164 m per 3.5 oz /100 g skein); Color: Pewter; 5 (5, 6, 6, 7, 7, 8, 8, 9) skeins

Needles & Notions
2 US size 8 / 5 mm circular needles, 40”/ 100 cm long
2 US size 10.5 / 7 mm circular needles, 40”/ 100 cm long
Set of US size 8 / 5 mm dpns (if not using magic loop for sleeves)
Always use a needle size that gives you the gauge listed, as every knitter’s gauge is unique.
Tapestry needle, stitch markers, stitch holder, one 1.25” / 3 cm diameter button.

Gauge
16 sts and 21 rows = 4”/10cm in St St with smaller needle
16 sts and 30 rows = 4”/10cm in Garter Stitch with smaller needle
15 sts and 18 rows = 4”/10cm in Over-Sized Lace

 

Kate Oates ‘Knits for Boys’

As I watch Kate’s family of boys grow I’ve been amazed at how much she’s been able to do while they were still all so small. Her family has had such a big influence on her design career; with a large number of her designs for little boys I wanted to pick her brain about knitting for boys. My own 4 fall in and out of love with knitwear as their personal tastes and style change and I wanted to get her perspective on knitting for boys.

Her newest book ‘Knits for Boys, 27 Patterns for Little Men + Grow-with-Me Tips & Tricks’ is beautifully laid out, the tutorials are clear and easy to follow, a new-to-me method of installing a zip was included. The first chapter also has tips on knitting for children, how to allow for growth. The patterns come in a range of sizes from ages 4-12 with a big variety of styles.

Caden Vest

Caden Vest

I think that the Caden Vest is my personal favorite but my youngest I think would go for the T. Rex Graphic Pullover!

T-Rex Graphic Pullover

So now for a few questions for Kate:

1.     What is your own experience of sizing for children? How much extra growing room do you include for your children? Any tips to ensure that they don’t just look over-sized?

This is sort of the basis for the Grow-With-Me section of the book!  I really am not a fan of giant over-sized look so that’s what led me to start exploring and learning about how to get extra wear time but in a better way.  I learned that children tend to grow up much more quickly than they grow out so you’ll be surprised at the bonus longevity you can get out of a garment if you can manage to add some length.

2.     In the 80s the style for children was really wide and short. Fortunately children’s knitting patterns seem to be in more realistic sizes now! With adult garments the amount of ease depends on both the style and personal preference. What amount of ease do you think works well for children’s clothes?

My personal preference is between 2-4 inches and this does depend on the age of the child. A baby’s chest circumference is much smaller than a 10 year old’s…so 2 inches works a lot better proportionally.  If its too huge, it’s hard for them to move.  I lean more towards 3 inches as they get older.

3.     Do your boys get much of a chance to wear the knits in everyday wear? If they do, what do they enjoy wearing every day? When you were designing the book did they have some input (helpful or otherwise!).

Ugh. My kids LOVE wearing handknits.  Unfortunately we kind of have the cobbler’s kids thing going on right now in my household.  You would think they own closets full of knits but sadly, so much of what I knit now goes to trunk shows that they don’t often get new stuff.  This summer though I have decided they are getting some new stuff.  However, for the 1-2 items they do each have, they pretty much wear it at every opportunity.  It’s quite hot where we live most of the year, so that’s one reason why I have designed some knits that work for warmer weather too.  With regards to their input, YES they love giving me direction!  They can be brutally honest about colors or fit.

4.     Somewhat tied to the last question, they go for colors or texture?

Both!  My oldest is more into color and kid number two is extremely tactile and loves a squishy texture pattern. Fortunately for them, I love working both cables and colorwork so I’m happy to do both of these techniques!

5.     In my experience children love comfort in their clothes. Any hint of scratch and they’ll refuse to put it on, even if it’s a badly inserted clothes tag. How do you suggest knitters choose children’s yarn so it’s both comfortable and durable for children?

I totally agree with this. There are so many nice and cozy yarns out there right now, so many options that my kids are pleased with. I was really picky about the yarns I used in the book and highly recommend all of them for wearabilty.  To really get an idea for how the finished project is going to turn out, work up a swatch and wash it the finished piece will be laundered.  Then, see how nice and soft it is!  A lot of yarns will soften up a bit after blocking.

6.     I love your colorwork designs for children, they’re bright and fun and feel like they’re made for living. Do you have some favourite color combinations that you used for this book?

Orange is one of my favorite colors.  I really had fun with the entire Imagination Sweater, using tons of different combos.  I love Navy and Orange and also Purple and Orange (though I admit this could be influenced by my alma mater, Clemson University). The other thing I really like doing is putting unexpected colors together.  I like putting shades of colors that are next to each other on the color wheel together, like blue and green or orange and yellow.  I don’t think it always has to be high contrast.

Imagination Sweater

7.     When knitting sweaters do you have a construction type that works best for kids? Is it easy to modify for different children shapes?

I think a top down raglan is probably the easiest.  It’s easy to add an extra increase just in the sleeves if a child has larger arms or just wants more room there. And it’s also very easy to add length anywhere it is necessary.

8.     You’ve got a great size range for the knits in the book from 4-12 years. You’ve opted to not include smaller sizes, was the baby/toddler sizing range has a different number of design considerations?

This is a great question that I don’t think I have answered yet!  There were definitely design considerations–I find that baby sizes often need to include instructions for buttoned necklines because the head proportion to the body is a bit different. Also in a lot of my super extended size range patterns, there are lots of “baby sizes only” or “child sizes only” instructions that are separated out.  Since the book really was geared to BOY rather than BABY, I chose to keep the instructions more simplified and really focus on the book’s main audience, who I tend to think is underrepresented compared to baby boy.

9.     When knitting the book what design did you enjoy knitting the most? And what one did the kids not want to hand back!!

Oh gosh there are a few of these.  Probably my favorite to knit was the Imagination Sweater.  A friend of mine actually worked up the Jesse Half-Zip sweater sample, otherwise that probably would be up there also.  I love cables. Oh and the Houndstooth Vest, loved that one also.  As for the kids, The T-Rex Graphic Pullover, Imagination Sweater and Jesse Half-Zip are all favorites…they must take after me.  We seem to share favorites!

Ok everyone, now that you’re drooling over all the little boys knits, what would you knit for your son (or daughter?) first? Give your choice in the comments and I’ll pick a winner of the giveaway on Monday 30th March. (US residents only I’m afraid on this giveaway.)

New Craftsy Class Giveaway!

I’ve been dropping hints about my new craftsy class for few weeks now and it’s getting very close to launch! I’m doing a giveaway for this new class, Essential Short Row Techniques, just enter the raffle on the Craftsy form here. The class will be launched in early March and I’ll post a link for you all once it’s live :-)

Essential Short Row TechniquesThis giveaway will be open until Sunday 1st March and the winner will be drawn on Monday the 2nd.

A few years ago I did a free mini-class with Craftsy on Short Rows. This class is the starting point for the new class. I covered short row basics in that class but it was information only (no interaction from me). Students still had a lot of questions on short rows. What do you do with short rows in reverse stockinette? What about ribbing or in the round or even with a lace pattern? My new class will look at all of these situations so you’ll be able to work short rows with all sorts of patterns. There is a lesson on German short rows, one of my new favorites! I’ll show you how to create slopes on either the right or left side of a fabric and how to change the slope with short rows. I’ll show you how to work a hat from side-to-side with short rows and how to work 2 different types of short row heel/toe.

This class will take you from basic short rows in stockinette stitch to being about to use short rows in almost any knitting situation! As you can probably tell I’m very, very immersed in Short Rows this year between this new Craftsy class and my Short Row Knits book. Actually the two go very nicely together as you can see the techniques in action on Craftsy and then use the book patterns to practice them with.