Wednesday, December 17, 2014

My Pattern is On TV! And it's currently Free!

Stained Glass Rug recently came out in the Interweave Crochet Home 2015, which is a simply gorgeous issue of the magazine.  I've recently been interested in padded crochet.  It's a technique most commonly used in Irish Crochet Lace, but I've been fascinated with it's potential on a larger scale, hence the rug.

Well, the producers at KDTV were interested in the pattern too, and decided to feature it on an episode of the show.  Take a peek:

Marcy Smith, the editor of Interweave Crochet, demonstrates the technique beautifully in Episode 1409!  I simply can't say enough how well Interweave photographed the pattern and showed off the rug.

So, you might ask, when and where can I watch the episode live? Knitting Daily TV runs on may PBS stations, though it's scheduling is different depending on where you live. Which is the long way of saying, I have absolutely no clue.

 BUT! I did find a search tool so you can find out when the episode airs!  You can look up the air date here: Listing For Knitting Daily TV.

If you do have Knitting Daily TV, let me know, so I can put the times it airs up here! I'd love to be able to catch the episode if possible. The 14th season's 9th episode is when Stained Glass Rug will be featured! Finally, while the show is running, Stained Glass Rug will be offered as a free download here:!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Updates, Holidays, Naughty Numbers

I've been sucked into plans for Christmas, but today I find myself with another rainy day and a pot of warm tea to keep me going through the afternoon.

Mr. Turtle and I pulled out the Christmas decorations out of the attic over the weekend, put up the tree, and decorated the living room and dining room.  I have extra fir branches to make into a wreath later this week, and perhaps some garlands to hang from the walls.  Last night I rubbed my hands in the branches of the tree, and enjoyed the scent that permeated my hands.

I have two super secret projects I'm working on for Mr. Turtle and my mother-in-law, and a couple of other hand-knits I made over the year to give as gifts.  A full post will have to go up after Christmas, when I'm not in danger of giving things away.  Meanwhile, presents that we ordered online are rolling in, and things are shaping up to finish nearly on-time, as far as I can tell.

Business - wise things have been a mixed bag.  I have a glove pattern that should be done, except my tech editor keeps catching numbers problems that aren't working.  She's doing exactly what she's supposed to do - which is to catch problems before they make it into a publication.  BUT!  I just want this darn glove pattern done!  I want to wave my magic wand and just will the numbers to work!

... I'm told it doesn't quite work that way.

Still, several other projects are in the works that will reach fruition come the new year, so I'm trying not to get discouraged.

I'll leave you a picture of the naughty gloves, which I'm determined to get right!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Two Designs Today: Rosemary & Bay and Barber Pole Cowl

I'm busy preparing to take off for a weekend in DC, to visit family, friends, and teach a little, but I had a quick note I wanted to drop.  I've got 2 (count that - two!) designs out today, and I wanted to share them with you.

The first, Barber Pole Cowl, is out with Interweave Crochet's Winter 2015 issue.  It's just in the nick of time, being that cowl weather is descending quite quickly.  I love this cowl for a bunch of reasons: it's stretchy fabric, it's double-warm fabric from carrying the yarn stranded, and the opportunity for holiday colors.  I'm thinking of doing a crochet-a-long!  Let me know if you're interested!

The second pattern out today follows my Shakespeare Naming Trend for my self-published designs (because, like I mentioned, I'm a geek).  Rosemary & Bay is a sweet and versatile child dress sized up to 2 yrs old.  It's a simple and approachable pattern, and completely workable in a quick amount of time - like before Christmas!

I love the little details that make this dress: the slightly ruffled hem, the ribbon around the waist, the buttons by My Garage Art that close the back (or the front: the dress is completely reversible)!  I'll leave you with a picture:

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Monthly Theme: Mysig

Sweetness, snuggled up against the cold in Silva Shawl
It's a dreary rainy day out today.  I was supposed to meet up with a college student from Randolph Macon to photograph some knitwear.  We're rescheduling for later in the week.

Days like today remind me of a word I learned while I was in Sweden: Mysig.  It means, roughly, an activity/place that is comfy, agreeable, snugly, brings comfort and has a relaxing vibe.  Most often I heard it used in contrast: that is, it's nice to go home after a hard day of work and mysig; a place that has mysig might be warm and cushy after being out in the dark and the cold.  It's a word that encapsulates that feeling of holing up and relaxing when it's rainy/snowy and cold outside.

Mysig is particularly appropriate, I feel, for the month of December.  It's been fall really winds down and winter sets in: it's a time for handknits, truly.  I find I finished with a pair of socks only to launch into another pair: I feel a need to make things both warming and comforting.  I want my tried and true sock pattern, and none of that new-fangled stuff.

I was working on a design submission this week, and I found myself struggling to come up with transitional pieces like the call was asking for: all I wanted to work was warm and snuggly things in bulky and lofty yarns.  Meanwhile, my recovering cat Watson is a drugged and warm and oozy kitty in my lap (in that way only cats and small children can go boneless).

I am particularly enamored of this set of design submissions: if they don't get chosen I'm afraid I'll just have to make them all myself.

So in the tradition of Mysig, I'm going to try something a little bit different this month - all my posts will somehow tie back to that theme of cozy, comforting and warming.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Indie GAL Interview with Nancy Whitman

Tomorrow is the last day of the Indie Design GAL sale: have you gotten your patterns yet?  Get on it!  But you know, even when the sale is over, the fun is just beginning!  Join us in the Ravelry group for great contests, prizes, and one of the most epic KAL/CAL ever!

Today I'm interviewing Nancy, who is the creative presence behind whitknitsdotcom.  Like myself, she learned to knit at the age of eight.  She's a crafty individual who's worked with quilting, woodworking and stained glass (gee, can you see influences in her designs?), who also runs her own online shot at  Please welcome her to the blog (and finish reading to the bottom for a surprise)!

Eden Prairie
Nancy, it's nice to have you to interview today!  First off, I want to ask you about your body of designs.  I noticed that you tend to favor shawls filled with color blocks and geographic forms. Looking at the page for Eden Prairie, the finished items almost look unreal with their geometric lines. What interests you about that style of designing? 
All of my color-blocked shawls are made with modular knitting. That means there is nothing to sew together, your knitting can go in any direction at any time, and you only use one color at a time. I really like graphic images and blocks of color surrounded by borders. All these things mesh well with how my brain works so using it as an approach to design makes sense to me.

I totally understand!  So kind of jumping off from that, when you approach designing, how do you go about the process?  Can you outline some of the questions or problems you are trying to solve? 
I am probably the most undisciplined designer on the planet! I tend to have a very broad idea of what I want and the form it will go into – cowl, shawl, hat, etc. For a modular shawl, I will have to decide on the order of construction. After that, most of the designing is on the needle. I don't recommend this method for efficiency, but it does work for me.

Piet on Point
You mentioned you like graphic images and color surrounded by borders.  What, if anything, do you draw from?
 If you look at my newer designs, I am really drawn to the look of stained glass as in Eden Prairie. Most recently, I was inspired by the work of Dutch painter Piet Mondrian. You can see this in Piet on Point.
Piet Mondrian Abstract Cubes

You mentioned that you are a rather undisciplined designer, but that you plot out the order of construction.  Do you have a favorite way of sketching out your ideas?  Do you use pencils, watercolor or something else?
I use GIMP, which is a shareware image manipulation program. If I have an idea, I will try to draw it there to see if it looks right. I try to knit at or near the computer so I can type up the pattern at the same time. The first time anything is on paper or I use a pencil is to proof the pattern.

What about other tools?  Do you have a favorite type of needle?
I always disliked circular needles, preferring double pointed instead. I tried some addi needles and was hooked. No pun intended. I hold my needles pretty far from the points so most circs made my wrists hurt. The addi long lace interchangeable set is long enough for me to use comfortably. I now knit with them exclusively and even started to carry them at

Now for some silly questions! If you were a knitting/crochet notion, what would you be? 
A row counter! They are really useful and make for even knitting. I like that.

What's one knitting technique that you wish that you could share with every knitter you met? 
Three needle bind off. It helps me to avoid sewing or grafting. I even use it to close the toe on all my socks and to join modular pieces.

What's the last book you read that you absolutely loved? 
The Book Thief. My 20-year-old son raved about it. I waited to see the movie so I could finish the book first, which I did about a month ago. Coincidentally, the movie was on HBO last week. Now my 14-year-old son is reading it.

Do you have a favorite heel style you like to work? 
A traditional top-down hell flap. And I always get a kick out of turning the heel!

Do you have a designer crush?  Who is it?  Why? 
Yes I do. Heidi Kirrmaier. Her knits are classic and effortless, but not boring. There is always a design detail that speaks to me.
Gardener's Shawl

How do you define success in your career? 
I read a Ravelry post about Bocce. The poster said she saw someone wearing it at Stitches. That to me is success – someone wants to knit one of my patterns and someone else recognizes it. What more could I ask for?

Thank you Nancy for taking the time to talk with me!  If you'd like to learn more about Nancy, you can find her on Ravelry or on her website.  Check out her Gift-A-Long patterns!  I, in particular, like her Gardener's Shawl.

As a fun little reward, Nancy's generously offered up one of her self-published patterns, winner's pick.  Nancy will be choosing a winner, and we'll make an announcement on Monday.  Make a comment below telling us your favorite one of Nancy's patterns.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Making things Ugly, and Yarny Crafting

Sleepy Sick Drugged Watson
I've been dealing with a sick cat for the last week and a half (Watson, who I love to photograph), and
everything I want to share on the blog pales in comparison to what's been going on behind the scenes. Now that Watson's starting to improve (knock on wood), I'm starting to get back in the groove of things, especially because I'm not visiting the Vet everyday.

I've got a little downtime in the space between the end of Fiber Festival Season where I'm doing a lot of behind-the scenes work for next year.  This involves a lot of computer work: writing proposals for classes, creating design proposals for magazines, and planning how the next year is going to go.

It's given me some time to do some crafting that isn't work related (well, at least not at the moment), and start reaching out into the Ashland community in a way I haven't been able to do until now.  On Monday I went to a knitting group that meets at the town library.  They're an older knitting group that recently decided to stop meeting in each other's homes and instead open themselves to the public and meet at the library.

I've been to a few knitting groups since I moved, but most of them were much further away, closer to the heart of Richmond.  As the winter gets colder, I wasn't keen on making the drive all the way there.  On Monday, I bundled up and biked the 5 minutes to the yarn store.  (It was much like when I used to bike from my home to the Yarn Spot, including the reminders to put on my bike light so I didn't get run over on the way home.)

Oh, yarn friends, meeting up with the group was like coming home.  I haven't really felt that sense of belonging since I moved, and I came home feeling not exhausted (which is often what I feel in group settings, being a borderline introvert), but creatively rejuvenated.  It drives home how much people rely on their sense of community, and mine is tightly connected with yarny things.

Speaking of yarny things, I've recently revived my interest in punch rug hooking.  About a year ago, I bought a punch from the Oxford Punch Needle Company, tried using it a few times, and then put it down.  Mostly because I couldn't seem to get things to work in a way that kept me happy.  Recently my interest has revived, and I've been fooling around with my rather sophomore effort.  I often tell people that their first project should be a swatch, because the amount of mistakes you'll make whenyou first start is incredible, and the improvement you see from the beginning to end is noticeable.  I followed my own advice, deciding to create something that was  Mighty Ugly, like Kim Werker (who I have a industry-crush on), suggests.

I started out with it ugly, in colors I didn't really like , but somewhere along the way it turned into something I liked.  Oops.

I particularly love this section of pinks, greys, and blues.
The difference between the beginning and the end is very noticeable: I'm not showing you a picture of the back, but suffice to say that the back in the beginning isn't pretty.  And that's okay. I think I'll shoot for my next project not being quite so ugly.

I'm also working on a beaded sock, which may or may not end up being a design.  A quick glimpse of it here:
What've you been working on lately?

Huntress Shawl by Jennifer Chase-Rappaport
A few housekeeping things: The Indie GAL is in full swing.  I've been enjoying watching the hubbub around the event.  Perhaps my favorite thing is all the new-to-me designers that I've been missing out on - there's so many of them!  I love reading the interviews that designers have been doing of other designers.

Some of my favorites:
Nancy interviewing Jessica of Goosebear Knits
Stephannie Tallent interviewing Jenise Reid
Lily Go interviewing Marnie MacLean (which was just one gorgeous design after another)
Jen Lucas interviewing Jennifer Chase-Rappaport (heh, me, Jennifer, talking about two Jennifers)

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Indie Design Gift-A-Long

The Indie Design Gift-A-Long starts tonight!  I'm so excited!

What is the Indie Design Gift-A-Long (GAL)?
This is a multi-designer promotion done on Ravelry.  It begins with a sale: Between tonight and Friday Nov. 21st, independent designers will have between 4 and 20 of their designs discounted by 25%.  Then, all the way until New Years, will be an epic Knit-A-Long (KAL) and Crochet-A-Long (CAL) as people race to get holiday gifts finished.  Meanwhile, prizes and contests will be held.

What patterns is Tinking Turtle discounting?
I'm discounting my entire self-published catalogue.  You can look at it here.

Where is all the action happening?
The Ravelry group is here.  That's where the the contests, chatter and whole event is happening!  I'd love to see you there!

As part of the Gift-A-Long, I'll be doing a bunch of interviews and other fun things to encourage participation.  I hope you join us!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Finishing Objects

In other news, I've actually managed to knit some things that aren't designs.  It's a miracle!

I thought I'd share.

A few weeks ago I promised my brother, Matthew, a pair of fingerless running gloves.  I'm sending them to Matt tomorrow, with a little note.

The letter reads,

"Dear Matt, Congrats!  You have a pair of Tinking Turtle originals A Few Facts:

  • The fiber was named R'lyeh, by a dyer named Cloudlover. (R'lyeh is from a horror story).
  • The yarn was spun by me over about 15 hours.
  • 1 stitch takes me .0275 minutes.
  • Each glove has 2660 stitches.
  • Including finishing, each glove took me 2 hrs 10 minutes.
  • Total time: 19 hrs 20 minutes.
  • Total worth: approx $483*
  • Wash in lukewarm water, not in a washing machine. Do not Agitate.
Love, Jen"

I'm hoping it will motivate him to take care of them.  

*I calculated the worth at $25 an hour.  I did not take in the cost of the fiber.  I should have probably valued them closer to $30, which is normally what I make for difficult finishing work or teaching, but I gave him the "family discount."

I have mixed feelings about the fingerless gloves.  I really like them; I'm thinking about making a pair for myself.  Part of the problem is this yarn has been one of my favorites for a long time.  I was saving it for something special.  When I was looking for yarn to make the gloves, I kept coming back to the color, because it's masculine without being a boring color, and they've got a little bit of interest to them.

I just kinda want them for myself.  So I'm going to send them off before I keep them.

I also managed to finish two sets of socks this week.  Now, before you think I knit an entire set of socks in a week, let me explain.  About 2.5 years ago, I got to play with my friend's antique sock knitting machine.  It was a little sensitive, and would only let us do tubes that day.  So, I made a bunch of tubes that I've been using for teaching.  BUT!  Two of them I managed to make into tubes that I wanted to turn into socks.  I finally got around to it.  For all the sets, I only knit the ribbing, the toe, and the heel. Still a bunch of knitting, and I was also cutting into the sock to do afterthought heels and toes, but not quite so terrible.

If you're observant, you'll notice that the second pair is a set of fraternal triplets.  The middle one wills tay a teaching sock, while the top and bottom become wearable socks.  For some reason as I was working these, the tube went from tight to loose, and the first sock had different pooling from the other two.

What have you been working on lately?

Sunday, November 2, 2014


I'm not quite sure where the last week has went, as I've been preparing for the Indie Design A Long and finishing up a couple of patterns.

I was so excited for Halloween - it's one of my favorite holidays, not the least because it happens during the height of Fall.  I also love that it's the holiday where you can play pretend; or eve
n try on different types of people you want to be.  Oftentimes when I was a teenager, Halloween was the time to let my dreams out to play.

This year I was so excited.  We live in suburbia, and I was convinced that we'd get lots of trick or treaters. Last week I decorated the house, making a rather epic run to Walmart, which was pretty impressive considering that I left stuff for others to buy.  I got pumpkin bags that you fill with leaves (real grownups have those - my parents never got them as we always lived up against a wooded area, so leaves got composted).

We got 12 trick or treaters.  It was a disappointment.

Still, I thought I'd share with you some pictures of my decorations.

The house, decorated, with the pumpkin bags in front.

In the dark the house looks much scarier!

My black cat costume matches the cat on our door!
I carved my pumpkin to be my logo.

Putting my dress forms to good use.

My other dress form. I made the heads!

I stuck a flashing light inside, so when it got dark it glowed!

Another picture of my turtle, because I worked very hard on it!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Most Incredible Amazing Ballwinder Ever

Back about a month or so ago I was teaching at SVFF, and I realized I'd left my ball winder at home.  I went to the organizers, and one of them arranged to have her balwinder at the festival the next day for me to use for my class.  (As an aside, the staff at SVFF were amazing.  If I lived closer, I'm want to become friends with all of them.  You know when you just meet someone and you immediately sense that they'd be a really great friend?  That was nearly the entire staff of SVFF.)

The next day when the ball winder came, I was in awe.  Serious, envious awe.  I'd never seen a ball winder like it, and I've seen more than a few.  It wasn't a Royal or a Knitpicks  or a Boye Electric Winder - those are all plastic, and wear out fairly quickly.   It wasn't one of the wooden ones: neither a Strauch nor one of Nancy's Knit Knacks commercial heavy duty ball winder.  Both of the wooden ones I've used at several different stores: both the motorized ones and the hand turning ones.

No, this thing was hefty, made out of cast iron or aluminum, and geared in a way I'd never seen before. This thing looked like it could be thrown against a wall and still be OK.  I fell instantly in love - and as soon as I got home I ordered myself one.

The ball winder, made by Stanwood Needlecraft (who I've never heard about), is absolutely lovely.  Priced lower than the wooden ones, I'd say it's comparable in durability, and can wind up to 10 oz of yarn with no problem - more than double what most of the plastic models can handle.  I've barely gotten to use the ball winder since I've gotten it, since each time I go to wind a ball of yarn, Mr. Turtle pulls it out of my hands and winds it for me - apparently the smooth running of the gears makes him happy.

It works differently than other ball winders - the little arm you see rising out from under the ball winder goes in one direction while the white center part runs in the other direction - creating a ball that winds very quickly and smoothly.  Balls are much more regular, and perhaps even more densely wound - meaning they hold their shape better even when you've pulled the center out.

The gearing is wonderful: very precise and I don't see it wearing out anytime soon, since all the parts are metal.  The only detractor is the running can be rather loud if you go all out and are really cranking away - but slow it down and it gets quiet again.

So where can you get this ball winder?  It's cheapest on the website, but also can be found on Amazon.  Seriously.  I'm in love with it.

PS: I was not compensated in any way shape or form for reviewing this ball winder.  I just love it.
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