Friday, February 27, 2015

Guess what I saw while watching Muppet Treasure Island?

I have a habit of watching movies with an eye for knitting or crochet.  Each time the ladies in Orange is the New Black talk about crochet, I'm all over it.  And when we were watching Muppet Treasure Island the other night, I couldn't help but notice this:

Scene from Muppet treasure island has one of the muppets knitting a pirate flag: the skull and crossbones

Do you see that, to the left?

Yes, one of the muppets on the ship is knitting their pirate flag, and to all appearances, it looks like Intarsia!  Not only that, but it looks like those needles have to be at least 18" long: that's a huge flag.  Imagine having to knit that prop for the scene.  I wonder who made it.

I happen to love all the visual gags that are in the muppet movies, but I've never seen a knitting one before.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Crocheted Tea Cozy: a quick personal project.

Nance last week in her interview made an interesting point about drinking tea.  She said, "Tea is also essential for knitting/my design process."  I've been thinking about the connection between hot beverages and yarn-work: Kate also mentioned that she drinks a lot of coffee.  The Yarn Harlot's blog is rife with pictures of tea and coffee.

Which shouldn't surprise me.  Three out of five mornings from early fall to late spring, I have a pot of tea on my desk next to me.  Doesn't matter if it's a computer morning, or a stitching morning, chances are it's there.  My husband knows on mornings when I'm particularly slow to get going that a hot cup of strong Assam will get me going; in the evenings it's a smooth Rooibos to finish off a meal.

Which is why last week I buckled down and I made myself a new tea cozy.  A few years ago, I had the perfect teapot: one my husband had gotten from his grandmother.  It had a lovely infuser, and held a lot of tea.  It was a very pleasing shape, and best of all, it had a copper insulated tea cozy that went over it, and it'd keep the tea hot for hours.  Practically the entire morning.

And then then cats broke it.  Knocked the pot off the table, and it smashed to pieces.  The copper insulated tea cozy didn't break, but it was useless - unable to fit over any other pot.  Only now, three years later, was I able to say goodbye to it, at heavy pressure from Michael.

So it was time for a new tea cozy, something to pick up the slack.  I have a perfectly lovely tea cozy for the pot at the farm, and I love how long my tea lasts inside it (now if I could only find an infuser that fits a non-standard pot).  It was time to make a tea cozy for my favorite pot at home.

So two weeks ago, when we were at the farm, I set out to crochet myself one.  I had a few criteria: that it be quick, that it work well with the style of pot I had, and that I could spend no more than 2 hours on it.  The time limit was because I had a lot of other knitting/crocheting to get done that weekend, and I couldn't afford to be indulgent in time.

I'm pleased with the results.

The cover opens so I can put my infuser in and take the top off without removing the cover.


I can keep the top open while the tea is steeping.


And because I'm terrible at pouring tea, I can take the whole thing off easily to wash it. (I used machine washable wool.)  I'm not exactly pleased with how the top comes to a trident shape - I'd intended for it to be smoother, but since it was quick and a prototype, I didn't allow myself much ripping back.  The only thing I might change is to do a trim along the bottom - right now the bottom doesn't fit quite a closely to the pot as I'd like.


Still, it does it's job keeping the tea warm - which was the intention!






Friday, February 20, 2015

5 Questions for Rachel Coopey

Welcome to the last day of or week of 5: 5 designers, 5 interviews, 5 designs, all to celebrate the newest issue of Sockupied, now out in an easy-to-download PDF.  If you've missed the previous days, let me catch you up: Monday was Amy Palmer, Tuesday Kate Atherley, Wednesday M.K. Nance, and Thursday Mone Drager.  A point of housekeeping: the contest will run through the weekend, with winners announced next week.
© Sockupied/Harper Point

Today we have Rachel Coopey, author of three books: Toasty, Socks, Socks Vol. 2, and A Knitted Sock Society.  If you think Kate Atherley designed a lot of socks, think again: of Rachel's 195 published designs, 148 of them are sock patterns - a whopping 75%.  Rachel's socks are serious business: she favors the Heel Flap over any other heel style.  This isn't the first time Rachel and I have been in Sockupied together - we were in last year's Spring Sockupied too!  I interviewed her then - almost exactly a year ago!  This year in Sockupied, Rachel's Laith Socks feature a stitch pattern that moves from one foot to the other - creating a fun set of fraternal twin socks.

If you were to describe your socks as an animal, what would it be? Why?
Rachel: Something warm, maybe a bear? Something that symbolises how much we need hand-knitted socks in the current freezing weather!

You've created a lot of sock patterns.  Do you ever come up with an idea, or sketch out a theme just to realize that you've already created something similar?  How do you keep your designs fresh?
Rachel: No, I don't think so. I mean socks are similar in that they are mostly the same shape but there's an endless combination of stitches and fabric techniques. When I do think I can't design anything new I suppose I'll stop but I don't think that will be soon!

All of the designers were working on socks during the Summer of 2014.  What else were you working on or thinking of as you created your pattern?
Rachel: I was pretty busy working on my new book, Coop Knits Socks Volume 2, I was knitting samples and writing patterns, we had lovely weather this summer so I mostly worked in the garden, it was pretty nice! I also attend a lot of Fibre events and shows and last summer was particularly hectic, I was at Woolfest, Unwind Brighton and Fibre East in the space of 4 weeks so that was fun but exhausting!

Did you run into any problems or challenges when you were working on designing the socks or writing the pattern?  What was your favorite part of creating Laith?
Rachel: They flew off the needles with no problems, I love working with Opal yarn, it's one of my absolute all-time favourite sock yarns and the colour was great. I love designing non-identcal socks, ones that don't exactly match across the pair but are strongly related - sometimes called fraternal socks. I think it really helps with second-sock-syndrome and keeps things interesting.

What are 3-5 things you are loving lately?
Rachel: The Robert Galbrath books - I love a good mystery and these didn't disappoint me.

The new Bjork album and TV series Fortitude - are intensifying my already intense desire to visit Iceland. (Fortitude is set in Svalbard but filmed in Iceland). I have a husband who is all but allergic to the cold weather so I suspect my adventure there may be alone.

The new Arne & Carlos Regia sock yarns - these are great self patterning yarns in interesting colours, they are selling out everywhere though so if you see them you should snap them up before they disappear!



© Sockupied/Harper Point
This week's just a week of interviews for Rachel - in addition to Laith Socks, Rachel has an interview in Sockupied by Rachel Atkinson!  Learn Rachel's favorite shoes, her favorite knitting drinks,
knitting tips and more!

Rachel's socks are done in Zwerger Garn's Opal Uni Solid.  As part of the contest, Opal's distributor in the US, Unicorn Books & Crafts has generously offered up a skein of Opal Uni to go with our issue of Sockupied!


To enter the contest, use the Rafflecopter widget below!  You can enter the contest multiple times by doing different things - so have fun with it.  We will have three winners to the drawing, be sure to scroll through and see all the great prizes!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, February 19, 2015

5 Questions for Mone Dräger & Contest

Welcome to the 4th day in our week of 5: 5 designers, 5 socks, 5 interviews, all to highlight Sockupied Spring 2015, published last week in a new PDF format.  On Monday I interviewed Amy Palmer, editor of Sockupied.  On Tuesday we featured Kate Atherly, and on Wednesday MK Nance.

Today we have Mone Dräger, who (like many of us) was also taught to knit by her grandma.  Mone is located in Germany, and many of her patterns are both in English and German!  I'm simply in love with Mone's socks, which were featured in Sockupied's "One Sock, Two Ways".
© Sockupied/Harper Point
If you were to describe your socks as an animal, what would it be?
Mone: An animal? Well, that one got me thinking, but I'd say that a chameleon fits best. My Chains Socks were designed for the ‘one sock, two ways’ category and they indeed work with all kinds of colourways, though the style changes depending on what yarn you choose. They can look classy and elegant in a solid, neutral colour, they add just a pop of colour to your wardrobe in a semi-solid in a bright and saturated colour, but they can also look crazy and fun in a wildly variegated yarn. So a chameleon fits.


You speak English as well as German.  Do you find that influences the way you approach designing or writing patterns?
Mone: German is my native language, so I learned to knit from German patterns and if I like a certain
German pattern I still knit from it nowadays. I admit that I prefer English knitting patterns, simply because I like that there is an English ‘knitting language’. There are lots of abbreviations like ‘ssk’ or ‘k tbl’ – very short and commonly used and they mean the same for all knitters. In German many things have to be described with lots of words – don’t even ask me for a short form of ssk – and in addition there are no common abbreviations. Different publications use different ways to express the same thing.

When I work on a new pattern my notes are usually in ‘denglish’, a mix of German and English where I use German to explain certain design features but use English terms for all the instructions. I write all my patterns in English first, and then translate them back to German. Even though it should be easy for a native speaker I often run into trouble because I’m much more familiar with English terms.


All the designers were working on our socks during the Summer of 2014.  What else were you working on or thinking of as you created your pattern?
Mone: Well, I worked on my socks during our summer holidays, so the Chains pattern will always remind me of the terrific time we had. DH [dear husband] and I travelled along the Pacific Coast Highway from San Diego to Seattle and from there we took a trip to Canada. Not only did we enjoy the scenery, but along the way we met with some of my ‘virtual’ friends I met through the Ravelry forum. It was so fun to finally meet in person and put faces to people who have felt like friends forever. Best holiday trip ever and I hope to go on another ‘turn virtual friends into real friends’ trip soon. 


Did you run into any problems or challenges when you were working on designing the socks or writing the pattern?  What did you do to overcome it or problem solve it?
Mone: In previous Sockupied issues I've always loved the ‘one sock, two ways’ category, so when I was pondering on a design to submit I always wondered about a pattern that would work in both, semi-solid and variegated yarns. Now, I’m not the biggest fan of knitting with variegated yarns because often the stitch pattern kind of ‘gets lost’ in the colours of the yarn, so that was a real challenge. And I admit that I had my share of ripping back to do before I came up with Chains; in the end it was all the bridges and the intriguing constructions that inspired me.


What are 3-5 things you are loving lately?
Mone: Things that make me happy? Ah, there are so many and I could have come up with so many different things that it’s hard to make a choice. Here are some in no particular order:

Snowdrops. Funnily enough, even though I knit a lot of warm and winterish things, I’m a summer loving person and I’m always a happy camper when the often grey and wet German winter is over, so to see the snowdrops coming out for sure puts a smile on my face. Tells me that spring is not too far away and warmer weather should be here soon.

Ponderosa Wolle: I went to a crafts fair two weeks ago and had the chance to see all her beautiful yarns in person. And ahem, I might have bought some. A lot. And most of them variegated yarns. Nothing better than colours as a cure for grey and dull days.

Hannover 96: My local soccer team and we’ve got season’s tickets and go to the stadium to watch them play every second weekend. It’s always a blast with all those people in the stadium, singing, clapping and cheering them on and well, if they even win it’s perfect entertainment.

Ravelry and my friends there: I often say that my knitting friends know me better than my family and although that’s an exaggeration, it’s wonderful getting to know and chat with people who share the same hobby. Isn’t it terrific how small the world became thanks to the internet?

Holidays abroad. We are just planning our summer holidays and it’s very likely we’ll go to England and Ireland again. We’ve done that before and usually we go by car and just stay wherever we like it. This time we plan to go end of June, so maybe I’ll even go to Woolfest?  Not to forget that I’ve got Ravelry friends in the UK too, who I hope to meet.  




Mone Dräger's Socks are titled Chains Socks, so titled because of the distinctive slip-stitch pattern.  Mone was inspired by the bridges of the West Coast on her summer holiday in the US - can you see the lines of the bridges in the socks?
© Sockupied/Harper Point

The green version of Mone's socks are worked in Huckleberry Knits Willow in the colorway titled
North Fork, the variegated socks are in Mercado.  I love how the two yarns create such distinctive effects - both completely different but just as stunning.  Huckleberry Knits has generously offered up a skein of Willow to the winners of one of the prizes!

To enter the contest, use the Rafflecopter widget below!  You can enter the contest multiple times by doing different things - so have fun with it.  We will have three winners to the drawing, be sure to scroll through and see all the great prizes!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

5 Questions for M.K. Nance & Continuing Contest!

Welcome to day three of my weeklong series of interviews with the designers of Sockupied!  This is the week of 5's: 5 interviews, 5 socks, 5 yarns... all to celebrate the new format of Sockupied.  On Monday we spoke to Sockupied's editor Amy Palmer, on Tuesday, Kate Atherly.  Today we have M.K. Nance.
© Sockupied/Harper Point

M.K. Nance is the creator of Mill Ends Socks, named for the smallest park in Portland, Oregon.  This isn't the first time Nance and I have been together in a Sockupied Issue.  The last issue was Sockupied Fall 2013, when my socks were on the cover.  She had created Tryon Creek Socks, which were also named after a park in Portland.  Nance has been knitting for 21 years, and is a proud 5th generation knitter!

So let's get down to the questions:

If you were to describe your socks as an animal, what would it be? Why?
Nance: I would have to say that the socks remind me of my current dog.  He is a lab/border collie/something else mix and he has a curly tail with white knee socks.

Your other two pairs of socks are also named after parks.  How do you decide which parks? 
Nance: My connection is simple, I mostly grew up in Portland and I currently live there.  Most of the time I design the socks first and then pick the name which somehow mirrors the pattern.  As there are almost 300 city parks and even more if one includes the suburbs, I doubt I'll run out of names anytime soon.

All the designers were working on our socks during the Summer of 2014.  What else were you working on or thinking of as you created your pattern?
Nance: I was knitting a different pair of socks for a swap which was similar to Mill Ends out of yarn I dyed with icing dyes (sadly, they are light sensitive).

Did you run into any problems or challenges when you were working on designing the socks or writing the pattern?  What did you do to overcome it or problem solve it?
Nance: The pair for the swap, I encountered several issues which I knew would happen with these socks.  The biasing around the leg made them much less elastic and so I included a note about changing the needle size on the leg.  Also getting the cuffs to match in all the sizes caused a slight headache.

What are 3-5 things you are loving lately?
Nance: I've been listening to a lot of music by Zoe Keating and Kaki King while knitting lately.  

One Geek to Craft Them All makes my favorite stitch markers. 

Tea is also essential for knitting/my design process and I've been drinking a lot of Amaretto Spice.



© Sockupied/Harper Point
Nance's Mill Ends Socks are knit in Fibernymph Dye Work's Bounce in North Sea.  The socks feature a distinctive bias on the leg to imitate the swirl of traffic that surrounds the sock's namesake.

You can get the Mill Ends socks in Sockupied - check it out!


To enter the contest, use the Rafflecopter widget below!  You can enter the contest multiple times by doing different things - so have fun with it.  We will have three winners to the drawing, be sure to scroll through and see all the great prizes!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

5 Questions for Kate Atherley, and Continuing Contest

As I mentioned yesterday, this is the week of 5's: 5 Interviews with 5 Designers, each asked 5 questions!  This is in honor of Sockupied Spring 2015 - to highlight the Designers, Patterns and Yarns involved in getting this issue together.

Today we're talking with Kate Atherley, author of Pattern Writing for Knit Designers, tech-editor for Knitty, and sock-sizing expert.  She's so good at socks, she's got a new book coming out this year, Custom Socks Knit to Fit Your Feet.  I worked with Kate when I had my Octopodes socks in Knitty, and I can tell you she's detail-oriented, meticulous, and knows her stuff.  Kate was taught to knit as a child by her grandmother, Hilda Lowe.  Family legend says that Hilda used to earn a penny turning the heel of socks for knitters in her neighborhood.  I can only imagine that Kate has come by her love of socks naturally!

Kate's socks in Sockupied Spring 2015 are the lovely Washington State Knee Socks, knit in Lorna's Laces Sportmate, which I'll talk about in a bit.  But let me just give you peek:
Washington State Knee Socks by Kate Atherley lime green Sportmate
© Sockupied/Harper Point

But enough background, let's get to the questions:

If you were to describe your socks as an animal, what would it be? Why?
Kate: Socks are like a beloved Labrador Retriever: they go anywhere with you, they keep you warm, and they're all about love. Giving someone a pair of handknit socks shows a lot of love!

You've published over 209 designs, including 69 pairs of socks (33% of your designs have to do with feet!). What draws you back to socks? 
Kate: I love the portability of socks, and I love the mathematical nature of sock design. It’s all about proportions and formulas and thinking about it makes me very happy. I also have very cold feet – I suffer from a neurological issue called Raynaud’s Phenomenon, wherein my extremities get very very cold. Hand knit socks help with that a lot, on a practical level. I do tend to prefer working top-down: it’s easier to design that way. I figure the patterning first on the leg, and then sort out how to divide it for the foot. And I like the Dutch/band heel, as the math is easiest for that.

All the designers were working on our socks during the Summer of 2014.  What else were you working on or thinking of as you created your pattern?
Kate: I'd actually just finished submitted the final samples and patterns for my upcoming Custom-Fit Socks book – being published by Interweave this summer. I’d said that I needed a break from sock knitting – and yet the first design submission I sent into a publication was for a pair of socks. And knee socks, at that. Sometimes I wonder about my sanity!

Did you run into any problems or challenges when you were working on designing the socks or writing the pattern?  What did you do to overcome it or problem solve it?
Kate: Because I’d just finished up the book, sock knitting and sock designing and sock pattern writing were at top of mind. I think the problem might have been in trying to do anything else...

What are 3-5 things you are loving lately?
Kate: I was given an Aeropress coffee maker as a gift this past Christmas, and it’s changed my life. It makes absolutely fantastic coffee. I love coffee dearly, and it makes a damn fine cup of coffee.

Music is an important part of my life and my workday, and I adore the new Decemberists’ album.

Speaking of sock knitting, I recently got my hands on some Little Gidding Farm Suri Alpaca sock yarn, and it is absolutely wonderful stuff. So warm, and the colors are amazing. Love it.



As I mentioned before, Kate Atherley's socks in Sockupied are titled Washington State Knee Socks, Sportmate.  Knee socks are great transeasonal socks - perfect to wear under pants or boots on cold days, or to wear out for everyone to see with a cute skirt!
Washington State Knee Socks by Kate Atherley
© Sockupied/Harper Point
knit in Lorna's Laces

Because the socks are knit with Sportmate, they are not the marathon that knee socks can sometimes be!  Kate has an article in Sockupied explaining how to customize the fit of knee socks legs.

Today's blog post is sponsored by Lorna's Laces, who contributed 2 skeins of Sportmate for the drawing.  Kate Atherley has also donated a copy of her book, Knit Accessories.

To enter the contest, use the Rafflecopter widget below!  You can enter the contest multiple times by doing different things - so have fun with it.  We will have three winners to the drawing, be sure to scroll through and see all the great prizes!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, February 16, 2015

5 Questions for Sockupied Editor Amy Palmer, and Contest!

Welcome to Tinking Turtle's week of 5: 5 Interviews, 5 Patterns, 5 Designers, a 5 day extravaganza to celebrate the newest issue of Sockupied: Spring 2015.  This issue is very special: it's the first issue that new Sockupied Editor Amy Palmer curated from start to finish.  It also marks Interweave's Sockupied being released in a new format - an easy to download PDF that's viewable on a variety of devices!
© Sockupied/Harper Point

Today's interview is brought to you by my own pattern, Karner Butterfly, and Anzula's beautiful Squishy.  Instead of interviewing myself, I thought it'd be more interesting to talk to Amy Palmer, and boy are you in for a treat! Amy Palmer is the lovely editor of Knitscene and Sockupied. When she's not thinking about knitting, she enjoys learning the violin and reading comics.    I love how Amy gives us a glimpse into what happens behind the scenes at Interweave!


This is the first issue of Sockupied you curated start to finish!  Tell me a little about why you picked these five designs for this issue.  What were the considerations you take into account when creating a collection of socks?
Amy:I wish I could say there was some magic formula to choosing sock patterns for this issue, but mostly it was “ooh that’s pretty!”

I reached out to Rachel Coopey and asked her to be the featured designer, then let her run with her design—she showed me some sketches of her Laith Socks but Rachel’s such a great designer of fun-to-knit socks I never felt the need to peek over her shoulder, so to speak.

One of the things I’d loved about previous issues of Sockupied was the One Sock Two Ways pattern, and Mone Dräger’s submission for Chains Socks was absolutely perfect for that feature.

Kate Atherley’s Washington State Knee Socks grew out of a batch of ideas she’d sent me for Knitscene, I think. The accompanying article was something I knew I wanted to read—I love the look of knee socks but, as a lady with substantial calves myself, I've always been a little leery of putting in the time and effort to customize them.

I thought the Karner Butterfly socks you’d submitted were a really cool take on knitting a cuff, though I then had a lot of trouble figuring out if they fell into the “top down” category or if they just needed their own identifier!

Finally I loved M K Nance’s swirling ribbing on her Mill Ends Socks. Now that I think about it there’s a bit of swirling in that pattern, Chains, and Laith. I like swirls, I guess!

Inheriting this project from Anne [Merrow] meant I had some guidelines to help me, which was really helpful. I didn't have specific themes for the patterns themselves, but I tried to tie everything together with yarn color and photography—the blues and greens of the yarns felt really cohesive, and shooting everything in one location in a lifestyle-photography way really appealed to me, coming from Knitscene where I try to photograph the stories very thematically. But I knew I needed a mix of toe up and top down socks. Sockupied is aimed at experienced sock knitters AND a digital product, so I knew that I could include projects that seemed more challenging to my Knitscene-trained eye without worrying about difficulty level or page space.

How do you make decisions as far as yarns or colors?  How much do you take into account designer’s vision vs. wanting the collection to work together?
Amy: Generally I have a working palette, but since the samples are also returned to designers and I want them to enjoy them, I do try to work with designers on color. If I pitch a color and a designer just isn’t feeling it, there’s always some other color that fits into my palette that we can agree on!

All the designers were working on our socks during the Summer of 2014, and sent them to you shortly after, where you saw them for the first time.  What happens after you get the designs? 
Amy: In a typical magazine production schedule, projects and patterns go to tech editing within a few weeks after the samples arriving in the office. For Sockupied,  I needed to get things photographed sooner rather than later due to Knitscene schedule conflicts. The socks for both Spring and Fall were photographed in early September, then the Spring socks were sent to tech editing.

This photo shoot was a fun experience—we shot both issues in one day. The morning/Spring shoot was done at the house of our managing editor, Allison, and she’s also our model (along with her incredibly photogenic golden retriever, Henry). Then we moved locations for the Fall shoot and I'm not telling you anything more about that because it’s a secret. ;)

Did you run into any problems or challenges when you were working on this issue of Sockupied?  What did you, or your team, do to overcome it or problem solve it?
Amy: Because I was new to the Sockupied process and not familiar with the schedule, I accidentally backed myself (and by association, my designers—sorry!) into a bit of a corner with getting samples made.

I can’t stress enough how appreciative I am that everyone involved, especially with this Spring issue, was understanding and able to work with me and I promise I don't usually cut things quite so short! Because our graphic designer for Sockupied is also the graphic designer for Interweave Crochet and Knitscene, we ran into a bit of a crunch as she was working to get Interweave Crochet Spring 2015 out the door, but we've kind of become pros at turning files around quickly.

What are 3-5 things you are loving lately?
Amy: I've become incredibly enamored with embroidery of late—my mom had given me a bunch of her old embroidery samplers and I've been working on one of them, which has led me down a dangerous rabbit hole where things like cross-stitch patterns from Satsuma Street make me really excited (I blame Allyson Dykhuizen for that link). I'm also trying to work on the ones I have so I haven't purchased any patterns yet.

It’s no secret that I'm a bit of a nerd, so I’ve been working on my embroidery and knitting projects while re-watching Star Trek: The Next Generation. (Thanks Netflix!) I'm loving this because it reminds me of when I was a little girl—this was the first show I remember watching with my dad and it was our “thing” for a while. Plus it’s great crafting entertainment!

And this may seem like a cop-out but I'm really really excited about Knitscene Summer. We have some incredible projects in this issue and the photography was just so fun and fresh I can't
wait to share it with everyone. This issue also marks my debut as a garment designer so that makes me kind of nervous in an excited kind of way. So I guess I should get back to work on that, huh?



© Sockupied/Harper Point
Today's interview is sponsored by Karner Butterfly, my own socks!  Karner Butterfly was inspired by the small blue butterflies native to my hometown, in an area called the Pine Bush.  The Karner Butterflies are more commonly known as Karner Blue - the butterfly being a bright blue with small gold spots.  The butterfly's habitat depends on the growth of the plant blue lupine, and as such, is endangered.

The blue and gold of the butterfly a almost perfectly captured by Anzula's Squishy in Teal and Maple.  Many thanks to Anzula for providing yarn support!  Anzula also provided one of the prizes in the giveaway: a skein of Squishy!

To enter the contest, use the Rafflecopter widget below!  You can enter the contest multiple times by doing different things - so have fun with it.  We will have three winners to the drawing, be sure to scroll through and see all the great prizes!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, February 13, 2015

Karner Butterfly: Sockupied Spring 2015

© Sockupied/Harper Point
This marks the release of Sockupied's Spring 2015 issue, and I can't tell you how excited I am to finally share my design with you!  Karner Butterfly is a pair of socks near and dear to my heart: I knit them (and a sock pattern that will be coming out in the Fall) on my family's vacation to the Mediterranean.

Yes, you heard that right, I was "working" while on holiday: while my family packed bathing suits and suntan lotion for the cruise, I was deliberating over the needles I would need for the trip.

When I look at Kerner Butterfly all my memories are tied up in spending time with my family: my mother, father, sister and two brothers.  It's memories of vivid colors.

Of dreamy landscapes

Of absolutely clear waters

Of bonding with Murano lace-makers on knitting and lacework

It's of snatching stitches in wherever I could, and carting my knitting everywhere in my blue bag

It's of my father (Papa Turtle) finding knitting in the most unlikely places


In a way it makes sense, as Karner Butterfly Socks are named for an area of my hometown, a geologically unique area called the Pine Bush, home to the endangered Karner Blue Butterfly.  No wonder I should be fated to knit these socks while with my family, named for the place where I grew up.
© Sockupied/Harper Point

You should check out my socks, and the other patterns in Sockupied - it's a great issue!



PS: I've got an amazing lineup of blog posts for you next week!  Stay tuned for some fun stuff!

PPS: The contest for Jen Lucas's book ends on Sunday!  Don't forget to enter, and share the contest with others!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Sock Yarn Shawls II Review & Contest

picture of a POC wearing a lace shawl on cover of book by Jen LucasJen Lucas is a designer I've been aware of for a while.  How could I not know about her stunning shawl patterns?  We also, if you haven't noticed, had the same name, and I generally keep an eye on the other designer's with the name of Jennifer - call it a sense of kindred names.

Recently I got my hands on Jen Lucas' newest book: Sock-Yarn Shawls II: 16 Patterns for Lace Knitting.  I've spent the last two weeks with the book, reviewing patterns and sinking my teeth into the book, and I wanted to share my thoughts here.

First off, the book is gorgeous.  The clean and simple lines mean the focus is really on the patterns.  The book's model is also a POC, which is wonderful: all too often in the knitting world the models are of western descent.

The book is divided into three sections: Small Shawls (featuring 6 designs), Midsize Shawls (featuring 7 designs), and Large Shawls (featuring 3 designs).  While I would have liked one more larger shawl, I also have to admit that the larger shawls feature a LOT of knitting.  And several of the Midsize Shawls could have extra repeats to make them bigger.  Overall, I think the spread and sample size is fairly balanced.
Sunburst

It is now time to declare my bias: I tend to prefer shawls that are solid most of the way through, with a lace edging.  Allover lace patterns, while lovely, aren't generally my cup 'o tea, but I understand some people love them.  My favorite patterns ended up being Sunburst, Earth and Sky, and Floe.  Still, the Lycopod, which is the pattern on the cover, is also gorgeous, and I'd think about modifying the shawl to suit my tastes.

I love the amount of variability in shape and construction the shawls have.  I also love how closely Jen's color taste aligns with my own.  I also love how each pattern has some good close-up shots of the lace, to give you a really good sense of how the lace flows and looks.

On a last note, how approachable is this book to someone who has never done a lace shawl before?

The book has a lovely introduction on managing stitch markers (a must for lace knitting!).  I do wish there'd been a mention of lifelines, considering there's a few different shawls I'd be tempted to use them on.  However, lifelines are sometimes hard to explain concisely in pictures, so I could see how there might have been a page limit.  There's also an excellent pictorial reference section, with good pictures on knitting a garter lace tab, and a few other helpful tutorials when working with lace.  Some of the smaller shawls would definitely be approachable to beginners, and you could build on that success.

Sock Yarn Shawls II is available for sale on Amazon as both a physical book and an e-book.  It is also available as a Ravelry Download.  If you love lace, you should pick it up!

And as an extra-special reward, I'm running a contest where one of you will receive a free copy of Jen's book!  Just enter the Rafflecopter widget below!

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Introducing: Ravelry 101

One of the most frequent questions I get from former students is, "When are you going to be teaching nearby again?"  It's an understandable question, considering that I'm often teaching at wildly different venues along the East Coast.

woman's hands typing at computer screen looking at the Ravelry website sign-in pageWhich is why I'm pleased to announce a new venue for teaching today!  I've partnered with Interweave's Online Learning Department to bring you two classes on using Ravelry.  Ravelry 101, will run live on February 18th, 2015, and Ravelry 201 will run 2 weeks later, on March 4th.  Both classes run for an hour, starting at 1pm EST.  The best part about the class?  You don't have to be there live to take the workshop!  After the class is recorded, you can access the video whenever you want to watch it.

I'd like to take some time to highlight Ravelry 101 today, and explain why you'd find the class valuable.

First, what is Ravelry?
Ravelry is a website that is both a database of patterns and a social place to interact with other knitters, crocheters, and yarn enthusiasts.  Just this month they tipped over into 5 million users! It's an incredibly powerful tool for knitters and crocheters.  When I worked in my LYS, I consulted it often to help customers find patterns, learn more about a yarn used in a pattern to make knowledgeable yarn substitutions, and to discover if a pattern had mistakes or errata.

Why would I find Ravelry 101 helpful?
As I mentioned, I often use Ravelry for a variety of purposes.  Ravelry 101 focuses on the database side of Ravelry, and how it can be used to make your life easier.  During Ravelry 101 I'll show you how you can easily search your paper library, to find that "one pattern" that you saw in a magazine 3 years ago.  I'll show you one of my favorite tricks to picking out a pattern using Ravelry's advanced search functions.  I'll also break down how Ravelry is organized, making sure you can always find your way to what you need and want!

Where can I buy Ravelry 101?
Ravelry 101 is being run by Interweave's Online Learning Platform.  This means that you can take the class live, at 1 pm EST on February 18th, or at any time after that!  Signup is easy, just go to http://www.interweavestore.com/ravelry-101 to signup and add the class to your basket.  The best part?  It's only $19.99 - an incredible deal for one of my classes!

I look forward to joining ya'll on February 18th - I'm really looking forward to showing you what I love about this website!
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