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Getting Cocky on a Sweater

Remember how yesterday I said I had everything left but the seaming?  Well, dear stitchers, that’s what I get for being over-confident.

Yesterday, oh yesterday, the future was looking bright.  I had a sweater nearly done, a window in which to finish it, and a baby that would look adorable in said sweater.  Turns out, not so much.

You see, the problem starts with the sleeves.  I’d worked on the sleeves over the weekend, when I was teaching at Fibre Space.  I’d mentioned before how I was winging it, a little, on the sweater?  I mean, I’d worked out some rough numbers, and I knew basically how a sweater was supposed to look and fit.  I figured I could go from there.

Since I had a limited amount of yarn left (I was rather committed to only using one skein, since I’d technically “stolen” it out of my business inventory), I decided to knit the sleeves two at a time.  That way, I wouldn’t have to remember the shaping decisions I made when I went to work the second sleeve.  Also, that way if I ran out of yarn, and the sleeves ended up a little short, I could just claim they were meant to be three-quarter sleeves.  Not a big deal.IMG_20170128_195444[1]

My first downfall would have probably been leaving the rough numbers and calculations I made at home.  My second downfall was deciding I’d just eyeball things.

And my third downfall was ignoring my little niggling feeling in the back of my mind when I looked at the sleeves two-thirds of the way through, and wondered if they would be wide enough.  Instead, I allowed myself to feel smug when I finished the sleeves with only a few yards left to go.  “Just enough to seam,” I thought.

I think you know where this is going.  The sleeves?  They’re really, really small.  See those sleeves?  Yes, they’re curling up, but even when they’re spread out, they’re still small.

Still, I was in enough denial (it’s the yarn fumes, I swear), that I managed to seam one of the sleeves together, and pin it to the body of the sweater.  And then, just to verify, I shoved my child’s arm down the sleeve to truly see if there was any hope of salvaging things.IMG_20170130_094404459[1]

If you can’t tell, that’s my child, with her arm out, rather puzzled as to why she can’t bend it.  Hint: the reason is the stitches are so stretched out in order to get her arm thru the sleeve that she can’t bend her arm.

So the sweater, is in timeout where I decide if I want to unravel and re-knit the sleeves or raid the business for another skein to finish things off.

And to look at my numbers to see where I went wrong.  Wish me luck.

Little Turtle’s Sweater

Kimono SweaterA while back I made a sweater for Rebecca that fit for all of two minutes, and I’ve been wanting to make another since then.

A spare skein of Dragonfly Fiber’s Traveller in Flannel Pajamas and a size 6 needle, and I was on my way.  Stacey Trock had made her daughter a sweater using a kimono type sweater pattern, and I remember how she loved it because it only had two fastenings.  I looked around at a couple of different styles, decided I really didn’t like anything (mostly because a lot of them tie up, and Rebecca would untie things as quick as fastened them).  So I played around with the numbers and started knitting.

You know when everything in knitting goes well?  It’s a simple pattern, minimal shaping, and the yarn is a joy to work with?  Well, this is that sort of project.  I love Dragonfly Fiber’s Traveller base, I love the colors, and I like anticipating how cute this sweater is going to look on Rebecca.  I’ve got great needles to work on (nice a pointy, how I like them), and it’s nice to be working on something that well, isn’t for work.   A little bit of a break, you could say.  I’m going to have this done this week, and Rebecca will be able to wear it for the rest of the season, and it’s going to be wonderful.

I’ve got the body done, and I’ve got the sleeves done too.  All that remains is the final bit of seaming.  I can’t wait to have Little Turtle in the sweater, ready to wear.  As it is, it makes a cute vest.

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I’ll keep you posted on how it goes.

PPS: also, appreciate this photo, above.  It’s really hard to get a picture of my daughter when she wants to wiggle.

Stitch Adventure Sale at Dances with Wool

jennifer+Raymond+teachingI’ve talked a little bit about my new partnership with Dances With Wool, a yarn store just outside of Richmond, VA.  I’m super excited to be able to teach at this wonderful, vibrant new store.  It’s been a while since I’ve been able to teach weekly classes, and to develop many of the relationships that I loved when I taught at Woolwinders.

This week we’re running a sale on a particular type of class – our inaugural Stitch Adventure class.  What is Stitch Adventure?  It’s a class that gives you the benefits of a private lesson – flexibility and ability to cover a variety of topics, with the community aspect of a class.

Stitch Adventure classes can be a great way to tackle a new project that you need a little help on.  If you want to be held accountable to finishing a project up, we can do that.  And if you need help picking a project and finding the right yarn, the instructor is right there for you.  Each class you can bring in a new project – it doesn’t matter if it is knitting or crochet, since I can help you with both!

Right now the Stitch Adventure class is discounted 25% off – so sign up before we start on February 1st.  The class with run Wednesdays, Feb 1, 8, 15, 22  7-8 PM.

I’ll see you there!

News about Upcoming Classes & a Sale

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Fibre Space Classes

This weekend on Saturday the 28th I’ll be at Fibre Space in Old Town Alexandria, VA to be teaching two different classes:

Ooops: Fixing Mistakes: If the sight of a dropped stitch, a mixed up cable, or a problem in your lace sends you scrambling for the LYS, this class if for you. Learn to fix your mistakes!

Hairpin Lace Scarf: This highlights a fun riff on Hairpin Lace by making a quick project that will teach you the basics of this stunning technique!

I also am trying out something a little new: I’m scheduling a few Private Lessons for students that miss the one-on-one attention or would like to discuss a topic outside of my normal class offerings!  I’d love to meet with you then!

 


Dances With Wool Classes

I’ve also been fostering a new relationship with Dances With Wool, in Midlothian, VA, just outside of Richmond.  I’ve got a number of classes coming up with them.sugar+maple+hat

Sugar Maple Hat is a great class for learning how to work in the round, working cables, and reading a knitting pattern with cables.  The class will run February 1, 8th and 15th.

If you want to learn how to work  socks, this next class is for you.  Toe-up socks: Time Traveler covers how to cast on for a toe-up sock, how to work a riverbed heel, a primer on intermediate lace (just enough to keep your interest!), and a folded over brim.  Classes are spaced out so that students have the time to work on the pattern before getting to the next place.  Dates are February 22, March 8th and March 22!

I’ve also got a new sort of class that I’m running at DWW, called Stitch Adventure.  Got a project that you want to work but want a bit of handholding along the way?  Need help on choosing yarns or tackling a new skill?  Want to be held accountable to get those projects done?  This is the type of class for you! And this week, we’re running a sale of the class – 25% off.  Signup here!

 


Classes at the Ashland Library

And now, finally one last opportunity I want to call your way.  If you live in Ashland, VA, I’ll be teaching a Beginning Knitting and Beginning Crochet class this month.  Volunteering and making needlework accessible to everyone is an important cornerstone of my personal values.  At the same time, I don’t often give my instruction away for free, as it’s one of my primary methods of income.  Still, sometimes I feel it is important to give back to my community.

Thus, I’ll be teaching two different events at the Ashland Library this month:

Beginning Knitting Workshop
Wednesday, February 1, Noon – 1:00 p.m.
Jennifer Raymond, owner of Tinking Turtle Designs will show you how to get started with your first knitting project. No experience necessary. Supplies provided. Call or visit the library to sign up.

Beginning Crochet Workshop
Wednesday, February 15, Noon – 1:00 p.m.
Jennifer Raymond, owner of Tinking Turtle Designs will show you how to get started with your first crochet project. No experience necessary. Supplies provided. Call or visit the library to sign up.

New Classes at Dances With Wool

wwl-allIt’s always exciting when a new yarn store comes to the area – what yarns are they going to carry?  So it was super exciting when a few months ago Debbie Floyd, the owner of Dances with Wool, got in contact with me.  She was opening a new yarn store in Midlothian, VA.  And she wanted to talk to me about classes.

I’m so excited about this new yarn store to the Richmond VA area, especially as the Knitting Basket is closing.  While I haven’t been by the store since they had their opening, what I did see was a store focused on good quality yarn, beautiful patterns, community and classes.

Starting in November I’ll be teaching a Skill Building class focused around my pattern, Wild Wood Leaves.  It’s a crib blanket with options of three different sizes, and is currently only available if you take the class.  The wonder of this series of classes is you can take the entire series of eight (and get a discount on all of them) or pick and choose which ones you need the most.

The classes are as follows:

  • Week 1, Nov. 2, 6-7 pm – Reading Patterns, Knits and Purls (middle left panel)
  • Week 2, Nov. 9, 6-7 pm – Increases, Decreases and Yarn Overs, Beginning Lace (bottom left panel)
  • Week 3, Nov. 16, 6-7 pm – Color Work With Duplicate Stitch (bottom right panel)
  • Week 4, Nov. 30, 6-7 pm – Color Work With Intarsia (middle right panel)
  • Week 5, Dec. 7, 6-7 pm – Beginning Cables (top left panel)
  • Week 6, Dec. 14, 6-7 pm – Slip Stitches (top right panel)
  • Week 7, Jan. 4, 6-7 pm – Bringing It All Together with Seaming and Finishing (all)
  • Week 8, Jan. 11, 6-7 pm – Picking Up Stitches and Borders (all)

You can sign up for the classes here.

I can’t wait to begin teaching locally again!  I’ve missed being able to do it since Rebecca was born, and I’m so pleased to be able to spend time with students while establishing good foundational knitting skills.

You should also check out Dances with Wool!

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Fall Designs Featuring Animals

This fall I’ve got a number of designs coming out, and several of them are children’s garments featuring animals.  I’ve noticed an uptick in my interest in designing children’s garments (I wonder why? *coughlittleturtlecough*).  There’s two children’s designs I wanted to highlight today.

Raynard Willow YarnsRaynard is a children’s dress featuring sweet little foxes on the front of the body and pockets.  Featuring a folded over hem at the base of the dress and on the pockets, this simple and sweet dress is an idea that came into my mind fully formed.  I blame the proliferation of forest animals featured in baby items lately – foxes just seemed to be everywhere.

The Foxes are worked with duplicate stitch before the dress is assembled, meaning this project is very approachable to beginners looking to stretch their skills.  And with the majority of the pattern worked in the round, this dress fairly flies off the needles!

It was a joy working with Willow Yarn’s Daily Worsted – this blend is washable while still being durable and soft.  And with such a range of colors, you can come up with some adorable color combinations.  Willow even offers the pattern at a kit – which takes the decision making out of the process.

You can purchase and download the pattern here!

 


 

lok-window-cat-1 I’m also excited to tell you about my first pattern in Love of Knitting magazine.  This pattern features some animals near and dear to my heart – my cats, Peake and Watson.  I’d originally envisioned this as an adult pattern, but the editor of Love of Knitting, Deborah Gerish, pointed out how perfectly it would work as a children’s sweater.

I think she was correct.

Inspired by the silhouette of Peake and Watson as they sit on the window watching the outdoors and birds, the pattern is titled Window Cat.  The cats are written as intarsia, but could also be added after the fact with duplicate stitch.  I have them on the pattern facing away from the viewer, but with a little ingenuity, you could add eyes and whiskers so that they’re facing out.

The sweater is worked in Classic Elite Yarn’s Liberty Wool, one of my favorite yarns.  Liberty Wool is sturdy and soft and long-wearing.  It’s washable and comes in SO MANY COLORS.  While the solid colors are stunning, I also think it would be fun to make the cats calico – by using one of their variegated yarns in browns and oranges and whites.  I have so many ideas for how to adapt the pattern!

I also love the finishing details on this pattern – the vintage buttons match the sweater perfectly.  They’re not too upscale.  Instead they match the quality of the sweater, casual and much-loved.

I love the brown of the trim, the garter stitch around the yoke, the crochet trim around the neck.  Simply put, I love the way this pattern turned out.

I have to admit, I have some plans for this motif in the future – I’d love to turn it into a matching hat and cowl pattern too!  So many potential options!

Do you have cats?  How would you customize this pattern?

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Works in Progress.

The leaves are starting to change, the windows are open day and night, and it’s fall, fall fall!  It’s my favorite time of year.img_1557

Life has been busy in the Turtle Household.  Last month my sister, Rosemary, moved to Richmond.  She’s been settling into her apartment in Richmond, and it’s so wonderful to have another member of the family close by.  We’ve been getting together quite often, as she doesn’t know many other people right now.  It’s wonderful, as Auntie Rose is great with Little Turtle, and I’ve been able to take a bit of breathing room.

Last weekend I was over at Fibre Space, teaching a handful of classes.  It was my second time being away from Little Turtle for an entire day (the first being when I was hospitalized).  After teaching, Rosemary, my brother Matthew, and I got together for dinner, and it was a lovely hour getting to catch up all together.

Meanwhile, Little Turtle is growing so quickly, already able to sit up, with a little help from her boppy.  She loves sitting outside on the mat her grandmother sewed for her, looking at the trees and the cats and her mama knitting.  She’s quite vocal, frequently letting people know her thoughts with shrieking, humming, babbling and generally making noise.  She’s a smiley baby too, interested in the world and really not keen to view it on her stomach.

Little Turtle’s grandma has been furnishing her her with October and Halloween themed outfits, one of my favorites being this dress:

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But let’s be frank, you aren’t really checking here for adorable pictures of babies, right? *wink*

So what has Tinking Turtle been up to?  I’ve got a variety of designs that have released over the summer and into this fall – more on that next week.  I’ve got two crochet designs I’m working on, a tank top and a blanket.  I’ve also got a knitting project on the needles for a class I’ll be teaching later this fall.

This week my online class, All About Yarns is wrapping up.  I’m sad to see it finish.

Meanwhile, Watson has been helping with the guarding of yarn balls.

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And I’m hoping, rather futilely, to knit a wee sweater for Rebecca before she grows too big to fit into it.  That may be stretching things a bit.

What have you been up to?

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Bang out a Baby Sweater

Three months into becoming a mama, and I’m just starting to rediscover life outside of our immediate family.  I was talking to a close girlfriend the other day, and I was marveling at how everything changes and nothing changes.  It seems like each day the changes are so gradual that I don’t notice a difference, and then I look at pictures from a month or two months ago, and I realize just how far we’ve come.

The last time I talked about Little Turtle she was 5 weeks old and just growing out of the newborn clothing.  Now she’s solidly filling out 3 month old clothing, and a few of the smaller onesies are starting to get tight.  Her head control is pretty good now – she likes to follow people’s faces as they move around a room, and her eyes will flick back and forth as she listens to her parents speaking.

She likes to play the “reach and grab” game when you hold a toy in her arm range.  After she grabs things she hasn’t quite managed to figure out how to let go, so she’ll look pretty confused as she waves her prize around.  Last week she rolled over for the first, second, and third time from belly to back.  She hasn’t repeated the feat again.


My stitching mojo is slowly starting to come back.  Last month I taught two camps fiberarts camps, each a week long.  As the campers were working on their projects, I began to just work some simple garter stitch.  Didn’t do anything with it – just working on a swatch to demonstrate to my students.

Then, I was pulling together classes for Fibre Space this fall, and was looking for a new pattern to teach intarsia.  I found one I liked, bought the pattern, and began working a sample.  And all of a sudden, things came back to me.  Before I knew it, I was motoring away on a second version of the project, and I’m contemplating a third.  It’s a simple project that probably works up in about 4-5 hours… perfect for my attention span!  The pattern, titled Totally, his here.

Still, I had no interest in working on anything of my own.

 

Then, over the weekend we were at the farm. It was one of the first times I had some real downtime.  While both of the grandparents had come and visited before, I was running camps, completing errands I couldn’t do with Rebecca, and going to doctor’s appointments.  At the farm someone else was holding Rebecca, and I didn’t have any work, and I decided I was going to “bang out a baby sweater.”  I wasn’t going to worry about math, or a pattern, or being able to replicate things.  I just went for it.  I used a shirt that was just a little big on her for a template.

Little Turtle's Sweater

It doesn’t have a button yet for the neck.  And I think it’ll fit her for all of two weeks (well, maybe a bit more than two weeks, she is wearing it over a shirt and overalls right now).  The sleeves are a smidge snug.  But it was done in just over 24 hours.

It’s yoked, with random yarnovers in the yoke to provide shaping.  Short sleeves because I just wanted it done, and I didn’t want to calculate sleeve length.

Sometimes you just have to go for things.

Also, see those overalls?  Notice the turtles?  My mama made those, G-ma Turtle.  I think they’re amazing.

What have you been just going for lately?

Tink recognized as a word by the Oxford Online Dictionary

to undo a row of knitting one stitch at a time

to undo a row of knitting one stitch at a time

Particularly relevant to my business name comes a little bit of news: The Oxford Online Dictionary has added the word Tink.  Cited as a verb describing the action of “Undo[ing] a row of knitting one stitch at a time, in order to correct a mistake,” most knitters will be familiar with the word.

Tinking Turtle, my own business name, came about as Mr. Turtle and I were having fun with puns at a restaurant years before I was thinking of a business name.

It’s nice to see a knitting term make it into common usage!

All the Handknits!

I’ve had a number of people asking me if I’ve knit a lot of things for Little Turtle, or if I was planning to.  Truth is, other than my Shamrock Dress, there hasn’t been much knitting on my behalf for the baby.

I’m fortunate, though, in that I have a community around me of crafty people who do knit and crochet, and have made our future child some lovely gifts.  I thought I’d share a few of them!

The first one has a bit of a story – I’m part of a stitching group that meets in Ashland every Monday night.  They’re a great group of ladies, and it’s always one of the highlights of my week getting to meet and catch up with them.  On Monday evening I walked into the room, running slightly late, to a big surprise.

There was cake and decorations, and , much to my unexpected joy, was a gift beyond words.  The ladies of the group had made Little Turtle a blanket – squares filled with elephants and bunnies, trains and boats, flowers and butterflies.  It was an amazing show of joy and anticipation and love.

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I’m finding that it is more than a little humbling to have someone craft for you.  When someone makes you a blanket or a community makes you an object, I know how much it means.  I know how much time goes into working on something, I know how much thought and work goes into each motion.  The person carries that item around with them for weeks, snatching time between other tasks, in the evening before bed or while waiting in the car.  There’s a message that you’re worth that time to them – you’re worth the effort of setting aside those minutes to make something for you.

I have another friend, who’ll I just call L (since I don’t have permission to use her full name), who I’ve known for the last 5 years.  We struggle with some of the same faults in our personalities – we can both sometimes have trouble with boundaries and we’ve struggled with our weight.  She’s a big spinner and knitter, and when we get together it’s like we’re both 5 years old again.  She also knit a blanket for Little Turtle.

Her blanket is different than the first blanket as night and day.  For one, this is made by one knitter’s hands.  It’s a wool and cashmere blend, as light as a feather and softer than my cats.  I’ve picked it up and held it to my face multiple times.  It’s knit in fine, fine yarn.  It’s also one of the reasons I tell people not to discount garter as being elegant.  Many people associate garter stitch as being more rustic, and perhaps even a little basic.  I can understand why as it’s often used in sturdy garments and in baby wear.

But here the lace is as fine as the yarn, subtle and stunning.  The yarn actually shares a name with L’s dog, Gracie.  The colors are subtle and more mature.  This blanket isn’t in a yarn that’s superwash, that’s meant to be thrown in the laundry when it has spit-up on it.  This is a christening blanket, that then becomes the nursing blanket you bring to church or synagog.  Later it may become a shawl or a treasured heirloom for the child.  Still, the message is the same: I thought of you and your child.  Here are my prayers and well wishes, my hope for the new life to come.

Again, so humbling.

The next two blankets are also from close friends.

This blanket was made by my workout buddy and altogether closest friend in the Richmond area, Krista.  It’s made as a nod to Little Turtle’s nickname before we decided on her real name.  Mr. Turtle and I called the babe Kiwi, after one of the fruits she was the size of in the first trimester, and somehow it stuck. (It may well also be because of how many kiwi’s I’ve eaten over the course of this pregnancy).  This is a rough-and-tumble blanket, made from a sturdy knit stitch with a fun little border.  It’s cotton, easily washable and it holds up to wear and tear.  This is the blanket for taking outside (grass stains will blend in!) and throwing into the car.  Krista, working with kids, knows the type of blanket needed for an active child, which is what I’m sure Little Turtle will be!

The last one is from my high-school friend Jess, who is also expecting a baby.  Her knit ripple blanket seems like the end of a perfect quintet – this is a blanket meant for snuggling under on cold winter day, the ripples and texture providing extra warmth.  Almost the same size as the blanket from my knitting group, it’s knitted in a worsted yarn, so is a little thicker and sturdier – the difference between spring and true winter.  I love the vibrant purples!