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?


A Collection of Life Notes

Today’s a bit of a mishmash of life-notes and thoughts, being that I’m still working through the laundry from Thanksgiving and have all my deadlines looming right at the same time, mid-month.

Not much personal knitting/crocheting has been happening in the Turtle household lately, which makes me a very boring person indeed.

I’ve been working in a sweater made in a size small.  Working a size small sample always makes me nervous: even though I know my math is correct, and the piece is measuring out correct, when I look at the knitted piece I have a hard time believing it would actually fit a real live adult person.  I keep going over to my size small dress form and holding it up, reassuring myself it really is the right size, and then working myself up into a tizzy again a few hours later.

For some reason it doesn’t happen when I work a size medium.

Anyone else ever have this problem?

Being away from home means the cats have been very needy the last two days.  I suppose this is a good thing, as I’m doing 3-5 hours of knitting each day to meet a mid-month deadline.  They can sit on my lap and I can work, work, work.

Watson and Peake helping with the knitting

Watson and Peake helping with the knitting – if you look close you can see my current project!

Still, it’s grey and rainy out, and due to be the same weather until Thursday, which seems like such a long way away.  That meant yesterday my knitting time became my nap time for entirely too long.  It also means my needy white cat, Watson, has been in my face saying “pet me! pet me!” … with his claws.

Still, it’s good to be home for a little stretch, even if it’s just shy of two weeks before we’re off again.


Crochet lace about to be repaired

Crochet lace about to be repaired

I’m tearing through the last of the finishing that’s due before Christmas, and hoping to get it off a little before the holiday.  I’ve had a number of rather challenging projects: a fisherman’s sweater that had seen better days, and a crochet bedspread made a difficult repair simply because it was so LARGE.  If you’ve been waiting on your finishing to arrive before Christmas, it should be going off sometime around the 18th.

Meanwhile I haven’t started on Christmas cards, nearly any shopping, or cleaning the house.  I’ve been vibrating a little with holiday tension. If I wasn’t knitting for work, I’d be knitting for stress relief.

Still, I get to listen to as much of the holiday music as I can stand, which is a huge plus.

duplicate stitch on knitting

Foxes being embroidered

When off shopping with my mother and sister over the holiday, I noticed no fewer than five different shirts on adults and children (in different stores) featuring foxes.  One of my current designs has a fox on it.

I’m so excited for it to be out in the world.  Foxes are soooo in right now.  And it’s great – I think they’re adorable!


Blocking: Quick and Dirty No-Fail Method

Blocking is one of the things which simply transforms knits.  When people tell me they don’t like the finished result of their work, my first response is always, “Did you block it?”  Simply said, blocking can really, really make your projects shine.

So I’ve got a tutorial for you! Here’s how I block.

You will need:

  • The piece you wish to block
  • some towels
  • some water (cool, but not cold)
  • a place where the piece can dry, undisturbed
  • optional: pins
  • optional: something like Soak or Eculean if you wish for it to smell nice.  Or essential oils work too.
  • optional: things like blocking wires, pins, or in my case, a rubber band.  You’ll see.
  • optional: cats to watch what you’re doing (joking)
First, submerge your pieces in the water until they are completely wet.  Plant-based fibers will suck up the water right away.  Wool based fibers you might have to help a little.  I’m impatient – I squeeze the piece gently to get all the air out, because wool likes to trap air in its fibers.  Keep squeezing until no bubbles come out of your piece.  Or, you can just walk away and come back in an hour.  Both work.

Now, gently squeeze the water out of your piece.  Don’t wring, just squeeze.
The next part’s my favorite part.  Lay the pieces out on a towel.
Then, start jelly-rolling them in the towel.
Keep rolling.
Until it looks like this.
Now, this is the highly technical part.  I tell my students in class this, and they all laugh at me.
In your bare feet (don’t do it in socks – your socks may get wet!), step on the towel.  Stand on it.  Then shift around and do it again.  You want to press ALL THE WATER OUT.
Sometimes, when I’m doing something really big, I need two or three iterations of this step – because the first towel gets SOAKED.  This case, because I was blocking a swatch and a hat, I only needed one.
When you take your pieces out, they should be damp, but not wet.
Now what happens?  Well, you have some choices.
If the piece is something flat like my swatch, all you need to do is lay it out and pat it into shape.  No need to stretch or contort the piece!
For my hat, I needed some assistance.  I needed something larger than a head, because I wanted to block this piece open and stretch things out.  I wanted the final hat to have drape and slouch.  FYI: I did the same thing with my Triple H!
So I found a bowl that stretched the hat out, but left the ribbing at rest (because I didn’t want to block the ribbing out, I still wanted the ribbon stretchy).
Here’s the hat stretched out over the bowl.
Still, the hat kept shifting out of place, so I figured I needed to take one step further.  I pulled the ribbing in, and held it in place with a rubber band.  Perfect!
Then I left it to dry.
For something like the Sylva Shawl, I needed to take a bit more extreme measure.  This shawl needed the lace to open up quite a bit, and I wanted to give the shawl a particular drape and swish.
So I used pins and blocking wires.
Blocking wires are great because you can bend them a little for a curved shawl like this.  See how I threaded the blocking wire through the shawl?  The pins are just holding the blocking wire in place.
This thing was big enough I didn’t have anything big enough to block it on.  So I pinned directly into the mattress.  Shhhh!  Don’t tell Mr. Turtle!
Sylva Shawl, all blocked out.

I Lied, a Little

The other day I said my next post would be on the knits in Outlander, but I’m going to need a little more time than I thought.  Things are more complicated than they first seemed.


Watson Being Adorable

Watson Helping me with Paperwork

And Tea, because Fall is right around the corner!

Snowday, again.

We got about 5 or 6 inches of snow today.  Needless to say, everything was pretty much shut down.  Mr. Turtle and I stayed holed up in our apartment.  Mr. Turtle was recovering from a cold, and every time he coughed the cats got startled.  For once in my life (shockingly!) I was the preferred human to cuddle, which was a little awkward as I was working on an upcoming pattern.

At one point both cats were poured into my lap, a rather startling feat.

Michael snapped a picture.

Me, lovely in my “Knitter” Sweatpants and Penguin Sweatshirt;
the cats, keeping my lap warm.

The pattern was giving me fits today.  It’s a new sock pattern, and the heel took three tries to get right.  It’s a perfect fit now, but I had to try out everything that didn’t work before I settled on a shape that worked.

Stay tuned – next week I’ll be announcing some exciting news!

Feline Friday.. on Sunday.

Mr. Turtle and I had been planning on going to the farm for a short weekend, but with the inclement weather on Thursday and Friday, decided against making the trip.  I have to say I’m relieved… it meant we had a much needed weekend resting at home with very few things that needed to be done, aside from the normal chores.  It also means we have been marathoning the second season of House of Cards.  The show, which I didn’t think I would like, has drawn me in – with characters that are morally ambiguous and endlessly fascinating.

It also meant that the kitties could spend a whole bunch of quality time snuggled up with us.

I love that these two are snuggled up, practically mirror images of each other.

I also love catching the cats yawning.
Cats yawns go from “cute cute cute” to “oh my.” to “I’m going to eat your head!”
And It happens very very quickly.

Hat’s For Cats? This is amazing.

My sister Rosemary is visiting from my parent’s home in New York.  I’ve been busy working on proposals and end-of-year deadlines.

She decided to distract me with cat pictures.

Specifically, cat’s in hats.

Cat’s in knitted hats.

I don’t know how I had missed this phenomena.

Sara Thomas

Apparently, there are whole businesses based around hats for cats (and dogs).  This is amazing.

There are even Ravelry Patterns – for knit and crochet.

I think my favorite is the Bear Costume.

So now Rosemary is distracting me, saying I should make a cat hat for my boys.  I think this is a great idea.

Stay tuned – I’ve got plans.

Did you miss anything from October?

Wow, this month has gone by fast!  It seems like only a week ago Michael and I had just gotten back from our honeymoon, and now it’s going to be Halloween tomorrow!

I had 2 patterns release this month!  Interweave Crochet’s Plaited Hat and One Salt Sea.  Check them out.  Don’t worry, I’ll wait.

Good?  Aren’t they great?

darning socks, cats, stitch markers, knitting, crochet, duct tape dress form, finishing, hairpin lace, yarn weights, apple, apple water
A Collection of October’s Pictures

In case you missed it the first time, the most popular posts from this month:
Government Shutdown and The Fiberarts Industry
How Has the Shutdown Affected the Fiberarts in Metro DC?
So You Want to Work For Yourself, Now What?
Intellectual Risk, Davidson College, and Running a Business
Bleeding Socks: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
The Benefits of Doing Something Yourself

Over at Jordana’s:
Yarn Weights: What You Need to Know When Choosing Yarn
Crochet and Fashion Week

Things I pinned.

What were your highlights from October?

We interrupt this Thursday with a Minor Tragedy.

This is What I woke up to this morning.  This is all that remains of the drive band for my Ladybug spinning wheel.  The cats decided this springy, fun band made a perfect toy.  They were right.

My wheel no-go now.

The killer? Today I get the key to the apartment Michael and I are moving into (we’re moving one apartment down – not even 100 ft down the hall), and I was going to move the spinning wheel to a room where the cats couldn’t get to it.  It’s as if they knew.