Friday, April 15, 2016

Sivia: Pathways and Connections

It would be easy to just say that I took a class and designed this shawl, Ta Da!

It would be accurate too, but it would also leave out so much of the story, all the connections that seem to pop up when you follow your passion and the path grows before you. I did design this shawl in a class that I took last year, it was an incredible class with the lovely and talented Sivia Harding, a design class on how to work a shawl sideways. This type of shawl is so lovely to work, it effectively works the sideways edging at the same time as the rest of the work so there is no tedious knit on edging at the end of the project flipping back and forth on a small section of stitches. And because it is worked sideways beginning at the narrow end it is easy to estimate when you are halfway done and begin decreasing. This makes for a really enjoyable knit during which you don't have to stress yardage amounts.

Sivia works with Beads a lot, she has loads of patterns with beautifully and artistically placed beads that really emphasize the pattern stitches and design. Part of the class was all about working with beads and learning where to place them and how to use them effectively. I had never really worked with beads before and hadn't ever thought I would. (Actually I was pretty adamantly anti-bead, who wanted to stop knitting to scoop up and fiddle with a teeny tiny bead and crochet hook? Who has time for that ? Who has a place in their house where they can work with beads without worry of ambush from kids or pets?) But since I took the course and (wasn't prepared to be a complete flaming jerk) I bought the beads and the crochet hook and prepared to hate it.

But you know what?

Those teeny tiny sparkly beads in my most favorite light chartreuse green with the inner rim of gold seduced me, bit by tiny bit they convinced me that the benefit of the finished look was well worth using the finicky material and tool. And truthfully after a while it became so easy, so quick to work and barely took the smallest pause in the knitting to hook a bead on that it seemed foolish I had ever doubted. I often am complimented on how fast I can knit, and my reply is always "well I practice a lot", which is the truth because most times I knit between 3-6 hours a day between waiting for dance classes, or piano lessons or watching shows with my husband. Of course it makes sense that the more you practice a task the better you are at it, and the same goes for placing the beads. The more you do it the more it becomes second nature and the work hardly seems to pause to place the beads. This shawl actually started an entire year of work that all includes beads of which this pattern is just the beginning. But more on that later.

Back to the class and the design; I knew that I wanted to get creative with the stitch patterns, and the logical choice was beginning with a Japanese Stitch Dictionary. If you are at all interested in stitch patterns and have not checked out a Japanese or Simplified Chinese Stitch dictionary you are missing out. Make it your mission to browse one because they are simply a goldmine of interesting techniques, ideas and stitches. The Sivia Shawl has a combination of symmetrical and asymmetrical stitch patterns that include lace, cables and nupps with placed beads. The shawl grows in a twisted 1x1 ribbing pattern between two vertical columns of an arrowhead lace pattern with beads placed on the top decreases and nupps in the middle. The asymmetrical cable column sandwiched between the arrowhead and the border is one that I designed completely myself based on a combination of stitches I was interested in. I like the tension between the symmetrical and asymmetrical patterning and I think it gives the design a sophistication that is unique. I altered the border from an existing border pattern I found, elongated it to fit my other patterning and added the cable in the middle of the scallop shape to mimic the cables in the asymmetrical border. The beads are placed every 6 rows so you do have 5 beadless rows in between, and the beads are optional because the design would look great without them as well.

Because the increasing takes place at the top of the shawl it changes the shape into something a little more unusual. The shawl curves upwards in the middle instead of downwards and as you can see from the photos it fits the body really nicely.

Looking back from here I think taking that class was really the beginning of a fairly significant pathway for me. I can see all the ideas and designs that have sprouted from what I was taught and exposed to that day and it is pretty amazing. Not to mention the warm, loving and supportive friendship I was given by Sivia which has continued as a strong mentorship which I appreciate deeply. For that among many other reasons I chose to name this shawl after the fabulous woman who gave me such a profound gift of learning. I hope you love knitting this design as much as I loved designing it, take a chance and try something new, who knows where it will take you.

Many many thanks to my ultra talented Sister in Law Chelsea Jones who took these photos for me, our lovely friend Calysta Adams who modeled in the freezing wind, and Rachel Romine of Paradise Fibers for always being infinitely supportive of my work.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Naiad: Re release

This morning I spent time at the park with our little Dude, one of my best friends, and her three boys roaming around in the pre-spring drizzle that IS Spokane for about 2 months of the year. It is evident that Spring is on the way, buds are beginning to swell, we are having more rain than snow and the grass is starting to get green again. It is time to think about some Spring and Summer knitting!

I know that the magazines typically put out their Spring issues practically right after Christmas, which makes sense when it takes a month or more to make the item you want to wear. But I'll be honest, those Spring issues head right to the shelf, because I need some proof that the weather is warming and there is no proof around here in January. This morning however I felt the promise of warmth and the burgeoning growth just about to break forth all around. And so it seems appropriate to talk about a design that I am rereleasing in my own independent format.

Naiad Tank was originally designed for knit.wear Spring/Summer 2014 and is a simple tank top worked in the round from the bottom up. It has horizontal lines of garter stitches that are worked on the front and backs reaching from hem to shoulders. These lines of stitches are picked up and worked into drapey mesh wings after the tank top is complete.

Below you can see Calysta modeling this great summer piece, her fair skin looks just fabulous with the mottled gold of the tank top. The original yarn that was used was Tandem by Tahki a really interesting mix of nylon, cotton, rayon, and acrylic. Great drape, a little slinky, a little shiny and really nice variegated colors. The gauge for this project is what I would call a  worsted gauge at 19sts per inch, but the yarn is defined as an Aran. Without sleeves and in an Aran weight this is a pretty quick and simple project, with just a touch of whimsy in the mesh wing additions.

The rewritten is more spread out than the original magazine version, it is the same pattern, no actual changes to the garment at all just rewritten in my style with my letterhead.

This is not an update to the magazine version and is not available as a free download to those who have the magazine. 

You can find the pattern on Ravelry here

A huge thanks to Calysta for modeling this garment in the freezing October winds and to Chelsea Jones of Vitality Images for the great photos. If you are in the Edmonton Area and need photos you simply have to have Chelsea do them, she is the best of the best!

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Simple, Special, Asymmetrical

For the past few years I have been able to travel across the state to a Fiber Festival in Tacoma, which is really such a great way to make connections and see what is going on with other Fibery loving folks. Last year we took the whole family over on a whim and had a really lovely time browsing the Marketplace and then visiting the Point Defiance Zoo. At the Market Place my oldest daughter (who has no interest in knitting whatsoever, but is a keen enabler just like her mom) found two incredible skeins of handspun handdyed worsted weight yarn from Chameleon Colorworks. 

I instantly fell in love with the colors of these skeins, one was a neon pink, bright yellowy green and a dark navy blue. Now anyone who actually reads this blog, knows my designs or knows me would at this point say, "blue? Meghan? really? surely not". And you would be quite right, if this blue was say on it's own I wouldn't give it another look, not even 100% cashmere 80% off would give me pause to take a second glance at a skein of yarn which was purely and totally this blue on it's own. Such is my life, blue is just not my soul color.   But.   Mix this particular blue with a neon pink and bright yellow green? and it is something special, a background, a foil, a vehicle with which to promote the rightful ruling color palette of the universe. (only mostly kidding). Add to that the challenge of knitting something simple and I was inspired! Simple is not technically my strength, I don't typically enjoy very simple knits as I find that I get bored easily. But with this much going on in the yarn even stockinette would be a party for the eyes, it seemed a safe bet for a great design.

The other skein was an incredible mix of olive green and deep teal with a rusty red running through. Perfect Man colors for a his and hers cowl combo, but what to design that was wild enough for me and muted enough for my Hubs? (It is worth mentioning at this point that the model in the photo is not my husband, it's my brother, he has red hair, I do not, he is tall and handsome and muscular, I am not, but I am 7 years older and I win. Just needed saying.) It was decided at our magical Canadian Thanksgiving get together last October that this cowl really looked great with his hair and so perhaps a sibling photoshoot was in order. I say magical because we somehow managed to get 2 extended families from 3 different countries together in one place at the same time AND we had turkey, AND I didn't cook any of it! .. see I told you it was magical. (P.S. he is a great cook too, but I like to think I taught him, and 7 years older, I win)

But back to the actual design, I knew I wanted to design something that was easily adjustable, could be worked in just about any yarn you could ever want to work with and really allowed even the loudest yarns to sing their song. Moss Stitch; simple elegant moss stitch was the way to go, and a welted edging that changed the texture from all over nubbly to horizontal stripes, perfect. 

Porifera is worked flat and then seamed together, it is first worked with increases to create the angled end and then finished with a rectangle. The angled side of the triangle is sewn to the bound off end of the rectangle. Nothing fussy or hard and only one seam, its simple, special and asymmetical. You can wear it anyway you like, the larger version can be doubled up into a cowl, and the smaller version sits nicely on the neck. You can adjust the size of this cowl easily and it is perfect for the wildest yarn you can think of. 

You can find this pattern on Ravelry at the link below

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

*Sibling; rep from * 4 more times Revelry

Siblings are pretty special, they will typically know you the longest out of any other humans on the planet and have intimate knowledge of your early life and upbringing. I myself am from a family of 3 and even if we don't always get along with each other I have a deep love and respect for both my sister and brother.

 My husband and I also have 3 children and I am struck in so many ways at how much they love and just simply enjoy being with each other. Yes they fight, yes most of the time it is like Cats and Dogs. We have a rough and tumble messy and unpredictable family life just like everyone else. But I really love that part, and I love the disparate relationships that evolve within the family unit, my youngest and middle are inseparable best friends who either spend hours in passionate play, or literally try. to. kill. each. other. My oldest and middle have a much more cerebral relationship that involves intricate storylines and crafts. My oldest and youngest are ships passing in the night, they will play sometimes, but it seems like they speak a different language most of the time. I can't stress enough my deep enjoyment of this complex dynamic, how it shifts and moves and they each grow into different aspects of each other, a stronger connection everyday. 

My 4 Best Friends also have 3+ kids, part of why we all get along is love of family and time spent together as a family. (Oh and we all spend some serious time deeply humbling each other with loyal and true friendship)

The biggest family in our group has 7 kids, 5 of these kids are all pretty close in age from 4 months to 9 years (yes! Supermom!). When I was working on the Samples for the Sibling Revelry Cardigan my friend loved the pattern so much she started working on one for each of her 5 younger kids.

 She matched the colors of each cardigan to each kid's personality and what they loved to wear. As you can see these are some adorable kiddos and they have such a loving family dynamic. These cardigans were actually finished before the birth of the youngest, and were an adorable themed Christmas gift. 

Want to knit your own family of Sibling Revelry Cardigans? You can find the Sibling Revelry Pattern on Ravelry here. 

Friday, February 5, 2016

Happy Valentine's Day! Kiruto Baby Jacket

Ah February, the month of Amore, 2 years ago we were expecting our own February Baby and Valentine's Day was just that much sweeter for it. Right now our little guy is going to be turning 2 and it seems like that is just about the time when everyone else's babies become a little more.. appealing (more babies! more babies!)... especially the adorable model for this photo shoot. Aisling is modeling the Valentine's day version of the Kiruto Baby Jacket, a sweater designed especially for her and her special Mom.

Aisling is Baby number 5, wow right?! I mean we are 3 kids into this life together and it already seems overwhelming at times, 5 is like this amazing mountain of kidlet love that appears pretty magical from the outside. This last baby (have to cross through to appease Murphey's law) was pretty special, a teeny tiny love muffin of a girl who is quite simply just a precious chilled-out baby dearest.

Now I knew that I needed to create something new and simple for Aisling and her Mama, both Mom and Dad are really into Japanese culture and I personally love Japanese quilts and quilted clothing. I also love smocked stitches, I think they create such an interesting fabric that really changes the structure and drape of the knitted item. The final fabric seems warmer and cozier, it really does feel like it is quilted!

The Kiruto baby Jacket is a simple dolman style jacket, knit from the bottom up in 3 colors. Worked evenly to the armholes, stitches are cast on for the sleeves and the cuffs are worked with 3 slipped stitches for a thicker rounded edge. The stitches for the back sleeves are picked up from the cast on for the front sleeves reducing seaming. The tops of  the sleeves are grafted using kitchener's stitch for less inner irritating seams on sweet baby skin. When the main body is finished the i-cord is worked around the edges using the darkest color, a small loop is created at the top left neck opening and both ties are worked at the top right neck opening.

For this design to work out well row gauge is just as important as stitch gauge, the striping sequence is based on a repeat of the pattern in rows. This means that if your row gauge is significantly larger or smaller you will want to make sure to add or remove pattern repeats to match the schematic for an appropriate size.

This pattern also comes with a step by step smocking stitch picture tutorial, some of the testers who helped me perfect this pattern had trouble with the stitch pattern and so I worked up a 14 step worksheet to help. This comes with the pattern and will help with any difficulties you may have regarding this unusual stitch pattern.

Kiruto is worked in a Ella Rae Chunky Superwash, and works up really really quickly! I bet if you started today you could finish in time for Valentine's Day this year! Less than 2 weeks? perhaps you could! Check it out on Ravelry today and get your knitting needles clicking for your own Sweet Love Muffin Baby!

This little sweater can be unisex as well, check out the original sample made for Aisling in 3 shades of Blue.This sample worked in Cascade 220 Aran Superwash in colors 1999 Majolica Blue, 1992 Deep Jungle, and 849 Dark Aqua, these colors are not noted in the pattern.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Kitto, the swatch yarn that grew itself into a cowl OR the final fate of an epic yarn

Several years ago, before we were even pregnant with our third child who was born in 2014, there was a call for submissions that inspired me, something along the lines of geometric, modern, splashes of color. I headed over to my amazing Local Yarn Shop Paradise Fibers and took a look around, for something… special, colorful and unique. Cestari stood out like a beacon in the night, amazing loft, unique colors, a dry hand similar to silk despite it being 100% wool, and a quick knit Aran weight. It was one of the first yarns to come out in the bright neon yellow that was to become so popular and I just had to have it!

Long story short my proposal was not successful, I had other opportunities brewing and the remaining yarn was stuffed into the ever overflowing “swatch stash” to await a future fate.

My long forgotten Cestari was pulled out again when I was searching for a yarn to knit my sister in law a scarf. I am blessed with incredibly talented women in my family, my mom is a quilter, my sister is studying at Cambridge, and my sister in law is a fantastic photographer. She even took pity on me when I whined about all the samples I needed to photograph and did a shoot for me, including the modeled shots of this cowl (modeled by my brother, thanks again Kev!) So in exchange for the photos a scarf was ordered and amidst all the stash diving the Cestari jumped out of the bin, it turned out not to be her cup of tea but I didn’t have the heart to dismiss it to the bowels of the bin again. It stayed out on my studio table silently guilting me for having such awesome yarn and never doing anything with it.

Finally a week before our trip to Edmonton and my scheduled photo shoot I thought… what the heck.. I could knit something with that in a week. It might not get published but at least I would be warm up north right? Away I knit, the design morphing out of what I had to work with, after I used up the remainders of my yellow and coral skeins I thought, maybe this needs another color? 3 days before our scheduled departure I was off to the yarn shop again.

The Cestari was nowhere to be found. !!!. But now I had to have more, there was a design brewing, I had thought about a third color and that needed to be investigated without delay. What if I only used 2 colors and wondered for the rest of my life if it would have been better with 3? I asked. My lovely LYS owner said “Oh! Yes we have loads of that”, I must have looked dubious because she quickly followed with “we moved it downstairs because we didn’t have a pattern to feature and it wasn’t selling”… excellent.

I came home with another skein of yellow and an additional skein of grey, perfect, I was finished the day before we left.

Kitto ended up being the warmest loftiest cowl ever and we even used it at the Palomino Sunset photoshoot to keep one of our terrific models from freezing to death between pictures on the windy prairie. Here we are, warm in our woolies!

Worked in the round from the bottom up it uses 90% of each color and has very simple patterning. Stacked decreases create points on the cast on edge and staggered eyelets are worked for a slightly lacey allover pattern. The finished product is about 55” around which is perfect to wear in a single layer infinity scarf or doubled up as a massive cowl. Basic skills for this pattern are working in the round, yarnover increases, sk2p decreases, knit and purl stitches. The lace pattern for the bottom border is charted but simple, and the lace pattern for the grey insert is written. This cowl also makes use of k2tog bind off that creates a stretchy edge so you can wrap it twice without a tight edge to deal with.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Palomino Sunset

I have been so excited about releasing this pattern I don't even know if I can begin to tell you! I guess I will have to try because I am releasing Palomino Sunset this week and it is my favorite design to date. This design began way back in June when I helped plan the Knitters for Critters fundraiser here in Spokane Washington, a fundraiser supporting Spokanimal our local animal shelter and hosted by Paradise Fibers.

One of the yarn companies that helped to sponsor our fundraiser was Ancient Arts yarn, they have a multitude of great yarn and some of it is organized into colors that are inspired by Shelter animals. The Woof Collection and Meow Collection are lines that come in either DK or Fingering weight and a percentage of every sale is donated to either the Best Friends Animal Society (USA) or the Meow Foundation (Canada). They have such an incredible range of colors it was hard to choose just one to spoil my yarn diet with, but somehow I managed and came home with two lovely skeins of Fingering weight in Prairie Flower.

Now I am a Canadian citizen, I may live in Spokane but I was born and raised in Edmonton Alberta and got my BFA at the Alberta College of Art and Design in Calgary Alberta. So it was a serendipitous affair when I found out that Ancient Arts is not just from Alberta but they are based in Calgary.. seemed like a good match to me! The Prairie Flower color was just so reminiscent of dusk on the Prairie it really took me back to quiet dark rides across the plains while my Dad drove us out to the lake for summer vacation. I love the dramatic color transitions of the yarn from aqua to warm brown, deep mauve and a touch of gold, and wanted to design a shawl that really let the yarn sing while still being something more than garter stitch.

Palomino Sunset is worked with long floats and decreases to create a lovely heart motif that splays out on each side of the shawl. The shawl is divided into three sections with double increases on each outer edge and single increase on either side of the center garter stitch panel. This makes a wide rounded crescent shape that hugs the shoulders, perfect  if you were maybe a little nostalgic for a childhood home and needed something warm and soothing to remind you of simpler times. The shawl is worked from the top down and the border is added sideways with a smaller version of the heart motif.

This stitch pattern breaks up the dramatic color shifts and has such a large motif that it speaks through the loud yarn. This pattern works really well with any heavily variegated yarn and since the second skein begins with three rows of the main body remaining you could use two different skeins with great effect.

We recently traveled back to Edmonton to visit with family and friends for the first time in many years and I just knew that this shawl had to come along for the ride. My lovely and talented Sister in Law Chelsea Jones of Vitality Images was the driving creative force behind the photoshoot and  found this amazing location to shoot the shawl in. Her lovely friend Caroline was the perfect model (thanks again Caroline! you are as beautiful on the inside as you are on the outside) and I think you will agree that Palomino Sunset looks perfectly at home in the midst of the waving prairie grass.

I was particularly thrilled that we took the photos by this run down shack as it really triggered a favorite childhood memory for me of a late night drive out to the lake. It was mostly dark out and my sister and I were looking out the windows at the scenery. When we saw a tumble down shack (which is very common on the prairie) I decided to have a little fun and told her that it was actually a 'ghost shack'. My colorful yarn explained that when a person died on the prairie they were not buried, instead their families would erect a building over top of the body for the spirit to live in. I must have been convincing because I remember it very clearly and she was fairly unnerved, so Ali, I apologize!

Maybe you have some fond memories of the prairie, maybe not, but I hope you enjoy this pattern as much as I enjoyed knitting and designing it.

Since this pattern is going live on Cyber Monday I am having a sale, Buy 1 Get 1 free ALL WEEK! Check out all my patterns here on Ravelry and choose two for the price of one