Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Fiber Camp and the Knit North Yarn Crawl - That's a wrap!

It's been a few a weeks now since Fiber Camp and the Knit North Yarn Crawl, so its about time I write about all of the fibery fun I had in March!


Fiber Camp 2016

As always, Fiber Camp was a blast! Last year was my first time attending, and it was such a pivotal event for me in my knitting career. Up until then, I had been toying with the idea of designing and being more involved with the knitting community in general. The inspiration overload that is Fiber Camp is what ultimately pushed me to take the leap! This year, it was fun to return and teach a class. Ana Campos from the Toil & Trouble and I co-taught a class on designing and publishing knitting patterns. For me, it was a great way to share all of the knowledge I have gained in my first year of designing. Basically, the class was an overview of how to see an idea through from sketch to publication.  I'd love to organize these thoughts into a "real" class/lecture sometime down the road.

I also took a few classes, because the best part of Fiber Camp is learning new things. Last year, I learned about the pom pom maker from Sheeri, and let me tell you, now I always get compliments on my pom poms. I also spun yarn for the first time with help from Willa. This year, I learned some of the magic behind double knitting thanks to two awesome classes taught by Alasdair Post-Quinn of Fallingblox Designs. If you are into double knitting, you should be on the lookout for his upcoming book due out next winter. He has some jaw-dropping designs -- you can see a sneak peek of what's to come on his latest blog post! I also spun yarn for the second time thanks again to Willa and Joanna. I was thinking of making spinning an annual event, but now that I have my very own drop spindle and fiber (thanks to the swag bags), I may have to try it out more often.

Knit North Yarn Crawl

Fiber Camp was followed by yet ANOTHER weekend of full on knitting! I think March is my favorite knitting month. Though it was a crawl, I must admit that I didn't do much crawling. Instead I parked myself at Circle of Stitches and let the crawl come to me. The advantage of this strategy was that it allowed me to put some precious knitting time in while still getting to meet, mingle, and of course knit with tons of new people. Plus, not only did I get to see a bunch of Maritana shawls in the wild (see pics below), I also got help pick out colors for those about to cast on.

Check out the Maritana made by Mary-Kate (mkbourn on ravelry) in Shibui Kavo!

I was a little bummed that I didn't get see all of the stores on the crawl, but perhaps my plan this summer should be do an extended yarn crawl and bike to all of the yarn stores on the north shore. Not all on the same day of course -- the north shore is VERY hilly, and I'm not exaggerating when I say that would kill me. Most importantly, I could convince Michael to come along for the ride :)

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Introducing the 2016 Knit North Yarn Crawl Shawl, Maritana!

It was back in the fall while I was knitting in the extra comfy chair at Circle of Stitches when the store owner (and friend) Ana Campos asked if I'd be interested in designing the official shawl for the 2016 Knit North Yarn Crawl. I remember it so vividly because I was so excited and honored to be trusted with such a big responsibility! With that, I introduce you to Maritana!

Photo by Ana Campos

While I was eager to jump right in and starting the sample already, I must say that it took me a while to flesh out the exact design of this shawl. The design went through many different iterations of shapes, from an asymmetrical triangle to a biased rectangle, but there were a few details I was steadfast on from the beginning. I knew the shawl would be striped, and I knew the yarn colors I would use.

My idea board

Actually, let me back up here. Ana initially suggested to design the shawl in a dk/sport weight yarn, and then she steered me towards The Fibre Co. Road to China Light. Not only was I beguiled its softness, but I was mesmerized with the gorgeous color choices as well. What impressed me most was how well the different colorways go with each other. Even though I knew exactly what four colors I wanted to use for the sample right away, there were so many color combinations I liked just as much. So now we're caught back up to when I had four yarn colors to play with. Like I said before, I also knew I wanted to have a ton of multi-sized stripes. This led to hours of finagling in Illustrator to find the right arrangement and proportions of stripes. Then came deciding on the shape.

Ironically I'm not a huge fan of triangular shawls, rather I should say "wasn't". In the past, I found them awkward to wear and hard to keep around my neck/shoulders. My first instinct was to knit a rectangular wrap, but then again I didn't want it to take too long  and require too much yarn for the yarn crawlers trying to finish the shawl by the end of March. Then I thought about doing an asymmetrical triangular shawl, but this was right when Melanie Berg's Drachenfels design debuted. Given that almost everyone I know was knitting this shawl (myself included), I figured I'd want to make something different. It was then in talking with one of the employee's at Circle of Stitches, Carolyn, when I decided once and for all to make a symmetrical triangular shawl. It was her advice that "the bigger the shawl, the easier it is to wear" is what sold me on my final decision.

And let me say, I'm so happy that I did! This shawl has been my go-to knitwear accessory for the past two months now, because its soooooo comfortable and extremely versatile. I can through it on over a tshirt and jeans while running errands or wear it with a formal outfit at work. However my favorite part about this shawl is just how creative it lets each individual knitter be with their color choices. Check out some of the projects people have already started and even finished already!

Ana Campos, the owner of Circle of Stitches in Salem, is also making her shawl out of Road to China Light

Carrie McGowan of Oh She Dabbles, is making her shawl out of Anzula Cricket.

Laurie Hunt, the owner of Hooked in Essex, MA, made her shawl with Tenzing by Juniper Moon Farm

From now until the end of the crawl (March 20th), the pattern will sold at a discounted price on ravelry. You can also support your LYS by purchasing the pattern in store. You still get the discounted price. I can't wait to see what you all come up with!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Ski Sweater for Me

I'm usually a monogamous knitter so I can design without being overwhelmed with projects. But just because I confine myself to knitting only one project at a time, doesn't mean I can't also mull over what to make next, right? So here's what I'm thinking...

GGN Norwegian Ski Sweater © Courtney Walters

I found this Norwegian Ski Sweater on ravelry that I just love! That means my next sweater will be for me. I'm going to work this in worsted weight, because I want to go much faster than the fingering weight cardigan I'm currently working. I'm planning to use the Malabrigo Rios in Sand Bank and Teal Feather that bought from Circle of Stitches back in November -- I'm thinking Sand Bank as the main color and Teal Feather as the contrast color. I'm also thinking of knitting pieces flat and making a modified drop shoulder. Plus I'm terrified of steeking.

Malabrigo Rios in Sand Bank and Teal Feather

What do you guys think????

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The Commitment Cardigan

To kick things off in the new year, I started knitting a cardigan for Michael. Because I wanted it to be something that he would wear a lot, I asked him to choose any sweater pattern he liked. Remind me that I should think before doing that again. Not that he doesn't have good taste, because he definitely does... I mean, he did pick out a cardigan. I'm just not a huge fan repeating miles of stockinette in finger weight yarn. But just as I am committed to Michael, I am committed to making this sweater for him, no matter how bored I may become while making it. Hence I dubbed this project "The Commitment Cardigan".

Despite the fact that I will be knitting only stockinette for the foreseeable future, deep down I'm secretly glad he chose this cardigan. First of all, I love the classic look of the cardigan (Brooklyn Tweed's Longfellow by Michelle Wang), especially in the Forest Heather color he picked out -- not to mention the crazy deal I scored from Knit Picks on the yarn. Secondly, I love Brooklyn Tweed patterns. I feel like I learn a new technique every time I make one of their patterns. Maybe I will also let him choose his next sweater pattern, with stipulations of course!

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Rauschberg and McIntire

It's pattern season over here in the New England Knitting Studio (aka my living room). Last month, not only did the Hoxey Cowl debut in Interweave Knits, I also self published two patterns: Rauschberg and McIntire.


This beanie is named after Rauschberg, a mountain in the Bavarian Alps. During my stay in Germany last winter, I spent an afternoon atop this majestic mountain celebrating the holiday season by listening to Alphorns, drinking gl├╝wein, and looking at the breathtaking views of the snow-covered villages below. This traditional design is inspired by that warm and cozy feeling that comes with the holiday season, despite winter’s chill.

Rauschberg is knit in the round from the brim to the crown. Two versions of the colorwork pattern are provided in chart form. The beginner/intermediate version uses two colors, while the advanced version uses four. The advanced version requires one to work with up to four strands of yarn per round, which may be challenging for those who are not comfortable with stranded knitting.

Four-color and Two-color Rauschberg Beanies

I am currently making several more of the two-color hats, which may or may not be holiday gifts ;)These hats are so addicting -- plus all you need is two 50g balls of worsted weight yarn per hat! I also may or may not have bought a bunch of Wool of the Andes Tweed during the recent Knit Picks sale ;) ;)

Captured Michael sporting a Rauschberg in the streets of Salem.


While Rauschberg is a quick knit, McIntire is more of a labor of love. It may not knit up as quickly as other headbands, it's time well spent because McIntire is like two FOs in one! McIntire is a reversible headband with honeycomb cables on one side and rows of small cables on the other. The many intricate cables make this a perfect project for the detail-oriented knitter. The headband is knit in the round to create a long tube that wraps around the head. The ends of the tube are then grafted together, creating an invisible seam.

Side 1 of McIntire... any guesses where this picture was taken???

Side 2 of McIntire

What's To Come!

Looking ahead to December, my knitting time will most likely be dedicated to knitting Rauschbergs, but I do have some exciting projects, designs, and even a new blog series on the horizon. So stay tuned! In the mean time, I have to keep telling myself "Finish your holiday knitting first!!"

Friday, November 13, 2015

Hoxey Cowl

Interweave Knits Winter 2016 is now out, and I am extremely excited because it features my Hoxey Cowl!

I designed this cowl specifically with Plymouth Yarn's Baby Alpaca Grande in mind. For starters, I wanted something warm and cozy. In my opinion, you can't get warmer or cozier (or cuter) than baby alpaca. Secondly, Plymouth yarn offers a hand-dyed version of this yarn, which is just gorgeous. In each hand dyed skein, there is an array of colors that change rather quickly. In order to let each color speak, I alternated stitches with the natural color. I also added a little texture to make the hand dyed yarn really pop out. This bulky cowl is designed to be long enough that also can be extended beyond the neck to cover parts of the face and ears when its bitter cold outside. It's fair to say that last winter definitely played a big role in the design.

For experienced knitters, this bulky cowl is fast and easy for holiday knitting. For those new to color work, this is a great starting pattern for getting the hang of stranded knitting with bit of a twist.