Wednesday, October 29

Fire Bird--A Shawl & Shrug

Announcing my newest shawl design--The Fire Bird.

Looking for a quick gift to knit? Or a little something to spoil yourself? Here is an easy, one skein project that will knit up quickly in just a few days.

This stunning, yet simple, shoulder shawl is knit in one piece from the top down. The feather motif forms a beautiful border ending in a picot edge. The shape of this shawl makes it stay put on your shoulders. The front points can be worn draped or fastened with a shawl pin. For a different look, pin the front points of the shawl to the back corners to wear it as a shrug.

Wear in around your shoulders to keep the chill off.
Layer it over a long sleeve shirt.
Drape it like a beautiful collar over a coat.

Blocked this shawl measured 18" deep from top to hem, 45" along the top edge, and 83" along the bottom edge.

The red shawl was knit with just one skein of Noro Silk Garden sock yarn (328 yards). The design really shows off yarns with long color runs like Noro. It would look equally good knit in a solid, a tone-on-tone, handspun, mohair, silk, etc. The pattern is written for 350 yards of fingering weight yarn on size 6/7 needles. (I used a 7 for the Noro though a 6 may work better for most fingering weight yarns.) Instructions are given in the pattern for knitting it in laceweight to worsted or knitting a bigger shawl.

The five page pattern includes complete line-by-line instructions plus a lace chart for the border.

So far I've knit 3 of these shawls. They're like potato chips, you can't make just one! LOL! The first is in Noro Silk Garden sock yarn, a second in Noro Silk Garden worsted weight, and a third in Koigu with a beaded edge.

My friend Liz is the beautiful model. I'm working with her to pair some of her hand dyed Chocolate Princess yarn with this pattern. Watch for details about shawl kits to come…

The pattern is available in my Ravelry pattern store.

For more information, visit my Ravelry pattern store to see all my available designs, current pricing information, and purchase pattern downloads.

Tuesday, October 28

Hat contest deadline is coming!

Just a reminder, the deadline for entering my Freedom Hat contest is November 3.

So far, there has only been one entry in the contest for the charity challenge. Right now, that entry is almost assured to win the prize unless someone else enters the contest.

Frankly, I'm baffled by the lack of entries. I would have thought that a prize package full of over $60 worth of knitting goodies would motivate a lot of people to enter.

Ravelry signups are now taking 5 days. Membership has grown to over 202,000 knitters and crocheters.

If you're not a member of Ravelry, don't despair. Here's another way you can enter.

Email your hat entry with pictures of your hat to me at junkyarn AT yahoo DOT com.
I'll take care of posting your entry on Ravelry for voting.

Monday, October 27

Busy with a Capital "B"!

Even hubby is complaining there aren't enough hours in the day to get everything done. I totally agree.

The bathroom project is making progress. The walls are painted, the door is back up, the light fixture installed, and the medicine cabinet is in. The weather this weekend was wet and windy. I'm so glad the tubular skylight was put in a week ago when the weather was much nicer. I spent that weekend handing tools and other items up through a hole in the bathroom ceiling to hubby in the attic and to our next door neighbor who was up on the roof. It's so nice to have natural light in that windowless room. The skylight will also have a vent fan when hubby has time to hook it up. Still to come are the baseboards (painted but not installed), a pedestal sink, and faucets. With the weather turning much colder, hubby spent this weekend readying our wood pellet stove. We'll need it soon. He made a real mess of the family room. I'm proud of him, he cleaned it all up and mopped the floor!

It's impossible to keep the house clean. With only two adults and 3 cats, you'd think we wouldn't have that much mess. That cats cause as much cleanup as kids. This morning I got up to find muddy cat prints all through the house. Guess who was mopping this morning? I was not amused. Time to crack out the rugs to put by the doors. Then I discovered cat barf in several places that I had to clean up. All this before breakfast! Two of my kitties are on barf binges lately. Why do their stomachs go so easily in reverse? They sure do create a lot of extra laundry. Our oldest cat, Solitaire, who is 14, is having thyroid problems. The pills the vet gave us don't seem to be working. Solly is down to a little over 8 pounds. We'd hoped to see her gain a little weight. She's always been prone to barfing and it hasn't gotten any better. I hear her when she barfs as she utters this little shriek when she does it. She will have to go in for thyroid surgery soon. White Kitty, who lived to be 20, had this surgery about the same age. It's a pretty common problem with older cats.

Tuesday, I took a roadtrip to Warsaw to The Shuttle Shop with a friend. I enjoy checking out the not-so-local yarn shops in my area when I get the chance. All of them carry a different mix of yarn and a few unexpected surprises. I only let myself buy a skein of Ty-Dy sock yarn and a ball of Regia Kaffe Fassett sock yarn in purples. I resisted the temptation to buy any of the Rowan yarns on display, the new Shepherds Wool from Stonehedge Fiber Mill (it's wonderfully soft merino in big skeins at a great price), Baby Ull and lots more. My friend fell victim to the scarf and sock kits as well as some yarn. It was well worth the hour and twenty minute drive.

When I got home in the afternoon, I picked all the tomatoes and peppers left in our garden. We were expecting (and got) a killing frost overnight. That's the end of the garden except for brussels sprouts and harvesting the rest of the potatoes. I've frozen lots of peppers bits to use this winter and gave the rest away to friends. The green and ripening tomatoes are in a plastic ripening dome. They're starting to color up nicely and will be used as they are ready. They won't have the flavor or fresh picked but will be much better than store bought tomatoes.

In the evening I met up with my knitting friends. I fell into bed not long after I got home. It was a long day!

This was a week of surprises.
1) I won a blog contest. I never win anything!
2) My 26-year-old, single niece emailed me that she is expecting in April.
3) I found out that a local coffee shop, Bella Vita, is now closing at 5 pm. Like a lot of businesses in this economy, they are cutting back their hours to when they are busiest. This is a disaster for my knitting group as we have been meeting there in the evenings twice a month for several years.

On Thursday, I visited a new coffeeshop to check it out. It turns out that the owner of Jumpin' Juice & Java is a knitter. She was thrilled to find out we might be meeting there. This location has definite advantages. There is ample parking and their menu contains more than coffee and sweets. They offer fruit smoothies, soups, salads, and sandwiches. Can't wait to try it out early in November.

My fiber arts group had a Halloweeny Fiber Frolic on Saturday. We gather several times a year at various member's home for an afternoon filled with fun, food, fiber, and friends. We had a lively group. We spun, knitted, crocheted, and ate until we could hold no more. I baked candy corn cookies to take and knitted up a candy corn dishcloth and 4 coasters as a door prize for the event. Another member, brought decorations, a bunch of the cutest Halloween themed door prizes, and spider webs as a spinning challenge. For the first time, we tried a one skein wonder swap. Anyone who wanted to participate brought a wrapped package that contained a skein of yarn paired with a free pattern to knit. We had so much fun with this that it may become a regular part of our frolics.

Friday, I had a dental checkup and cleaning scheduled in the afternoon. I was barely on time due to all the road construction in my area. Every road I tried to take was torn up, closed, or restricted to one lane. I nearly turned around, came home, and called to tell them I would reschedule when the road work is completed. Don't get me started on road construction. You can't go anywhere around here without running into it. Why do they decide to tear up every north south road in one area at the same time?

For the last month, I've been busily knitting away on a new shawl project that has morphed into 3 new designs. I'm very close to having Fire Bird ready to release and the other 2 shortly after. Most people don't realize how many hours of work goes into writing a knitting pattern. It starts with an idea, charting, looking for yarn, swatching, knitting, scribbling notes, ripping, cursing, how do I finish the edge?, blocking, taking pictures, writing it up, putting it out for test knitters, and finalizing the pattern. Whew! It's a little like giving birth. LOL! From the reactions I've been getting to this new design from knitting friends and yarn shops, I suspect this one will be very popular. My friend, Liz, saw it for the first time on Saturday. She likes it so much that she wants to put together kits with my shawl pattern and her Chocolate Princess hand dyed yarn. What do you think? Reactions? Comments?

Monday, October 20

The Last Rose of Summer

Don't forget to enter my hat contest. You have a very good chance of winning a package of yarn and other knitting goodies worth over $60.00. If no one enters, I don't know what I will do with the prizes. LOL! Deadline is November 3rd.

Fall has definitely arrived though we haven't had a killing frost yet. Some of my flowers are still blooming. This Scentimental rose is still blooming. For some reason when I spotted this single rose yesterday, I felt like singing the "Last Rose of Summer." (Anyone who is a Celtic Woman fan should recognize this song from their last album.) I saw this rose for the first time when we visited the Biltmore Mansion in Asheville, North Carolina. I enjoyed the tour of the house and grounds though it set my allergies off. Hubby got very sick after the tour. Since both of us were fine before we went on the house tour, we suspect we reacted badly to the chemicals they are using to preserve items in the house. In some areas of the house, those smells were quite pronounced.

This summer, I found some volunteers coming up near my flower beds. I transplanted them and crossed my fingers. They did quit well, don't you think? The white trumpet flowers are flowering tobacco. The pink is Cleome or spider flower. Both are tall annuals that self seed.

The green fuzzy stuff is a mystery plant we have. Whoever lived in our home before us must have planted it. I've been unable to find out what it is. (Everyone always asks me.) It's a low growing plant that spreads by putting out runners underground. It's very invasive if you leave it to grow unchecked. The plant looks like it would be prickly but it isn't. It's very soft. It blooms in the spring with very small yellow flowers and turns bright colors after a frost. 2/13/09 - I found this advertised in a garden seed catalog as Angelina Sedum. It is supposedly a "new" variety. It's been growing in a flower bed at my house for 20 years! LOL!

I'm working on a new shawl design that should be ready for sale soon. It's a small shoulder shawl that will stay in place and can be converted into a shrug. I'll be announcing its debut both here and on the Simply SimpleKnits group on Ravelry. I may offer a special discount on the new pattern to any member of my Ravelry group.

Tuesday, October 14

Fall, harvest, and trying out a Pioneer spinning wheel

Friday, I took a roadtrip to try out the new Majacraft Pioneer wheel. Blog readers may remember that I have a Majacraft Little Gem. I've been curious as to how this new wheel compares to it. I tired it out and I really like it. It spins very well. It's definitely a pretty stripped down, bare bones wheel but it more than makes up for it with its (relatively) low price and performance. It has the lightness and portability of a Little Gem and the drive wheel and treadling is pure Rose. The fact that you can use any Majacraft accessories with it are a bonus. If I were in the market for a first wheel, this would be a good place to start. I don't need another wheel, though I am severely tempted to buy it!

It was a beautiful day for a drive. The morning was cool, the sun was bright, and it quickly warmed up. The leaves are really turning brilliant colors in our area this year. Here are a couple of pictures of them. Though I have to say, the camera can not capture the true brilliance of the colors.

Over the weekend, we sweated and swatted mosquitoes as we dug half of our potato crop. It looks to be a bumper crop this year. With temps in the low 80's, the heat was almost too much for me. I had to go set down in the shade, drink some water and cool off for awhile. This is so unlike our usual potato digging weather of 45 degrees, a cold breeze, and trying to keep our hands from freezing. We'll wait for it to cool down before we dig the rest of them. I found a surprise in the garden too. Our green peppers produced mostly leaves this year. At least I thought so until I checked the plants this weekend. Something must have happened to make them start producing. I picked two big baskets full of them. Last night, I spent a good part of the evening chopping up peppers to freeze. BTW, my freezer is packed almost to the top with garden goodies.

On the knitting front, there is more lace on my needles. Are you surprised? LOL! I'm working on several new shawl designs based on a different shape that will stay put on the shoulders. I've knit two variations so far and have a couple more I'd like to try. Test knitters are busily knitting away on the first version. The pattern(s) should be ready to go by the end of the month. These are one skein projects that will knit up fast. They will make great gifts for special ladies on your holiday gift list.

On another note, I hope you will consider entering my hat contest. The contest details and information about the prize packages (worth at least $60) are back a few posts. All you have to do is knit a Freedom Hat and enter a picture of it either here or in the Simple SimpleKnits group on Ravelry. (You can join even joing the Rav group if you don't enter the contest. I'd be happy to hear more from my blog readers.) The contest is open to international entrants. The deadline to post a picture of your hat is November 3. Enter soon, enter often, and tell your friends!

Wednesday, October 8

Contest prizes!!! Enter soon and often!

I know you've all been waiting impatiently for me to post the prizes for the contest. Well, I think you'll agree that it's been worth the wait!

Drum roll...Here they are! Each prize package contains at least $60 worth of goodies!

Prize package #1 will be awarded to the winner of the hat design challenge. Prizes in this package include:

1. a copy of Kids Knitted Hats designed by Cabin Fever
2. a box of Royal Blend Tea
3. a skein of Regia Jubilee Sock Yarn
4. four magnetic page clips
5. a wooden crochet hook size H
6. a notebook
7. a pair of Bamboo Knitting Needles in size 8
8. a Snip ‘n Ruler
9. a skein of Hand Dyed Worsted Weight Yarn by Gherkin’s Bucket
10. a set of Stitchmarkers by mommabear6976

Prize package #2 will be awarded to the winner of the charity challenge. Prizes in this package include:

1. a copy of Knits from the Heart by Kristin Spurkland
2. a skein of Opal Saphir Sock Yarn
3. a set of Brittany Double Point Knitting Needles in size 2.5 mm
4. a Measuring Tape
5. a bar of Ghirardelli chocolate
6. a Ruler/Needle Gauge
7. a Notebook
8. a Calculator Keychain
9. a set of Stitchmarkers by mommabear6976
10. a skein of Hand Dyed yarn by mommabear6976

Contest rules and the Freedom Hat pattern can be found here on my blog. Come on over and join my Simply SimpleKnits group on Ravelry. Enter soon and often. The deadline for entering is November 3, 2008.

I can't wait to see pictures of the hats. Get those needles clicking! You might just win a very nice prize!

Monday, October 6

The Freedom Hat Design & Charity Challenge

Woo-hoo! We're having a contest!

“Free to change; Free to give.”

This contest is based on my Freedom Hat pattern. Use this pattern as a blank canvas to create the hat of your dreams. Design it silly, sweet, funky, or unique. Or knit and donate hats to the charity of your choice. Have fun!

Two prize packages full of knitting goodies will be awarded. Each package contains over $60 worth of goodies. Click here to see what's in each prize package. One prize will be awarded for the best design and another for based on hats donated to charity. Keep reading for more details about each challenge.

Deadline for entering is November 3, 2008.

This is an international challenge. Anyone who knits may enter. You may enter as many times as you like. Remember, all hats must be knit by the person who enters the contest.

Using the Freedom Hat pattern you must:
1) knit and donate a hat to charity or
2) design a hat based on the pattern.

To enter, join the Simply SimpleKnits** group on Ravelry. [It's a great place for knitters. Click here to go to the signup page for Ravelry.] Or if you don't want to join Ravelry, you may still enter a hat in the contest. Here's how: Add a comment to this post, stating that it is an entry in the charity or design challenge, provide a link to a picture on Flickr (or other picture hosting site on the web), your first name, and other details as required below. With your permission, I will copy your picture and place your entry on the Ravelry group for voting purposes.

Charity Challenge
To enter, post a picture of the hat you knitted in the charity challenge thread in the Simply SimpleKnits group on Ravelry. Please include the charity’s name and address (or a web link) where your hat has been donated. It is required that you donate the hat you knit to charity. (I may verify the winner’s donation(s) with the charity.) Add a separate post for each hat you enter in the contest.

Design Challenge
Post a picture of the hat you knitted and what you did to change it from the original pattern in the design challenge thread of the Simply SimpleKnits group on Ravelry. (I’d love to see these hats donated to charity but it is not a requirement.) Add a separate post for each hat you enter.

Entrants and any Ravelry member can vote for their favorite hats in both challenges. The winner in each challenge will be the hat with the most votes and will be awarded one of the two prize packages worth over $60.00.

To vote for your favorite hat(s), read the charity and design challenge threads in the Simply SimpleKnits group on Ravelry. Click the “love” button on the post of your favorite hat(s). (Ravelry will allow you to vote once per hat.) Voting will close on the morning of November 5th, at which time the winner will be determined.

The winning hat design may be posted as a free pattern download through Ravelry. Credit for the pattern will go to both SimpleKnits (for the base hat pattern) and the winning hat designer (for the customization details).

Pictures of the winning hats and other information will be posted here and on Ravelry after the contest concludes.

**You don't have to enter the contest to join the Simply SimpleKnits group on Ravelry. It is open to anyone who is a fan of my blog. I'm always happy to answer questions, provide help with my knitting patterns, etc. Come on over and join in the fun!

Wednesday, October 1

I feel a contest coming on...

It's been awhile since I ran a contest on my blog. I'm seriously thinking about a new contest. It would be based on the Freedom Hat pattern I posted this week.

The challenge would be to take my Freedom Hat pattern and customize it any way you can think up. I've given a lot of variation suggestions in the pattern. I'd like to see what you can come up with.

I'd also like to encourage you to knit one of these hats and donate it to a local charity to help warm someone's head this winter. The weather forecasters are saying this could be a very cold winter.

There will be one prize package awarded to the winner. (I've learned that having too many prizes costs me a bundle in postage costs.) I'm working on gathering together a boxful of goodies to tempt you to enter. (What knitting related items would tempt you to enter?)

I'll judge which is the winning hat. Wow me or make me laugh!

I'm trying to decide how to have you enter the contest. Here are the options:
  1. Have you post a comment (with a link to a picture of your hat) here on my blog.
  2. Give you an email address to send a picture of your completed hat.
  3. Start a Ravelry group for the contest.
Choices 2 & 3 would give me the ability to directly contact the prize winner. Choice 3 would also allow contestants to chat about the contest and entries. (Comments, suggestions?)

I may decide to make this an international contest. As long as the postage to mail the prize doesn't break the bank or cause me too much trouble filling out customs forms. :-)

Watch for more details to come.

If this sound interesting to you, post comments or suggestions below.