Monday, November 24

Love Bird Shawl pattern

This simple shoulder shawl in worsted weight yarn is knit in one piece from the top down. The heart motif forms a beautiful border ending in a picot edge. The shape of this shawl makes it stay put. Wear the front points draped or fasten with a shawl pin. Or wear it as a shrug by fastening the front points of the shawl to the back corners.
This is an easy project to knit in worsted weight yarn. It is a fast knit! The shawl pictured was knit with 3 skeins of Noro Silk Garden. 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. Instructions are given in the pattern for knitting it in laceweight to worsted.

This six page pattern includes complete line-by-line instructions, a cast-on tutorial, and a lace chart for the heart border.

The pattern can be found 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.

Sunday, November 23

I won! Tomatoes? & Knitting

I can hardly believe it. I won Mambocat's blog contest! (Dez has recently opened a yarn shop in Baton Rouge called the Knitting Asylum. If you live nearby, go visit and tell Dez I sent you.)

Look at the goodies I won just for ordering some yarn from Ray Whiting. Hubby has already laid claim to the coffee. :-) You can read more about what was behind the contest in Mambocat's September 18, 2008 post.

Ray is the dye master behind Knitivity yarn. He started his business in New Orleans before Hurricane Katrina moved through in 2005. After that he moved to Houston, Texas to start over. On September 12, Hurricane Ike roared through knocking out power, causing damage, and stopped his business dead in its tracks. His power was not restored until September 30. Can you even imagine having no power for over 2 weeks? I can {{shudder}} and it ain't pretty!

So I ordered a couple of skeins of yarn to help out. (Sure, like I needed an excuse to buy yarn. LOL!) It took awhile for Ray to wade through the backlog of orders. (Not a bad problem to have.) I have to say his yarn is wonderful stuff--big fat skeins with lots of yardage, nice quality wool, and great colors at very reasonable prices. Guess who'll be going back for more?

I've been watching snow and winter arrive during the past couple of weeks. Lake effect snow dumped another 9.5 inches of the white stuff on us from Thursday night through Friday. Our daytime temps have been well below what they should be for late November. Shall we say January temps? Yep! And the lows have gone down into the single digits. It was a bone chilling 8 degrees Farenheit here on one recent morning. Brr! You'll find Boo sleeping as a lump under the covers on our bed. He loves to burrow in the winter.

I took a few tomato cuttings from some cherry tomato plants in our garden before we had a killing freeze this fall. I put the cuttings in a jar of water until they grew roots. Hubby planted them into big pots last week. They are now cozily warm in our family room near our pellet stove. If all goes well, we'll have cherry tomatoes sometime before spring arrives. One day we'd love to have a greenhouse where we could grow veggies year round. We still have a few tomatoes left from the final picking from the garden. Here's a picture of some unusually shaped cherry tomatoes I found when I gathered all the tomatoes in the garden. The tomato plant they were growing on was a volunteer---a cross of some sort between last year's tomato plants. We'll save the seeds and plant them next year to see what they do.

I've been knitting a lot but not posting much about it here. Most of my projects get posted on my Ravelry project page. I just finished another Fire Bird Shawl on Friday night. We've been doing a KAL for it on Ravelry. I used Fleece Artist Nova Sock yarn for this one. The red kept rubbing off on my hands (and my clothes) while I was knitting this. A lot more loose dye came out when I washed and rinsed it again and again yesterday. I blocked it last night and set it in the family room to dry. As I was taking pictures of the shawl this morning, Boo decided he wanted to help. Isn't he a handsome fellow?

Watch for a new shawl pattern to be posted for sale tomorrow. This is another wing shaped shawl like Fire Bird. Though this one has a border of hearts and has been christened Love Bird.

Monday, November 17

Yikes! It can't be!

This is the view from out my window this morning! The snow is sticking to everything--the roads, the trees, and the grass.

This is lake effect snow which can pile up some serious inches very quickly. It should be too warm for this stuff to stick or to last but who knows? It's been snowing heavily all morning. At times it's been almost white-out conditions. I wish the sun would come out and melt it off. That's probably not going to happen. :-(

I am so not ready for winter to arrive!

I finished a baby blanket last week. This was a request from a friend for a round baby blanket. Well, it's kinda round, isn't it? LOL! I couldn't find a round baby blanket pattern I liked. I did find one knitted pattern. After several false starts getting the center started, I checked the pattern and couldn't make heads or tails out of it. So scrap that.

I decided for the sake or speed and sanity to crochet a blanket. I had an idea for something a little different after seeing a photo of an old doily. I liked the swirl look. Down I sat with hook and yarn to see what I could come up with. This is the result. It's very easy to crochet. I used a size G (4 mm) hook and 3 balls of Bernat Baby Jacquards (about 1,000 yards of sport weight/DK). A little over two evenings and the blanket was complete. There are only 3 rows to this pattern, The first two are set up rows, and the third you keep repeating until you get the blanket the size you want or run out of yarn.

I've posted the Swirl Baby Blanket pattern as a free pdf download on Ravelry. To find the one page pattern, click HERE. If you're not a Ravelry member, you're missing out on a lot of resources for knitters and crocheters.

Sunday, November 9

Roadtrip to Chicago

What a great day yesterday was! Even though the weather was not the best---temps in the high 30's, windy, and spitting a little rain and a few snowflakes---it was a lot of fun!

I had the privilege and pleasure of taking a roadtrip to Chicago with my Frog Pond Fiber Arts group. My friend, Elizabeth, heard on Ravelry about free tours of the Lorna's Laces factory in Chicago. She contacted them and arranged all the details for our group to tour the factory. We more than met the minimum of 12 people needed for the tour. Early yesterday morning, we met to pile into three vehicles to make the 2 hour drive to Chicago. I was so excited about going that I woke up at 5:45 am---two hours before I had to be at the meetup point. LOL!

Traffic wasn't bad and with an I-Pass in each vehicle we zoomed through the toll booths. We arrived at Lorna's about with twenty minutes to spare. It's not much to see from the outside. You enter the building from a loading zone in the back of a warehouse. The road behind it is more like an alley with the L train running on tracks overhead. The noise as the trains went by every few minutes was deafening.

Here is a picture of a few of us waiting by the entrance. Then we went inside, up the stairs and down the hall to Lorna's. As I was taking the second picture Beth Casey, owner of Lorna's Laces, opened the door to invite us inside. (Double click on the pictures for a closer look.)

The business is run out of two very large rooms. Beth showed us samples of all the yarns they make and explained the history of the business. It was originally started by Lorna Miser, who sold it to Beth in 2003.

See all the racks of drying yarn? And the bins of shop orders being worked on along the walls?

Beth gave us a demo of how they dye the yarn. There are only 10 skeins in each dye lot. She starts with dry skeins of yarn spread out on the table. Colors are mixed with hot water and a little dish soap. Each color is poured on, massaged in, and turned over until there is even coverage. Then repeated until all colors are used. The dyed skeins are then moved to a steamer to steam for 40 minutes. Once cooled, they are put into a washing machine to be rinsed (but not agitated) until all the loose dye is gone. (She told us that all of their superwash yarns can be safely put through the washer and dryer.) Then the skeins are hung from PVC pipes to dry. Stand fans speed the drying process.

After the tour, they handed us plastic bags and turned us loose on 3 tables piled high with millend yarns. We each headed to the checkout with stuffed bags to make our purchases. There wasn't a whole lot left on the tables by the time everyone was finished choosing yarn. LOL!

We packed our lunches and ate in the car to save time for a yarn shop crawl. After eating, we drove across town to Knitting Workshop and Soutache to shop for more yarn and buttons. Our last stop was Loopy Yarns. We just missed Franklin's book signing for It Itches at that shop the evening before.

I enjoyed visiting the Chicago yarn shops to see what they had. I did succumb to temptation at Loopy to buy just one more skein of merino/tencel in a gorgeous colorway. Otherwise, I did all my yarn shopping at Lorna's.

We turned our vehicles toward home and drove off into the sunset. LOL!

Friday, November 7

Changing weather & a KAL?

After a record-setting week of sunny and warm weather, a front is blowing in colder temps, rain, and a chance of snow. The trees have put on a spectacular show this fall with brilliant reds, yellows, and oranges. We're saying goodbye to them as gusty winds knock them from their branches.

Here are a couple of pictures I took on a frosty morning recently---a red maple leaf caught in a web of fennel fronds, and the tree next door in all its glory.

Our wood pellet stove will probably be lit this weekend as daytime temps drop into the low 40's and nightime to the 20s. {{Shiver}} After last winter, I'm in no hurry to see bad weather come again.

Currently on my needles are socks, slippers, and more shawls. I'm knitting a pair of toe up socks with Red Heart Heart & Sole sock yarn. I can usually get a pair of socks for me out of a ball of sock yarn. The RH only has 213 yards in it. I may have short cuffs on these socks unless I buy another skein. I started these socks with a rectangular toe. I like it. It may become a regular part of my socks. Since I've been knitting with the 5" Size 2/2.75 mm ChiaoGoo dpns, my sock knitting is faster. Though I have discovered that these needles are slimmer than the Crystal Palace Size 2/2.75 mm dpns. This is making my socks fit a little tighter.

I found a free slipper pattern on Ravelry that I love. It's called the Dzonba slipper. Someone learned the pattern in India. They wrote it up and offered it as a free pattern download on Ravelry. The original is written for fingering weight yarn. I upsized it for worsted weight for thicker slippers. I knit them on size 8's with 100 yards of worsted weight yarn.

I'm still playing with the wing shawl shape. I've knit 4 so far. They're like potato chips, you can't knit just one. I've addicted several of my friends to it too. LOL! I've cast on for a 5th version in handspun and am adding an all over lace pattern to it.

One of the members of my Simply SimpleKnits group on Ravelry has posted a KAL for the Fire Bird Shawl. She's suggested a starting date of November 14. If you have time to tackle a quick and easy project, all you need to do is order the pattern and join the KAL. I'll be on hand to answer any questions and help if you run into problems. If you're already a member of Ravelry, here's a link to the group, if you'd like to join.

I've posted 56 more links to free patterns using 285 yards or less on my Rav group. It's much easier to do the linking there than it is here on my blog. One of these days I may get around to adding them to the list here.

Wednesday, November 5

Contest winners!

After checking the voting this morning on Ravelry, I am ready to announce the prize winners in my Freedom Hat Contest.
Congratulations to both of the winners!

For the Design Challenge, there were only 3 entries.
The winner is Nicole (niayla on Ravelry). She got 4 votes for her Celtic Knotwork hat.

For the Charity Challenge, there were 4 entries.
The winner is Taleah (naughtyknots on Ravelry) for her hat made with yarn recycled from a sweater.
Her hat is being donated to her church.

I've contacted both winners for their mailing addresses. I'll be mailing out the prize packages very soon. (Packages were mailed on Friday, November 7th.) Thank you so much to everyone who took the time to enter this contest.

I had hoped this contest would be one that would excite my readers enough to enter. I guess I was wrong. :-( It find it very odd. Other blog contests I have had in the past have garnered dozens of entries and offered much less in the way of prizes.

Monday, November 3

Final day to enter hat contest

Today is the last day to enter the Freedom Hat Contest.

Frankly, I'm disappointed. There have only been one entry in the design section and four in the charity section.

I guess no one wants to win one of these two prize packages. Each prize package contains 2 skeins of yarn (1 hand dyed and 1 sock yarn), stitch markers, a knitting book, needles, other knitting notions and some treats.

Voting is open for the hats that have been entered. Please click here to go vote for your favorite hat.

Do you think I should extend the deadline until November 10th? Post a comment below to let me know what you think I should do.