Wednesday, December 30

Another one bites the dust

Argh! I'm so irritated! I've broken three tape measures in the last three months. I like the retractable kind that fit neatly into my knitting ditty bag. The first one had been around for a long time. I'd worn a lot of the design off the outside. I didn't feel so bad about breaking that one. Pulled out a new one. It lasted maybe two months before it broke. The last one maybe a week. I'll have to get shopping to see if I can find a nicer one that will last. I don't mind paying a little more for something that lasts.

I knitted a lot of Cowlabundas as Christmas gifts for my SILs and nieces. Now my mom wants one and others are beginning to eye them. After knitting 7 of them I need a break for a bit. They are easy and mindless knitting. I've used several different yarns for them but like the Yarn Bee Luscious the best. Too bad that Hobby Lobby has discontinued it. I may have to post an ISO on Ravelry's yarn forum to see if I can track down some more it. It really makes snuggly and soft cowls.

There are a lot of new patterns in the pipeline--knit, crochet, lace, scarves, shawls, blankets, hats,and a new cat toy. Some get stuck with design problems. I have some crocheted star motifs that I would like to make into a blanket. Problem is how to join them so there aren't big holes between them. I'm still working on that one. The picture above is another one I've been thinking about. I used some handspun yarn to knit a sample of this design. I can't decide if I really like it or if I should use just one of the lace patterns in it for a shawl. Other designs only need testing before they can be released or are waiting on a picture of a completed project for the pattern. I work hard to make my patterns clear, easy to follow, and accurate. So know that when you download or purchase one of my patterns, that there are hours, days, and/or weeks of work that went into it.

Just a heads up for my blog readers, I'll be raising the price on several of my patterns on January 1, 2010. These patterns have been at an introductory price for some time. The ones affected are Tilting Stars, Blossom Rug, Homeward Bound Scarf, Wisteria Shawl, and Le Petite Fleur Shawl. Get 'em soon before the price goes up.

Thursday, December 24

Cage Cozy pattern

Cage cozy mats are thick, snuggly, rectangular mats I have knit and donated to my local animal shelter. These mats provide comfort and keep kitty (and puppy) feet off of cold metal cage floors.

Start at one corner and knit every row working a few increases and decreases to form a rectangle. These work up quickly on big needles using 1 strand of bulky weight yarn or 2 strands of worsted held together. It’s a good project for scrap or leftover yarn. Remember to use yarn that will stand up to machine washing and drying.

The free pattern is available through my Ravelry pattern store.

Sunday, December 13

Holiday Mystery Gifts

Here's a peek at some of the patterns that I donated for use by the Holiday Mystery Group this year. These are all quick to make if you're still looking for items to make for holiday gifts.

Connected Hearts is a pattern for knitted and crocheted heart garlands. Both of these patterns use up scraps of worsted weight yarn. Use size 7 or 8 needles for the knitted version and a size I or J hook for the crocheted garland. Click HERE to get a free pdf download of the pattern from Ravelry.

Raining Flowers is a narrow crocheted flower scarf. The flowers have 3 petals and are worked in only two rows. About 50-100 yards of worsted weight and a size J hook will very quickly make a scarf. Click HERE to get a free pdf download of the pattern from Ravelry.

Step it Up! is a set containing patterns for a dishcloth and coaster. The pattern stair steps to increase and decrease. A pair of size 8 knitting needles and 12 to 36 yards of yarn will give you a coaster and a cloth. Click HERE to get a free pdf download of the pattern from Ravelry.

Stole-N Moments is a quick to knit stole. It uses the same kind of drop stitch pattern as the Clapotis but is worked sideways. You'll need about 270-300 yards of worsted weight and a pair of size 10.5 needles for this one. You'll think this will never be wide enough for a stole! The magic happens after you finish knitting the stole when you drop some of the stitches to form lacy ladders. The stole magically grows in width. I used one skein of Down Home Superwash Worsted by Knitivity for the pictured stole. It may be lacy but it's still warm to wear. Click the word Knitivity above if you'd like to see what yarn Ray has for sale. Ray used to be a resident of New Orleans until Hurricane Katrina hit. He's now a resident of Texas. He sells his own line of hand dyed yarns. Click HERE to get a free pdf download of the pattern from Ravelry.

All of four of these patterns are available as free pdf downloads on Ravelry. If you're a member of Ravelry, you can find my designer page by clicking HERE.

Have fun!

Thursday, December 10

Tilting Stars Scarf -- another newbie!

Get starry eyed with the Tilting Stars Scarf. :)

This sample scarf of 15 stars was knit using just one skein of Noro Chirmen (137 yds) on size 7 (4.5 mm) straight needles. It doesn't take very much yarn to knit one star. My finished scarf is 3” wide x 56” long.

This is an easy two needle pattern. Cast on and knit each star beginning at the outside edge. You'll be surprised to see how fast you can knit one. Two stitches close the seam. Then use your cast on and ending yarn tails to join the stars into a scarf (or create a hanging loop for an ornament). Fun and easy peasy!

Knit the stars in any weight of yarn you like with a needle size recommended for whatever weight of yarn you choose.

Raid your scrap box and make a scrappy scarf.

Use individual ones for tree ornaments or package tie ons.

Make a headband, a starry vest, a necklace, appliques, coasters, etc.

This 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.

Wednesday, December 9

Blossom Rug -- a new pattern!

Someone mentioned that my Blossom Facecloth would make a cute rug if the pattern was upsized. Hmm...could I do it? Yes!

This fun and easy pattern gives you a quick-to-knit flower throw rug. The rug requires doubled worsted weight cotton yarn in two colors (two balls of each color). I used most of 4 balls of Sugar'n Cream with size 11 (8 mm) needles). You'll need size 11 circulars in 24" and 16" lengths and a set of double points.

The petals are shaped with short rows. You start by casting on enough stitches for all the petals onto a 24" circular. Keep this cast on loose if you want your petals to lay flat!

You knit one petal at a time over part the cast on stitches. Then knit in the round decreasing to the center. Switch to a smaller circular or double points as the rounds get smaller. Only four ends to weave in when you're done.

The rug measures about 22” across. That's Pookie modeling the rug. He likes it!

The pattern contains the Blossom Rug, the facecloth and the coaster patterns.

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

Friday, December 4

A Simple Cowl to knit -- Cowlabunda

It's cold here today. The temp outside is a frosty 23 degrees as I write this. It's also spitting a few snowflakes. Sigh...winter has arrived. :(

Given the weather and thinking ahead to holiday gifts, I grabbed a ball of yarn out of my knitting basket last night and knitted up a simple cowl. (I hear these scarves are a hot fashion accessory on the runway this season. Knitters are ahead of the trend as we've been knitting these cowl/wimple/tube scarves for several years now. :) )

Tube scarves are great winter accessories. They hug your head and neck to keep you warm outside without having to wear both a hat and a scarf. When you go inside, simply pull the tube down around your neck and wear it as a turtleneck. It has the added advantage of keeping you warm if the room is chilly.

the free pattern is available through my Ravelry pattern store.

Tuesday, December 1

Tile is going in!

I'm so excited! The tile floor is finally being installed in our patio room. The installer is cutting the edge pieces today. He should be ready to grout the tile tomorrow. I'm hoping we're able to start moving furniture in by the weekend! Woo-hoo!

I really love the tile I picked out. It's Mohawk Mandelane in the Red Rock colorway. It's gorgeous! The tiles are not all the same color though they have the same colors. I love the warm tones it has in it. BTW, the splotches on the tile are only water drops. I'll have to mop the floor once everything is finished.

The only downside to having work done at your house is you are stuck at home. Our weather is supposed to turn much colder with snow in the next 24 to 48 hours. I do need to run to grocery store for some supplies before that happens.

In moving all the heavy cartons of tile, hubby managed to give himself a hernia. :( I wasn't much help since the boxes weighed about 60-70 pounds each. Our GP has referred him to a specialist for evaluation. He may be having surgery to repair it later this month. Hubby can't help move furniture when we're ready. I'll be recruiting some help for that project. Otherwise, it will probably be sometime in January before he'll be able to lift much of anything. I don't want to wait that long to be able to use our new room.

In the meantime, I'm spinning up this gorgeous merino I bought at Midwest Folk & Fiber in 2008. I love the color of this! This is the first merino I've spun for awhile. I've forgotten how much I like to spin merino. Lately I've spun Falkland, Corriedale, Shetland, Rambouillet...

I can't believe it's already December. November seems to have flown by. Our weather was warmer and nicer in November than October. More sun for sure! My fingers are crossed that this winter will not be as nasty as last year. By this date last year, we had already had 24 inches of snow! I did see it spit a few flakes yesterday but there has been no measurable amounts yet. I'm in no hurry to see it!

Over the weekend we pulled the brussels sprouts up by the roots. They are now hanging upside down in our garage. We can harvest them from the stalks as we need them. I read about storing this way in Mother Earth News. I cut some broccoli side shoots. If you keep them cut off and don't let them flower, they will produce side shoots until a good freeze kills the plants. I also harvested a bunch of tiny cabbages. When we cut the heads, we leave the root and a few of the larger leaves. Tiny cabbages will grow at each leaf node. Since all of these all cool weather crops, they have no trouble lasting well into fall and colder weather. A plus is the cooler temps make them taste even sweeter! The only things left in the garden are some green onions and carrots. Hubby is talking about heavily mulching the carrots with leaves to protect them from freezing. Then when you want carrots, you uncover the carrots, pull what you want and cover them up again.

Anyone who has never eaten fresh picked produce from a garden doesn't know what they are missing. The varieties that most supermarkets sell are only pale shadows in flavor of their homegrown counterparts. Supermarket varieties are selected for their ability to survive transport and not for flavor. Growing your own has a number of pluses: 1) you can select the varieties you want to grow, 2) lots of tasty produce to eat now, 3) some to preserve or store for later use, 4) you can control what goes into your food (no chemicals or toxins), and 4) it gives you some exercise and fresh air.

The seed catalogs for next season are already beginning to arrive. I'm looking forward to sitting out in our patio room watching it snow and browsing the colorful pages of seed catalogs and dreaming about next year's garden. :)