April 14, 2014

18 Happy 1 Year Blog-a-versary to Me!

1 year and 46 posts, how about THAT?!  I just can't believe it.  All right, I suppose that is what all the young bloggers say, but now I actually get it.  Of course, when I told my dad this, he said, "It's been that short?"  DADS!  I can't complain though, he has proven to be my Biggest Fan. (thanks dad-o, love you!)

Obviously this is a good time to reminisce, and so I thought I'd tell you a little bit about my blogging, show you some of my favorite posts from the year and highlight what's coming.

Why did I start blogging?  It's all because of an ad I answered in a Rowan Yarns e-mail asking people to apply to be "Rowan Ambassadors".  What on earth was THAT?  This was the ad.

Naturally, I was attracted by the "Yarn to knit your own garment" part (like a moth to flame), but was intrigued by the rest.  I kinda seemed perfect for this job.  After all, I had done some pretty admirable Rowan patterns in the past, and had a nice collection of their magazines.

As you know, I got the "job" (yay!), which isn't a job at all, but rather a sort of "play with all these delicious goodies and then talk about them if you want" position.  There are 14 of us total, (here are some of us in a special online Ambassador design collection for Rowan Kidsilk Amore) and we receive all the new booklets and magazines from Rowan and samples of any of their new yarns.  As you can guess, this is rather overwhelming, and I sort of lose my mind in ecstasy every season and feverishly cast-on my absolute faves to show you guys.  Thus my epic choice of Madonna from the latest Rowan Mag 55... but guess what, the beast is DONE, so stay tuned!

I don't like to always pick favorites either, because I'm a rather opinionated girl (ask my husband, poor dear).  Last week I re-blogged one of my very favorite posts about Planned Pooling for the Deramore's blog contest, which highlighted a yarn I received but had no idea what to do with.  For the re-blogged post, I know I was offering a great pile of yarn as a giveaway, but your comments of support just blew me away, and tears?  They were in my eyes, interfering with my Clippers game (yes, I'm a big basketball fan, bet you had no idea!).  Consider yourselves thanked and graciously bowed to!  It's not too late to win the yarn, either, heh heh.  :)

Obviously, how could I show you all this fun stuff if I didn't have a platform to do it on?  Or dare we call it a soap box?  ;)  I had been on Ravelry for years, giving detailed notes about my projects.  The blog has become my extension of that -- a place where I can alternate silly quips with ginormous photographs of what I love: yarn and projects.

My one failure for truly qualifying for that Rowan Ambassador ad is to be loyal to any one brand, as much as I love Rowan.  I love to make all manner of things, and as with any real endeavor, you need the right tools for the job!  I always like to alternate Rowan stuff with lots of non-Rowan stuff:

But sometimes there is NOTHING ON EARTH to do except to cast on a new beauty from the Rowan Magazine, in the same yarn it calls for (well... with Dayana Endorsed Color Changes).  Anatolia is my crowning achievement of the last few years, and I loved writing this post.

A lot of bloggers have to ask themselves two questions about their blogs.  The first is: how often should I post?  Sometimes I have a lot going on and would like to post all the time, but I've settled for a once-a-week posting rate.  First, as you guys know, I knit like mad -- but I do it so I can show you all my techniques and modifications in full color and ultimate glory.  It takes me AT LEAST 8 full hours to do a blog post, including photography, organization and sometimes making swatches to show techniques.  That's valuable knittin' time!  Second, I find that I really have trouble following blogs that post daily or often, I just feel guilty that I can never catch up (there are some exceptions to this, of course!  I love following LYS owner online buddies Jannette's Rare Yarns and A Really Good Yarn daily).

The second question is: What will be the photo to text ratio?  Ahh, such a conundrum.  I tend to love picture-filled posts, but I know some people really like to read about what is going on in a person's craft or maybe even more, their life.  I vacillate between wanting to chat about myself and just keep it Crafty, but I think in this coming year I may give more details about myself.  My husband is starting to interview for jobs, and we will need to move within the next year.  This will be quite a nerve-wracking time for us, and I think that talking on the blog will keep me grounded.  But knitting will always be there, so stay tuned for a post about the good luck charm I knit for him for his gruelling 2-day interview that ends today!  He is a scientist (like me), and so those of you nerdy types will have some fun.  To get familiar, you can check out another science-y knit I made for him, which is one of my favorite posts of the year.

I've also had the opportunity to do an independent review for flexible blocking wires that I really enjoyed putting together.  I didn't even know I liked that kind of thing!  Stay tuned for a review of some incredibly creative and affordable hand-drawn gift tags that show your recipients how to take care of their new knits.

One of my favorite parts about blogging a finished garment is trying to think of fun props to go with it.  I had far too much fun pretending I was a musician when I replicated the theme of the Alpaca Colour Collection Rowan magazine.

And nothing pleased me more than to suddenly realize that I looked like a stegosaurus in my new Wilderness sweater, and that I needed a new friend.

Wait, hold up... did I just say I needed new friends? What am I talking about, I now have ALL OF YOU!  And I want to learn so much more about you.  I know that it isn't so easy to leave comments on blogs, believe me.  But if you do manage here and there, do leave your Ravelry name or blog so I can go over and see what you've been up to.  Also, for that pesky captcha, I've turned it off and on, and the final verdict is ON, I'm sorry.  But I have a tip!  You only need to key in the long number of the captcha, you can totally ignore the short number.  I know, bizarre.  Hope that helps you comment, especially if you have questions, because I love to help.  :)

 Thanks for following, and don't forget I post once daily on my Facebook Page if you'd like to follow.  Sometimes it's personal knitting progress, sometimes new knitting patterns that catch my eye and most often, totally wacky and inspiring runway knits off my Pinterest boards.

Now, onto the year ahead!

See my Blood Stripe Wrap post (pattern by Kaffe Fassett in Rowan Kidsilk Haze)

April 8, 2014

113 How To Do Planned Pooling and A Giveaway To Try It Yourself!

This post is re-blogged from a post made earlier this year as an entry for the Deramores Blog Awards 2014.  Scroll down to enter a BIG YARN GIVEAWAY where you can try Planned Pooling yourself!

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As you may know from reading my blog, I fell in love the new fingering weight sock yarn Rowan Fine Art (click here to buy this yarn at Deramores.com)

My Fine Art Tee is blogged here.

My Fine Art Hood is blogged here.

But did you know that Fine Art has a big brother: Fine Art Aran?

To be honest, I found the color palettes to be rather outrageous compared to the Fine Art!  First, I really don't go for highly variegated yarns.  Second, the colors in the particular skein I had seemed to be such a mish mash, I didn't know how on earth they could ever knit up well.

That being said, they do look good together in this parrot!

But I didn't want to look like a parrot.

There are currently eight shades in this 50% wool, 25% alpaca, 20% mohair, 5% silk blend.  Note: fingering weight Fine Art has no alpaca, but 25% polyamide instead (ideal for socks).

Can you guess my colorway?

One of the reasons I'm not into variegated yarns is how the colors can pool in odd ways.  This can be seen in a couple of the garments from the Fine Art Aran Mini-Collection (available from Deramores.com here):

Van Gogh (original pattern is Moonlight by Kim Hargreaves)

But it looks quite mesmerizing in the free pattern, Jupiter, available from the Rowan website:

These types of  yarn can go so crazy in some places, but less in others because the skeins are "space-dyed" with high-contrast colors. 

You can tell a space-dye when you have really stark changes of colors, usually hand-dyed on the skein, as in Fine Art Aran.

This is done to great effect in self-striping sock yarns where one yarn creates intentional striping colorwork.

How on earth do they manage to do that, you ask?  Planned Pooling!!  Basically, if you know the width of the item you are going to knit (and a sock is generally a predictable width), you can dye yarn so that it pools together to make a pattern.


From knitpurlgirl

But how about working it backwards?  Can you take a space-dyed yarn and figure out the pattern it will make?  YES, and I'm going to show you how.

Karla Steubing (a.k.a. Statnerd on Ravelry) is the queen of Planned Pooling on the internet:

Luckily for us, there are calculators on the web for this...


1. Open up your skein (or pull many lengths of your ball and loop it into a skein) to see the color order, starting anywhere.

I saw 12 colors, in a 6-color repeat:
Green - Orange - Green - Blue - Purple - Blue 

NOTE: Make sure to measure each wave of color, even if they repeat themselves, the hand-dyer may have made some of them different lengths!

2. Make a swatch (about 30 sts wide), and record how many stitches each color band takes.  It will be a bit different each time the color comes up, so take an average.  

This is where my note above came in handy... one "orange" was 7 stitches, but the other was 9!

3. Start knitting again for a few rows (maybe 50 sts this time) and double- check your stitch counts.  If you are falling short most of the time, decrease the number of sts in that color band.  It's much easier to loosen stitches than to tighten them, believe me.

4. Go to a planned pooling calculator site by searching for "planned pooling".  "Add a color" until you have enough, then go through the color wheel to pick the perfect hues.  End by filling in the number of stitches for each color.

5. Start a "virtual" knit.  Change the stitch count by one to see the magical changes!

6. IMPORTANT: I don't think a knitter wrote this program, honestly.  A knitter's chart starts at the bottom right and goes left.  Well... this chart reads like a book.  The fix this, turn it 180 degrees, clockwise.

7. Cast-on your determined stitch count and knit!  You can use the print-out as a chart (much like a colorwork chart), or you can just memorize the number of stitches you need for each color.

NOTE: It is important that you keep to the number.  If you come out with less stitches, pull the stitches very tight until you come close.  If you come out with more stitches, loosen them up to get to the right number.

8. If you eventually find yourself off by a stitch, that's ok.  I left out a stitch 1/3 through and didn't notice until much later, but the eye can't see the difference.  Don't do this too often though, you will notice eventually!

Now, one of the problems with a fun planned pooling project like this is that you're making squares/rectangles... and there are a limited number of projects that use this shape, right?

I thought about sewing it into a cowl, much like Life Lackadaisical's in-the-round "swatch cowls", which came out quite nice.  But would I lose the planned pooling showcase?

I thought about a messenger bag.  Cool, but a lot more work and having to find contrast yarn...

Cocoknits Felted Messenger Bag

I thought about a pillow with a fabric backing, but it might shock you to know that my living room does not look like this.  ;)  Yes, sadly I live in Montreal, not Hawaii.

And then I thought... if it's called "Fine Art", let's make it literally into fine art!

I bought a $3 canvas at the "Dollar" store:

I gathered my tools.

I started nailing, making sure to weave the nail through the yarn strands so it caught.

It took A LOT of nails.  I gave up at some point, because really, it was okay, I wasn't going to sell it.

OR WAS I?!  :)


I have 5 skeins of Fine Art Aran to give away in another crazy great Planned Pooling colorway, Bolero.  There will be 2 grand prizes of 2 skeins, and 1 second prize of 1 skein.

All you have to do is be a follower of my blog and comment on how you choose to follow it!

(To follow my blog by e-mail or Bloglovin', just scroll to the top of the page and click under my header or in my sidebar.  The e-mail link will also show the RSS feed.)

The contest is open until Wednesday, April 23.  When you comment, give me your Ravelry name or some way to reach you.

Click here to leave a comment about how you follow my blog and enter the giveaway!

This blog entry is my submission to the Deramores Blog Awards 2014.  Deramores is the UK's number one online retailer of knitting and crochet supplies.

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