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Posts from the ‘InspirationMonday’ Category

inspiration monday: festivus minus the frenzy

Here in the United States, turkeys everywhere are getting pretty nervous. Next week we sit down for our Thanksgiving (being a bit tardier than Our Cousins to the North on the gratitude front), and after that it’s just one big landslide down into The Holidays.

If you weren’t Little Miss/Mister Organized this year, here are some thoughts for what to put on your needles ASAP so you can give thoughtful, handmade gifts this year without losing your everluvvin’ MIND.

HATS!

Hats are a godsend to the gifting knitter: the sizing isn’t crazy-critical, it’s a fun way to use a bit of yarn to make a statement, and unlike sleeves and socks, they are a ONE-and-DONE gift. And let’s face it – no matter where you live, a hat can come in handy this time of year (even if only occasionally, for an hour – like for our friends in Florida and L.A.).

Hat patterns also span the spectrum of mindless (great for parties and gatherings of relatives) to entertainingly complex (for plane flights or distraction from those same relatives). Here are two of my ‘go-to’ patterns for myself and my knitworthy loved ones.

photo © Churchmouse Yarns & Teas

photo © Churchmouse Yarns & Teas

One of my favorite, most-used patterns is Churchmouse Yarns & Teas’ Boyfriend Watch Cap. It has a pleasing thick gauge which knits up quickly and provides reassuring warmth while being stylishly unisex. And even better, it’s your excuse to use pleasing, plump PLUSHY!

Since each skein offers a generous 330 yards, if you get two skeins, you’ll have enough to make three Boyfriend Watch Caps. Two different colorways could give you one solid cap in each color, plus a striped or colorblocked third. Go crazy!

I’ve always been mad in love with ‘Manly Yes, But I Like It Too‘ – those browns and greys are welcome in so many wardrobes.

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And maybe zing things up with a skein of ‘Scumble Bumble’…? The simple construction of the hat would let Tina’s colorways be the star of the show.

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If you’re looking for a hat that gives back to you as well (in the form of entertaining knitting with cool texture), look no further than L’Arbre by Cirilia Rose.

l'arbre

photo © Jared Flood

This was part of a 2015 Hatalong hosted over on Karen T’s wonderful Fringe Association blog. The pattern is from the fantastic and inspiring book Magpies, Homebodies, and Nomads, but the Fringe blog kindly still hosts a link to try this pattern for free (which will only whet your appetite for the full book – you have been warned!).

I loved everything about this hat – the pattern was easy to follow, the texture interesting and motivating (and distracting!) to knit … and it’s one of my go-to hats to wear. You know how good it feels when you put a hat on and it just *fits*? This hat does it for me. (I’ve got a 21″, fairly standard-adult head; but if you were knitting this for someone with a bigger head, you could just add more depth to the hat.) The ‘Little Tree’ pattern is just 4 rounds tall, so it’s easy to add a repeat or two or three for additional depth.

Bonus: if you have a super-knitworthy person in mind, there are mitts to go with the hat!

I’m toying with the idea of knitting a second one for me, with mitts to go with. Perhaps I’ll put a skein of CAKE Worsted in my stocking – I’ll have to check with Tina to see if she thinks I’ve been naughty or nice this year.

This is one design where it’s worth sticking with Shaded Solids, to let the pattern play stand out. Oh, but the Raven Clan… they would be so beautiful here! Or the Spirits…! You may have to indulge in a few. You have folks to knit for, right? Perfect excuse.

Place your order for some Plushy or CAKE now, and you’ll get a lovely package in the mail from Blue Moon just in time to pop these on your needles, knit them up lickety-split, wrap ’em up and put them under the tree!

inspiration monday: heckle me, speckley!

This is a love song to a colorway… specifically, Heckley Speckley.

heckley_speckley_sk

(I’ll be over here if you just want to stare at it for a while. Can’t blame ya.)

I mean, really. That olive-y subtone; those blues-going-to-purples on the end there? The rust-ish speckles? Happy yellow? This colorway has Got.It.All.Goin’.On.

So of course it’s caught the eye of some talented knitters and designers out there… including most recently Miss Joji herself!

Tina’s already mentioned Tracie the pattern (and her huge affection for Tracie the person) – so can I just wax rhapsodic about the notion of Heckley Speckley as one of the colors in here?

Joji’s chosen to wash this gorgeous shawl in grey tones, playing on the more subdued elements in Heckley Speckley, but I can just as easily imagine this shawl with a rich blue as the other color, or a deep grey, or even a scummy green!

One skein each of Heckley Speckley and your choice of secondary shaded solid in Socks that Rock® Lightweight, and you’re off to the races with weeks’ worth of glorious knitting fun! (If you’re feeling particularly unselfish, you could plan to knit this as a special gift for a friend – got someone with a special birthday coming up in the early part of next year? Shawls are a great choice, since they are one-size-drapes-beautifully-on-all!)

Or let’s say you’ve got a busy set of weeks coming up, with lots of travel and family time, and you can’t dedicate a lot of concentration time to a shawl pattern. What if you just want some “in-law knitting?” The kind where you just knit around and around, no thought required. The kind that allows you to be attentive enough to your Uncle Vernon and his story about the neighbor’s old Ford Pickup truck and the mule (for the hundredth time). The kind that lets you nod and then laugh in all the right places…

Alexandra’s Airplane Scarf is just the ticket for these family-heavy coming weeks. Developed for easy knitting on long airplane flights, it’s a simple-yet-stunning tube of a scarf that lets the yarn really sing. I knitted one last year in SilkMo in Heckley Speckley and it was my stand-out accessory all through the colder winter months! This fluffy bit of loveliness went with pretty much every single coat I own – and everywhere I went, I had to whip it off because people wanted to see all the colors!

Speckley Airplane

I love how the mohair blurs the colors in Heckley Speckley – it’s a more muted version that still sings.

Best of all, right now Tina’s offering SilkMo with double the yardage! For a limited time, instead of getting the usual-size skein, Tina and the Barn Girls will dye a double-sized 1452 yd / 8 oz skein for you!  Considering that you can knit yourself an ‘Alexandra’s’ for around 800 yards, that means if you divide the skein in half, you get to cast on and knit and knit and knit and knit, round and round without a care in the world, until you have just enough yarn left to bind off. (The pattern lets you know how much that is, too. So considerate, those Churchmouse folks.) Then you’ll have one to give away (generous you) AND one to keep for yourself – all for just US$32!

Eight hundred yards of glorious, color-filled knitting pleasure await, whether you’re into stitch patterns or soothing, plain knitting. Either way, it’s a great excuse to add some Heckley Speckley into your knitting life RIGHT NOW!

Inspiration Monday: new classic cowls

Happy Monday again! Hope you’re safe and dry, or cool and enjoying some fresh air wherever you are. Mother Nature’s been reminding us that she’s boss the last few weeks, hasn’t she? When she settles down a bit, we’ll be able to relax into Fall (or Spring, Down Under).

If you’re in the Northern Hemisphere, the light is coming in at an angle, lighting up the tomato bushes and their bounty; you might notice that you need a little something around your neck for your morning walk. Good thing there is a fresh crop of patterns for us to choose from with the change of seasons! My pals at Churchmouse have just released a new set of Classics patterns, and I could hardly wait to share a few them with you.

Tapered CowlThe Tapered Cowl solves the problem of how to drape a tube around your neck artfully – here, there’s a larger number of stitches at the cast-on edge, which gradually decrease away as you head toward the neck. What you end up with is a graceful pool of soothing stockinette, framing your lovely face just so.

(Bonus: if the A/C kicks in right over your desk in the office, you can pull the larger portion down over your shoulders, eliminating the need for a cardigan slung over the back of your office chair!)

The pattern calls for sport-weight yarn knitted at 6 stitches to the inch, making for a solid-yet-drapey fabric. What a perfect opportunity to take advantage of Silky Victoria’s body and luster.

One skein is all you need for this beauty – that, and a few stitch markers to remind you to do the decreases every umpty-ump rounds. (Does anyone else find this kind of project ideal for visually-rich binge-worthy shows like Outlander and Wolf Hall? Knit knit knit for most of an episode, then pause – do the decrease round, pour another beverage, get a snack and – hit play again!)

I’m thinking a skein of “Say Nevermore” on Silky Victoria might be sneaking their way into my Blue Moon shopping cart this afternoon.

But here’s a heads-up: this pattern also works beautifully with finer yarns! The 6 stitch-to-the-inch gauge on US3 needles means you can ‘open up’ lace- or fingering-weight yarns … which was exactly what I had to do with those two skeins of Yaksi Fingering. Mmm! And just as soon as I bind that one off, I’m casting on again with two skeins of La Luna Lace in “Winter Solstice” for my mom’s Christmas present (yup, it’s that time, people!).

half & half worstedIf you’re looking for neckwear with some architectural interest, how about the Half & Half Cowl? Half of the knitting is done flat, before joining in the round to knit the second half circularly. This allows the flat half to splay open over your shoulders (great to tuck under your coat when it gets really cold later in the season!), while the circular portion cozies up around your neck and ears. It’s a lavish depth at 20″/51cm, so it’s a great way to feature a colorway you just adore. It makes the most of a full skein of Targhee Worsted, which is what I cast on in “Spruced” last weekend – what a bouncy, fun knit!

The pattern includes two cool geeky techniques: tubular cast-on and bind-off methods that have been worked over and streamlined so they’re less intimidating and more approachable (always a wonderful feature of Churchmouse patterns).

What I love about these two pieces is that they take prime knitting real estate – the area that frames your face – and give you tons of room to feature glorious yarns in beautiful colorways. I can’t think of a better way to feature some of the loveliness that rolls out of the barn at Blue Moon.

Happy casting on, everyone!

 

Inspiration Monday: Round and Round in Circles

As I sit and write this in my little corner of the Pacific Northwest, the moon is finishing its valiant trip across the sun, and things are slowly getting brighter and brighter. That’s a nice image to start the week with, eh?

Sketchbook ShawlAmidst all the hullaballo about the eclipse, I haven’t stopped thinking about the quiet brightness of Suvi Simola’s Sketchbook Shawl. This beautiful, quiet design had been on the docket for last week’s Inspiration Monday until Eclipse Madness took over.

I can’t decide if it’s the sweet regularity of the yarnover lace pattern, or the simple geometry of the thing, but I’ve been a bit obsessed to cast one of these on…

I know a lot of us are fans of Blue Moon because of Tina’s masterful use of color – and the Multicolor Wave colorways are eye candy for any day of the week – but let me make an argument for the quieter side of the palette: the Spirits. “Wraithlike tints,” the Spirits are colors taken all the way to their essence; Tina says they are like homeopathy for color.

Seen side by side on their web page, you can tell the different tints apart – but get them alone and they register as a quiet version of white or off-white. I have some Jengu in La Luna Lace that’s quietly calling me to cast it on for one of these Sketchbook Shawls.unnamed

Jengu is ‘spirited from the color blue,’ and named after a mermaid-type spirit who inhabits the waterways in Cameroon and is the bearer of good fortune and healing powers to all they encounter. Sounds like an ideal Spirit to call forth in a pretty, lightweight wrap!

Two skeins and several weeks of calm-yet-entertaining knitting later, you’ll have your own Spirit to wrap yourself up in. And no matter where you live, there’s some weather coming up that would be ideal for a lightweight shawl like this over your shoulders.

In the meantime, in honor of the light returning from behind the moon, we’ll leave you with an inspiring quote from Paulo Coelho:

“You are the light of the world. Shine, and the darkness will disappear.”