Freia and the Knitwhit

A Blog about a Dog with some Knitting thrown in here and there

Happy Happy Joy Joy December 14, 2007

Filed under: cats and dogs,Chesapeake Bay Retriever,Crochet,Knitting,knitwhits — knitwhits @ 2:50 pm

xmas-freia.jpgWell this picture about says it all, at least in terms of what Freia thinks of christmas. To her it means long hours of watching me work.This time of year I’m getting the new catalog ready, working on last minute designing and frenzied knitting, trying to get it all done for the new catalog and ready to go for the next trade show in January (TNNA Long Beach) – oh and yes, I will stoop to humiliating the dog for commercial purposes.. that’s what pays for her daily beef bones!

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Siena SweatersI’ve finished the three toddler sweaters, two are up on the website , one more still needs another round of proofing and number checking, but here’s a picture for you anyway – it’s modeled after the Siena Hat I’m pretty happy with it, a nice basic, easy to make Fair Isle sweater. Sorry about the picture, wordpress is having a tizzy over it and this is the best it will let me do.. grr.

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ripley in pinkAha, it is letting me post this picture though.. weird.. OK.. so this one is of the Ripley Togs for Tots sweater that I knitted up in an 8 year old size. Now I want one for me.. this is a great casual sweater.. so I guess big people sizing is next on this.. it’s just too darn cute! I made the neck a little different too, it’s actually a bit lower in the front so you don’t get that choking feeling which makes it a lot more comfortable to wear than just a straight up funnel neck top. I just love these colors (for me!) . If you click on the link above you can see it in another colorway, in browns, a lot more woodsy looking..

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Amelie Seaside ThrowSince I’m on a roll here.. I’ll post another picture of a new version of the Amelie throw. This version is done in a range of blues with a blue/white/greyish background. I’m going to kit this one up.. It won’t be cheap cos of the amount of yarn needed, but I think it’s very pretty and kit-worthy.. and well.. since I’m kitting that one up, I may as well kit the original colorway too.. My intent with that one is to make a Queen size bedspread, but for a kit, it would be more like small throw, shawl or scarf quantities..

I’ve also been working on a new top secret project that I’m very excited about, but that will have to wait for another post. At least until the new year..

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Oh, and I keep forgetting to say..I’m (finally) on Ravelry now.. if you’ve worked on a Knitwhits design it’s easy for you to link it over now as all the patterns are up in Ravelry – that was a job and a half. You can find it all by searching under “knitwhits” (of course… )

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Knitting Tip #5 – Working in Color July 17, 2007

Filed under: Crochet,Knitting,Knitting Tips,knitwhits — knitwhits @ 3:57 pm

I won’t claim to be an expert on color theory or coloring of fibers. I’ve not done much dyeing, other than turning my old Converse Sneakers bright pink and wearable once more, and reviving the odd pair of pants that had lost my interest in whatever shade they were orginally made.

My experience with color comes from my gut. Certain colors feel a certain way together and can create a certain mood. They say that hot blooded Aries people (of which I am one) are drawn to hot red shades, and my house certainly has probably more than it’s fair share of the color. But, I don’t go for Fire Red, I go for Brick, for faded Raspberry, for Terra Cotta. Those colors have more to say to me than a straight bold primary or secondary shade. Then I’ve thrown in smatterings of coffee, black, mustard and navajo white, along with a few other bits and pieces for balance, breathing room and good measure.

When I work on a new design, I’m pushed in one way or another sometimes by color, sometimes by fiber and texture, and often both combined. Rarely if ever do I start out by saying “I’m going to make a ………….. (fill in the blank).” I will go to the studio and stare at my shelves of yarn, piled in crooked boxes or stacked in cones, I start pulling out one yarn and another, and shortly have a sea of color on my studio table. It’s that sea of color that determines what it will become, some colors just “look” more like a scarf or a hat, and yet others a purse or mittens.

Amelie ThrowNow I’m not out buying yarn on a daily basis; I have worked with the mostly the same shades for the last few years, adding in a few new ones each season, though rarely abandoning the older. When adding in the new shades and hues, I’m seeing whole new relationships and balancing acts appear – bringing life once more to older colors in which I had previously lost interest.

This brings me to my latest project. I have fallen in love with the Louet Gems color palette. The driving force behind these beautiful colors is Trudy Van Stralen, the founder of the company. I have been working with Louet Gems yarn for a short while (it’s the newest addition to the quality yarns I use in the Knitwhits kits), using it solely as a sock yarn for my adult sock kits and my Socks For Tots range. But the palette as a whole tells a story that can’t be told (easily) in smaller items such as these socks. I felt that the palette deserved a bigger stage. Enter “Amelie” the floral crochet throw. This design requires that each motif be made up of 3 colors, 2 of the same hue, but one light, one dark, and a third, preferably unrelated color as the border and contrast. . The Louet colors have a dustyness that I think appeals to the old-fashioned style of this type of design, and a large multicolored throw is the perfect vehicle to show off a good portion of the 36 available shades.

Within the range of available shades are a few primary colors, though the majority of shades are a few steps away. For example, there is a Neptune blue, which is like a light sky, but there is also Aqua. It’s the Aqua that will work here. There is an Indigo, and also a Navy, for this throw it’s the Indigo that will fit, being so dark that it’s almost black.

CoralAs I go through these colors there are a few that just don’t quite fit in, for my purposes at least. And yet, given the size of this project – my goal is to make a Queen size coverlet – the more colors I will have to pick from the better.
Since my chosen palette is leaning to an aged, softened look, the simplest way to increase my color range is to work with some of the remaining colors (that would clash too much as they are) and tone them down. I have selected a coral, a forest green and a cherry red to start. Here I will show you the coral. As it is, it’s too intense for my purposes and will visually stand out from the rest and create discord and unbalance. A simple and quick way to age a color is to …. make a cup of tea!

I’ve started here with a loose hank of yarn, (I would recommend starting with a small swatch so you can make a mistake or two before finding your perfect shade), which I’ve placed it in a shallow bowl. In the tea strainer is some Jasmine Tea. No reason for that paricular one, other than I know it contains black tea, it smells good and I have lots of it. DryingIt also happens to be quite weak, so I can’t mess it up too quickly. I will add hot water (this is option 1 – depending on your yarn type, option 2 may be the better choice) and let it steep. What I would suggest is keeping a clip of the yarn nearby so you can compare the colors. The longer your yarn will steep, the greater the change in color. Also keep in mind, if you are starting with a lighter shade as I have done here, that it will take the color quicker, or rather, the tea will have a greater effect, more rapidly. Option 2 is to make the tea first in a separate container, let it cool and then soak your yarn. In order to ensure even absorption of the color, be sure the yarn has room to move, and that it is presoaked and wet before placing it in the brew.

I would check the yarn fairly quickly, even within a couple of minutes if all you are seeking is a slight change of hue. However if you have a dark color to begin with, you will want to leave it for longer to see any changes.

Coral and SalmonHere you can see my Coral color has become a pale salmon. Now this change was fairly rapid, occuring within about 5 minutes in the hot water. Given that the color change is coming from tea, you are effectively staining your yarn, so be careful as if you go too far, you may end up with a result you don’t like. As with knitting itself, this is where a test or swatch will really come in handy and save you a headache later on. Remember, you can always make it darker, but it will be harder to remove the color, so caution is the key.

As for my Forest Green and Cherry Red? The changes were very subtle after a good hour in the tea – I did gradutate to straight up English Breakfast tea in the end for the darker shades, from which I now have a lovely deep leaf green and a rich roasted Red, just the right intensity and hue for my giant project.

(If you are interested in purchasing a copy of the pattern for Amelie, let me know, if there is enough interest I will add it to the Knitwhits site early, I have also included in the pattern information on selecting yarns, determining yarn quantities, color placement and of course instructions for the stitch motif itself)

 

Live..!! June 30, 2007

Filed under: Crochet,Knitting,knitwhits — knitwhits @ 7:50 pm

Well I know I’ve been absent for many a week, first a large trade show, and then the resulting orders, in addition to… (drum roll please)…. ta! da! A new website!! . I can hardly believe it’s (almost) done.. it’s been a long slog, for both me and my fantastic programming friend Hillary who did an outstanding job of making my template fantasy into a reality, with squeaky clean code, very clever organizing, and made it easy for me to go in and update as needed.

It’s a beautiful thing.. now I’m going to go and collapse, thank you very much…

I still have a few bits and pieces to add in, namely the retail store locator, and password protected ordering for the retail accounts, and a few other odds and ends, but the big chunk of it is done, the site is up, operational and smooth as silk..  (Can you tell I like it?!)

Take a minute to check it out and tell me what you think! (Better yet, place an order! heh!)

Freia has had the patience of Job watching me at the computer for days on end, but I still took her on long walks as that’s been the only way for me to maintain even the most minor level of sanity through this.. that and sushi..

Hillary, one of my oldest friends (we’ve known each other for over 25 years!),  is also of late my sushi partner – we’d talk web and eat sushi while the site was being developed.  She’s been away for a week in some crazy tropical place with her Beau, and I wish she’d get back as now I could really use some sushi!

 

A Long Time Coming May 10, 2007

Filed under: Crochet,knitwhits — knitwhits @ 11:04 am

New WebOK, so I’m really turning out to be about the lousiest blogger out there, and like all the other lousy bloggers I have really good reasons, honest.

I’m redoing my website, and it’s looking good! My friend, the talented Ms. Safarik is doing the hardcore programming and we are developing the design together. There’s still a ton of work to do, but it’s coming along really nicely.

The other thing that turning into a giant time-sucker but really quite fun, in some crazy way, is that my mother is packing up her rental house of 30 years in the city. Everything has to go. Yesterday Susie and I went over and Susie picked out a great stash of amazing fabrics and sewing stuff that my mum either doesn’t use or has replaced. We also picked through a bunch of old 70’s clothes including some awesome shirts from Biba in London that are all too small for me to wear (like they would fit an 8-year old). Those were the times of Twiggy, and my mum was another trendy jetstetting stylish London twig! There was also a faboulous pink sheepsking jacket (furry) that is just totally crazy and I actually wore it in public when I was a teenager – that’s going to a dear friend who is still out there clubbing and grooving and always looks fab and could actually carry off wearing a jacket like that. I snagged this most incredible hat that I adore! It’s probably from the sixties and it’s way cool. I won’t wear it a whole lot as it’s fur and very toasty, but I had to have it! I will post a picture when I can get a decent one.

Going back there today to maybe pack up some other stuff. She’s also giving me some curtains that my great grandmother crocheted.. wow, the valance is just stunning (pictures to come, I promise) and the dishes that I’ve coveted forever, they are matte black around the edge and white shiny in the middle (black all on the outside) they are soooo swellegant. She’s also giving me some bedside chairs that she’s saved from when she was married to my dad and they lived at Orsett. Anything from Orsett is a keeper as far as I’m concerned! There’s lots more too.. too much to list, but it’s all very cool stuff, and would be a horrible shame to chuck out.

 

I’m Knitting as fast as I can.. April 26, 2007

Filed under: Crochet,Knitting,knitwhits — knitwhits @ 8:35 pm

On my way to In Detroit for taping of a 4 minute segment for Shay Pendray’s Needle Arts Studio (airs on PBS). You know, these shows are great fun to do, and a fantastic experience, even though I somehow feel like I’m just making a giant fool of myself, but boy, what a lot of work.

I guess that’s really my own fault, as I choose my projects and what my presentation will be (more so with this show than with KnittyGritty). So I’m knitting and knitting..

I ran into Stefanie Japel at the Dallas Airport, we spoke briefly on the plane and then I hitched a ride to our hotel with her. We just got back from a very chatty (mainly me doing the chatting) dinner at a local restaurant. What a nice gal! That is one of the nicest things about what I do, is to run into people who you recognize or know vaguely and then get to know them a bit better as time goes on and find out that they are really cool! In her case, I’d seen her walk by a few times at the last TNNA show, her booth was somewhat near mine, and though we have both done design work for Jen Hansen at Stitch Diva Studios, we had never been formally introduced. Since I recognized her at the airport I said hello and we ended up having a nice dinner and a nice evening together, with a topic and expericences in common.

On the plane the two of us were knitting and knitting.. it’s all got to be ready for tomorrow’s taping, so why I’m writing this now instead of knitting as I should be.. your guess is as good as mine.. I call it “creative avoidance”, well, that and sore fingers.

I will be showing how to make the “Flore” petal hat – as Stefanie put it “the one you are famous for” wow.. dunno that famous is quite right, but hey, if someone recognizes it, then that ain’t bad. For my four minutes of infamy, I have decided to do a bunch of step outs,

  • how the stitch pattern is done,
  • how to attach the layers,
  • how to work the decrease,
  • and the finishing.

Sounds simple enough, except that I have to show the hat in five or six different stages of completeness. That’s a lot o’ knitting – I have once again developed a callous on my index finger. Doesn’t work well with the fancy TV manicure I got, but oh well…

And as for the other show guests also taping tomorrow (hope I’m not breaking any national secrets here) but it looks like Joan MM from White Lies Designs, Nancy Queen who wrote Chicks with Sticks, Kristin Nicholas, who, as it turns out is one of my favorite designers – check out the kid’s dotty sweater from Interweave Winter 03 issue – fantastic! – and Lisa Gentry, the world’s fastest crocheter (that would be 170 sts/minute..)

OK, now I really have to knit, and I so want to tell you about the angry young girl on the plane, and the dog trying to figure out which suitcase she would be fitting in for this trip, and the sweater with the most amazing cable design on the sleeves that I made for the show that I just love, and the cute hotel we are staying at, and the… and the..

“creative avoidance”

 

You too can be a winner… March 15, 2007

Filed under: Crochet,Knitting,knitwhits — knitwhits @ 11:04 am

Jimmy Beans Wool is holding a Knitting/Crochet Pattern Writing Contest – you can win lot’s o’ stuff including one of my TiggerToy Kits. Click on the picture below for all the info..

Pattern Contest at Jimmy Beans

 

Not all design is created equal February 17, 2007

Filed under: Crochet,Knitting — knitwhits @ 1:33 pm

I want to design like this: sandrabacklund.com

and live here: thetemplehouse.com