Mossy Bells

This was the yarn that told me rather emphatically what it wanted to be. “I want to be a cardigan.”

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No problem.

“I want to have cute details.”

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You got it.

“I want to be knit in 2 different directions and be done bottom up, but still seamlessly.”

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…Uh, what?

Well, if you’re wondering if I always do what the yarn tells me to do…

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Yes. Yes I do.

Mossy Bells is a departure from my usual design style – I tend towards top down and seamless, so I found this design a fun challenge. It really started with the desire to use short rows to add some interest to the hem of the cardigan, which required me to knit the bottom sideways. I experimented a bit, and the result was the bell shapes (together with the colorway I used, they give the pattern its name) that appear to be dangling from the single row of purl stitches.

Mossy Bells (8) watermark small

Since I was trying something I’d never done before, there was some frogging along the way. I’d get part of it done, not like it and rip it back and fix…and then a different part didn’t look right so I had to rip that back and fix it. The good news is that I was able to get exactly what I pictured in my head to come off the needles – and I can vouch for the sturdiness of the Eweneek Boo-Yah! yarn!

The only problem I foresaw with the end result was getting Lexie to model it. She’s started to branch out from her everything-must-be-pink-or-purple, preferably-both, stage, but not yet into green. I’d bought the Moss colorway because I loved the color, so I was prepared to offer great inducements for modeling. Sure enough when I first showed her the yarn, she turned her nose up and reminded me firmly that green was my favorite color, not hers. But as I got further into the knitting, Lexie started hanging around to watch from time to time, and ask, “That’s for me, right?” Once it was done, she was charmed and couldn’t wait to put it on.

Couldn’t get a better compliment than that!

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Mossy Bells is available for purchase below, or on Ravelry, Craftsy, and Patternfish.

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Freckles & Ruffles

I loved my freckles when I was a kid.

They’re still there on my arms, but when I was younger, I had a swath of them across my nose and cheeks. You had to look closely to see them in the winter, but they popped right out under the summer sun. I miss them now that they’re gone, but was delighted to look at Jeffrey one day and see that they lived on.

freckles

While Jeffrey’s freckles weren’t the inspiration for my latest pattern, they did give me half of the pattern name – the lines of colored dots across the yoke reminded me of the strip of freckles across Jeffrey’s nose.

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Those bright spots of color also appear in ruffled splashes at hem and sleeves. This element was directly inspired by one of my children – this time by Lexie, who would be my model. She’s both a dirt-grubbing, sword-carrying tomboy and the girliest girl with a love of embellishment I’ve ever known, and ruffles were perfect for her.

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Put them together, and you get Freckles & Ruffles:

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The original inspiration for this design was a single skein of variegated yarn that I’d fallen in love with and just had to design with. There was only one skein of that colorway available, so I knew I’d have to combine it with something else, and found a couple skeins of semi-solid to go with the variegated. Then I started playing with stitch patterns and it occurred to me that a pattern like this would be the perfect one for someone who loves the colors in variegated yarns but not enough to make a whole item with one, or for the knitter who has single skeins of colorful yarn and no idea what to do with them.

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Originally, the pattern was going to be published by a yarn company, but there were publication issues and the rights were returned to me. Unfortunately, that meant I didn’t have a working sample for photography – which is when Sarah of Oh!Loops offered yarn support. I’ll be honest, I was a little giddy at my first unsolicited offer of yarn support, more so when I started going through their store to find the perfect colorways. I selected some of their 2-ply Merino High Twist Sock in a purple semi-solid and a yellow/green/blue variegated called Junebug.

OhLoops Merino HT Sock June Bug and Purple watermark

I already had a different design on the needles when I got the rights back to this one; as soon as I finished that one, I began knitting away with my new yarn. About a week and a half later, I was done.

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The shirt is knit top down, starting with a circular yoke. Bands of colorwork (which are not nearly as involved as they might look, as they’re done with slipped stitches and increases) alternate with plain rows down to the body, where a colorwork “belt” gives the impression of an empire waist. A colorful flirty ruffle is added at the end, which is echoed on each sleeve with ruffles shaped using short rows. Best of all, once you’ve bound off the last stitch and woven in the last end, all you need to do is block – it’s seamless. There are schematics and additional pictures included at the end of the pattern, so you can choose whether to print them or not.

Freckles & Ruffles is available for sale on Ravelry, Craftsy (Patternfish publication pending), and Patternfish. I hope you love it as much as Lexie and I do!

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Photos taken at Anna Smith Children’s Park in Bremerton, WA.

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When Mommy’s supposed to be working

My kids think I can make just about anything with yarn. Don’t raise the subject around Jeffrey unless you want to hear all about my total mastery with knitting needles – he will be happy to inform you. Lexie will frequently ask me to make a little this or a small that, full of childish confidence that I can whip up whatever it is in a matter of minutes.

Don’t get me wrong – I love it. I know the day will come when, rather than being a source of pride to my son, he will try desperately to hide my yarny obsession from his friends before it ruins his entire school career and costs him all his friends. And I know that at some point, my daughter will make it clear that she wouldn’t be caught dead in something her mom made.

But at the same time, it can be hard to get my kids to understand that this is also Mom’s job. I don’t knit just for fun (although it is fun, of course…well, it’s usually fun, and sometimes tedious and frustrating, but what job doesn’t have those moments?), and just because I’m sitting and knitting, it doesn’t mean I’m free to drop what I’m doing whenever they ask. They really don’t ask a lot, so I do try to accommodate them as much as possible (after all, they’re the reason I’m staying home in the first place). It’s also hard to refuse when Lexie’s stuffed animals ask nicely.

Right now, though, I’ve really got some high priority projects on the go. I have finished my work on my new Mossy Bells design, pending input from my test knitters, and it’s scheduled for release on August 19.

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But as soon as that sample was finished, I had to move right into my new sample for Freckles and Ruffles. So far, I’ve turned this yarn from Oh!Loops:

OhLoops Merino HT Sock June Bug and Purple watermark

…into this:

F&R WIP

And I’m loving how those colorways are working together. The variegated colorway has a longer color run than the original yarn I used, and so the yoke has a completely different look. I’m dying to see how it looks when I get to the ruffles!

But as soon as that sample is done, I have a commission for another design. Steve and I were recently exploring Port Townsend, WA and (at Steve’s suggestion!) we visited a few yarn stores. In one, Bazaar Girls, I joined in a conversation about not having time to knit for oneself due to work knitting…and the next thing I knew I was discussing what I could design with one of the yarns they carry – they don’t have a sample for it right now and thought it would be a great opportunity to showcase a design just for it by a local designer. I was a bit shellshocked to find myself walking out the door with 2 skeins of yarn I’d been handed; it’s only the second time I’ve received unsolicited yarn support, and the first time it had happened at a yarn store.

I’m super excited about it – this Baah! Sonoma yarn is very soft and the colors are so vibrant:

Baah Sonoma Berry Cocktail and Grape Jelly watermark

So of course, with all that on my plate, I was feeling a bit overwhelmed when Lexie came over with one of the little dolls from her dollhouse and asked me to knit her a dress.

“Honey…Mommy’s got a lot of work knitting she has to do right now…”

Lexie looked crestfallen.

I glanced around for inspiration, and my eye fell on the swatch I’d knit for my Freckles and Ruffles sample. I knew I wouldn’t need that square of yarn again…and then I saw a nearby crochet hook. “Tell you what, honey – Mommy will crochet your doll a dress tonight, ok?”

She was a bit dubious, but agreed. And so, instead of working through the night, I took a break for this:

doll dress

Lexie was thrilled when she saw it, and she told me the doll was too. Score one for Mom – and then it was right back to work.

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One of my more unusual inspirations

One of the accounts I follow on Twitter is Earth Pics. Most of their pictures are vibrant landscapes or cityscapes, and I like all the eye candy. Occasionally they’ll retweet other picture-based accounts, or post pictures of animals, and I’ve enjoyed them all…but none have affected me (on a design level) as much as…

(don’t click ’til you read the disclaimer!)

…this one.

Disclaimer: Why didn’t I just put the picture in my post? Well, in the second place, it’s not my image. In the first place, it’s a snake. I know some people have really visceral reactions about snakes, so I didn’t want to give anyone heart failure. So – don’t click unless you’re ok with snakes.

Now, snakes have never bothered me. I mean, maybe they did when I was a young child, but at 11 I had the life-altering experience of having someone drape a 9 foot Burmese python named Barney around my neck (my middle school had an early morning club called “Animal Room” where we took care of all the animals in various classrooms…including the snakes) without warning me first. Barney was quite attractive in his subdued green and brown way, and extremely tame – handling him was a high point for me, although I also enjoyed the more mundane rat and water snakes.

But, man…this snake I was seeing pictured was a gorgeous snake. Gorgeous. I didn’t know snakes came in those colors…and this one doesn’t seem to, really – it looks like someone was playing with the saturation filters on Photoshop. This site has some more realistic photos. Still, the colors that ended up in this photo, along with the patterning of the snake, had me staring in appreciation for several minutes.

And then, my mind turned to yarn. I know, shocking, right?

I was pretty sure I actually had yarn in exactly the colors of the snake in the first picture. I mean – it’s not a common color combination, but I could have sworn I already had it.

I was almost right.

Berroco Vintage Tang Apricot Breezeway and Pool Party watermark

I’d purchased a couple colorways of Berroco Vintage to go together a while back, but one of them, when they arrived, was so far off what I was seeing on my screen that it didn’t work for what I wanted. So, a bit disappointed, I’d tucked them away to figure out something to do with them later.

But when I pulled out that image of the colorways I owned, and compared it to the snake image, I saw that the orange on the upper left and the lighter blue on the lower right were perfect matches for the snake. All I needed was the dark blue, and in reviewing the colorways available, Indigo looked perfect.

Berroco Vintage Indigo watermark

Yup. Nailed it.

So, what do I have planned for this colorful combination? Well, to Jeffrey’s delight, this one is for him! Keep an eye out for a boy’s sweater with lots of color and texture…just like the California Red Sided Garter.

Berroco Vintage Indigo, Tang, and Pool Party watermark

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Sometimes…

Sometimes, you have a picture in your head of exactly what you want a knit item to look like…and to your delight, the swatch matches your mental picture.

MB WIP (1)

Sometimes, what comes off the needles isn’t anything close to what you pictured, and design “progress” is measured in negative numbers.

MB WIP (7)

Sometimes, progress is continuous and rapid.

MB WIP (2)

MB WIP (5)

Sometimes, you get a little distracted.

MB WIP (3)

MB WIP (6)

Sometimes, you pay the price for your distraction and miscalculations.

MB WIP (4)

And sometimes, it all seems to be coming together.

MB WIP (8)

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