Tuesday, October 7, 2014

How did we start?

I rarely write a personal story about my designs, but this one is really special to me. You see, I learned to knit back in 1985, when I was 7 years old and liked it right away. No "knitting didn't take on until 20 years later" stories for me, no sir. Not that there is anything wrong with that - I just took on right away. But as you know, life happens, college, partying, career, dating, you know ..life. I knitted briefly in highschool back in the 90's when baggy sweaters were all the rage, but that was pretty much it, until....one day, I had an idea in my head of a sweater that I wanted so badly I could taste it. I don't remember where or when (or if) I saw it, but I had to have it. So on that October Saturday morning in 2006, I took a bus to my local yarn store and the rest was history.

The first sweater I made though was not the one I had in mind, it was a kimono sweater that I still have and wear. The obsession sweater was made 2 months later with the yarn purchased (my first purchase from them!) at elann.com. The sweater was a milestone for more reasons that one, it's also when I learned to knit sleeves top down in the round after a tutorial found online. Through that tutorial, I also found ravelry, then in a dreaded beta stage and promptly signed up. New era has began!

But back to the sweater. Here it is, made flat, bottom up, with sleeves top down in the round. I was quite proud of myself!

Sadly, it got ruined 2 years later. Why am I telling you all this boring stuff? Well, I remade the sweater this summer with new elann.com wool, DK05, and new construction that I learned while making it (another milestone!). Here it is:
I added modern features such as twist rib cuffs and trim, and princess shaping in the back. It's knit top down seamlessly starting at the collar all the way down to the hem! The pattern can be purchased here.

But before you do that, come and post a story in my group how you started knitting! I would love to hear it, and in the end of the week I will pick two lucky people to win this pattern for free. Good luck!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

fitting the loopdigan

Over the last few months few people have knit this and I have stumbled across a common issue that I wanted to address because I want you guys to love your loopdigans and wear them! That's why we knit, right?

The design is knit sideways, so your back width is actually determined by the number of rows you knit. The back fit is the most important part of the design and I emphasized it in the pattern by saying that one has to measure the back at the armpit level but not mid armpit to mid armpit, just the back. Many people didn't understand what I meant and the answer is that I meant just that! As the diagram below shows:

See the red line? that's your measurement! The easiest way to take it would be to ask someone do it for you - because you really can't take it yourself properly. The crucial point here is to make sure your measuring tape does not go under your amrpit, because this will add inch or two to your back measurement and your loopdigan won't fit as intended, so....just measure the back. It's easier than it sounds.

biased transitions

Without further a due and much talk here it is - my newest design, using Kauni 8/2 Effektgarn wool. Love its sheepy smell and gorgeous colors! Any self striping yarn with long color repeats will work equally well here. Another wonderful wooly choice is much loved Zauberball. Their colorways are to die for!

I find that these yarns come alive when knit at bias - here I alternated rev. stockinette and st. stitch for total reversibility. You can either block the scarf or not, either way you have a wonderfully textured accessory.!

The pattern can be purchased here!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Bubble giveway!

As promised the post from few days back, I am running a giveway for life in a bubble

7 lucky winners here are your codes:


Each of these will net you a free copy of this wrap. Enjoy and share your projects!

The promo is now over, all the codes have been claimed! thank you for participation!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Bubble Story

I just released life in a bubble few days ago and wanted to tell a bit more about the design.

Back in the winter, Colourmart yarns group on ravelry announced their very first call for designs for the e-book that will showcase their yarns. For anyone who is not familiar, ColourmartUK sells oiled high quality yarns, primarily cashmere at very very good prices (don't get too addicted now). They have other yarns too, but they are mostly known for their cashmeres which are designer remnants from brands like Botto Poala, Chanel, Burberry etc.... I had several ideas circulating in my head but this inspiration stood out - the bubble stitch mesmerized me the minute I saw it!

Off swatching and searching I went and got this

Ok, it's not an exact replica but the bubbly vibe is there! I love how this simple pattern showcases any yarn, solid, color repeat or variegated - they all look smashing in this delicate drop stitch mesh. And as always, it's reversible.

In the next few days I will be running a giveway of this pattern - 7 lucky winners will get it for free! Details will be posted here. Stay tuned!

Have fun knitting!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Tools of the Trade: Clover Takumi Combo set

I will start the promised series with the Clover Takumi Combo set that I have had the chance to try out in these past two weeks. First, a little overview of why I have come to use bamboo needles. If you told me three years ago that bamboo would be my preference, I would most likely laugh in your face but time has a funny way of changing things. Anyhoo, 3 years ago I had a terrible episode of tendinits that rendered me unable to knit for three months. Yes, three long months of longingly staring at my giant stash, ravelry favourites, unfinished projects, you get it...let's just say I was miserable.

Prior to this I was a die hard metal, slippery needle fan, though I did have few pairs of Clover bamboo for travel, I didn't prefer them because they weren't slippery enough for me.

Two years ago, I started hearing about all kinds of interchangeables on the market and purchased 2 sets that I have since destashed, because they were too sharp and had too long of a taper for my knitting style. I am a Russian knitter, or as they like to say here - Eastern Combined (though the two methods are not exactly equivalent). I need a short tapered, somewhat blunt needle with a bit of a grab, but not too much grab. As the time went on, I found myself reaching for these few Clover pairs I had - after few months of knitting, they became super slick and I no longer had an issue with their grabbiness. New preference has emerged! I have since tried several bamboo brands, both fixed and interchangeables. As I talk about the Takumi set, I will be briefly comparing them. The ones I tried are: Clover fixed, Hiya Hiya bamboo tips, Chiaogoo fixed bamboo, Addi Natura fixed and KA fixed. I find that it's useful to do these little comparisons to give the reader (you!) an idea of how the set in question compares to the needles you may already have.

Let's start, shall we?

First, I would like to note that not all bamboo needles are created equal. There are two kinds (basically): treated (usually carbonized or it could also be resin impregnated - both of these are darker color) and natural, untreated bamboo which is light. Takumi Combo set (like all Clover needles) falls in to the second category.

Packaging and items included

This set includes, 12-Needle sizes (3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 10.5, 11, 13, 15), 5-cord sizes (16, 24, 29, 36 and 48-Inch ) - 60 combinations and a synthetic leather case.

The packaging looks and feels high quality, with a nice sturdy zipper, and there is a plastic sleeve for your cables which is nice. The sleeve goes in the pocket inside the case. I also like that this is a full set (unless you are a sock knitter who uses super small needles but most sets on the market don't have these either). Once you have this set, chances are you won't need to purchase many needles.


After using Clover fixed, I was pleasantly surprised to see that these cables are nothing like the ones in the fixed needles! They are flexible, lack memory but not floppy at all. I think most of knitters would find these really great. No issue with cables here!


As many of you may know, a join is uber important part of any needle, be it fixed or interchangeable. It can really make or break a needle. I have used Lantern Moon with their gorgeous ebony tips only to be severely disappointed with a really poor join which made knitting a frustrating experience. So how do these stack up? First of all, let's make sure we compare apples to apples as in a interchangeable join will never be as smooth as fixed, but these come pretty close! On the scale of 1 to 10 these get an 8. I found the joins pretty smooth and the yarn glided on nicely for the most part.

Another pleasant surprise - they swivel! Kudos to Clover on this one, they should really put that on the package!

Tip smoothness

These are bamboo so they start out grabby and get smoother as you knit with them more. Clover bamboo is on the grabbier side compared to KA and Addi. As I mentioned earlier, after few projects these will get super smooth, but if you're impatient, use wax paper and it will speed things up. I have heard that Takumi Velvet are smoother but haven't had the chance to try them yet. I find that bamboo smoothness is a factor that changes while other needle attributes such as join and cable quality can not be changed so for this reason, the smoothness it's a non issue.

Also, something to keep in mind regarding smoothness - untreated bamboo tends to be grabbier, but it feels like the real thing as opposed to resin impregnated such as Chiaogoo that feels like plastic and almost turned me off bamboo altogether. But many prefer treated bamboo so this is something to keep in mind. In this review, I am concentrating on untreated bamboo needles since this is my personal preference.

Tip sharpness and taper

These have your standard taper, somewhat blunt as most bamboo needles out there. The taper is a bit longer than Addi and KA. No bamboo needles will have a sharp lace tip and Clovers are not an exception. IMO, these have the sharpness and taper that would work nicely with most projects out there unless you're knitting some complicated lace with lots of p2togtb....well, get yourself a lace set then. This is not a lace set - it's a multi-purpose set and I am not aware of any lace bamboo sets actually existing. I think that this has to do with the fact that bamboo is a bit more fragile than wood hence no super sharp tip is possible. My personal preference is a blunt tip (I am a finger pusher and lace sets have literally made my fingers bleed!), so this tip is perfect for me.

Overall impressions

I think this is a great set! In fact, as far as bamboo interchangeables go, this is the best, IMO. I will elaborate why. As far as untreated bamboo goes, there are few available sets out there: Addi, KA and Tulip. Addi has a join that is a source of many complaints - I have seen it up close and I know it will be a real issue for me as I am a tight knitter. Clover set has a smooth join that I (a tight knitter!) have no issue with. Big plus! Don't get me wrong, I love fixed Addi Natura, but we are comparing apples to apples here. KA has thick inflexible cables which is a shame because the rest of the needle properties are great. Caron Tulip is not a widely available product and I haven't had a chance to try it. All in all, Clover set earns the most check marks that I look for in a bamboo interchangeable: flexible cables, smooth high quality tips, swivel smooth join and nice case.

The tips, when joined to the stainless steel end are 4" which appears to be comfortable length for me, though I prefer longer 5" tips, these didn't cramp up my hands like 3.5" Hiya Hiya tips which was a nice surprise!

Things that could be added/improved

There aren't many, frankly. But if I am pressed, I would have to note that the tips could be made a tad smoother out of the package. It would also be nice to have a rubber gripper tool to tighten the cables - I have had the joins loosen once if I didn't use a rubber band. When I did use it, the joins were intact throughout the whole project! Again, not a big deal, one can just use a rubber band, but it would be nice to have the gripper added. Also, and I know this has been voiced in many threads on Ravelry, we really want spare parts!!!! I would love to purchase extra cables/tips for the set.

All in all, I give it a 9/10. Well done, Clover!

I will be adding photos of the set and tip comparisons in a few days time; so watch for more on this!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Coming up: Tools of the Trade

I finally decided to do something that I have been wanting to do for the last 2 years - review the tools that us knitters use, namely - the needles. In the last little while, the world of needles has exploded with choices! so many that it's hard to pick. If you're like me, you want to try everything (but hey, we all know that no one has the time or the budget for this!). Which is why I want to review some tools I have had a chance to use since I started my needle journey.

A bit of a background: I have happily knitted with my cheapie Aeros for the most part, until 2012 when so many people have mentioned interchangeables that I simply had to try them, the more brands the better.

So in the next few posts I will be reviewing some of the tools I have had the chance to use and hopefully these posts will help you in this hard task of choosing the right needle.

Stay tuned!