Friday, April 15, 2016

Clover Takumi Combo set parts at work and....a GIVEAWAY!

Ever since my original Clover Takumi review, I have been wishing Clover made tips, cables and stoppers available separately and this last fall, ta da - my wish came true. In this post, I will be demonstrating you some of these parts at work, they are a great addition to an already awesome product and really allow you to have a truly custom set. The parts used in this set will be offered as a giveaway to one lucky winner!!! Ready? Set! Go!

In the last cool days of spring, I still wear hats so I thought it would be appropriate to make Cherry on Top by Elena Nodel, it's a quick worsted weight hat with simple but unique cables. But..lo and behold, my tips were used in a different hat project that never got finished. Fear not - new Clover stoppers to the rescue! The stoppers really expand your set because they allow you to use the tips on a different project while your first project "sleeps". They are also really useful when switch needle sizes in the middle of a project, which I will demonstrate later.

The hat uses US#3/3.25mm needles for the twisted rib, so I connected the tips to the 16" cable and started. I have to note, yet again, that these cables are very flexible but not floppy - just a perfect cable, if there ever was one! When you cast on, make sure your mug and markers match:) it really makes it extra special - I like to pause and admire the nice solid rib here - aaaaah!

My tips have been in use for 2 years so they are nice and smooth allowing the stitches to glide effortletssly; the join on this set is also superb, in fact I can't feel the join at all! And after trying just about every needle on the market, I don't say that lightly.

The body of the hat is worked on US#7/4.50mm needles, so after the rib was finished, I simply switched to larger tips, easy peasy! Then, I worked the hat as per pattern until the crown shaping. At this point, 16" cable would be too long so I chose to use the magic loop method to work on crown shaping. 40" cable is perfect for this purpose given its flexibility and because the tips are 4.25" long, which makes this set magic loop friendly.

Now that's where the stoppers really shine - to transfer the stitch to the 40" cable, I simply took it, attached the stopper on one end and tip on the other; repeated the process with the current 16" cable and started knitting with the 40" cable end in my right hand. When all the stitches were transferred, I put the other tip instead of the stopper and magic - no fuss, all the stitches are moved!

See some action shots below - I really like the look of these tools. As I mentioned in my earlier review, I prefer the white untreated bamboo. Something about it feels right, earthy, warm and clean and combined with Clover quality, you really can't go wrong!

So there you have it - Clover interchangeable Takumi Combo set parts in action! I must say, I am a bit sad to see this week come to an end - I had so much fun taking over Clover's Insta and telling everyone about my favorite tools! And now, for the exciting part to conclude my Instagram takeover - the GIVEAWAY!

Clover Needlecraft is graciously offering the parts used in making this hat to one lucky winner! But that's not all - you will also get a pattern for this hat courtesy of Elena Nodel aka Anadiomena for free!

The parts up for a giveaway are:

  • - US#3 and US#7 tips
  • - 16" and 40" cables
  • - 1 packages of stoppers
  • - 1 package of locking markers
  • - Cherry on Top pdf pattern

To qualify, simply make a post on your Instagram feed IG with a tag #aprilclovergiveaway mentioning the desire to win the giveaway; picturing and describing your favorite Clover product in use.

The giveaway challenge will start today, April 15th and end on Tuesday, April 19th. Only USA or Canada entries are eligible.

That's it folks!
I can't wait to see your favorite tools! Let's have some fun and maybe I will find out about some products I never knew existed!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Knitlandia Review

The power of Instagram is evident because I normally do not read knit lit. Well, I do own a copy of Stephanie Pearl-McPhee's At Knit's End: Meditations for Women Who Knit Too Much, but that's it. The rest of the knit lit has successfully passed me by, either because I wasn't aware of its existence or because it simply didn't interest me. Until now. Every morning on my commute to work, I login to my IG and see what the knitting community is up to, so that day, about one third of my posts contained reference to Knitlandia, by Clara Parkes.

We of course, know Clara as the ever elusive yarn dyer (her yarn is elusive, not her) and the owner of the Knitter's Review. Naturally, I had to see what this was about - the intro sounded intriguing and with a free hour and a half ahead of me, I decided to give it a go. I got the Kindle edition because it's easy and I don't have to go to the bookstore.

Image courtesy of Amazon

A bit of a background on me - I learned to knit before I knew how to read, taught by my maternal grandmother who herself preferred to crochet. To me, knitting is a second nature and thus the notion of retreat, a knitting class and knit lit is somewhat of a funny one. What do you do at a knitting retreat that you can not do at home by yourself? For decades, knitters were an isolated bunch and aside from several knitting friends, little existed to give the community the cohesiveness and the connection. Enter this book, whose sole focus is in describing various knitting related events in several countries! If you ever wondered what Iceland holds in terms of knitting for example, it's all there, in much detail.

Living in the Canadian Pacific Northwest, I don't have an easy access to most of the events described in the book, which is why it's a great read. Madrona Fest would probably be the only one that I could attend without much disturbance to my busy life. Yes, i have a full time job and a toddler. Knitting is a luxury. Attending festivals more than 3 hours away is a dream. So far. So I loved the book because of that - it gave me the glimpse into these exciting community building events that I may attend one day. And if I never get to, well, at least I know a bit about them.

Clara's style of writing makes you feel like you are right there and most importantly, like you are part of something big! You are a knitter and that gives you the common ground with apparently more people than golfers!:) hey, who knew! I never thought I'd enjoy knit lit that much, but I did and for the first time, I am considering attending Madrona and that counts for something, right?

So go get the book, it's worth it!

Monday, February 15, 2016

Indecision

I am back and I promise to blog more, I really do:) The last year was busy and tough for me and I decided to concentrate on just designing and kind of let that social media/blogging thing die. It's too bad and I'd like to change that! So today is the day!

Keep reading because there is a giveaway chance at the end:)

Today, I released a pattern that has been long time in the works, starting with an idea to the execution, testing and pattern writing, and I absolutely love the result. While this may not be everyone's cup of tea, I have always had a soft spot for asymmetry, especially used in kimono shape, and simple stockinette. Perfection! You know, those days when you want to stand out but don't feel like making all the fuss and wearing something uncomfortable? This top is for those days. That, and I really wanted to shake things up a bit. Knitting simple cardis and shawls is all good, but at the end I live for the unusual and the modern and the elegant.

Indecision can be purchased here

So, I promised a giveaway, and here it is - comment here about what your favorite things to knit is and I will pick a lucky person or two to get a copy of indecision for free!

EDITED:
Thank you and the giveaway is now over!
Congrats Trish and Rebecca!

Till next time!

Friday, May 1, 2015

Volga

This is going to be a bit nostalgic and happy at the same time. 2 years ago, Elena from Colour Adventures gifted me three skeins of her merino light in a gorgeous colorway, Dusk.

The color resonated with me and I knew right away what it remind me off - my hometown of Saratov, located on the right bank of the largest river in Europe, Volga. Coincidentally, grey blue with a tinge of turquoise is actually my favorite color!

Our family, like many Soviet families had a small piece of land with a cabin 15 minutes away from the beach and that's where I used to spent my summers. I immigrated twice since then and much has changed. Many people who I spent my childhood with are now gone, but the memories of these times, the warmth of the earth on a 40C summer day, the dry grass, the praying mantises that jump in all directions when you make a step, will remain with me forever. Out of all these memories, the smell of the river and the endless sea of blue-grey stands out the most.

I have seen many places, seas, rivers and creeks but none compare to Volga.

Hence I present to you, my tribute, the Volga shawl/infinity loop hybrid. There is no cast on or bind off, no long rows. It's a fast paced knit with some mesh inserts to break up the stockinette.

Join my KAL for tips, chatter and prizes!

As I was working on the design, I suddenly realized that it was eerily similar to Saratov-Engels bridge, which until 1965 was the longest in Europe. Check this photo out:

It's funny how these things work....

Saturday, February 14, 2015

New and updated tutorial on how to hide color changes when knitting zigzags in the round

This has been long in the making. In the summer of 2013, I made this little tutorial but silly me did not use two colors(duh!) so it wasn't terribly useful. This time, I used two colors and hopefully, this will be clear and useful to some. I use this trick in all of my chevron loops (hint, there is one more coming very very soon!).

Step 1, you have come to the point where you change color, in this case from navy to cream.

Step 2, see that stitch on the right side of the green marker? That's the stitch you just knit. Lift the stitch under it and place it on the left needle as shown. You are literally lifting the stitch you just knitted into!

Step 3, with new yarn (in my case, cream), knit the next two stitches on the left needle together. Note that the stitch count does not change since you added a stitch in Step 2 and reduced a stitch in this step. slip it off the needle as you normally would! you're done!

So this is what it looks like after you have knitted several stitches. As you can see, there are not jogging here. Or very little anyway!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

GAL2014 Interviews - Petra Neumann

Today I present Petra Neumann, aka peti50 on Ravelry. I especially liked interviewing her because she comes from another side of the world and her knitting tastes and preferences vary so much from my own. It's another reminder now much variation a ball of yarn and a stick can achieve! Petra specializes in the Swing Knitting technique. I came across it briefly before and I must say that the sheer mathematical element of it is fascinating. Most of Petra's designs feature this technique, my personal favorite is this one, since it features a gradient which I am, let's admit a sucker for! (all images used with permission)

Tabi's Snow Time

and this one!

Findlinge

Off to our guest!

Jenny: When did you start knitting, and what do you like the most about it?
Petra: I started sometime during my childhood, but don't remember when exactly. What I love most about knitting is that you can totally immerse yourself into it and forget everything else, and also experiencing over and over again how creativity doesn't have any limitations. I love to think up things in my head and then being able to see them come alive on my needles!

Jenny: There is an underlying theme of geometry in your designs. What inspires you the most about this theme?
Petra: The reason is probably my love for the short-row technique, especially Swing-Knitting™. I'm not much of a stitch pattern knitter, but after having learned to work with short rows a few years ago, I've been fascinated ever since, this is such an inexhaustible topic! It's greatly exciting because there's always that suspense of what it will develop into, and through the constant changes in the knitted fabric it'll never get boring. What inspires me the most is nature with its color range, waves and shapes - there's always something new to discover!

Jenny: What is your favorite design? Tell is a bit more about it!
Petra: My all-time favorite is the Tabalino shawl because this is the design that inspired me to dye my own yarn, featuring long color sections without any repeats. With this kind of yarn, short row designs look even better, or at least that's what it seems to me. By now, there are quite a few "Tabalino yarn" enthusiasts. My designs Stein "Steine im Flussbett" ("Rocks in the riverbed") and "Findlinge" ("Fieldstones") were developed especially from and for this yarn. Each one of the rock sections that meander through "Steine im Flussbett", for instance, has it's own distinctive color which never repeats throughout the shawl.

Tabalino

Jenny: How do you balance your everyday life, having a yarn store and a design business?
Petra: I keep it balanced by not trying to create the artificial pressure of having to develop something no matter what. My designs emerge from ideas I see or feel, and my inner peace is most important for me. I find this peace through religion and also in our German forests, where I frequently roam ... always with a mushroom basket, because my other passion is collecting mushrooms. In the woods, my brain can completely relax, and my whole body regenerates.

Jenny: What is your favorite yarn to work with and why?
Petra: There are so many beautiful yarns out there! In any case, a good yarn should be of superior quality, and it should feel soft and pleasant to the touch and next to the skin.

Jenny: What are your plans for next year?
Petra: With this question, I almost smiled to myself, remembering all my UFOs (unfinished objects). Joking aside, you can expect a new shawl design from Tabalino yarn in the near future, and a vest and tunic are currently in testing, too. If all goes well, there will also be a few more designs for children, because I am a proud grandmother. I can count myself lucky that my daughter-in-law loves knitted garments and dresses my granddaughter in everything I knit for her.

During the summer months, from April to the end of August, my store is open only mornings, so I have more time to knit and develop designs. For next summer, I've planned an experiment - I want to develop some kind of home accessory, maybe a wall hanging, in the Swing-Knitting™ technique. Let me emphasize at this point that all my patterns are written as detailed row-by-row descriptions, so everybody can easily knit them without any special knowledge. I've also have them professionally translated into English, and, through valuable customer feedback, was able to incorporate a few features to adapt my writing style to what English speaking knitters are accustomed to, so my patterns are easy to understand and to follow.

There will be another highlight in May, when I'll organize our annual international Swing-Knitting™ get-together in my shop in Helmstedt/Germany. We've already received reservations from knitters as far the US for our planned 2015 season, and expect returning participants from Finland and Switzerland as well. Beginning in January 2015, the program can be accessed from my homepage, and there will be a special thread in the Swing-Knitting™ group on Ravelry, too, for discussing technical details such as traveling and lodging accommodations and introduction to courses and instructors.

As a conclusion, let me add one more thing: I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to all who love, buy and knit from my patterns. A special Thank You! to Ravelry for providing this wonderful platform to bring together knitters and designers, and last but no least to all who stand by me every day.

Monday, December 1, 2014

GAL2014 Interviews - KnitwiseDesign

For those of you who did not know - this year, I am participating in the Indie Designer Gift-along event, hosted by the awesome bunch of fellow designers and volunteers at ravelry.com. Basically, it's a giant knit along that where participating designers offer 25% off for selected patterns. The event ends on Dec 2014, so don't delay and go here to find out more about it and join!

Part of the fun is to interview other participating designers and learn more about them in the process. Today, I am interviewing Linda from KnitwiseDesign. Her designs are these timeless classic pieces that every knitter living in a cold climate should make for themselves or as gifts. Her designs can be found here.


Flora and Stella
Sock Lover's Socks

And my personal favourite is Tidal Cove Scarf

Without further ado, here is the interview:

Jenny: You knit since childhood, who taught you how to knit and did you like it right away?
Linda: When I was six years old my grandmother taught me to knit. Bright red acrylic yarn and plastic needles, but I took to it right away. That particular work in progress remained a WIP for many years though, and I never did finish it. But when I was eleven years old I wanted to knit a sweater for a special friend, so I jumped right into sweater knitting. From that point on I always had a project going - sweaters, hats, even a shawl back before they were fashionable! The yarns then were not what I would use now, and bless my tolerant family for always acting thrilled when I gifted them with another acrylic creation! The real turning point came for me when I picked up a copy of Elizabeth Zimmermann’s "Knitting Without Tears" in 1981. That book changed not only my knitting, but literally my whole outlook on life - you don’t have to follow a pattern - for knitting or for life!

Jenny: What made you to decide to design?
Linda: Once I became an EZ devotee I designed for myself and my family all the time, but I have to say that Ravelry made designing as a career possible for me. Without the computer and internet I don’t think I could have developed a business doing this. It is so perfect for me because it combines two very opposite sides of my nature - the creative, imaginative side and the mathematical, analytic, perfectionist side. I think it is amazing how much I have had to learn about computers, spreadsheets, graphic design, even photography and marketing. I never get bored!

Jenny: After looking at your designs I see that you have a very classic taste with a bit of comfort thrown in. What inspires you?
Linda: Firstly, thank you so much for the kind comment! I wish I knew exactly what inspires me. It seems to come from thin air sometimes! Often I will be eating dinner, or very commonly, just falling asleep, and I need to jump up and sketch an idea for a design! I have a couple sketch books full of ideas! One thing that is often a motivator is a desire for a special gift for someone. Sometimes I feel like just sitting down with a well-worn stitch dictionary and browsing. That often stimulates lots of ideas for the sketch book!

Jenny: What is your favorite thing to design and why?
Linda: I seem to have the most ideas for garment designs. Yet if you look at my designs you will see only one cardigan and two vests so far! The garments take so long to do and I am getting new ideas all the time, so sometimes find it hard to commit to one! The accessories are more fun to actually work with since they are must faster from start to finish. I like to release a pattern now on a regular basis, and that has had me concentrating on my accessory ideas for now.

Jenny: What is your most popular pattern? tell us a bit more about its creation and what inspired you to make it.
Linda: My most popular pattern to date has been Sock Lover’s Socks, which just goes to show that you can never predict the success of a design! That design was developed specifically as a thank you present for a friend who loves to knit socks for others. I thought that these socks would be a very personal gift for her, and that as a design no one would really be interested. Not only did the pattern sell very well, I continue to get personal messages and comments from people about how much they love the design!

Jenny: By absolute chance, few days ago I stumbled on someone mentioning in the Briggs & Little group that you visited their mill with them! I belong to the group also and often when people talk about their likes for rustic yarns, I feel a bit of a kinship:) What is your favorite wool to knit with and why?
Linda: Wow - that is a hard one! There are so many beautiful yarns these days! I do still have a real fondness for the more rustic yarns like Briggs & Little. It used to be that rusticity was the mark of a real wool hand knit sweater. Now of course there are so many soft, merino wools on the market, and they definitely have their place! I used String Theory’s Caper Sock - merino wool and cashmere - for my Simply Sweet Shawl pattern and found it absolutely heavenly! And I am finishing up a project with Malabrigo Worsted which I am smitten with now as well.

Jenny: What’s next for you?
Linda: I would love to get a little faster at my process and put out more designs next year. I am also experimenting with the idea of some in-print options for some of my patterns. My Hunting Season Hat is available now in hard copy at the Briggs and Little Mill in New Brunswick. I think I need to focus some more in the coming year on marketing and getting the word out about my designs. And I would like to take one of my many garment design ideas and get it to completion.

Hunting Season Hat

It was a pleasure to interview Linda and learn more about her designs and inspirations! Stay tuned for another interesting interview:)