My current work in progress:

1. Hats!
2. Myriad stealth projects.

Insane Cowl Posse

The other day, Monica posted this blog comment:

Would love to read an article or blog about how you knit the complex patterns you design, like the Stained Glass Cowl.  Do you design the printed pattern and then follow-it?  Or, do you decide row by row or groups of rows by groups of rows as you go?  Are you able to knit do your colorwork knitting and watch TV, listen to an audiobook, or carry on a conversation at the same time?

Good questions!

You may have noticed that lately I’ve been keeping myself entertained with Insane Cowl Patterns. It all started a couple of years ago with my Leftovers Cowl. Shortly after that I designed a smaller cowl, the Nordic Cowl. The next one I designed was the Sanquhar Cowl. Then came the Maple Leaves Gradient Cowl (designed for KnitCircus), and after that, my Crazed Scandinavian Cowl. This was followed by my Nordic Border Cowl, and then my latest published cowl pattern, the Bogus Bohus Cowl. And now I’m working on the Stained Glass Cowl, to be published upon completion/testing/editing. So clearly, I am a fan of the cowl.

So what’s my process? It usually starts with an idea in my head about some theme, motif, or style of knitting I want to showcase.  After thinking about it for a while, I start charting. My favorite pattern charting tool? Microsoft Excel.

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I set the columns and rows in Excel to make graph paper, and I start doodling. When I am doing a colorwork cowl, I use a dingbat font. The “Wingdings” font works nicely — the letter “n” in wingdings makes a solid block, perfect for use in colorwork charts.

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So I doodle along happily in Excel. I like being able to cut and paste so I can see how multiple pattern repeats will look side by side.

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Once I have my pattern set pretty much the way I want it, I either knit a swatch, or start knitting the pattern. For the Stained Glass Cowl I started with a swatch, because I wanted to make sure there was enough contrast between the foreground and background colors. It turns out there wasn’t, so I selected a different colorway for the foreground color.

As I knit, I can make adjustments to my chart on the fly.

I am almost never just knitting. I usually watch tv or read an eBook while knitting. I find I can do this even with pretty complex colorwork. It helps that I mark pattern repeats with stitch markers. Say my pattern repeat is 24 stitches. As I come to a stitch marker in my work, I can glance back over the 24 stitches just worked and confirm that I worked them correctly. If I get to stitch 24 and I’m at the wrong place in the repeat, I know I made an error somewhere  in the repeat, so I can tink back and fix it right then.

Aside: Another useful way to fix small errors is via duplicate stitch. A few days ago I was knitting on this project in a low-light setting, so I had difficulty telling the two colors apart. In the cold light of day I found a spot where I had reversed colors on three stitches and it was about ten rounds down in the pattern. I simply duplicate stitched over these three stitches to correct them and went on my merry way with no one the wiser. Except you all now know.

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Also useful for colorwork as part of multi-tasking is that I have a great memory. I can glance at a chart once and remember the pattern for the entire round without having to check back. If a chart is made up of geometric motifs I can memorize multiple rows. For cable knitting I almost always memorize an entire pattern repeat before I’ve finished knitting the first repeat. This is extraordinarily useful when I want to knit and watch a movie at the same time. Or if I am in a speed-knitting contest with a friend (cough::L-B and the Inishmore Challenge::cough).

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The only thing I find hard to do is to watch a movie in a language I do not know and have to rely on subtitles. Because I do need to look down at my knitting from time to time, I can miss some of the dialog on screen. I recall getting thoroughly confused while watching Abre los Ojos in Spanish with English subtitles while knitting a Dale of Norway Olympic design. I was very confused by the end of the movie . . . but then I probably would have been anyway.

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My current WIP is not terribly conducive to reading subtitles.


I have a couple of book giveaways that ended today!

The winner of my review copy of Creature Feetures: 30 Crochet Patterns for Baby Booties, is Karen.

The winner of my review copy of 60 Quick Cowls: Luxurious Projects to Knit in Cloud™ and Duo™ Yarns from Cascade Yarns® is Frankie.

Both winners have been emailed.

I’ll be drawing the winner for 60 Quick Cotton Knits: The Ultimate Cotton Collection in Ultra Pima™ from Cascade Yarns® on Sunday.

Since I’m not reviewing a book and doing a giveaway today, let’s do something else. In the comments, tell me which of the following of my cowl patterns you would like to own:

Include your Ravelry name in your comment and I’ll arbitrarily send some free copies of those patterns to some of you, picked at random. Post your comment by noon on Sunday (April 10) to be eligible to win a pattern.

Loki can’t come to the blog today. He’s busy.

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60 Quick Cotton Knits

In my ongoing quest to excavate my desk, I found this (the book I was actually looking for last week):

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This is 60 Quick Cotton Knits: The Ultimate Cotton Collection in Ultra Pima™ from Cascade Yarns® from Sixth & Spring Books. Just in time to start planning your summer knitting!

Cascade Ultra Pima is a 100% pima cotton yarn, dk weight, put up in 100 gram skeins with 220 yards per skein. It comes in a dizzying array of fabulous colors.

This book has patterns for a little bit of everything: summer sweaters, wraps, shrugs, headwear, fingerless mitts, and bags. There is texture, there is lace, there is colorwork. You can preview all 60 patterns on Ravelry here.

I’ve picked out a few of my favorites.

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I love the Tiered Shell because it’s different, and it looks like it would be so cool and comfy to wear.

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Look at the beautiful Sunray Wrap — perfect for an over-air-conditioned office.

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This is the Bubble Shrug — one of several shrug/bolero patterns. I think it would be perfect to turn a sundress into office wear.

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Look at this cute Cables & Lace Headband. Not only would it make a great quick gift, but it’s a good project for someone new to cables and to lace.

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and the Checkerboard Tank looks like a good introduction to colorwork. It’s a little more challenging than stripes, but a lot easier than complex colorwork.

So . . . a lot of great patterns for a very reasonable price. The price on amazon for this book is $12.62. Divide that by 60 patterns, and that’s 21 cents per pattern! Many of these patterns would work just as nicely in other yarns — you don’t have to limit yourself to pima cotton. You can get yourself a whole library of patterns for a very good price.

I’m tempted to keep my copy, but I have only so much space on my bookshelves, so who’d like my review copy?

To be entered in the drawing to win my copy of 60 Quick Cotton Knits: The Ultimate Cotton Collection in Ultra Pima™ from Cascade Yarns® , leave a comment on this post by noon next Sunday, April 10, 2016.

Meanwhile back at the ranch . . .

My Stained Glass Cowl is progressing nicely.

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I am now working on the second half, the lining of the cowl. I’m doing a smaller all-over pattern for the lining.

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Loki sez:

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Thanks for all the nice comments about my Momma’s blogiversary!


Tidying up one’s desk has its advantages. You find stuff that accidentally sunk down in the pile. Like this:

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This is 60 Quick Cowls: Luxurious Projects to Knit in Cloud™ and Duo™ Yarns from Cascade Yarns® from Sixth & Spring Books. That’s 60 patterns in one book, people. For cowls. You may have noticed that a have a penchant for cowls.

The patterns are all knit in worsted weight yarns and there are SIXTY of them, from a bunch of designers. They are all nicely entered in Ravelry, here, so you can take a look for yourself. I am having a hard time picking favorites, but I’ll show you a couple here that jumped out at me:

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Pixelation by Matthew Schrank. You could knit this in any color combo, but I love love love this black and white version.

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Zip It Up by Lorna Miser, which has two zippers incorporated into the cowl. Very cool!

I could very easily talk myself into keeping this book, but I’ll be nice and give it away to a reader. Who’d like it?

To be entered in the drawing to win my copy of 60 Quick Cowls: Luxurious Projects to Knit in Cloud™ and Duo™ Yarns from Cascade Yarns®, leave a comment on this post by noon on Wednesday, April 6, 2016.

Fourteen Years

Looking at my calendar I realized that this Friday, April 1, marks 14 years that I have been writing this blog. Wow.

In other news, Loki is still adorable.

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Stained Glass

Here is an update on my WIP:

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This is, you guessed it, another cowl. I am knitting this from two colorways of Wollmeise Pure: Schwarz and Tiefer See.

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I started with a provisional cast-on (that’s the solid light green at the bottom) and am knitting it from the bottom up.

I usually work my fingering weight cowls with a U.S. size 3 (3.25mm) needle, but Wollmeise Pure is on the finer side of fingering, so after knitting a swatch, I felt it would look better worked with a 3mm needle — a size “2.5″ in U.S. terms. So, a dilemma. My beloved Signature Needle Arts circular needles only go down to size 3.25mm. I decided to try a Knitter’s Pride Karbonz:

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I am very pleased with this needle. It has a nice sharp tip and the joins are great. I went ahead and ordered more Karbonz needles in size 2mm. 2.25mm, and 2.75mm. Now I’m covered for all the smaller sizes that I do not have in Signature Needle Arts needles!

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I’ll write up the pattern once this is completed.

In other news, here is “stage four” of my Martin Storey afghan:

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And here is sweet Loki. I got him a new toy this week and he has worn himself out playing with it!

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The winner of Masterpiece Knits: The Modern Collection plus a skein of Dragonfly Fibers yarn to make the Picasso Socks is Ruth, who has been contacted. Thanks to everyone who left a comment to be entered in the drawing.

I recently needed to whip out a pair of quick baby booties as a gift for a soon-to-be-born baby boy, so was cruising around Ravelry, looking for a good quick pattern. I decided on Baby Uggs, a free pattern by Autumn Street that is also available via Craftsy. They are DK weight so I figured they’d go quickly, and they did. I made this pair last Friday night — in one evening:

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I used Mrs. Crosby Carpetbag in the “French Chambray” colorway and the suggested size 5 needles. Note that my little helper is sitting behind the booties in the photo, not messing with them in any way. Do not be fooled. This is my first attempt at a photo:

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Ahem. Anyway, if you need a quick pair of adorable booties, check this pattern out. and speaking of adorable booties, check out this book!

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This is Creature Feetures: 30 Crochet Patterns for Baby Booties by Kristi Simpson, published by Lark Books. I think you can get an idea of how cute it is just from the cover.

As the title indicates, there are 30 patterns by a total of 7 designers, including the editor, for baby booties that are so cute it hurts. The patterns are divided into sections by theme: Out of this World, Wild Animals, Cute Creatures, and Good Enough to Eat. They are all so incredibly cute it is hard to choose favorites, so I picked one pattern from each section to show here.

Some of my faves:

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This is “Beepbot Booties” — robot booties! The pattern is written in two sizes: 0 – 6 months and 6 – 12 months.

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How about “Baa Baa Booties?” How cute are those? They are again available in two sizes

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“Foxy Feet” — so adorable! And these look simple enough so that even I could make them.

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“Scrumptious Sushi” — genius, right?

There is a nice illustrated section of crochet basics at the back of the book so you can brush up on your skills if needed.

This is a great book for quick adorable baby gifts, or to make your baby irresistible to one and all.

Who’d like my review copy?

To be entered in the drawing to win my copy of Creature Feetures: 30 Crochet Patterns for Baby Booties, leave a comment on this post by noon on Wednesday, April 6, 2016.

Here is what I am working on now.

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More about this next time!


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He looks so innocent when he is asleep, doesn’t he? Don’t be fooled.