Photography by Sara Parker
April is here which means Stitches South is just around the corner. This is one of the closest knitting shows to me! I am excited about traveling only for a few hours! This year I’ll only be about halfway done with my pregnancy during the show, where last year I was ready to bust…full term at 37 weeks. Still, not the very best time to be doing a booth set-up & tear down, but that is the life when you’re in a business just-you.
If you’re hitting the show floor, please make time to swing by booth 515 and say hello. I would love to meet you! I always do some sort of promo for those who are aware of my existence before the show, so stay tuned next week to hear what it is.
One thing I also wanted to briefly mention, in case you haven’t noticed, is that I have a brand new website! I love it, and I hope you do too. I’ve added some new features like an FAQ page which includes tons of tricks & tips both dealing with knitting in general, along with specific patterns. You’ll also notice that my web-shop is now miles above what it used to be. I am able to know sell actual things and not just downloads. So, in case you don’t have a shop nearby that’s stocking my patterns, or you’re not able to make it to the shows I attend, you can still buy your hard copy pattern or kit directly from me.
Mad show prep has been going on at my house. Shows are a great motivator for me to get things out, things that I may have been working on for months but just haven’t prioritized. And that’s what happened this time around, too. I’ve just gotten three new patterns out in time to have them printed all pretty and available in my booth. I don’t blog about all my patterns but here’s a peek at these three! They are all so different but so very “me” if I do say so myself.
For grown ups, take a look at the scrumptious River Cowl. I saw this colorway from Dragonfly Fibers at another Stitches Show (I believe it was East back in October) and just fell in LOVE. Luckily for me, Kate was looking to have something cozy worked up in her bulky Super Traveller so she was willing to send me a few skeins to play with. It didn’t take me long to decide it needed cables and here is what happened.
My friend and former college roomy, Kathleen, modeled it for me. She’s so lovely! (And tiny, I try to to forget that she has a baby who is even YOUNGER than Oliver! Geez… Lila appears a little further down in this post)
This cowl is worked on circular needles, sideways. The pattern is written for you to BO, knit, CO and then seam. But, if you’re feeling a little adventurous you can try a provisional cast-on and grafting the ends together. I warn you though, kitchener with a stitch pattern to maintain is no easy feat! The cabling is both fully written & charted so whatever your preference, you’ll easily be able to follow this pattern.
Moving on, let’s take a look at two of my friends precious baby girls modeling the LuLu Headband! Lila is in the pink headband (her mom Kathleen above) and Sydney is in the orange! When these pictures came back from Sara, I grinned ear to ear. I should have brought a tea set for them to play with, don’t you think?
I had actually knit the band of the pink version LAST YEAR. All the while picturing what I’d do to jazz it up. But it took Stitches South coming up to kick me into gear and finally get it finished. Even though the entire project takes all of about 2 hours. Bulky yarn is great.
This project is worked in a few pieces that are then sewn together at the end and capped off with a funky button for the flower “center”. Here’s a look at what happens in the back of the band.
One more pic of the two gypsy princesses for good measure.
Oh and did you notice that Sydney is also wearing the Sweet-As-Pie top? It went so perfectly with her LuLu!
And let’s bring it back to some basics. I finished knitting this piece probably in January. Wrote up the first draft of the pattern, but never managed to get the time to sit down and work out the sizing. Henry Cardigan is simply sweet. Its an easy, beginner friendly top-down raglan cardigan. Please excuse Oliver’s Old Man Hair in this pic. It was my fault, not his.
If you’ve been intimidated by sweater patterns before, I urge you to give this one a try. No fancy techniques are used, and there is no seaming involved. Everything is knit in one piece and you’ll be amazed at what you are fully capable of accomplishing :) You can even leave out the stripes!
I’ve worked garter stitch edging for the hem, buttonband and cuffs. Its not something I use often but I found it to be exactly what I wanted in this design. The pockets are sized just right for a little treasure that your baby might pick up and need to save (whether you want them to or not!).
I can’t ever seem to write a short blog post. Sorry about that. But at least its filled with cute baby eye candy, right?
See you at the show!
In this world of umpteen patterns to choose among, I want to take the time to tell you what you can expect from a pattern that I’ve written. Particularly, those self-published under either the Tot Toppers or When I Grow Up brand.
I am writing this post for several reasons.
1) I want you to know what you are getting.
2) I never want anyone to be disappointed.
3) I want you to know about some of the “whys” behind my decisions of what I do & do not include.
4) I want you to feel some knitter’s freedom!
Okay so let’s begin with my pattern goals and the things that are included.
It probably goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway, just in case. I always want to write error-free patterns. Always. So much so that I pay a technical editor to proofread everything and check my math. Always. Does my error-free pattern happen every time? No. Does errata pop up on occasion? Yes. Do I feel bad when it happens? YES! I feel awful & embarrassed! So if you should be happily knitting along and something does not add up, it could be me and not you. What should you do if you find an error such as this? Please, drop me a note. I always want to know about these things! Even if you are able to figure it out yourself, it would be great for you to let me know so that I can get it corrected for the next person.
Outside of error-free-ness, I strive to write logical and clear patterns. When I choose wording, I am always shooting for the way to say it with the most clarity for the most people. Sometimes it is easier to do this than other times. And, additionally, because people learn and read and understand things differently, what sounds clear to me just might not be the ideal way for you. If I get the same question a few times about a pattern, I might just have placed an additional explanation for you here on my FAQ page. Because you see, even if its not an error, I still want you to be able to figure out what you are doing!
I like to provide a lot of sizes. Whether its a kids design or adult, you’re generally going to see a large size range. In kids stuff, this means you get more bang for your buck if you want it to knit it for more than one child, or more than once for the same child as s/he grows. And in adult stuff, it usually means a better fit because there aren’t huge gaps between each size. The downside of more sizes is that sometimes it can make patterns a bit harder to follow because there are lots of numbers. It can also lead to situations with less clarity because the way something is worked in the smallest size won’t work with the largest size included, so you might see notes like “XXX sizes only” in front of a particular section. It is always helpful to take a highlighter to your pattern and find everything that’s happening in your size before you are knitting it.
Options! I also like to provide design options when they make sense. Ollie Romper, for example, includes options for short sleeves, long sleeves, shorts or long pants. Options are great because they allow for you to really make something your own.
Minimal finishing. I know how much knitters love seaming and picking up stitches :) so I set things up so you have as little of this to do as possible. Does this mean that none of my patterns include seaming? Nope! Because sometimes, no matter how much you object, seaming is actually the best way. It could be for stability factors, or construction factors, etc. It is still up to you whether you want to decide to change something seamed to a seamless construction-this is your choice!
I will explain to you the abbreviations that are used. Patterns include keys. The more common abbreviations that are used are on the bottom of the back page of your pattern. But if something is more unusual I will put a description and/or instructions for it in a “special abbreviations” section before the pattern cast-on. You should always be able to know what you are reading without having to go to an outside source.
In my opinion, all the above mentioned stuff is a sure a lot! But, there are some limitations into what I can provide in a single pattern format. And I want to be transparent and up front about that.
Here are my limitations.
Technical Instruction: While some patterns might be noted “beginner friendly,” this does not mean that the pattern itself is going to teach you how to knit or how to follow a pattern. I do not attempt to write out “how-to’s” in a single pattern. If a common knitting technique is used but you are not familiar with it, consider it your chance to do a little research and broaden your knitting knowledge! I still think books are best for this. I have Vogue’s “The Ultimate Knitting Book” and it is priceless to me. I learned so much from that book. And still there are things that I’ll come upon and have to look up. I like having a knitting library at my fingertips. The photos and explanations that are included are so much more than what I could feasibly include in a single pattern. If you don’t have books though, you do have access to google! Put that “provisional cast on” term in your search bar and go to town! You’ll probably be able to find videos and loads of website explanations, again, MUCH more useful stuff that what I could put in a 2 page pattern. I want you to learn to be a better knitter and so its wonderful for you to choose a pattern a little out of your experience range that will challenge you and help you learn, but, please understand that I will not be available to teach you myself outside of what is already included in the written pattern.
Immediate & unlimited access: Please understand that purchasing a pattern does not grant you immediate Kate-access. I try very hard to answer every e-mail (even if it is to let you know that google will be of more help to you than I will) but it does sometimes take a few days. That is why I really think its better for you to exhaust other options–google, Ravelry forum, FAQ page–before you shoot me that e-mail. My general policy is that I will get back to you within three business days. Writing me more than once in that time period is not going to make things go any faster. And, please note that if you are asking me for support for something that is included here in the “limitations” section, my reply will probably be to kindly link you to this post so that you can see where you can go for further help because it is outside of what I offer.
Sizing support: I know that sometimes even all the sizing I provide does not perfectly suit your needs. It could be that you want to make just the arms bigger on a sweater. Or maybe you are trying to add an entirely new size to the design. Either way, this is not something I am able to provide help with at this time. It has taken me years to learn what I know about sizing but that does not mean that it is effortless. On the contrary, it is truly a process every time I write up a new pattern. If you’re working on a hat, definitely check out the Math for Hats booklet, as this will walk you through these particular sizing issues.
Help with modifications: Maybe you like a sweater design but have a different idea for the collar. I can’t wait to see what you will do! I truly encourage this kind of experimentation and it doesn’t bother me in the slightest to see you make these modifications. But, as to figuring out how to make these changes, you’ll need to look elsewhere for instruction.
I do not always tell you exactly what to do: This is the “freedom” part I mentioned at the beginning! In general, the higher experience level a pattern is geared toward, the more choices and options there might be to accomplish the same (or just as lovely) outcome. While newer knitters might find it frustrating to not be told a “right answer” in the particular scenario, more experienced knitters learn that this simply means that the “right answer” doesn’t exist and instead they can use whatever technique with which they are most comfortable. For increasing, some knitters might prefer a M1 st, while others like to kf&b. Some might like to use a cable cast-on where others would choose a knitted cast-on. If I choose to not tell you what precise method to use, it means that more than one thing will work and you should pick what suits you best. Think of it similarly to when a pattern gives you both a chart and the accompanying written options–some might like the chart where others would gravitate to the written instructions. But they will both produce an outcome that works so it doesn’t matter which one is used!
Perhaps you are thinking I am not a very helpful person at all! I really hope you don’t believe this to be the case. If I had the time, I would love to help everyone with everything. But the truth is, I have a business and a good size family and in order for these two things to run properly, I have to set some limits which means making decisions on what is reasonable for me to provide you for your pattern fee. TT & WIGU are just me! I don’t have anybody else answering e-mails, there is no conglomerate. If you see someone working a show booth with me, they are a friend or family that has been roped in and most likely have their own job once we go back home. You might fire off an e-mail thinking it will take me just a moment to answer, when in reality, it requires me pulling up a pattern that I haven’t looked at in a year, familiarizing myself with it enough to answer you as thoroughly as needed. Still, on its own, that e-mail might only take 5 minutes, but when you add up the many e-mails I do get, you hopefully will understand why responses aren’t immediate and also why the more time-consuming responses (like I’ve mentioned here in the limitations section) just cannot take place.
I love designing patterns. 10 years ago if someone told me this would be such a big part of my life, I’d have given them the stank eye :) (I think my parents might still be reeling, actually!) I hope this post is helpful to you in understanding a little bit more about me and my perspective on this particular J-O-B, and how I manage my various responsibilities.
News! Exciting! Woo hoo! Morning Coffee starring in a knitalong with discounts & prizes.
Its been a couple of years since my last knitalong and it’s really about time. I was thrilled at the reception of my latest design, Morning Coffee (get it–knitalong with Joe–bahahahaha, please don’t be disappointed that there isn’t really a “joe”) and so it inspired me to put this one together. I’ve been hammering out the details ever since the pattern was released and finally, they have all come together and I can share them and then you can join me! Let me tell you a little bit about the design, and then I’ll get to the KAL details.
I was sent a charming little mini-skein of the brand new Lorna’s Laces yarn, Haymarket, last fall. LL was looking for some designs to show at TNNA earlier this month. The comfy-perfect-for-everything cardi idea had been swimming around in my head for quite some time, and once I smushed this yarn I just new it was a magical fit. Haymarket is so soft & cozy. Just like my sweater needed to be.
MC is worked top-down with raglan style sleeves. I love top-down because its so much easier to judge the length of the garment when you can try it on.
I went with reverse stockinette as the background for the sweater. But of course, since you’re working back and forth, its the same amount of knitting and purling as it would be if the background was instead stockinette. Cables adorn each front and the back.
The sleeves are worked in a rib pattern. I’m particularly proud of this because the rib makes them very generous–I hear from a lot of knitters that it is hard to get a good fit in a sleeve (many women seem to have upper arms that are larger than the standard for their chest size–me included) so not only do I love how the rib looks, I also love that it makes the sleeve fit flexible.
The sleeves are cuffed with some more cables that are mini-versions of the fronts.
Back to the body of the sweater–the sides are shaped and right at the waist are some more cables. So flattering!
So after hearing & seeing all about it, you’re ready to go, right? Here’s what’s going on with the knitalong. First, discounts, then keep scrolling for prize info.
First, I want to thank the Little Knits yarn shop in Seattle for being an amazing KAL sponsor. Little Knits is offering a fabulous discount for you to knit with the new and yummy Haymarket yarn! They have over 25 colors available including Byrne, which my sample featured.
- 10% off your total purchase PLUS free shipping within the contiguous United States, you will receive these orders before our KAL begins. They will also have hard copies of the pattern available that you can include in your purchase.
To order from Little Knits, visit their website and checkout with the code “morningkal”. This yarn is BRAND SPANKING NEW so the shop will be turning it around for you as quickly as possible, but its actually in transit from Lorna’s to the shop at the moment :) I’ll be sure to let you know in the KAL thread as soon as they receive the yarn and have it up on their site. And, I’ll post a list of available colors so you can start drooling.
Second, of course I’ll offer you a discount, too. Since you’ll need the MC pattern to knit with us, I will give you 25% off the PDF pattern if you purchase prior to the start of the KAL. The code to use for this discount is “knitalong”, feel free to redeem immediately. (If you’ve already purchased the pattern, no worries, please shoot an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org noting the e-mail address with which you checked out and I’ll refund you that 25%)
This knitalong also has PRIZES :) To be eligible to win a prize, you just need to participate by posting at least one photo of your sweater-in-progress knit in the yarn of your choice, at least one-inch along in the KAL thread, which is stickied in the Tot Toppers & When I Grow Up Ravelry Group. You’ll get more entries (for a greater chance to win) the further along you get with your sweater.
- One entry given for sweaters at least 1-inch.
- A total of two entries will be given for knitters who post photos of sweaters past the split for the sleeves.
- A total of three entries will given for sweaters that are worked all the way to the bind-off at the body.
- A total of four entries for completed sweaters with sleeves and collars and buttonbands.
Winners will be picked randomly among participants at the end of the official KAL time frame for the following prizes.
One Grand Prize: 2 skeins of Haymarket in Byrne (the color of my sweater sample), a hard copy of Topped for Another Year (my latest pattern booklet release), plus 5 free PDF knitting patterns of your choice from either of my lines.
Two Runner Up Prizes: Both Topped for a Year and Topped for Another Year e-books, plus 3 free PDF knitting patterns of your choice from either of my lines.
Three Not-Really-Boobie-Prizes: 2 free PDF knitting patterns of your choice from either of my lines.
So that’s a total of 6 winners, y’all!
Finally, let me tell you when we will be getting officially underway. The knitalong thread is underway so that everyone can chat about yarn, colors, swatches and whatnot. Cast-on day is March 14th! Prize-drawing day will be April 30th. Don’t fret, the thread will remain open as long as its active so its OK if you don’t work your final bind-off by the end of April.
In case discounts and prizes don’t seal the deal for you, let me tell you the best things about KALs. They are great opportunities to take on a challenge; you’ll be surrounded by knitters working exactly what you’re working which provides a ton of help. Not to mention the designer is at your service. Whether you’re knitting your first sweater or your 50th, you’ll be inspired by others progress and color choices. And, you can even experiment with pattern modifications with all sorts of camaraderie and feedback. When you finish, so many pats on the back will abound!
I really hope you’ll join us. I love “meeting” knitters through knitalongs and you’ve got time to prep, order yarn, swatch and even clear your needles a bit so you can be ready-ready on the 14th. I’ll also be looking forward to seeing the results of St. Patty’s day knitting… :P