I have some lovely, lovely yarn for you. Recently, the fine folks at Aslan Trends contacted me and wanted to know if I was interested in reviewing their Royal Alpaca yarn and hosting a giveaway on my blog. Of course I was! I received two skeins of Royal Alpaca and began swatching one of the skeins; the other is for one of you.
First, the nitty gritty details (from the ball band):
Fiber Composition: 100% Royal Alpaca Wool (19-19.5 microns, for those of you who might want those details)
Put Up: Approx. 220 yards/200 meters; 100 g/3.5 oz
Gauge: 5 sts/in on US 6-8/4-5 mm needles
Care: Hand wash in cold water using mild soap, lay flat to dry.
I started swatching in plain old stockinette stitch. Oh, how I enjoyed knitting with this yarn. The yarn is soft, without being too delicate (You know what I mean. So soft that it pills if you look at it wrong.), and does not have a tendency to split.
Sweet, simple stockinette.
After stockinette, I played around with some lace.
Lace looks really good in this yarn. I would stay away from super small stitch patterns, but larger lace motifs would look great!
Lastly, I swatched a rib and cable pattern.
Ooh, look at those pretty cables!
This was my first time knitting with Royal Alpaca, and I was impressed. It is a yarn that shows off stitches nicely and is a pleasure to knit.
I have a skein for you to try, too. All of my swatches were knit with the color, Sable, but the skein I have for you is Crimson.
There are loads of super patterns that you could knit with one skein of Royal Alpaca. I think all of these are fantastic: Beau Cloche by Natalie Larson, Debaser by Meghan Jackson, Maize by tincanknits, A Loved Thing by Caitlin ffrench, or Ferryboat Mitts by Churchmouse Yarns and Teas.
To win this skein of Crimson, leave a comment and let me know what you would knit with one skein of Royal Alpaca. Is it something I mentioned above or some other little pretty item? I will close the comments at 10 am (EST) April 4th and will choose a winner by random then.
This is the Star House Cowl in the latest issue of Interweave Knits.
It's a lace cowl with tiers of picot edges. When the call to submit came out last year, I knew immediately what I wanted to do. I had used this particular lace pattern before in a swatch, and I felt the lace and picots were meant to be together. However, that swatch didn't work for a number of reasons. When worked flat, the lace pattern creates a biased fabric and makes the edges of the piece asymmetrical, but when worked in the round, the lace creates a great geometric, but still very feminine, fabric. I combined this lace pattern with a technique found in a German stitch dictionary which alternates lace with picot tiers. Creating a mash up of these two stitch patterns resulted in the cowl seen above.
The project calls for Sweet Georgia Merino Silk Aran, which was the yarn I used for the swatch I sent to Interweave for the submision. It's a worsted weight yarn with great sheen and drape. If you're looking to substitute yarns, I would suggest staying away from a single ply yarn. The technique to create the picot tiers has you pick up stitches from several rounds below, and I think using a single ply yarn would make this more difficult than it needs to be.
I love the technique for the picot tiers, and I can pretty confidently say it won't be the last you see this from me.
Yesterday was Liam's first Pinewood Derby. If you're not into the Cub Scout thing, the Pinewood Derby is a car race where the scout builds his own race car from a block of wood. Liam and Doug spent the past few weekends building Liam's car. Liam did some of the sanding and painting of the car. He also made all of the design decisions for his car. It had to be like a tiger; he wanted black with orange stripes.
You can see his black and orange striped car above.
We bundled up and braved the snowy roads for the race. Each car races in 8 heats, and the average speed of the 8 heats determines the winners.
He was into it. He sat and watched each one of the 58 heats.
He won 4 of his 8 heats and finished 10th overall. He enjoyed his first Derby so much. The planning for next year's car has already begun.
I don't have much time to knit patterns by other people anymore. Still, I usually have a small project on the needles that doesn't require much thought from me other than knit or purl. These small projects are usually projects that I work on when I'm working at the LYS. A project I can pick up and put down without getting hopelessly lost and that is knit with a yarn we have in stock at the store.
I snapped this pic on the webcam today. This is my current pick up and go project.
Gasp! It's me. I'm usually behind the camera.
The pattern is Buttermilk Sky by Bonnie Sennott. The yarn I'm using is Cascade Eco Duo in Vanilla. It's so soft and squishy and cozy. I'm finishing up the ribbing on the top edge, and then I'll be searching for another small project to work on in my spare time.
In 2013, I didn't do too much self-publishing. Most of my work this year has been for third party publishers. As I build this little business of mine, I'm still trying to find the best balance for me between self-publishing and publishing with others. I like working with others and think that some combination between the two are what's right for me.
Looking at what I've published this year, I felt like I was way more busy than this actually shows, and then I stopped to think. I have two designs that I did this year that are still waiting to be published. One will come out in the beginning of 2014, and the other will be out sometime in the next year or so. I have two more commissioned designs for publication for 2014 already. I have another self-published pattern that will be out early in 2014 too. And, I have my two little people. First grade homework, IEP meetings, Cub Scouts, dance classes, preschool parties. So, yes, I was busier than that picture reflects.
2013 has been my most successful year in the knit design world, and for this, I am so thankful. Thankful for a career that lets me stay at home with my kids and lets me work on my own time. Thankful for all of the wonderful people in this industry I've met over this past year. Thankful to all of the wonderful knitters who decide to knit one of my patterns.
Earlier this year, I started working on updating my very first pattern, Holden. Quite frankly, looking at the original version made me want to throw it in the fire. Since it was my first pattern, I hadn't yet established my pattern writing style, and the pattern just did not meet my current standards (in any conceivable way). I also added additional sizes for the shawl and added a lace weight version.
The new, updated version of Holden is available today.
This is the large size of the shawl, and it's quite large. You can see my sister has the shawl tied around her neck. It's really beautiful worn this way. The large shawl takes almost 2 full skeins of Malabrigo Sock, shown here in the color Cote d' Azure.
This is the medium version which was knit in Malabrigo Lace; you'll need 2 skeins of yarn for this one as it took a full skein and a little less than half of the second. The color here is Emerald Blue. This is a nice size shawl, not too large, not small like a shawlette. I was wearing this shawl when I was at Rhinebeck.
Here's the small size, which is also the original Holden. It takes one skein of Malabrigo Sock, shown here in the color Aguas.
With all of these changes, the pattern is no longer free. Besides adding the different sizes, I redid the chart and rewrote the written instructions. The written instructions are so much better than they were before. Oh so much better. I also had the pattern professionally tech edited by Heather Zoppetti.