Saturday, November 29, 2014

Cable Design with Norah Gaughan at Vogue Knitting Live Chicago

I had a packed schedule this year at Vogue Knitting Live.  I attended four classes and two lectures.  I have already told you about the first class taught by Anna Hrachovec of Mochimochi Land.  Today I'm going to tell you about Norah Gaughan's Lecture "Pattern Stitch Development & Design Possibilities" and her two part class "Cable Design Workshop".  Norah Gaughan is a famous knitting designer and stitch innovator.  She used to sell swatches that would be shown to different clothing companies to help them pick how to design their sweaters.  (All photos in this post are from the class, not the lecture.  Norah knit most of the fabulous swatches that I'm sharing with you.)  

The Lecture

The lecture took place during lunch on the first day.  The room was packed of knitters excited to hear what Norah had to say about her design process.  Norah is inspired by science and nature (she even has a biology undergraduate degree!) as is reflected in her book Knitting Nature: 39 Designs Inspired by Patterns in Nature.  Her designs have really intricate stitch patterns and are full of visual interest.  She is a very bubbly and warm person.  

What were her best design tips?  Swatch and swatch again, you don't have to get it right the first time.  Think about the knitter - complicated tihngs that require constant directions can be hard to knit (*cough* 14 cable hat).  Be determined, but not in a hurry.  

One of my favorite parts of the lecture was when Norah shared the Salvador Dali quote, "Those who do not want to imitate anything produce nothing."  This quote fed into her explanation of where she gets inspiration for her designs.  I can identify with the conflict of wanting to borrow or modify something you've seen without feeling guilty.  I left the lecture feeling totally inspired and excited to learn cable design from her the next day.  

The Class 

I got a seat right up front.  After seeing her lecture the day before I was so excited.  Plus there is a huge stack of handouts waiting for me to flip through. They included charts with different types of cables, exercises to draw cable instructions and extra graph paper.   Yay!  She had such huge smiles that I felt immediately comfortable in front of a legend and so excited.  Plus, I was having a ton of fun taking notes for this blog post by hand.  

I'm practicing drawing and expanding cables
We spent the morning knitting swatches and learning about cables.  In the afternoon, we focused more on designing our own cables.  You can cable ANYTHING, not just stockinette.  We cabled ribbing, twisted stitches, lace... the mix is so cool.  A PKP X PKP is especially cool (and is a motif she uses a lot in her designs.)  

There are so many ways you can design with cables.  I now see them much more like drawing than I ever had before, and can see ways that you can move them in and out of each other.  Norah recommends using a program called "Easy Draw."  I think that my excel methods might be a little complicated for moving huge cables around a design, so I might need to look for something else someday.  

Cabling twisted stitches
Norah color codes her cable charts to make them easier for the knitters.  She also includes vertical lines in the charts that define the edge of what is cabled.  This makes it much easier to visualize what the knitting will look like from the chart.  She also brought post its for us to use to keep place where we were on charts.  

Exercise - draw a line on graph paper and then make the cables to create the line in knitting.
If there is a hole between cables, an extra purl stitch can help alleviate the tension. (See my finger poking through the hole in the photo below.  There is no hole in the orange swatch)  

If you ever get a chance to take a class with Norah Gaughan, DO IT.  I want to take EVERY CLASS I CAN from her now and will absolutely be looking out for conferences she is at in the future.  I am feeling so inspired and would love to update my 14 cable hat design with more deliberate and modified cables.  

My swatch from class - practicing Norah's cables before starting to design our own.  I think the swatching section was really helpful before the design section because it gave us a great starting point. 

Stay tuned, I'm not done telling you about what I did at Vogue Knitting Live, Chicago!  

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Lucky Bowtie

After making a few other bow ties (headband, Lucky 1 and Lentil's), it was time to make THE bow tie for Lucky's first birthday photoshoot.  At least I think it is the bowtie.  This is the first one that I am going to make in the yarn that I used for Lucky's birthday turtlebutt.  I'm hoping that this is the one, but I don't know if I'll end up liking the look of mixing knit and crochet fabric.  

The Free Newborn Crocheted Bow Tie Pattern is simple and the directions are really easy to follow. When I made Lentil's bowtie I was using super bulky yarn with unknown details.  It pooled in an AWESOME way and I loved it.  Will I like it as much as one color with a (thinner) bulky yarn?  I used a double strand Brava Bulky from KnitPicks in Celestial and a size I hook for the first pass.  I probably will need to redo it on a smaller hook and a single strand of yarn, but I wanted to try to recreate Lentil's bowtie as closely as I could.  

I chained 13 stitches because 11 stitches didn't seem to measure 3.25".  Then I realized that my chain was just too tight, so I started over with a looser foundation chain of 11 sts.  

There are many instances where I feel that crocheting is so much faster than knitting.  Maybe it is because the stitches are denser and larger, but this is a perfect little crochet accessory.  

I used 18 g of yarn, ~25 g to complete this little crochet bow tie. Well, it isn't exactly little. It is big enough to fit a grown man! (or at least close.)

Now that I see the final product, I'm working about the shade of blue. What if it is too dark for the photos and you can't tell it is hand made? To my eye it is a little hard to see the stitch definition.... I'll try it on the baby in the morning and then weigh my options.

It was hard to get good definition of the tie in photos.  To see the details in the tie Lucky's face would end up overexposed.  With correct exposure on Lucky's face, you couldn't tell that the tie was crocheted.  Lucky didn't love the bow tie in the test photoshoot anyway... so I decided to simplify things and not use the bow tie on his birthday.  I'm sure that I will find a fun use for it later on!  

Friday, November 21, 2014

The Snowy Penguin Set - Toddler Vest, Hat and Mitts Knitting Patterns

Snowy Penguin Set Knitting Patterns (Vest, Hat and Mitts) - $10.00 

Last week, I shared my Snowy Penguin Vest with you for the first time.  When I started knitting the vest I realized that I might have enough yarn to create an entire Snowy Penguin Set of a Vest, Hat and Mitts!  After all, if I am going to to the trouble to create Lucky his own custom holiday sweater vest doesn't he deserve sweet accessories to match?  I have released these three patterns as my first ever eBook through Ravelry!  You can purchase all 3 patterns in the Snowy Penguin Set for $10, or purchase a single pattern individually: the Snowy Penguin Vest Knitting Pattern for $6.00, the Snowy Penguin Hat Knitting Pattern  for $3.00 and the Snowy Penguin Mitts Knitting Pattern for $3.00.

Snowy Penguin Set Knitting Patterns (Vest, Hat and Mitts) - $10.00 

If you follow me on Facebook then you know that I have a serious yarn stash problem, so any project that would help me completely use up the yarn would be an extra winner.

Materials for the Entire Snowy Penguin Set

  • Needles: US 5 (3.75 mm) – circular needles & double pointed needles.
  • Yarn: 1 ball Cascade 220 Superwash (C1 Color 817; white) and 1 ball of Cascade 220 Superwash Quatro (C2 Color 1954; purple).
  • Vest Sample used 56 g, ~125 yards white; 51 g, ~115 yards purple.
  • Hat Sample used 11 g, ~25 yards white; 35 g, ~77 yards purple.
  • Mitts Sample used 20 g, ~44 yards white; 15 g, ~33 yards purple.
  • Gauge : 24 sts/4” & 28 rows/4” over stranded colorwork in stockinette.
  • Notions: stitch marker to note beginning of round, waste yarn or stitch holder, yarn needles, blocking mats and pins (optional).
  • Finished Sizes: 9-12 Month

A note on yardage:

The samples were knit entirely out of 2 balls of Cascade 220 Superwash (Purple – 101 g, 222 yards with 1 g remaining; White – 87 g, 192 yards).  The colorwork patterns in the hat and mitts were knit with the colors inverted to keep the entire set to two balls of yarn.   If you are worried about yardage, I recommend knitting the ribbed brim of the hat in C1 (CO + 5 ribbed rounds) and switching to C2 as the MC for the chart.

Snowy Penguin Accessories

The Snowy Penguin Mitts are thumb-less toddler mittens that would fit for an entire season.  The Mitts feature the adult penguin on the front and some snowflakes on the back.  

The Snowy Penguin Hat has the penguin family on one side and then graduated snowflakes on the reverse, you have never seen snow look this ordered!  

Finally, the Vest that started it all.  I wanted to create a holiday sweater vest for Lucky that was whimsical and yet applicable for all of winter, not just Christmas.  We have a bit of a penguin ornament collection in our house, so now Mr. Lucky can fit right in with the holiday decor.  The vest features a penguin family on the front surrounded by a snowy day.  The back has a huddle of baby penguins playing in a gentle dusting of snow.  There is nothing cold about this set!  I am looking for a large stuffed bear to wear the vest for the someday when Lucky out grows it!  

I hope that you will enjoy the Snowy Penguin Set as much as I am!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Legs the Penguin

Years ago I created a member of Keith's Pumpkin posse who has been a key feature in our house decor ever since.  We have named this pumpkin "Legs" and he sits and watches over us.  In addition to collecting pumpkins, Keith and I have a bit of a penguin collection so I thought it would be fun to create a penguin companion to Legs.  Until I come up with a better name, I am thrilled to introduce you to Legs the Penguin!

I know that penguins do not normally have long legs, but neither do pumpkins!  This little bit of whimsey has made us so happy that I couldn't wait to start knitting. I'd had this idea in the back of my brain for a while, but when I saw my bird-like sketches of my "dog" in my Design your own Knit toy class with Anna Hrachovec I knew that I had a winner.  I was off and working up these sketches to create the toy that had been in my brain for a long time.  I'm thrilled to share the design of it with you guys today!

Legs the Penguin is a simple toy, but there are some complicated techniques including a modified picot/three needle bindoff and an unusual icord.  Feel free to ask me any questions in the comments section or in the ChemKnits Designs Group on Ravelry, or on the ChemKnits Facebook page.    

  • Size 3 (3.25 mm) double pointed needles or circular with a long enough cable for magic loop.
  • KnitPicks Wool of the Andes Worsted weight yarn in black (Coal; 11 g, 25 yards) white (White; 3g, 7 yards) and yellow (Semolina; 2 g, 5 yards).  
  • Fiber fill to stuff the toy
  • Yarn needle to weave in loose ends and stitch together the components
  • Eyes:  The sample used googly eyes and glue to secure them to Legs the Penguin.  You could also use safety eyes, felt or yarn to create the eyes.  
  • Gauge - tight enough so the stuffing won't show through.
  • Final size: Body 2.5" tall, legs 5" long, wings 2.5" long

Abbreviations and Links to How-To Videos:

The Body
  • In black, cast on 6 sts on 3 needles.  Join to knit in the round.  (Note that this is the BOTTOM of the penguin.)  
  • Round 1 - *K1, Kfb* around (9 sts)
  • Round 2 - KFB around - 18 sts
  • Round 3 - Knit around
  • Round 4 - KFB around - 36 sts
  • Knit 18 rounds in stockinette (K all rounds)
  • Decrease Round 1 - K2, K2tog acorss (27 sts)
  • Decrease Round 2 - K around
  • Decrease Round 3 - K1, K2tog across (18 sts)
  • Decrease Round 4 - K around.  Stuff the penguin head with fiberfill, taking care not to over stuff.  You don't want to see any of the filling through the black stitches.  
  • Decrease Round 5 - K2tog around(9 sts)  
  • Break yarn and pull through remaining stitches.  Weave in any loose ends.  

The Stomach
  • In White, cast on 6 sts across 3 double pointed needles.  Join to knit in the round.  
  • Round 1 - KFB around (12 sts)
  • Round 2 - knit around
  • Round 3 - K1, KFB around (18 sts)
  • Round 4 Knit around
  • Round 5 - K2, Kfb (24 sts)
  • Round 6 - K around
  • Round 7 - K3, Kfb (30 sts)
  • Bind off knit wise.  Cut yarn leaving a 12" tail.  
  • Using the cast on tail, stitch up the hole in the center of the stomach

The Feet (Make 2)
  • In Yellow, cast on 3 sts.  Join to knit in the round.
  • Round 1 - KFB around (6 sts) Divide stitches onto 3 needles.  
  • Round 2 - K around
  • Round 3 - KFB around (12 sts) 
  • Knit 8 Rounds in Stockinette. 
  • Place the first 6 stitches on one needle and the remaining 6 sts on a second needle.
  • The toes of the feet are created through a picot bind off.  You will find the following video of how to do a picot bind off helpful for this step.  Since we are binding off across two pieces of fabric, we are doing a modified three needle bind off.  Whenever it is time to bind off one of the original stitches on a needle, knit together a stitch from the front needle with a stitch on the back needle.  
  • FIRST PICOT: Cast on 2 sts at the beginning of the round (I like the knitted cast on.)  Bind off one stitch.  *Knit 1 stitch from the front needle together with 1 stitch from the back needle, bind off one stitch.*  (The two stitches you cast on are now bound off.)  Repeat from * twice more.  (7 sts)
  • SECOND PICOT: Transfer stitch on right needle back to front left needle.  Cast on 2 stitches with knitted cast on.  Bind off 2 sts.  *Knit 1 stitch from the front needle together with 1 stitch from the back needle, bind off one stitch.* Repeat from * Once more.  (3 sts)
  • THIRD PICOT: Transfer stitch on right needle back to front left needle.  Cast on 2 sts with knitted cast on.  Bid off 2 sts.  Knit 1 stitch from the front needle together with 1 stitch from the back needle, bind off one stitch.   Break yarn and pull though last stitch.  Weave in loose ends.  

Beak - Even though the number of stitches increases, continue to knit as you would an icord.  (Knitting in the round on 2 needles.)
  • In Yellow, cast on 6 sts.
  • Knit 1 icord round.  
  • As icord, K2tog, K2, K2tog (4 sts)
  • Knit 1 round icord.  
  • As icord, K2tog, K2tog (2 sts)
  • Cut yarn with an 8 inch tail and pull thorough remaining stitches.  

Creating the Twists for Wings and Legs - We will make the twists longer than you need and then you can trim them down to fit.
  • Cut a 2 yard pieces of black yarn. 
  • Fold in half and step on one end.  Twist clockwise until there is a lot of tension.
  • Fold the twist in half and release the ends to allow it to twist on itself.
  • Adjust the twist as needed so you have a straight strand.  Secure the loose ends by tying a scrap of yarn across.  
  • Repeat Once more for two twists.  Each twist is ~ 12" long.  

  • Stitch the stomach to the body of the penguin with one edge starting a the center bottom of the body.
  • Stitch the cast on edge of the beak to the body just above the stomach.  
  • Add Eyes:  I like googly eyes but you can also use buttons, safety eyes or embroider eyes onto your penguin.  I glued the googly eyes onto the penguin and then waited for it to dry before continuing.  I recommend doing the eyes first so you can get the placement of wings/legs right.
  • Legs: With a yarn needle, insert one twist through the body in the desired position.  Pull the twist through the body of the penguin so half of the twist is hanging out of either end.  Adjust the legs to the desired length and then insert and secure the hanging ends into the feet.  Use the loose ends of the feet to secure the twist inside the food so it won't pull off.

  • Wings: Each wing is a loop of the twisted yarn.  With a yarn needle, pull the end of the second twist though the body in the desired position.  Pull the twist through the body of the penguin so half of the twist is hanging out of either end.   Next, pull each end of the twist back in the body at the site where they came out until you get wing loops of desired size.
  • Weave in any remaining loose ends and trim anything sticking out.  

Have fun playing with Legs!

Here is Legs the Penguin hanging out with Russet the Pumpkin waiting for his eyes to dry so we could give him wings and legs.

The finished Legs the Penguin hanging out with his buddy who inspired. 

I hope you enjoy your Legs the Penguin!

This this pattern was created by ChemKnits for your personal or charity use. This pattern is not to be replicated, sold or redistributed without permission from ChemKnits. © 2014 ChemKnits