8.02.2017

Contexta Afghan Available for ALL!

I cannot believe it has been a year since I released Knitting Texture with Craftsy! Well, it has been, so that means I can release Contexta as an individual pattern!

This version of Contexta has a little edition... the world's easiest Octagon with no texture at all!
I added this as a friend of mine needed Contexta to be as easy as it possibly could be! At last report she is addicted to making the mitered squares for it and hasn't started any Octagons.

The Contexta Friendship SWAP we had last Fall was AMAZING... out of the SWAP 23 new blankets were created (or are in process!), AND a Contexta Octagon Expansion Pack was born with 7 new Octagon designs in it. All proceeds from the Expansion Pack are being donated to cancer research, and I'm proud to say that we've already donated $625! Awesome! (You can read more about the project here.)

Contexta was originally designed and knit in Cloudborn Superwash Merino Twist, which was fabulous to knit with, but I always wanted to see Contexta knit in a non-superwash hand-dyed yarn. Luckily my buddy Jill's Mom, Gail, decided she needed to knit a Contexta in Jill's yarn, Windham. Want to see? Isn't it STUNNING?

Windham is a worsted weight, non superwash wool that is locally sourced, milled and dyed. Y'all this is yarn you can feel good about!

Jill and her mom are so thrilled with Contexta that Jill decided to make kits for it!
(Also she is offering a discount on Windham if you want to choose your own colors).
Just use the code BlanketFort at Checkout!

Check out these gorgeous choices:
I anticipate that some of you might ask about care for a non-superwash blanket.... but here's the thing, I wouldn't put my Contexta knit in Cloudborn  in the washing machine and dryer. When it is time to clean it I'll soak it in the bathtub, spin it out in the washing machine and then lay it out to dry. This can be done on my deck on a sheet on a warm/dry day.... or on a sheet on my guest room bed on a wet day. The trick is to really spin out the extra moisture in the washing machine, and then to flip it once or twice (and change the sheet underneath if it is really damp) as it dried. Machine washing and drying anything causes extra wear and tear and I want my blanket to last for as long as possible!

Finally, entirely by accident this is my first blog post in over 2 months... whoops! I'm determined to start blogging more,  I've promised to journal my travels to Shetland and France (which is a few blog posts) and I've got a lot more to share too!

5.10.2017

Hring Scarf and a New Beaded Cast On!

The next Lola's Choice kit shipped last week... I have been so excited for it to land in people's mailbox! Hring Scarf incorporates a the Bird's Eye stitch (a traditional Shetland Lace) which I have been obsessed with all spring....
The stitch makes a fabulous lacy scarf, but it isn’t the easiest to work… so I made two options for this scarf! You can work the Hring Stitch and be a bit challenged, or you can go easy on yourself and work the eyelet stitch. It is totally up to you!

I used IndigoDragonFly's Alternative Flax (aka Linen Silk) in Peony, a color Kim developed for Hring... it is the perfect spring summer scarf yarn, and I know I'll be packing mine for our adventures this summer!

You might have noticed I developed a new beaded lace cast on for Hring as I adore the way the beads help the scarf lay at each end!



If you want to sign up for Lola's Choice (my mini kit club that ships bi-monthly), that is easy to do... just go here and read all about it!

Hring is also available as a single pattern, but if you want a Hring kit you need to e-mail me, I don't have alot left and if you sign up for Lola's Choice the first kit you will receive is in July!

4.27.2017

Finishing Options for Creatrix: Beaded Picot and Lace Bind Off!

YEAH! If you are reading this post it must mean you are almost ready to bind off your Creatrix MKAL! (Spoiler Alert: If you read/watch ahead you will see bits of Creatrix, so if you want to keep the mystery going don't watch these just yet!)

First Off, you'll see in the pattern that I give you 2 options for binding off Creatrix, a Beaded Picot Bind Off, and a Beaded Lace Bind Off!

Watch this video to learn more about them:



Here's a video tutorial for the Beaded Picot Bind Off (done with Size 6 beads):



Here's a video tutorial for the Beaded Lace Bind Off (done with Size 6 beads):


Remember... you can work either of these bind off's without beads, just skip the placing bead step.

Thankyou again and again for playing with me on this! I hope you enjoyed yourself and learned a ton!

4.20.2017

Video Tutorial: Short Rows (German and Wrap & Turn)

Every so often a design of mine demands short rows.... I write the detailed instructions into my patterns but sometimes a little extra help is necessary to understand the maneuvers. So, here are quick videos for the two types of short rows I use the most!

First off, what is a short row? 
A short row is a partial row of knitting that allows you to shape your knit fabric by adding more (or less) rows to your work.

German Short Rows (sometimes called Yarn Over Short Rows)
I use German Short Rows when I am working stockinette stitch as I find that they hide themselves beautifully in the fabric.



Wrap and Turn Short Rows
I use w&t (wrap and turn) short rows when I am working garter stitch as you don't need to pick up the wrap because it gets hidden in the garter ridges.



These are only two of many different ways of working Short Rows. There are also Japanese Short Rows, Shadow Wraps, and more.

Want to learn more about Short Rows? Carol Feller has an EXCELLENT short free class on Craftsy, a longer more indepth class, and a STUNNING book all about Short Rows. I suggest checking them out if you want to expand your short row knowledge further!

4.11.2017

Knit Ireland! with Laura Nelkin April 2018!

April 21st - 30th, 2018
SOLD OUT! Please sign up for my mailing list if you want to hear about future trips!

Many of you know I visited Ireland with my family last summer.... it turned out to be a bit of a scouting trip and I've put together a knitting adventure for us to take together! Ireland is gorgeous and full of opportunity! I can't wait to knit and learn and explore the western shore of the country with you!

Day 1: Arrive in Shannon and travel to Killarney's Lake Hotel (with a scrummy lunch stop along the way). We'll be starting our adventure retreat "style" with Carol Feller, knitting and chatting and then follow that with a fantastic group dinner. The Lake Hotel has a the ruins of a 12th century castle and overlooks Killarney Lake... we'll knit, get to know each other, and rejuvenate from our travels in comfort!
View from the dining room of The Lake Hotel!
Day 2: We'll start our day with a true Irish breakfast and then have a knitting workshop with Carol Feller, lunch and a bit 'o shopping in Killarney and then a Jaunting Car Ride in Killarney National Park!

Day 3: Group breakfast, and then head out on a Ring of Kerry tour around the stunning Iveargh Peninsula and end the day with a visit and tour of the Kerry Woollen Mills.

Day 4: Another yummy Breakfast, a quick visit to Hedgehog Fibres in Cork, and then lunch and exploring Bunratty Castle and Folk Park, and then onto Galway for a lovely group dinner in our hotel at the Harbor!
The color wall at Hedgehog!
Day 5: Craft in Connemara day (starts with Breakfast!)! Tour of Connemara with a visit to Spiddal Craft and Design Centre and a basket making workshop with Ciaran Hogan, then onto Kylemore Abbey, finally a visit to a traditional working Sheep Farm, the Glen Keen Sheep Farm. The evening is your own... we may decide to head into town and catch a traditional Irish Music session in any one of Galway’s traditional pubs or simply relax in the hotel.
Day 6:  We'll have breakfast and then head out to visit to the National Museum of Country Life (optional) and then have an afternoon workshop with the iconic Anne O'Maille and visit her knitting store in Galway.

Day 7: After Breakfast (sense a theme here?) we will flight or ferry to Inis Oírr in the Aran Islands. On the island we will be met by Una McDonagh and treated to a workshop on traditional knitting methods and Aran Island stitches at the Aras Eanna Art and Craft Centre. We'll be staying at B &B's on the island and have an opportunity to get to know our hosts and learn about island life! The day ends with a sumptuous group dinner at a local restaurant!

Day 8: First, breakfast, then we'll ferry over to Inis Mór (the largest of the Aran Islands) and have a guided tour that includes the impressive fort of Dún Aonghasa. Then we'll head for lunch at a local restaurant and visit some of the knitwear shops on the island. In the afternoon we'll take the ferry back to Inis Oírr and have a St Bridgets Cross Making workshop with Una! Another yummy dinner is scheduled for the group!

Day 9: BREAKFAST! And then we'll ferry over to Doolin where we will take a short tour of the Burren and learn about the region, we'll visit Poulnabrone Portal Tomb, Cliffs of Moher for lunch and a wee hike, and then travel through the charming village of Fanore. We will then head to Dromoland Castle for our last night together! I needed us to stay in a castle before heading home... a delicious meal is planned for our farewell dinner.
Day 10: LAST BREAKFAST, and then it is time to head to the airport for our journey's home... (insert sad face here).

The Tour includes :
  • Transfers on arrival and departure by private coach
  • Sightseeing as per itinerary in a luxury coach with an experienced driver and licensed guide and Laura Nelkin, knitting designer and teacher
  • Accommodation in rooms with private facilities for 9 Nights (single supplement  €649/extra)
  • Irish breakfast daily, 5 lunches, 4 dinners, 1 farewell dinner
  • Entrance to all museums and attractions per itinerary
  • Aran Islands Ferry Fees
Workshops/Knitting Activities Included in This Tour:
  • Dinner and knitting Workshop with Carol Feller (including a copy of Carol’s Book – Contemporary Irish Knits)
  • Knitting Workshop with Anne O’Maille
  • Knitting Workshop with Una McDonagh & Mairead Sharry
  • Saint Bridget Cross Making Workshop
  • Kerry Woollen Mills Factory Tour
  • Eye of God Willow Cross Making Workshop with Ciaran Hogan
VERY Detailed Itinerary and sign up form available, e-mail Laura for more details!

3.21.2017

My Friendship Contexta and a New Expansion Pack!

Last June after Knit Texture launched we had an Octagon swap for Contexta in my Ravelry group... I signed up to swap 13 Octagons and received 16 in return! The results of this incredible project are below.... read on!
I designed a heart Octagon for my buddies, they were my summer/fall travel knitting, and went all over with me! I knit Contexta Octagons everywhere... in Iceland, Ireland, Scotland, in Cayuga Lake (literally), camping and then went I got home I sent them all to their new homes.

To ensure that everyone's Swap Octagons would go well together I had us all use Cloudborn Superwash Merino Twist in a select list of neutral colors... I just knew that with a swap our Afghans could lend up looking a wee bit disconnected if people could use any worsted weight yarn or color! I decided to knit all my squares and work the border in Jill Draper Makes Stuff Hudson in Petrified Wood. I am SUPER happy with my decision as I adore mixing this neutral hand-dye with the Cloudborn!
HUGE Thankyou to: Carol, Kelly, Debbie, Debby, Kathy, Justine, Helene, Kathy, Kayleen, Laurel, Dawn, Chari, Susan, Lori, Susi and Crystal you have all helped me make one of my most treasured creations! We'll be snuggling together for years to come!
Many of the swaps members got so inspired by the class, swap and pattern that they designed their own Octagons for the swap so people would know who knit them, how cool is that?

As soon as people starting seeing each others designs they wanted to knit them, so we decided to put together an Octagon Expansion pack for Contexta with new Octagons from Carol, Kelly, Melanie, Simone, Chari, Debbie, and myself! That means that there are now 13 Contexta Octagon designs to choose from! Aren't these beautiful? I adore each and every one!
 
Unfortunately a few of our dear knitting friends have been struggling with cancer as of late, so we have decided that all monies raised from the sale of the Octagon Expansion Pack (after paypal fees and taxes) will be donated to The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, The American Cancer Society and LiveStrong

Links
Expansion Pack for Contexta 
Note: These are only Octagon patterns, you will still need the complete Contexta pattern available in Laura’s Craftsy class Knit Texture.
Knit Texture- 50% off 
Read More About the Swap

3.08.2017

Knit Ithaca! Nov 10-13th, 2017

SOLD OUT FOR 2017!!! WOOT WOOT!

Who wants to come on a knitting retreat with me and Kate Atherley in my hometown of Ithaca, NY?


I’ve planned an extra special intimate weekend with lots of time to expand our knitting knowledge, explore the Finger Lakes Region, eat great food, taste our local wines and spirits, and knit together! We’ll be based at the brand new Marriott, right at the base of The Commons in Ithaca, NY. This means there are a plethora of amazing restaurants, shopping, coffee, used book stores, craft galleries, bars AND BEST YET? A yarn store right across the street!

On Saturday Kate and I will each be teaching a brand new class, and on Sunday  we'll be heading out on a Taste of Cayuga Lake Tour.

Go here to read more and download a comprehensive brochure with the full schedule.

Let me know if you have questions! I'm happy to clarify!!!!

ETA: The retreat sold out in record time! Go here if you want to get on the waiting list!

2.18.2017

I've been dying to show you... (and a Giveaway!)

You might have heard we had a dyeing swap this winter in my Ravelry group.... I love hosting swaps that engender learning (and yarn!!!!)

In my past career I used to dye (alot) but I did precision vat dyeing with the goal of achieving the exact same results every time. I did a little bit of "creative" dyeing for weaving projects, but it had been a long time since I just played with dye.

The first thing I did was sign up for Sarah Eyre's Professional Yarn Dyeing at Home on Craftsy
 (this link will get you the class for 25% off, it is a coupon code that is applied at checkout).
 
Then I started reading EVERY POST all the other members of the swap wrote, and I learned a ton just by seeing/reading about their trial and error!

Right around the same time Felicia Lo from Sweet Georgia released a great resource on dyeing.. Dyeing to Spin and Knit
So, I bought that and started reading! Sarah teaches dyeing techniques in a loose and artful way that encouraged me to play. Felicia's book explained the science behind dyeing and had techniques that required precision. This combination of these two resources turned out to be perfect for me.

In the meantime I gathered supplies, some Acid Dyes and Citric Acid from Dharma Trading, some undyed 75% BFL (blue faced leicester)/25% nylon sock yarn (also from Dharma Trading) and some undyed Meridian from Karen at Seven Sisters Fiber Arts. Luckily in December I got an Instant Pot (which I love, and deserves it's own blog post) which meant I could dedicate our old slow cooker to yarn dyeing...
I kept watching and reading and learning, but totally procrastinated on the dyeing until last Saturday when I finally dove in! (and oh my goodness I had FUN!) In less than 3 hours I had 4 totally unique skeins dyed, I played with speckle dyeing, veil dyeing, low water immersion dyeing, and resist dyeing.


You'll notice that all my skeins are green, that's because my swapmate Lois (who was easy to stalk) LOVES green.... the perfect color to dye given the grey winter we are having! For those of you who are interested, I used 601 Sun Yellow, 624 Turquoise, 626 Navy Blue.

Skein of yarn I sent to my swapmate Lois!
I can tell that starting to dye yarn is a rabbit hole of good times! I purposefully didn't write down exactly what I did as I have no intentions of recreating these skeins, but I do give a short explanation here. I have a DEEP respect for dyers who can consistently replicate their colorways, particularly speckled and veil dyed ones. Just imagine the amount of skill it takes to dye uniform sweater quantities!!! If I had intentions of dyeing another one of Lois' skeins I should have written down what I did and measured as I went...

So, I've got a little giveaway for y'all! Who wants to win a 460 yard skein of sock yarn I dyed (75% BFL /25% nylon sock yarn) AND a copy of Felicia's new book Dyeing to Spin and Knit?

Just leave a comment below sharing a bit about your dyeing experiences with me (it's ok if you don't have any, just say that!) Don't forget to leave a way to get in touch with you... I'll keep comments open through Feb 22nd and announce a winner here!

Congrats to the winner....
I've been following everyone's inspiring dyeing adventures. Totally cool! I haven't done much dyeing and have a couple DIY projects planned for March. But after seeing the wonderful snow dyeing results and how rapidly the snow is melting, I decided to do a little experiment with Wilton's violet on some roving this morning. Eagerly awaiting the results. So much to learn!

Ravelry ID: dmbellantone

2.09.2017

Vindur and Gola: Choosing a Size and Modifying for Your Body Shape!

Have you seen my new sweaters Vindur and Gola?

They are the same basic pattern, but Vindur is in bulky weight and Gola in DK weight.

Vindur and Gola are constructed in a simple but unusual way: First the right arm is worked from the cuff to the underarm and a short row sleeve cap is worked. Then stitches are provisionally cast on for the front and back. The shoulder is then worked and the stitches are split for neckline shaping. The front and back are worked at the same time and rejoined to work the left shoulder. The front and back stitches are put on holders, and a short row sleeve cap is worked. Next, the left sleeve is worked to the wrist. You then have something that looks like this:

Finally, the sweater is folded in half, and these two halves are joined together by a garter stitch side seam that is worked perpendicularly to them. These start at the hem and end at the cuff of the sleeve joining the front and the back of the sweater and sleeve together.

The first decision you have to make is what size works for your body? 
The pattern includes a detailed schematic (above) and lots of measurements (below) take the time to compare these to YOUR body when choosing a size! 
Grab a measuring tape and measure yourself at your full bust.
Vindur and Gola are designed with 3 inches of positive ease, so choose your size based on your measurement, and the sweater will have 3 inches of each (extra fabric) at the bust and hip.

Example:
If your bust measures 40.5 inches make the Medium, not the Large... the large will be comfortable in the bust area, but the shoulders will be too big.





Example:Here's me in two different sizes of Gola, I have a 32" bust.
This version is an XS and you can see that the shoulder fits perfectly....

This version is a small, you can see that the shoulder drops down a bit, but it is still flattering.

So, you've chosen your size, but how is the length for your body?
This is important.... not everyone has the same waistline and what is flattering on one person is not going to work on another body type.

Example:
My friend Rebecca was totally excited to knit Vindur for Rhinebeck this year, she chose the correct bust size, got gauge, cast on and KNIT... but her torso is WAY longer than the schematic called for and her sweater ended up looking a wee bit short on her. When she knits her next one she is going to add some length.
So, grab a measuring tape. and measure from about an inch below your armpit to where you want the longer side to hit. Then check the schematic (C). The asymmetry is written so that the shorter side (D) is 5 inches less than that. Use the measuring tape to check that measurement as well on your left side.

Example:
You want your sweater to be 2 inches longer (what I think Rebecca should do):

Take your stitch gauge (which is 3 sts per inch for Vindur) and multiply that by 2, which is 6 sts.
So, add 6 sts to your provisional cast on when you set up for each side of the body, VOILA! You now have a sweater that is 2 inches longer!!! 
(If you are working Vindur stitch gauge is 4.25 sts/in so you would add 9 sts)
You will then have extra rows to work on the side panels, so be sure to add those in.

My hips are a bit more generous than allowed for in the schematic, what should I do?
If your hips are more generous, you can make the side panels wider and decrease them down as you go towards the bust. The side panel starts at 3.5 inches at the hip and goes down to 1 inch at the sleeve. Keep an eye on this measurement if you add significant length to your piece as your measurement at your upper hip might be smaller than farther down : )! (I know once my bum is part of the equation this measurement increases)

Example: "Clarissa" is making the Small but her hip is 38 inches without any ease.
Clarissa needs to add in 2 more inches (the small as written has a 39 inch hip with 3 inches ease). Clarissa will add 1 inch to each side panel, if she is making Gola she would add 4 sts to each side panel and for Vindur she would add 3 sts.

But what if you don't want an asymmetrical hemline?
All you have to do is ignore the directions for the hemline shaping…. Then it will go straight across the bottom. I did that with my Vindur for Yoga, you can read more about that in this blog post.


 
Any Questions? 
Ask below... I am happy to help and don't forget there are KAL's for Vindur and Gola in my Ravelry group!
Vindur KAL
Gola KAL

1.06.2017

Vindur Sweater for Yoga

Earlier this fall Karin from Periwinkle Sheep sent me a box of Merino Chunky in Crack in the Pavement that I drooled on at Rhinebeck... (note to self: spend more time drooling on yarn at fiber festivals)
I decided to cast on another Vindur for me (I know, that makes it 3)... because this yarn was made for it, but also because I wanted to make a longer Vindur without an asymmetrical hemline to make it more practical to wear with yoga pants. (The original Vindur is too short for this practical application.)

I easily convinced myself that I could use it as a teaching tool, to show you how simple it is to modify the construction of Vindur for your body!
Here's a little background on the construction of Vindur:
Vindur is a seamless asymmetrical sweater constructed in a simple but unusual way. First the right arm is worked from the cuff to the underarm and a short row sleeve cap is worked. Then stitches are provisionally cast on for the front and back. Then the shoulder is worked and the stitches are split for neckline shaping. The front and back are worked at the same time and rejoined to work the left shoulder. Then the front and back stitches are put on holders, and a short row sleeve cap is worked. Next, the left sleeve is worked to the wrist. Finally, the sweater is folded in half, and these two halves are joined together by a garter stitch side seam that is worked perpendicularly to them. These start at the hem and end at the cuff of the sleeve joining the front and the back of the sweater and sleeve together.

There are 3 major modifications on this Vindur:
1. I made it longer which is SO simple to do. After working the right sleeve I cast on 9 more sts for both the front and back. Since the gauge for Vindur is 3 sts/in, this made it 3 inches longer. 3*3=9 Keep in mind that if you make it longer you'll need a bit more yarn.
2. I took out the Asymmetrical Hemline.... another easy mod! I just didn't do the hemline decreases so it was worked straight across. Again keep in mind that if you take out the asymmetrical hemline you'll need more yarn.

3. The problem with making it longer is that I have hips, and if I worked the side panel as written it would be tight around my bum. So, I added in 4 more sts to the side panel and decreased those down at regular intervals to the armhole. Using a side panel that tapers gives a slightly a-line shape to the sweater.

p.s. also, I'm sure you noticed that all these photos are headless... I was on my way to yoga, so my hair was a mess, and I had no make-up on (and I might have had a giant zit on my forehead).... it's ok, though, as this post is about the sweater, not my face!

p.p.s. Some of you know that a DK weight version of Vindur called Gola will be published later this winter. All these mods will be easily applied to it as well!

p.p.p.s. Karin has Merino Chunky in a REALLY NICE pink on sale, so if you are looking for yarn for a Pink Hug, or Pussy Hats, I highly suggest you snatch some up!