Let There Be Knitting

Lest you suspect that all this book promotion stuff has kept me from my own knitting, let me reassure you that is not the case.

Please allow me to introduce the Sonja Stole, named for record-breaking Norwegian Olympic figure skater Sonja Henie. After her incredible first career as a skater in the 1920s and 1930s, she spent several more years as one of Hollywood’s highest paid actresses. Talk about reinvention!

The stole’s easily memorized lace stitch pattern throughout the body is interspersed with narrow sections of ruching (and these are spaced progressively closer together for added warmth where it wraps around the neck). Each end is finished with a lovely lace border.

Version #1 shown above (17″ wide x 68″ long, blocked) is a rich semisolid teal, made up with lightening speed by Glenna from less than two 400 yd. skeins of Fearless Fibers Laceweight 100% Merino Wool (you can also purchase Deb’s beautiful yarns in larger skeins, which is perfect for this project).

Version #2 is significantly longer (17″ wide x 84″ long), the better to wrap luxuriously around your shoulders on a cold night when moonlight skating is on the agenda. Worked up in just under three skeins of Madeline Tosh Sock (approximately 1,050 yards), it is sumptuously soft and warm.

Both versions of the stole are knit on US Size 6/ 4.0 mm needles, which means that the laceweight merino (Version #1) knits up with open stitches that are light as air, and the fingering weight wool (Version #2) has more substance.

The pattern will be added within the next week or so to both my Ravelry store and to the Pattern page on this site. It will also include directions for a bonus scarf version of Sonja, just because.

Vacation Knitting Results

What Knitting Do You Pack for Vacations?

Aside from an extra bathing suit, flip flops, and a couple of outfits, there wasn’t much I needed for my family vacation in Mexico besides yarn and needles. Sure, I brought a book (Kate Morton’s The Forgotten Garden, which I loved) , but mostly I knew I’d be knitting. Wouldn’t you?

The Best-Laid Plans

I planned to concentrate on the “Knitting While Reading” project mentioned in earlier posts. But on vacation, plans are subject to change, right? Instead, I worked on a new rectangular stole design that I’m calling “Corazon” for its vibrant shade of cherry red (and because I made such great progress on it while in Mexico!). The yarn is Madeline Tosh Sock, and the color is Scarlet (boy, is it ever!).

While Corazon is technically a lace stole, its design is intentionally more solid and less open lace. Although it will have a pretty lace edging, as you work toward the center of the stole, the solid Stockinette ruched sections are spaced closer together for extra warmth around the neck. This will be a warm stole, the kind you’ll want to wrap yourself in when the wind is really howling.

I got nearly half way through while my family was doing things like this:

They had fun and so did I!

Love Bites Up

Love Bites Neckwarmer and Fingerless Gloves

If you’ve been on my Ravelry Designer page within the last 48 hours, you may have noticed that these patterns are up for sale. As promised, you can purchase them as a set for $7.00, or individually for $4.00 apiece.

In addition, way past my bedtime two nights ago I uploaded them to my Pattern Store on this site. The link routes you to PayPal to complete the purchase. I hope you’ll enjoy these projects – because even if you are not a fan of the Twilight books/movies, or the True Blood TV series, this is a project to love for its own sake.

Do Vampires Have A Sense of Humor?

And did you notice those brilliant red “drop of blood” buttons to fasten the neckwarmer? Resistance was futile, but they were selected with tongue firmly in cheek. Equally true for the toothsome (OK, a fang is a fang is a fang) “Shark’s Tooth” lace border that edges both the neckwarmer and the fingerless gloves.

This craze for all things vampire-ish seems to me to demand a sense of humor! That’s also the inspiration behind my cable choice for both projects; the X-O-X-O represents that strange attraction that humans seem to feel for vampires, and vice versa (at least according to the movies and TV shows that feature them).


Do Vampires Knit?

If you are an intermediate skilled knitter, or even an adventurous beginner, the Love Bites ensemble is designed to be only moderately challenging but provides a relatively quick reward for taking your knitting skills to the next level.

And just a reminder; the 1st, 13th, and 25th purchasers of one or both of these patterns will receive a skein (of my choosing) of indie dyed yarn. I’ll PM you so I can get your mailing details! Actually, Christina C. was the very first knitter to bite (hehehe!) when she purchased the neckwarmer two days ago, so she will receive a skein of luscious merino wool from Fearless Fibers.

My Favorite Accessory

In conversation with eyeglasses-wearing, outrageously creative Kim Werker the other day, I began to reflect on my own love for eyeglasses and how they have come to represent, in a couple of weird ways, my own creativity.

Yes, it’s strange, but I feel naked without them. I think better when I’m wearing them, or at the very least when they’re pushed up onto the top of my head, which is where they go when I need to read something.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about a design for a knitted, felted eyeglass case. Something chic but functional. Cruising around Etsy, I saw a couple that are similar to what I have in  mind, such as this lovely horizontal version with a Swarovski crystal button embellishment, created by MaisonMilli:

I also really like this felted one by bonniegoldingpurses:

Those little roses are adorable, and the no-sew aspect is very appealing. Time to put on my creative thinking cap on and see how I can improve upon these ideas!  A hand-knit eyeglass case (or two or three) would be wonderful, and felting seems like the best way to give it some structure to protect the glasses within.

I’ve been wearing glasses since I was two years old, which might explain why it feels so natural to wear them, and so unnatural to face the world without them. At first, their purpose was to correct a lazy eye. One of the many reasons I will always love my mother is that when I was that toddler wearing the pink cat’s-eye glasses (with tiny silver stars in the corners! Fashionable even then, folks…), she worked with me both morning and evening on exercises to strengthen that lazy eye.

I have no recollection of that fluffy kitty I am holding in the photo above. Was it a muff? I am wearing a coat, so it must have been cold out. My favorite doll was my Raggedy Ann, and it’s hard to imagine this stuffed kitten usurping her place in my affections.

I have my mother to thank to this day for my improved vision, for which I am even more grateful knowing that the prevailing wisdom in those Mad Men days was apparently to operate on the lazy eye or risk losing the vision altogether.

Mom nixed the operation and put all her effort into getting that toddler me to concentrate on strengthening the eye muscles through a series of boring but necessary exercises that ultimately worked. Thank you, Mom!

Notwithstanding a brief flirtation with contact lenses in my twenties, I have worn glasses throughout my adult life. While I no longer have that gigantic pair from the 80’s (big shoulder pads and bigger hair were only two symptoms of the craze for everything oversized back then!) with lenses the size of a windshield, it’s obvious from the photo below that my color preferences have been consistent: either red or black frames work for me. I definitely opt for the squinchier variety now, as long as my lineless trifocal prescription can fit into them.

Glasses are definitely my favorite accessory (not counting a hand-knit accessory or garment, of course). And, of course, they bring the world into focus.

Love Bites

Just in time for the release of the third installment of the Twilight movie series (wow, is that ever a franchise!), here is my contribution to the ever-growing library of Twilight-inspired knitting projects. Please say hello to “Love Bites,” a pair of projects that includes a cozy side-buttoned neckwarmer and a pair of practical yet pretty fingerless mitts. The cynical among my readers should feel free to emphasize the “Bites”, while Twilight fans will no doubt prefer to come down on the “Love.” Both groups will undoubtedly pick up on the pun – we have X-O-X-O cables winding around the length of the neckwarmer and running up the back of each mitt, and both projects are embellished with a deliberately fang-like lace edging. 

Each project requires less than one skein of Sundara’s lovely Silky Merino; I used roughly one and a half skeins to complete both. If your own personal Twilight fan wears mitts but not neckwarmers, or the other way around, it’s easy enough to make just one of the projects. Some may consider the set a bit too matchy-matchy; others will love the idea of creating a set that – despite the odds – simply belongs together, just like Bella and Edward. 

The combination of X-O-X-O central cables and an easy sawtooth (ok, yes, ‘fangs’) edging makes this a wonderful pair of projects for the knitter who really wants to master cable and lace skills by tackling an intermediate project. I-cord button loops (and if my choice of little round, red, ‘drop-of-blood’ buttons doesn’t work for you, feel free to choose alternative ones you really love) secure the buttons that run vertically up the edge of the neckwarmer.

Readers of my blog already know that I have a real thing for Sundara’s glorious yarns. The semi-solid colors in this silk and merino blend were the real inspiration for the projects. Her wonderfully subtle palette of dusky reds, purples, and pinks spoke to me of mystery, romance, and forbidden love; this was definitely a project where the yarn itself told me what it wanted to be!

I will release the patterns for the two projects next week. Each pattern will be available separately, either through my blog or from Ravelry, for $4.00. If you prefer to buy the set, there will be a separate link to purchase both together for $7.00. The 1st, 13th, and 25th readers to purchase patterns for either the neckwarmer or the mitts, or for the two combined, will win a skein of fabulous yarn by the indie dyer of my choosing. I’ll PM the winners so you can send me your mailing information.

During the summer months, when I just can’t bear the thought of a pile of heavy knitting making my lap sweat, I love little projects like Love Bites. And even though it’s hard to think about what I want to knit for my holiday gift-giving when both the temperature and the humidity are hovering around 100, the fact remains that I still want to be knitting no matter how hot it gets. And this is just the sort of project I am happy to work on… hope you’ll agree!