About Woolly Wits

I am a hand-knitting designer and teacher. See and purchase my published designs on Ravelry.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Modern Quilt Inspiration

A Space Odyssey
My newest design, A Space Odyssey, is the latest in a series of knits inspired by modern quilts.  This all began with a Sixth & Spring (the book publishing arm of Vogue Knitting magazine) call for designs for a update to their baby blanket book.  In researching the most popular designs from their first book, I observed that they have big blocks of bright colors.  And, this made me think of modern quilts.

Zigzag Zoom
from 60 More Quick Baby Blankets
from Sixth & Spring
Now, I am not a quilter.  In the back of my mind is the intention to be a quilter, but it has not yet pushed its way forward.  So, I follow the career of Weeks Ringle and build too large a Pinterest board while sticking to my knitting.  But these baby blankets seemed the perfect opportunity to bring the two together.

Escalator Wrap
All My Love
from 60 More Quick Baby Blankets
by Sixth & Spring
The baby blankets were knit last fall, but are only now appearing as the book was released.  My Escalator Wrap design appear first, but is clearly a further exploration of Zigzag Zoom.  I added in more detail (the step outline) and more sophisticated coloration (a gradient set), but they are clearly sequential.
I've not yet played with variation of All My Love, but the concept is floating around my head.

So, we come to A Space Odyssey.  I can't attribute the concept to any one quilt, but it is definitely inspired.  The concepts of modern quilts, use of negative space, no binding/edging, bold blocks of color, etc.  are at play.

I am definitely not done investigating this source for inspiration.  Or even this design.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Some Hygge Pillows



Hygge is a Scandinavian word which describes a quality of coziness that creates a sense of contentment or well-being.  Inspired by a vintage sweater picked up at a Finnish thrift store (see picture at right), my new throw pillow designs feature a color-blocked pattern of gradually shifting jewel tones contrasted with traditional Scandinavian designs. 
TheFinn-ish pillows are made by knitting two squares and rotating the side seam to the middle of the pillow to create color blocked patterning.  The pillow with dark and light stripes is simple enough for a beginner knitter.  The dark-and-light crosses pattern is worked as stranded knitting and is at an intermediate skill level.  Both charted and written instructions are provided for the cross-patterned square.

The heat of July might not be considered the ideal time for a cozy knit, but come November, you'll be glad you got a head start.  And, to encourage you to cast on now, I am offering a dollar off the pattern through Sunday, July 25th at midnight, Central time.  

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

From Katie's Bag

I've had some learning this spring, thanks to a generous gift and a push outside my comfort zone.

While deep into my sock yarn scrap crocheted granny square afghan, I put out a notice to my Wednesday afternoon knitting group that I would be happy to accept any fingering weight yarn leftovers that they'd be willing to pass on.  I only got one response, but it was a doozy.  Katie showed up with a shopping bag full of yarn.  Some were missing labels, others were still attached to abandoned projects and others were heavier sock yarn.  But, there were plenty of beautiful untouched skeins - all in Katie's colors.

I have a very strong color sense for myself.  The colors I wear are blue, green and gray.  Period.  There may be a few accent pieces in my wardrobe outside those colors, but they represent a tiny fraction of my wardrobe.  Katie's bag was full of her colors - gold, mustard, orange, russet, black - all the autumnal colors.  As I sorted through, I found a number of skeins of Malabrigo sock yarn.
 As I looked at them, they started screaming at me they they needed to be a Westknit's Dotted Rays Speckled Fade.  They was no doubt, no hesitation, but that they needed to be be turned into this shawl ASAP.

It was a little longer than ASAP simply because this is a 1,200 yard shawl.  But it was a fun knit with the colors pulling together beautifully.  I did change out the gold color in the chevron edging because the one I selected originally was a heavier weight.    But the gold really pops.

The surprise in all of this was your response.  These Instagram posts have been my most popular of the year!  And I would never have combined them if they had not been handed to me in a bag intended for scrap.

Encouraged by the response to my Dotted Rays Speckled Fade,  I worked up another littler shawl, Scalene with leftovers of the gold and a green/black Crazy Zauberball from Katie's bag.  Another hit.

There will be a few more knit from the bag, but I am still setting much of it aside for its original purpose, mini-skeins.  I am leading a program on them for my guild (Madison Knitters' Guild) in November, and Katie's bag will allow me to gift everyone at least one.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Waiter, Waiter, Escalator!



As a designer, I find myself repeatedly drawn to certain techniques.  Plaid knitting is certainly one for which I've developed a reputation.  And another is miters.  Just last week Sixth & Spring released a new book, Knit Noro Accessories 2, which includes a design from me for a cowl with two big mitered corners.

At the same time, I seem to always want to push a design a little further.  For a book due out later this year, I created a baby quilt with mitered angles which was inspired by a modern quilt.  I couldn't stop thinking about it and ways to take the design further.  Thus, you have my newest pattern, the Escalator Wrap.  Not only did I get to play some more with mitered corners, but I also got to mix in gradient colors from a

The name, Escalator, captures the movement of the design as the bright lime green steps move from corner to corner.  Those green steps rest on a base of constantly transitioning color from darkest to lightest blue.

The knitting starts with a garter stitch block in one corner and builds from there.  The knitting isn't complicated, you just need to keep track of the increase and decrease points.  And that I help you with by using one color of stitch marker for the increase points and another color for the decreases.

How could you make my design your own?  Certainly you could use one single color for the base.  This would really draw focus to the lightning-bolt stair steps in the contrast color.  Alternatively, you could work every step in a different color.  The pattern includes yarn usage information to help you estimate your required yardage for just about any substitution you'd like to make - even eliminating the contrast stripe.

I look forward to seeing your modifications, so be sure to post your project in Ravelry.  I've also just opened my own designer group on Ravelry, Woolly-Wits.  Pop over there to find a nice discount code for the Escalator Wrap.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Spring's Sprung


I was honored to be asked by the Madison Knitters' Guild to design a project for their 2017 Knit-In event.  Of course, the design had to be hush, hush until its premiere at the picnic luncheon on Saturday, March 18th.  I kept my lips zipped, but am happy to chat about it now.

The guild's only request was that the design tie into a theme of 'flower power'.  That still left me with plenty of options.  So, I thought about the time of year and decided that by mid-March, everyone needs a little color in their life.  However, we do live in Wisconsin, so winter is definitely not over and there is definitely time to work a new warm accessory into your wardrobe.  A hat seemed to me to be just the ticket.  I also reasoned that the hat should be part of the activities of the luncheon.  If the hat were multi-colored, and the colors were mix-and-match, then knitters could trade colors if the combination they received in their kit was not their favorite.

Mix this all up together, and you get Spring's Sprung. The stranded color work is simple enough for a knitter new to the technique as only a few rows require catching floats and there are never more than two colors in a row.

Although the pattern is now posted to Ravelry, it will be exclusive to party attendees until April 1st.  After that it will be available to purchase for $4.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Friday Freebie: BlueGrill Scarf & Hat

BlueGrill Hat & Scarf
Welcome to the fourth weekend of Friday Freebies.  This week's offerings are a throwback to one of my favorite patterns, windowpane plaid, and my favorite technique for achieving it, applied crochet chain.

Fall 2016 Ready-to-Wear Missoni: Inspired by this Missoni design, BlueGrill is a matching hat and scarf set.  The bright blue color on a variegated background is a great fashion statement.  Fortunately, Cascade's 220 Superwash Effects yarn in color 02 gives that effect that adds so much interest, and at a really reasonable price, too.  Of course, you could choose a classic color combination, such as navy and red or black and white for a more traditional look.

The knitting technique at play here is applied crochet chain.  It is simple enough to knit the horizontal plaid stripes in as you go, but it is hard to knit in the vertical stripes.  Unless, that is, you don't mind wrangling eight bobbins every row.  The crochet chain is worked into a channel of purl stitches after the scarf or hat is finished, and it is fast and smooth.  If this makes you nervous, the pattern has links to both a video tutorial and my picture tutorial here on the blog.  I've taught this crochet chain dozens of times, and the feedback is always that it is surprisingly easy.

The BlueGrill hat and scarf patterns are sold separately.  This weekend the scarf pattern is offered for free and the hat is half price.  So, the combined set is available for 75% off the regular price of $3.00 each.

Friday Freebies has been so much fun that I am going to extend it one more weekend into February.  So come back next week for another new pattern.  This one will be completely different.  (Well, still an accessory, but in a technique I have never designed in before now.)

Have a great week!

Friday, January 20, 2017

Friday Freebie: MoreEnds

MoreEnds done with a gradient kit
Welcome back for the third Friday in January 2017 and my third new pattern of the year.  I believe I have something novel here - the first pattern that begs for more yarn ends.  Stripe away, use up all your fingering weight scraps and it only makes your hat better.









MoreEnds done with leftovers in even stripes


My inspiration for MoreEnds came as I was developing a new class on dealing with yarn ends.  This primarily meant tricks for weaving in ends, but I did want to include the old Fair Isle technique of gathering the many, many yarn ends into a braid that ran along the side seam inside the sweater.  As I was thinking about this, I wondered about rather than hiding the braid, what if it was a feature?  Put it on the outside of the garment.  And, what if it also could serve another functional purpose (besides securing loose yarn ends)?  What if it decoratively gathered the hat fabric into a ruched side?  A little knitting later, and I had a fun hat.

MoreEnds allows for lots of knitter creativity.  Have a decent amount of a few colors?  Knit regular stripes and braid by color.  Have lots of little bits of yarn (and who doesn't)?  Go crazy with random stripes using up every bit.  The only rule is that they have to make it all the way around.










Begin with a provisional cast on and knitted band for maximum stretch, minimum (no) purling and and easy way to hide that initial yarn end.  Knit round and round, changing yarns at will until it's time to decrease.  When all the knitting is done, tidy up your yarn ends by working them into a braid, trim it up, and your're done!

Get this pattern for free during its introductory weekend, Friday, January 20th through Sunday, January 22nd at midnight Central time.


Friday, January 13, 2017

Friday Freebie: So Steek'n Simple

Last Friday saw a very successful launch to my 'Friday Freebies' for the month of January.  My updated and revised entrelac hat pattern, All Squared Up 2 had 4,346 downloads.  Fingers crossed today's freebie will be as successful.

So Steek'n Simple is the project for you if you've always wanted to try steeking (cutting into your knitted fabric) but were afraid to try (and who isn't?).  Mohair yarn is the fiber to choose for steeking because it clings to itself with a nearly unbreakable bond.  (That also makes it hard to rip, but that's another story.)  As a result, all your cut ends really don't want to go anywhere but where you tell them to stay.

So what's the benefit of steeking this project?  The body of the shawl can be knit in the round, avoiding any nasty purl stitches.  And, you can change colors as often as you like because all those yarn ends will be cut away.

I forgot to mention that this pattern makes either a shawl or a scarf.  Start out with a scarf and if you have more yarn and more ambition, keep going until you hit shawl width.

So Steek'n Simple is a great project to use up any scraps of silk and mohair lace weight yarn you may have about the house.  What if you don't have any?  Buy a couple different colors and knit simple repeating stripes, or work the ribbing in a different color than the body, like the gray and black scarf.

I hope you'll like this new design as much as the knitters at Monday night's Madison Knitter's Guild meeting.  They got a sneak preview and had lots of kind words to say.

Another story:  if you do need to rip your shawl/scarf in progress, put it into the freezer and get it cold.  (Putting it on the front porch would also work in Wisconsin this week.)  This reduces the static and makes it easier to rip the mohair yarn.



Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Fashion Forecasting Presentation Links

Missoni Spring 2017
Thanks to the Madison Knitter's Guild for their warm reception last evening to my new 'Fashion Forecasting for Hand Knits' talk.  With a lot of material to cover, I sped right along so some of you might have missed some of the links to information sources that I mentioned.  So, here they are:

Runway show photographs and analysis:  Vogue (formerly style.com)

Pantone
Pantone Color of the Year 2017
Pantone Spring 2017 Fashion Colors

The Yarniacs podcast
The Yarniacs Pantone Colors of Fall contest
PrairiePoppins (Colors of Fall contestant)  and her podcast, Imagined Landscapes

Fashion forecasting mood boards: Fashion Vignette

Trade Shows:
Pitti Filati
TNNA

And for anyone who really wants to dive into the topic, I also drew from several textbooks:

Fashion Forecasting by Evelyn L. Brannon, Bloomsbury Publishing
Fashion Trends: Analysis and Forecasting by Eundeok Kim
Color Forecasting for Fashion by Kate Scully

Enjoy!



Friday, January 6, 2017

Friday Freebies

Knit in Mrs. Crosby Carpet Bag in Bahama Woodstar

New year 2017 housekeeping revealed that I have a handful of written and drafted but never published patterns.  As motivation to get them out, I will be releasing a new pattern every Friday in January - and it will be free for the first weekend!

The first Friday Freebie will be All Squared Up 2.  This pattern was the very first pattern I wrote up and it was sold through a few Chicagoland yarn shops before the arrival of Ravelry.  It is based off of the same pattern I use to teach my beginning entrelac class, so it is definitely an easy intro.  That said, it does have several techniques (provisional cast on, three-needle bind off) that make it appropriate for more skilled knitters.

What makes All Squared Up unique is the finishing at the top.  Look closely at most other entrelac patterns and you will find one of two less satisfactory options for handling the top-of-the-head decreases.  Either the entrelac patterning stops at the decreases, or the squares become smaller and smaller and ever more fiddly.  All Squared Up has full-sized squares up to the top of the head because it uses a clever method of bind off.  (That's the secret sauce that I am not giving away the recipe for here!)

All Squared Up is being re-released in the 2.0 version because in the time since it was written, the yarns used in the samples have been discontinued.  There's also some slight modifications to the pattern that make it easier to follow, and the formatting is more tech friendly.
Knit in madelinetosh Tosh DK  in Heartbeat

So, go grab it for free on Ravelry from Friday, January 6th through midnight on Sunday, January 8th.