Designing A New Knitting Pattern... Niamh's Love Cabled Hat

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February 27, 2015
Today I'm working on a new knitted hat pattern that's been on the deigning desk for a few weeks.  It's a cabled knitted pattern, something that I've never designed before and it is turning out to be a really challenging but fun process!
The Idea Origins:
Since reading Kate Davies wonderful book "Yokes," I have been, well obsessed, to put it mildly, about the history of knitting in my province.  That got me thinking about my history, specifically my Irish heritage and it's effect on me and my knitting.
My grandfather's parents on my mother's side came over from Ireland to Canada due to the Potatoes famine.  They met in Canada, purchased a farm, purchased a grocery store that sold all sorts of sundries, including yarn.  My granddad, Papa Charlie, managed it up until a few months before he died.   Here is a portrait of him getting ready for Canada Day, painted by my beautiful sister.
In this store, my mum learned to knit as a little girl by her father's side during the lull between customers.  She learned the very basics, but it wasn't until she was pregnant for her first child that mum learned how to knit garments.  Baby sweater sets are still one of her favourite projects to knit.
But with 12 grandchildren, all under the age of 12 yrs old, mittens are becoming a necessity to knit!  Mum loves to use all the scrape yarns from our finished objects to make these mittens.  I love these scrappy mittens; each one holds a story with each colour band.  As  precious they are to me, they really don't last long.   Our rotten "kittens" keep losing their mittens!
Mum testing the fit.  I love the look of Mum's hands.
 So, I began pondering my Irish knitting herritage.  Maybe you, like me, think of cable knits when you think of Irish knitting.  Or Irish lace.  Those are 2 types of knitting styles I haven't really explored as a designer.  Hmmm.
I started researching Irish folklore and legends.  I came across the story of Niamh.  Here is the introduction to my pattern where I write about Niamh:
In Irish mythology, Niamh was the daughter of the sea god and one of the queens of Tír na nÓg, the land of eternal youth. She was the lover of the poet-hero Oisín. He was a mortal from Ireland who came home with Niamh. When Oisín became homesick and returned to Ireland for a visit, he asked where he could find his family, only to find that they had been dead for hundreds of years. Whilst trying to help some Irish men, he fell from the magical horse he was riding and instantly became an old man when he touched the ground. Meanwhile, Niamh had given birth to his daughter, Plor na mBan. Niamh returned to Ireland to search for her love, but he had died.

I used cables because they remind me of ropes and the sea. The 2 cable panels of the hat symbolize Niamh's Love. The large intricate panel describes how love starts, blossoms, and can create something new. As time passes, it changes and becomes more about the new cable until outer cable eventually passes away, leaving the new cable as its legacy. The narrow undulating cable panel symbolizes time itself. It continues on no matter what happens.
I still have to work on the wording, but you get the idea.  The sea is a huge part of my herritage on both my mum's and my dad's side of the family.  Dad, as a wee little boy, was taught much about knitting while forced to hold the skeins for Grammy or her knitting friends as they wound up colourful wool balls that were not for play.  He also learned about the rudiments of crochet and tatting from his Grandfather, who was constantly repairing his fishing nets or making lobster traps.  (Many of my relatives still live on the coast and it is a wonderful treat to do family trips to the sea to visit them!)
Knitting and the repairing of nets were not activities my fore mothers and fathers did simply for pleasure.  These were the necessities of life.  My relatives, like most of the people living in the small fishing communities along the coast of New Brunswick, where poor.  Knitting was for warmth.  Nets were for eating.  Nets and woolen garments would be mended out of need.  And time, always moving, much like the sea, made a pattern of these jobs on the lives of these Maritime men and women.
With ropey cable patterns, the subject of time, the legend of Niamh and the strange pull of the sea has on me swirling about in my mind, I came up with the design for "Niamh's Love."
I love how the cables undulate and move throughout the hat.  I definitely see this pattern as part of a hat, cowl and mitten set.  The challenge now?  Getting converting the pattern from in the round to knitting flat for the cowl. 
The hat pattern is already out for test knitting.  I've yet to do the proper photo shoot, but I'm looking forward to it!

Where Is Spring?

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February 25, 2015
Yesterday was so sunny, I felt like spring was finally on its way.  Now this.
Notice the extra large snowflakes falling down. 

Did I miss spring while reading a new stitch dictionary?  When I was making a tea?

Now I want to know where that groundhog is and get him in a choke-hold.  Grrrr.

A Year Of Handmade! Favourite knitting products that I often use...

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February 14, 2015
This is the February installment of the A Year Of Handmade: Link Up Prompts- started by Rebecca Bee Designs.  She asks:

3. What are your favourite craft products that you often use?

I knit primarily, so I'm always scouting out for new gadgets that increase my knitting pleasure.  Here are a few that I find I use the most.


 I love the feeling of these needles in my hands.  I'm building quite a collection of them!  I recently discovered the Stainless Steel Red Circular Needles US 9 in / 2.00 mm 23 cm.  They are super handy for sock knitting!  I use 2 sets when doing the heel flap.
Knitting Stitch Dictionaries:
Ahhh, a shiver of delight.  I adore my stitch dictionaries.  There is a list of them on my "Books I Adore" page.  But here my "go to" list:

My Knitting Pot:

This is such a handy tool.  I got it at a thrift store for practically pennies.  It holds a large skein in a cake and is smooth as silk when pulling yarn from it.  Fabulous!

Glass Bead Stitch Markers:
See the stitch markers on my needles?  I just made them before I started this new design and I love the way they dangle off my project.  The weight is perfect, if I do say so myself.  They are my new favourite markers.  Up-cycled from a thrift store bracelet.

Project Bag:
Knitting is almost always with me.  I love to knit while I walk.  See it behind my knitting pot?  This lantern style project bag is great for that.  Plus I made it from thrift store curtains.  I added an interior pocket to hold folded paper, pens and knitting bits and bobs.  No zippers, buttons, snaps or hooks to snag my yarn.

I love my stash!  This year, I am going to knit from all the fab yarns I've collected over the last couple of years.  The cream yarn in the photo about is my Berroco Vintage.  It's great to design with.  Not 100% wool, which is surprising for this yarn snob.  But it usually knits up like a dream.  And washable!  Wears like cast iron too.

So that's it.  What crafting products do you use?

#wearyourknitting campaign Selfie!

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February 13, 2015
Okay, this is a fab campaign that Lindsay Lewchuk, hand knitwear designer and owner of "Knit Eco Chic" designs started.  #wearyourknitting

How often do we knitters actually wear the items we knit?  Anyone?  Anyone?  I would be the guilty looking knitter in the back of the room, trying to not make eye contact.  I almost never wear my projects.  Usually, I only knit the prototypes for my patterns.  I get all "wigged-out" about keeping the piece pristine for the "future traveling trunk show" of my designs.  Yeah, as if that will ever happen soon!

So, I'm boldly stepp'n out in my stitches!  Here I am in my car, back from a quick run into the grocery store, sporting my new hat design.  Fresh off the needles today. Not even charted or gone through the photo shoot yet.  How brave is that?!?  (Um, yes, it was on for only 15 minutes and I carefully set it back into its safe project bag after this shot.  But it's a step for me!  Right?)

Terrible pic, I know.  Aren't selfies suppose to be?  Meh.

So do you do it?  Wear your knitting?  Snap a pic and spread the word!

wear your knitting badge

New Hat Knitting Pattern Released: Diamonds Forever

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February 12, 2015
2014 was a great year and a terrifying year.  Loads of things happened, some good, some not so good.  Designing kinda went out the window, BUT I did manage to get a knit hat pattern tested, and the pattern written up.  It went live today.  Yay!

Here is a blurb from the pattern:

This pattern was inspired by my daughter, Tress, who was recently diagnosed with Colitis the summer of 2014.
It’s tough to be diagnosed with any disease, but especially so when you are 11 years old. She wore the original almost constantly to keep her warm as her weight plummeted. She wore it because I made it and it made her feel hip and cool on the endless trips to the IWK Children’s Hospital in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.
My Tress. Smart and funny, with a heart made of gold and an inner strength to rival any diamond, you are forever beautiful just the way you are. Never doubt your brilliance; let the world see you shine in whatever you do! I love you.

Diamonds Forever is knit in the round. I am a fairly tight knitter, so to get the best results, please swatch in the round first to get gauge.

This is a great hat to knit if you want to try lace knitting! It fits head sizes 21” to 23” (52.5cm to 57.5cm) in diameter.

GAUGE:  20 stitches and 27 rows = 4 inches in stockinette

When flat, width= 10.5” height= 9”

2x 50 grams or 1.76 ounces balls. Heather by Naturally. DK / 8 ply 100% NZ Wool. 109 yards or 100m. Shade 205.

Hat uses between 160 yards to 165 yards or 146.3m to 150.8m

It has both written and charted directions.

The special cast on that I used is the “Twisted 1x1 Ribbed Tubular Long Tail Cast On.” I have detailed written instructions in the pattern as well as a video tutorial. I love this cast on and find it very fun to do.

What was really neat was doing the photo shoot.  I got my iPhone synced with my Olympus Pen camera.  So cool!  I could control the camera with the app on my phone.  What you don't see is me trying to balance a HUGE photography light reflector with my foot.  It's about the size of an adult hula-hoop.  And a desk lamp in the hand without the iPhone.  At one point, the lamp was balanced on a bed on top of a stack of boxes and books.  And then it fell.  Lucky it did not break or burn me.  Those incandescent bulbs can get freak'n hot!  Here are some shots that did not make it into the pattern.  I think learning to work my iPhone with my toes will be very helpful in the future!  Or see about bribing someone to model for me.  I think the toes idea will probably be it.