Thursday, October 20, 2011

Right place, right time?

So, yeah - its been a while since my last post - but not as long as the time before that!! And I have been busy!!

September saw #1 son starting Timbits hockey and in a moment of weakness, I decided to knit the whole team a toque each to match their team uniform... somehow I managed to knit 16 hats in just over a week (the rugrats might have had to amuse themsleves a bit during that time - I was a woman possessed!). Anyhow - they were well received and now normal service can resume (until, that is, the coaches decided they wanted matching ones at practice yesterday)!!

You may also remember the cowl pattern that I created to raise funds for our local play park? Well - it has raised about $200 so far - which is fantastic! Most of that was from sales at two local yarn stores - one in particular, which had a sample of the cowl and pattern on their cash desk over the summer.

It was on one of my trips to this yarn store which resulted in a conversation about whether I would be interested in designing some more patterns that could be used in kits for the store. I didn't have to think too long about this - the initial brief was simple and to the point - design a baby hat in 3 sizes which would use less than 33g of a sport weight yarn.

So - I took home some yarn, got my note book out and got cracking - and one week later, here is the result:

I call it Coriolis because that is is the name of the force which causes hurricanes to rotate (in a shape similar to the pattern on the hat). It's in kits now at The Loop yarn store in Kensington, Calgary and is also available as the pattern only through Ravelry (or course!!).

The design was very well received and the next request was for fingerless mitts using 50g or less of a DK-weight yarn and when I took them in for an initial look, a comment was made about transferring the pattern to a cowl. A little bit of tweaking was required to fit it into the yarn limit, but once that was finished, I made a hat as well.. and so the Forestry Collection was born (coming soon in kit form and available now in Ravelry)!

So - was it a case of right place, right time? I have wondered for a while if I could design more, and possibly even make this hobby of mine pay (or at least breakeven!!). This opportunity has certainly got the creative juices flowing (watch this space) and most of the knitting I have done since then has been of my own design...

It has also presented some learning opportunites - such as the importance of gauge and what happens when you use alternative yarns. I also definitively proved that I officially knit loosely, so have made a mental note to almost always use a smaller needle than recommended on patterns or at least to think about swatching before spending too long on a project that might not end up fitting!!! ;o)

Its a start, and who knows where this will go? Stay tuned for more adventures in knitting design c/o yours truly - bye for now!!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Whoops! Where does the time go?

Right - so, October? Really? And its now JUNE?!?

OK - that's a long time to go AWOL.. (she says mentally running though list of excuses) by anyone's reckoning! I think I'll settle on HIBERNATION. Summer has finally arrived, but not in any kind of consistent form. Number 1 son is about to finish pre-school and I'm two days away from finding out if we win $25,000 for our community play park project.. (random thought generator in overdrive)

All sound like you've missed out on too much? So - lets try and bring you back up to speed...

OK, first up - Christmas. The gnomes were very well received (although due to a mix up at the Post Office they went back to UK via LAND and took AGES) and the hat and mittens were a hit too. Mum loved her slippers too - so I was pleased. I didn't get round to making as many things for Christmas presents as I'd intended though, so I'm guessing they will pop up again nearer to birthdays (or maybe even this coming Christmas?!) so the less said about those now, the better!!

My bulky cardi was finished in time for our cold and damp spring - its pretty warm and soft and I like the style but I think I should look for something else to use the other colourway of the same yarn up.

Big knitting news of the year is the "competition" in our knit group set up in a bid to help some of us curb the growth of (or even try to diminish) our yarn stashes. We created a set of rules for awarding points for finished objects based on yardage used with some bonus points thrown in now and then for learning new skills or taking a photo of it in the snow etc etc... we've had some really fun ideas thrown in for bonuses and the upshot is that I've been knitting like mad... 33 projects completed so far this year, with another 3 OTN and a few more ready to go... Here are a couple of pictures of the ones I'm most pleased with:

This bag (knitted in two strands of Patons Classic Wool) was all knitted up last year and was just awaiting a handle and a lining. I opted for a leather braid for a strap (although I'm still not sure about it) and I only had orange lining fabric - which actually goes GREAT!! I'm definitely going to make more of these!

This jacket had been started before #2 son was born and I was prompted to finish it because of the points bonus I got!! Its a great pattern but there are a whole mess of ends to weave in.. its worth it though! Its one of the few patterns that I bought with the yarn to match (although it would be hard to find something else which would give the same colour gradient effects).

When I first saw this Zauberball (in colourway Frische Fische), I knew I had to have it, and this simple scarf really shows off the colours. The pattern is called Hitchhiker (because there are 42 teeth when you use the recommended yarn) and is knitted in garter stitch, which means it doesn't curl and is soft and squooshy (and a great travel project)! I LOVE it!

So - I've been busy - and accrued a whole mess of points too, you may think? Well - yes... but the competition was all about using up our stashes, so point deductions were applied for yarn purchases... and...well..(sigh) - all the points I earned in the first quarter were offset by me buying more yarn... DOH!!

So - not such a great start, although I've got lots of hats and cowls and scarves for gifts now! ;o)

Quarter two has been going a little better - I finished some large projects and made some gifts for my son's pre-school teachers. So points earned are looking good... now I just have to check what the damage from attending the Grand Opening of a new yarn store in the city at the weekend... more on that in a later post when I've recovered from the shock! ;o)

Other news is the work I'm doing for a local play park rejuvenation project. A group of us in our street were a little dismayed last year when the City Parks people turned up and removed some of the play stuctures from the play park on our street (they were a danger after being vandalised). My son was especially upset as the piece they removed (a train) was his favourite. So - long story short - they have no plans or funds to replace the pieces taken away, so we got together and set up the project to do it ourselves.

You can read more about the project on the blog (which I am in charge of updating, as well as the Facebook page) which you can find here:

We are currently crossing our fingers (and everthing else) in the hope that all our voting efforts will win us a $25,000 grant for the project - only two days left and its neck-and-neck with another project shortlisted. My blood pressure is suffering - good job I can knit to take my mind off it!! ;o)

We've had some successful fundraising in the form of a recent Bottle Drive and Hot Dog sale as well as other more direct donations - even some of the local kids have handed over their pocket money!! We have other plans to put in place over the summer and I'll keep you posted on our progress.

In a bid to "do my bit", I designed a cowl pattern to sell to raise funds for the project. Its called With Teeth and its a bias knit, with a rib-effect to create a soft, elastic shape and large "teeth" around the bottom to help it sit comfortably around your neck. It uses any weight yarn from DK up to Bulky and you need to know how to make a provisional cast on and be able to graft using Kitchener stitch to complete it.

I'm selling it for C$5.00, and you don't have to be a member of Ravelry to buy it - you can click this button:

Proceeds from sales until 30th September 2011 will go directly to the project.

So - I think that's fairly up-to-date now... oh, I designed a tissue box cover too (a freebie this time) which I'll write about another time (and I may even work out how to link pdf's in here too - you never know!).

I'm too tired now to work out the "scores on the doors" so I'll get back on that next time. Hope you liked the pictures. I promise it won't be so long next time!!! :o)