Revisiting : Stepping Stitches

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With the decision to stop dying yarn and focus more on my knitting, I have spent some time going back over my existing patterns and paying them some attention.
I have given them a bit of an overhaul, updated the layout to make them more consistent with one another, perhaps tweaked the design a little, but, most importantly I have paired them each with a new yarn, one that is current and available.
In stepping away from my naturally dyed, CA grown organic yarn, which I loved to make available for others, I have decided to highlight yarns that might be American grown and spun, or organically grown, or naturally dyed, or all of the above! There are so many amazing yarns out there – some big names, and some small farms – and I’m going to try to convince you why they should be dominating your stash!!!

So with all this in mind; here is Stepping Stitches.
This scarf was my first pattern, and it was designed to teach a beginners knitting class. In fact it was the pattern I sent knitters away with once we had spent the afternoon drilling out knit and purl stitches. I’ve taken the orginal short, skinny scarf that was designed not to intimidate knitters into a scarf that I actually want to wear. The main factor? Squish. And a lot of it. I reworked the scarf to be almost 6 feet allowing a good wrap around the neck and shoulders, and it is wide, plenty of width to be worn more like a shawl if wanted. The stitch pattern is a classic one made up of simple knit and purl stitches, and in Elsawool’s Woolen-Spun? The knitted fabric is so so buttery soft, light and warm. I could go on and on about this yarn all day, but I wont right now, as later on this week I’m going to have a post specifically about the yarn used – something I will do for each pattern.
So those are the changes to the design and a little about the yarn, as for the layout? It’s just about keeping it simple. The pattern is a free download you can have a look for yourself here, but this is what you will find :

  • Clutter free layout. Easy to read yarn and needle requirements, simple abbreviation list, and if there are charts they are clear and to the point.
  • No huge images, to help with the cost of printing!
  • Links – they are all over the place. Anything highlighted in green is a link. This is to help people reading the pattern on their computer/tablet device/phone so much easier. For example :
  1. The pattern title will take you straight to the ravelry pattern page so you can jump straight there if you want more information, start your own project page, or to see other knitter’s projects etc.
  2. The yarn is linked to its online home, which is usually where you can purchase it directly from the company/farm. There is also a ravelry yarn link so you could quickly find out if someone is selling the yarn from their personal stash.
  3. The abbreviations have a helpful link in case you need a little support with some of the knitting terms.
  4. I also often link specific knitting techniques to helpful tutorials about the web, in case it is your first time using it. I’ve found this feature in other people patterns so helpful and have learned so many new methods this way!
  5. And finally contact details : my website and email. Please let me know if you have a question!

So there is a bit of an intro into what I’ve been up to : next up, the yarn!

The New Year

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There is nothing like a New Year to fuel ambition!… I’m coming back to this space, probably just as and when I can, but I do have a few things I’m excited to share with you!!
We are enjoying an unusually warm week this month, and boy are we soaking it in. I have the back door wide open, laundry on the line and a content six month old who is her happiest self when out in the fresh air watching the trees sway. So you see this year is starting off on a good foot (ok, so I’m cancelling out the first week of illness, I’m allowed), and whats more, close friends just had their first brand new sweet baby, and there is nothing better than knitting up something tiny and cute to send on its way.

I’ve decided its going to be a good year.

Currently

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Oh there is such a buzz about the place these days. The farm is busy and bustling, keeping us on our toes, long summer days are enticing us to spend every daylight hour outside and with due date around the corner we are in that strange state of limbo knowing that baby could come any minute, or a few weeks from now. The excitement of all the above brings along this hum that has me here and there, this project and that, working hard to finish up deadlines, but also playing around with projects, just, because!

I have finished up one set of Miss Maggie’s knitted garments and find myself stalled for the moment on the sewing of the body. I had originally thought I would churn out a few sets at once, but they are taking me longer than I thought (surprised?) and there is a birthday deadline coming up fast. I really want to begin sewing her dress and pajamas (they look like pjs to me!), but having recognised that the hand sewing of the felt body is the part I am least excited about I want to get it out of the way. I haven’t sewn by hand, apart from the odd binding, in a long time and I think its just the lack of practice that is making me drag me feet.

Whilst I knit many in my first few years of becoming a knitter I can’t remember the last time I worked on knitting a toy. For some reason my practical brain would now rather knit a sweater or scarf – something that is useful, and has purpose. Mister found an antler in one of the pastures a few months back and one of the mentioned plans for it was to turn it into a mobile! Of course, it has been moved from place to place around the house, not evolving into any of the ideas we had for it, but the other day I remembered Susan B Anderson‘s book Itty-Bitty Nursery, and more specifically the pattern (!?!) that had ultimately persuaded me to purchase it. It’s funny how certain patterns will stick with you, and one day, having not thought about it for years, you will drop everything to search it out amongst the gazillion places you could have bookmarked it. And so, that particular afternoon, I did just that, dropped everything, dug out all my worsted weight cotton scraps and spent a little time on the first mouse…We will see if it amounts to anything!

On the flip side to the random cast-ons, I also find myself really wanting to finishing up projects that have hung around for too long. It’s time to de-clutter (isn’t it always!?). I have spent some time at my spinning wheel, which has also been moved from room to room the past few months as what was my ‘zone’ is slowly becoming the baby room. I don’t spend enough time spinning as I think I’d like, as I’m always surprised by how much I enjoy it when I eventually get down to it. I had begun spinning up some naturally dyed 100% Romney fiber last time I was at the wheel and wanted to finish up the rest before I move on (this has been hanging around, teasing me). So some I plyed, and the rest I left single, about 130 yds. I’m sure there is a cute little baby hat pattern out there which could use up this little amount. I love how this fiber spun up. Sure, I’m a little out of practice, but I think I like it even more for the inconsistency, and the subtle tonal changes of the coffee and rhubarb leaf pigment make for a bright and sunny skein. Baby perfect.

I have been squirreling away at finishing up some design work, and was happy to finally complete the knitting on two patterns this week – two different styles of child ballet-wrap style cardigans in sport weight. I am now looking for test knitters, so please contact me if you are interested. There will be more information in the ravelry group shortly with specifics.

In finishing those two designs, I felt like I could reward myself! Another cast on, of course! But something that I don’t have to think about. I picked up Natural Nursery Knits by Erika Knight from the library a while back, and apart from going though it once, it sat untouched until I returned it a few weeks later (like most knitting pattern books I get from the library – why I continue to take them out I don’t know). But one particular project stayed with me (I’m amazed at how yarn requirements get logged subconsciously) and I found Brown Sheep’s Cotton Fine, an undyed fingering weight cotton/merino blend, at my local yarn store which had to come home with me, just in case. This past weekend, I took the undyed and softened it slightly in a bracken dye bath, creating a neutral sandy tan colour. The photo of the skeins rather than the wip is more true to the actual colour. Nothing like freshly dyed yarn to motivate you to finish off a deadline. I went back to the library, found the book, and cast on yesterday. I’m only a few inches in, but I love the fabric this yarn is creating.

So there is a lot going on – and I haven’t even mentioned what has been happening at my sewing machine!
Of course, the challenge at the moment is to try finish it all before baby arrives! (I know, I hear you – ‘yea right!?’)