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I’m 40 Now!! 40%-Off Sale to Celebrate

To celebrate my fortieth birthday, I think a pattern sale is in order!

If you hop on over to Ravelry, this link will take you right to my patterns, and anything you put in your cart will automatically have 40% of its price taken off. There are no limits, no minimum purchases, just a pure 40% discount. (Except on Sugarblaze because it’s still only available from Knit Picks.)

It’s really fun to go back through some of my older designs! A lot has happened since I published my first pattern.

I actually like getting older. I feel more and more comfortable in my own skin. It’s wonderful to be growing up. (My kids think I’m a grown-up by default, but we all know better. Being “grown up” is more of a process than a destination. I hope.)

So, because I’m feeling celebratory and forty years is a big thing, here are my favourite things about getting older:

  • I’m letting go of more and more fear. Life is just too short to give one moment of it to being afraid.
  • So I’m doing more of what I like, for me. I cut my hair short, and it feels amazing. I wear what I want. (Secret pajamas for the win! Bright tunic tops and leggings for me, please. With pockets.)
  • I know my strengths and talents now, and it’s not boasting to acknowledge them to myself. I owe it to myself to develop them and let them grow into something.
  • I know my weaknesses, too, and I’m over them. They’re there, we’re friends, and everybody’s got them anyway. None of us are perfect at everything we try, and I’m okay with that. I will always be late for most of my appointments because time doesn’t make sense to me, but I can paint an accurate portrait, and I can live with that.
  • I know which weaknesses can be improved upon, shored up, or accepted and worked around. I don’t need as much reassurance from others that I’m okay, and I just smile and nod now when people give me tips. I know the tips. I’ve read the books. But I spent so many years trying to be better at what I hate instead of mastering the things I’m great at. Onward to better things!
  • I know that what I KNEW to be true ten years ago is different from what I KNOW right now. So I hold my opinions more loosely and look to learn more.
  • I know that the opposite of love is fear. To love well means to let go of the fear — of being a bad parent, or a goofy teacher, or whatever. Any time I’ve operated out of fear, I’ve been harsh with my kids, nitpicked about details instead of seeing the whole person in front of me. If I teach out of fear, I don’t learn new things myself. When I’m afraid of what people think of me, I can’t be myself.
  • Fear is a tool for reading a situation, but not for long-term decisions. I listen to my instincts and trust them more and more, and that’s useful. So I don’t want to live in a vacuum free of fear, but I want to be mindful that I listen to its message, take it into account, and then act bravely from my values instead.
  • I’m more patient with others. If I can grow, so can anyone. When I say a dumb thing, I usually regret it and learn from it. Allowing others room for that same growth is essential. I choose to hope for and expect the best, to leave room for growth, to wait patiently while others walk their own paths. To cheer them on along the way. Life is hard enough without having people pick apart your every mistake.
  • I give myself more of a break. Bad days don’t last. Nothing lasts forever. Seasons pass, winter turns into spring, and depression lifts eventually. Sometimes, life is a bit of a waiting game, and now I can accept that more.
  • My body affects my moods, and I’ve learned to baby it. Give it naps, make sure it drinks enough water and gets good food. Give it down time. I refuse to live on the brink of a constant nervous breakdown. I take care of this squishy vehicle I drive through life. (I do feed it too much ice cream lately, but whatever.)
  • I love saying no. I build empty space into my schedule because I have lived without margins, and let me tell you, it was not life. It was overwhelm, stress, exhaustion, irritability, and loss of creativity. The blank spaces are essential components of a kind, creative life.
  • Every hour devoted to playing the piano, painting, drawing, or reading, is an hour that feeds the hard-work, slogging hours of productivity. They are absolutely essential. Feeding the creative soul is never a waste of time.
  • Art IS math and science. Music, colour, proportion, pattern — it’s math, electromagnetic radiation, wavelengths, rhythm, algebra. The language of the universe is instinctually known by artists and painstakingly calculated by mathematicians and interpreted and investigated by scientists. They are different sides of the same coin.
  • The opposite of fear is love. Love is patient and kind. Choosing to love means to decide not to act out of fear: no boasting (fear that you’re not enough), no rudeness (fear that you won’t get what you need so you rush in to get what’s yours, disregarding the humanity of those around you), no envy (fear of scarcity), no pride (fear of not being the best), no keeping records of everything anyone has ever done that harmed you (fear of injustice). And the good news is that loving frees us from the fear that holds us back from being ourselves.
  • Best books I’ve read so far: Daring Greatly, Braving the Wilderness, and Rising Strong (all 3 by Brene Brown); The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron; Superparenting for ADHD by Edward Hallowell; anything by Rachel Held Evans, Jen Hatmaker, Glennon Doyle. The Gift of Fear by Gavin deBecker. Norman Doidge’s books on neuroplasticity.
  • Favourite quotes from the past few years: “I belong to myself” ~ from Maya Angelou, but I found it in Brene Brown’s Braving the Wilderness, I think. I belong everywhere, I belong nowhere: I belong to myself. I move freely throughout the world, in any setting, because I belong.
  • “We can do hard things.” ~ Glennon Doyle
  • Thing I said so many times to my kids that I started to believe it and say it to myself: “Of course you’re not good at that yet! This is the first time you’ve tried it. You won’t get any good at all until you’ve tried it at least ten times. You have to make a million mistakes before you get really good at things.”

Things Knitting Taught Me About Life

  • Making mistakes is inevitable. The important thing isn’t avoiding making them, it’s learning to fix them or live with them.
  • Ripping out is part of knitting. Making mistakes is part of life. Moving backwards isn’t a thing — every fall, failure, setback, is part of the path. Carry on.
  • You can’t judge a project by its beginning. You need at least a few inches, a gauge swatch, and sometimes blocking before you can get a good view.
  • The first step of learning a new skill is: awkwardness. Incredible, tangly, confusing awkwardness. Messes. Feeling like you’re all thumbs, like your brain is exhausted and maybe even melted. This is normal. Push through and carry on.
  • Every knitter has a different level of experience and skill. Comparing yourself to others is like comparing a first dishcloth to a masterful Fair Isle sweater. It’s unfair to compare first steps to 400th ones. You’re on different paths with different rates of learning. Just keep knitting; you’ll get there, too.
  • Stop and look. Notice details. It helps.
  • Counting is hard. Seriously, be kind to yourself and use stitch markers. Sometimes it’s the simple things that are the easiest to mess up. It means nothing other than: Counting Is Hard.
  • Trying to fix mistakes when you’re tired makes them worse. Go to sleep and reset your brain. Things will be clearer in the morning.
  • Mistakes are the best teachers. Don’t waste them.

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Brioche Knitting Mistakes Can Be Fixed!

use a crochet hook to pick up dropped brioche stitches

I made a video that shows how to fix brioche! It’s up on my YouTube channel, and you can find it here.

Fixing a dropped stitch in brioche is just like fixing a dropped stitch in stockinette, but there are yarnover buddies in the way. The trick was figuring out what to do with those yarnovers. I like to tell my students that in brioche, every stitch gets a yarnover buddy, and no buddy gets left behind. This applies to the dropped stitches, too. It’s why my cutesy little rhyme works:

Over one,

Under two,

Grab the stitch,

Pull it through.

Over one, under two, grab the stitch, pull it through

How to pick up a dropped stitch in brioche:

First, put the dropped stitch onto a crochet hook. Then:

Over one (buddy) — Find the buddy that’s tight against the stitch under your crochet hook, and leave it alone. Let the crochet hook go OVER it without bothering it, and then go…

Under two buddies to find the next stitch. Sometimes the next stitch is already a bit closer, and if it is, that’s okay, grab it! But if it’s gotten completely out of place, and you’re not sure which buddies to tuck it behind before it can be pulled through the stitch on your hook, two is the magic number.

Once you’ve woven the crochet hook through the buddies in this order, Grab the dropped stitch.

Pull it through the stitch on the crochet hook. You’ll be threading back down behind the two buddies and in front of the one but leaving them alone otherwise. Don’t pull any buddies through the stitches.

By passing the crochet hook over the first buddy in your first step, you’re essentially leaving that buddy to hang out forever with the stitch below. Just make sure it is, in fact, only one buddy and not two mushed together and trying to trick you. Be bossy with those buddies and put them in their places so every stitch gets one buddy.

What do you think? Could you fix your brioche now? Let me know if you try this and how it works for you!

Here’s that video link again. Have you seen my YouTube channel yet?

 

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Fun Things in August and September!

You guys, I can’t believe August is almost over! What did you do this summer?

Here’s my knitting news:

New patterns out this summer and fall:
Talamed

 

 

 


Continuing my love of slip stitches and all things reversible, I’ve made a cardigan pattern inspired by the Book of Kells! You can find it in Carol Feller’s new book, Echoes of Heather and Stone, along with many other simply gorgeous patterns, all inspired by ancient Ireland.

She interviewed me about my design, and if you’d like to read it (and watch a recording of our Instagram live chat, in which I felt slightly awkward but prevailed), you can find them on her website, Stolen Stitches, here.

Kairos
A squishy, almost geometric, brioche shawl pattern. Also reversible. 🙂

Mosaica
Engaging, constantly changing, full of small repeats. Get started with mosaic knitting!

Knitalong
If you follow me on Instagram, maybe you’ve been knitting along on a Mosaica shawl! It’s been great fun to watch everyone’s shawls growing. I love all the colour choices; seriously, I haven’t seen a bad one yet.

Check them all out there by searching the #MosaicaKAL hashtag, and you can even still join in! It’s a very low-stress knitalong. Just post photos of your shawl in progress with that tag, and tag me as well @aknitica. I’ll be announcing the prizes soon (since August is almost over!), and I’ll be scrolling through the tagged posts and randomly pointing at pictures to pick a few winners. Free patterns, anyone? And don’t forget, the Mosaica pattern is free on Ravelry until the end of August. Grab it quickly before the sale is over!

Knitting Classes
My monthly fall classes start in September, and if you’re in the Ottawa area, there’s still time to register!

Click on the little Google Calendar widget in the sidebar to see my complete schedule. (You can even import your class to your own Google Calendar from there!)

I’ll be teaching my own knit-anything classes at Rideau Park on Alta Vista, which you can sign up for right here. These are my weekly clubs in which you can bring absolutely anything knitting related to get my help. We can fix anything! I can also help you knit a sweater, some socks, a lace shawl… whatever you want. Anything goes.

Wabi Sabi on Wellington has invited me to teach a brioche cowl class, some knit-any-project classes, and a continental knitting workshop this fall. Go to their website to register. I will definitely teach you how to fix brioche if you ask!

I’ll be at Maker Savvy in Kanata on Thursday afternoons and evenings. Check out their website after September 1st to see the schedule and to register! Expect classes on my reversible cable technique, a brioche shawl, mosaic knitting, and Fair Isle mittens in which we make the ever-ridiculously-adorable Tiny-Santa mittens.

My summer was really great.
We took the kids to the Toronto Zoo and Ripley’s Aquarium, spent some time at the cottage, and then lounged around the house. I took a week-long “Alla Prima Portraiture” class (that’s just fancy speak for all-at-once portrait painting, which is kind of crazy and fun. You basically just throw a painting together in a few hours, starting with the big shadow and highlight shapes, then gradually refining them into a recognizable human being. I’m still practicing.)

To end the summer, we bought a puppy. I kid you not. I must have lost my mind, but I’m glad I did. He’s fantastic, and my kids are fully occupied with snuggling him and taking him for walks and playing tug of war with his tiny rope toy.

 

That’s all for now! I hope to see you this fall, whether it’s in person at a class, or online on Instagram or Facebook. 🙂 Happy knitting!

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Summer Knitting Classes in Ottawa

My yarn shop is closing! I’ve been teaching knitting classes at Yarn Forward & Sew On in Ottawa for the last 4 years, and it has been heavenly. The owner, Carol, is retiring, and June 30th will be the last day of Yarn Forward. It seems so surreal.

So what will happen now? Well, I’ll keep teaching. It’s my thing.

Summer Knitting Classes

If you’re going to be around Ottawa this summer, let’s knit together! I’m going to run Sunday afternoon and Tuesday morning knitting classes, and we’ll be knitting in a comfy, couch-laden space at Rideau Park United Church on Alta Vista Drive in Ottawa.

If you’re visiting the city on vacation, you can sign up to drop in for one class. It would be great to meet in person!

The summer classes will be of the “knit your own project” variety. You bring whatever you’re working on, and I’ll help you in any way you like. If you need to learn a new cast on to go with your pattern, no problem. Or maybe you’re looking for help turning a sock heel or making a sweater or learning brioche. Bring anything. We’ll figure it out.

You can sign up for classes here.

I have some new patterns, too! The latest is Kairos, a squishy brioche shawl. You can grab it here or on Ravelry.

Knitting In Ottawa

Ottawa is such a great city for knitters! Even with Yarn Forward closing, there’s a great selection of yarn shops around and knitterly things to do. If you’re travelling and looking for Ottawa yarn shops, let me get you started:

Wabi Sabi is close to downtown and full of cool knitting and spinning supplies.

In the west end, Yarn Forward in Kanata will be replaced by a new yarn shop, Yarns Ewe’ll Love!, in the same location with the same lovely Louise. She already has a Facebook page up!

In the east end, Wool N’Things in Orleans is packed full of treasures.

Middle/south is Wool-Tyme, a HUGE yarn shop; I think they say they’re the biggest in Canada?

The Canada Agriculture and Food Museum isn’t exactly a yarn shop, but it’s a working farm that you can tour that has sheep and mohair goats!

Upper Canada Village, south of Ottawa along the St. Lawrence River, is one of those old-timey villages where actors pretend they’re from the past and are confused by your smartphones. They have fresh bread, cheese, a working old spinning mill, and yarn! Very woolly yarn from their sheep.

Alpaca Tracks T(h)read Lightly is an alpaca farm out in the country south of the city, not far from highway 416, and with a little farm store full of alpaca things.

If you go a little further south, you’ll find Louet just outside Prescott! They have a little shop, Hilltop Wool Boutique, to visit.

In nearby Perth, there’s Unraveled, a fantastic yarn shop full of good stuff.

Smiths Falls boasts Yarns Aplenty. I still need to visit that one!

Sheeps Ahoy! is actually a mostly mail-order Canadian source for Jamieson & Smith yarns from Shetland, but if you make an appointment, Deb will show you every single Jamieson & Smith colour available. She carries the entire line, here in Ottawa!

We’ve got local indie dyers and fibre festivals, as well! Depending on when you’re visiting, you might find a festival nearby in Almonte (Fibrefest), Kemptville (Leeds Grenville Fibre Extravaganza), Picton (Prince Edward County Fibre Fest), and in Ottawa (Lansdowne Textiles Festival). Am I missing any?

Purlin’ J’s Roving Yarn Co. is a yarn truck. Let me repeat: yarn truck. Yarn that travels around the area! How cool is that?

Jo-Ann of Yarn Forward & Sew On will be opening up a sewing store with all the Husqvarna sewing machines and classes and repairs in August. It’s called Sew-Jo’s, at 405 St. Laurent Boulevard. She’s hard at work getting it ready to open.

 

I want to list all our local indie dyers by name, too, but maybe I’ll save that for another day’s post. There are so many great ones.

If there’s a local yarn shop I’ve forgotten or haven’t learned about yet, please tell me. Isn’t our area great? Maybe I’ll see you around Ottawa this summer!

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Inverse Reverse: A collection of reversible shawls

It’s that time of year — when I always want something wrapped around my neck.

I have a serious obsession with knitting shawls, so my closet is getting pretty full of various neck-warming devices. And yet, I still want to make more… (I picked up a copy of WestKnits BestKnits recently, and now I want to make all the things. My Christmas present to me might be the casting-on of a speckly Dotted Rays.)

I do like it best when my neck things are reversible, when they’re made with some sort of simple stitch pattern so I don’t have to always be looking at the pattern, and when I’ve chosen good yarn.

I’ve made some shawl patterns this year, and they’re a little family. They are One, Two, Three Secrets, and Fade & Flip. Together, they form the Inverse Reverse collection, and fight crime throughout the galaxy. Wait, what?

I mentioned them earlier, but our fall/winter has been a whirlwind of new school, more teaching, and my glitchy brain, so I’ve been having trouble writing about them here. Anyway, this family of shawls grew from a weird convergence of coincidences: a Julie Asselin gradient kit I bought at Wabi Sabi in the summer, Mosaic Knitting by Barbara Walker, and my desire to knit something new while reading a book. Yes, I like to read and knit.

For simplicity and reading: garter stitch.

From Mosaic Knitting: the magical inspiration of slipped stitches. But why couldn’t they be used to make something reversible? Why not slip them on the back AND the front of the fabric?

Because of the gradient: I don’t know. I just wanted to pair it with something to make it stretch… I tried it with a couple of colours before I decided on white as the true friend for the mini-skeins.

I’m also a fan of the asymmetrical triangle framework I first found in Martina Behm’s patterns. I’ve always assumed she invented this shape. Does anyone know any different?

Two knit in sport weight with 8 US (5 mm) needles)

Once I got going on One, and I was having such a good time, I got carried away; my mind flew off in a million directions, following all the possibilities of the twists and turns of reversible slipped stitch columns. What if I made them like travelling stitches? What if I let the shaping dictate their intervals? What if I used Morse code? What if I used TWO gradients?

Fade & Flip, made with two gradient skeins from Wollelfe on Etsy

And a collection was born.

Three Secrets… this is the one you can knit in Morse code.

 

As of yesterday, Fade & Flip, the fourth and last pattern in the collection has been published on Ravelry. I’m really pleased with all four of the shawls, and I hope you will be, too.

(Did I mention that three MORE of my kids need braces? Gah.)

They were slower coming out than I’d planned, and I’m sorry about that. I’ve learned many things while making my first ebook, and the number one thing is this: life gets in the way, and I’m going to make sure the patterns are written BEFORE promising a specific publishing schedule. So thank you for being patient with me while waiting for the fourth pattern!

Three Secrets was made with a whole Julie Asselin gradient kit and one skein of silvery-grey Manos del Uruguay Fino

And now, the pattern specs:

Each pattern in the Inverse Reverse collection is

  • reversible — a complete mirror of beautiful stitches on both sides. There are no real “wrong” sides. Everything is public-ready.
  • inverted — if the slipped-stitch columns are MC on one side, they’ll be CC on the other side, and vice versa.
  • made from two colours (or one solid and one gradient, or two gradients). Basically, an MC and a CC.
  • knitable with 100 grams of each colour, no matter what the weight of yarn. Different weight change the stitch pattern, of course, but it works for the first three shawls (One, Two, and Three Secrets) completely. For the fourth, Fade & Flip, I’d recommend sticking with either fingering or sport weight so you can fit in as many Celtic Knots as possible.
  • an asymmetrical triangle shape, long and somewhat shallow, and great for wrapping around your neck many times as a warm scarf or around your shoulders for a cozy wrap.
  • started with just 4 stitches and cast off along the long edge.
  • built on a garter-stitch base, with the same rhythm of slipped stitches. Once you’ve knit One, you’ll recognize many familiar elements in the other three, which makes upgrading to the travelling columns much easier. Even if you knit just a tiny sample of One as a swatch, it’ll help you understand the basics before you start cabling on Two and Fade & Flip.
  • adjustable in size: these patterns don’t really end. You could knit them infinitely large…. just cast off when you’ve run out of yarn or when you’ve reached the size you want.
  • wearable without blocking. They’re garter stitch! Although I did find that Fade & Flip looked better with light blocking because of the cables. Anyway, doesn’t that make them perfect gifts? 😉
  • charted AND written. Because I know there are two types of knitters, and they’re both fierce about their pattern preferences.

Three Secrets can even double as a casual sweater tied around your shoulders… or is it?

And One makes good tv knitting (and reading knitting!) once you get going. It’s mesmerizing.

It’s those beautiful straight lines and the changing colours. Darn it, now I want to make another one.

 

[box type=”note” size=”large” icon=”none”]You can buy each pattern individually on Ravelry, but the best deal is to get the ebook, of course. You can find them all here: Inverse Reverse on Ravelry[/box]

Two. I made this one with some really bright, amazing Hedgehog Fibres yarn in fluorescent green Envy, with a super-soft and luscious skein of Manos del Uruguay Fino in charcoal grey.

I hope you all have a great holiday, whatever it is you’re celebrating. 🙂 May your gifts be full of yarn and your hearts be full of peace.

 

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One, A Shawl with Two Sides

You guys, I am so excited about what I’ve been working on lately. I wanted to make myself a reversible, graphic, simple, shawl that was enjoyable to knit while I read a book. The obvious stitch to choose was garter stitch, but I had bought a gorgeous Julie Asselin gradient kit recently, and I really wanted to use it in something interesting.

After some trial and error, I finally settled on pairing it with a white skein of Cascade Heritage Silk from my stash. (I love how the white makes the turquoises look light and airy.) I started with my favourite easy-to-begin shawl shape, the asymmetrical triangle that grows from just a few stitches designed originally (I think) by Martina Behm.

And then, I started to play with slipped stitches. I wanted a straightforward, repeatable, reversible pattern. I wanted it a little interesting to knit and to look at, but I wanted to let the gradient be the star of the show.

Here’s what happened:

This is One. It came first.

One Shawl, part of the Inverse Reverse Collection by Amanda Schwabe #OneShawl #InverseReverse #knitting @aknitica Assymetrical Shawls One and Two 2016-07-22 010 Assymetrical Shawls One and Two 2016-07-22 018

Did I mention the One shawl is reversible? Like, completely perfect on both the right side and wrong side of the fabric?

The wrong side is actually an inversion of the right-side columns, so you can choose which side you’re in the mood for on any given day. The light side or the bright side… or maybe the bright side or the dark side, depending on your colour choice.

Assymetrical Shawls One and Two 2016-07-22 020 Assymetrical Shawls One and Two 2016-07-22 027 Assymetrical Shawls One and Two 2016-07-22 031 Assymetrical Shawls One and Two 2016-07-22 036

I’m so happy with it! I hope you like it, too. It’s so wearable, so easy, so simple, that I’m almost afraid to publish it. Maybe you won’t think it’s special enough. But I like the good classics, and I think this shawl will become a pattern I return to knitting and to wearing over and over again. It’s even good gift knitting, since it requires no blocking whatsoever because of the nicely behaved garter stitch. (I always want to give the people I love beautiful shawls, but the prospect of then explaining to them that they’ll have to handwash it and block out the lace to open it up every time it needs cleaning is so off-putting.)

Slip-stitch knitting is so fun, too. What I like is how it makes those beautiful vertical lines that you don’t often get in knitting unless you know stranded knitting or intarsia. But to make them with slipped stitches is sooo easy. You never have to use two colours in a row. Only one. Always just one strand of yarn at a time.

You’ll get a complex look with a simple technique. It’s so fun!

And then, to add on to all that goodness, there’s the shape: I love this shape. For so many reasons. How do I love it? Let me count the ways:

  1. It grows from a tiny point, so the cast on and start up are fast and easy.
  2. It grows from a tiny point and ends with a cast-off along one whole side of the triangle, so you can knit it up to any size using ANY weight of yarn without doing any calculations at all; you just knit until you’re done and then you stop. I’ve practiced it with fingering-weight, worsted weight, and sport weight so far. Using 100g in each of two colours makes a lovely size of shawl no matter which weight you choose. (This also makes it a good project for any hand-spun yarn that doesn’t necessarily align with a standard factory-spun weight.)
  3. It’s easy to wear. Sure, it makes a triangle, but it’s a versatile, shallow, curvy triangle that makes a lovely scarf/wrap/kerchief/long blanket/cozy magical thing.

So then I got a little carried away by the joy that is reversible slipped-stitch columns, and I wanted to see what they’d look like traveling and twirling around each other on both sides of the fabric. So I made more shawls…. and they’ve grown into a collection. There were just too many fun possibilities to try!

The Inverse Reverse Collection is an ebook that grows by one shawl every month for the next 4 months. So when you buy the ebook, you’ll get a shawl subscription to every reversible slip-stitch pattern that’s coming up this fall, at a discounted price.

Here’s a little preview of what’s coming up:

Meet Two, a reversible shawl with a twist.

It’s coming out at the end of August.

Two Shawl, part of the Inverse Reverse Collection by Amanda Schwabe #TwoShawl #InverseReverse #knitting @aknitica Assymetrical Shawls One and Two 2016-07-22 055

And then, there will be Three.

You can see sneak peaks of it in my Instagram feed (@aknitica), in a gorgeous pink gradient paired with light grey. Its birthday will be the end of September.

Four will feature the return of reversible cables in a new configuration.

Let’s leave it mysterious for now, and look forward to its release at the end of October 2016.

 

For now, if you’re intrigued, the best place to start is by knitting up your own version of One. It’ll give you a great introduction to the basics of the two-sided slip-stitch technique, which will make the more-complex future shawls seem all the easier.

 

You can get One here, on Ravelry.

To subscribe to the Inverse Reverse Collection ebook (and get One right away), buy it here on Ravelry.

 

And, if you’re in the Ottawa area, I’ll be teaching Two in a class at Yarn Forward & Sew On on Bank Street, starting in September. Keep an eye on the store’s booking website for upcoming class details and to sign up for the Slip-Stitch Shawl Class: www.bookeo.com/yarnforward

 

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Spring BOGO, New Mitten Patterns, and I Yarn Bombed A Horse. I Really Did.

I’ve been busy this winter but unable to tell you about it! Let me catch you up.

I’ve been making videos. My favourite so far is this one on how to pick up stitches for no-gap thumbs. I keep reading how it’s impossible, but it so isn’t. In the video, I show you exactly how and where to pick up your stitches to close the gaps without any weird twisting. The best part is, this method just makes it look like columns of knit stitches with nothing out of place. I’m pretty pleased with it.

Aaaand, that cabled mitten in the video? It’s my new pattern, just new out today. I named it XOX OXO. You know how when you write a letter to Santa, his postal code is HOH OHO? (At least it is here in Canada.) Well, the cables and the season made me think of how every time I wear these sweet, squishy mittens, it’s almost like I’m sending myself a message to be kind to myself. I’m a sentimental soul, and I have stupid Seasonal Affective Disorder, so basically I fight against depression every winter. A big part of that battle is recognizing which thoughts are mine and which are symptoms. Hint: if it’s soul-crushingly mean, it’s from a lack of dopamine.

#XOXOXOmittens @aknitica

#XOXOXOMittens @aknitica

Next on the list of winter-killed-my-brain-so-now-I’m-catching-up is this pattern, Fluffa. These are lightning-fast, super warm felted mittens. They’re knit up with bulky 100% wool on giant needles then shrunk into oblivion in the washing machine until they’re dense and snow proof. These are the mittens you put on your kids for hours-long outdoor snow play. My kids have been wearing theirs all winter, and people, let me tell you: finally, I’ve made hand-knit mittens that actually do the trick! Even when the snow cakes on the outsides of them, their hands are still warm inside. I made some for myself and my husband, as well, and we love them for shoveling the driveway.

#FluffaMittens #felted @aknitica

They’re available in sizes for the entire family, with choices of everyday cuffs or long cuffs for serious outside time. You can even make the larger sizes into oven mitts, since wool is fire and heat resistant. Neat, eh?

They go nicely into the dryer, too, for those days when your kids want to go outside again before the mittens have dried on the air vents.

Another thing I did, which I’m pretty proud of, is I knit a horse. Yes, I got to yarn bomb a horse statue! It’s been on display at the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa, in conjunction with their World War Women exhibit and a big knitted-goods donation drive they hosted.

#PompomTheHorse #yarnbomb @aknitica #CanadianWarMuseum

It was a totally cool project. I had to take all the measurements and design and knit the whole thing myself. My life was insane last fall when I had to make it, and there were a couple delays, so I had three weeks — yes, you read that right: 3 weeks — in which to do the knitting. With the strategy of eat, sleep, knit, and with my husband home to take care of absolutely everything to do with the kids and the house, I did it. Almost. I had to ask Lisa, a knitter friend of mine, to help me out by knitting the two front legs during the last week. And my mom spent a day at my place making all those pompoms.

#PompomTheHorse #yarnbomb #CanadianWarMuseum @aknitica 2015-12-06 001 2015-11-29 087

#PompomTheHorse #yarnbomb Getting fitted. @aknitica #CanadianWarMuseum

I’d love to write a more detailed post about how on earth one designs a fitted cover for a horse. Maybe later, now that my brain seems to have switched back on again, I will.

Lastly, I’ve discovered the joys of Instagram. It is my place, people. Pictures! Pretty pictures! And none of the drama of Facebook or Twitter. I’ve been posting there a lot, sharing pictures of my personal knitting projects, the many gezillions of things that I have on  my needles. (At last count, I had about 20 projects on the go. Yes, I’m one of those knitters.) If you’re on Instagram, come find me! I’m @aknitica. (And feel free to tag me if you’re knitting up one of my patterns! And you can hashtag the pattern name, too, if you like.)

Okay, now really lastly (apparently I was just kidding in the previous paragraph), I’m having a sale! It’s time for me to give all my lovely subscribers a deal. So, how about a BOGO! That’s Buy One, Get One FREE. For a limited time, and on Ravelry only, all of my self-published patterns will be part of this event, including those two new ones above, XOX OXO and Fluffa. Sadly, anything currently published by Knit Picks will not be included. But everything else is fair game. Simply add two (or multiples of two) patterns to your Ravelry cart, and the BOGO discount will automatically be applied to all eligible patterns. Yay! Go here to start shopping.

And rats, now I’m reminded that I had one last thing to show you. Too much yet? I just had another pattern published by Knit Picks! It’s Faela, my first sweater design, and it’s part of The Colorblock Collection. There are some gorgeous sweaters in there. This one is an oversized tunic with slight A-line shaping. It’s knit up in soft Knit Picks Swish Worsted.

#Faela Sweater pattern by @aknitica on @knitpicks

And that is really all for today. See you around the internets!

Amanda

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Aves Hat and Charmed Fall Accessories collection!

Woohoo! A mystery project of mine is finally releasing today, so now I can tell you all about it. It’s so hard to keep these secrets, but I admit, it’s fun at the same time. I’ve really been enjoying working on a small and growing pile of secret things this year.

Read on for the details, an announcement, and a giveaway!

Aves Hat pattern by Amanda Schwabe, part of the Charmed Fall Accesories collection from Knit Picks. #knitting #aknitica

The Aves Hat is now available in Knit Picks’ new Charmed Fall Accessories collection! And oh my goodness, you guys, I’ve been pouring through the book today, and it is adorable. It’s full of cute hats in all sorts of yarn weights, and I notice that most of them (including mine) feature fun pom poms this year. They’re colourful and fun, whimsical, and yes, completely charming. The collection is aptly named. 🙂

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I’m also delighted to see a selection of perfect mitten patterns. In fact, they’re basic and versatile enough that you might find yourself knitting them year after year. The designs have beautifully arranged stripes and just make me so happy.

Okay, and there’s more. More! Boot toppers with garden vegetables….!!!… cowls with feathers, with diamonds…. socks with foxes…. a scarf with a gnome on it (hilarious!), and then I found more gnomes as I flipped through the pages. And for the more subdued tastes, there are beautifully textured accessories that will be classics, like the Rectrix Scarf and the Eclate leg warmers and cowl (love!). I think I might need to make the Yarn Chase Hat with the kitty chasing a ball of yarn, at least for my daugher.

A more whimsical, charming, delightful collection I could not imagine. Knit Picks really knocked it out of the park, and I’m so thrilled to be a part of it. It’s just loaded with quick, perfect projects that make me smile.

My fellow Ottawa Knitting Guild peeps might especially like the Circus Hat, which features a bit of light 2-colour brioche stitch in the ribbing. (Our theme this year is brioche, so how perfect is that!) It is super sweet to boot.

Now, my Aves Hat features some light colourwork, just enough to keep things interesting, but not so much to make it scary, I hope. Once the little section of birdies is done, the dots are worked only every fourth row, so you’ll have 3 rest rows in between to knit mindlessly around in circles. It has a nice, slouchy fit and a fluffy pom pom on top that will make it drape just perfectly when worn. I made the ribbing around the bottom to be snug and cozy, and the pattern comes with 3 sizes so everyone can achieve a great fit.

Aves Hat by Amanda Schwabe in the Charmed Fall Accessories collection from Knit Picks. #knitting #aknitica

If you’ve never tried stranded colourwork before, don’t worry! Here are a couple things I’ve written with tips for you, and if you have any questions, just ask. Quick Tips for Knitting Fair Isle Colorwork and  Choosing Colors for Your Knitting.

The nice thing about this hat is that choosing the colours is a bit easier since there are only three. Heck, you could even knit it in just two if you like. I bet it would look awesome in black and white, or maybe black or grey with one of the Stroll Brights. I love those fluorescent colours! I wrote the pattern for Knit Picks Palette yarn, but you could easily knit it in Stroll instead, which is so super soft and lovely in a different way. Honestly, it’s hard for me not to knit 5 of each pattern I make, just to try out different colour and yarn combinations. I need more knitting hours!!

And now, another fun announcement:

If any of you would like to join me in a knitalong of any of the patterns in this collection, I’m inviting you to come and join my new Facebook group. The aknitica group is for anyone who likes to talk about knitting, of any kind, not just my patterns or classes. But obviously, we can talk about those, too, and if you have any questions about techniques or anything, I’ll be there to answer them as often as I can. And I’m sure there will be other knowledgeable knitters there, as well, who can help when I can’t get to the computer fast enough. 🙂

So come join the aknitica community and let’s knit together! There will be a giveaway of the Charmed Fall Accessories ebook, and I’ll tell you all the details of how to enter in the group.

 

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Unicorn Power! and Beaded Wristers Collection

Beaded Wristers Collection www.aknitica.com by Amanda Schwabe #wristers #beads #stashbuster

I am totally a magpie, attracted to shiny objects. That might explain my new obsession with beaded knitting. That, and the rhythmic, hypnotic, fun-yet-relaxing act of sliding beads into place amidst comforting garter stitch. (And if you’ve ever read any of my posts here, you’ll have noticed that I like fun-yet-relaxing knitting. Don’t bore me, and don’t make me tear my hair out, either. Give me something interesting, but not too interesting. What, beads? That’ll do.)

I get excited watching the beads grow into patterns and pictures. And, because I’m me, I get really excited dreaming up all the combinations of motifs and bling to put on my wrists and give to my friends.

And that, my friends, is why I present you today with not just one beaded wrister pattern — oh no! — but five. And there are more in the works. I’ve gotten completely carried away.

But why, you ask? Sure, they’re pretty, but what exactly does a tiny band around the wrist do?

Free As A Bird beaded wrister pattern. www.aknitica.com #knitting #beads #feathers

My goodness! They do all sorts of things! They’re not just a pretty face, you know. I’ve heard them called pulse warmers, which seemed pretty suspicious to me at first. I mean really, how much could a tiny woolly bracelet heat up a person? The answer is “surprisingly a lot.” They warm up the blood going to your fingers and make your hands feel all comfy while they’re practically naked. It’s a tiny miracle!

I wear mine almost all the time when it’s cold. I’ve even worn mine this summer in my air conditioning. (It gets chilly in here. First world problems.)

I keep a pair in my purse for “emergencies.”

I’ve decided they’re the perfect gift for every woman I know. Seriously. I can make a pair in a day or two, so why not? I will cover the world in fancy under-the-sleeve glitter, doling out warmth and goodwill made of prancing unicorns and glassy feathers.

Unicorn Power! Beaded wrister pattern. www.aknitica.com #knitting #beads #unicorns #mythical #cozy

The most fantastic thing, though, is that they keep me warm but don’t get in the way of my knitting. They fit under sleeves, both long and short, they will fit under my mittens, and they’re cute. They’re perfect for wearing while typing, biking, arm wrestling, working with clients, sipping lattes in over-air-conditioned book stores. And they’re a lovely, portable knitting project, too. Once you’ve pre-strung the beads, they’re ready to ride along in your purse to be pulled out in the event of knitting emergencies (read: waiting in boring lines or at the doctor’s office).

Pre-strung beads for knitting beaded wristers. www.aknitica.com #knitting #beads #shiny

The only thing I should warn you about is that if you have a tiny princess in your house who takes after you and your magpie-ness, she will want a pair or two or five. With bunnies. Not like that, mommy, like this. You will be surprised by her good taste and eye for balanced composition.

Coming soon, a pattern for Eva's bunnies.
Coming soon, a pattern for Eva’s bunnies.

And now to the nitty-gritty details. I’ve grouped four of the patterns together in a little collection, and they’re only available as part of this set. They are, clockwise from the top left, Liz’s Flowers, Epiphany, Free As A Bird, and Snowing.

Beaded Wristers Collection 6

Unicorn Power! is available separately, but I have good news. If you like bundles and deals, then prepare to bundle Unicorn Power! with the Beaded Wristers Collection and get a 10% discount on the whole shebang. Don’t worry, Ravelry will calculate that automatically for you when you add both to your cart.

Unicorn Power! beaded wristers pattern. www.aknitica.com #knitting #beads #unicorns #mythical

Now, I want to reassure any beading neophytes that this whole fancy beading thing is actually pretty easy. If you have dental floss threaders on hand, then you’re all set. They make the perfect “needles” to thread your beads onto your yarn. The patterns will tell you how many beads to load, and if you count them by 5’s, it’s fairly painless. Especially if you watch your latest series on Netflix while doing it.

You’ll want to get glass seed beads in size 8/0 (AKA #8). (The 8 means that you can fit 8 seed beads in one inch.) I’ve read that the Czech or Japanese beads are the most consistent in quality and size, so look for those. I get mine either from a local store (McBead Creations on Craig Henry in Ottawa) or online at Fire Mountain Beads.

As for the yarn, these things are so tiny that they make the perfect stashbusting projects. They require somewhat less than 30 grams of sock yarn per pair. You could probably even squeeze two pairs out of a small 50-gram skein of something wonderful, like Koigu Painters Palette. And don’t be afraid to stripe them up a bit. I’ve seen some beautiful ones done with stripes.

 

And there you have it. Welcome to my obsession. 🙂

If you’d like to pick up a copy of the PDF patterns, click one of these handy links. My kids’ orthodontist thanks you, and so do I.

Get just the Beaded Wristers Collection

Get just Unicorn Power!

Get both and save 10%

 

So who do you know that could use warm hands and pretty beaded wristers?

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Making 2-Stitch Cables the Easy Way … And a New Hat Pattern: Merry!

Finally! The long-awaited cabled ear-flap hat is here!

But first, let me tell you my favourite way to make 2-stitch cables. Did you know that you don’t need a cable needle for these tiny things? And you don’t need to rearrange the stitches, either? There’s a fun little trick for making them. Here it is:

Right Cross 2-Stitch Cable

You’ll be working into the two stitches while they’re both still on the left-hand needle. So, insert your right needle into the second stitch (the further-from-the-tip one) knitwise from the front of the work. Knit it, but don’t slide it off the needle. Now, insert your right needle (with the new stitch still on it) into the first stitch on the left needle knitwise from the front. Knit it. Now both stitches have been knit, and you can slide both off the left needle, and you’re done!

Take care that you don’t loosen the stitches as you’re working them. What I do is knit the far stitch, insert my right needle into the next one, then give the working yarn a tug before knitting it.

Left Cross 2-Stitch Cable

Again, you’ll be working the two stitches that form the cable while they’re both on the left-hand needle. Insert your right needle tip into the second stitch, but this time, do it from the back of the work. You can do it through the back loop. (Even though this will twist the stitch, it doesn’t matter because it’ll be hidden.) Knit it, but don’t slip it off the left-hand needle. Now swing your right needle around to the front of the work and knit the first stitch normally and slide them both off the left needle. Done.

Don’t forget to give the working yarn a tug between knitting each stitch to tighten things up. Keep your motions small and work at the tips of your needles.

Now for the hat pattern: Merry!

Merry hat pattern. www.aknitica.com #knitting #cables Merry cabled hat pattern with pompoms. www.aknitica.com #knitting #cables #pompoms

 

If you’ve seen Merrick, then this one will look familiar. It’s a complete reworking of the pattern (even the charts are different) because it starts from the I-cord up. The I-cords grow into the ear flaps, and then the hat is cast on around the ear flaps and worked up to the crown.

It’s a fun, squishy knit that’ll keep your ears and cheeks cozy on cold winter days. It makes a great gift for kids, teenagers, skiers, snowshoers, skaters, outdoor dog walkers, snowman builders, and bus-waiting commuters. The cables give the hat a lot of stretch and squish, so the sizes are quite versatile. And if you’d like to make a more slouchy version, just knit a size up.

Like I do in most of my patterns, I’ve included tips for making everything just so. Never knit an I-cord before? Don’t worry, there are full instructions plus tips for making them even.

And don’t worry about remembering the instructions for the little 2-Stitch cables. I’ve included the relevant ones in the pattern.

[box type=”download” size=”large” border=”full” icon=”none”]You can grab the Merry pattern here.[/box]

Or on Ravelry here.