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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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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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Unusual Ways to Choose Colors for Your Knitting

Choosing colors for a project seems to be one of those things that makes us all second guess ourselves. So let’s go over some basic rules and guidelines that might help you to choose colors confidently.

1. Choose colors that you love. What makes your heart sing every time you look at it? Base your project on that.

2. Choose colors that you consistently wear. Have you ever said to yourself, “I wear blue all the time. I should branch out.” WHY? Why do you do that to yourself? Chances are that spending a month making yourself a pink sweater just because you “should” will end with a sweater that sits in your drawer instead of on your back. You know, deep down, that you won’t wear it. Don’t do it. Make yourself classics. If you’re going to branch out, spend $10 and 5 minutes at the mall to test a new color first.

3. Colors can really be combined in soooo many ways and still be pretty. I bet you’ll only think something is ugly if you incorporate a color that you just don’t like. If you don’t enjoy a color, leave it out.

4. If rainbows make you happy, make rainbows. A rainbow effect doesn’t have to mean you’re using all the bright colors in the exact rainbow order. Try using muted versions of the rainbow colors. Or switch the position of just two of them. Or add a bit of grey, brown, cream, or whatever your favorite neutral is to tone things down. If you like bright colors, do a bright rainbow. If you like soft, muted colors, use light colors with a hint of grey in them. If you like earthy tones, use brownish, toned-down versions of the rainbow colors.

5. Aim for balance. Balance just means that there’s a bit of proportion in your design. There are repeating motifs, whether in shape, texture, color, shade, darkness, lightness, brightness… Sometimes creating an imbalance can add visual interest. If you want to draw the eye to an area and really make it pop, use a color that isn’t everywhere else already. Think of sock cuffs in bright red, or just one stripe in a contrasting color. Balance and imbalance are both design tools to put in your tool box.

6. Use contrast. If you want to emphasize a motif, make it dark and your background light, or vice versa. They could both be colored, like yellow on blue. But if they’re both a medium shade, they’ll blend together. That could be a cool effect, but if you want your design to pop, try using a navy blue with a light yellow. If you use a dark yellow with a light blue, however, the yellow might not be dark enough to contrast well.

7. Try using three colors that touch each other in the rainbow or on the color wheel. Did you know that the color wheel is just a rainbow bent into a circle? Yup, it’s that simple. Three colors in a row will give you a nice, gentle effect. Think yellow-green, green, green-blue. Or yellow, green, blue. Or orange, orange-red, red. Have some fun with it.

8. Look around you for inspiration. Flowers, gardens, buildings, paintings, sunsets and sunrises, clouds, farmers’ fields at harvest time, the first rays of sunlight touching the frost on a window pane…. What are their main colors? Now look more closely. What tiny flashes of other colors are inside? If you find beauty in something, try using those same  colors in those proportions in your next colorwork project.

9. Beauty is subjective. Some things, like the golden spiral, are universally beautiful. Did you know that the proportions we consider to be beautiful are mathematical? Cool, eh? But color isn’t necessarily universally beautiful. I have a friend who exclaims in delight over any deep purple or harvest color. One of my sons thinks black and brown are the most lovely color combination. I, personally, will buy any electric-blue or turquoise yarn you put in front of me. If I tried to make myself buy the harvest colors, I’d undoubtedly be dissatisfied with them and my friend would think I was crazy. Such is life. So, buy the colors you like. They’ll match, I promise. Just remember to throw in some contrast in their shades (lightness and darkness) so the design doesn’t disappear.

10. The color wheel contains pairs of opposite colors. These pairs are called complementary colors. When you’re looking at a color wheel, they’re the ones directly across from each other. The main 3 pairs of complementary colors are blue & orange, red & green, and yellow & purple. When used together in a design, they create high contrast but also balance. Hm. I think I may have just learned something profound about life right there.

For more on color theory, check out this handy website.

In other fun color news, I’ve just finished this new hat pattern. I’ve named it Obla, and it’s a stranded colorwork hat made with just two colors. Interestingly enough, I chose two complementary colors for its prototype. And I used two shades, as well. The pinky-purple is medium-dark, and the seafoam green is nice and light. Simple color theory at work. 🙂 Oh, and of course, I actually quite like both those colors. Otherwise, what would be the point?

Obla Slouchy Hat pattern. www.aknitica.com #knitting #hats

 

It’s knit up using a total of 60 grams of fingering-weight yarn and size 3 US (3.25 mm) needles. About 30 grams for each of the colors should be enough. You can grab a copy of the pattern here on the aknitica website or over on Ravelry.

I really enjoyed knitting it up. The chart has a nice, simple repeat with no long floats anywhere. I wish I had more time to make another, maybe with a modified rainbow background and white for the contrast. Or maybe in dark charcoal grey with mustard yellow. What do you think?

Obla Slouchy Hat pattern. www.aknitica.com #knitting #hats

 

Obla Slouchy Hat pattern. www.aknitica.com #knittingtips #hats

 

I hope my color tips were a little helpful today. I figured that other places go into the technical details of color theory more, so maybe I should give you some other ideas. Can you think of any other tips for us? I’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment below, and don’t forget to share this post on Facebook or Pinterest if you found it helpful.

Just out of curiosity, what is your favorite color combination?

31 Days to Your Nicest Knitting series. www.aknitica.com #write31days #knittingtips

This post is part of my 31 Days to Your Nicest Knitting series. Every day, I’ll post a new tip or trick to make your knitting nicer. You can follow along easily by subscribing. If you have any knitting problems you’d like me to fix, let me know and I’ll try to answer your question as part of the series. You can find all the posts in the series here.

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Quick Tips for Knitting Fair Isle Colorwork

Fair Isle can be an intimidating technique, but it doesn’t have to be. Sometimes, all you need is a little encouragement and guidance to get you going. At least, that’s all I needed. A few years ago, I took a 3-hour class with Sally Melville, and my knitting life suddenly expanded.

Tips for knitting Fair Isle. www.aknitica.com #knittingtips #write31days

Tips for Knitting Fair Isle

1. Try holding your yarn in different ways until you find a way that feels comfortable to you. (Read: least awkward.) Then, keep plugging away at it until your fingers hit their rhythm and you gradually speed up.

2. Some ways to hold your yarn:

  • with one color in each hand, knitting continental on one side and English on the other. (ie, alternating picking and throwing.)
  • with both colors in one hand: You can hold them together like a ribbon, side by side on your finger. You can have one strand wrap under your finger and the other over your finger. You can have one strand on your index and one on your middle finger. You could keep them on the same finger but separate them with a ring or a hair elastic.

3. Whatever way you hold your yarns, always keep them in the same positions in relation to one another. For example, if I hold my foreground color in my left hand, I keep it there for the entire project. I usually need to write it down because when I set it down for a while, I forget.

4. The color you hold underneath will be the more prominent color. The strand that runs overtop of the other will recede slightly. This is why, if you switch hands or yarn positions halfway through a project, it will look like your design has changed. So, whatever color you want to pop out, hold it in the bottom position. (In my case, that’s my left hand.) Actually, whatever way you hold the yarn, the strand that’s held to the left will be the bottom, popping-out one.

5. To prevent bunching of stitches between color changes: Every time you switch colors, spread out the knitting on the right-hand needle, then start with the next color. Actually, keep spreading out your knitting as you go. I think Sally recommended doing it every 3 stitches or so.

6. Your colorwork might look uneven at first, even if your tension was pretty good. Washing and blocking it will help.

7. Fair Isle gauge won’t be the same as your plain knitting gauge, even if you’re using the same yarn and needles. The floats tend to pull the fabric a bit tighter, making the stitches more like squares than little short rectangles. You must measure your gauge over a colorwork swatch, preferably in the same pattern as your project.

8. If your color changes happen further than an inch apart, you might want to “catch” the strand of the dormant color halfway across the gap to keep a long strand (float) from forming. This just means that you’ll bring the floating yarn in front of the working yarn (but not the knitting needle) before knitting one stitch. Then, you’ll return it to its original position and keep knitting.

9. Wool is more forgiving and is the best fiber for Fair Isle.

Sources: Mastering Color Knitting by Melissa Leapman and Two Hands, Two Colours Class by Sally Melville.

31 Days to Your Nicest Knitting series. www.aknitica.com #write31days #knittingtips

This post is part of my 31 Days to Your Nicest Knitting series. Every day, I’ll post a new tip or trick to make your knitting nicer. You can follow along easily by subscribing. If you have any knitting problems you’d like me to fix, let me know and I’ll try to answer your question as part of the series. You can find all the posts in the series here.

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How to Measure Knitting

Many patterns will tell you to “work in pattern for ____ inches / cm.” So measuring your knitting is an often-used, important skill. Here are some tips for getting accurate measurements.

The standard for how to measure knitting is different from the “counting your rows” standard. When we’re counting the number of rows we’ve worked, we do not include the cast-on edge or the stitches on the needles.

But, when measuring, we want to include the entire length of fabric. So we include the cast-on edge and even the unfinished stitches on the needles.

Lay your knitting on a flat surface. Arrange it and its needles so it’s neither stretched out nor scrunched up.

To measure length in knitting

Grab a straight ruler and line it up so the zero line is at the bottom edge, just as if you were about to measure a piece of paper or a desk. (A fabric ruler will work fine, but they’re less reliable in this instance because they can become distorted over time and because they don’t lay flat. If you use it, stretch it out taut to measure, but don’t pull too hard or you’ll stretch it permanently.)

Lay the ruler on top of the knitting away from the edges or any other distortions in the fabric.

Measure from the bottom up to the tops of the stitches on your needles.

To measure width in knitting

Arrange the ruler so the zero line is touching the outside edge. Lay it across the middle of the fabric, away from the cast-on or the needles. You’re looking for a place where the fabric is the least distorted. This is where a straight ruler comes in handy. You can use it to gently press the edges down if they’re inclined to curl. Measure across to the opposite edge.

To measure from the last decrease or increase

This is what you do when, for instance, you’ve finished a sweater’s waist shaping, and now you need to knit ___ inches further before the arm hole shaping. Or when you need to measure from the arm hole shaping up to the start of the shoulder shaping.

Find the landmark in your pattern. It’s a good idea to mark decrease or increase rows in some way when you make them so you don’t have to search hard for them later. Use a piece of contrasting-colour waste yarn, a safety pin, a stitch marker, or even one of those cheap, plastic hair elastics. You can put it directly into the stitch or between stitches, as long as it stays in the same row as you continue knitting. If you’ve used a cheap hair elastic, you can just cut it out later. (Thanks to my friend Laurie for that tip.)

Now that you know where your landmark is, measure from its row’s top edge up to the top of your stitches on the needles.

If you’re looking for info on how to measure gauge, not length or width, check out this previous post in the series.

31 Days to Your Nicest Knitting series. www.aknitica.com #write31days #knittingtips

This post is part of my 31 Days to Your Nicest Knitting series. Every day, I’ll post a new tip or trick to make your knitting nicer. You can follow along easily by subscribing. If you have any knitting problems you’d like me to fix, let me know and I’ll try to answer your question as part of the series. You can find all the posts in the series here.

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How to Avoid Repetitive Stress While Knitting

At some point, most knitters deal with repetitive stress or carpal tunnel problems, whether mild or severe. Here are some tips that might help to keep your hands and wrists in good knitting condition for many years to come:

Take breaks. When you do, get up, walk around, and stretch out your arms. Reach them up over your head. Loosen up your shoulder and neck muscles.

Stretch. Bend your wrists backwards and gently stretch your muscles. When you stretch, don’t pull many little times and bounce your muscles, but apply constant, steady, gentle pressure for about 10 – 15 seconds at a time.

Listen to your body. When your hands and wrists are aching or starting to ache, stop. Stretch. If you feel shooting pain, you’ve gone too far. Give them a rest until you can resume without pain.

Think in the long term. It’s better to stop before you hurt yourself so you can enjoy many years of knitting.

Repetitive stress is caused by doing the same motion over and over again. So switch motions. Try knitting in another style, like Continental, English, the pencil hold, or Peruvian purling. If you’ve been knitting flat, switch to a project in the round. If you’ve been knitting with worsted weight and relatively big needles, switch to a small-gauge project, like socks or gloves for a while. Switch from a cabled project to some colourwork. That way, you don’t have to stop knitting altogether when your hands get tired. This is what I do, and so far, it works. Because let’s face it, it’s not fun when you have to stop knitting.

Try using different needles. A different size, a different style (straights instead of circulars, perhaps), or even try a different substance, like bamboo or metal. There are even needles that claim to be ergonomically better for your hands, like the square, four-sided needles made by Kollage. (I just bought one in a 32″ circular. I’m going to try it out, just because trying new things is fun. The back of the package is fascinating. It says “The square needles are perfect for knitters who have arthritis, carpal tunnel, or stiffness in their hands and fingers.”  I hope to try them tonight.)

There are other products out there to help, like wrist braces that fit like small bracelets and don’t impede your motion. A friend of mine uses them and says they do help.

Keep your hands warm. Protect them from muscle stiffness. Hey, I happen to have a pattern to help with that!

Scrunchy Ombre Arm Warmers #knitting #stashbusters www.aknitica.com

If you’re a tight knitter, Stop It! Try to relax while you’re knitting. Be conscious about how you’re holding your needles and yarn, and if you notice yourself tensing up, make a point of relaxing your shoulders, arms, fingers, hands. If you’re worried about your knitting tension changing, try using a bigger needle size to make up for your new relaxation. An added bonus of relaxing your tension is that it will make your stitches much easier to work with and to slide along your needles.

Sit up straight. Apparently, when you slouch your shoulders forward, it compressed nerves in your neck. This, in turn, affects your arms, wrists, and hands.

What do you think? Have you tried any of these things? Did they work for you? If you have any extra tips to help other knitters, please leave them in the comments. 

31 Days to Your Nicest Knitting series. www.aknitica.com #write31days #knittingtips

This post is part of my 31 Days to Your Nicest Knitting series. Every day, I’ll post a new tip or trick to make your knitting nicer. You can follow along easily by subscribing. If you have any knitting problems you’d like me to fix, let me know and I’ll try to answer your question as part of the series. You can find all the posts in the series here.