Quickie Intarsia Tutorial

Great little instarsia video! Stacey makes it easy!
Intarsia. Oooh. Sounds scary, right?

instarsia knitting

But it’s totally not scary at all! I’ve filmed a quickie video for you… it’s only 2 minutes, you’ll be surprised at how easy it is!

Intarsia Tutorial Video

Intarsia is a method of changing colors over big stretches (when it’s too far to carry your unused color). All you do is twist the two yarns around each other and keep working!

Here’s a video!

Cool, right?

Practice!

FreshStitches chevron cowl Chiclets
I use this technique in my newest pattern, Chiclets (click here to buy now!).

You may also want to check out this fabulous free pattern I designed for Knitty all the way back in 2010. Another great first Intarsia pattern!

And you can follow up with Anne Berk’s Craftsy Class, Next Steps in Intarsia. Sounds fun, right?!?

Announcing FreshStitches Knitting Patterns!

Wow… I’m full of announcements this week, aren’t I? Here’s another, in case you missed it.

Here’s another one… I’ve released a new collection of knitting patterns! I developed these patterns with my new yarn line in mind, but they’ll work great with pretty much any worsted weight yarn!

freshstitches knitting patterns

I’m so excited!

My design philosophy

My designing philosophy is just the same for my knitting designs as for my crocheted animals: patterns should be easy to understand, and accessible to a beginner who is open to learning something new. They should be interesting enough to keep you happy, but easy enough that they make great ‘watching tv’ knitting.

And I’ve delivered on every one of these three patterns. I couldn’t be more proud!

rainbow of freshstitches yarns

Even though though I developed these patterns with my new yarn colors in mind, they work great with lots of different color combos! (Check out Bento, below!) You might be interested in reading my Color Theory blog post and my more recent post about blending neutral colors and brights for inspiration!

Can I show you my new, fabulous patterns?

All of the amazing photos below were shot by Gale Zucker. Who’s amazing.

Chiclets

Have you noticed the craze going around with mini-skeins? But what do you DO with those little bits of yarn? Or leftovers?

Meet Chiclets!

Chiclets Chevron Rainbow Cowl by FreshStitches

This pattern uses 1 skein (175 yards) of Louet Gems Worsted (the sample is knitted in Cloud Grey) and 20 yards of 4 colors from my new line. The knitting is nice and easy, just a simple chevron pattern… but throw in some color changes and KA POW! Little bits that look like Chiclets!

FreshStitches chevron cowl Chiclets

The cowl is knit flat, and the only kinda tricky bit is working Intarsia… which just means doing color changes without stranding the yarn behind! This would make a great first Instarsia project.

I didn’t have time to knit ALL of the samples I have ideas for, so can I just share them with you? And you do all that knitting?

  • Instead of using only 4 colors, make this a real stash-buster and make each ‘chiclet’ a different color. That’s 12 colors total!
  • Stack the color changes vertically, creating an ombre cowl
  • Hold fingering weight yarn double to get a worsted gauge… and use those sock-yarn minis I know you have in your stash!
  • Use only 2 chiclet colors (maybe black & white?) for a super modern and sleek cowl

Aaah! I can’t wait to see these projects!

Go ahead and add this great pattern to your cart!

Mixie

When I was designing Mixie, I wanted a simple project. Fun colors, mostly stockinette.

Mixie by FreshStitches

The result is this cutie, a kite-shaped wrap that’s really flexible to wear. Do you see all of those pretty yarn-overs on the border? Sure, they’re pretty… but they double as buttonholes! So you can button this up any way you want!

Mixie by FreshStitches

Isn’t that fun?

The sample shows 3 colors (FreshStitches Cherry, Clementine and Lemon), but you could turn this one into a stash-buster too… and have oodles of stripes!

Go ahead and add this great pattern to your cart!

Bento

I began designing Bento as a project for an “Introduction to Shawl Knitting” class. A lot of students are nervous about knitting a shawl (what the heck is a garter stitch tab?) especially ones that contain beads and lace.

Well, ‘lace’ is really just a word for a stitch pattern that contains yarn overs, and if you can knit, purl, increase and decrease, then you can do it!

Bento Shawl by FreshStitches

And so Bento was born: a great shawl that gently introduces you to various stitch patterns, and even a bit of beads for bling.

Bento by FreshStitches

I love the shape and weight of this shawl. Sometimes shawls end up being pretty, but barely stay on your shoulders. Not this guy! The extra-wide shape means that it easily drapes over your shoulders.

Go ahead and add this great pattern to your cart!

See these in person!

A trunk show featuring these patterns (as well as a few others in my new yarn line) are coming to an LYS near you! The party will start at Knit New Haven.

Ask your local yarn shop if they’re stocking the FreshStitches line of Louet Gems, and whether they’re signed up for the trunk show!

FreshStitches yarn, Olive You Baby cardigan

Free Bulky Hat Pattern + Bulky Rainbow Samplers!

 

bulky yarn sampler freshstitches

Stitch up a quick and easy rainbow hat using bulky yarn!

Free Download: Easy Bulky Hat Pattern

I wrote up a quickie pattern for you that shows off the wonderful texture and colors in this yarn!

Freshstitches bulky hat

It’s a free pattern, and you can download the pdf, here.

You can knit the entire hat with one 16″ circular… no need to switch to double points!

Easy Bulky Hat Freshstitches

The hat is sized to fit a woman’s medium (21″ head circumference), but is pretty stretchy, so you can probably fit it on a slightly larger one!

zig zag banner

Ready for some rainbow fun?

bulky yarn sampler freshstitches

Download your Easy Bulky Hat pattern. I can’t wait to see yours!

Free Cowl Pattern + Crazy Skein Cowl Kits!

 

I used to carry some awesome Shepherds Wool Crazy Skein yarn and I got a lot of questions about what would be the best thing to make with it. I’ve used it for lots of things – hats, shawls, scarves and and awesome cowl.

I wrote up a quickie pattern for you that shows off the wonderful texture and colors in this yarn.

Either Way Cowl

It’s a free pattern, and you can download the pdf, here.

Why is it called ‘Either Way Cowl’? Because I’m showing you two different ways to knit a cowl! Try the ‘easiest way’ if you’re new to knitting or want a really simple project! If you have some knitting experience under you’re belt, then ‘try this way’ and watch my provisional cast-on video for help!

cowl freshstitches
‘Try this way’ version shown.

cowl freshstitches

Download your Either Way Cowl Pattern and pick your way!

I can’t wait to see yours!

Best,
Stacey

Book Review: Woodland Knits

I adore Stephanie Dosen’s (aka Tiny Owl Knits) designs. She designs whimsical and fun knitting patterns… so I was really excited to see her book, Woodland Knits.

Woodland Knits by Tiny Owl Knits

The book contains 21 adorable patterns, 10 of which are new designs for the book. The remaining 11 designs are well-loved favorites, like the deer with antlers hat, bo peep scarf and fawn poncho.

mr. fox stole my heart woodland knits

The book contains cute little notes and helpful tips throughout, but no introductory material. It’s 21 lovely patterns bound together in a book.

Woodland knits

I was surprised to see that all of the patterns in the book are available for individual purchase as pdf downloads. At around $5 a piece, if you’d like to make a few, then $20 for the book is a great deal!

Bo peep scarf tiny owl knits

Besides the discount over purchasing 21 individual patterns, though, you don’t get much additional content to the book. So, I would recommend having a peek at the included designs (which is tricky, since only the new 10 designs are listed as patterns in the book on Ravelry), and deciding whether there are a few you’d like to knit.

The patterns are cute and the book is very pretty… so if you can find a few, then I’d say go for it!

 

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New Plush Books (knit and crochet)!

Can you believe it… I’m still sifting through my TNNA notes!

TNNA is the place where publishers show off their new and soon-to-be released books… and there were so many to get excited about! How about I share my list of faves with you?

 

There are oodles of stuffed animal books for us softie-lovers!

Crochet Stuffed Animals

Amigurume

Knitted Stuffed Animals

 

More Adorable Animals

Not Stuffed Animals, but Cute…

Monster Knits for Little Monsters

Aren’t these all such great-looking books? So much fun!

Does it count as stash? A chat about sock yarn & review of Sock Yarn Studio.

A minimalist’s take on stash

If you’ve been following me, you’ll know I’m not a huge stash-er. I have about 2 medium-sized boxes of personal yarn (work yarn doesn’t count!), and to be honest, a fair chunk that was given to me by a de-stashing friend.

I always get a lot of strange looks when I say this. Don’t I love yarn?

Of course I love yarn, I just don’t feel the need to buy much of it without a project in mind. Let’s say you discover a beautiful batch of worsted weight yarn that you like. Without a pattern, how much should you buy? A sweater could take anywhere from 800-1500 yards (depending on sleeve length, pattern, collar, etc.) There’s a huge risk of buying too much or not buying enough.

beautiful cones of habu yarn in an LYS

Now, walk into my low-stash world for a minute. Let’s say you didn’t buy that yarn, and you happily keep that $100 or more tucked into your pocket. Months later, you come across a pattern for a beautiful sweater. Do you know what’s really fun? Shopping for the perfect yarn for that sweater: taking into account the color, ply and fiber that would make the best sweater imaginable. You have a bit of money tucked away… and no guilt about ‘needing to use the stuff in the closet’. Fabulous.

Any exceptions?

Is there any yarn that I’ll buy without a plan for?

Yes. Sock yarn.

self-striping sock yarn

You see, my main complaint about buying yarn without a project in mind (and ‘stashing’) is that you can never be sure you’re buying the right amount.

But with sock yarn, you can always buy a skein and knit a pair of socks. Or find a one-skein shawl pattern. Or make a hat. No worries.

Sock Yarn Studio

I’m already in love with sock yarn. It tends to be the thickness favored by indie dyers: meaning that you’ll find a dazzling array of colors and dye patterns available. And, like I said… you can always make a pair of socks!

But what if you don’t like socks? Should you still love sock yarn?

Sock Yarn Studio book review

Oh yeah. Meet your new friend: Sock Yarn Studio.

This book is a collection of patterns that use sock yarn… but no socks allowed! Sock Yarn Studio is cleverly divided into one skein, two skein & three and more skein projects. So, if you’re like me, and already have a little supply of sock yarn, you’ll find the perfect thing to knit!

fair isle cowl pattern sock yarn

The projects inside are adorable hats, scarves, gloves and even sweaters… designed to feature the yarn. You’ll find projects in a range of difficulty levels, so whether you’re looking for a simple knit, colorwork or intricate shaping, there’s something for you.

What I love most about this book is the fabulous introduction. I’m a sucker for books that have a meaty chunk of information at the front- and this one has it.

how to avoid pooling

Topics such as: variation in thickness among sock yarns, judging color repeats, how to avoid pooling, swatching and substituting yarns are covered. Everything you need to know to feel comfortable working with sock-weight yarn.

Why shouldn’t you give it a try? Just remember… sock yarn doesn’t count as stash!

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Adorn Anew Blog Tour: How to dye a gradient yarn with kool-aid!

I was excited when Laura Nelkin asked me to be on the blog tour for her serialized ebook, Adorn Anew: it’s a beautiful collection of knitted & beaded jewelry and accessories, with a new pattern released each month in 2012.

Laura is well-known as the ‘knitting with beads’ goddess (okay, I made the title up, but that’s an accurate description!), and is the instructor of the crazy popular Knitting with Beads course on Craftsy.

I had never knitted with beads before, so the reason I was so stoked to be on the blog tour is that I knew it would give me a push to give knitting with beads a try. Beads add such a beautiful bling to your project without increasing the difficulty by too much. Besides, I know Laura’s work. The instructions in her patterns and accompanying videos on her site are fabulous. I wouldn’t run into any trouble.

So, anyway… (this is one of those stories where my husband would say, “where’s the point of this story?” And I would say, “I have to tell the story chronologically!”) I signed up to be on Laura’s blog tour back in early summer, when only half of the patterns had been revealed. I was anxiously awaiting November, so I’d discover which pattern I’d be knitting. I nearly fell off my chair when I found out that November’s pattern is Stellanti! It’s an amazingly beautiful shawl… and I spotted Laura wearing it at Rhinebeck, but I had no idea it would be part of Adorn Anew! I had been coveting it… and I am so excited to be knitting it!

What is a gradient yarn?

A gradient yarn is a yarn that slowly shifts from one color into deeper shade of a similar color. Although Stellanti would be beautiful with any fingering weight yarn… the gradient yarn used for the sample gives it a little extra pizzazz.

The samples were knit in Nightfall by Fibro Fibers, which is absolutely stunning. But since each skein is hand-dyed (and there’s currently a huge demand for Stellanti!), this particular yarn can be hard to get your hands on.

And since this shawl requires 490 yards, purchasing a standard 440 yard skein (of Noro or another commercial gradient yarn) won’t work… since you’d run out of yarn and would need a 2nd ball… which would mess with the gradient.

Sound like a pickle! No worries! I’m going to show you how to dye your own gradient yarn, using Kool-Aid! It’s fun, cheap and easy!

How to dye a gradient yarn

Let’s do it! You’ll need:

  • 490 yards of undyed yarn (details below)
  • 2 colors of Kool-Aid, 5 packets each
  • 4 mason jars or containers

Prepare your yarn

To begin, you’ll need 490 yards of an undyed fingering weight yarn, mostly wool (a little bit of nylon is fine, but avoid plant fibers, since these won’t take dye the same way). I’m using LB 1878 from Lion Brand, but I’ve also had great success with the bare skeins from Knit Picks:

Roll your yarn into a cake… this step is important!

Select your Kool-Aid

I’ve blogged about dyeing with Kool-Aid before (read the different techniques here!), but today we want to achieve a gradient, which means selecting only 2 colors… where one is a ‘darker’ version of the other.

I chose Tropical Punch (red) and Grape (purple). I discovered in Laura’s Ravelry group that there’s a special Halloween color called ‘Ghoul-Aid‘, which is closer to black and would work amazingly, but I didn’t know about it when I was dyeing!

Prepare your yarn and Kool-Aid

First, prepare your yarn by separating it into 4 approximately-similar-sized chunks. This is easy because you wound your ball… pull out one center chunk, then another…

Line your mason jars up in a row. Pour 2 packets of color 1 into the far left one, then 2 packets of color 2 in the far right one. For the center two jars, combine the colors to create your gradient. For example, my 2nd jar contains 1 packet of Tropical Punch and a teaspoon of grape:

Next, pour very hot water into your jars:

At this point, it would be wise to stick a little sample yarn into each jar… just to make sure you like the color. You can add more Kool-Aid to alter the color at this point.

Dye!

Stick the yarn in the jars! One yarn ball per jar:

Use a utensil (remember, the water’s hot!) to poke at the yarn and make sure every bit of yarn is getting wet. If there’s a section that doesn’t absorb yarn, you’ll end up with a white blotch!

Do you notice a little section of white yarn between the jars? Be sure to dunk those sections into the dye as well!

Let dry

Remove the yarns and squeeze out the excess water:

Let these dry completely before you do anything else… you don’t want any tangles!

You have a gradient yarn!

Once dry, wind into a cake:

Ta da! Isn’t it beautiful!

Wanna see my progress?

I think my Stellanti is knitting up beautifully!

And look at my beads! Aren’t they fabulous?

Knitting with beads isn’t too complicated… the most difficult part (in my opinion) is that once pre-strung, you have to keep scooting the beads down your yarn as you work. No biggie.

Want to get started?

You can grab the Adorn Anew ebook (for the whole collection of fabulous patterns), or just the Stellanti pattern. Right now, there’s a Stellanti Knit-a-long in Laura’s Ravelry group, and I don’t think it’s too late to join in!

Hope you’ve loved this tutorial!

Review of Knitting Pleats by Olga Pobedinskaya

I got a chance to peek at Knitting Pleats while at TNNA in June (a big needlework trade show), and I was instantly drawn to the stunning shawl on the cover. I had a spare minute to flick through it, and I was impressed: it’s full of really creative and modern pieces.

So, when I got a chance to review a copy of Knitting Pleats, I let out a little ‘squee’! I’m delighted to announce that the book is just as lovely as my initial impressions told me it would be!

About the book

There are oodles of knitting books on the market… and it’s sort of hard to imagine a completely new topic. There are piles of sock books, books full of sweater patterns, knitted stuffed animals… but a book all about pleats? Now that’s new!

A book that covers a topic that I have very little experience with is instantly attractive! And, in addition to a novel topic, the author has a style that isn’t often seen in American knitwear. She’s of Russian-Ukranian descent, and she blends influences from her personal background, Japanese patterns and geometry and Western styles into an incredibly unique and modern series of garments and accessories.

Check out this Accordion Bag:

Isn’t it fabulous? I mean, have you ever seen a knitted bag like this before? And don’t you want to knit it right now?!?

I’m also in love with Silver Darts, a gorgeous t-shirt:

I’m scheming about what yarn I’d want to knit it from, now!

Features of the book

I’ve already said that the designs are novel and beautiful. But, I also love the information that’s inside this book.

The introduction contains a section called ‘Understanding Knitted Pleats’, which is fairly comprehensive: explaining how to make vertical and horizontal pleats, in both stockinette and garter.

For me at least, this sort of additional information is what makes a book worth buying. It’s more than just a collection of patterns, it’s a jam-packed bundle of information that gives you the foundation you’ll need to understand what you’re knitting, and maybe even design your own garments with pleats!

I also love that this book contains illustrations of knitting techniques that you’ll need for the patterns in the book.

I find that, when I’m knitting from a book, it’s not always convenient to run to the computer to look up how to do a new stitch… so having that information in the front of the book is a real plus.

Finally, I really like that the patterns the book are arranged in order of difficulty: easiest first. That way, you’ll know exactly what you’re getting into!

Drawbacks of the book

I really like this book, but there are a couple of tiny negatives that I can’t go without mentioning.

The first negative (which is echoed by a couple of other reviews I read on Amazon) is that I wouldn’t really knit all of the patterns in this book. Some of the garments are just too ‘out of the box’ for my taste.

In my opinion, though, if I knit 2 patterns from a book, then it’s worth the price (since individual patterns from the designers that I love are in the $6-$8 range). And, there are certainly a couple designs that will hop onto my needles in the future… just not all of the ones in the book!

Another little downside is that there isn’t a resource guide for the little extras used in the book. Mostly, I’d love to know where to get the handles for the Accordion Bag, but I’m sure I can source them on my own.

The Review

Grab it! This is a well-written book, full of useful information about pleats in addition to some lovely patterns. The patterns cover a range of difficulty levels, so anyone proficient with increasing/decreasing and reading a pattern will be able to get a start.

If you’re a traditionalist and only want to wear plain sweaters… then maybe this book isn’t for you. Or who knows… maybe it’ll inspire you to get out of your knitting comfort zone!

Review of The Big Book of Knitted Monsters by Rebecca Danger

Love knitting cute monsters? Rebecca Danger’s Big Book of Knitted Monsters has been on the wish-list of every monster-knitter I know! And for good reason: it’s packed full of adorable monster patterns. This book isn’t for every knitter out there, so you’ll want to skip down to reading my review to see if it’s for you. But first, I want to show off the cutie I knitted from the book!

Hugo the Couch Monster

I couldn’t wait to break into the book and make a monster of my own! I chose Hugo the Couch Monster… he’s a real cutie! Since all of the patterns in the book are ‘any size, any yarn’ patterns… I was pleased to use up some of my stash! Hooray!

The book recommends using magic loop, but I’m a two-circulars sort-of-girl, and that technique worked out just fine!

And I’m very happy with my resulting cutie!

What do you think?

The Review

If you’re familiar with Rebecca Danger and her adorable monster patterns, then you know what this book is about! Big Book of Knitted Monsters contains 20 patterns for cuddly monsters that you can customize to be any size you’d like.

Besides the cuteness of the monsters, one of the big strengths of this book is the variety of yarns that are used to make the samples. Rebecca says in the introduction that the monsters can be knitted with any thickness yarn (and the appropriate sized needle), and she demonstrates the flexibility of her patterns throughout the book. Every monster in the book is knitted in at least two yarns: often a bulky yarn and a worsted weight yarn. It’s really great that you’re able to see how the pattern works up in different yarn choices… gets your creativity flowing!

One of the weaknesses of this book is the lack of detailed introductory and finishing information. I know why there isn’t: Martingale (the publisher) imposes an 80 page limit on its books. So of course, if you have a book with 20 different patterns, there isn’t much room for details. There are very helpful photographs sprinkled throughout the book, which I appreciate… but there are a few spots where you’re left to fill in the gaps. You’ll be instructed to ‘sew the arms on using a whipstitch’, but the exact positioning of the arms is up to you to sort out from the photograph (or maybe, your own creativity!).

Pros

  • The writing in the book is whimsical, playful and enjoyable to read.
  • The monsters are adorable.
  • Each pattern can be knitted in a variety of yarn thicknesses and colorways, so there’s lots of options!
  • Tricky knitting techniques are demonstrated through photographs: which are much clearer than an illustration.
  • If you can knit on double points (or two circulars, or magic loop), you can do almost any of the patterns in this book. Most of the monsters are fairly simple to knit.

Cons

  • The introduction is sparse. It contains information about how to do the magic loop technique, but you’ll need to look at an outside resource if you need help with other knitting techniques.
  • Other reviews I’ve read have been disappointed in the similarity between the various monsters in the book. I, personally, am not too bothered by this… they’re knitted in Rebecca’s signature style, and each one demonstrates a different shape/feature. However, each monster has a glued-on mouth, and I would have liked to have seen one that doesn’t- since glued-on mouths aren’t safe for small children to play with. She mentions in the introduction that the monster would be just as cute with an embroidered mouth, but we don’t ever see one knitted up.

So, if you like monsters and are comfortable with basic knitting techniques (or, at least, feel confident looking for outside help if you need it), then this book is for you! Happy monster knitting!