Maize is FINALLY here

Oh, you guys. I can’t even. March 2009?!

This one’s been a long time coming. Meet Maize. This time for real.

Here, let me crib from the notes inside the pattern because whoa. My head is officially done in.

Also known as: the pattern that broke a thousand tech editors (this is only a slight exaggeration). Maize is a pattern with a STORY.

Have you ever knit something that—while incredibly easy to knit—is really, really difficult to explain? That’s Maize in a nutshell. I knit the first sample in gorgeous Malabrigo “Frank Ochre,” a golden color that jumps out at you in the dim light of autumn.

Knit from the bottom up, the cables that form the peplum bottom come together organically and create shaping that’s almost invisible. Ditto at the bust and armscye…and therein the problem! Sometimes I am terrible at writing down what I do as I go along if I am knitting something for myself, which was my original intention here.

I thought my trusty long-term tech editors would be able to help. They are way better at making sense of my scribbles than I am sometimes! They tried…valiantly. So, so valiantly.

Finally, to get a pattern that was not only correct but also available in sizes other than Shannon-size, Andi knit an entirely new sample from Knit Picks Wool of the Andes, the green version you see here. We tested and recharted and fixed along the way. I cannot thank everyone who helped me with this pattern enough. In particular: tech editors Alexandra Virgiel, Kate Atherley, Andi Smith and Ruth Garcia-Alcantud, all of whom have poked it with a stick (sometimes beaten it with a stick) over the past few…years.

(This pattern took forever, but I’d rather it be right than not!)

Andi gets special thanks for knitting and taking notes on the second (green) sample, and working on the charts. Ruth is probably getting a life-sized chocolate statue in the mail soon.

Beautiful photos by Caro Sheridan, as modeled by Rebecca Patterson.

YAY!

(Shannon falls over, quietly, into a puddle of glee-induced, exhaustion-inspired mush).

Repin it on Pinterest, would you?

Meet Haybale! (a new pattern)

Unlike its namesake, this is GUARANTEED non-itchy.

Sometimes in life you have to be open to a change of plans. This pattern is one example of that. Originally slated for a booklet I was working on, it’s been languishing here in the studio and frankly, I was starting to get sad every time I looked at it, so I’m releasing it. Pow! Done. Sadness conquered! Meet Haybale.

Knit in Alchemy Yarns Temple, in colorway Tea Party, this deceptively simple pattern has a few major things going for it.

One, it’s knit lengthwise, which makes it go MUCH faster. I learned long ago I don’t actually hate knitting scarves. I hate knitting scarves in the other direction! And if you start to run out of yarn, or get bored, or realize you have a lot more stash to kill off, it’s ok, just keep going!

Two, the stitch pattern is deathly simple BUT there are bobbles. You can try this fancy schmancy technique for perfect mid-row crocheted bobbles in a knit project from The Holocene, or you can do regular ol’ knit bobbles (directions included). The bobbles serve not only to break up the fabric and add dimension and texture but also to break up what is otherwise mindless TV knitting. Perfect for summer.

And three, the yarn. The yarrrrrrrn. Oh, this yarn is just TASTY. And Gina at Alchemy dyes such spectacular colors that even if this one doesn’t float your boat, you can surely find any number of others that will. Her new colorway Indian Paintbrush, for example.

(This would also be a killer stashbuster pattern if you have a lot of scraps hanging out in your knitting bin…just switch colors every row, or do the pattern in black and the bobbles in brights…it’s up to you!)

The pattern is available on Ravelry and if you’re on the Knitgrrl mailing list, check your inbox, there’s a special buy-Haybale-get-a-free-pattern offer waiting for you now.

We’re still prepping for the big TNNA tradeshow in (gulp) less than two weeks, so if you happen to be going, stop by and see me in the Cooperative Press booths, 355-357-454

Enjoy!

Free Minu cowl pattern

Hey! Another free pattern — and this one is even quicker than the last. Honestly: an hour. It’ll probably take you longer to hunt down your US #13 needles in your stash. One skein of delicious Malabrigo Rasta and you are good to go. In fact, you’d better buy more than one skein, since these go so quickly, it’s addictive.

All I ask is that you favorite the pattern on Ravelry and post a project/photo if you knit one! I would also love to see someone do it in seed instead of ribbing, this yarn is just so gorgeous.

1% inspiration, 99% perspiration

Or, in this case, 1% inspiration, 99% swearing my head off at Adobe Illustrator. (Thank you, dear Marnie, for rescuing me from my own layers-based stupidity)

I worked deep into the night last night on a new pattern which is proving to be the focal point of an entire collection of ideas based on one data source. I’m keeping things a bit close to the vest right now, but let’s just put it this way: I am really happy that someone else volunteered to knit this first piece, because it is…overwhelming.

Overwhelming in all kinds of ways — the patterning made me swoon the more I worked on it, wrestling Illustrator to get the motifs just right, stepping back when my eyesight finally said “lady, NO…GO TO BED already!” and yet, I was so entranced by it I couldn’t stop working.

It’s a sickness, I tell you.

Hint.

You might just want to visit these blogs on these days for a chance to win cool stuff… really.

4 July — Go Knit in Your Hat
5 July — Knitgrrl
6 July — Lorna’s Laces
7 July — Knittyblog
8 July — Indigirl
9 July — Bricoleur Knits

Meanwhile, meet my new baby:

(Seen in the messy desk background: my Harveyville cup, the little bag with my Flip camera in it, a blue Mason jar just to torment my friend Candra, who loves them, the edge of one of my leopard-print Lexie Barnes bags), business cards, a mug by my potter friend Gina)

These are the sleeves of my new sweater design. The yarn is Alisha Goes Around Stable of Horses, a delectable superwash merino with an ultra-sproingy tight ply to it. “Sproingy” is perhaps not the professional term for it, but it is the most apt. And it is FABULOUS to knit.

“Sleeves?” you say. “But Shannon, that looks like one big ol’ sleeve, not two!”

You are correct, Fearless Reader! You knit ’em both at once and then you steek ’em! No worrying about running out of yarn for colorwork ever again. Perfectly matching stripes. All will be explained in the pattern, I promise. You can resort to knitting your sleeves separately if you really want to, but where’s the fun in that?

The Knitgrrl 9 for the holidays!

Nine of my patterns for knitgrrl.com in one amazing pattern booklet, for less than half the cost of the same patterns bought separately! You can order a printed copy directly from Magcloud here. For a signed copy or something special holiday-wise, just send me an email at admin@knitgrrl.com! I have copies here, too, and we can make arrangements of a gifty nature… I’m super-good at playing Santa.

Check out some page previews:

This collection includes Copine, Mosaic, Ennis, Dissolve, Xylem, Satomi, Katalin, Reboux and Red Lotus. Satomi is actually 3 coordinating patterns (hat, scarf and sweater) and Katalin includes both a möbius wrap and wristlets, so it’s actually like getting 12 patterns!

In which I wait for yarn & introduce Xylem

My NaKniSweMo yarn is late. I am trying not to panic. So, to warm up, I created a new hat pattern over the weekend. Meet Xylem.


modeled by my delightful studio neighbor Phyllis, in front of one of her prints

You can order the pattern (for $4.50) below. I am having some fairly massive cravings in terms of wanting to order ALL the Shelter (Brooklyn Tweed yarn used in this hat). I have some Button Jar in stash but the Thistle — my golly, the Thistle — WANT IT, TOO. That yarn is fantabulous.

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Before I became a big sweater knitting geek (NaKniSweMo? yes — that is geeky), I was a major-league hat knitter. Most of my early designs are spread out among family and friends, and who knows how on earth I could round them all up again? I really should have been better with the photographs. I’ve been debating doing a booklet of hat designs for a while to get my mojo back, because once I get started, I CANNOT STOP KNITTING THEM. I love it too much. Should this be my December project? What do you think? It would give me an excuse to buy — or salvage from stash — gobs of indie yarn that I’ve been wanting to knit for a while, so there’s a stash-clearing incentive, too. (Hello skeins of Quince & Co hanging on my studio wall, hi Yarn Love yarn in the delicious Lagoon color, etcetera etcetera).

Meet Silke, and Brave New Knits


photo copyright 2010 Jared Flood/Rodale, Inc.

Silke (pronounced ZILL-kah) is a cardigan jacket inspired by a former (German, hence pronunciation) coworker of mine, and appears in Julie Turjoman’s brilliant new book Brave New Knits. The sample, which was knit by my beloved Andi of KnitBrit fame, visited summer TNNA last year to many oooohs and aaahhs, and I think you’ll love it, too.

The Alchemy yarn is ridiculously delicious, and what you can’t see in Jared’s beautiful photographs — the internet can only do so much, pick up a copy of the book for a better view — is the contrast between matte and slightly shiny in the yarn choices, which highlights the overall look. Alchemy Sanctuary is 70% wool and 30% silk, so the lower body has that gorgeous sheen that silk gives a wool yarn, while the upper portion of the yoke, knit held together with Alchemy Haiku (which is 60% mohair and 40% silk) somehow manages to be shimmery and matte at the same time due to the way the mohair’s texture interacts with the silk.

I’m getting a little verklempt right now just thinking about the yarn. Gina at Alchemy really knows her stuff. But back to the book — Julie and I had such fun when she visited here to do my interview, we went to the patio at Melt (yes, we have a grilled cheese restaurant here) and spent ages out on the patio. Julie was among the first people to see Knitgrrl Studio in its raw condition, as I’d just signed the lease and we hadn’t even moved everything in yet or put up the drywall or anything.

Do yourself a favor and grab a copy of Brave New Knits — not just for Silke, but because it’s a wonderful book and you’ll love it.

Fall collection + books + busy

The Fresh Designs books are coming along really nicely — one designer’s even finished her project already and it’s on its way to us. Last week, before we went to the zoo as a reward for much hard work this month, we met up with the photographer who will be taking the pictures for the books. He’s very good at the precise look I want for these photos, and I think it’s going to be a great partnership across the board.

Meanwhile, I’ve got my own design work to do, too! Some of the knitting is going out to sample knitters and some of it is being done here. Sarah Jo’s been working on one of the socks and Abra just started one of the scarves, which is in the sqooshiest, tastiest yarn you’ve ever seen (Alchemy Temple). It’s a simple design, but that’s good, because it’s really showing off the yarn.

Here is a unintentionally blurry photo of the socks Sarah Jo is knitting. Sorry, no time to take another one, we don’t mean to tease you too terribly. (Although, you really should stock up on Shibui Knits Sock in Honey and Wasabi. Mmm, honey and wasabi. That would be a good snack flavor, if you ask me).

One of the other yarns we’re using in the fall/winter collection is Berroco Remix. Calling all people with wool allergies — this stuff is fantastic! It’s got a very “dry” feel to it, and it seems to be fairly sturdy, because I’ve been using a swatch of it as a drink coaster on my office desk for the past month with no ill effects. It might seem to be more ‘summery’ in terms of fiber content but I really think it’s a good 4-season yarn. I could see wearing the sweater we’re making with it over a nice ribby wool turtleneck in the winter, with jeans.

If you follow me on Twitter, you might have caught me talking about us huffing yarn the other day — that was the Rowan Purelife British Sheep Breeds Chunky Undyed. Oh, is it dreamy. I like yarn that smells properly sheepy, it’s the spinner in me. Also supremely dreamy? The two colors of Blue Moon Fiber Arts sock yarn we’re combining. I am jumping up and down with glee at those, actually. And the Malabrigo sock yarn + Buffalo Gold buffalo yarn going into shawls? Droolworthy.

I haven’t even told you about my FAVORITE pattern thus far. It’ll just have to be a secret for now. Shhh!