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Sunday, January 11, 2015

Happy New Year - Next Up Valentine's Day

I wish you all a Happy New Year 2015 and am looking forward to making some pretty things now for Valentine's Day.

I last posted on Thanksgiving, and since then there's been nothing but celebrating in our home with family get-togethers and also the arrival of twin boys in the family! My needles and hooks have been Very Active!

Now, with Valentine's Day only about a month away, I'm working on some "heart-felt" projects. If there's any small project you'd like me to design, contact me here and maybe there'll be time to complete it. In the meantime, here are some suggestions for things to knit and crochet for Valentine's Day.


Project 1 -- Valentine Knitted Scarf

I'm very fond of this Here's My Heart Scarf and Headband. It's quick to knit and is a great stash-buster since it uses only an ounce or so of worsted weight yarn. 

Part of the heart shaping involves knitting several stitches together. This is clearly explained and illustrated in the pattern. You will also need to graft the two sides of the scarf together. There is a tutorial to show you how to do this. The pattern is suitable for advanced beginners and intermediate knitters.

However, everything is presented in clear step-by-step fashion, so an intermediate knitter would be able to make this and it's also really fast to knit.

The headband may be worn in the two ways shown here and has a very boho quality to it. It would be quite fetching for Valentine's Day.

The pattern includes a variation I call Hearts and Flowers since there are sweet little crocheted flowers on the scarf heart ends. This is definitely for the romantics among us.

You can get the pattern Here.


Project 2 -- Bulky Crochet Cowl for Beginners 

The design for this cowl came about because I saw a fascinating Jumbo Crochet Hook from Lion Brand. It was a size S (19mm) and really, really big. 

I wondered if something could be made with it that would only take a few minutes, but that would allow the yarn to form graceful stitches and a soft, draping fabric. I used several different yarns to make samples of this cowl and they each looked and felt great. 

The pattern gives suggestions for different yarns to use - both high-end and inexpensive. The cowl can also be made from 3 strands of knitting worsted held together as one. 

The real beauty of this design is that even new crocheters can make this in 1/2 hour - using only 1 skein of yarn!!

If you're an experienced crocheter, you'll be able to make this in 15 to 20 minutes. Think of all the Valentine Gifts you can make! 

I'm showing it here in red, the traditional Valentine color, but it looks good in any color and if made in masculine shades, it's also great for men.
You can get this pattern Here.
             
            
Project 3 -- Heart Lace Knit Scarf

This beautiful scarf is perfect for intermediate knitters who want to use a lace panel within a textured background. 

The pattern instructions are written out without abbreviations in Standard American Terminology (as are all KnittingGuru Patterns). I know that abbreviations can be confusing and knitters find themselves checking continually with the Key that explains them. This slows you down and makes the knitting more cumbersome. I only use complete English sentences in my patterns.

In addition, some of us (myself included) are visual learners who find it far easier to follow charts than to read words while knitting. I've included a chart here for this two-pattern design. It will help you keep track of the rows as you knit.

I've made this pattern many times since I designed it several years ago. It is, in fact, my personal favorite scarf. I made it in White Paton's Merino Wool and have been wearing it often for years. I always get compliments when people see it. You will too! 

You can get this pattern Here.

             
    Wishing you all a very Sweet and Loving Valentine's Day!


Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving Sale

Wishing you all a Very Happy Thanksgiving!

As we prepare our family feast, I wanted to take a minute to thank all of you for following KnittingGuruDesigns and to give you all a Black Friday / Cyber Monday treat. Just write Code #BlackFriday10 in your coupon code box when you check out of my Etsy shop and you'll receive a 10% discount on your purchase(s).

Here's just a sampling of what you'll find in my Etsy shop. I've put together some things in an Autumnal colorway to celebrate the holiday. Of course, there's much more to see and many other colors in my shop.


Enjoy your Holiday and please stop by at http://www.KnittingGuru.etsy.com

Friday, February 28, 2014

3 Ways to Use 1 Pattern Many Times

Do you like to use the patterns you purchase many times? It sure helps to get your money's worth when you can use a pattern over and over again! Many patterns are written so specifically using one particular yarn in one colorway that knitters and crocheters are often at a loss for how to reuse the pattern effectively. Also, yarns are often discontinued, which means older patterns may be impossible to follow exactly. What to do? Here are suggestions for how to use skills you already have to get more from patterns. I'm going to use my latest pattern - Tender Tendrils Scarf - as an illustration.

1 - Change the color(s)

This is an obvious change that anyone can make and it has a big impact. If you see a pattern you like that's shown in a summery pink, that doesn't mean you can't make it in a gorgeous green for spring.  In addition, why not imagine a single color garment or accessory made in more than one color? What if you added a contrasting border or made it in stripes? All of these suggestions would completely change the look. I try to build this into all KnittingGuru patterns by giving as many examples as I'm able to knit/crochet and adding suggestions for altering patterns to make them your own. Look how different the Tender Tendril Scarf looks in different colors.

                                        Romantic Red Scarf

Chocolate Licorice Scarf
 

 
Purple Passion Scarf

And look what happens when you add a second color!

 Zebra Scarf   

 
Turquoise Tempest Scarf


2 - Change the fiber content of the yarn

All of the scarves shown above are made with wool knitting worsted. If you switch to cotton worsted weight yarns, look at the difference. Because cotton is much heavier than wool, you may need to shorten the pattern or change it in other ways to compensate for this weight difference so that the finished garment isn't too heavy to be comfortable to wear.

 
Desert Flower Scarf


Blue Hydrangea Scarf

Changing to a fluffy yarn such as mohair or angora will totally alter the feel and look. Using fuzzy and brushed yarns often requires a change in the stitches. For example, in knitting, the stitches will be blurred with this kind of yarn so you may want to use a simpler stitch. Always make a sample first!

 
Pink Bunny Scarf


 
November Nirvana Scarf

Using a boucle yarn with pronounced bumps will yield another design element that changes the appearance of what you are knitting or crocheting.
 
Zany Zinnia Scarf 

 
Pink Coral Scarf


3 - Change stitch details and dimensions

Changing to a different stitch can make a huge difference in the look of a garment or accessory. If you see a sweater pattern in stockinette and you want to add some textural interest, you could use an eyelet, lace, cable or knit/purl combination stitch. Of course you need to make a sample and block it to be sure the gauge is correct. Make adjustments for number of stitches or needle/hook sizes as needed. In the examples below, I've changed the length of the crocheted tendrils to get a different look. The Seaweed Scarf and the Rosy Sunset Scarf have sorter tendrils and the Springtime Hydrangea Scarf has longer tendrils, closer together.

 
Seaweed Scarf

 
Springtime Hydrangea Scarf

 
Rosy Sunset Scarf

 And Finally...

Making any of these three changes absolutely requires some sampling to check the feel, appearance and drape, as well as to be sure to get the correct gauge. The sampling is well worth doing so that you can personalize the pattern and make it many times. All the scarves pictured here are made from one pattern that you can get at my Etsy Shop or my Craftsy Shop. If you decide you want to do some design experimenting with this you can always email me for suggestions and help. My email is on every pattern and I love to discuss knitting and crochet, and to answer questions.

If you have general questions about these three important ways to add variety and spice to your knitting and crocheting, please comment here and I'll be happy to respond.






Thursday, December 19, 2013

Presenting the 30 Minute Crochet Cowl (for those who need some last minute Christmas gifts)


Christmas is only 6 days away but I still have a few things I need for gifts. Last week, thinking about this need, I set out to design a chunky cowl that could be made in an hour. When I finished the cowl, I check the clock and it had only taken me 1/2 hour! Amazing! Here's the story of how to do this. It's so easy even a beginner could make this in 30 minutes. An experienced crocheter will find, after the first cowl, that they'll be making these much faster.

In addition to speed, this cowl only takes 1 100 gram skein of bulky yarn, so you can indulge in some of the wildly gorgeous yarns available without spending too much. The other thing you'll need is a Jumbo Size S (19mm) crochet hook. This is a really big hook that measures 2 1/2 inches in diameter on the handle. This picture shows the hook with a penny next to it so that you can get an idea of just how big it is:
Generally speaking, using these gigantic hooks and knitting needles results in rather stiffly thick accessories and garments and I definitely wanted a soft cowl that draped well and was comfortable to wear. To accomplish that, I used a very simple, but open crochet stitch. Incredibly, the stitch only uses chain stitches and single crochets. It's the way they're arranged with spaces between them that makes the beautiful texture and drape of the cowl. 

For the first cowl I used a beautiful blue, 100% Merino, bulky yarn by Tahki called Baby. I chose the blue because I wanted to make a unisex cowl. Here's how it came out:


I always knit or crochet my patterns at least one more time to check for accuracy and, in this case, to make sure the cowl really only took 1/2 hour. For the second cowl I chose a lovely grayish mauve wool yarn from Rowan called Big Wool Fusion. While still in the bulky class of yarn, it actually had a few more yards to the 100 gram ball than the Tahki yarn - 87 yards as opposed to only 60 yards for the Tahki. This meant that when I crocheted the same length as the first cowl, I really could have gone on to make it longer so that it would be an Infinity Scarf. The stitch definition was quite lovely with this smooth yarn. I did check my work time and it was less than 1/2 hour! Here's the mauve scarf:


Since these two came out so well, and since they took so little time, I found myself a bit addicted to this design so I tried it with two other yarns. The third cowl I made with Rowan's 100% Wool Chunky Tweed. You can tell from the name that this was a chunky rather than a bulky yarn. Moreover, when I tried using just one strand, the thick and thin nature of this yarn left large open spaces that were not appealing. Because of this I used a double strand of the Chunky Tweed to make the third scarf. The texture is really wonderful I think.


Since I was on a roll here, and since it is about to be Christmas, I couldn't resist making a fourth cowl using my old workhorse yarn - Paton's Merino Wool Classic - in red. I crocheted this cowl with three strands of yarn held together as one. This worked out very well and gave the cowl a different texture because of the three distinct strands used to form each stitch. 


So there you have it! 4 cowls made in just 2 hours with a giant hook and bulky weight yarn. The pattern can be found in my Craftsy shop and my Etsy shop. If you make this cowl, please send me pictures. I'd love to post a gallery of them here and feature your work!

 Happy Holidays to All!






Friday, December 06, 2013

Cozy Knits for Christmas

Christmas will be here soon and if you're like me, you're knitting and crocheting lots of gifts. It's always good to find some quick knits at this time of year, so I did want to let you know about a book I came across recently called Cozy Knits edited by Tanis Gray. 

 This book includes 50 projects to knit divided among 5 Chapters:
Heartfelt Hats
Warm & Wonderful Mittens
Cuddly Cowls & Scarves
Snuggly Sweaters, Shawls & Shrugs
Quick & Clever Gifts

There are excellent illustrations and clear directions. All the stitches used are charted, so if you like working from charts you'll be happy with this. While there are some larger projects for sweaters, shawls and blankets, there are enough quick projects to make this a good book to use for holiday gifts. You can find the book here from Interweave/F+W Media.

I hope you find some nice things to make! I'll be posting some other patterns soon for very quick knits and crocheted projects that you might want to give for Christmas.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Let the Holidays Begin!

It's two days before Thanksgiving and my mind is on the big feast - the menu planning, shopping, cooking, and so on. However, I'm a knitter, so I'm also thinking about holiday presents for everyone - what I have on hand and what I need to knit and/or crochet. This leads me to think about the yarns I have on hand, and believe me, at KnittingGuru there's always a huge stash of yarns. Still, I may have to order some new yarns for the season. That's why I jumped at the chance to add My Favorite Yarns on Craftsy to my blog. It updates the yarns for sale at Craftsy, including their many excellent deals. You can get a head start on these sales by checking the Craftsy Yarns in the right hand column of this page.

While you're looking there, please also check out my Craftsy Pattern Store which has so many patterns for things to give for Christmas. I always think of the babies first at this time of year. For the littlest babies, why not whip up this Baby Santa Cocoon and Hat Set. It takes only a few hours and not too much yarn. Think how cute your Christmas photos will be with baby wearing this!


http://www.craftsy.com/pattern/knitting/accessory/baby-bobbles-cocoon--hat---fast--easy/39334



The cocoon set is made with 200 grams of red knitting worsted used doubled and about 25 grams of white. While I used some Paton's Classic Merino Wool to make this cocoon because I had it on hand, it would knit up beautifully in Cascade 220 Yarn in Ruby which has the same yardage. And... if you click on that yarn in My Favorite Yarns on Craftsy, you'll see that the regular price is $7.65, but it's now On Sale at Craftsy for $5.40 per skein. That means you could make this cocoon set for less than $16.20 for the yarn and only $6.50 for the pattern.The white yarn will last for many projects, so the next time you make this set your cost will only be $10.80 if you take advantage of this current sale at Craftsy.


That's very little to make such a warm and cozy outfit for your baby or grandchild. But consider this -- The very same pattern can be used to make a springtime or Easter cocoon with other colors. You might want to pick the beautiful Goldenrod Yellow, the Mystic Purple, or the Puget Sound Blue to make the cocoon and hat and trim them with your left-over white. I'm sure once you make this speedy pattern, you'll want to do it again and again for your baby, and those of your relatives and friends. 

So while your checking your turkey and pumpkin pie recipes, take a minute and click here to see the color choices for Cascade 220 now!


Happy Thanksgiving to All!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Signs of Autumn - Part 3 - The Pumpkin Baby Cocoon

My final Autumn post for this year is the quintessential Autumn vegetable - The Pumpkin!

What can we say about pumpkins? They look good, they taste good, and they're a great color. So my knitting brain naturally connected this to babies who also always look great, especially when they're wearing cuddly cocoons. First came the Carrot Cocoon, then the Green Pea Pod Cocoon, and now the Pumpkin Baby Cocoon....


Just what's needed for taking babies Over the River and Through the Woods to Grandmother's House on Thanksgiving, or any other day! The cocoon is snug and warm for Autumn strolls in the carriage, photo-ops, or just cuddling. It's a great way to calm your infant! The pattern has a photo tutorial on how to knit the leaves and includes step-by-step pictures and directions for making invisible increases.

Here's a full view of the cocoon:


This Pumpkin Cocoon is available as a knitting pattern and there's also one available that I knitted in pure Merino wool. The pattern is available at Etsy and Craftsy. The ready-to-wear cocoon is available at my Etsy BurryBabies shop.

Wishing you all a wonderful Thanksgiving!