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October 31, 2010

Stitch 'n Bitch Superstar Knitting - Free Pattern: (new and improved) Squirrelly Mittens

Years and years ago (also known as 2007) I was a fairly low-key knitblogger with a couple of free patterns, just hanging around doing my knitbloggerly thing. I'd never published a pattern in a magazine or book...the thought had never even crossed my mind. So imagine my surprise when one day, out of the blue, Debbie Stoller, Queen of Stitch 'n Bitch e-mailed me wondering if she could use my Squirrelly Swedish Mitten pattern in a new SnB book.

Yeah. You'd be excited too. There may or may not have been heart palpitations of delight.

Never one to keep things simple, I decided to improve the pattern a bit for the SnB version. Peasant thumbs have never worked very well for me, so I reworked the thumb into a stripey side-tab thumb (just like I'd recently designed for my Herringbone Mittens pattern) and I proudly knitted my samples in a slightly bilious orange and blue color combination.

yeah, I'm not entirely sure what I was thinking either

It wasn't long before I got an e-mail from Debbie asking if she could have them re-knit in different colors (she was very polite, citing contrast issues...but my guess is that she couldn't quite figure out why we'd gone with that color combination either). I happily gave her the go-ahead and some party unknown did a re-knit* with some very nice colors of Jamison & Smith 2-ply Jumper Yarn.

Then there was a bit of a wait (2.5 years or so) while the book was shuffled around in Publishing Purgatory, as sometimes happens.

In the intervening years I've published nine other patterns in magazines and books, and self-published a couple more too. So, as strange as this seems, I'm pleased to introduce you to my VERY FIRST PUBLISHED PATTERN:


Oh, and the icing on the cake? You can totally have a copy of the pattern. Here you go!** New and Improved Squirrelly Mittens for everybody!

Ravel it!

Tomorrow (Monday, November 1) Stitch 'n Bitch Superstar Knitting is officially released into the big wide world. I'll be doing a little review and a book giveaway, so stay tuned for that!

*unfortunately, whoever knit them didn't do a great job. oh well. live and learn.

**this is a pdf file. you'll need a recent-ish verson of Adobe Acrobat or Adobe Reader to open it (free download here).

October 28, 2010

New Pattern: Sprig Mittens

Hey there! How was your day? Mine was busy. Work, swimming lessons, dinner, cello practicing, dish doing, extra oreo eating.* Now I'm set up with my laptop at the kitchen table, so you know I mean business. What kind of business, you ask? Finished pattern business!

Yes, it's true...the Sprig Mitten pattern is pressed, dressed, and ready for action. I took some pictures this past weekend while I was up in Michigan visiting my family and finally got the pattern formatted all pretty. Hooray!

everybody say "hi!" to my little sister kricket**

Those of you who've been paying attention for the last couple of months will already have heard most of this before, in which case you can just take a gander at the new pictures. But for those of you who just wandered in from some dark alley somewhere...here are some details for you!

General stuffus:
Knitted out of bulky-weight yarn and destined to be the one of the quickest colorwork projects you've ever encountered, these mittens are pretty darned spriggy. Techniques used include knitting in the round on dpns, increasing/decreasing, stranded colorwork, grafting, and being awesome. The pattern includes 3 pages of instructions and charts, with some photos thrown in for good measure.

palm-patterny goodness

Yarn: These mittens use two colors of bulky yarn (something with a suggested gauge of 14sts = 4"/10cm on US10/6mm or thereabouts should work). Samples are knitted in:

Luxe and Lovely:
Araucanía Azapa (30% alpaca/45% merino/15% silk/10% donegal; approx 3.5oz/100g; 197yd/180m):
(A) 1 skein Tan (#802)
(B) 1 skein Cadet Blue (#811)

Economical and Elegant:
Knit Picks Swish™ Bulky (100% superwash merino; approx 3.5oz/100g; 137yd/125m):
(A) 1 skein Saffron (#25132)
(B) 1 skein Silver (#25135)

Note: both of these yarns come in 100g skeins, but the mittens use right around 45 - 50g of the main color (A) and 50 - 55g of the contrasting color (B). So it's totally possible to get two pairs out of one color combo...you may have to swap the colors though.

this is the saucy mitten shot

One size: Woman's medium

Knitted measurements:
Palm circumference: 8.25”/21cm
Length, base of palm to top of mitten: 7.75”/19.5cm
Total length, including cuff: 10.75”/27.5cm

sprig_b_grass.jpg Sprig_R_right.jpg
This grass stuff totally made Kricket sneeze. she is a v. dedicated mitten model.

Price: $6.00

Ravel it!

I don't know what I'll do if I ever move and don't have this slab of cement to photograph mittens on any longer.

*yes, I know I'm a big baby...and no, I have no idea how you people with kids do it. when do you get anything accomplished?
**kricket is now a professional mitten model. because I paid her...in diet pepsi.

October 18, 2010

Time Trial!

Here’s a little experiment I did the other day! Just so you have the whole story, I wanted to test-knit the Sprig Mittens in an alternate yarn so that when the pattern is published (which will be soon!) you’ll have more than one yarn choice.

It should be noted that I am not a ridiculously fast knitter and, as you will see, I make plenty of dumb mistakes...so I'm guessing that this is a fairly accurate approximation of how long it would take an average accomplished knitter to knit one Sprig. Anyway, I'll let my Past Self take it from here...

[insert going-backwards-in-time-noise here]

I’ve mentioned a time or two how quickly these mittens knit up. But how quickly is quickly? Being the intrepid and selfless knitter I am, I am about to sacrifice my Sunday afternoon in the name of science. Or something.

This is how it’s going to work: At noon I will cast on for the cuff and knit until one mitten is done. I will take pics along the way to document how things are going.

Timekeeping: I will be measuring the passage of time with the help of a super high-tech time piece that I dug up from under the bed…a hand-me-down watch that my grandpa gave me when I was a kid. The dial is painted with radium to make it glow in the dark, so you know that this watch is not messing around.*

00:00 Go!
Let me take this opportunity to introduce our yarn. Please welcome Knit Picks Swish Bulky in Saffron (red) and Silver (gray)! {polite clapping}

TimeTrial_2.jpg 00:42 Cuff and increase round are done!

00:55 Forgot to switch to larger needles for hand. Darn. Rip back 5 rnds.

1:40 Thumb stitches moved to waste yarn (usually I use dental floss, but for you guys, I used Real Live Yarn)!

2:34 Found a mistake in my colorwork. Darn. Rip back 6 rnds. Then 3 more.

2:44 – 3:24 Telephone call. Cannot do science and knit at same time. (-40 min)

3:25 Take break to warm up curried black-eye-pea and bacon soup**...may have neglected to eat lunch before starting. Also, yum. (-19 min)

3:44 Back to knitting!

4:22 Hand section done, next up, grafting!

4:30 Hmm...seem to be yakking on phone again… (-27 min)

4:57 Thumb time!

5:23 Thumb complete. Time to weave in ends!

5:49 Done!!!

So...if 1 hour 26 minutes = not knitting, Total Knitting Time for one mitten = 4:23
[cue triumphant kazoos]

So it logically follows that a pair of mittens would take a little under 9 hours to complete, before blocking. Not too shabby eh?

*it suddenly occurs to me that storing a radioactive watch under my bed is probably not a great idea. On the other hand, this may explain a lot about me.

**Thunky makes this soup a lot. It is the bomb. Recipe here. You're welcome.

We have a WINNER!

You have no idea how fun it was to read everyone's comments about mittens and gloves...120 in all. I eventually had to give up responding to the comments because I just couldn't keep up with them! But you can be sure that I've read each and every one of them and enjoyed them thoroughly. You guys know how to share the mittenish love.

Photo courtesy of Vogue Knitting, who took pity on me and my asbestos floor tile and sent me a promo shot.

Yeah, but who won the contest?

Keep your pants on. I'm just getting to that.

Shortly after Midnight, in the wee hours of the morning when we should have been asleep, Thunky used a combination of a random number generator and his fabulous good looks to provide me with a number between 1 and 120. The winning number? 29! Which means that BerlinBat is our Very Lucky Winner! She'll be receiving her very own copy of Vogue Knitting Mittens & Gloves soon (or soonish, since I don't know how long it takes for mail to reach Germany these days).

So congratulations, BerlinBat...check your e-mail! And thanks for playing everybody! You're all just so lovely. And I'll be having another giveaway soon, so don't wander off...

October 13, 2010

Vogue Knitting Mittens & Gloves Book Giveaway!

**The giveaway is now over, so comments are closed! feel free to e-mail me about how much you love mittens and gloves though :) -E**

Vogue Knitting just published a new volume of mitten and glove patterns...this one here in fact:

everything is more glamorous when posed against a backdrop of asbestos floor tile

It just so happens that four of my patterns, previously published in Vogue Knitting and Knit.1 (may it rest in peace), are included in this compilation. So I asked the nice peeps at Vogue Knitting to send me a copy to give away on the blog. Because I love you so.

A little about the book
Since this is a compilation volume, you won't find anything in here that isn't in past issues of VK or Knit.1 magazines. That said, the editors did a pretty excellent job of picking out an interesting and knitable selection of woman's mittens, gloves, and fingerless mitts/gloves that utilize a variety of techniques. There are a lot of cables, colorwork, and embroidery, and some less technically-difficult patterns as well.

If you want to have a peek at the online preview it can be found right here.

SnowMaiden_sm.jpg TreeMittensCropSmall.jpg
Snowbird_sm.jpg RainyDay_sm.jpg
hopefully you recognize this motley cast of characters by now*

Elli Favorites include:

Jared Flood's Druid Mittens/Green Autumn Mittens (now renamed Multipattern Tweed Mittens).

Tanis Gray's Potpourri Mittens (now renamed Hugs and Kisses Mittens.)

Mari Muinonen's Yellow Harvest Mittens (now renamed Trellis Mittens) and
Fingerless Gloves
(now renamed Lace Medallion Fingerless Gloves).

The Contest Part!
If you would like to have a shot at winning your very own copy of this fine book, simply comment on this post telling me something about mittens or gloves! What mitten or glove pattern are you knitting right now? Did you have a favorite pair of mittens when you were little? Do you have a tragic tale of lost gloves? Maybe you live near the equator and have never owned a pair of mittens in your life? Let me know! I'd love to hear from you, even if you've never commented before.

Other Contesty Details:
Only one entry per person, please. International entries are encouraged, but I reserve the right to choose a less expensive/slower shipping option if postage costs are ridiculous. I will close the contest at 11:59pm EST, Sunday, October 17, 2010. The winning entry will be chosen using a random number generator. Good luck!

p.s. As of this blog post, the book hasn't been entered into Ravelry yet. Somebody get on that!

*If they were dwarves I would name them Sulky, Piney, Fridgie, and Drippy.

**The giveaway is now over, so comments are closed! feel free to e-mail me about how much you love mittens and gloves though :) -E**

October 11, 2010

Finished: Sprig Mittens

Look! Finished mittens!

it's about time, eh?

The Specs:

-Pattern: An Elliphantom original.
-Yarn: Araucania Azapa, about 50g (a half skein) each of Cadet Blue (811) and Tan (802).
-Needles: Size 9 dpns (size 7 for ribbing).
-Start to finish: September 21 - October 7, 2010.
-For: Me, I think :)

ten points if you can think of a good palm pun

The Azapa is gorgeous...a lofty single with lots of character. Perfectly soft and snuggly, and the chunkiness makes for super-fast knits. And, as I've mentioned before, their distributor has good customer service which never hurts! The only negative thing I can say is that the lightly spun nature of the yarn means it's not the most durable choice out there. After a couple froggings I could see it was beginning looking a bit worse-for-wear. But still...lovely stuff!

how much do I love you? enough to put on my winter coat when it's 80 degrees out...

The Design Process:
I don't work with bulky yarn very often...I did a search for "bulky" on my blog and seven results came up. "Chunky" only brought up three...and I'm coming up on five years blogging. So you'll excuse me if I keep repeating myself by saying: oh-my-freaking-goodness does this stuff ever knit up quickly.

The chunkiness of the yarn meant that I had many fewer stitches to work with, and fewer stitches translates into a much simpler colorwork chart. While the sprig motif practically charted itself, I had a little more difficulty coming up with a suitably non-cluttered palm pattern that still had some visual interest. I had a lot of rejects (I just counted 27...geesh!), most of them deemed Too Busy and, in retrospect, a few of them were just plain Ugly.* I'm happy with this one though...a simple pole pattern that morphs into a simple arch.

this pic makes me want to go swimming

The Pattern:
I'm working on it! Hopefully it'll be ready soon.

Final Verdict:
I'm super-pleased with how these turned out! Hopefully you're not sick of seeing Sprigs...because I may be working on one more pair. But I promise that will be the end of it.


Raveled here!

*inexplicably, one of the 27 attempts included a house. Not sure how to explain that one.

October 6, 2010

Guess which virtue I'm practicing?

The Shetland Triangle is blocking...

{twiddles thumbs}


In other news, I finally set up a Facebook page for the blog! I am nothing if not behind the times. I'm still getting settled but you can find it here. No longer will my non-knittish FB friends have to listen to me natter on about yarn! Sad for them, I know.

October 3, 2010

Wooly Weekend

I spent this past weekend buried in yarn. It was fabulous. Lots of peaceful knitting time, listening to an excellent audiobook,* with a couple of breaks for important things like a good movie and some cookie-baking. Want to see what I worked on?

Predictably, the Sprig Mittens:

These things reproduce like rabbits.

Knitting Fever (distributors of Araucania) has fantastic customer service...when I messaged them about the wonky skein of navy they quickly arranged to have a replacement sent to me. Yay! I officially love them. Their yarn rocks pretty hard too. And the gauge of the replacement skein is spot on (see the two mittens on the far left).

Since that photo was taken I've finished the thumb on that second navy and tan mitten. I just have to weave in the ends and I'll have a FO to show you! But I am so easily distracted by other projects. For example...

The Forgotten Shetland Triangle

did you miss me?

Geesh. I just checked Ravelry and found out that I started this shawl in October of 2007. At the time I wanted something fancier, so I started a different one in silk thread and left this plainer Cashsoft 4 Ply version to languish, assuming I'd frog it eventually.

Fast-forward to this summer when I pulled it out just to have some simple lace to work on...I've been working a few rows here and a few rows there...nothing intense...until yesterday I realized that it was actually getting pretty large. So I got busy with the edging and I worked the last row of the chart last night before bed. All that remains is the bind off and a nice blocking. You'll be seeing this one soon!

Grove Mittens


At my current rate of a few rows a day, maybe these mittens will be finished by the time the snow arrives. I love this pattern but I just can't seem to memorize the charts, hence the slow-going. But they're so pretty that I couldn't resist throwing in another picture.

Lemongrass socks


My current toe-up Plain Old Socks. If you've been around for a while you may recognize the yarn as the stuff I originally used to cast on for a pair of ill-fated Jaywalkers. The yarn was a tad too bulky though...much better suited to some plain socks. And plain socks are the ultimate movie-knitting. Especially when subtitles are involved.

I switched to 1.5mm dpns for the calf, which is why the striping on the yarn changes further up the leg. I'm still trying to decide if it was the right choice. But I'm assuming that the recipent of these socks will just squnch them down, so it really won't matter.

That's it for my weekend! I hope yours was as nice as mine! How's that fall knitting going?

*The Moonstone, by Wilkie Collins. Fall is for listening to mysteries!