Summerhouse Henley for Holla Knits

I am just beyond excited today! Look what just came out!!!

It’s the Summerhouse Henley from Holla Knits!

Holla Knits is an amazingly cool online magazine. They’re a small, independent operation, out of Chicago, (which is, incidentally, the second best city I’ve ever visited) and they really put a focus on supporting the designers. I can’t tell you what a treat it is to work with their editor, and how supportive they are.

And the quality of their patterns is really excellent; because they’re small, they can afford to be more fashion-conscious and take more risks than some of the big guys. Their calls for submission really put a premium on fashion-forward and non-cookie cutter pieces and I can’t tell you how inspiring it is as a designer. I love their collections because you honestly don’t see anything like their stuff anywhere else!

They also always knit their pieces in two different yarns – I can’t think of anyone else who does that, and it’s so cool of them to let you see everything two ways. My gray sample is Knit Picks City Tweed DK and the red one is Hampden Hills Alpacas Artisan Yarns Alpaca Silk.

As far as the Summerhouse Henley goes, what I really wanted to do with this call was something that was sneakily-cool. Something that looked demure and hot-librarian, but which was actually secretly daring.

In the first photo, you can see the hot-librarian thing, but what I love so much about the stitch pattern is that when you’re close up, it looks completely different. The lace that makes up the body has really large eyelets, but because of the directional nature of the twists and the texture surrounding them, you only see through the eyelets at certain angles.

Now: a little about my inspiration, because I’m really happy about that!

Spring a year ago I went to DC to stay with my sister in her flat, which is right off Capitol Hill. It was crazy hot and muggy in Texas when I left, but when I got to DC it was cool, breezy, dry, and sunny. The flowers in all her neighbors’ gardens were blooming and she had great light in her living room. I sat there with the windows open and worked during the days and then when she got home at night we’d go for walks around the Hill.

It was basically an ideal time with one of my favorite people.

One of my favorite places to walk was the Capitol Hill Summerhouse. You really must check the photos in the link – it’s a supremely gorgeous place. It was built in the 1880s so that visitors to the Hill would have a water fountain.

The brickwork has a sort of honeycomb pattern and that’s what initially set me to thinking about the body pattern for this sweater. I wanted something sort of olde worlde and honeycombish to remind me of the place.

The rest of the inspiration for the sweater was SB (my sister) herself. She’s a really amazing person with great taste in clothes and I love knitting for her. If I’m ever stumped for the direction I want a design to go, I ask myself what SB wants to wear.

As far as the technical details go, the sweater is knit from the bottom up, in the round. The lacey/twist pattern is easy to memorize and takes you up to the beginning of the armholes, from whence the front and back are knit flat. The Henley section in the front is also split. The sleeves are saddle shoulder and are worked strictly in stockinette.

I’m really proud of this sweater and I hope you like it. Take a look at the other pieces in the Spring ’14 Collection – the Stoney Brook Top in particular has me wishing for knitting-for-myself time – and be sure to check out the lovely people who gave yarn for the collection. I knit the gray sample of my sweater so I can speak for the wonderfulness that is the Knit Picks City Tweed DK, but I’m dying to knit another one in the Alpaca Silk. I’d love to see a version of the top too that had different colors for the body and the sleeves.

I want one for myself that’s a bit longer and slouchier. I’m tempted to do it in a new colorway Knit Picks has coming out called Tarantella, but I need another brown sweater like I need another brown sweater, so maybe I’ll go with the Cobalt instead.

God, I love knitting.

Now: comment on this post by the end of the day Sunday, and on Monday I’ll do a drawing and give away 3 copies of the pattern. 

Thanks, and have a great week!

September Socks

So . . . I’m kind of on a roll with the Rockin’ Sock Club this year. Of the 5 kits so far, I have knit 4 of them (one of them 4 times) and the 5th I gave to one of my SFAMs because it was perfect for her. That means I haven’t added to the stash! The RSC has, in fact, made my stash smaller.

And it’s not just that I’ve been really feeling the sock knitting in 2013. The patterns have just been so great. You were all around for my disturbing attachment to the January pattern, and you saw last week how I feel about the July one. (I still get a little choked up thinking about how much I love those socks, and no, I haven’t worn them yet.)

And September was great, too.

Yeah, they really are that simple. It’s 1×1 Twisted Rib. The original pattern had some twisted stockinette in the gusset, but I decided to just sub in my usual. I love how it looks.

I’m a bit surprised how much I like the socks, actually. I’m usually all snarly when things start flashing and pooling, but I got some great lightning bolts on the leg, as you can see, and I actually kind of love it. I’m not sure why. Maybe because it looks like the yarn is glowing.

I might not have knit this pair, if I’m honest, except for the fact that I saw the yarn and the pattern and knew that it would be perfect for someone on my Christmas list. I love them, and I think the giftee will love them, too.

Saltire Mittens

I have a policy. I feel very strongly about it.

I work a lot. I usually have a pair of purse socks or some other simple project for knitting on a little when I’m crunching numbers or in a waiting room or trying to wind down and turn my brain off, but I don’t typically knit complicated patterns by other people any more. Most of my knitting is complicated enough, because I write patterns while I’m knitting. Feet on coffee table (inside fuzzy slippers), laptop on legs, knitting on keyboard.

This means that I have to pay a fair amount of attention to the computer – I pick back and forth. I write a row; knit a row. Set up a set of repeats; knit a set of repeats.

But I DO NOT DO LAPTOP KNITTING on Tuesday nights. That is my policy. If I have repeats already set up and I can cruise on my own pattern knitting and get work done – great! But if I don’t? I knit something easy, for pleasure.

Tuesday nights are for knitting something without the laptop, and watching Agents of SHEILD, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and The Mindy Project. Still while wearing fuzzy slippers. I am the height of both class and excitement.

So that’s how these mittens were made – over the course of many weeks worth of Tuesdays.

I first saw the kit on Skein Queen’s website Yea, Many Years Ago, but didn’t get it at the time, and every time I went back to the website to check it was listed as Sold Out. I wanted to make them for my sister, because I am a huge dork and she went to the University of St. Andrews. Finally, this summer, after having been shown repeatedly what a good person my sister is, I emailed the Skein Queen Herself and asked if she maybe didn’t have one lying around somewhere. Maybe under the sofa.

She did.

The pattern was a little aggravating and a lot vague but it was also wonderful because I knocked another knitting technique off my list – something I’ve been wanting to learn for a long time, but hadn’t gotten around to yet. I can now do Seamless Intarsia in the Round. I knew - knew – that there was a way to do it, but couldn’t figure it out on my own so I fired up the Google Machine and it told me that giving Browneyedbabs $3 was really going to work out well for me. It was right. The tutorial is here and it is worth every penny.

In spite of some frustration I am so glad I finally made the mittens. You can see that they have a wrong side too -

and I sort of love that little notch on the thumbs.

I’m so glad I have my Tuesday Nights Policy. I’ve been wanting to make these for years.

30 Days Project . . . and a Sale!

When I lived in Providence for four months a few years ago, one of the top priorities was finding all of the local yarn stores within a . . . within a radius. One of my favorites was In the Loop, a shop not too far away, but up in Massachusetts. It was just such a warm and inviting place – the staff were incredibly friendly but were also perfectly happy to let me do my impersonation of a statue in front of a wall of yarn, and when they heard I was new in the area they invited me to Saturday morning knitting and gave me a lovely bag with their name on it. I am not a morning person, especially on Saturdays, so I never made it back, but I’ve always wished I did.

So I was delighted when In The Loop contacted me and asked if I’d be part of the 30 Days of Indie Project. They rounded up a bunch of independent designers and set up a a special program all throughout the month of November. Each day they feature a new designer and pattern on their blog, and for that day, one of the designer’s most popular patterns is 50% off with the coupon code 30dayproject.

Today I am that designer, and today that pattern is Devil’s Lake.

And if you already have Devil’s Lake? Keep checking the blog. So far they’ve had patterns by Alana Dakos, Bristol Ivy, and Talitha Kuomi, among many other great designers. There are still 8 days left in November, so that’s 8 more great patterns!

I still have that bag. It’s full of hexapuffs.

Arkadiko Alts

I don’t think I even got up a photo of the Rockin’ Sock Club July shipment. Or maybe I did and just don’t remember. It feels like July was a long time ago.

Ladies and Gents: My Arkadiko Alts.

I knit all my socks two at a time (because I have terrible Second Sock Syndrome) and I was blithely following the pattern just as written all the way down past the gussets. And after I was able to stop myself from sighing over how great the foot pattern was, and telling random people who didn’t care that this heel flap was amazing, I had a little chat with myself.

“Self,” I said. “Self, how do you feel about frogging these socks and going back so that there is more of the awesome?”

“Self,” I replied, “I like how you think.”

So I frogged all the way back to the beginning and made a cuff that has the same pattern as the heel flap, and used the foot pattern all over everything. I so love how they turned out.

I don’t know why I love this colorway so much, but when I try to describe how I feel about it I just end up all emotional and weird. It’s iridescent somehow – oil on top of water, and you can describe the individual colors in it, but it always comes out sounding boring and normal and not as it is – which is pretty fantastic.

I have knit about a metric ton of socks so far in 2013 (these are the 13th pair of 2013) and they have all gone in the Long Term Planning Box. (Although I may liberate the Bugga socks I did a while back.) These didn’t even touch the bookshelf where the Long Term Planning Box lives.

The Arkadiko Alts live on the kitchen table so I can admire them and tell them how beautiful they are. One day I shall wear them and they will be my favorite socks.

Is it crazy that I want to knit another pair in exactly the same color?

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