Volver

“When you die, don’t you dare come back and visit me,” I said to my dad one day. He just stared back at me, grinning.

We share the love of horror movies, ghost stories, superstitions – you name it! I remember once as a kid, we went into a haunted maze together. He was holding my hand as we tried to find our way out. He let go for a minute then grabbed my hand again. It seemed like we were walking in circles forever – we were so lost. I was talking to him but he wasn’t answering so I turned around and imagine the horror when what I saw was not my dad, but a terrifying masked man! Just a few steps behind him was my dad, grinning from ear to ear. No wonder he wasn’t saying anything. I was so mad!

That’s my dad! Always the joker.

I share this story because I can relate to today’s design inspiration:

Part 4 // Volver by Debby Reece 

I was contacted by Debby Reese, the other half of the Periscoping Sisters, just after Christmas. She asked if I had some time to test knit a scarf. It was perfect timing. The holiday rush was over, and I just finished all the gift knitting for the family.

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‘Volver’ is a verb of Spanish origin which means “to return”.

Debby notes, “This scarf pattern is inspired by my dad, the one I seem to return to for direction and support when I reach the crossroads in my life. Hence the name Volver” 

A father is

I too have great admiration for my dad. Ever since I was little, he was always there for me, if not holding my hand, having my back. Except for when he’s trying to scare me. This pretty much sums up my relationship with him.

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The scarf is knit in garter stitch with an interesting construction. Debby gives a lot of freedom to the knitter to choose as much or as little colors they prefer. I went for 3 and played around with the striping.

 

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It took me several tries to get the look I wanted. I originally planned to use a dark brown, a light brown and green for this scarf but after several attempts, I couldn’t make this color combination work. I had a look in my stash and found some white yarn (lost the tag) and opted to switch it with the dark brown.

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Much better!

This was a relaxing, quick knit. I used a worsted weight so it’s extra warm and cozy. I plan to gift this to my dad for his birthday which we are celebrating this weekend. He was so excited with the socks I made him last year and totally knit worthy!

Thanks for following along with this series, A year of test knits. I sure learned a lot from these designers. I gifted this shawl to a special lady who was so kind to cook amazing delicious food for our family, just because! And as much as I wanted to keep this for myself, I knew my MIL would love it. Yellow is her favorite color! Nothing gives me more pleasure than gifting hand knits to the people I love.

I just finished another top secret test knit and I can’t wait to share it with you soon!

 

 

 

 

 

Bumblebee

I have been following Verena Cohrs on Instagram for some time now. Known as TheWoolClub, Verena creates modern and sophisticated designs time and time again. I’m in so much awe of her talent.

Part 3 // Bumblebee shawl by Verena Cohrs

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I was at the library with my son when I saw Verena put a call out to test knit this shawl. I really wanted to apply, but had limited internet access at the time. Worried the spots would fill up by the time I did, I sent her a message indicating interest, but wouldn’t be able to log on to Ravelry for a couple of hours.

I was humbled to be chosen amongst a handful of talented makers to test knit this shawl.

She partnered up with Julie of Sweet Sparrow Yarns for this design. Test knitters were given a discount if we used her yarn. Whaaaat! Yes, please!!! It was a no brainer. Her colorways are right up my alley.

I was torn between The Moor + I’m a mouse, duh! Butterbeer + Arya but in the end, I went with Miss Honey + Peach Fizz.

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I’m drawn to all things geometric and the minute I saw this shawl, I knew I wanted to make it.

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As with most test knitting, this had a timeline of about a month. I didn’t have a problem finishing on time because I was mesmerized with the texture I was creating. And the yarn! Merino + silk running through my hands was pure bliss.

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Isn’t it a beauty?

I have plans to make another in the near future. I’m thinking of using a single color for the second time around.

Tomorrow, the series, A year of test knits concludes with another design inspired by an individual. One that I can definitely relate to. In case you missed it, here’s part 1 and part 2.

 

Oy Vey!

Yesterday, I shared my very first test knit and how I met the lovely Amy Meeks.

The series, a year of test knits, continues today with another one of her designs:

Part 2 // Oy Vey Wrap by Amy Meeks

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The phrase, “Oy Vey” is a Jewish form of expression indicating dismay or grief.  In English, we might say “my goodness”. Amy describes hearing her mom repeat it while raising her and her siblings adding, “My parents were a little crazy to have three little girls, in three short years. “

As a parent, I can relate to the chaos that sometimes comes with children. Every day is a challenge, for sure. #keepinitreal

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We just have to look for the hidden magic, right?

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I used Madelinetosh Merino Light in Worn Denim and Knit Picks Stroll Hand Painted in Foli.

I like the way asymmetrical wraps are constructed. The cast on is simple and straight forward – nothing complicated like a Garter Tab cast on (which is not hard to do, just have a few more steps to follow).

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It’s knit in stockinette and combines a stripe section with yarn overs. At first, I was worried about having to do all that purling, but as it progressed I didn’t mind it at all. This was a fun, simple knit suitable for beginners.

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Tomorrow, shawl test knitting continues with a talented young designer from Berlin.

A year of test knits – part 1

On my previous post, I talked about my most recent test knit, the Navigate pullover. A cabled men’s sweater designed by Annie Lupton for Rib Magazine’s second issue.

I completed several other test knits in 2016 and I’d love to share them with you. This is the first of a 4 part series where I will go through each one in detail. As with anything, practice makes perfect and though I’m far from it, I am thankful to these designers who entrusted me with their work, helping improve my skill as a knitter. 

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There are 2 shawls, a cowl and a scarf.  

I’ll begin with the cowl, my very first test knit.

Part 1 // Because I Love You Cowl by Amy Meeks

I had just completed my second shawl, the Because I Love You Wrap by Amy Meeks and shared this photo of my daughter wearing it on Instagram. Her sister, Debby, saw it, tagged her, and before I knew it, began a wonderful friendship with the Periscoping Sisters, particularly, Amy, the designer for the wrap. She and I got to talking and as it turned out, she was working on a new pattern, a cowl version of the wrap, and asked if I would like to test knit.

I love learning where designers get their inspiration from when coming up with a new design. Sometimes it comes from nature, architecture, even movies, but, there is something extra special when it comes from an individual. This was the case for the wrap and the cowl. Amy was inspired by her late sister, Wendy:

“This pattern was inspired by the mere fact that sometimes there are people in our lives who are so cherished that we need to gift them a hand knit “just because”. No special occasion is needed for giving a handmade gift to those we love, just being blessed by their friendship and love in return makes them deserving enough. In any relationship, there are two separate persons, personalities, values, beliefs (colors). The “bridge” is when there is a “meeting of the minds”, a common ground or silent understanding where two people may feel like one. Let this pattern inspire you to gift this wrap to someone just because you love them and I’m sure they will feel loved and cherished for it.” Amy Meeks

I loved the story behind the wrap and was especially moved by the concept of the “bridge”. I was ecstatic to be a part of this project. I was still fairly new to knitting and was so impressed by how Amy was able to create a new object incorporating the same stitch pattern for a completely different shape.

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I used Cascade Yarns Heritage Solids in the colorways 5682 & 5704.

Even though the same stitch pattern was used for the bridge on the cowl, Amy keeps it interesting by introducing a couple of new ones for the body. She even leaves it up to the knitter to pick and choose which one to use and where to apply it. 

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This took no time at all to complete. It was a relaxing, fun knit.

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Test knitting for the wonderful Amy,  also known as Inked Indigo on Instagram, continues tomorrow.

Test knit // Navigate pullover

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I was asked to test knit a men’s sweater by my friend, Eric Lutz, host of the Sticks + Twine podcast and Publisher for Rib Magazine back in March. I said yes, flattered by the fact that I had only been knitting for 3 years and recently finished my first adult sweater, Boxy.

Then he showed me this photo:

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Jaw drop.

I felt excited and intimidated at the same time. Look at those gorgeous cables! I thought to myself, “Can I do this? I’d hate to disappoint!”

I have worked on several cabled projects prior, like this hat, this other hat, and these beautiful socks. I also have this shawl that’s been on the needles for forever. I had frogged it countless times due to error after error on my part, and sadly it is now languishing in a corner waiting patiently for me to pick it up once again.  

Self-doubt consumed me as I waited to receive the pattern. As Jameson Frank quotes, “Our greatest battles are those with our own minds”.

I was nervous. But, I welcomed the challenge. This was a great opportunity to expand my skill and finally be able to make a sweater that my husband has been asking for from day 1. I just kept reminding myself, “You can do this!”

I received the pattern from Devon, editor of Rib on March 21st. I had a month to complete it.  

It was time to pick the yarn! I have always wanted to work with Brooklyn Tweed’s Loft, so off we went, my husband, Radley and I, on their website and perused possibilities. I can’t tell you how much joy it brought me, seeing him get excited about yarn. He is, however, one of those people who will only wear black or gray and as much as I would have liked to knit him a black sweater – I reminded him of how hard it will be to read my knitting at night. He chose the colorway Soot which is a handsome gray. Perfect!

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Can you see how giddy I was?

With confidence, I cast on for the sweater, keeping my insecurities in check. As with any test knitting, you’re bound to have questions and concerns. I worked directly with Jennie Johnson for this test knit. I’m a huge fan of hers and really tried my best to keep our communication professional even though I got goosebumps every time I received correspondence from her 🙂 I have pages and pages of tips and tricks from watching the podcast Handmade and Woolen which she co-hosted with her husband, Devon. (Note: sadly they decided to stop podcasting but are still actively sharing their work on Instagram. You can find them as @tinypaperfoxes and @brineandheath, respectively.)

Back to the sweater. I was a little embarrassed by asking questions – thinking I should already know certain things but Jennie kindly assured me there is nothing to be embarrassed about adding, “The purpose of the test knitting process is to identify incorrect or potentially confusing information in the pattern”. Phew!

I am happy to report I did not have any breakage whatsoever with Loft for the times I did have to rip back during the test knit. In fact, the stitches were just hangin’ out, waiting to be picked up every single time. I also spit spliced every time I joined a new ball of yarn. This was really important to me when choosing yarn for this sweater because you know how I feel about weaving in ends, right? 

The sweater knit up quite fast. I loved seeing the cables emerge after every row, and I could not put it down. Of course, there was a ton of knitflixing involved for the duration of this test knit. If you’re curious, here is a list of shows and movies that kept me company:

Bates Motel
Grace and Frankie
Split
Lights Out  
The Taking
The Rezort
Estranged

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I knit the sleeves two at a time to ensure they turn out the same. I was able to bring it with me everywhere I went since this test knit happened during Easter. We have a large extended family who gets together every so often, and I planned my knitting so that I was able to continue working on it during the holidays.

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A family tradition – Easter egg hunting 🙂

Before I knew it, it was done and blocking! 

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And then…another first for me…. seaming! It took the whole day to seam the entire sweater. I used this tutorial from Amy Herzog to guide me.

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A shot of the final stitches. I used sock yarn to seam as advised. I used black Kroy socks by Patons and as you can see below, it’s invisible.

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The only thing left at this point was to pick up and knit the neckband. It only took a couple of hours. I actually finished the sweater the day it was due – around 6 pm!

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It was close, but I did it!!!  

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I did panic a little on the final week. I still had a lot to do – but this guy – my amazing husband – pretty much took care of everything else so I can focus on the sweater. He knew how important it was for me to finish on time, and I couldn’t have done it without his support.

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Totally knit worthy if you ask me!

And what was I so worried about? This sweater was such a fun knit! This was my very first men’s sweater and if I can do it, so can you!

I would like to give proper credit to the talented designer, Annie Lupton.  Click here learn more about her process in designing this beautiful sweater.

I would also like to thank Eric for your confidence in me, and to Jennie for your patience, and guidance. Finally, thank you, Devon and the rest of the Rib team for this wonderful opportunity 🙂

You can find the pattern for the Navigate pullover on the second issue of Rib Magazine.

“It’s not what you are that is holding you back. It’s what you think you are not. ”
-Anonymous