February 22, 2015

Journal Entry 1: The Continuing Story of ... The Dress

My engaged daughter, Jo, and I have settled on a dress pattern. It wasn't very hard, since she is most absolutely not a "foofy" girl. We both knew how the dress should really look, and the fluffier, more cupcakey dresses were easy to rule out. Barring designing one for her myself (*gasp! choke!* and *anxiety beyond belief!*), we knew that a leaner profile with simple and few details that reflect her easy-going little self was a must. It had to be elegant, of course, since it is a wedding dress, and transportable in the event that she and her hubby-to-be decide to get married abroad (which is on the table under "thinking about it," with more on that possibly to come). Jo is also on the small and shorter side, so we can't have a dress that eats her in any way; length, busyness all had to be in proportion.

There were actually very few dresses that might fit this bill. At least, dresses that were strictly "wedding dresses." In a stroke of luck, the very dress we both were thinking of jumped out pretty early on in the search process. In fact, I found it first without Jo's presence. But I "knew." I emailed her the picture, which was returned with a squealing phone call only a few hours later. "Mom! I have already shown a picture of the dress to 4 people! The people in Trader Joe's think I'm weird!!"

That was it.

I ordered the book the dress pattern was in. It is the Wedding Ensemble by Michele Rose Orne in her book, "Inspired to Knit."

I love that it really appears to break down into manageable parts: a tee with a button-up back and a long skirt, both with lace trim, wide and narrow. All these things are pretty simple in their parts, and both top and skirt can be shortened if need-be.

What I didn't love after I received the book in the mail from Amazon and looked into the pattern further, is that it calls for 4 types of cotton yarn (in varying percentages of cotton) in 3 weights: #1 superfine. #3DK/ light worsted, and #4 Medium/worsted. ( I am using the US Craft Yarn Council system for these weights/numbers/names. For reference, you can find it here.)

To make things a tiny bit more complicated, two of the yarns are discontinued, and the "light/DK" yarn the pattern calls for is actually called "sport" and "dk" by different sources--eg. Ravelry vs yarn sellers. If it were "sport," this would actually be classified as a #2 weight by the CYC, and not a #3.

Truly, all that matters in the end is is THE GAUGE, right? I can figure this all out. So I looked closely at the gauge and needles. Oops. I mean gaugeS and needleS. Plural. Really plural.

Maniacal laughter began playing in my head.

There are 5 sizes of needles called for in the entire pattern, ranging from straight ones to 32 inch circulars. These are used to get the various gauges for each piece of the pattern. For example, the lace (of course) has a differing gauge from the stockinette, and the heavier yarns of course have a generally bigger gauge than the smaller ones.

After I shook off the catatonic state that had frozen my face, I thought two things:

1. This deceptively simple looking pattern is the devil. Where's Jon Lovitz?
2. I will not let this pattern defeat me. (Especially if it is the devil. This is frickin' Lent, devil. You can't win during Lent.)

My conclusion is this: press on...as you probably just saw, with the "frickin' Lent" statement and all. And not just because I am red-headed, freckly Scottish-French-American stubborn, but also because I am curious.

Approaching this as a sewer, I realize (or perhaps, more accurately, I believe...) that the different gauges are to make the different trims to fit and lay properly. If it were fabrics for cutting and machine-made trims we were talking about, you could just cut them all to size. But when you are knitting every stitch of your own fabric, well, so be it.

If you, too, decide that you simply MUST make this pattern, I am going to try to help all of us. Let us unwind some of the confusion.

Here are my first findings, all on the yarns. I hope it helps--I noticed that only one person on Ravelry has actually completed and photographed this pattern.

THE PATTERN CALLS FOR/my notes in bold italics:

  • (MC) Berroco Cotton Twist. CYC weight: #4 worsted. Discontinued. I got gauge using Cascade Pima Cotton on US size 6 bamboo needles, if that helps anyone.
  • (A) DMC Baroque Crochet Cotton size 10. No knitting "weight" available, but it can be ascertained from the gauge and use that it is the one the designer is calling "#1 fingering."I am ordering this very item. No need to try to replace it with knitting yarn. Besides, white is a bit tricky to find sometimes.
  • (B) Rowan Cotton Glace. Pattern uses the CYC weight, "#3 Light," but some other sources vary, calling it "#2, sport." I purchased a skein of Tahki Yarns' Cotton Classic Elite, but it may prove a bit too big for the lace trim on the top. I tried a US 6 and it is huge. Going down to a US4. Otherwise, I will order the glace. Why didn't I do that in the first place? I am getting old.
  • (C) Berroco Touche. CYC weight: #4 worsted. Discontinued. I may use the Cascade if it works in the appropriate spot once I get there. Will check that gauge in time.

Right after I order a skein of Cotton Glace, I will continue on with my gauge checking. It is tough to use cotton at 100% (hmmmm....I think that was the reason I didn't order the Glace in the first place, now that I mention it....) but I will persevere. 

A few things that are going a bit more smoothly include the following:

  • I measured my daughter seven ways till Sunday, including measurements for her shorter waist so I can alter the number of darts/dart spacing in the midsection of the top.
  • My daughter is a bit busty, so I recorded Knitting Daily where there was recently a very good segment on bust darts. Here is one of their blog posts on the math. (I can't find the episode!!) 
  • My daughter is undaunted by my news of the initial confusion with the pattern/yarn, etc. She just says, "Mom, get it done when you can. You know how easy going I am!"

Let's hope we don't have to test that. 

Still cozy after all the crazy,

Janelle, the rabid, mad-knitting fool. 

January 29, 2015

Wedding Dress Proposal

After  Christmas hiatus, I am "back," so to speak and ready to blog! News? Lots of it. Though, for proper anticipation, I will eek it out just bit by bit.

First, I am home right now due to a lovely sinus infection + bronchitis thing, and have been alllllll week. I have been suffering from a fab migraine and, since I can barely stand to look at light, (plus all the body aches and stuff that go along with all this...) I have been home from work all week, too. Great on a normal day, but it totally sucks when all you can do is lay on the couch in a state that feels like you are only a slightly smaller version of Jabba the Hutt, staring into a dimmed room. Your head feels huge and you feel like if you open your eyes, the lights will positively melt them....yeah, I added a Raider's reference just there, too. Whaddya want? I am just coming off of a pseudo-near-death experience. Surely my brain is addled. That's when I revert to memories of high
A fun time had by all
school and beyond. Sort of like a dry run of allowing your life to flash before your eyes, except in this version, I get to pick only my favorite pop-culture stuff.

I am certain there is some Mony Python or Princess Bride coming up.....

Anyway, news news news!  My oldest daughter, Jolene, and her lovely guy Andrew got engaged! It was on Halloween proper, too! That is her fav time of year and fav holiday, so Andrew had made plans to wow her on her special fav day in a pumpkin patch. But you know, best laid plans and all that? Well, as they drove down here to Vancouver from Seattle for some Halloween fun (and some of mom's free food) with my 5-year-old and 14-year-old, Andrew "suddenly" decided that they should stop at a local pumpkin patch for a little fun. Jo started freaking out that they were already late, etc, and they got into a little argument about it. But, Andrew insisted (and was driving) so they did stop and all was well in the end. Of course.

We had a great Halloween night and I got some fabulous pictures.

We knew about the impending proposal for a month or more, so I had time to think about what I would like to do for the bride and groom. So Jo and I got to talking over the weekend following Halloween and the subject of her dress came up. I said, "I'd like to make it for you." Then I said, "I could knit it or sew it...."

Our Halloween was like everyone else's.
Jo's eyes lit up. "MOM! KNIT IT!!" She said it as though that very idea had never occurred to her. Like no one in the history of the world had done such a thing. Plus, it is our special thing we do together, knitting is. I sort of cringed back a little, "Are you sure you don't want me to sew it?" I was thinking of time and experience. I even thought I could enlist the aid of my grandmother's memory to make the sewing just perfect.

"No, MOM! Knitting is our THING!"

There you have it. I am doomed. er....blessed beyond belief.

I wonder if this is Jo's version of a "holocaust cloak?"

December 7, 2014

Christmas Sale!

New pattern: House Booties
 Since I have a few patterns in my Ravelry store now, and since any of them might make great gifts, I thought it might be appropriate to have a little sale.

From now until Wednesday, December 10th, all patterns in my store are 1/2 off! This way, anyone who might have missed out on previous sales has a chance to save, too!

I hope you have a relaxing, wonderful time making things for your loved ones this month!!

Fall Colors Fingerless Mitts

Green Giant Cabled Ski Hat

Fall Woods Quilt Squares Hooded Cowl
Slipperish Socks

December 3, 2014

House Booties! Live!

Hello, knitterly friends!

Just a note to tell you that my newest pattern, House Booties, is now live and ready for purchase in my Ravelry store.

Make a pair for yourself, your family and friend, or just make a random assortment of sizes and place them in a basket by the door as a nice surprise for house guests as they enter your house during the Christmas season. A cozy hug for your feet is a nice surprise when the weather outside is cold and nippy!

Happy Knitting!

November 5, 2014

Fall Color Fingerless Mitts is now live! Let's give it away!

Just a quick note to say that Fall Color Fingerless Mitts is now for sale in my Ravelry store.  Make a pair for yourself or for you friends--or both!

And to celebrate, let's do a quickie giveaway!

Just for reading my blog, here it is: simply use the coupon code: "FallColor" (without the quotes, of course) in my Ravelry store now through end of day Saturday (Pacific Time) and receive a free copy of the pattern.

Thank you and happy knitting!


November 4, 2014

Thinking gifts? Look here! (Subtitle: Janelle teaches more classes)

Slipper Socks: MORE to come! 2 more styles coming up--
and in the same pattern! 
When you become interested in something--that is, so interested in the thing that it practically consumes you--it is inevitable that you will want to share your very intense joy with others. Of course, you probably want to temper this intense joy when meeting new people, so as not to make them think you are going to follow them home like some sort of aggressive missionary gone wild, but you want to share, nevertheless Even if your enthusiasm does leak out a bit too much sometimes.

I am extremely excited to announce that our wonderful new LYS, Urban Wolves Fibre Arts, here in Vancouver is giving me a chance to teach knitting classes at their shop. Excitement and all.

I have posted a class list for this month in the side bar. We are working on getting a KAL going with the Fall Woods Quilt Squares hooded cowl for Wednesday nights during knit night. However, if you would like to knit along with us in spirit, please feel free! Christmas is heading our way and it's time for some gifty knitting! (Those of you who have already finished your gifts or are nearly there, I bow to your amazing time management skills!)

Speaking of gifts... my classes for the last-minute gifts will be using my Green Giant Fingerless Mitts pattern and a new thick and very quick top-down slipper sock pattern, which will be finished up here shortly.

For these last minute gift projects, I have been experimenting with different yarns and needles sizes to see what sort of fabrics I can come up with and to see how long it takes to make each pattern.

A pair of the slipper socks in an 8" foot circumference (about a women's medium) took just over 4 hours to complete and just 206yards/188m of Wendy's Aran yarn held double. I used a US5/3.75mm dpn to create a very dense fabric (4sts/inch in slightly stretched ribbing) that will stand up to walking around in the house. (Love those puns!) They have very nice body and shape, like boots.

Almost here!
I also tried out the fingerless mitts pattern in the Wendy's, held double on a US9/5.5mm. The hands need more stretchiness than the feet and I wanted to very closely match the original Green Giant pattern gauge. The resulting product winds up being a bit smaller than the original, but much more forgiving. The Wendy Aran also makes a shorter mitt, which I like, and a stretchier fabric than the original yarn for that pattern, which is the Lion Brand Hometown Super Bulky. The fingerless mitts took me only about 3 hours for a pair!
Coming soon!

And let me just mention: I am NOT a fast knitter!

The pattern for the Fall Color Mitts is nearly finished in testing and will be out next week. The matching tam for those is under construction and the slipper socks pattern will be available before the class begins. All will be in my Ravelry store. 

Oh yes...and my Whovian friends!! I have not forgotten the mittens-- soon soon soon! Oh that I had a TARDIS...


October 11, 2014

A Study in Color and Tension: Fall

Fall brings brisk days and a need for toasty hands!
Hello, all! Well it has been a wonderful fall here in the Great Northwest. Everyone has enjoyed some extended time outside lately. The sun has been out and Mother Nature has not exactly turned the thermostat down yet. Today seems to be taking a little turn, though, which makes people like me (Native Northwesterners not accustomed to any kind of heat and who feel more comfort in the cooler, grayer weather) have hope.

And anyway, don't we all have a butt-load of knitting to do? (Yes. I am using that word.)

My class in Lyle, Washington went well. Like last year, lots of folks wandering about at the NW
Jo in Green Giant Ski Hat
Homesteading Fair, but only a couple wanted to sit outside in the lovely Eastern Washington air under a tent for an all-day knitting class. It was still a blast and the day was sunny but, out in the east, windy and crisp. Perfect. Plus, I got to spend some time with Jo, my oldest daughter. 

The hat for that class is now on Ravelry in my pattern store, in case you are interested in a super chunky hat for winter. Plus, Jo discovered that if you accidentally make it a size (or two) too small, it becomes a beanie instead of a ski hat!

Thumb + acorn = cute!
As for my current situation, I am still madly studying for the Master Knitter's program and pinning away on that board. My focus has been on tension. Tension tension TENSION!!

I have been intensely (no exaggeration....you guys know me by now and my obsessive ways....) focusing on tension. I am trying to be keenly aware of my hands and how I am knitting. And I am trying to use some more difficult knitting methods that actually mess with your knitting tension to fix mine.  

Namely: stranded colorwork. I am proud to say that in the year, I have gone from bumpy, lumpy colors and pictures in my knitting and mittens that would not go over my hand past their ribbing to smoother colors and flatter surfaces. How? 

First, I do a ton of reading to go along with all my knitting. After all, who would write a research paper without the facts? Knitting a project is no exception and there are tons of resources! Purl Soho's pinterest board and blog, Knitting Daily's site  (I have the most incurable girl crush on Eunny Jang. Won't even give the new girl a chance.), and even some classes on Craftsy. These are just a few. Get help when you need it!

What I am learning in all of this is that -- write this down (I had to, but that is because I have a terrible memory. You may not have to.)-- ALL OF THE KNITTING SKILLS GO TOGETHER. That is, they all play off each other, and each new skill is useful to the next--and to the last. I will even say that if you think you have a problem with a skill that seems insurmountable, try the next harder skill and see if going back to the earlier problem doesn't make that old toughy seem just that much easier.

I have loved all this learning so much, that I want to pass it on. To that end, I will be actually teaching a class specifically on stranded knitting in the round at my fabulous local yarn shop, Urban Wolves Fibre
My fav pumpkin coffee cup!!!

You can come visit me on October 25th from 10am till 4pm for fun, stranding and mayhem. Fun mayhem. The shops owners Christine and Michael are super folks and offer coffee (good coffee in case you are picky and wondering) and oftentimes they even have snacks. We will have a roarin' silly good time in the wool strands. Promise. 

I have a pattern in testing right now for the class, and it is called Fall Colors Fingerless Mitts. Really, it is an experiment of mine and of owner Christine's. We wanted to see what would happen if we tried to use all of the yarn in 3 skeins of Rowan Pure Wool Worsted. I came up with 3 styles of fingerless mitts in a fall leaf motif, 2 are a bit more intermediate in skill level and one has a nifty acorn that stretches across the thumb gusset, for those who want more of a challenge in their stranded colorwork. 

Come and visit! Especially if you are having a tricky time with stranded tension. I am creating a notebook for students chock full of advice and resources, along with some nifty photography. 

As for my "thought for the week" on the master knitter's study, let's do a concept instead. 

I read an article a while back that went something like this (me paraphrasing from memory): 

Having trouble with your tension? Gauge uneven? Ask yourself: do you knit while enjoying a leisurely cup of coffee in the a.m.? Follow that with knitting on the commute by train? Knit with kids in the background at night in haste before bed?

If you don't want your knitting tension to tell the story of your day, get a grip. Realize when you are knitting tensely and why. Conversely, when are you mellow and relaxed in your knitting? Adjust accordingly. Knowing the problem is half the battle.

September 12, 2014

Green Giant Strikes Again!

 Like last year at this time, I will be teaching a knitting class on September 20th at the NW Homesteading Fair. This is my second year doing this and I am really looking forward to it!

Last year, I taught an all day class on toe-up sock knitting and this year I have developed a different class altogether. I thought that since time is always limited, and since Christmas is going to soon (if not already) be on the minds of many knitters, it might be nice to do a project class for something easy (yet interesting!) and quick to knit. 

Introducing another pattern in the Green Giant series: the Green Giant Cabled Ski Hat. Knit up in super bulky weight yarn, it will work up in no time. There is a single cable on one side of the hat (great for those interested in starting up some mad cabling skills) and an optional pom pom. 

You may come to the class at the NW Homesteading Fair, which is free, to receive a copy of the Green Giant hat pattern, or if you do not live even remotely close to Lyle, Washington (and frankly, who does?!) and would never be able to make the class without the use of your personal private jet (I know you don't want to use up the gas....it is getting expensive!), you may simply use the coupon code: GGCSH in my Ravelry store until September 15th to receive a free copy, just for reading this
Jo says, "I'll check YOU at the NW
Homesteading Fair."
blog post!

This will run simultaneously with the Fall Woods Cowl promotion, which will end the same day. Heck! Let's just keep the fun rolling!!

And speaking of fun....

And a BIG thank you to all of you who purchased my Fall Woods Quilt Squares Hooded Cowl pattern! I would love to see project photos and hear your feedback! Please feel free to message me on Ravelry: my user name is janelleserio. 

September 10, 2014

A New Knitting Shop? Time to Strike!

It is about TIME!!! Those of us who live in Vancouver, Washington may be just over the bridge from Portland, Oregon (and admittedly a quick 9 miles for me), but sometimes you just want your own LYS!!

Me and two sweater quantities of yarn!
Urban Wolves Fibre Arts is the first of two very local yarn shops to open in Vancouver this month. Owners Michael and Christine Arrington are doing all of us a huge favor by providing a cozy, new space, complete with some stylish and cushy chairs, a large meeting table, and incredible natural light coming from the wall of windows that frame two walls of the shop. In addition to the ambiance and helpful customer service from Michael and Christine, there is also coffee and tea and a large flat screen TV on one wall--one can only imagine the likes of Jane Austen or anything Colin Firth coming out of that for countless hours of knitted bliss.

A unique feature of this store is the dyeing center. It's worth a look! They hope people will come in to buy the raw yarns/dyes they have in the shop and feel free to do it there, thus saving the trouble, stain potential and smells at home. ( I personally really love those smells, but I digress....)

2 yarns for 2 sweaters! Martin Storey's Dale's Aran and
Kathy Zimmerman's Plaits and Links cardigan! One for me,
one for my son.
Urban Wolves is carrying yarns like Manos Del Uruguay, Rown, Madelinetosh, Tahki and Sweet
Gerogia sock, just to name a few. There are plans for more yarns, supplies and classes in the works, too. They already have knit nights and mornings set up, see details

Their official opening was on September 8th and I have the distinct honor of being the "biggest basket of the day." What can I say? I had been waiting for this!

You may be wondering, "Wait! You said two yarn shops!" Yes! Blizzard Yarn and Fiber is open here as well! I will be visiting them very soon!! :)

September 4, 2014

Fall Woods Quilt Squares: Hooded Cowl -- New Pattern Giveaway!

It's a substantial name, but it is a substantial piece, too!  Knitted in super bulky weight yarn, my newest pattern, Fall Woods Quilt Squares: Hooded Cowl, is thick n' rich. If you enjoy a hearty blanket cocooning you as you lay in a hand-hewn pine framed bed at your personal ski lodge in front of the large stone fireplace where a kettle hangs over the flames threatening to squeal with delight at any moment to announce the readiness of your tea, this pattern is for you.

This hooded cowl was designed to lay flat on the chest, so it can easily fit on the inside of a winter coat, or even on the outside of a slimmer fitting one.

The sample shown uses just a bit less than three skeins of Lion Brand Thick & Quick Yarn in Rust. Other yarn ideas include, but are not limited to,Malabrigo Rasta or Rowan Big Wool, Manos del Uruguay Franca... the list goes on and on.

But no matter how much or little your yarn budget may allow, the low yardage and quickness of this knit are sure to delight. Gift giving for Christmas? This hooded cowl would qualify as a moderately quick knit, taking approximately 6-8 hours to make, according to my fabulous testers.

If you pop on over to my Ravelry Store right now and use the coupon code: FWQS upon check-out of this pattern, you can have it for free. That's right: absolutely free.

Imagine: your very own piece of fantasy ski lodge cozy for free. Oh, and one more thing ... there's a rumor going around that this hooded little number may double as chain mail. I hear it may have actually saved a woman's life during a sword battle.

I can't back that story up, but it doesn't mean it isn't true.

Enjoy from now till September 15th.