Eclectic Closet Litblog, Book Reviews & Knitting Designs

A litblog dedicated to book reviews/recommendations, as well as literary and publishing news. Now enhanced with knitting designs.

Black Friday/Cyber Monday Sales in the Fibre Arts

November26

Happy Holidays Post santa's helper

It’s that time of year again, your airwaves will be filled with stores trumpeting their Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales to anyone who will listen. How to cut through the noise and find out if your favourite designer or yarnie is having a sale? Marlybird knows and she’s once again created a comprehensive list of designers, yarn companies, etsy sellers, etc.

Most sales start on November 28 and run through to end of day December 1. Double check the list however, some have special codes good for one day only.

Once again I am participating – this is your last chance to buy one of my designs on sale, until November 2015 that is. Use the code bfcm2014 for 20% any of the designs in my Ravelry store.

Interview: Lee Meredith, Leethal Knits

November26

Today’s Gift-A-Long interview is with Lee Meredith of Leethal Knits. Lee is known for her interesting construction techniques and the sense of fun she brings to her designs. She lives in Portland, Oregon.

Lee Meredith, Leethal Knits

Lee Meredith, Leethal Knits, modeling Tionne

How did you get started designing?
I learned to knit in college, taught a basic knit stitch by a roommate, and then self-taught from there on, improvising everything I made for a few years. When I discovered Knitty, and Ravelry launched, in 2007, I started playing around with writing things down, and the first pattern I ever wrote was published in Knitty in Fall 2007 – I was hooked on designing from that point on!

What inspires your designs?
Everything – I get seeds of ideas from things I see in everyday life, or ideas pop into my head out of nowhere (or out of something I saw that was in my subconscious maybe), and I build up the ideas into designs.

Meridian Hat

Meridian Hat

Which comes first – the yarn or the inspiration?
The design idea almost always comes first, then I try to figure out what kind of yarn would be the best fit. Or I can picture it looking really different in different kinds of yarns, so I make multiple samples to show it different ways.

What characteristics do you try to incorporate in your designs?
I always try to make them fun to knit! That’s kind of most important to me – if I don’t want to knit it myself, then I don’t want to put out a pattern and expect other people to knit it. Most of my designs are very customizable, and/or can be made a lot of different ways (any gauge, or other options to choose from), so you can use the same pattern many times to get different finished items.

Trunk Adventure Crescent

Adventure Knitting: The Mysterious Trunk crescent shawl

What is your favourite type of item to design?
I don’t really have a favorite item; my favorite is variety in my knitting, so I like to knit (and design) lots of different things!

Your desert island yarn? (if you could only knit with one yarn from now on which would it be?)
Maybe Hikoo Kenzie – that’s my most recent yarn love discovery, and there are so many great colors, so I could have lots of variety with my palette. I love Imperial Yarn Columbia, and pretty much all other wooly squishy yarns like that!

Wobble Bass

Wobble Bass

What’s your “comfort knitting?”
I try to have a simple project on the needles at all times – right now I have a sweater and a cotton tee, both of which are very long-term projects that I pick up once in awhile and then let sit for months at a time while I focus on designs. I am usually somewhat comforted by whatever design I’m knitting on, even if it’s stressing me out for other reasons, the act of knitting itself is comforting!

Which is your most under-appreciated design?
I really love my Wobble Bass hat, but it’s a very low seller. I also really love the hat I designed for Twist Collective – Meridian – which has only ever been made by a couple knitters. My cabled shawl, Freewheelin’, is one of my favorite designs, but I think it scares most knitters because it’s been liked a lot of times but not very many have made it.

Freewheelin'

Freewheelin’

Which three GAL designs are top of your list to cast on?
Unfortunately I have no free time to actually cast any on right now, but several designs from GAL designers have been in my queue for awhile – three are: Mt. Hood Snow Cap by Star Athena, Waneka by Annie Watts, and Gaugeless Sweater by Elizabeth Felgate.

Continental or English?
I learned with English, tried Continental a few times, but it wouldn’t stick. So I’m a thrower.

What’s the best thing about knitting?

Hah, everything! Making something awesome by simply pulling loops of yarn through loops of yarn!

Jonathan

Jonathan

What’s the one piece of advice you’d like to share with other knitters?
Don’t stress out about it, it’s only knitting, it should be fun!

Any knitting/designing New Year’s resolutions?
To stick to my goal design schedule as much as possible. This year I released a lot fewer patterns than I’d hoped to, because I let a few things get kind of out of control and take way too long, so next year I will try much harder to keep designs under control, simpler in a lot of cases, and stay on track!

View all of Lee’s patterns here. All photos are copyright Lee Meredith, Leethal Knits. All images used by permission.

What is the Gift-A-Long? The GAL is a big knitting and crochet designer promotion with prizes and more than 5,000 people participating in a giant KAL/CAL. Come join the GAL group on Ravelry!

Interview: Selina S, Knotty Turtles

November25

Today’s Gift-A-Long interview is with Selina S of Knotty Turtles. Selina is a the first of my local designer friends that I’m interviewing for the GAL (more than half the Ontario, Canada designers live in our area, something must be in the water!). Her design esthetic is quite unique – and nothing can quite compare to seeing a large gathering of her slugs (what is the collective noun for slugs?)

Selina Siu

Selina Siu

How did you get started designing?
I don’t remember when or why I started doing my own thing, but I wrote down my first pattern when a local dyer in my knit group ask for patterns to go with her yarns. I had just knit a hat to a friend’s specifications and thought the design would look good in a variegated yarn.

What inspires your designs?
Sometimes it is because someone ask me for something, like when my partner wanted a brain slug. Sometimes its because there’s a problem to solve. For example, I was wondering if it was possible to knit fingerless gloves with only 2 ends and ended up with my Platypus gloves.

Platypus Gloves

Platypus Gloves

Which comes first – the yarn or the inspiration?
Definitely the inspiration!

What characteristics do you try to incorporate in your designs?
As few ends and seams as possible! Maybe a bit of silliness now and then? I do try and make sure a few of the final photos have some ferrets in it. Does that count?

rand()

rand()

What is your favourite type of item to design?
I haven’t really designed enough to have a favourite. Toys are instant gratification, I don’t have enough sweaters, and my hands are always cold. Those are probably my priority right now.

Your desert island yarn? (if you could only knit with one yarn from now on which would it be?)
May I take my spinning wheel and a supply of qiviut? Handmaiden 4 ply cashmere if I can’t.

My Little Slug

My Little Slug

What’s your “comfort knitting?”
It might be hard to believe, but slugs and blowfishes. I know the patterns well enough to knit them during staff meetings. I have 2 nieces that I’m not allowed to buy things for, so they get a few octoslugs and blowfishes in different colours every year. They are good presents for kids and the slugs are taking over my dryer. If I don’t have anything to knit, I pull out some yarn scraps and knit slugs.

Which is your most under-appreciated design?
Tiriaq fingerlings. It may just remain lost in a sea of cable glove patterns! I made a number of these before someone asked me to write it down. The ribbing makes it a really flexible fit, and lots of sizing options on top of that.

Tiriaq Fingerlings

Tiriaq Fingerlings

Which three GAL designs are top of your list to cast on?
1. The Minimissimi Sweater Coat. I’ve wanted to knit that forever. I was planning to start it but discovered none of my stash yarn will work.
2. Saltire kept catching my eye. I haven’t done any 2 colour crochet shawls, so it is very intriguing.
3. Mostly likely what I’ll end up doing is a splat cat, because it is hard to argue against instant gratification. Plus they crack me up.

Continental or English?
I knit English when I don’t want to look, but I learned continental so I could do ribbing faster. All continental if I’m doing double knitting or stranded.

My Little Blowfish

My Little Blowfish

What’s the best thing about knitting?
Something soft, squishy, and unique made with sweat and tears!

What’s the one piece of advice you’d like to share with other knitters?
Try new techniques on toys knitted with wool. Go ahead and make a tons of mistake and watch them all disappear when you felt them in the washer!

Any knitting/designing New Year’s resolutions?
Spin more. Knit more handspun. Write down some patterns. Document my yarn and fibre stash on Rav.

View all of Selina’s patterns here. Photography by Kristina Sinzig. All images used by permission.

What is the Gift-A-Long? The GAL is a big knitting and crochet designer promotion with prizes and more than 5,000 people participating in a giant KAL/CAL. Come join the GAL group on Ravelry!

Interview: Rachel Evans of Flame Lily Designs

November24

Today’s Gift-A-Long interview is with Rachel Evans of Flame Lily Designs. Rachel lives in Auckland, New Zealand and designs for children.

Rachel Evans, Flame Lily Designs

Rachel Evans, Flame Lily Designs

How did you get started designing?
I knit a wee top for my daughter and people encouraged me to write it up into a pattern. Initially it was free on my blog and only covered a few sizes. Later I plucked up the courage to extend the sizing and to make it a paid pattern.

What inspires your designs?
It varies. Often it’s my children and knowing what they like to wear. Sometimes it’s the yarn. I had a lot of gorgeous variegated yarn and I wanted to design patterns that showed them off. Also sometimes it’s just because my kids need a particular item of clothing and I can’t find exactly the right pattern. My Kowhai skirt pattern is inspired by the kowhai flower. Also sometimes one design inspires the next.

Pirouette Twirls

Pirouette Twirls

Which comes first – the yarn or the inspiration?
Usually the inspiration, then there is a mad scurry through my stash to find the perfect yarn.

What characteristics do you try to incorporate in your designs?
All my patterns are seamless and knit from the top down. I like them to be simple so any beginner knitter could pick it up and start knitting. I try to make instructions clear and unambiguous and hopefully people enjoy knitting them.

What is your favourite type of item to design?
Girls clothing, mostly dresses or tops. All helped by the fact that my daughter still loves to wear her knits.

Nate Hoodie

Nate Hoodie

Your desert island yarn? (if you could only knit with one yarn from now on which would it be?)
This is another hard question! I recently knit with Madelinetosh tosh vintage and it was a dream to knit with. I also love Colour Adventures Dia Twist, and I adore the incredible colours of Mosaic Moon. Sorry I can’t pick just one.

What’s your “comfort knitting?”
Anything that I can knit while doing something else, watching tv, reading, watching the children play.

Which is your most under-appreciated design?
Probably Little Miss Jorja. It is one of my favourite winter knits for my daughter when she wears it with tights and boots.

Little Miss Jorja

Little Miss Jorja

Which three GAL designs are top of your list to cast on?
Oh that is so difficult! I have some baby gifts to knit and have just cast on a teeny Rainbow dress (by Georgie Hallam) I’m also thinking of knitting a Baby Vertebrae (by Kelly Brooker) I also would love to cast something on for myself. I’ve been meaning to knit a Winifred (by Sarah Ronchetti) for a long time.

Continental or English?
English. I would love to become proficient at continental but at the moment I’m definitely faster knitting English.

Nina

Nina

What’s the best thing about knitting?
I love that it is so portable and that it creates something functional and beautiful. I’m also always learning new techniques or a new stitch. I also love yarn!

What’s the one piece of advice you’d like to share with other knitters?
Don’t be afraid to give something a try. I remember knitting my very first cable (on a Milo vest) and feeling very proud of myself 😀 There is such a fantastic knitting community out there that you’ll always be able to find the help you need if you’re stuck on something. Also you can never have too big a stash 😀

Moana

Moana

Any knitting/designing New Year’s resolutions?
I don’t have any design resolutions, other than to keep designing. Every year my knitting resolution is to knit some socks. I am yet to do it. Maybe 2015 will be the year of the sock 😀 I also want to knit more garments for myself. My husband’s resolution for me would be to knit him a pair of slippers, haha.

View all of Rachel’s patterns here. All photos are copyright Rachel Evans, Flame Lily Designs. All images used by permission.

What is the Gift-A-Long? The GAL is a big knitting and crochet designer promotion with prizes and more than 5,000 people participating in a giant KAL/CAL. Come join the GAL group on Ravelry!

Second Newsletter Released: Gift-A-Long news, Black Friday/Cyber Monday sale and newest designs

November21

I had fully intended to send out a newsletter over the summer but somehow it just never happened. Really, that seems to be the way with a lot of things I intend to do during the summer. This issue talks about the Gift-A-Long and Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales (hint – they are the only time in the year that my designs go on sale) and a bit about the newest designs.

Question: Ever considered test knitting or sample knitting? I’ll be looking for some experienced knitters to do some sample/test knitting early in the new year. If you’re interested, please look for the sign up form in the sidebar and add your name to the newsletter list. The first call for knitters will go out to newsletter recipients.

Read the latest issue of the newsletter here!

Indie Gift-A-Long 2014

November11

Gift-A-Long 2014 Banner
Everyone is quite excited that the Indie Designer Gift-A-Long 2014 will start in two days. I have selected 20 of my designs that will be on sale for 25% off from Thursday, November 13th at 8:00 pm US EST – Friday, November 21, 2014 at 11:59 pm US EST. The collage below is the one I developed to promote my bundle of sale patterns. Edited to note: since the sale portion of the GAL is now over, I have removed the link to the sale patterns and linked to my full portfolio instead to avoid any confusion.

Janelle Martin Designs collage

Join today! There are thousands of prizes to be won, lots of chatting in the GAL threads and holiday knitting/crocheting to be completed.

From the Ravelry Group:
What is Gift-A-Long? It’s a multi-designer promotion to help you kick your holiday gift-making into high gear!

The Indie Design Gift-A-Long is a 2 month long KAL/CAL of holiday gifts made from patterns designed by a rather extensive list of independent designers. From Thursday, November 13th at 8:00 pm US EST – Friday, November 21, 2014 at 11:59 pm US EST tons of indie designers will be discounting between 4 – 20 of their patterns 25% for this event. You can read all about the details in this post: click here and find a list of the 293 participating designers, with photos, here.

Once you’ve got your Gift-A-Long patterns, we encourage you to join a relevant KAL/CAL! (For instance, if it is a cowl, please join the cowl KAL/CAL.) To join, simply write a post in the KAL/CAL thread you want to join, including the pattern name you will be knitting and a link to your project page. KAL/CAL participants are eligible for lots of lovely prizes but you gotta post to win!

80skeins collated all the stats and created the amazing infographic below. The organizers have put a lot of effort into this event, I think we’re going to blow last year out of the water. I have my cast on for Thursday night already planned!

Gift-A-Long Stats

Sinuosity Shawl

November8

Back view of shawl
The Sinuosity Shawl went live a few weeks ago, but somehow time flew and I never managed to post a blog entry for it. Sinuous waves flow through the body of this top-down, triangular shawl, highlighted by the luster and drape inherent in the longwool fibres of the Blue Faced Leicester fibre (String Theory Hand Dyed Yarn ‘Bluestocking’). If substituting yarn, select a wool blend that has contains silk to achieve the same amount of drape.

Construction Note: Sinuosity Shawl begins with a lace “tab,” a common method for beginning top-down, triangular shawls. As the Sinuosity Shawl has a panel down the centre, the tab “strip” is longer. A link to instructions for this technique is provided in the Links section of this pattern. Instructions are included for both a narrow (shown in sample worn by model) and wide (shown in edging close up) edging option.

Note: Sinuosity Shawl is part of Gift-A-Long 2014. My bundle of participating patterns is a collection of accessories – perfect for your holiday knitting. Happy knitting and gifting! 25% off these during the GAL sale from November 13-21 with the code “giftalong2014”. Learn more about Gift-A-Long 2014 here.

Photo shoot for Pyrenees Shawl

October20

Pyrenees Shawl

Usually I announce a new pattern with a simple post that links you to the information page here on my blog. With the release of Pyrenees Shawl, I thought I’d do something a bit different and share a few photos behind the scenes. Pyrenees has been traveling a bit over the past month before she made her public debut.

Pyrenees Shawl on display in Sericin Silkworks booth at Knitters' Fair
First she was on display at the Sericin Silkworks booth the Knitters’ Fair in Kitchener last month. Once the dust settled from that event it was time for a proper photo shoot.

Pyrenees Shawl photo shoot at Shall We Knit?
The plan had been for an outdoor photo shoot in a local backyard, but the weather on Thanksgiving Monday morning decided not to cooperate and, thanks to the generosity of Karen at Shall We Knit?, we were able to save the photo shoot and move it indoors to the shop. Once the weather cleared, we were still able to do some photos outdoors for the Interwoven Blanket and Sinuosity Shawl.

Jen being ever so patient a model in the Pyrenees Shawl
Thanks to Jen and Shawn for being so patient with the location changes – and in Jen’s case, spending so much time holding still! Once the photos were complete, Pyrenees Shawl got a bit of a touch up blocking and then off to Woodstock for a second appearance in the Sericin Silkworks booth at the Fleece Festival.

Close Up of Pyrenees Shawl main stitch pattern
Now that things have quieted down a bit, I’ve had some time to promote the pattern release and update the pattern with the new photography. Tabi still has some of this fabulous yarn available in her Etsy store. The medium size (shown in the photos) takes 880 yards of the scrumptious 50/50 Buffalo Silk yarn. The shawl is also lovely in Tabi’s other yarns – as well as any other lace weight yarn that blooms and drapes.

Get all the details on Pyrenees Shawl here.

Interwoven Blanket

September11

Jen reading a book on a red couch with Interwoven Blanket on her lap

The Interwoven Blanket is knit using Bare Naked Wools ‘Stone Soup Fingering’ held double. This rustic yarn provides wonderful stitch definition without a lot of weight. The sample shown here was knit with two colours of Stone Soup Fingering held together for the centre of the blanket, producing a marled effect.

Construction Note: The center panel of the blanket is worked first. Stitches are then picked up around the outside of the panel and the edging is knit in the round from the center out. The size of the finished throw can be adjusted by adding or subtracting repeats.

Get all the details on Interwoven Blanket here.

October 19, 2014 Update: Final photography has now been done on the blanket – have a peak!

Upcoming Class: Valencia Scarf at Cast On! Cast Off!

July27

I’m so thrilled to be teaching my Valencia Scarf pattern at Cast On! Cast Off! in St. John’s, NL on August 20, 6 – 9 p.m.

Valencia wrap worn closed
Want to learn to work from charts? Interested in trying lace? This is the class for you. In one session, you’ll learn the basics of knitting lace in a geometric pattern, how to work from charts, and hints to make lace knitting an easy and enjoyable process. This project can be worked in either fingering weight for a scarf or in a heavier weight yarn for a wrap.

Class size is limited and preregistration is required. Call the shop at (709) 739-7318 to reserve your spot!

Looking for a listing of all upcoming classes I’ll be teaching? For now, follow this link: Upcoming Classes.

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