Thursday, November 09, 2017

Rest and Renewal

In the last month or so, I've been taking a bit of time to catch up on a variety of projects. I took time off to participate in Spinzilla, I've worked on some around-the-house work that needed doing, I've taken up cross-stitch, and I've been making plans for future projects. I've still been knitting, but it's been a combination of work knitting and just for fun knitting. I had taken a bit of time to tidy and plan with my stashes (spinning, personal knitting, work knitting), and found the need to clear my plate a bit to prepare for some of the future projects that I want to get done.

Spinzilla output: All this spun in a week on a spindle!
The thing about making a hobby into a job is that it's not a hobby anymore, and so I've filled the gap with spinning, and recently cross stitch. I also draw, and I used to garden (I'm planning to go back to gardening in the Spring, so this winter I'm hoping to set aside some time for making those plans), and for quite awhile, it seemed like it was hard to justify taking the time to work on creative pursuits outside of knitting, or, in other words, like I wasn't working hard enough to justify taking time off from work. Adding in spinning helped a little, but it still results in yarn, which I then mentally assign to knitting projects (more work, in a sense). Cross stitch feels more like drawing and painting, but new enough to me that I'm launching in with a bit more enthusiasm and less worry over improving my technique like I do when I draw or paint. I'm new to it, so any work done on it is improving my technique, after all.

Halloween cross stitch. Pattern from Cloudsfactory.

I'm not completely taking time off though, and have been still working on proposals for new knitting work, re-releasing older patterns when the rights revert back to me (like the Bangor Pullover), and also self-publishing some new patterns (like the Braeside Cowl).

Bangor Pullover
Braeside Cowl
Also, I've been doing a bit of knitting for fun! It's been ages since I've made myself a sweater, so I'm treating myself to some time spent knitting Ásta Sóllilja by Kate Davies! This sweater is worked in Ístex Léttlopi, and my parents brought me the light grey wool that is used for the body of the sweater when they returned from a trip to Iceland. I love the colours that Kate Davies picked for the design so much that I was determined to use the same shades for my sweater.

Ásta Sóllilja in progress!
In the meantime, in an effort to get a bit of life back into this sorely neglected blog, I may well toss in a bit of crafty fun from non-knitting projects now and again, hopefully a tad more frequently than of late! Other places to find updates from me include my newsletter (use form off to the right, or follow this link:
http://eepurl.com/czV5l9), Instagram (as @jessiemckitrick), and my Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JessieMcKitrickDesigns/), so please feel free to join me at any or all of those!





Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Patterns Page Update

Hi! Just stopping in very briefly to say that I've updated the Patterns Page with several patterns.

Head on over to see what's new! Click on "Patterns" just below the page banner, or else just click this link:  https://grammargrouse.blogspot.ca/p/knitting-patterns-by-jessie-mckitrick.html

I'm planning a proper blog post, and should be back to write that up soon.

Friday, September 01, 2017

Prairie Fibre Festival: September 24th

Have I mentioned that I'll be at the Prairie Fibre Festival on September 24th with my sample garments and accessories, selling patterns and talking to fellow crafters? It's looking to be a great event, and I'm giving away a pair of tickets via Facebook and Instagram, so if you're interested in being in with a chance to win those, then look me up and follow me on one, the other, or both. I'm easy to find, just type in my name!


Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Presenting Hank's Pullover in Interweave Knits Fall 2017

Interweave Knits Fall 2017 is out, and I have a pattern in it! I'd like to present to you: Hank's Pullover.


I had originally conceived of this sweater as a casual, relaxed sort of pullover, but when it came to thinking through the finishing touches, I wanted to add a little something special. I spent a bit of time swatching and planning, then decided to dress it up with a welted collar accent that resembles piping. This added touch makes Hank's Pullover the sort of sweater that you can wear dressed-up or dressed-down depending on what you pair it with.


Hank's Pullover is worked in Harrisville Designs WATERshed, which is an excellent woollen-spun yarn, and transfers its properties to this pullover. The yarn has made this sweater marvellously light in weight, yet very warm, as a woollen-spun yarn traps a lot of air within its fibres, providing additional insulation. This makes the sweater an excellent choice for travelling or backpacking, as it weighs less than the same sweater would with the same yardage of a worsted-spun yarn. WATERshed transforms as it is washed, with the yarn blooming to make the fabric more cohesive, yet also drapier and softer to the touch.


WATERshed has a variety of lovely heathered colours; this sweater is knit in Mallard. Which colour would you choose?


As always, I really enjoyed working with Interweave Knits and all their great staff! All photos in this post are courtesy of Harper Point Photography for Interweave Knits. Go check out the rest of the issue for more great photos!

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

10 Reasons to Swatch Other Than Checking the Gauge

Last post I wrote a bit about how to make swatches that measure gauge more accurately, but today's post is:

10 Reasons to Swatch Other Than Checking the Gauge


1. Do I like how the yarn will look with the stitch pattern? Swatching is a great way to find out.


2. Do I like the yarn? I mean, I liked it when I bought it, but do I enjoy knitting with it? Will it work the way I thought it would for this project?

3. Practice. When you're swatching, you can not only practice the stitch pattern, but you can practice different techniques, like Intarsia, or steeking, or you can make two swatches and work on your sewing techniques to sew them together.
Cutting the steek on a swatch is a good way to try it out.

4. Decision making. Sometimes, a pattern leaves certain decisions up to the knitter, for instance, how increases and decreases are handled within or at the edges of a cable pattern.You can work that into your swatch to see what looks best to you.


5. The label says it's machine-washable, but is it really? I was weighing the pros and cons of using some of my leftover yarn to make a pair of socks for someone, then thought I'd better test the supposed washability. Luckily, I still had a swatch from the other project I had made with it, so into the wash it went, and came back rather felted. No harm done, and decision made.

6. Can I iron this? Test it on the swatch.

7. How quickly does it pill? If I shave off the pills, do they return just as bad the next time, or is it pretty OK now? Treat your swatch however you'd like to treat the finished object to learn how the yarn will wear.

8. Decide you want to change something about the pattern? Test it on the swatch to see if it will work out the way you'd like. If you're wondering how the edging treatment will work, why not pick up stitches on your swatch and work a bit of edging?

9. Someday when you need yarn to repair a hole, or a thin patch at the elbow, a spot that snagged, or a hem that needs reinforcing, you can frog that swatch and use the yarn to fix it.


10. Too many projects on the needles to start a new thing, but you're tired of all of them or they're not quite right for a travel project? Start a swatch for the next thing. It's not like you're actually starting a new project. Not yet anyhow. You're just swatching, and it was just the thing to bring along.







Monday, June 05, 2017

Gauge Tips: How to Improve Accuracy

Responding to an Instagram prompt of "Gauge," I was starting to type a little more than could conveniently fit as a photo caption, so I thought I'd better move some of my many thoughts on the subject to somewhere more suited to long-form responses, namely, here.

These are just a few tips on how to ensure a good level of accuracy when taking gauge measurements; if you have more tips, please share them in the comments! I have plans for a follow-up post as well for "things that swatches are good for besides measuring gauge, " so drop by again sometime this summer for that one!



Gauge

To get as accurate a gauge reading as possible, make a large swatch. No, larger than that. Really.

If your project is to be worked flat, work your swatch flat. If your project is to be worked in the round, work your swatch in the round.

Wash your swatch and block it in the same manner required for the finished object. Some swatches will change more than others when washed.

Take multiple gauge measurements for both stitch gauge and row gauge from several spots on your swatch, towards the central areas where the borders are less likely to distort the fabric.

Some stitch patterns are more difficult to measure consistently than others. If gauges are listed in the pattern for more than one stitch pattern, swatch them all.

Adjust needle sizes as needed to match gauge as closely as possible. Sometimes, two sets of needles with the same sizing label will produce different results, sometimes because of what material they are made with, but sometimes because of minute differences in the actual size of the needles.

Happy Stitching!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Release Robson!

It's still snowing.

At least that means it's sweater weather, right? Really, I'm good with sweater weather taking a back seat for the moment; we can still knit sweaters for wearing next fall, and really, we'll always need sweaters even in the summer while out camping, hiking, and travelling.

To that end, I would like to announce that I have finally (re)released Robson!

The Mount Robson Pullover was originally published in Interweave Knits back in summer 2015, and you can now also find it for purchase as an individual pattern download via my Patterns page.


Wednesday, April 12, 2017

A Few Things

First up: By next week Wednesday, you'll want to have subscribed to my newsletter, because there is a subscriber-only coupon going out! How to subscribe? There's a form off to the right of this post, or follow this link: http://eepurl.com/czV5l9

Next up: I'm going to be a vendor at the Edmonton Fibre Frolic! If you're in town, you can come on by to purchase patterns in person from me, and enjoy shopping the event for fibre, yarn, notions, patterns and tools from some great vendors!



In the meantime: I finished a thing! My Mother-in-Law brought me some lovely Mohair bouclé from Cushendale Woollen Mills back with her from Ireland, and last summer, when I needed a serious break from making things for work, I started knitting a lap blanket with it.



Last weekend, I finished it up, and it looks like this:



I'm pretty pleased with it, and it does a great job of keeping me warm while I work at the computer downstairs!

Last for now: I'm participating in the #yarnlovechallenge on Instagram, which is a lot of fun! There are daily prompts, and I'm enjoying posting my responses. Would love to see what you're doing if you're participating too! I've been finding it a great way to really spend time thinking about what I love about yarn and what I do for work. It's important to be reminded, because there is a definite downside to making your hobby your job, and that even if I have days where I am tired of the knitting or the writing, that I still love the essential parts of making things with yarn, and, of course, the yarn itself. You can find and follow me on Instagram as: jessiemckitrick.

Thursday, March 09, 2017

Spring Cleaning (Even Though Spring is a Good Month Away Yet)


So, despite the weather looking like this:


I've been doing a bit of Spring Cleaning.

I've sorted through my pattern samples.


I've sorted through both my personal stash and my work stash. This one is my work stash (during and after), along with some of my personal stash that ended up there by default because it's just where I do my knitting and spinning.




Speaking of spinning. I've also been doing a bit of that (and bought a new spindle from Danware!) and some swatching, which I can't show you yet.



I also can't show you the top-secret project that I recently sent off, or the yarn that I have coming in the mail, but I do have a sneaky peek of one project that I will be sharing next week in my newsletter, so if you're interested in seeing what I'm working on, please subscribe! To subscribe, follow this link here.








Sunday, February 12, 2017

Canucklehead

I recently released the Canucklehead set, which I designed for Pam's Woolly Shoppe, and would love to share it with you!

In celebration of Canada's 150th anniversary, I designed a tuque, and then, for those who prefer to wear cowls, and for those who want to be extra warm and wear both, I designed a matching cowl. Worked in Estelle Worsted,  these are available in a wide range of sizes so that the whole family can be decked out in cheerful Canadian maple leaves. Might I suggest that in case you are a Toronto hockey fan, you can make them into Maple Leafs instead simply by knitting in blue and white instead of red and white. I don't happen to know any Leafs fans personally, but I respect your dedication to the cause!

On February 18th from 10:00 to 17:00, if you can make it out to Pam's Woolly Shoppe, there's a party going on, complete with Hot Apple Cider and Maple Leaf cookies, and I would love to meet you! The Canucklehead pattern will be bundled as a kit for this event only, so it's a great chance to pick it up free with purchase of the yarn needed to complete it.

Otherwise, the Canucklehead patterns are now available for purchase via Ravelry, as a set or individually! Further details on my Patterns page.

In other announcements, I've started a monthly newsletter! The first issue, with a more detailed behind-the-scenes look at the Canucklehead Set, went out the other day and is archived here, but to receive the March newsletter you can subscribe here: http://eepurl.com/czV5l9  There will be more behind the scenes information and photos, along with occasional special subscriber-only offers!