Happy Stitches

Keep your stitches smiling!

Adventures in Free Motion! March 8, 2016

Filed under: Craftsy,Quilting,Review,Uncategorized — happystitches @ 09:04

IMG_3362 (1)

This is the private side of the cushion cover shown in my last blog. As you can see, I just can’t stick to any one thing for very long! (The different stitch patterns correspond to the various fabrics.)

I have been heavily influenced by the free motion classes on Craftsy. I had done just enough dodgy free motion quilting to realize it is not a ‘whatever thing you want to throw in here’ process, before I decided to take some of these classes: I was very ready to appreciate the value of the tips and hints I learned.

I would, for instance, never have used the fancy (rather silly looking) gloves, but now I wouldn’t free motion without them.

I’ve watched almost all of Leah Day’s classes; they are very inspiring and she’s lovely to listen to. Currently, I’m watching Top Techniques for Big Quilts, which is presented by 5 different teachers – it is a great way to audition a variety of teaching styles.

And just to prove that I did finish the cushion, here it is!IMG_0022

Craft Month Celebrations
For the next week, to celebrate Craft Month, anyone purchasing any Craftsy class will be entered to win a $1000 donation to the craft charity of their choice.
In addition, any new customers (never previously purchased a paid class, you might already be enrolled in free classes) using my Discount Affiliate Link  will secure my entry into a teachers draw at Craftsy.
In general, I dislike promoting things, but surely promoting learning and acquiring new skills and interests is a Good Thing. Do you have a friend who is ready to be enlisted?

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Poseidon Makes His Tempest Pick! December 6, 2014

Filed under: books,General Musings,Review,Uncategorized — happystitches @ 08:10

 

 

Poseidon in the quilt

Poseidon is a real connoisseur of the handmade–but not always with the best results…

 

 

Thank you all for your comments on Holli’s beautiful new book. Having pledged that Poseidon (our current cat in residence) would select the winner of a copy of Tempest, we had to find a way to make a cat work. Easier said than done.

You see, Poseidon does not have an unblemished work record. You can read about my birthday earrings to discover one of his earlier knitting atrocities.

We hit upon the idea of luring him by means of rattling a packet of cat-crack (treats), then letting him chase a cascade of falling numbers (to correspond with the comment numbers). While he was otherwise singularly disinterested, he did definitely nose at one of the numbers.

And so, we can announce our winner – Congratulations to Commenter#16 (Carrie)! Please email me at  info@lucyneatby.com and we will make the arrangements!

For the others, the consolation is that Holli’s book, in conjunction with SweetGeorgia Yarns, is still available. Vote with your dollar and support a designer!

Don’t forget the supporting Tempest website, which offers technique videos, lots of pictures of the garments and a forum to discuss and share projects.

The e-book can also be purchased on Ravelry.

Poseidon picks a winner

While initially disinterested, Poseidon was willing to work for treats.

 

 

ps: Don’t forget our special Daily Advent Calendar Pattern, bargain Bundles and treasures in the Clearance bin!

 

Hello Holli! November 24, 2014

Filed under: books,General Musings,Review,Uncategorized — happystitches @ 11:37

Haven from Tempest by Holli Yeoh

I’ve been home for nearly a calendar month now. It’s been years since I’ve had this much time at home without visitors or family celebrations intervening, to simply be. Living on the road or out of a suitcase leads to a very surface life. You do what is strictly necessary to hold it all together, but you don’t have time to browse or muse.

One of the things that goes by the board is reading. I have a series of books (that I am sure are wonderful) sent to me by friends that I haven’t had a moment to even crack the cover on, let alone comment on. To any friends that I may have inadvertently offended by this, I apologize. (I hardly even have time to promote my own completed creations, new ones in progress always take precedence.) I am determined to take a few of my slightly more leisured moments to take a peek as some of these gems now.

Holli Yeoh and I go back many years. We first met on one of Shirl the Purl’s wonderful Knit With Us holidays. Here’s a pic (pre-digital) of Holli kindly modeling my Radiant Shawl for me in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories.

Radiant Shawl with Holli

Radiant Shawl with Holli

I’ve always been in awe of Holli’s sound technical approach to knitting, her teaching skills and her incredible sense of style.

Holli’s new book Tempest (title inspired by West Coast weather), in conjunction with Sweet Georgia Yarns, captures all of the above. The book contains a variety of stylish knits for many occasions, all knit in beautiful yarns. I particularly love the supporting Tempest website, which offers technique videos, lots of pictures of the garments and a forum to discuss and share projects.

Well done Holli!

The print book can be purchased here.
The e-book can be purchased on Ravelry.

For a chance to win an e copy of Tempest – please leave a comment and we’ll have Poseidon the cat randomly select a winner in a week’s time!

Priscilla

Priscilla

 

 

 

Changing the World One Knitter at a Time! (Guest blog) April 16, 2014

Every now and again, I receive a letter about, or am otherwise made aware of, a knitter’s journey which resonates with me.  Today I’d like to introduce you to Liz, who is currently working on an ENORMOUS project inspired by one of my patterns.  She has been keeping us updated through the DK Techniques Club on Ravelry, where we keenly await her progress pictures and cheer her on her way.  This has been a thoroughly enjoyable conversation:  I love watching how other knitters approach such a project (she has gotten a multitude of helpful advice from the start), from casting on to advising on broken cables to the invaluable virtual hand-holding essential to the pains of ripping back several weeks’ worth of work.

Here, then, is Liz’s story in her own words:

 

the-knitting-lesson.jpg!xlMedium

 

Over 30 years ago, when I was a child, my mother taught me to knit. I really wanted to, but was terrible at it. I was persistent, but terrible. For the most part, she would try get me to make a jumper or cardigan, and by the time I was less than half way up the back, still on the first piece, I’d be starting to grow out of it. I was painfully slow.So I  gave up, but held on to how much frustration I had experienced trying to knit and thought I hated it. I learnt to do a few other crafty things, including making my school uniform one year. I learnt to do lace making, tatting, and even made some large hand-sewn patchwork quilts. All this, but nothing grabbed me.

Around 7 years ago, I was in a phase of serious online gaming: 20 hours a day if I could manage it, 7 days a week. But one Saturday, I woke up thinking how my tombstone would read “Liz led a Virtual Life” or such. I got onto eBay and decided that, as I hated knitting, I would try crochet..

Well, crochet grabbed me by both hands and I began making many blankets and other things. I designed my own patterns pretty much from the start, as I am a geek! I just viewed stitches as pixels in a picture. However, crochet, while really adaptive, has one limitation: it doesn’t stretch. So, it doesn’t have the same fit when it comes to clothes, and socks. And although I do like making crochet blankets, there are only so many you and your friends, acquaintances, family, friends of friends you’ve never met or spoken to can need… I had pretty much run out of recipients and the ‘done’ pile was stocking up.

 

pileofblankets

 

In May 2013 I seriously injured my knee at karate. The resulting pain gave me chronic insomnia. So, what do you do all night and all day when you can’t go to work? The obvious answer is craft! But my brain needed something new. A friend on Google+ showed me a couple of pictures of double knitting.  I had never heard of it but wanted to give it a try. From this explanation, all I ended up with was a yarn barf. Then I discovered a double-knitting class at craftsy.com .

I bought Lucy Neatby’s Foundations of Double Knitting Class, and watched it in the wee hours of the morning in bed. It was like that moment in the Wizard of Oz when the world changes from black and white to full colour!

 

wizard-of-oz

It was like that moment in the Wizard of Oz when the world changes from black and white to full colour!

 

 

My main issue when I first tried to double knit was that it was knitting and, well, I didn’t like knitting, did I…

But this looked good and it had to be tried. The next problems were, of course, how to work with 2 yarns, then keeping tension and reading what was on the needle not what was visible in the work, and remembering that everything is a pair!

My first success, if you can call it that, was done in black and white (the most contrasting colours I could find) in thick, chunky wool. I made a motif I found in one of my books. I made mistakes, but realised, like with my first ever crochet piece, that I really liked this. I followed Lucy’s suggestion of one yarn on each hand, and learned to knit continental. Well, wasn’t that a revelation: pick knitting, where had you been all my life?

 

my Moonstone Scarf

my Moonstone Scarf

The first official Double-Knit item I made was Lucy’s Moonstone Scarf, a lovely simple repeating pattern which I could memorise and then concentrate on what I was doing. It became easier to think in pairs, and I got faster; it looked good, really good.

 

Casting on for a much BIGGER version!

Casting on for a much BIGGER version!

It looked so good, in fact, that I then wanted to make a bedspread based on it. I can hear you now, “Oh that would be nice..” – Yes, yes it would…  but mine is a kingsize bed!  361 pairs of stitches, progress is slow, but I have ideas coming out of every pore… I just can’t knit quickly enough! I have never been this inspired by anyone or anything, and I only have Lucy to thank, or blame, depending on your viewpoint.

The first rows: the design becomes clear...

The first rows: the design becomes clear…

 

Some time later: the blanket is growing...

Some time later: the blanket is growing…

Over Christmas, to get some finished project to cheer me up, I made a pair of socks. I am wearing them today: they are perfect. A year ago I would never have thought to make socks; it was crochet for the win! Of course they are just standard toe up socks in normal stockinette stitch. I have started a second pair, I have a bookmark in double knitting as a wip too… and a cabled jumper I started… I am a dog with two tails, I can’t wag enough.

Lucy has so many amazing patterns! She has truly changed my life. I have taken the journey from avid knitting-hater to double-knitting obsessed loon. I’ve got many designs and ideas in my head, each one cascading and triggering yet more ideas. From little bookmarks to thinking of a kingsize bedspread made in cobweb weight wool… Double-knit, of course.

I look forward to going home and knitting, I dream of knitting, and daydream of knitting.

Happiness was just the cost of a Craftsy class or a Lucy DVD away. Who knew! Of course, I now have all her DVDs, as Lucy could inspire me to try anything!

-Liz K.

 

 

 

Stephen West’s Shawlscapes Class on Craftsy March 26, 2014

As a Craftsy Instructor, I enjoy taking the time to watch other classes there, both for their educational value and to learn more about presentation methods.  I’ve been able to learn some interesting lessons on both ends from most of the Craftsy classes I’ve watched and  like to share some of my insights with you along the way.

Stephen West Shawlscapes Class on Craftsy

I recently watched Stephen West’s Shawlscapes class and found him to be a most entertaining presenter. I enjoyed his approach, yet found I had to pace my consumption of the classes: you can have too much of a good thing!

In this class, Stephen gently guides you through his shawl design process, gradually leading you from simple beginnings into shawls that look far more complex than you know they really are – once the path of their development has been revealed. You could take this class on two levels: as an explanation of the fairly simple techniques he employs and how to knit the  Boneyard Shawl pattern  included in this class, or as a guide to designing your own creations. Watch for his particularly unusual method for removing excess water from a project before blocking!

Stephen’s approach to shawl knitting is both informative and inspiring for the new shawl knitter and a wonderful resource for those tempted to try their own designs.  His teaching style is unique and entertaining, without compromising the lesson plan.  Well worth a try!

 

 
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