Monday, January 30, 2012

The Joy of Knitting Socks & Turning Heels

Is there anything in knitting more joyful than turning a heel?  I suppose weaving in that final end might come close, but I love, love, love turning heels.  I grin like a fool.  There is great magic in making your knitting turn 90 degrees without seeming.

Why have I brought this up today?  Well, because I'm on the verge of turning a heel today and I'm very excited about it.  As soon as I started the heel flap I announced to my husband "Oh look!  I get to turn the heel today!"  He wasn't quite as excited as I was, but he did ask if it was the first or second sock of the pair.  He's a good man, he humors me.

I'm working the Monkey Socks pattern by Cookie A.  This pattern has been wildly popular on Ravelry, where you can find it for $6.00 OR you can purchase her pattern book Knit. Sock. Love. containing 19 patterns for $16.95.  I have the book and am entirely too eager to knit several of her designs.

I'm using KnitPicks Imagination Hand Painted Sock Yarn in Wicked Witch.  The yarn is lovely to work with, and contains alpaca, which I'm told is 8 times warmer than wool.  Sadly, I'm allergic to alpaca, so this pair is being lovingly made as a gift.  I expect the recipient will love her handknit Wicked Witch Flying Monkey socks (once she gets them)!

(No, I was not asked for an endorsement by either Cookie A. or KnitPicks.  I wasn't compensated in any way.  I just tell you about things I love.)

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Dyer Moments: Laura Coleman

When I design knit patterns, my inspiration usually begins with a color.  I like to design textures and patterns that represent, in some way, the color I’m working with.  If a particular dye lot reminds me of fire, or a stormy sea, or a leafy vine, I’ll try to reflect that in the stitch pattern or overall shape.  But where do those beautifully colored yarns originate?  I'm particularly fond of the work of indie-dyers, and so I've created this interview process - Dyer Moments - to expose the people that make the colorways that inspire new design.  


Join me today in getting to know Laura Coleman!

Describe the first time you dyed. 
~i dyed with kool aide for a long time.  just playing around.  i got great colors, and i loved the smell.  plus, it was great summer fun for my neighborhood kids.

How did you begin your business?
~a friend and i started magic & moonshine to sell jewelry.  then i got into dyeing yarn, and she moved in other directions with her creative muse.  color and the interplay of color--i love using color in a way that suggests waves or movement, like long stripes in tonal colors--on the skein is much more exciting to me then beading, so i moved to dyeing.

What inspired the name of your company?
~the “moonshine” is  a nod to my southern upbringing, and the “magic” just came to me. just like that.  cause the world is magical.

What inspires your colorways and how do you name them?
~i am inspired by everything.  the jumble of dirty laundry on the floor, flower gardens, the ocean, mountains of fabric, you name it. even books and music inspire colorways.  we spent 10 days in india this fall, and i am planning a line of colors based on the trip.  i also have a line of colorways in mind from one of my favorite books.  i can’t open my eyes wide enough.

how do i name the colorways?  it’s so completely random.  poetry, memories, the inspiration for the color...a lot of the time i just type the colors into google and look at the images til i find something that catches my eye.  my long-striping yarn, “handkerchief trick” is named after magicians.  naming them is the hardest part for me.  i tend to think in pictures and not words.

Do you also knit? Crochet?
~i do knit.  some.  i have about 6 ufos in a basket by my bed right now, and i have 3 more things i need to start (and finish) this month.  if i am not dyeing, reskeining, or winding yarn, then i am reading or painting these days.  i don’t crochet YET.  anyone want to teach me?

Laura Coleman - Magic & Moonshine
What is your favorite color and do you have a favorite pattern for showing off your yarn?
~i don’t have a favorite color.  when i was little, i said my favorite color was rainbow.  i still feel that way.  sometimes it’s hard for me to remember that i am not dyeing just for myself.  i tend to dye bright variegated yarns because that’s what i love; it’s really hard to do semi solid jewel tones even though i know that folks love them.  but as winter sinks in, my colors are getting deeper and richer.

please don’t tell anyone this.  i have only knit with my yarn once--i made a citron with a long striper.  i have seen stuff that other people have made though.  there’s a pair of striped socks knitted by a rav friend  in a custom colorway i did for her that i really like.  there’s also a lovely pair of pooling socks done with a’s night out--a colorway custom dyed from a picture of a club at night.  i loved the colorway so much that i repeated it.

What is your favorite fiber/yarn to dye?
~i mainly dye merino blends, but i would love to start trying out new fibers.  bamboo for instance, takes dye so differently and has a natural sheen.  a friend gave me a skein of bamboo to dye--it’s so gorgeous i have it hanging on my wall.   bfl and silk also have a natural sheen.  i have played with both fibers, but not seriously.  bfl will come soon though--it makes lovely hand painted skeins.  

Is there anything especially cool about your yarns we should know?
~hmmm...people tell me my yarn smells like limes.  i rock at looking at pictures and interpreting that picture into yarn.  it’s one of my favorite things to do.


Describe your background / education. Does it have any influence on your company? 
~my education is a big old bag of scraps.  it took me 6 years to get my bachelor’s because i kept changing my major.  my degree is in literature.  i have been a baker, a server, a youth worker, a massage therapist, an art researcher...the list goes on and on.  

my background: i was born and raised in mississippi--a hotbed of creativity and inspiration.  i was too busy partying like a rock star to be particularly artistic there.  but i have always loved the world:  walks in the woods, sitting by the ocean, climbing some rocks, gardening, smelling the flowers.  growing up in mississippi on a farm--i spent a lot of time outside.  since we lived a ways from my friends, i spent a lot of time alone.  reading and pretending.  imagination=the beginning of creativity.

What advise would you give others looking to dye?
~wear gloves and jump right in;  don’t worry too much and have fun.

Tell us about your biggest dye “fail”.
~i have three--i once forgot a skein on the stove, and it boiled--a great big roiling boil.  beautiful felt.  i was heating a skein in the microwave and all the water evaporated.  it was literally burned to a crisp.  third--heating a skein wrapped in plastic in a roaster.  melted the plastic into the skein.  just keep moving.  (and i’m not even mentioning the tangled skeins.)

Most importantly, what’s the best way to purchase your yarns? Are you in retail stores or do you have a shop online? Do you offer a yarn club?  
~ETSY--magicandmoonshine@etsy.com.  no retail--just don’t want to commit myself to something i might not be able to keep up with.  purplegoddessdesigns and i are offering a yarn club right now--cookies and cake.  she is a pastry chef; i am dyeing yarn inspired by her yummy treats.  i also have another club coming up in the spring inspired by my trip to india.


To get a better idea of the people behind the product…I ask our dying interviewees these insightful questions developed by Bernard Pivot.

What is your favorite word?
~serendipity

What is your least favorite word?
~i can’t tell you--i won’t even say it, but it isn’t profanity.  i don’t mind profanity.

What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?
~the great wonderful wide wide world:   dance. people.  trees. music. trains.  passion.  politics.  books.  travel.  gardens.  learning.  being alive.

What turns you off?
~mean selfish people.

What is your favorite curse word?
~fuckity fuck fuck fuck.  i have a sailor mouth.  i inherited it from my great grandmother.  

What sound or noise do you love?
~hmm....trains or wind.  trains remind me that i am never stuck.  wind reminds me of change.

What sound or noise do you hate?
~sometimes just loud cacophonic noise drives me up the wall.  like being in a bar after the lights go on and everyone is still yelling.

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
~i would love to be a teacher or a monkey mother (behavioral biologist) or a party planner.

What profession would you not like to do? 
~i don’t think i would be a good stock broker.  

If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?
~thanks for enjoying my creation.


Please visit Laura's Shop at 
http://www.etsy.com/shop/magicandmoonshine?ref=si_shop
Laura can also by found on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/magicandmoonshine?sk=wall
And she has a Blog at http://magicandmoonshine.blogspot.com/

Video: The Knitting Song

Friday, January 27, 2012

New Pattern: Vernon!


Vernon
Lucky? Perhaps. Masculine? Definitely. This reversible hat offers even the most difficult to knit for many options. Right-side offers low-texture look, the reverse a high-texture alternative. Fold it, roll it, wear it slouched, this hat is for every man. High elasticity ensures comfort; no more avoiding hats that squeeze and give headaches.
Hat is worked top-down in the round. Pattern instructions are written out and charted.
Sizes: Men’s - Will fit head sizes 22-25”
Yarn Requirements: Approximately 165 yards of worsted weight yarn.
Shown in Nature Spun Worsted (True Blue Navy). 
Needles: Size 5 (3.75mm) dpns.
Supplies: Stitch markers, scissors, tapestry needle, row counter helpful. 
Gauge: 22 sts = 4” (10 cm) in stockinette stitch 
Change needle size as needed to obtain gauge.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Giveaway Winners!

Thank you to everyone who participated in the "Goals and Mileage" giveaway.  I loved reading your comments and hope you had a chance to read my replies.  I really enjoy learning about other knitters!  Remember, everyone is invited to join my Ravelry group (http://www.ravelry.com/groups/jessica-lheureux-designs and post projects there, and you're always welcome to comment on my posts.  The feedback is not only important, but inspiring!

The random number generator produced number 10, and Ray's entry is, shall we say funny and appreciated, but void, therefore our winner is:

Carmen!

Carmen, you are invited to review my current pattern offerings and select one to receive FREE from Raverly.com.  Congratulations!!!

Also, just because you are all winners in my book... you are all welcome to save 50% off the pattern of your choice just for entering!  Email me at jessica@myknits.com with "Giveaway" in the subject line and the name you post under and I'll send you the secret promotional code!

Friday, January 13, 2012

New Pattern: Dallon!

Dallon

Tall, handsome and striped, this short-row shaped stocking cap is the perfect accessory for that unique individual who likes to wear their personality. Part hat, part scarf / neck warmer and all fashion statement, this distinctive piece will not only serve to draw attention, but to retain warmth as well!

Sizes: Men’s - Will fit head sizes 22-25” - approx. 48” LONG 
Yarn Requirements: Approximately 320 yards of two colors of worsted weight yarn for hat as shown.
Optional embellishment requires approximately 30 additional yards of dominant color. 
Shown in Cascade 220 (Christmas Red - 2 skeins) and Nature Spun Worsted (True Blue Navy - 2 skeins). 
Needles: Size 6 (4mm) 47” circular needle, Size G (4mm) crochet hook for embellishment only.
Supplies: Nine (9) stitch markers, scissors, tapestry needle, 4”x8” piece of cardboard for embellishment only. 
Gauge: 22 sts and 11 rows = 4” (10 cm) in garter stitch 
Change needle size as needed to obtain gauge.


Three finishing methods given for seaming hat as well as instructions for optional tassel embellishment.

  $3.00 for PDF pattern @ Ravelry.com

Cliche Cleaning Clearing and Coloring

As per the cliche, I've cleaned my studio for the new year.  I worked at it as though I was on a sinking ship.  Huge amounts of time was spent on it, and none of it was planned.  It just happened.  I think it's a New Year's requirement, enforced by some invisible universal force. I was supposed to be writing up patterns, charting a design and working on class handouts, but that irksome itch of disorganization and clutter gnawed at me.

So what all did I do?  I sanded and painted my shabby, worn desks.  I randomly grabbed a paint chip at the hardware store and had "Rebel" green mixed up.  It was a great delight to discover the sheer serendipity that the sofa in my studio was an exact match to the next shade up on the paint chip card.  I removed posters displaying technical HTML data from my walls that supported me in my many years of website design.  I de-cluttered and donated old office materials, decorations and unused equipment.  I bought a new lamp and lampshade.  I put up a matching valance, and some decorative mirrors to expand the natural light.  I reorganized storage units.  I cleaned.  I breathed deep and observed the energy change. Everything looks coordinated, intentional and fresh.  It is now a space I can work in, and it's a good thing too, because I've got an awful lot of work to do, and that weekend's time is lost.

Time to get back to work!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Dyer Moments: Brandy Marilla

When I design knit patterns, my inspiration usually begins with a color.  I like to design textures and patterns that represent, in some way, the color I’m working with.  If a particular dye lot reminds me of fire, or a stormy sea, or a leafy vine, I’ll try to reflect that in the stitch pattern or overall shape.  But where do those beautifully colored yarns originate?  I'm particularly fond of the work of indie-dyers, and so I've created this interview process - Dyer Moments - to expose the people that make the colorways that inspire new design.  


Join me today in getting to know Brandy Marilla!

"Celestial"
What inspired the name of your company?  

~I was inspired by the woman described in Proverbs 31.  It tells of a woman whose worth is far above rubies and pearls, seeks wool and flax, and works willingly with her hands.  The name 31Rubies reflects what is in my heart, what I strive to be everyday.

What inspires your colorways and how do you name them?      
~I am inspired by what I am feeling mostly.  My moods, thoughts, trials, triumphs and musings are soaked right along with the yarn in the dye pot.  I can be a deep thinker :)

Do you also knit? Crochet?    
~YES!  Nearly everyday for 11 years!  I knit for my four children, mostly!

"Beautifully Blue Moon"

What is your favorite color and do you have a favorite pattern for showing off your yarn?  
~Red is always a beloved shade, but I change my mind often.  Colors speak, and have quite a bit to say.  They can convey moods,thoughts and yesterdays wordlessly.  So my favorite color would depend on what's in my heart at the moment.  Plain, seamless top down sweater patterns and longies show hand dyed yarn well, no need for intricate stitches!

What is your favorite fiber/yarn to dye?
~Wool.  I sincerely love wool!  Wool is very much an alive fiber, and it's properties are nothing short of amazing.

Describe your background / education. Does it have any influence on your company?  
~I have been a stay at home mama since I was married and my first child was born.  I have four little ones looking up to me, and want to show them how important character, living, and loving is.  That influences not only my etsy shop, but my entire life.

"He's Waiting in the Meadow"
What advise would you give others looking to dye?
~Put your heart into it!

Tell us about your biggest dye “fail”.  
~There is no such thing.  It is a piece of yourself, and can always be over dyed.

Most importantly, what’s the best way to purchase your yarns? Are you in retail stores or do you have a shop online? Do you offer a yarn club?      
~I have an etsy shop, http://www.etsy.com/shop/31Rubies, and a facebook page http://www.facebook.com/pages/31Rubies/218817138183808?sk=wall that I can sell from.  I am always open to custom orders since I love to dye colorways based on stories, fabric, anything!

Brandy Marilla - 31Rubies
To get a better idea of the people behind the product…I ask our dying interviewees these insightful questions developed by Bernard Pivot.

What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?  
~New life, kindness, when someone just "gets you", hard work, quiet nights, the moon.

What sound or noise do you love?  
~The "hum" that our bodies have, the water running in the creek behind our house, creaking trees, the hush of night and snow.

"What's an Alice"
What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?  
~Midwifery

If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?  
~"Well done, good and faithful servant."  :)

Please visit Brandy at http://www.etsy.com/shop/31Rubies

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

2011 Mileage Achievements / 2012 Mileage Goals & Giveaway

I unofficially set a goal of 6 miles for 2011.  It wasn't a focused effort by any means... I knit because I love to knit, not to consume yarn.  I'm proud to say, I came really close.  I'm sad to say, I'm also a little disappointed, only because, well, I came so close.

So here it is.  I'm setting a mileage goal of 6.5 miles for 2012.  I regard this as a fully attainable goal.  Especially when I take into account that the 2011 goal of 6 wasn't really even considered until I hit about 3 miles.  Setting the goal now will inspire me to focus and get more projects and designs completed.

Do you keep track of your knitting mileage?  Do you set goals?  Comment and tell me about it.  One comment will be randomly chosen to receive a copy of the pattern of their choice from my design collection FREE via Ravelry download.  For additional entries you can follow my blog, "like" my facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/jesseknits, or join my Ravelry group at http://www.ravelry.com/groups/jessica-lheureux-designs (be sure to comment in the Welcome thread).  Be sure to leave separate comments for each additional entry.

This giveaway is open to everyone, everywhere.

Giveaway ends Friday, January 13th at 12:59PM MST.  Winner will be announced Saturday, January 14th.

I can't wait to select a winner and enable more mileage!!

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