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As usual, Stitches West this year was great fun. I always enjoy the excitement of the show, the camaraderie of knitters, my wonderful students and friends. And I really have to say that the XRX/ Stitches staff does an excellent job putting together a show of such mass proportions! I taught 3 classes: Kitchener Like A Pro (grafting in pattern off the needles), The Right Fit (your body shape and finding/adapting knitting patterns appropriate for it) and DIY (Design it Yourself): Shawls and Stoles (tons of shawl shapes and how to achieve it). Kitchener Like a Pro and DIY Shawls & Stoles were sold out very early on in registration and I had only 3-4 spots left in The Right Fit, but by the time all the classes started, all my classes were sold out (I capped all classes at 25 students). THANK YOU STUDENTS!

"Kitchener like a pro" class at Stitches West

Students from my “Kitchener Like A Pro” class working hard and showing off their successfully grafted ribbing and cable swatches in pattern.

Mera, Revisited

Cal was in my “The Right Fit” class. She is showing off the “Mera, Revisited” pattern she made after taking a class on that pattern the year before at Stitches.

Stitches West 2013; Flame pattern

“Flame” is a crescent-shaped shawlette worked in a really cool reversible edging pattern and it was on display at the Windy Valley Muskox booth, where they sold out of about 50 patterns of Flame within the 1st hour of the 2nd market day!

Stitches West 2013

Anzula had “Fantome Hat” and “Fantome Cowl” both on display and selling as a kit with their Sebastian (merino/seacell) yarn. They also sold some soft launch test products of my gift tags.

Stitches West 2013

And my friends at Bijou Basin Ranch, had the “Mera Shrug” on display in their booth. That was one of my favorite projects because the yarn was Bijou Bliss, a yak/cormo blend.

Some of the other fun things from Stitches included running into Christina and Debbie from Alamitos Bay Yarn Co. on my flight, meeting 3 generations of knitters during the Student Banquet, petting all the pretty yarns, button-shopping, hanging out with my friends, old and new, and just being able to be part of it all. Oh and let’s not forget my first encounter with an Inu-knit (aka Lily Chin in costume)!

Stitches West 2013 Stitches West 2013 Lily Chin as an Inu-knitStitches West 2013

A note regarding my website

Folks, I also want to let you know that my website is going through a major facelift and some construction woes. You can still navigate and purchase from it, but I cannot list new stuff on it. So, for the time being, you will see a new tab at the top of this blog, “~~PATTERN & PRODUCT INFORMATION~~” That’s where I’m putting and listing all my new stuff. Thanks!!

**For up to the minute updates and news, follow me @AnneKuoLukito on Twitter and CraftyDiversions on Instagram or “Like” my Crafty Diversions page on Facebook!**
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Flame 3140

target=”_blank”>Flame is a shallow crescent shawl that has an attractive reversible lace motif. It’s worked in one piece without any picking up for the edge.

A while back, I stumbled upon an interesting but a little too fussy looking stitch pattern in one of my Japanese stitch dictionaries. While I didn’t love the fussiness, I loved the basic bones of the stitch pattern. So, I started playing around with the stitch pattern and manipulating it on the computer. One of the manipulations resulted in a beautifully textured pattern that’s also reversible, perfect for a shawl.  (Several of the other manipulations inspired a few designs that are still under wraps.)
I was a little stuck in deciding a name for this shawl, which I had worked using Windy Valley Musk Ox Luxury Blend (45% qiviut, 45% merino, 10% silk; 1oz, 218yds); Color: 2016-Autumn Crimson. A week after finishing the shawl, I went on an Alaskan cruise and I realized how much the stitch patterning resembles a whale’s fluke. Destiny led me to name this after one of the humpback whales that I saw. She is named “Flame” by the locals and naturalists in and around Juneau. I think it’s an apt name for the fiery color and spirit of this shawl.

Flame was initially debuted only to retailers (yarn shops) for wholesale orders at TNNA this past June. It has since been in storage and got a little wrinkled. Re-blocking it was the perfect excuse to use the bottle of Eucalan Wrapture wool wash send to me by my friend and designer of the scent Kristin Omdahl. At first I was a little scared of the jasmine scent since many jasmine-scented and floral-scented products are overly scented with synthetic fragrances that smell quite chemical to me. I had nothing to be afraid of. Jasmine essential oil gives Wrapture a nice romantic floral scent while the lanolin in it conditions your knits and other delicates washed with it.

I’m now releasing Flame to all of you and our knitting community. It’s available for purchase as a PDF download on Ravelry and on my website.  Do you want a chance to win a copy of Flame and a sample of Wrapture as well? I’m trying out Rafflecopter and running the giveaway through it. You can enter as many times as allowed; the more you share, the more entries you can earn! Winners will be chosen at random.

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flame giveaway

CLICK TO ENTER THE GIVEAWAY. Giveaway starts Nov. 19 and ends midnight EST Nov. 30.

**For up to the minute updates and news, follow me @AnneKuoLukito on Twitter or “Like” my Crafty Diversions page on Facebook!**

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Woolly Wormhead: Bambeanies

One of the many highlights of attending TNNA is that you get to see lots of yarns and products in person. And as a designer, it’s always nice to see my designer colleagues’ work in person and mutually cheer each other on. This year, I was especially looking forward to seeing and sharing laughs with my friend Woolly, with whom I really got to know at last year’s TNNA. This year, Woolly also had a booth and her booth was diagonally across the aisle from mine, so we visited each other quite a bit. It was delightful seeing this prolific hat designer’s creations and books on full display. If I were to sum up Woolly, I’d say that she a genuine, straight-forward person with a  fun and quirky personality. If you are familiar with her work, all her designs reflects that about her.

One of her books, Bambeanies: 20 quick & quirky Hats to knit for little people in your life, just tickled me into some oohs and awws, which surprised me, because I’m not really a kid person and don’t find myself liking baby and kid things.  I loved the level of cute (not too cutesy, as I find in many kid books) and uniqueness in this book. I don’t really have any little people in my life, but if I do, I’d knit Aurora (left), Nupkin (center),  and Ruskin (right).

It is well named as “quirky” and is among the first words that come to mind if I were to describe the designs in the collection. There’s a definite sense of whimsy from cover to cover. Woolly begins the book with a wonderful foundation with an outline of techniques for any knitterof any skill level. Her references to technique are detailed, easily understood and well rounded. The patterns are colorful, fantastical and original. The simple shape of a child’s head shape becomes animated by the wonderful shapes crafted in each pattern. Each is unique, yet they are not daunting; and while simple in nature, they are not at all boring. All in all I found the book to be informative, engaging and empowering for any knitter wanting to knit out of the box. And, it definitely says Woolly all over it.

Please go check out Woolly’s site, there are lots of cool, fun, smart and quirky designs for just about anyone. She also has an upcoming new project, Classic Woolly Toppers.

Want to wind a copy of Bambeanies? Woolly has graciously offered a complimentary digital version of the book for my readers. Simply leave a comment and I’ll randomly draw someone to win a copy next Friday. Simple, right?

End of Summer

Summer is quickly coming to an end. Kids are already starting school and pretty soon Fall (my favorite season) and Winter will be here. To help you get an early start on your Fall and Winter knitting, I’m having a Get Ready for Fall sale. Enter code “YayForFall” upon checkout from Crafty Diversions or from my Ravelry shop to get 15% off. All products are eligible. Sale ends Sept. 30, 2012.

YayForFall Sale ad
Also, check out the official release of Falling for You. It was originally only available as part of a knitalong. The shawl is attractive from both sides and the optional dangling leaves are fully reversible as it flutters with movement.

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FallingForYou PatternExample

**For up to the minute updates and news, follow me @AnneKuoLukito on Twitter or “Like” my Crafty Diversions page on Facebook!**

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I recently had an idea that I want to host a Knitalong in my Ravelry group. I couldn’t decide what or how to do it, so I used Ravelry’s polling feature and asked my Crafty Diversions group members to vote. The final tally at the time of the poll’s closing: 31 votes for a mystery KAL, 35 votes for a non-mystery KAL. For garment type, the top 2 choices were 21 votes for a shawl, 13 votes for a sweater.

The KAL will be free for group members and participants will have opportunities to win prizes donated by our KAL sponsors. After the KAL is over, the pattern will be available for sale in my pattern shop.

Since I always get asked by aspiring designers, friends and people who like my work how my design process works, how I come up with ideas, etc., I thought it’d be interesting to share the process with you from beginning to end…

The adventure begins!

Once the votes started leaning more heavily towards a non-mystery shawl knitalong, I started thinking about possibilities for designs. I think about shapes, size, color, theme, etc.

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My kitchen table is quite cluttered with various design tools and inspiration. Click on photo to see notes on the various items on the table in Flickr.

My brainstorming process consists of looking various sources of inspiration — home & architecture magazines, fashion magazines, old books, knitting stitch dictionaries, a scenic horizon, a tree, a  door handle, etc.  Sometimes everything swims around in my head for a little bit. Then I start doing some rough sketching my mini sketch pad (but when a sketch pad is not handy when a moment of brillance strikes,  a napkin or a scratch piece of paper will do!) to work out certain things like construction and fit details.

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Even a buffet table of delectable fruit tarts can be a source of inspiration. (I ate several of these during afternoon tea at Huntington Gardens.)

Rough sketch turns into a plan

If I have a particular idea that won’t let go of me, the only way to keep it from plaguing me all day and night is to work out the details, such as drawing up the bits and pieces on the computer, or creating and manipulating several charts. Below is an example of one of the designs I am considering for the KAL:

SummerKAL DesignProcessChart

I'm figuring out how I can alter and fit various stitch patterns (and variations thereof) together and how to create smooth transitions.

Some preplanning and working things out as I did above is a great way of identifying potential problems, especially when I’m trying to match up a stitch pattern into the stitch count or transitioning from one pattern to another.  This type of preplanning and charting is also important for me to visualize and see how the patterning will work in different sizes of a garment. For example, will I be able to use the same stitch pattern for all the sleeves in all the sizes of a garment or will I have to modify the stitch pattern for some of the sizes?

Yarn Selection: Fun and Important

One of the really fun parts of designing a project is thinking about all the yummy yarns! I go through a mental checklists of yarns that I like, fondle my stash, review my color cards, search manufacturer websites, and check Ravelry. (One of my tasks when I went to Stitches West was to look for yarn options for this project. The plethora of lovely options and my limited spare time at Stitches did not make the process easy.)

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Part of my yarn stash.

Other than looking at pretty yarn, I have to think about the resulting garment, fabric, shape and wearability. In knitting, I consider yarn weight (how thick the yarn is), fiber content (how the fibers in the yarn work for the project), drape and texture (how the stitch pattern, design and the yarn’s fiber content properties affect the garment), color (how a color might affect the design), feasibility (for example, considering whether knitters would be willing to work a coat in fingering weight yarn) and cost (while many yarn companies can provide me yarn support, it’s not really realistic to design a sweater requiring 8 balls of a $40/ball yarn. Instead, it’s probably better to design an accessory requiring only 2 balls of that luxury yarn. Thinking about the cost helps knitters with a special and relatively affordable splurge and helps the yarn company sell yarn.).

marinecu

A light fingering yarn (40% cashmere, 60% merino) yarn that I dyed a couple of years ago.

I considered several favorites yarnies and several that were new to me. While there were many that were at the top of my list, they were whittled down as I considered the following criteria: (1) I want to support a indie dyer; (2) Yarnie has to have quality yarn bases; (3) Yarnie has to have great colors; (4) KAL participants will need to be able to buy from Yarnie at least online since participants are likely quite internet savvy and are international; (5) Yarnie has to have the ability to have a variety of inventory from which to choose; (6) I was very open to working with a Yarnie that was previously unfamiliar to me

Yarn Chef Creme Brulee Fingering in Rosy Outlook (50% merino wool/ 50% silk, 650yd/5.3oz, 594m/150g)

After several emails with a few candidates, one candidate stood out and met all the criteria: Yarn Chef.  She advertised in my group last month and I could not get her yarns out of my head. Head chef Katy and I discussed her yarns, my needs and some other things. I am excited to be working with her on this project and that she will be the primary sponsor of our KAL. For the project, I will be using her Creme Brulee Fingering yarn, which is a light fingering/heavy lace at  122.87 yards per oz/ 4.33 yards per gram. Katy has already ordered extra yarn in anticipation of this KAL and will be dyeing them up as soon as she receives the yarn shipment in a couple of days.

Yarn Chef Bouillabaisse in Fern Valley (100% superwash merino, 540yd/4oz, 494m/113g)

Yarn Chef Creme Brulee Lace in Gothic Rose (50% merino wool 50% tussah silk , 620yd/2oz, 567m/60g)

I’m in as much anticipation about all this as y’all are and can’t wait to see what Katy cooks up. She will be restocking her shop soon and will also be donating a couple of prizes for KAL participants.

Add this blog to RSS feed if you haven’t already son you don’t miss my chronicles of this KAL, the design process and any other updates.

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Remember when I was talking and tweeting about Operation: Two-Day Shawl back in September?

Well, I decided to reworked and redesign it. Only this time, I was not crazy enough to knit it up in less than 48 hours. I didn’t want to name it “Two-Day Shawl” because well, it’s a bit intimidating and not a very good name, IMO.  I asked my friends for suggestions and my friend Lydia came up with “Weekend Shawl,” which I thought was perfect.

WeekendShawl5533 logo

I released it on Ravelry on Monday and after some technical difficulties, also managed to list it on my website. Look for its Ravelry pattern page here and its page on my website here.  To celebrate its release, I’m offering it at a highly discounted price of $3.50 for just 1 week, until March 7. The regular price for the shawl will be $6.25.

Shawl Specs:

  • Pattern sizes: 6 sizes, 2 yarn weights (lace and fingering)
  • Pattern format: Written, tech edited, laid out nicely; Has lace chart but chart is also written out for those that don’t like charts.
  • Yarn used in sample: Sanguine Gryphon Gaia Fingering in Sundogs (red); Yummy Yarn Studio Alpaca Silk Lace in Indian Ocean (bluish-turquoise)
  • Samples: Fingering (red): I knitted it in approximately 3.5 weeks; Lace (blue): My sample knitter Denise Wilkinson knitted it in about 5 weeks.
  • Changes/differences from the original Operation: Two-Day Shawl:
    • The #1 difference: I didn’t try to do it within 48 hours at all!
    • I changed the increases to lifted increases instead of yarn overs because it flows much more nicely into the patterning
    • The second lace pattern (Sunday lace) was entirely reworked and changed.
    • I changed the background to Stockinette stitch instead of garter
    • The ratio/porportion of the Stockinette body and the lace sections were altered so that the lace, especially the Saturday lace was wider.
    • And of course, I knew not to use stash yarn and yarn that was too highly variegated for this. With Operation: 2-day shawl, I didn’t really have many options given the wackadoodle time line I gave myself.
    • There were also a couple of minor things that don’t affect the design.
Weekend Shawl composite

Sample of all the pages of the pattern.

I actually finished the fingering version very early because I had planned to wear and release it in January for TNNA (Needlearts trade show). However, I later decided that I’d offer additional sizing and options with a laceweight yarn. Thus, I had my sample knitter and friend make up a sample since I was busy working on 3 secret projects at the time. When I did wear the red one to both TNNA and Stitches West, I received lots of positive comments form people, including people who waved me down from afar to ask about it. Those sort of things always warm my heart and make me so proud for both my work and the yarnies that make the gorgeous yarns.

WeekendShawl 5510 logo

Both yarns were a delight to work with (while I didn’t knit the lace weight sample, I handled the yarn quite a but and knitted up a swatch). I love the volume, sheen and softness of Gaia Fingering and loved every stitch of my knitting. I am so glad that Sanguine Gryphon was kind enough to offer me yarn support for this project, as I had been drooling over it and their colors for several seasons now (I’ve done some tech editing for them on their pattern collections and just couldn’t stop thinking about their yarns!) When I get the chance, I think I’d like to knit another one using Gaia Lace in a green-gray or a rich medium/navy blue.

As for Yummy Yarn Studios, Sam is a newer dyer based out of Canada and she obviously has nice colors as well, but in her own style. Another great example of her yarn is in the pair of socks she knitted for me!! I was saying how I don’t own any hand-knitted socks on Twitter and was about to hire someone to do it for me. I’m such a lucky girl!

WeekendShawl44 logo WeekendShawl51 logo

WeekendShawlLace17 logo

 

The socks that Sam made me is a pattern she designed called “Kisses” and can be found here. You can see the photo I took of me wearing them here. I love the lovely purple colors. I think the pattern will also work really well a nice honey color. I’ve already worn them several times around the house. I’m not wearing them now because I need to wash them.

And seriously, the Weekend Shawl… it’s only going to be $3.50 for a few more days so get it quick before it goes to its regular price. I’ve already received lots of sales on it since its release, so don’t be left out! And from the bottom of my heart, thanks to those of you who have already purchased it.

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MISSION: Design, knit and complete a shawl in less than 48 hours.
START: PST 9:00 a.m., Thursday, September 23, 2010
END: PST 9:00 a.m., Saturday, September 25, 2010
MISSION STATUS: Completed!

OTHER MISSION STATS:
– Number of times I casted and re-casted on: 5
– Number of times body rows ripped back: 2
– Number of stitches fudged prior to working border: 3
– Number of times border design changed: 3.5
– Number of times border ripped back and restarted: 4
– Approximate design & planning hours (pattern unwritten): 3
– Approximate actual knitting hours: 17-20

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My dear friends will wholeheartedly tell y’all that I am crazy for coughing up this idea in the first place. The idea came up when I realized that I hadn’t gotten anything for my godmother, who is visiting from Taiwan. I don’t have to give her anything, but I usually want to. Whenever she comes, I try to take her out or spend some extra time with her. However, this year, we were both busy and we could only arrange to see one another on Saturday for an early lunch. So, I thought that a nice handmade gift would be very nice and appropriate, but I only thought of it very late Wednesday night and I was planning to meet her for an early lunch on Saturday. Thus, Operation: Two Day Shawl was born!

I dug around my stash and came up with some 40% cashmere/ 60% merino fingering yarn that I had hand-painted a while back.  Since the yarn is so variegated, I wanted to keep the shawl design simple. Any intricate patterning would be immediately lost otherwise.

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The shawl is constructed with 5 panels worked in garter stitch with yarn over increases. I chose garter mostly because of the time factor. While I can knit and purl relatively fast, my knits are definitely speedier than my purls. I worked the shawl on US 9 needles for 2 reasons: I wanted a more open look to the fabric to show off the colors, and it also kept it light and more airy for Taiwan’s tropical climate. After lots of hemming and hawing, I chose to work a continuous border as opposed to a knitted-on edging, also in the interest of time.

I didn’t spend much time knitting or working on the project on Thursday and I only managed to get about 3 inches, which meant that the majority of my knitting occurred on Friday, and not without some setbacks. I finally finished knitting at around 5:45 a.m. Saturday morning and only had time to steam block  the sucker before I crashed for about 3 hours.

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By 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, the sun was already really bright, so I really couldn’t get any really great photos of the shawl, and of course I didn’t have time to even attempt a photo shoot.  And in my haze, I also forgot to measure the shawl.  Oh well. I definitely don’t think that it’s my best work, but it certainly isn’t bad for a 2-day shawl. The good part is that I finished and completed the mission. My godmother seemed happy to have received her gift (and I hope she likes it).

I am planning to write up the pattern with some changes and then I’m thinking that since I haven’t offered a free pattern in a long while, I might offer this one up for free. Well, maybe at least for a limited time. Some of the tweaking that I want to do for the shawl include working the body in stockinette stitch with lifted increases instead of yarn over increases, making small changes to the border’s patterning, and of course, I’ll have to reknit it. People like freebies, once in a while, right?

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Thanks to all of y’all you played and showed interest in the contest and in my patterns. I entered each entry into a spreadsheet and then used the PsychicScience random number generator to first generate 10 random numbers for Cocoon and then 2 random numbers for Lillian.

The numbers that came up for Cocoon were 37, 42, 63, 19, 57, 62, 6, 77, 23 and 34. The numbers for Lillian were 45 and 72.  So who won and how?

Cocoon Winners:

6 – Ellen Margulies – Facebook
19 – HeySweetGeorgia – Twitter
23 – Tallpolishgirl – Blog comment
34 – Awkwardgirl – Ravelry
37 – Knitterotica – Twitter
42 – Lydia Tilus – Facebook
57 – Kklemann – Blog comment
62 – InJuneau – Ravelry
63 – MyaLMG – Ravelry
77 – tapmouse – Twitter

Lillian Winners:

45 – Indigomuse – Twitter
72 – Heather Hodgins Lam – Facebook

Congrats to the winners! If you won, you should be getting your download link soon! Sorry to those that did not win. Perhaps you’ll get lucky next time!

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