Favorite 5 Beaded Knitting Patterns

The theme for this month’s Favorite 5 video is Beaded Knitting Patterns. This theme was suggested by one of my YouTube viewers named Denise and I was happy to oblige! The most difficult thing about this particular task was narrowing it down to only one pattern per designer. It seems that when a knitwear designer is bitten by the bead bug they frequently fall hard. And honestly, who can blame them. In perusing beaded patterns on Ravelry it gave me the urge to design once again with beads. I can feel it coming on…

 

If you want to know why I picked all of these patterns I explain it all in the video above, but everyone likes to look at pretty pictures so you can see them below too. Please know that these are not in any sort of “ranking” order. Click on the photos to be taken to each pattern’s Ravelry page if you want to purchase the pattern.

Celaeno by Romi Hill © Rosemary Hill

First off is Celano by Romi Hill. This is one of many beautiful beaded pieces from Romi. I chose this one because it is actually the very first beaded pattern I ever knit.

Beaded Button Bracelets! by Sivia Harding © Sivia Harding

If you want to try out several different beading techniques in a small format then these beautiful bracelets from Sivia Harding are just the thing. Sivia is another designer with oodles of beautifully beaded patterns.

Gledholt by Ann Kingstone photo © Wooly Wormhead

A more subtle but stunning approach to beading can be found in this sweater from Ann Kingstone.

Faberge by Laura Aylor © Laura Aylor

I couldn’t resist another shawl, but this one has the beads against interesting texture as opposed to lace.

Peacock Cowl by Stephannie Tallent photo © Kathy Cadigan

And this cowl – what can I say about this cowl? It is a work of art that includes beading, intarsia, embroidery, and duplicate stitching. I want to knit this one day.

And to round things out I show off my pattern BitterBlue in the video. What do you think should be my next beaded pattern? Maybe another shawl? 😉

 

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Favorite 5 Shawl Patterns with Elegant Edgings

The theme for this month’s Favorite 5 video is Shawls with Elegant Edgings. For the purpose of this particular adventure I looked for shawl patterns where the edging was a significant or the significant design element of the piece. Sometimes an amazing edging is really all you need. Several of the techniques that I am highlighting are ones that I have struggled with in the past and that I wish I could figure out. So this list falls somewhere between admiration and envy.

 

 

If you want to know why I picked all of these patterns I explain it all in the video above, but everyone likes to look at pretty pictures so you can see them below too. Please know that these are not in any sort of “ranking” order. Click on the photos to be taken to each pattern’s Ravelry page if you want to purchase the pattern.

Furinji by Angela Tong Photo © Miss Babs

I love the extended picots on this shawl. They are unusual and beautifully integrated into the pattern.

Cumberland by Tabetha Hedrick Photo © SweetGeorgia Yarns

The loopy, scalloped edging on this shawl brings the whole piece together. I brings a lightness to the piece that elevates the entire feel of the shawl.

Radiant Aura by Xandy Peters Photo © Xandy Peters/EPS Photography

I love how the edging is somehow just an extension of the whole but distinctive in and of itself.

Brunswick by Mindy Wilkes Photo © Mindy Wilkes

A completely different approach to picots with a picot hem actually occuring within the body of the shawl! Brilliant.

Short Beach Shawl by Kirsten Kapur Photo © Gale Zucker

The fringe on this piece is so inviting I want to run my hands through it. It is the definition of elegant. If you are looking to knit this shawl it is part of the book Drop Dead Easy Knits! (affiliate link)

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Sandpiper Socks

If you happened to be wondering why crazy variegated yarn was on my mind in my last post, well, I have been working on a pair of socks for the last few weeks. This is my very first sock design and I am both excited and nervous to release it.

And it is made to highlight variegated yarn. Specifically the amazing yarn from The Fiber Seed. After developing something I called the Sandpiper Stitch for my hat Luidia I just had to see what the stitch looked like with variegated yarn. Luckily the lovely Lindsay who is the dying genius at The Fiber Seed was willing to send me some swatching yarn, but it was in fingering as opposed to the DK that used for the hat (both yarns are awesome and 100% made in the USA).

After I swatched it in sock weight yarn it pretty much demanded to be a sock. I had a discussion with it. I explained that I don’t actually design socks. But it refused to listen. I mean, I’ve knit socks before and it was all like – you need to step up and design some socks.

Here you can see the contrasting heel/toe!

So I did. And I love them.

With the combination of slipped stitches and lifted bars the color dances across these socks. And as usual with slipped stitches you are just knitting stripes so there isn’t any yarn management. I chose to start toe up so that the stitch would orient in the correct direction (no upside down stitches for me) and went with an afterthought heel so that I could do a contrasting heel/toe. There’s no good reason for that other than I really like the look of a contrasting heel/toe.

The sock on my left foot scrunched down a bit, but I was trying not to fall off the wall.

I had to tinker with the stitch a bit. For the hat I dealt with the contraction caused by both techniques by going up a needle size. That doesn’t work with socks because you need a dense fabric so that they will wear well. So I built in some yarn overs that are dropped to provide slack to the slipped stitches. And the yarn over falls behind the other slipped stitches so you get one extra stitch of length in the bar that you will later lift. I know this sounds confusing but it will totally make sense when you read the pattern.

The bottom of the foot is stockinette because who wants to walk on slipped stitches?

I cannot wait to see what other amazing color combinations that people choose. The Fiber Seed has amazing variegated yarns and solids to go with each one. Go crazy, it’s socks!

Favorite 5 Patterns for Crazy Variegated Yarn

When I can do anything I want I sometimes find that I can’t figure out what to do. To solve this problem I find it helpful to build structures for myself to work within. One example of this is how I am approaching creating content for my YouTube channel Watch Barbara Knit. After a year of trying to come up with stuff on the fly I decided that what I needed was a schedule and for the schedule I am thinking in “series” for lack of a better word. On the first Thursday of each month I will upload a Vlog (video blog). Today is the second Thursday and is the launch of a new series that I am calling Fave5.
Top 5 Patterns for Variegated Yarn
Fave 5 is my favorite 5 patterns centered around a theme that I cook up. I have a list in my planner where I write down ideas for themes and the first one is Patterns for Crazy Variegated yarn! The idea is that I look through Ravelry and pick out 5 patterns that meet my parameters and share them with you! It gives me the opportunity to really look through beautiful knitted pieces and showcase some of the amazing work out there by other designers. And of course if I have a piece that fits the theme I am going to sneak it in at the end as a bonus 6th piece.

If you want to know why I picked all of these patterns I explain it all in the video above, but everyone likes to look at pretty pictures so you can see them below too. Please know that these are not in any sort of “ranking” order. Click on the photos to be taken to each pattern’s Ravelry page if you want to purchase the pattern.

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Vittorio by Corrina Ferguson Photo (c) Corrina Ferguson

A beautiful side to side shawl that is perfect for a single skein of sock yarn.

Circumvolute by Hunter Hammersen Photo (c) Hunter Hammersen

This hat has so much wonderful motion it will move your colors around in amazing ways.

Merope by Jen Lucas Photo (c) Martingale & Company/Brent Kane

Available in Cozy Stash-Busting Knits these mitts have slipped stitches that will help break up any pooling you might get with crazy yarn.

Moromorio by Heather Zoppetti Photo (c) Heather Zoppetti

I had to include another shawl and this one tames the variegation by striping with a neutral. Perfect if you want a larger wrap.

Krewe by Lee Meredith Photo (c) Lee Meredith

Using both striping with a neutral and all kinds of stitch manipulation this cowl is totally amazeballs. I would love to see it in the craziest of variegation.

Roller Coaster Cowl by Barbara Benson

And from me, this cowl uses lifted stitches to distort the fabric and create deep texture that allows the crazy colors to shine.

If you have any suggestions for future Fave 5 themes I would love to hear them! Please let me know in the comments.

Rejection / Re-purpose

I just read a couple of blog posts that have inspired me to write my own. It started with Dealing with Rejection by Heather Zoppetti on the Stitch Sprouts blog which lead me to the Design Your Biz: Rejection post by Jen Lucas on Knitting Like Crazy. And of course I have a very similar story to tell. Whenever you start submitting you have to be prepared for the big nope. My first magazine acceptance was actually a proposal that had already been rejected by another magazine!

You work on a proposal and if you don’t fall in love with it a little then I think maybe it really isn’t meant to be. But if you fall in love with it then you are willing to fight for it. You have to have the confidence to say “This is good” even if a rejection makes you question your own judgement. I once had a crazy idea (I’ll wait for you to get over being totally shocked) …. that I could make two color cables using slipped stitches. I spent a lot of time swatching and came up with something that I really thought rocked out. And I sent it in as a proposal to a call from a major yarn company.

A sketch of a proposed two color cable hat.
The original sketch for the proposal.

And it bombed. No thank you – not gonna happen. And you know what, the more I thought about it the more I realized that maybe it wasn’t a perfect fit for that particular yarn. The owners of the yarn company definitely know their own yarn better than I and they saw something that didn’t quite work. So I set about trying to decide who did make the perfect yarn for the design. And I reworked my proposal and sent it in to the better-fit yarn company and they loved it! And being the color geniuses they were we worked together to pick out the perfect color combo for the pattern.

 

Cables are Cook: a two color, slouchy cable hat with slipped stitch color work by Barbara Benson

Now, if I hadn’t been able to suck up my sadness from the original rejection then Cables are Cool would have never seen the light of day. And I think that would be a different kind of sadness that I’d rather not deal with. (Also, can I just take a moment of pride to point out how much the sketch resembles the finished piece. I’ve never really looked at them side by side. I nailed it!)

Earthbound Misfit

I love collaborating with other independent business people in this wonderful industry and I am always amazed how much more I can achieve when I work with other brilliant creatives. This new shawl is a prime example of my point. I decided to call it Earthbound Misfit (after my favorite Pink Floyd song Learning to Fly) and it features beautiful custom gradient sets from The Unique Sheep and perfectly matched beads from earthfaire.com.

The first step is that I drew up an idea I had and took my sketch to SAFF because I knew that Kelly (from The Unique Sheep) was going to be there. My drawing skills aren’t the greatest, but I thought y’all might like to see where things started:

beadedbandsketch

We start with images and art that have caught our eyes for their color combinations. Once we have narrowed down the candidates Kelly from The Unique Sheep works her magic developing custom colors. Occasionally the colors need to be tweaked until we are all happy – but they are always stunning from the get go. Then the yarn travels to Ellen at earthfaire to be matched up with the perfect beads.

threeatatime

For this shawl I asked her to put together a “bead soup” of multiple different colors that matched the colors that the yarn gradients pass through. By placing these colorful beads on the contrasting color stripe the beads have a big impact with a relatively small number of beads (compared to the size of the shawl). I also wanted to challenge myself to place the beads randomly. I’m not much of a “random” person – but sometimes you just need to loosen up!

stitches-3
Speaking of size, the pattern is designed to have some wiggle room in the amount of yardage you need. We worked with three different fingering weight bases and they each have slightly different yardage. I planned the color changes to occur in the large textured bands and you can fudge the transitions by a couple of rows here and there to match your yarn. The end result is a shawl that takes between 900 and 1000 yards. The resulting shawl measures 24″ X 55″ (61 X 140 cm) but due to the curving shape it wraps around as if it were much larger.

earthboundmisfitmodeled-2
If you are in love with one of these specific color combinations you can get them in kits exclusively from earthfaire.com. You can also pick out your own gradient set from The Unique Sheep in their Luxe, Verve, and Tinsel Toes bases. Just let them know you are making an Earthbound Misfit and I am sure that they can make sure you have the right amount of yarn and a great contrast color. I cannot wait to see all of the different versions of this that might come about. Seeing the three that we created amazed me in how changed the pattern appeared in the different color combinations!

earthboundmisfitmodeled-6

Come learn to fly.earthboundmisfitmodeled-3

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Unwind Getaway April 2017

Every year a group of knitters get together in the beautiful mountains of North Carolina for a weekend of knitting, learning, and fun! This event is called the Unwind Getaway and I am beyond excited to be able to announce that I will be one of the instructors for 2017. The event will be from April 28 through May 1 and registration opens today.

I am one of four awesome instructors that will be teaching classes over the weekend, you can see all of our bios here. If you are interested in the full list of class options you can find them here. I will be teaching three classes over the weekend and the rest of the time will be for hanging out, knitting, and making friends. I cannot wait!

The classes I will be teaching are Elongated, Lifted, and Cinched, Mosaic & Lace, and Tips & Tricks for Knitting with Variegated Yarn. While the last one is pretty self explanatory the first two might require a little elaboration. Elongated, Lifted and Cinched will be a technique class where we will explore the world of weird stitches that are found in Japanese stitch dictionaries. There are a variety of unusual techniques that crop up that really have to be seen (and knitted) to be believed.

Golden Lion Throne
Golden Lion Throne

Mosiac & Lace will be focused on teaching the technique I have been developing combining mosaic style slipped-stitch color work with lace. More of a project based class, we will be learning all of the techniques you will need to successfully go home and cast on for Golden Lion Throne. Golden Lion Throne is the shawl that started me down the path that has lead to my book Mosaic and Lace, which will be coming out on March 1st, 2017.

Oh, have I not mentioned that? 😉 Yes indeed. Beginning in February of 2015 I have had a secret project that I have been working on, a book! It is now available for pre-order through Amazon and the official title is Mosaic and Lace Knits: 20 Innovative Patterns Combining Slip-Stitch Colorwork and Lace Techniques. As I said, the publication date is March 1st and if you would like your Local Yarn Store to carry it you should give them a heads up. My publisher is Stackpole Books and most distributors of knitting books should be carrying it! You know that there will be much, much more showing up on this here blog about this – you might even get sick of it. But for now I can share with you what the cover will look like!

coversmallI hope y’all are as excited about this as I am, but I’m not sure it’s possible. But, if you are the kind of person who learns better in person and you want to hone your skills to be able to take on all of the patterns in this book – well you can come join me in North Carolina at the Unwind Getaway.

An Interview with … Me!

As with (I am guessing) many knitters, I have read a lot of knitting blogs. I meant a lot. My feedly feed is full of them. And I have been reading many of them for years. Ever since I had the inkling that I might want to pursue knitting design as a calling I have been following one called “How to Become a Professional Knitter” by Robin Hunter. She posts weekly interviews with professionals in the knitting industry and I have probably read a couple hundred by now.

Imagine my surprise when I received a request to do one of these interviews?! You could have knocked me over with a feather. But interview I did and it was posted today. If you would like to know more about my design process and maybe peep into how my brain works please click over and check it out.

Secondly, I am super behind in blog posting. I have found that I am much better at talking to a camera than getting my thoughts out with the keyboard. The best way to keep up with me is to check out my YouTube channel Watch Barbara Knit. But that is not to say I am giving up on blogging. I just need to get better. Mostly it’s the fact that the Fall festival season is upon us and time has just flown!

I went to Wisconsin Sheep and Wool and had a grand time!

And I went to New York Sheep and Wool and had even more fibery fun.

I have released some new patterns along the way and will be writing up posts about them soon!

Blocking Yarn with Acrylic Content

Can it be done? My answer is yes. Should it be done? Also yes!

I teach a 3 hour blocking class and I am pretty evangelical about blocking. Blocking is the closest thing to magic I’ve found in the world of knitting (unless you count actual spinning – because fluff into yarn is pretty amazing). It is a very rare project that I would say “eh, you don’t need to block that”. I mean, it happens but not often.

Which brings us to acrylic content yarn. Acrylic is plastic. You can get it as wet as you want and there will be no penetration of the fibers. Wet blocking can clean acrylic projects but it doesn’t really do any actual blocking. And when you have blends with acrylic it really fights with you about the blocking. It inhibits the process. But I have read a bit about heat blocking acrylic and it fascinates me.

kraemerswatchestxt

I received a fun blend of cotton and acrylic from Kraemer Yarns called Tatamy Tweed DK and I decided to go a wee bit mad scientist on it. It is 45% Cotton and 55% Acrylic, which makes it machine washable and that is a major plus for many projects. I knit four swatches and messed about with them a bit.

The first swatch is the “control” (proper sciencing here). I knit it and took it off the needles. Bing, bang, boom.

Kraemer Tatamy Tweed DK Unblocked
Kraemer Tatamy Tweed DK Unblocked

The second swatch I blocked using a hot steam iron (no actual physical contact – that would be melty) to see if it would work and it did. But could I leave well enough alone? Nooooooo. I had my husband throw it in the washing machine and then into the dryer. I was not nice to this swatch. It received no special treatment. I think the dryer was on permanent press.

Kraemer Tatamy Tweed DK, Heat/Steam blocked & Washed
Kraemer Tatamy Tweed DK, Heat/Steam blocked & Washed

It shrank a bit but overall it did hold out some of the lace and looks pretty good. As long as you take into account the shrinkage I think this is a viable care technique. You would probably get less shrinkage if you were more careful with the temp of the drying.

Kraemer Tatamy Tweed DK, Wet Blocked
Kraemer Tatamy Tweed DK, Wet Blocked

For the third swatch I used wet blocking. The yarn bloomed a good bit and drew back some after unpinning. I speculate that this is the acrylic content having a bit of an argument with the cotton about where it wants to be. But it looks nice. I am guessing it will have to be reblocked after each hand washing.

Kraemer Tatamy Tweed, Heat/Steam Blocked
Kraemer Tatamy Tweed, Heat/Steam Blocked

And finally I steam blocked the fourth swatch on camera so that y’all could see how heat/steam blocking works! In short, you pin the knitting out to the final size you want and then use a steam iron to heat set the stitches. You hold the iron about a half of an inch above the surface of the yarn and allow the heat and steam to permeate the fibers. Move slowly and make sure the yarn heats up. When I unpinned it there was no movement and the lace stayed crisp and clear.

So there you have it. You can indeed block yarn with acrylic content. In fact there are several options. To see the heat/steam blocking in action and hear further analysis of my experiment check out the video on Watch Barbara Knit.

I called this Swatch Lab and hopefully it will be the first of many of this style of video. Please let me know in the comments if you like this idea and if you have any suggestions for future yarn experiments.

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Road Trip – Wisconsin Sheep and Wool style

It’s true! I’m going on a road trip. Early tomorrow Gale from Gale’s Art will be coming by with her vehicle packed to the gills. We will wedge me in and head off into the wilds of the MidWest to attend Wisconsin Sheep and Wool. I am going to be helping in her booth and she has given me a little space to display my samples and patterns. So very excited about it!

If you are in the area or traveling to this fiber event please stop by and say Hi! I have heard wonderful things about this festival and cannot wait to take pictures and video and everything. If you are interested in my trip you should watch my Instagram for the pictorial story. I am sure there will be yarn, sheep, and silliness. I also talked about the trip on my most recent video blog if you want to check that out.

But before I hit the road I have a few things I have to share here!

First – the Fix-a-Stitch Give away has come to a close and I posted the video announcing the winner this morning!

In the video I ask for a little feedback about give-aways. Specifically, do you want more? If so, what should I give away? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this matter. Going to the Post Office this morning and mailing off the package left me with a spring in my step and a smile on my face. Which is a feeling I would like to have more, so I am on the side of more give-aways.

When I get back from Wisconsin I have sooooo much going on. I cannot wait to share all of the awesome with you. I have no fewer than SIX patterns slated for release in September. Can you believe that? Hopefully it will make up for the slow summer. At least it is proof that I was knitting all summer.

Finally, I need to make plans for the winter. Do y’all have any thoughts on what kind of new patterns you might like to see? We started up a great chat in my Ravelry forum about what kind of shawl shapes people like and if you want a little peek into what might be coming down the pike you might want to mosey on over there. And the conversation can continue, please feel free to jump in!