Blog Retirement

The time has come to stop kidding myself, I am just not very good at keeping up with a blog. I considered taking the blog down entirely but then decided against it. When I did manage to put posts up some of them were pretty good!

On the bright side, the proliferation of social media has gifted me with other platforms that I am actually better at keeping up with. So I wanted to make this post to let anyone who comes across this part of the website that I am still here and still making content – just not in blog form.

You can visit my YouTube channel Watch Barbara Knit – which I update weekly.

You can visit me on the FaceBook Tumped Duck page

or if you prefer more interactivity there is a FaceBook group for Watch Barbara Knit!

I am also on Instagram and have a Ravelry Group that you are welcome to join!

And you can always peruse the archives of this blog and see if there is anything that tickles your fancy!

 

 

Favorite 5 Exaggerated Lace Knitting Patterns

As I was browsing through the Ravelry database thinking about what my theme should be for this month’s Favorite 5 I kept being attracted to pieces with exaggerated lace motifs. Lace is made up of fabric and holes and what I mean by exaggerated is that those elements are oversized or emphasized. It could be a giant hole or the sheer proportion of holes to fabric but I couldn’t help but clicking on these patterns. Once I focused down on this theme I also realized that lace worked in gigantic yarn also served to create this overblown effect that I quite liked. So without further ado I present my current Fave 5 Exaggerated Lace Knitting Patterns

As usual I go into detail in the video as to why I chose each pattern (often with excessive hand gestures) so please check it out. But if you are in a non-video watching scenario you can see my picks and brief descriptions below.

Photograph © Lindsay Lewchuk

Oceanic is the piece that kicked off my obsession and it is from Knit Eco Chic by Lindsay Lewchuk.  I love the gigantic holes here and also that she runs the gradient along the long axis of the shawl.

Photograph © Heather Zoppetti

Lanugine by Heather Zoppetti makes amazing use of the combination of bulky yarn, garter stitch, and lace. I could definitely see this knitting up super fast and making great holiday gifts.

Photograph © Angela Tong

From designer Angela Tong I selected the Rampion Bellflower Scarf for the fact that it is pretty much more hole than fabric. It pushes lace to the extreme of what can hold together and looks beautiful while doing it!

Photograph © Kathy Cadigan

Another amazing bulky shawl comes from Andrea Rangle in the form of Sentiment. It uses one of my favorite super bulky yarns, Rasta from Malabrigo. I’ve always avoided bottom up shawls because of the length of the cast ons but using giant needles and yarn makes it approachable.

Photograph © Tabetha Hedrick

Finally, going in the oppisite direction yarn wise the Flare Scarf is knit in lace weight yarn but with giant holes to make it fun.  Tabetha Hedrick makes wonderful use of a variegated yarn by playing with the balance of hole to knit fabric.

So, are you ready to knit up some exaggerated lace?

Favorite 5 Knitted Market Bag Patterns

I decided to try something new this month and asked the members of the Watch Barbara Knits FaceBook group what they would like to see in this week’s Favorite 5 video. I was kind of surprised when more than one knitter asked for market bags! In spending a little bit of time perusing market bags on Ravelry (all right, waaaay more than a little bit) I learned some interesting things. One is that there aren’t as many different market bag patterns as one might think. Secondly, a disproportionate number of the market bag patterns I really liked were in books as opposed to available as single patterns. Of course this makes me ponder a couple of things. A) Why the book thing? B) Should I design some market bags? I’d love to hear your answers to these questions!

As usual I go into detail in the video as to why I chose each pattern so please check it out. But if you are in a non-video watching scenario you can see my picks and brief descriptions below.

This Little Piggy Went to Market by Dana Gervaise is a classic market bag with a bit of a twist. There is an integrated pouch that allows you to carry it around all folded up! Dana has also generously offered a discount on this pattern! If you use the coupon code ‘Barbara’ when you check out on Ravelry you can receive 20% off of the pattern price (good until December 31, 2017)!

Photograph © Martingale & Company/Brent Kane

Off to Market by Jen Lucas brings stability to a market bag by working with sock weight yarn held double. This pattern can be found in her book Sock-Yarn Accessories which is available on Amazon (affiliate link)

Treasure Bag by Jessica Anderson is part of the book Lorelei’s Journey: Knitting for (Mermaid) Dolls and those who Love Them, which is precisely as adorable as it sounds!

Photograph © Christine Guest

The Carpette Bag by Christine Guest sent me into fits of giggles with its pun and fancy fish motif. How can you not love this?

knitting, book, hand knit, models

And I strayed a bit from the “market” bag category to include the super sweet Galworthy Gift Bag by Kirsten Kapur from the book Drop Dead Easy Knits (Amazon link). This lovely and delicate little bag would be a wonderful way to keep your change safe in one of the larger mesh bags. While they work great on apples, quarters not so much.

At the end of the video I also shared the first (and only so far) market bag that I have designed. It is the Pinwheel Market Bag from my book Mosaic & Lace Knits! (Amazon link) It is knit in DK weight cotton and makes use of the sturdiness of mosaic fabric to rein in the large mesh body of the bag. The mosaic also makes a very sturdy handle for the bag. I had a lot of fun knitting it and am seriously considering designing another. What would you want in a market bag?

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Fun Run

When I took this shawl to TNNA it was fresh off of the blocking board. It didn’t have a name and the tag simply said “New Shawl”. It is such a big shawl that I didn’t really have room in my booth to display it properly but luckily the wonderful dyer who provided me the yarn was happy to display it in her booth. While it was hanging out in The Fiber Seed booth it caught someone’s attention.

When I saw this pop up in my Instagram feed I think I laughed out loud! If you do not know, Lisa Schroyer is the Editorial Director of Knit & Fiber for Interweave. It made me ridiculously happy to find out that someone liked my crazy new shawl. I also figured it served me right for bringing an unnamed shawl to the biggest knitting trade show in the US. LOL

Fun Run by Barbara Benson. A bottom up triangular striped shawl with simple lace.

Coming home from TNNA putting the finishing touches on this shawl pattern was my number one goal and now it is here for everyone! After trying on several different names the one that ended up fitting best was Fun Run! The impetus behind this design was the festive color combination of Funfetti (an aqua/white/multicolor speckle yarn) and Chartreuse. I had color samples from The Fiber Seed and was swatching for something else entirely when the idea for this shawl hit me.  Because this color combination is so crazy I wanted to keep the overall design of the shawl simple. Really, this is a shawl to let your colors shine through.

Fun Run by Barbara Benson. A bottom up triangular striped shawl with simple lace.
Plenty of fabric for plenty of styling options.

It begins at the bottom and grows upwards from there. The shaping is very straightforward and you use stitch markers to mark the placement of the asymmetrical ladders of lace. I contemplated using dropped stitches but they just didn’t work. The technique I used is double yarn overs and this twists the two strands to form a single bar for each stripe. With dropped stitches you would have a length of yarn for every row which adds up to 2 strands per stripe – which makes the ladder less open. When combined with the busyness of the yarn the dropped stitches kind of disappeared. The lace opened up the holes and gave the ladders a bold vertical presence in the shawl.

Fun Run by Barbara Benson. A bottom up triangular striped shawl with simple lace.
It drapes beautifully.

The simple construction of the shawl makes it easy to alter to suit your whim. The Fiber Seed provides a generous 510 yards per skein so in the end you have an enormous shawl. If you would like something a little smaller you simply need to end earlier. If you want to go big you can just keep on knitting in pattern and add additional ladders. Whatever you choose, make sure to keep this project with you because it is super easy to knit anywhere.

Fun Run by Barbara Benson. A bottom up triangular striped shawl with simple lace.
We had a visitor!

So what colors do you think you’ll use for your Fun Run?

Ready Player One, a shawl with mosaic and lace

I’m not really sure how it came to this. I just published my 81st design and if I am counting right it is the 28th shawl that I have designed. That number kinda overwhelms me, but it is beside the point. The point I was trying to get to is that this is the very first traditionally shaped top down triangle shawl that I have designed! Who’d of thought it would take me this long to get around to it?

Ready Player One, by Barbara Benson. A hand knitted top down triangle shawl with slip stitch colorwork and lace.

But I am quite pleased with it, even though the math was considerably more difficult than I had anticipated. You see, figuring out the yarn usage and determining the perfect spot to start the slip stitch colorwork took a whole spreadsheet. I wanted to use up just enough of the Burgundy in the texture portion of the shawl so that I would have the right amount of that color to complete the mosaic. After the mosaic was finished I continued with the Hazlenut color for the lace. But the math! Oy! I got it eventually.

A soft shawl wrapped around the neck featuring mosaic colorwork and lace.
The classic kerchief wrap!

This yarn? Sport weight Aspen from Baah! Yarns. It is a Merino/Silk/Cashmere blend and I just want to wrap up in it and snuggle. It’s one of the reasons the majority of this shawl is solid. It works beautifully in the lace, but I wanted the comfy factor to be very high! I think that the color combination feels very rich and indulgent, but I also cannot wait to see what other color combos y’all knitters dream up! Please come share it with me in my Ravelry Group!

Ready Player One, by Barbara Benson. A hand knitted top down triangle shawl with slip stitch colorwork and lace.
A different approach to styling the shawl.

Finally, the name? Well, when I was knitting up the mosaic colorwork I could not shake the feeling that the crescent shapes looked like a little row of Pac Man’s chasing after one another. The more I looked at it the more I saw them. That led me to select a lace pattern with angles and linear motifs that I hope evoke a maze-like feeling representing the board around which Pac Man dashed! Of course – you can see in it whatever you want. I can also visualize the colorwork motifs as hearts and I am curious to know what y’all see?

Favorite 5 Linear Lace Knitting Patterns

For this month’s Favorite 5 video I found myself drawn to Linear Lace patterns. I’m pretty sure that isn’t an official term for these but it was what was drawing my attention. These lace patterns, where the lines of yarn overs march along in tidy rows or on the diagonal really soothe something in me. My need for order maybe? They are elegant and modern and unlike what we typically think of as “lace”. So I thought they deserved their time in the spotlight too!

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.

Photograph © Jennifer Dassau

To start things off I chose this beautiful cardigan called Avix from Jennifer Dassau. It is knit in the worsted weight yarn Yowza! from Miss Babs and it is a knockout.

Photograph © Stitch Definition/Jen Lucas

This is Hogmanay from Jen Lucas and I love how it manages to be very angular and swoopy all at the same time. It’s magic!

Photograph © Simone Kereit

These Spiral Lace Mitts from Simone Kereit are the perfect example of how a small amount of perfectly placed lace can elevate a pattern to sophistication.

Photograph © Amy van de Laar

And as usual, I couldn’t resist another shawl. I bet you can see why I chose this one; Silverwing from Amy van de Laar. The movement in this shawl is stunning and it evokes an outstretched wing precisely as the designer intended.

Photograph © Andrea Rangel

And we wrap things up with this loose and lovely Passages cowl from Andrea Rangel. It manages to be fine and lacy without being fussy. The chevron points keep your eye moving right along in their delicate tracks.

And I had a shawl that I felt fit in with this theme. This is Irulan and I think that the combination of garter, stockinette, and linear lace all come together to create an elegant but totally wearable shawl. And of course knitting it up in the super luxurious Ultraluxe Light from Sunshine Yarn was a treat.

So, is there any theme you would like me to do a Fave 5 on? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

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.