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Fairlington Cowl & Giveaway!

UPDATED 1/30/15: Congratulations to reader, Elaine! Elaine check your email.

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Cashmere.

Go on, try not to smile at that word if you’re a knitter.

I’ve been working with Pepperberry Knits (you may remember the free Retro Norwegian Hat and the Demmit Hat I did in their yarn) and am excited to introduce another pattern in their scrumptious cashmere, the Fairlington Cowl.

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I love a good knitting challenge, so when I was sent 2 hanks in Mulberry of their glorious Pepperberry Knits 100% Cashmere Bulky Soft Spun Solid, a nicely plied, subtle multi-colored bulky cashmere, I knew I only had 140 yards to work with. I immediately thought “cowl,” since cashmere is warmer than wool and I suffer from a constantly cold neck. Charting out a pattern was tricky, since I knew a lace pattern wouldn’t show up as well with the multi-colored hue. Cables not only bulk up a finished knitting garment by being slightly thicker in the cable-crossing areas, but they keep the shape of a cowl, add another dimension of texture and let’s face it, they’re great fun to knit.

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Knitting up on US 11’s, I was done with this cowl before I knew it, grabbing a few rows here and there at preschool pickup and drop off, while we waiting for the doors to open. Named after the town our preschool is located, the interesting cable pattern and large needle size means you can cut the chill in no time.

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Let’s give a copy of the Fairlington Cowl away, shall we? Answer this trivia question in the comments section to be entered in to win a free copy of the pattern, open to readers worldwide. A winner will be chosen at random tomorrow, Friday, January 30th:

What is the only mammal in the world that cannot jump?

Download the Fairlington Cowl pattern here.

 

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KDTV 14!

This past fall found me in Ohio again, filming season 14 of Knitting Daily TV.

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Hey, look! There’s me in the middle with the red yarn!

Filming is great fun for a lot of reasons… It feels like a reunion when we get the crew and cast together and film 13 episodes over the course of a week. My spots were filmed over 2 days with small breaks in between (one season I had to do 13 episodes in one day!). Sometimes I’ll film a few in a row, running back and forth between the set and the dressing room to change my clothes, knitwear and jewelry each time, to get my makeup touched up, to switch up my step-outs (knitting in progress for how-to segments) or have a quick meeting about the episode. Sometimes Vickie will pop in and shoot a spot with a guest who has to fly in and out and then the fun REALLY begins! Having amazing and talented guests coming in and out of the studio is like a who’s who of the knitting world. People I’ve long admired are suddenly sitting in the makeup chair! Getting to talk to them and get to know them in person has been wonderful. Old friends come back too and it’s wonderful to catch up. It feels like knitting camp!

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Host Vickie Howell and I

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My teaching set

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Early makeup call!

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Quick lighting check

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Step-outs

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That’s a wrap!

Of course we’re exhausted at night after filming all day (and my voice is usually on its way out), but inevitably my room is packed with knitters in the evening, taking up every available space with yarn and knitting everywhere. My college dorm room was always “the hang out room” and I can’t think of a better way to spend an evening than to be surrounded by talented and interesting people, all who love knitting as much as I do.

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After filming my 4th season this past fall, I was excited to have my segment switched from product review (PBS regulations state that we cannot mention product companies or names on air, in case you’ve seen me on the show and wondered why I don’t say the name of the fantastic products I’m reviewing. However, all that information can be found on the KDTV website by season and episode) to teaching tricky stitches or funky techniques. I teach quite often at my LYS and teaching is something I love and am good at. I very much enjoyed product review, but as Vickie said to me while we were filming, “teaching is your wheelhouse.”

Season 14 is available here for DVD and digital download. I hope you enjoy the new season featuring host Vickie Howell, me as the co-host and a slew of talented crafters!

Pam Powers

Congratulations to winner of the Planes, Trains & Automobiles Cowl, Laura! Laura, please check your email.

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I was excited to get a copy of a wonderful new book, Pam PowersDress-to-Impress Knitted Scarves (Stackpole Books). Every knitter I know is a busy person. We all have schedules, lives, some of us have kids that need ferrying back and forth, we work, we have families and spouses to take care of, food that needs to be cooked, houses that need to be cleaned… We’re busy. So when I personally get a minute to knit on something *shock, gasp, awe* for MYSELF, I tend to gravitate towards small accessories that I know I’ll wear, can pull from my stash to knit and most importantly, are portable.

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Pam Powers

When Pam’s book came into my hands, I found many things I wanted to knit (a couple were already in my Ravelry queue), and even found myself stash diving for a few in particular. I really enjoyed looking over this book and am excited to cast on soon.

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Pam, a freelance knitwear designer living in Orange County, California with her family, has designs that have appeared in Interweave Knits, Twist Collective, Belle Armoire and Apronology. She was kind enough to sit down with me and answer a few questions for us regarding her great new book…

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Tanis Gray (TG): Hi Pam! Knitters will recognize your name from Ravelry and your wonderful patterns on there (including your popular Cowboy and Challah Infinity Cowl, both of which I was happy to see included in your book), but this is your first book! Tell us why you wanted to dive into doing a collection of scarf patterns in your new book, “Dress-to-Impress Knitted Scarves.”

Pam Powers (PP): I have designed sweaters in the past, but have had the biggest response from my scarf patterns. So a couple of years ago I made the decision to focus on developing accessory patterns. I think the scarf is the quintessential knitting project—it’s quite often the first project a beginner knitter takes on, but it’s also a great way to showcase stitch patterns and technique without having to commit to the time and expense of doing an actual garment. And from a wearability standpoint, a scarf is really fun and easy to incorporate into an outfit.

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Cowboy Cowl

TG: How did you find the book-making experience? How was it different from doing an individual pattern?

PP: Quite honestly, I think it took 5 years off of my life. The largest collection I had done up to that point was maybe 6 pieces, so doing 24 pieces, even though some of them were existing patterns, was a whole new world. The logistics of sourcing yarn, getting samples finished, tech-editing, etc., had to be done very systematically which is not how I was used to working. When I do individual patterns, I work on one project at a time, and a collection usually starts with one piece, then builds off of that.

TG: Do you have a preference? Individual patterns vs. a book?

PP: Definitely individual patterns—it’s a lot more manageable and less stressful.

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Challah Cowl

TG: One thing I really like about your book is that so many techniques are represented. Ruching, lace, cables, braids, color work and even lattice work! Do you have a favorite technique?

PP: Not really—I love texture, so any technique that creates an interesting fabric is good. I’m a big fan of the Japanese stitch dictionaries, and it’s really exciting to watch a stitch pattern come to life as you work.

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Mosaic Cowl

TG: I know it’s like asking a mother whom her favorite child is, but do you have a favorite project in the book? I love the Mosaic Cowl!

PP: My favorite project keeps changing. I like Mosaic Cowl also—it’s really simple to knit, but looks similar to entrelac. It’s also a great stash-busting project with the stripes. Duchess Wrap in ivory and gray is in my queue right now. I ‘m a sucker for any pattern that shows off a bunch of little buttons.

TG: Your book is beautifully styled. Can you tell us about the photo shoots?

PP: I live in Orange County, CA which is very much suburbia, so it is always a challenge finding locations with character. I did two photo shoots. The first was at a park and the second was at The Kellogg House, which is a historical home built in 1898 and is preserved in its original condition as a museum. I had a fantastic photographer, Misty Matz, great hair & make-up team, 6 beautiful models, including my daughter Claire, and I did the styling.

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Duchess Wrap

TG: What kind of fibers do you like working with the best?

PP: My preference would be wool and alpaca blend, DK or worsted weight. I like yarn that has a lot of body and will “stand up” with great stitch definition, but is also soft to the touch.

TG: Your introduction in the book was very interesting and I liked how you described your design and thought process. Can you tell our readers a little more about that?

PP: My style is kind of bohemian / quirky. I love Anthropologie and Free People, and I often buy clothes there for photo shoots. I get inspiration from putting an outfit together, then designing an accessory that gives it a finishing touch and makes it stand out. I start with a shape, then fit construction and stitch pattern into the design. I think many designers start with stitch pattern and work in the opposite order.

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Pam’s daughter, Claire

TG: How did it feel to hold your finished book in your hands? What was your family’s reaction?

PP: Ecstatic! I don’t want to slight my kids by saying it was like giving birth, but holding the finished book for the first time, after all the time and effort involved, was pretty monumental for me.   My family was very proud as well. All of them suffered and sacrificed to some extent while I worked on this project.

TG: What’s coming up for you on the horizon? Another book?

PP: I think I will be on hiatus from book writing for a while, but never say “never”. I am working on a couple of patterns for spring, then I will be putting a fall collection together that I may release as an e-book.

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Thanks, Pam! Your book is a great addition to any knitting library. Check out Pam’s website here, her Ravelry designer page here, and her new book is available now!

 

 

 

Planes, Trains & Automobiles + A Giveaway!

My son is obsessed with anything that moves – planes, trains and automobiles especially. I dare you to try to walk through our home and not trip on a matchbox car, step on a train or get your pant leg caught on an airplane wing. That’s how it goes with having a boy around and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

planes1Trying to keep a scarf on a young one can be next to impossible (I knit a scarf for one of my son’s preschool friends a couple of weeks ago and she lost it within 24 hours), so I’ve designed a new cowl for kids that love things that go. Cowls are harder for them to take off and lose and if you use superwash yarn, easy to clean. I stash dove and came up with bright primary colors in one of my favorite yarns to use for kid knitting – Berroco Comfort. Comfort comes in many weights and even more colors, washes up beautifully and has generous yardage for not a lot of money (which keeps this frugal mom happy). I turn to it time and time again when knitting for my son or other little ones.

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An easy color work knit (ideal if you’re looking to start small and try a new technique), it incorporates corrugated ribbing, knitting in the round, using charts and basic Fair Isle. My son has been wearing his Planes, Trains & Automobiles Cowl for a week and I constantly get stopped and asked on the playground or at school where we got it! More importantly, he asks to wear it, keeps it on and LOVES that it has all his favorites modes of transportation marching around his neck. Win/win!

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Download the Planes, Trains & Automobiles Cowl here.

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Now for a chance to win! One lucky reader will win a free copy of the Planes, Trains & Automobiles Cowl by answering this trivia question correctly: What was the first car ever made, where was it made and in what year? One winner will be randomly chosen on Thursday. This contest is open to readers worldwide.

Winners!

Congratulations to winners Barbara and Shadowlilies (check your email, ladies!) for winning free downloads of both the Magnolia Cowl and the Clara Shawl!

My mom sent me a bunch of old photographs recently, and this one inspired the Clara Shawl:

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I danced for years and lived and breathed all things ballet. This photo was taken from my Boston Ballet days and I’m trying on Clara’s dress from the Nutcracker. I remember how incredibly thrilling it was and seeing this photo again after so many years brought me back to the excitement and joy in trying on such a famous dress. No doubt my mom has only memories of driving me back and forth to practice multiple times a week, helping me sew the ribbons on my pointe shoes and during Nutcracker season she probably wanted me to take up a sport closer to home with significantly less driving, but this picture reminds me of a wonderful day we spent together in Boston, culminating with me trying on this dress and her snapping away with her camera.

It was a wonderful day, thanks Mom.

What inspires your knitting, dear readers?

 

Restocked!

Good afternoon, dear readers! I just added 35 new knitting project bags in my Etsy shop today! Below is a little preview of a few of them…

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I used a lot of fun, bright fabrics and while I wanted to keep them all, they’re now available to you! Visit my Etsy shop here.

Clara, Magnolia & Giveaway, Oh, My!

Greetings, readers! We’ve spent the last week shivering and drinking tea like there’s no tomorrow here at our house. Between the dreariness of the snow and the rain turning it brown and yucky, I’ve found myself reaching for bright fibers and fabrics to bring a little color back into our world. New project bags coming in my Etsy shop later this week, but for now, I have a few (old) patterns to share.

Last year (and again this year), I was invited to be 1 of 2 designers involved in the Knitting Boutique’s Luxury Fiber Club. 2014 was a year of accessories all knit in different luxury fibers in winter whites. 2015 is all tops, shells, shrugs and shawls knit in new fibers! 2 of the 3 patterns designed for last year are now available to non-club members, and I’m happy to bring the Clara Shawl and the Magnolia Cowl out of hibernation for you all. The Cameron Street Hat & Wristers will be available in April.

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The Clara Shawl is a top-down, center back start shawl with an interesting lace panel with wrapped stitches marching down the center. The border is a meshy lace and the pattern is both written and charted out. Coming in just shy of 400 yards means you can easily make this a one hank project.

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smallmagnolia3The Magnolia Cowl is a pattern chock full of techniques! Lace, wrapped stitches, back loop knitting, bobbles and faux cables make this knit-in-the-round cowl an exciting knit! Coming in at only 360 yards, this would be an ideal project for those hanks of sock yarn you have hanging around. This pattern is also written out and charted.

Now for the fun part! Two lucky readers will win BOTH patterns! Simply leave a comment in the comments section about which pattern you like better and why, and you’re automatically entered in to win both patterns. Two winners will be chosen at random on Thursday and the contest is open to readers worldwide.

Clara Shawl available for download here, Magnolia Cowl available for download here.