New Pattern Release: Flurry Sweater

Introducing my latest pattern: the Flurry Sweater! This two-color pullover features a band of colorwork snowflakes at the waist and elbow, waist-shaping, flared sleeves and hem, and i-cord finish on all edges.

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Pattern: Flurry Sweater

Designer: Rachel Henry (that’s me!)

Available: for $3.99 through Knit Picks IDP

Yarn: Knit Picks Wool of the Andes Tweed

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Inspiration: I have this old sweater, a favorite that I’ve had a long time.  It’s pilled and felted from incautious laundering, but I still love to wear it. I picked the things I liked best about it (grey on top, blue on the bottom, colorwork band) and improved it a bit too (more fitted waist, set-in sleeves).

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Design/Skills Needed: The body is knit in-the-round until the armholes, after which the front and back are worked flat, separately. The sleeves are also knit in the round until the sleeve cap, which is worked flat. Knitters may select their preferred in-the-round method (DPNs, one circ, magic loop, two circs, etc.) throughout.

For the colorwork section, I recommend going down one needle size, as many knitters find their colorwork to be looser than their stockinette. However, it’s possible that you may need to stay with the same needle, or even go up a size, to maintain consistent gauge between the stockinette and colorwork portions. Please work a gauge swatch in both stockinette and the colorwork pattern to determine the best needle size for you, for each section.

When working stranded colorwork, take care to keep the floats loose behind the work. When gaps larger than 5 sts must be bridged, catch the float halfway through the gap to keep things tidy. The colorwork sections are charted.

Yarn: Almost any worsted-weight yarn will work with this pattern. I recommend the darkest color for the bottom, a medium value for the top, and the lightest for the snowflakes.

I would be delighted to answer any questions or help any knitters working on this project.

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FO Friday: Toy Gromit

1541 toy Gromit

Introducing …. my very own toy Gromit!  I stayed up (too) late Friday night to finish, even though I had an agility trial the next day (which means rising at ungodly early in order to drive two hours to the trial, arriving there by 7 AM). The satisfaction of leaving this sweet little toy dog completed instead of in parts was well worth the delayed bedtime.

1539 toy Gromit

Pattern: Border Collie

Designer: Joanna Osborne and Sally Muir

Available: in Knit Your Own Dog (available for $8.49 on Amazon)

Yarn: Knit Picks Palette (leftover Cream, Merlot Heather (I think), plus tiny scraps of Semolina, Edamame, and Ash)

As I mentioned in my review of Knit Your Own Dog, the pattern is made up of a billion tiny pieces, all worked flat.  After I seamed and stuffed the first leg, I thought it would be fun to show the bits that go into a toy Border Collie.  Right next to the penny is the left rear leg.  Above the leg, you can the top of the head.  The rest is just a big muddle!

1534 KYOD Border Collie bits

In this photo, the legs and body are all seamed and stuffed. I used pipe cleaners chenille stems to provide structure for the legs.  (I learned from making some cool amigurumi last year that this is absolutely necessary.) The ears are still waiting to be sewn on, and the original tail is looking awfully big … I ended up chucking it and making a smaller version than called for in the pattern, to better match my dog. I’m very impressed with how the designers achieved a very dog-like shape.  Often knit toys approximate real shapes with blobby shapes and imagination — but this one looks like the real thing!

1536 KYOD Border Collie (in progress)

For the eyes I pulled apart two strands of Edamame and Semolina, and re-plied some of each into a single strand of greeny-gold yarn to match Gromit’s eye color.  Simple French knots make surprisingly convincing eyes.  I embroidered the nose with satin stitch … I’m still not 100% satisfied, but I have decided to call it done after cutting out the stitches once or twice and starting over. The collar is made out of Ash — again, to match the real Gromit’s awesome collar (a D Dogs Designs original).

1546 toy Gromit

1547 toy Gromit

1545 toy Gromit

Book Review: Knit Your Own Dog by Sally Muir & Joanna Osborne

This book caught my eye a few weeks ago, when patterns and projects from the UK edition started popping up on Ravelry. A quick perusal revealed that there was in fact a Border Collie pattern included in the book, and it was charming! I pre-ordered the US edition on Amazon and was delighted when it arrived this week.

Of course, I immediately cast on for my very own Border Collie, using left-over Palette (a heathered dark brown, and cream) and Size 1 Addi Turbos.  In one evening, I was able to finish all four legs, both halves of the body, and begin on the neck and head.  As you can surmise from this list of parts, the Border Collie (and is worked in a series of bitty parts, worked flat. Some intarsia work creates the classic Border Collie markings — as with all amigurumi knitting, it is vital to knit tightly to ensure the finished toy keeps it shape and does not reveal too much of the stuffing.

The listing for this book on Ravelry is incomplete.  For this reason, I’ll provide a comprehensive list of the breed patterns here.

Hounds: Afghan Hound, Whippet, Dachshund, Basset Hound

Terriers: Wire-haired Fox Terrier, Jack Russell, Scottish Terrier, West Highland Terrier, English Bull Terrier

Sporting: Cocker Spaniel, Red Setter, Labrador, Portuguese Water Dog

Non-sporting: Dalmatian, Poodle, Miniature Schnauzer, French Bulldog, English Bulldog, Pug

Working: Rough Collie, Border Collie, German Shepherd, Old English Sheepdog, Corgi, Siberian Husky

I’m especially impressed with the clever shaping at the beginning of each leg to create a proper foot.  I’ve only just begun the head, and already I can tell some thoughtful shaping will make a very pretty head there as well. The selection of breeds is fantastic — a smattering from across the spectrum, including many of my personal favorites. The details that make each breed unique are fantastic: the Afghan’s flowing coat, the Basset’s floppy garter-stitch ears and jowls, the Scotty’s fringe and beard, the upright stance of the Poodle, the smooshed face of the Bulldog, the Collie’s exuberant mane … all will ring true to lovers of each breed. The authors provide helpful tips in selecting yarns that will best create the coat of each breed (boucle for the Porty! genious!), in addition to all the detailed shaping and design.

I do have a few minor quibbles.  Because the directions are written line-by-line, the knitter must follow along and trust that the color changes and shaping will lead them to the finished product.  It reminds me a bit of the first time I made a Baby Surprise Jacket — take a deep breath, dive in, be precise in following directions, and it will all turn out all right in the end.  That said, I find myself wanting to make charts, especially with the color changes, so I can more easily adapt the pattern to match my own dog. It would have been lovely to have a bit more explanation about the purpose of each shaping section, and charts to make customization easier.

1151 Gromit CL3After I make a toy Gromit, I’ll probably make toy versions of some of my agility-friends’ dogs.  I’m thinking a Scottie or two would be well-received, and I think I could adapt the Dalmatian pattern to make a big brown-spotted Pointer mix. After that … we shall see.

FO Friday: Loopy the Sheep

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My friend Donna took some glamor shots of the samples for my Aviator scarves (up for publication through Knit Picks IDP).  She is a professional photographer, specializing in dogs and dog sports, and I suspect she found the (inanimate) knitted items rather not a challenge in comparison.  I had asked her to do the shoot in exchange for “something knitted.” I offered her a choice of the two sample scarves, but she thought they were “too nice.”  Later on, she joked that I should knit her a new dog (her Border Collie is sometimes a bit naughty!), and it occurred to me that I could knit up a little sheep for her!

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Pattern: Loopy the Sheep

Designer: Amanda Berry

Available: for $3.25 on Ravelry

Yarn: Knit Picks Swish Worsted (about half a ball each of black and white)

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The pattern is easy to read and complete — I found no errors of any kind.  The designer did a great job with photos showing how the pieces go together.  The directions to make the loopy fleece were clear. I did modify the pattern to make almost all the parts in the round instead of flat, because I didn’t want to seam those little hands and feet.  Conversely, I chose not to seam the ears — I liked how the stockinette curled.

1376 Loopy (profile)