New Pattern Release: Kudzu Shawlette

Introducing my latest pattern: the Kudzu Shawlette! This dramatic lacy shawlette, worked in soft, luminescent Cotton Bam Boo, is a versatile accessory for all seasons.  This pattern was designed especially for Classic Elite Yarn‘s free weekly web-letter.

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Pattern: Cotton Bam Boo Kudzu Shawlette

Designer: Rachel Henry (that’s me!)

Available: free at Classic Elite!

Yarn: Classic Elite Cotton Bam Boo

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Inspiration: In the southern United States, Kudzu flows over the land like waves caught in time. When I lived in Virginia, I loved to watch the daily progress this “weed” made, overtaking trees and buildings alike. I tried to capture the impression of motion in this shawlette, using lace patterns that transition organically from one to the next.

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The top edge begins with a twisted rib that expands into the first round of leaves.  The second round of leaves, slightly larger, develops from a column of twisted knit stitches left-over from the rib. The third and final round of leaves, larger still, expands to take over the lattice at the bottom edge.

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This lacy shawlette can be worn over the shoulders with a fancy accent button or shawl pin to hold it in place. The full length version can also be wrapped twice around the neck for a more casual look. The midi length is just long enough to go once around the shoulders. 

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Design/Skills Needed: Kudzu is worked flat from the top down.  Because there are so many stitches (especially in the full-length version), I highly recommend using circular needles. In addition to the slightly unusual wrapped stitch in the twisted rib pattern, the pattern also includes more common lace stitches (yarnovers, decreases, double decreases), and knitting and purling through the back loop. The pattern is fully charted, but also has complete written directions. Ambitious beginning knitters will find this a challenging but achievable introduction to lace knitting; intermediate and experienced lace knitters should enjoy the ever-changing pattern.

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

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I thought it might be interesting for knitters to see a little bit of the design process for this pattern. This is my final sketch for Kudzu, made after swatching, but before the sample was knit. Close observers will notice how much longer the finished sample is, compared to the sketch. In fact, the Cotton Bam Boo stretched much more than I anticipated, even after careful swatching.  The resulting sample was significantly longer than I had anticipated, but I found myself really liking the length.  I showed it to a fashionable younger friend of mine, as well as several different knitting friends, and they all gave it a bit thumbs-up.  I included the “midi” length in the pattern, which is closer to my sketched version.

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I’m also sharing scans of some of my notes and charts from false starts and final versions. I don’t have much commentary on these — just sharing!

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New Pattern Release: Katydid Drop Everything Scarf

Introducing my latest pattern: Drop Everything! This dropped-stitch scarf is knit on large needles with ribbon-style yarn, so it works up very quickly.  This pattern was designed especially for Classice Elite Yarn‘s free weekly web-letter.

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Pattern: Katydid Drop Everything Scarf

Designer: Rachel Henry (that’s me!)

Available: free at Classic Elite!

Yarn: Classic Elite Katydid

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Inspiration: When I’m working on a new design, usually I have some idea what I want it to look like long before I settle on a specific yarn. Often the yarn informs the design, telling me as I knit swatches and prototypes what it wants to be.  The finished pattern is very rarely exactly what I started out with in my mind.

But for this scarf, the process worked in reverse on all counts.  I began by fondling the soft ribbony goodness of Katydid at a local Knit Night with my friends. I knew the yarn’s unique flat nature could be hidden by knitting it tightly enough, but I didn’t want to hide it – I wanted to show it off!

The final version of the Drop Everything scarf jumped into my mind fully formed: alternating sections of large horizontal drop stitches between rows of garter stitch, and vertical drop stitches between columns of stockinette.  Worked on large needles, the scarf would be a quick, fun knit that should appeal to experienced knitters and beginners alike.

As I worked up the sample in a stunning orange, I didn’t change a thing from the original plan. The finished scarf has beautiful drape and is lightweight.  Make it in bright colors for the perfect spring accessory!

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Design/Skills Needed: Drop Everything is worked flat.  The horizontal dropped stitches are created with extra yarn-overs (dropped on the next row); the vertical dropped stitches are laddered down from the top of each section. If you can knit and purl and are ready to try something a little extra, this scarf is within your skill set.

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

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FO Friday: Yet Another Harry Potter Scarf

This Friday, I’m proud to say that I finished the Harry Potter scarf I’ve been working on since January! This is my third time doing one of these.  This one is for a friend-of-a-friend who is going through some tough times … I have to admit, I had a hard time motivating myself to do yet more stockinette, but I designated this project as my penance knitting about two weeks ago, and that did the trick.  Poof, done!

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Project: Harry Potter Scarf

Designer: (I copied from the movie stills)

Available: short-hand directions below!

Yarn: Knit Picks Swish Worsted in Hollyberry and Gold

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Short directions:

  • Cast on 70 sts (use Judy’s Magic Cast On)
  • YO at both edges on first round — this will be the sit of your slipped-st edge
  • work in the round in stockinette, slipping the edge sts every other round (except, after a 3-row CC stripe, just knit the MC around with no slipped sts)
  • Stripes like this:
    • 26 rounds MC
    • 3 rounds CC
    • 6 rounds MC
    • 3 rounds CC
  • repeat stripes 13 times, then do 26 more rounds of MC
  • end by ktog the edge sts on one last round, then kitchener together
  • fringe like this:
    • 12-in strands
    • each bundle: 3 MC and 1 CC
    • attach every other st

1863 HP scarf the third

Pattern: Bike Helmet Earwarmers

Designer: Amy O’Neill Houck

Available: FREE! on ravelry

Yarn: Brown Sheep Lamb’s Pride Worsted in Dynamite Blue

Tips and Tricks: Penance Knitting

Almost every knitter I’ve ever talked to has a project that they love, but can’t bring themselves to work on.  Sometimes it’s because there is a long stretch of “boring” knitting, like the endless stockinette in my Arctic Faery Ring Cardigan.  First there was the skirt (ENDLESS), which I powered through because at least there was decreasing every so often, plus cables to look forward to.  I did the sleeves two-at-a-time to avoid SSS (Second Sleeve Syndrome), but stalled out on the hood.  Seriously — I had the entire body done, the sleeves done and set in, but I couldn’t get myself to work on the hood. It was killing me.

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Conversely, the other end of the spectrum of knitting difficulty can stall a knitter just as bad as doldrum knitting. I have a certain blanket that has languished since July because the border is tricky and requires my full attention. I can’t quit halfway through a repeat without paying (and paying) later on.  I don’t dare pick it up unless I know I have enough time and attention to finish a full repeat.  So my pretty, soft lap blanket sits with two borders done, and two still waiting.

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The cardigan and the blanket both suffered further, because they were both for ME — no deadline, nobody waiting, no guilt to spur me on.  And, in the end, guilt is KEY for finishing this type of project.  I call the work “penance knitting” for a reason.  My technique is simple: I choose a very appealing project with pretty yarn and a fun pattern, and set it in front of myself.  Then, I require myself to knit a certain number of rows of my penance project, before I allow myself to work on the reward project.

I hate to say it, but right now my penance knitting project is my third (yes, third) Harry Potter scarf.  It seems like it’s taking forever, which is kind of true … because I keep looking at it and groaning.  Time to bump it up in the priority queue and get it done!  Here are the first two scarves, to further inspire and castigate me :).

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What project do you have, languishing in mostly-done state on the needles, that could be finished with a little penance knitting?

Ravelry Monday: Cthulhu Scarf, Ziprelaxagon, and Jardin Cardi

First Pick: Cthulhu Scarf, by Merelen (FREE!)

What’s not to love about a Cthulhu scarf? This first-time designer has produced a clear, simple pattern that captures the horror that is the Great One’s tentacled madness. The scarf is mostly garter stitch, with Cthulhu’s face in washcloth-style knits and purls.

Second Pick: Ziprelaxagon, by Kirsten Hall ($6.50)

Seriously, how OMG cool is this pattern?  Perfect for all that gorgeous hand-painted sock yarn that tempts us sock knitters, then refuses to look pretty when we knit it up.  Entrelac meets short rows and beauty results. The designer re-assures us that despite the tiled effect, the foot and leg are knit in one piece — no interminable ends to weave in.  This one is definitely a challenge … but sometimes isn’t that just what you want?

Third Pick: Jardin Ruffled Cardi, by Nitza Coto ($6.50)

This is a sweet little cardi with pretty details. It reminds me a bit of Titania, which is one of my favorite sweaters.  I would knit it in some slinky cotton/silk/bamboo yarn and wear it all spring.

Test Knitters Needed: Drop Everything and Kudzu

I’m working on two projects for Classic Elite.  Both will eventually be FREE! to the world via CEY’s daily web-letter. Right now I’m working on the samples, and they are looking good.  I also need a few intrepid test knitters to help me eliminate any errors and clarifying confusing bits.

Dear reader, this is where you come in! One of the projects is quick-and-easy; the other is more involved-and-complex.  If you have time over the next 2-3 weeks to test knit a pattern, please let me know.  I’ll email you a test version of the pattern, you supply the yarn and mad knitting skillz.  You get to keep your finished object, and earn my undying gratitude ;).

Drop Everything Scarf

Quick and fun drop-stitch scarf, using ribbon-style bulky yarn.

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1369 Drop Everything swatch

Flavor text:
Ribbon yarns shine in drop-stitch projects. Katydid’s exceptional softness and drape make this straight-forward drop-stitch scarf something special, and just the thing to accessorize in springtime.

The pattern alternates between large sections of horizontal drop stitches between rows of garter stitch and vertical drop stitches between columns of stockinette.

The easy pattern repeat and big needles means it works up quickly. This project should appeal to experienced knitters and beginners alike.

Sizes: 6″ wide, 5 feet long
Approximate Hours to Complete: 6
Deadline: March 15
Tools needed: US#10 needles (6.0 mm)
Material needed: appx 250 yards of aran yarn, ideally a ribbon-style yarn
Pattern Difficulty: Easy
Pattern Style: written
Testing needs: Check for errors, test for ease of understanding drop-stitch directions

Kudzu Shawlette

This is a leafy lace shawlette, with a pattern that flows from one motif to the next. Intermediate-to-advanced level lace: stitch count varies row to row, and knitter must understand & execute sk2p vs. s2kp correctly.

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1373 Kudzu swatch

Flavor text:
In the southern US Kudzu flows over the land like waves caught in time. I tried to capture the impression of motion in this shawlette. The twisted rib grows leaves that expand to cover a lattice.

This lacy shawlette can be worn over the shoulders with a fancy accent button or shawl pin to hold it in place. It can also be wrapped twice around the neck for a more casual look.

Directions are be provided in both chart and written format.

Sizes: appx 10″ deep and 50″ long
Approximate Hours to Complete: 25-30
Deadline: March 22
Tools needed: US#6 needles (4.0 mm)
Material needed: appx 750 yards of sport or DK yarn, button (if desired)
Pattern Difficulty: Experienced
Pattern Style: fully charted and written
Testing needs: Check for errors, especially in the written directions.

New Pattern Release: Aviator Scarf

Introducing my latest pattern: the Aviator Scarf!  This lacy scarf pattern can be worked in lace weight or fingering weight yarn, with two very different finished products.  The lace-weight version produces an ethereal scrumptious scarf that floats around your neck.  The fingering-weight version is sturdier and more forthright (and, it should be said, a much faster knit).

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Pattern: Aviator Scarf

Designer: Rachel Henry (that’s me!)

Available: for $1.99 at Knit Picks

Yarn: Knit Picks Alpaca Cloud (for the lace version) or Knit Picks Gloss Sock (for the fingering version)

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Inspiration: I wanted to make something lacy that looked impressive but was do-able for beginner lace knitters. Size, repeating pattern, and only a few lace stitches make this scarf deceptively simple. Early in the design process I found myself thinking of real-life aviators and steampunk air pirates while working on the pattern — this scarf is for the girl pilot in all of us :).

Design/Skills Needed: Scarf is worked in two halves, starting from the ends and grafted together in the middle. Wrong-side rows are purled to speed knitting, and narrow garter-stitch borders help the scarf lie flat. The pattern looks tricky, but is achieved with only k, p, k2tog, YO, ssk, and a right-leaning centered double decrease.

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

Tips and Tricks: Interchangeable Cables as Blocking Wires

Early this week I finished work on a lace scarf — it’s a sample knit that I need to photograph and send off to Knit Picks for their Independent Designer Program.  Assuming all goes well, the pattern for my “Aviator Scarf” will be live later this month.  The pattern has two versions: one for lace-weight yarn, and another for fingering-weight yarn.  I made the lace-weight sample first, out of Alpaca Cloud in Oyster Heather.  It’s lovely, but I got lazy in the blocking and didn’t use enough pins, which created an unintentional “scalloped” edge, as you can see in this photo:

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If that’s what I were going for, all would be fine and good.  However, I really wanted the scarf to have a smooth, straight edge.  I was able to fix the “scallops” with a little judicious steam blocking, but when I finished the fingering-weight sample scarf (Gloss Fingering in Robot — how cool a colorway name is that?), I wanted to block it right the first time. Now, of course this would all be easier if I owned some proper blocking wires, but I don’t.  However, I did listen attentively when my friend Heather talked about her plan to block her recently completed pi shawl using the cables from her interchangeable needle set.  Brilliant, I thought!

(Let us pause for a moment to admire her gorgeous shawl!)

Without any further information, I decided to give it a go with my scarf.  I had two 40-inch cables available, which was enough for one side.  My other 40-inch cables were in use (ahem, WIPs, ahem), so I had to make do with four 24-inch cables on the other side.  I put my smallest needle tip (US 4) on one of the cable, and threaded it through each purl bump on the garter-stitch edge.  After this, I put cable end-caps on for safety, although I don’t think I’ll bother to do that in the future.

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Pinning out the cables was a breeze:

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Here’s the whole thing, all pinned out:

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The results were fantastic — the cables came out smooth and easy.  The edge was great — just as smooth and straight as I could wish.  I was a little worried about some of the places where two cables met, but it turned out better than I expected. I still need to get pattern-quality photos taken of both versions of the scarf.  I’m hoping to steal away my photographer friend at this weekend’s agility trial for a few outdoor photos.  Failing that, I can take reasonably good photos on my own.  One way or another, the samples and the pattern PDF will be headed for Knit Picks early next week.