Friday, March 30, 2007

Spring Has Sprung

Hi Knitters,

Spring is officially here. I am headed off on a much needed vacation for a week. We are packing up for sunshine, beaches, loads of swimming, lots of good eating, and a little relaxation. We are good at vacations around here.

When I return I will write up the pattern for Elefante for you and post it right here for the taking. I love this little guy and I think you will have a ball knitting up this quick little project. It will be a super sweet baby or child or even adult gift, if you are like me.
We'll talk soon.
best, susie

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Page 81 Booties

Hi Knitters,

Here is a peek at the cover for my second book, Itty-Bitty Nursery! I am so happy with the cover. The bear is made from all garter stitch squares, much like the booties I am about to share with you. This same bear is pictured in Itty-Bitty Hats above the dedication at the beginning of the book. I have been asked and emailed more times than I could count for this bear pattern. Well, soon it will be available in the new book. Also on the cover is a knitted tea set called The Cupcake Tea Set. This is one of my favorite all-time projects, so I am glad it made it to the cover. The other baby set is a hat, cardigan and bootie ensemble all made super easy, but with great style. It is set to be released in October 2007. Fun, fun, fun!

The other two patterns that I get requests for almost daily are both projects pictured on page 81 in Itty-Bitty Hats. Today I am going to give you a tutorial on how to make these booties. Let me start by saying I have seen variations of this same style of bootie done many times and many ways over the years. I didn't invent the folding technique for the toe and cuff. Anyway, here is my un-vented variation of these shoe-like booties.
Rowan Handknit Cotton, 2 skeins (the sample is knit in Shell #310)
Small amounts of cotton for rosebud embellishments (the sample has Rosebuds in Tahki Cotton Classic in peach and rose, and the leaves in Rowan Handknit Cotton in Celery, but any worsted weight yarn will do)
Size 3 needles
Yarn Needle

6 stitches per inch

Size: newborn (0-3 months, 3-6 months)

You will be knitting 6 garter stitch squares. Three squares are used for each bootie. I wanted to make a tightly knit fabric so when seamed together the squares would hold the form of the shoe. If you would like a looser fabric, you could use a larger needle when knitting your squares, just be sure to measure your gauge to figure out the square measurements. You need to have an exact square for all three pieces when putting each bootie together.

With Shell cast on 21 (24, 27) stitches. Work in garter stitch (knit every row) until the piece measures 3 1/2 (4, 4 1/2) inches from the cast on row. Bind off.

Repeat until you have 6 squares completed.
Take a look at the seams from the side. Let's start the sewing together of the squares and the folding.

1. Take 2 squares and lay them directly on top of each other. With a length of matching yarn and a yarn needle, whip stitch around all four sides of the square seaming the two squares together. Now you have a square that is a double thickness. This piece will be the toe and foot of the bootie.

2. Take one more square and fold it in half to form a triangle (see below). With a length of matching yarn and a yarn needle, whip stitch around the two edges to seam together. Now you have a triangle with one folded edge and two seamed edges. This piece will be used for the cuff of the bootie and is now a double thickness.
3) Take the double-thick square and fold 3 of the corners into the center, leaving the fourth corner alone. Sew these 2 seams together. You now have a toe that looks like an open envelope.
4) As shown above, the fourth corner will match up with the sewn corner of the triangle. The folded edge of the triangle is the cuff-edge of the bootie.
5) Because you have knitted equal sized squares these side edges will match up perfectly. Line up the sides of the foot piece with one of the sewn edges of the triangle, as shown above. With a yarn needle and a length of matching yarn, sew these edges together on both sides of the foot opening.
You have done it. Now you know the secret to these cute little booties. The patterns for the rosebuds and leaves are in Itty-Bitty Hats on pages 79-80. I am not allowed to re-print those patterns here.
Here are a couple of variations for you:
Tied booties:
Before you sew the triangle together, you could lay a length of ribbon, i-cord or braided yarn through the cuff before sewing the sides together. I pictured a pair of white booties with a braided tie a couple of posts ago.

Double-knit square for the foot:
For the foot piece of the bootie, instead of making two separate squares and sewing them together, you could use the double-knitting technique as follows:
Cast on 40 (48, 56) stitches.
(k1, slip 1) across the row. (For the slip 1: slip as if to purl with the yarn held in back)
Work every row like this until you have a piece measuring 3 1/2 (4, 4 1/2) inches from the cast on row.
Bind off.
Complete the cuff as described above. Fold and complete seams as described above.
I hope you enjoy. Please send me pictures if you get a chance.
best, susie

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Something New

Hi Knitters,

I bought a couple of weavettes and an instruction book from Purl a little while ago. Any type of old-fashioned craft interests me and these looms were brought back into production after being discovered by Lisia Conforti in her grandmother's house. Her father immediately remembered how to thread and weave on this little loom. As a child he had made baby blankets, seat covers and afghans with the woven squares. I am enchanted by this sweet story, so I finally found some time to give it a try.
I used some leftover Noro Kureyon (pronounced crayon, remember?). It was trickier to thread the loom than I thought. I am usually pretty quick to pick up stuff like this, but it took a lot of looking and checking and even some correcting after the fact. I love the way this 6-inch square turned out. The fabric is fine, light as a feather. It is beautiful on both sides and I love the picot edging effect. I don't know what I will do with it, but something may come of it. What a fun distraction for a Saturday afternoon. You should give this one a try.

I got a bunch of new books in the mail from amazon last week. I have a few more on the way and I am waiting on pins and needles for a few releases this spring. I will keep you posted on my new arrivals and will be sure to highlight all of the goodies I find.
Okay, I am only going to say this once (you know I am laughing right now), and I hesitate because I really love, love, love No Sheep For You, by Amy R. Singer, but here it goes:
Why, dear heaven above, why the naked knitter? I am such a modest soul that this picture makes me cringe. I don't want to see naked people on my beloved knitting book covers, and I don't want to see naked knitting, ever. Sorry, it had to be said.
Can you imagine showing up for this photo shoot, a sweet looking, wholesome, beautiful young model, and they hand you this little knitted fabric on needles and tell you this is what you are wearing for the cover shot? I would have run for the door (I realize no one would ever ask me to knit naked under any circumstances, but I can pretend, right?) I know they are being cheeky about the itchy wool thing and I get it, really I do, and the model is adorable and courageous.
That's it, this topic is closed and will never be mentioned again. It's over. This is a terrific book and I love to knit with other fibers than wool. Amy Singer is the queen of no-wool knitting due to her allergy to wool and she does a top-notch job with this book. It is informational and the patterns are outstanding. Just take a look at some of my favorite patterns in here. This is a beautiful lace shawl made in Handmaiden Silken, oo-la-la! Tuscany is truly lovely and designed by the one and only Amy R. Singer herself. I must make this, absolutely no question. Beautifully done.
Remember my love for Banff? Well, my love for Morrigan wasn't a surprise when I found out the same designer here was the creator of Banff. That would be Jenna Wilson and wow, is she a talent. This sweater is complicated with about 4 pages dedicated to charts and abbreviations of those charts. It is knit out of Rowan's Calmer, which I have always wanted to try but haven't yet. This would be an achievement to knit to completion. Maybe someday.
You know what I love about this picture? I love the traditional little college prep cardigan on the girl with the head full of dreadlocks. This is great and she is really cute. What a beautiful sweater, perfect lines, sleeves, everything. It is called Cables and O's and is designed by Brooke Snow. The yarn is Queensland Collection Cotolino, a linen and cotton blend. Great design Brooke.
This final pattern, Tomato, is written by the wonderful Wendy Bernard who writes one of my favorite blogs. She is such fun and her designs never miss. She has her own book coming out soon with Stewart, Tabori and Chang and I can't wait for that one. This is such a cute sweater, I just love it. I would definitely wear a cami or something under it, the neck is a little low for me, the modest one. It is knit out of one of the best yarns on the market, Blue Sky Alpacas Dyed Cotton, which I use extensively in Itty-Bitty Nursery. It is luscious, beautiful cotton and you have to try it.
I appreciate the variety of models in the book, they look like beautiful, real women, not just skin and bones. That's the best to see. Interweave and Amy Singer strike again on that subject, they are wonderful.
You should check out No Sheep for You. Great title, fantastic patterns. I could have included so many more patterns that I want to knit like socks, a bag, men's sweaters, and much more. This book is a winner all-around even with the you-know-what on the cover. See I told you I would never mention it again.
best, susie

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Pig Big

Hi Knitters,

My daughter named this post. I couldn't do much better than that. The pig's name is Pinkie. My kids have always named their stuffed animals by their colors. Like I remember a brown dog named Brownie, and a white wolf named Whitie. You get the picture. So much for creativity in that area.

Anyway, the pig is refreshed and plump as a plum (my daughter again). He's quite squeezable, too. A little new stuffing can go a long way.

One quick news bit for you, did you see that Interweave Knits has a new editor? It's the one and only Eunny Jang. She is fabulous and quite a catch for the magazine. I am a big fan of her knitting and her knowledge of all things knitting. She is super smart and a great writer to boot. When Eunny posted on her blog about this exciting news she received close to 1,000 comments of encouragement. I think she'll do just fine with that kind of adoration. Best wishes to Eunny.

Pam Allen will be missed, she did a fantastic job as editor. I am sure we will see much more of her in the knitting publishing world in the future.

Check out this and this.

best, susie

Wednesday, March 21, 2007


Hi Knitters,

How lucky am I to get to look at this beautiful baby photography all day long? Can you guess what this project is all about? It's so fun. The photography makes this book come alive and my beautiful photographer, Liz Banfield, knows just how to capture the spirit of the projects. She is wonderful. I appreciate her to no end. Plus she has 2 babies of her own, one born during the creation of itty-bitty hats (her son is wearing the little chick hat) and one during the creation of itty-bitty nursery. Phew! That's a lot of work. She is fantastically talented and she sends the most beautiful baby announcements on earth, ever. Lucky babies.
I know I already talked about this great book. I can't stop thinking about The Friday Night Knitting Club. When I was little I used to re-read my favorite books all of the time. It was kind of a standing joke in my family. A couple of my all-time favorites were Mandy by Julie (Andrews) Edwards and Mrs. Frisbee and the Rats of Nimh (I know, sad). I read those two books more than I will ever admit to anyone. I am still crazy over books to this day. This Kate Jacobs book may have to be a re-read for me. I loved it that much.
Here's the other thing, I just listened to Kate Jacobs on Ready Set Knit (a podcast available on itunes with the owners of Webs, one of my favorite online shops). Kate sounds like the friendliest down-to-earth author. She sounds as astounded by all of her good fortune as anyone. I mean to have a first novel come out, be on the New York Times bestsellers list for weeks and to have Julia Roberts wanting to star in and produce a movie version of your book is just beyond the wildest dreams imaginable. And she sounds like she is appreciative and loving it all. And she's a knitter. Good work, Kate, and someday I hope to meet you.

Okay, here are a couple of quick facts for you. Do you know how to pronounce Kureyon? Well, apparently it is pronounced like the word crayon. Faith asked someone who spoke Japanese and it translates into this crayola-like word. I don't know if I will get used to it, but it is fun to think about.
Next, I can't remember where I heard this but did you know that 80% of knitters make their knitting projects in the same exact color that it is photographed in on the pattern? I found this pretty interesting. That is a high percentage. I admit to doing this myself on occasion, but not always. I found this to be true when working in a yarn shop. If you didn't carry or have the color from the picture, it was a no go, no question.
Oh yeah, that Rowan Scottish Tweed DK I thought I snagged, back ordered. You can't win them all.
best, susie

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Lookie, Lookie

Hi Knitters,
I found another pair of the pg. 81 booties in my studio. I have some demo pieces knitted up and I just need to get someone around here to photo my hands (that should never be done, ever, and you'll see why) putting the booties together. They are simple knitting, then a tiny bit complicated to put together. I plan on that shortly.
Okay, have you seen the spring Knitty? It is a good one. Here are my favorites: carolyn, tahoe, torque, and dashing. Stacey did you see dashing?
I pursued my Rowan Scottish Tweed DK quest and guess what? I found it here because they sent me a promotional email that I opened up and (wa-la) it was there for the taking. I don't even know when I will have time to knit the cabled blanket coat (see my March 17th post), but knowing the yarn is with me is a good feeling.
Off to edit I go.
best, susie

Monday, March 19, 2007

Deja vu

Hi Knitters,

I want to give you a little, tiny, okay I'll say it, itty-bitty peek at the new book. This is the title page, I haven't seen the cover yet.The old title was The Knitted Nursery, the new title is Itty-Bitty Nursery and I love it. It feels so right and comfortable. A lot of work goes into the title of a book. It is the joining of many opinions, including sales and marketing people. The new title will be recognizable and will create a quick link to the first book. It's all good.

Anyway, I am progressing along with still much work to do. No candy this time, but this book is sweet enough on its own. I am very happy about it and I can't wait to share more. It is due back at Artisan by Thursday.

It is a beautiful day here in Madison and the kids are off of school today for teacher inservice. I love it when they are home with me.

best, susie

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Some Pig

Hi Knitters!

That exclamation point still feels not right, but I am trying. The pig is one of my favorite animals. I am obsessed with pigs in children's literature. I don't know exactly what it is about them. This particular pig is a Debbie Bliss special and the pattern comes from Toy Knits, a1995 publication. If you have any interest in knitting toys, you should own this book. This is one of the first toys I ever knit. I started a piglet at one time but I am not sure what happened to it. I should find that. My daughter keeps it on her bed and the other day she brought it to me in my studio and asked if I could re-stuff him.
He is kind of a well-worn flattened out version of his former self and he could use a little refurbishing. (That sounds strangely familiar.) I am going to attempt this rejuvenation this weekend. I love it that my little sweetie loves this pig so much and that she sees the value in something handmade. I will definitely tackle this request pronto.
Have you seen this book? It is a Rowan production with designs by Sarah Dallas, Wendy Baker, and Catherine Tough. It is a fantastic book that includes patterns for a lace vest, scarves, slippers, sweaters for men and women, a blanket, pillows and a shrug. In my opinion the most fantastic design in the book is Sarah Dallas' Cabled Coat Blanket.
I just love this design and I have been planning on knitting it for a long time. I love everything about it, the long fronts, the horizontal cables, the ribbed sleeves and the collar. I think I would wear this to death.
In fact, I ordered the yarn online (I won't say from where) months ago. They were wiped out of the Rowan Scottish Tweed DK in the colorway I wanted. I have checked back two times and that was a long time ago at this point. I really want to knit this garment so I need to pursue this further. I know as a former knitting store staff member that yarn can be tough to get in a timely fashion so I understand the dilemma. I am going to keep trying.
Have a good weekend everyone.
best, susie

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The Knitting Circle

Hi Knitters,

I am not quite up to that exclamation point yet. I am starting simple today with a review of this beautifully written novel by Ann Hood.

The main character, Mary Baxter, suddenly loses her only daughter at age 5 to meningitis. It is a tragedy like no other, devastating and earth shattering. The story unfolds as she attempts to piece her life back together in a different world. You can feel the black cloud and fogginess that surrounds Mary as she tries to move through her daily life.

At the encouragement of her estranged mother, Mary starts to knit and attends a knitting circle at a local shop. Each of the women in the circle teach Mary a new knitting technique while sharing their own secret burden or tragedy in the process. I am not going to lie, this novel is on the dark side, if not downright depressing. However, it is beautifully and respectfully written and what I really love about it is how the knitters are portrayed. A lot of knitters are truly generous and loving and this quality shines through in the story. Knitting is portrayed in a lovely light as it is a source of comfort for these women.

In the end the message is uplifting. Life goes on and people have to carry on, maybe in a new or different way, but nonetheless moving forward. Ann Hood is the perfect writer to cover this topic as she lost her own young daughter recently. It broke my heart to learn this. It made the novel even more meaningful as Ann Hood lived through the terrible tragedy of losing a child first-hand.

I would recommend this book with the understanding that it is a sad story with a positive message running throughout.

best, susie

p.s. I've gotten the okay to write up the elefante pattern and share it with you. As soon as I can muster up the energy and focus, I will make that available to you. Thank you to everyone who has left comments or emailed me personally with warm wishes. I appreciate you all.

p.p.s. As I was writing this post, the doorbell rang and the second pass proofs for my second book have arrived at my door for me to edit. This will be a good distraction.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Sweet Weekend

Hi Knitters!

I love these wintery weekends, so sweet and cozy. The fire was going last night, and everyone was around. The travel outside was treacherous, icy, snowy, blowy. We had pizza for dinner, no cooking for me. It was just one of those nights. It was good to be home, together.

Since March has arrived I have started thinking about the embellishment class I am teaching in a few short weeks. I started knitting up some samples for that. I am still trying to decide what to include and what to leave out. It is a 2 hour class and I like to pack in as much as possible. I think I will start with some demo stuff and then let people make choices about what they would like to work on. I like the class to be flexible so everyone learns something new they will actually use after the class. I will give lots of options for sure.
Last night I was dying for some candy to eat, but this had to do instead. This game makes me want to knit candy. Hmmmm...

I hope you are having your own sweet weekend with the people you love.

best, susie

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Elefante Finito

Hi Knitters!
Okay, he's finished and that's Spanish and Italian in the title. I'm feeling some tiny elephant love for this little guy.

Oh, and again...I uploaded the same shot twice, sorry.

Get ready for the close-up. He is such a camera lover, what a ham!

This project is pure fun all rolled up into a little ball with a trunk. I have the pattern written out in detail in my sketch book, but I think copyright is an issue here, since it is a knock-off, certainly not an exact replica, but close enough. If anyone knows more about that, let me know. If I can get the pattern approved I will make it available to you.
You could figure this one out on your own, too. I used size 4 dpns and Cascade 220 and a little Julia for the blue colors. Here are the general steps:
Make a ball for the body (think about a hat just closed on the top and bottom).
Make a ball with a trunk for the head (stop decreasing and knit straight for a bit for the trunk).
Make four tubes with closed bottoms for the legs (throw in a purl round to get the ridge).
Crochet 2 circle ears folded in half with single crochet edging to hold them closed.
Make a tiny i-cord tail with a tassel.
There you have it (I won't say wa-la, but it would fit here for sure)! Elefante! Check out the original adorable crocheted animals here.
A couple of quick news bits for you, starting with something brewing around on the net. Apparently, Pam Allen's daughter is the model frequently used in Interweave magazine and on the cover of both Wrap Style and Scarf Style (by the way, both of these should be in your knitting library). She is beautiful and natural looking, an excellent model for the company. It is funny I just mentioned Pam Allen and her daughter, a couple of posts ago, in Knitting in America. Some people complain that Interweave always uses the same models over and over, but I like their models so it doesn't bother me at all, instead it feels familiar and good. I like it, too, that Pam puts her daughter in the publications because she is not only an excellent model, but I love the whole mother-daughter thing.
Check out this studio. Boy, am I jealous. I could never be that organized. Ever. And where would I put all of my candy?
For more fun knitted toys look here.
One last news bit to mention, the Madison Knitter's Guild Knit-In is on Saturday, March 24th. It looks like they have a great line-up for classes. I am teaching an embellishing class in the morning session which I am very excited about, but that means I have to start working on my shtuff (that's not a typo). You don't have to be a member to attend and take part in the classes, so everyone is welcome. I am bringing a sneak peek of my new book to share!
Best of all Annie Modesitt is coming to speak and I can't wait for that. Find out more about the Knit-In here. If you are in the area, come and hang out with me. I am staying for lunch after my class and attending Annie's talk right after. I'd love to see you there!
best, susie