Monday, April 13, 2015

New Shawl Pattern and Sale

Just published today: Oliveta, a stockinette-and-lace shawl knit in three colors of fingering weight wool. It's now available in my Ravelry, Etsy, and Craftsy pattern stores.

Oliveta_1
Pattern: Oliveta, by Bonnie Sennott
Yarn: Cascade 220 Fingering in Olive Oil, Ginseng, and Buff

I thought of spring the whole time I was knitting the sample. Very few flowers are blooming yet here in western Massachusetts and the trees aren't leafing out yet, either. So it was good, each time I picked up Oliveta to work on it, to be reminded of early spring leaves, snowdrops, and robin's eggs.

In celebration of the Yarn Over KAL, which starts this Friday in the Ravelry Blue Peninsula group, I'm having a sale: When you purchase Oliveta on Ravelry, you can take 30% off any other individual Blue Peninsula pattern (ebooks excluded). No coupon code is needed—when you put Oliveta and one other pattern in your cart, the discount will be applied to the second pattern. 

Oliveta_6

The sale ends at midnight EST this Friday, April 17. (A note to EU customers, who are currently being redirected to Loveknitting due to VAT regulations—unfortunately, Ravelry promotions don't work on Loveknitting. So sorry! Things will improve in June, when Ravelry begins collecting VAT.)

Oliveta_5

Oliveta is worked from the top down, beginning with the green color. The stockinette stitch then transitions gracefully into a pretty—and easy to work—lace stitch with a scalloped edging. It would make a great first shawl project, but it's interesting enough to hold the attention of experienced shawl knitters, too.

Oliveta_2

The pattern provides instructions for two sizes, medium and large (I knit the medium). It also includes instructions for special techniques, such as the garter stitch tab cast-on and a stretchy, attractive lace bind-off that will enhance the edging's scallops.

I hope you'll come join us in the Yarn Over KAL. It starts this Friday and ends on Sunday, May 17. You can make any of my designs that has lace in it—and since lace stitches are one of my favorite design elements, there are lots of patterns to choose from. One knitter has already bought her yarn for Oliveta—she's using dark grey, red, and cream. Can't wait to see how it turns out!

Oliveta_7

Thanks go to my sister Jenny for editing the pattern (she is so good—the tiniest little errors and omissions never escape her eagle eye), and to all of my sisters for offering their thoughts on pattern name ideas. I also want to say "welcome" to all who recently joined the Blue Peninsula group. We now have more than 500 members!

Are you ready to cast on this Friday? There's more information about the KAL and prizes here.

Oliveta_4

As always, thank you very much for reading.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Yarn Over KAL

I am working quietly and steadily in preparation for next week . . .  and I'm not talking about taxes—let's not think about them right now, OK? A new shawl pattern is almost ready (more on that in a moment) and, on Friday the 17th, we're starting a new knitalong in the Ravelry Blue Peninsula group.

Yarn Over KAL

The Yarn Over KAL starts Friday, April 17 and ends Sunday, May 17. This KAL is all about lace: you can make any of my designs that has a yarn over in it. Scarves, cowls, mitts, socks, shawls, sweaters—it's all good as long as it's got lace. A discussion thread is already up and running on Ravelry—come join the fun!

Of course, there will be prizes. Twice during the KAL, I'll use a Random Number Generator to award free Blue Peninsula patterns to posts in the discussion thread. And at the end of the KAL, physical prizes will be awarded randomly to finished projects in the FO thread.

One winner will get one of my hand-embroidered lavender sachets, either the merino sheep or the spring lamb—their choice. 

Yarn Over KAL

Another will get a lovely skein of Valley Yarns Charlemont in one of the kettle-dyed colorways, Wild Pink. I think it's perfect for Streusel, but it could also work nicely for On the Other Hand, Skipperling, Biscuit, or Couplet.

Yarn over KAL

And a third prize will be three skeins of Cascade 220 Fingering—one each in Olive Oil, Ginseng, and Buff—which are the colors I used for my new shawl design. The winner will also get a free copy of the shawl pattern (or any other individual Blue Peninsula pattern they prefer).

Yarn Over KAL

I hope you'll come join us and have fun knitting up something special for your spring wardrobe. Or, maybe get started on a Mother's Day gift or teacher gifts?

Fingers crossed, I'll be sharing the new shawl pattern with you early next week. Until then, here are a couple of sneak peeks, just before binding off and after blocking:

First comes lunch, then the long bind-off #bluepeninsula #knit #knitlace #knitting #knittersofinstagram #knitstagram #knitshawls

Yarn over KAL
Hope to see you in the KAL!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

As It Flies: Joys of the Week Just Passed

Resuming my efforts to spin with a drop spindle, after a break of many months ... and plying/setting my very first handspun yarn ...

March 2015

My first handspun! Gloriously imperfect in every way. �� #handspunyarn #dropspindle #spinning #yarn #knit #knitting #knittersofinstagram #knitstagram

Stitching above the Sawmill River at the Montague Book Mill, and finding a treasured knitting book there to give to a friend ...

March 2015

March 2015

Lovely indigo-dyed yarn from Pigeonroof Studios arriving in my mailbox ...

Happy mail day! What shall this beautiful indigo-dyed Cormo and Rambouillet become? #bluepeninsula #pigeonroofstudios #yarn #indigo #naturaldyes #knit #knitting #knittersofinstagram #knitstagram #color #joy

Making good progress on two upcoming designs ...

March 2015

March 2015

March 2015

Design no. 2 for All You Need Is One is coming along! #bluepeninsula #knit #knitlace #Knitting #knittingpatterns #knittersofinstagram #knitstagram

What were the joys of your week just passed? I hope they were many!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Stitched Sheep Update: Spring Lamb

It's spring! In honor of the season, I decided the second sheep in my line of embroidered project bags and sachets would be a fresh little spring lamb. First, I began with a sketch:

Lamb sketch

After that, I experimented with colors and which kinds of stitches to use for the features. This little sweetie is the end result:

Stitched Sheep

Stitched Sheep

The bags and sachets are sewn with 100% linen. Each one is stitched by hand with perle cotton embroidery threads, and no two are ever exactly alike. The sachets are filled with dried lavender buds and chamomile blossoms—a lovely scent that not only makes your closet or woolens drawer smell great, but also wards off pesky moths. A small cotton loop allows you to hang it on a clothes hanger or a hook, if you like.

Etsy shop update! Spring lamb project bags and sachets now listed! Link in profile. #bonniesennott #bluepeninsula #etsy #linen #sheep #lamb #knit #knitting #knittersofinstagram #knitstagram

The drawstring bags are about 10.5 inches wide and 11.5 inches tall—just the right size for medium and small projects, like socks, hats, baby things, scarves and shawls, or mitts. They also make great reusable gift bags for your hand-knit gifts.

Today's "wrapping and packing day"—I'll be heading to the post office later with this week's shipment.

Stitched Sheep

You can find the new spring lamb—as well as my first stitched sheep, a merino—in my Etsy shop

Thank you very much for reading!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Fiber Conversations: Christine Link of Skeinny Dipping

Welcome to Fiber Conversations, a series of blog interviews with creative fiber folks. Today's conversation is with Christine Link, owner of Skeinny Dipping. Christine dyed the yarn I used for my On the Other Hand fingerless mitts.


Bonnie: Hi Christine! Thanks for taking the time to chat. Let's begin by talking about dyeing yarn. How did you get started?

Christine: It was a gradual process. Like a lot of people, I started first with Kool-Aid for my own use, but I wasn't getting the colors I wanted. I eventually took a dyeing class at Rhinebeck with Gail Callahan and it taught me the basics I needed to get going. 


Bonnie: What do you like most about dyeing? What do you like the least?

Christine: I love the process of dyeing. I love taking dyes apart to see what individual pigments have been combined to make the dyes that I order from my suppliers (this is something I learned from Gail). This is the part that keeps me up at night—I'll have a color on the brain and then I just start mentally going through all of my dyes to think of combinations to try. I have a lot of notes on my phone, and in my Moleskine that I keep with me. Who knows if I'll ever get through those lists, but they're there. I do want to experiment with more pastel colorways. I'm not a pastel person—I'm just too pale to carry it off. But I'd like to see if I can do something in that area that I could wear. What I like least is definitely the reskeining!


Bonnie: In your Ravelry bio, you say your grandmother taught you to knit when you were seven with pink acrylic from Woolworth’s. Would you like to talk about your grandmother and her influence in your life?

Christine: I would LOVE to talk about my Grandmom. First of all, my Grandmom is not my grandmom by blood—she was my mom's first boss once she finished school to become a psychiatric nurse. But to her, I was her first grandchild. In the summers when I wasn't in school or in camp, I would go to work with my mom. During the morning meetings with the nurses, my Grandmom would always be knitting or doing needlepoint. I eventually asked her to teach me, and like most kids I got the hang of it and then put it away for about 20 years because it took too long to make progress. Then in the Peace Corps in Kenya, I picked it up again and have been doing it ever since. Every time we would visit, we'd knit together or go yarn shopping. 

I recently visited my Grandmom, now 91, after a bad bout of health that put her in the hospital. As you can imagine, her memory is beginning to go a bit and she is in the early stages of dementia now. During our visit with her, I was knitting on a pair of socks. I noticed her recognition of who I was while in the room with her was strongest when I had my knitting going. So I kept it going. I also brought a shawl that I had made for her, and some mitts that I had dyed and knit for her as well. I made sure to tell her that none of this would have been possible had she not taught me to knit all those years ago. I'm sure she knew that already, but I wanted to reiterate it; I had a feeling that that was probably going to be my last visit with her with her memory that strong. She has been much more to me than a knitting teacher. As she admitted during my last visit with her, "I used to meddle a bit regarding you." I honestly don't know what kind of person I would be had it not been for her "meddling." My father had died when I was nine and my mom was so overwhelmed with grief from that that I was more or less left to my own devices. But she was always there. 

Bonnie: About that pink acrylic … I imagine acrylic is not one of your favorite fibers these days. Or maybe it is? :-) Anyway, which fibers do you especially like to knit with? What about to dye?

Christine: Haha, no, acrylic is not my favorite fiber. But at one time it was all I could afford, and it was all I could find in Kenya when I picked knitting up again in my stint with the Peace Corps. Since becoming a spinner, I've found that my fiber preferences have changed. I had no idea that different wools had different properties, nevermind that those different characteristics lended themselves to being better used for certain projects. For example, I love bluefaced leicester (BFL) for socks. I wish more people would use BFL for socks instead of merino. Merino is great, but BFL is so strong and lustrous and is perfect for something that will get a lot of wear. I have a pair made in the same base that I carry and they are several years old and you can't tell.

As for dyeing, superwash of course takes color beautifully. But frankly, I don't personally like superwash and I don't like the chemical process of how superwash wools are made. Of course it does come in handy for baby gifts that might get thrown up on or for gifts to non-knitting friends who are mortified at the thought of handwashing.  Fiber is a wonderfully natural thing if you let it be and know how to care for it. I'm hoping to add a non-superwash BFL yarn to the shop at some point, but it can be hard to get people on board.

On the Other Hand mitts knit with Skeinny Dipping merino single

Bonnie: I love your “dye splash” logo as well as the name “Skeinny Dipping.” How did you come up with them?

Christine: In 2010, when I finally decided I would start my own business, we started brainstorming with all of our friends for something catchy. Nothing really struck me as something I would be OK with for a long period of time. On the way back to Boston from Rhinebeck, "Skeinny Dipping" came to me as I was dozing off in the car. Luckily, I told my husband before I fell asleep, otherwise who knows if I would have remembered it later on. Once I had the name, I contacted my friend and fellow knitter, Caro Beine, aka strickonaut on Ravelry. She is an amazing graphic designer (as well as an awesome knitter, weaver, spinner, and baker), and I let her get as creative as she wanted. She created the custom dye splash you see on all my labels and business cards. She created my new band labels as well, including adding the ruler on the back side of the label. I don't know what I would do without her!

Bonnie: She does great work—your logo and the name "Skeinny Dipping" are just perfect! Christine, it's been so nice talking with you. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts—I've learned a lot! 

Christine: Thanks for having me. It was fun!


You can find Christine's yarns at fiber events and in her Etsy shop, Skeinny Dipping. She's heidelblogknits on Ravelry and skeinnydippingyarn on Instagram.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Spring Lace Sale Ends Today


Just a quick reminder: Today's the last day of my Spring Lace promotion on Ravelry—it ends at midnight EST. If you purchase Skipperling, Silver Frost, Anita Caroline, and Streusel, you'll get all four of them for $16, which is a savings of $7.50. If you've already purchased one of these patterns, the amount you've already paid will be deducted from the total.

To get the discount, use the coupon code SPRING. This link will take you straight to the Ravelry page where you can apply the coupon code; the four patterns will automatically be placed in your cart. 

Happy first day of spring!

Who likes pink? #springdreams #flowers #color

Monday, March 16, 2015

Thoughts about Swatching and Gauge

A friend of mine is knitting a pair of On the Other Hand mitts for herself. An experienced knitter, she knows the importance of gauge and took the time to knit a swatch and adjust her needle size to get gauge. Her first mitt came out great—but the second one? Too big and too long! 

On the Other Hand Mitts
Pattern: On the Other Hand, by Bonnie Sennott
Yarn: Skeinny Dipping Merino Single in Brown Butter

How could that happen? Well, although the same knitter knit the same size mitt with the same needles and yarn, that same knitter was on serious cold meds while knitting the second mitt, and apparently she knit at a much looser gauge! This doesn't surprise me. I know that if I am feeling relaxed and at ease while knitting, my gauge tends to loosen up, but if I'm tense and worried it can easily tighten up. 

You might be wondering—does gauge matter for a small item like a fingerless mitt? The answer is: yes! Being off just a half inch on a mitt can make it too big or too small. And I find that mitts tend to stretch out after several wearings, so I would rather they not fit loosely when I first finish them. 

Here's just a little math to demonstrate why gauge matters for a pair of mitts. For On the Other Hand, the gauge on the larger needles (used for the stockinette part of the mitt) is 27 stitches and 40 rows = 4 inches/10cm. So, the stitch gauge is 6.75 stitches per inch. After the thumb gusset, the larger size mitt has 48 stitches around the palm. Those 48 stitches divided by 6.75 stitches per inch result in a palm circumference of about 7 inches (7.11, to be exact). If your gauge is looser, say 25 stitches over 4 inches (or 6.25 per inch), those same 48 stitches will result in a palm circumference of 7.68 inches. That might be bigger than you want (and it's certainly bigger than what the pattern states).

What about row gauge? It matters too! Again, a bit of math to demonstrate: The thumb gusset on the larger size is worked over 32 rows. At a row gauge of 10 rows per inch (32 divided by 10), the gusset will measure about 3.25 inches. But if your row gauge is loose—say 9 rows per inch—your gusset will measure 3.55 inches. That still might fit you OK, but it might be rather long. And if your row gauge is too loose throughout the entire mitt, it will be longer than anticipated.

Gauge demo

Swatching first—and blocking your swatch as you will block the finished item—is always a good idea. But if you're the sort of knitter who wants to plunge right in when knitting small things like hats or socks or mitts (or maybe you did make a swatch, but then your gauge on the actual project got all loosey-goosey), then maybe the road to good fit and happiness is best found by simply adjusting your outlook. To me, knitting 4-5 inches of a mitt that's 48 stitches around is not much more work than knitting a gauge swatch. So I often cast on with the size needle I know from experience is likely to be best, and then I try on frequently as I go. I am always prepared to rip back/start over/change needles if things go awry.

Basically, I swatch when I feel it's a good idea—and if I don't swatch, I take the attitude that starting small projects over (or even the sleeve of a sweater) isn't much of a setback.

What's your approach to swatching? Do you or don't you? Do you mind ripping back and starting over?

On the Other Hand Mitts

Monday, March 09, 2015

New Pattern: On the Other Hand

I'm excited to share a new mitts pattern today: On the Other Hand is now available in my Ravelry, Etsy, and Craftsy pattern stores.

On the Other Hand Mitts
Pattern: On the Other Hand, by Bonnie Sennott
Yarn: Skeinny Dipping Merino Single in the Brown Butter colorway

On the Other Hand Mitts

With their knit-purl textures and simple lace, these mitts make the most of the tonal variations in hand-dyed fingering-weight yarns—but they’ll look great in solid and semi-solid colors, too.

On the Other Hand Mitts

As I developed this design, I experimented with different options for the arm, trying out a longer lace section as well as a shorter lace section followed by rings of purl rounds. In the end, I really couldn’t decide which option I liked best! And when I shared them with some friends, an equal number liked one or the other. So I knit one of each and included instructions for both of them in the pattern.

You may knit one of each, as shown in the sample photos, or knit two matching mitts using either option. From the thumb gusset upwards, both options are the same. The pattern provides instructions for two sizes, women's S and M/L.

On the Other Hand Mitts

On the Other Hand Mitts

On the Other Hand is the first pattern in All You Need Is One, a collection of five one-skein designs I'll be releasing every 6-8 weeks in 2015, ending in the fall. All You Need Is One is available only on Ravelry. When you purchase the ebook, it will automatically be updated in your Ravelry library each time a new pattern is added. 

What other kinds of patterns can you expect? It's still a work in progress, but I can share that the second pattern, due out later this spring, will be a lace scarf. I also hope to design a cowl for a gorgeous sportweight alpaca I found at Rhinebeck last fall. What else? Socks are quite likely, and beyond that—it's a surprise!

On the Other Hand Mitts

I knit the mitts with a fingering weight merino from Skeinny Dipping in a colorway aptly named Brown Butter. Of all the photos I took, I think the one below best captures the beauty of the color. A single-ply yarn, it has an appealing halo and is super soft.

On the Other Hand Mitts

Each design in All You Need Is One will be knit with yarns by U.S.-based indie dyers and small yarn producers. Throughout the year, I'll be doing interviews here on the blog with the folks who make the yarns. Look for the first one, with Christine of Skeinny Dipping, later this month.

On the Other Hand Mitts

Thanks and credits go to:
  • My sister Betsey, who gave me the beautiful yarn for Christmas, modeled the mitts, and made the beaded crochet necklaces she's wearing in the photos
  • My sister Jackie, who thought of the pattern name
  • My sister Jenny, who edited the pattern
  • My godfather, Uncle Hubert, for giving me the charm bracelet in some of the photos. It belonged to my godmother, Aunt Valda, and is filled with souvenirs of her travels. When I was a little girl, she gave me a charm bracelet of my own and each year at Christmas and on my birthday sent me new charms. I didn't get to see her much when I was growing up, so it means a lot to have this tangible connection to her.
Charm bracelet

Thank you very much for reading!

Friday, February 27, 2015

Spring Lace

Ravelry has just added a great new feature: a designer can now offer a set of patterns together at a discount without creating a separate ebook.

So, thinking about how a lace scarf is the perfect spring accessory, I thought I'd give this new feature a try with four lace scarf patterns. My Spring Lace promotion starts today and continues through midnight EST on Friday, March 20 (the first day of spring). To get the discount, use the coupon code SPRING.

If you purchase Skipperling, Silver Frost, Anita Caroline, and Streusel, you'll get all four of them for $16, which is a savings of $7.50. If you've already purchased one of these patterns, no worries—the amount you've already paid will be deducted from the total.

This link will take you straight to the Ravelry page where you can apply the coupon code; the four patterns will automatically be placed in your cart. Or, go to any of the individual pattern pages and add them to your cart one at a time.

Skipperling_1

Streusel_Whole_4_72

Anita Caroline_3

Silver Frost_1

Happy knitting—and happy spring!


Thursday, February 19, 2015

Stitched Sheep

Yesterday was an exciting day—the first of my Stitched Sheep project bags and lavender sachets headed off via U.S. mail to their new owners.

How can you not be happy when you are stitching sheep smiles? #sheep #embroidery #knit #knitting #knittersofinstagram #knitstagram #bluepeninsula #bonniesennott

For the first breed in the series, I chose merino—not only because knitters love merino wool for its softness, but because they are exceedingly fun to stitch. After making a few, I've settled on embroidering the faces first, so that I can enjoy the sheep "smile" while stitching the rest.

Breed no. 1: Merino! Coming to my Etsy shop tonight. (Link in profile)

Sheep_Bags_Merino_2

These hand-embroidered linen project bags and lavender sachets (a natural moth repellant!) are available in my Etsy shop. Each one is individually stitched—no two are exactly alike. The bags measure about 10.5 inches wide and 11.5 inches tall—perfect for small- and medium-size projects like hats, scarves, cowls, mitts, socks, or baby items.

Sheep_Sachet_2nd

In the months ahead, I'll be adding more breeds—and maybe even a llama or alpaca, or a plant fiber for those with allergies. The best way to stay abreast of shop updates is to follow me on InstagramFacebook, or Twitter.

Have you got a favorite breed you'd like to see stitched? Leave a comment and let me know!

The sheep are in the shop! Link in profile �� #bluepeninsula #knit #knitting #knittersofinstagram #knitstagram #bonniesennott #sachet #sheep

P.S. If you're anywhere near Easthampton in western Massachusetts and you'd like to try your hand at embroidery, join me this Saturday for my Embroidery I class at Knack, a very cool creative reuse center located in the Eastworks building. You'll learn basic embroidery stitches and techniques, and you'll also get instructions for sewing a sachet, plus some lavender/chamomile filling to take home with you! All supplies are provided; sign-ups end today.