Indie Design Gift-a-Long 2018

It’s that time of year! Time for the Indie Design Gift-a-Long, an annual KAL/CAL where knitters and crocheters join together on Ravelry to make their holiday gifts. It’s a big virtual party with lots of good cheer, games, and great prizes (yarns, patterns, stitch markers, project bags, and more).

There’s also an amazing sale on patterns by more than 300 independent knit and crochet designers. Thousands of patterns are discounted 25% with the coupon code giftalong2018. You can use this same coupon code for each participating designer’s sale patterns, and you use it as many times as you wish now through midnight EST, November 29.

This year, I’ve got 20 patterns in the sale, including quick gift ideas, like the Fee-bee Mitts or Erste Cowl, as well as larger projects you might want to make for yourself after the GAL ends, like the Mount Pollux Pullover or the Notch Shawl.

Whether you’re participating for the first time, or returning for your sixth year, the Indie Design Gift-a-Long is a fun way to get inspired to cast on and finish your holiday gift making (and maybe try a tasty recipe or two!). Here are links to help you jump right in:

Indie Design Gift-a-Long

Bonnie Sennott: GAL Sale Patterns

GAL 2018 Participating Designers

New Pattern: About Town Shawl

Attention, shawl lovers: here's a new pattern perfect for spring!

Worked from the top down in three colors of fingering weight yarn, the About Town Shawl showcases a striking mix of knit-purl textures, garter stitch, and lace — plenty of variety to keep the knitting interesting. Make it your own with colors that suit your style — subtle neutrals, or bright colors that pop — it’s your choice!

The About Town Shawl is on sale in my Ravelry pattern store for 25% off through Thursday, April 19 — use the coupon code SHAWL25 to get the discount.

I designed this shawl to match the About Town Mitts. The two patterns can be purchased together as an ebook set in my Ravelry pattern store for just $8.

For the sample, I used stash yarns, including some laceweights held together with light fingering weight yarns. The peach color was a skein of Tika Designs sock yarn that I purchased at Rhinebeck a couple of years ago and later dyed with red onion skins. It was really fun combining yarns and colors — I went with soft, gentle colors, but that's just one possibility. There are so many others — I can't wait to see the combinations knitters use! You can find a complete rundown on the yarns I used, plus yardage requirements for knitting your own shawl, on the pattern's Ravelry page.

The About Town Shawl would be a lovely project to cast on for the KATT (Knit All The Things) KAL. Find more info and join the KAL in the Ravelry Blue Peninsula group. It starts this Thursday, April 19, and ends June 10.

Thank you very much for reading!

Things to Come

Hello, blog readers — I hope you're still around after my rather long absence! Just as the scilla and snowdrops are emerging around town, so I feel I am emerging from weeks of being buried in work (and not the fibery kind that's fun to blog about).

Fun, fibery things are indeed coming up, though. I recently bound off and blocked a new shawl (a companion to the About Town Mitts) and am very pleased with how it turned out.

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Knit in three colors, with lace, knit-purl textures, and stripes, it's got plenty of variety to keep the knitting interesting. The pattern is coming very soon, but if you want to stash dive ahead of time, you'll need fingering weight yarn in three colors: Color 1 (which is peach in my sample, dyed with red onion skins) - 290 yards/265 m; Color 2 (cream) - 175 yards/160 m; and Color 3 (the lace section in the sample) - 135 yards/124 m. Total yardage, if you want to make it a single color: 600 yards/549 m. After blocking, the wingspan of my sample measured 58 inches/148 cm.

The About Town Shawl would be a great project for the next knitalong in the Ravelry Blue Peninsula group. The Knit All The Things (KATT) KAL starts a week from today, April 19. It's a leisurely KAL, lasting until June 10, so there's plenty of time to cast on and finish a large project like a sweater or a shawl. Of course, small projects are welcome, too!

Any of my designs can be knit for the KATT KAL, and if you want to finish up a WIP rather than start something new, that's fine, too. We have lovely prizes of yarn, free patterns, and other goodies, and as always there will be lots of friendly knitting conversation. Come join us anytime — we're already discussing possible patterns and yarns.

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One project I've been working on during the past month involves this gorgeous Phantom Ship colorway of Stitch Sprouts Crater Lake, a soft and squishy bulky weight merino. The design must stay under wraps until later this year, but I loved the yarn so much I just had to share a peek with you.

I'll be back soon with the new About Town Shawl pattern. In the meantime, if it's spring where you are, I hope it's beautiful!

 Spring color at the Mount Holyoke College Botanic Garden's annual flower show

Spring color at the Mount Holyoke College Botanic Garden's annual flower show

P.S. If you don't already receive the monthly Blue Peninsula newsletter, now's a good time to sign up — the next issue will have something special just for subscribers.

New Pattern: About Town Mitts

Just released on Ravelry — my new About Town Mitts:

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Sometimes it’s the simple, uncomplicated things that lift your spirits and make life extra sweet — like a pair of cozy fingerless mitts. Worked in the round on double-pointed needles, the About Town Mitts knit up quickly and easily (no charts to follow). Through February 25, they're on sale in my Ravelry pattern store for just $4.50.

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The pattern provides instructions for three sizes — S, M, L — using 120–150 yards/110–140 m of sportweight yarn. For the sample pair, I chose The Fibre Co.'s Road to China Light, a sportweight blend of alpaca, silk, camel, and cashmere. It's soft and sumptuous, a luxurious treat for your hands. 

The About Town Mitts would be a lovely project to make for the Treat Yourself KAL in the Ravelry Blue Peninsula group. There's still plenty of time to cast on — the KAL (and the pattern sale) continue through February 25. I hope you can join us!

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Logalong Progress

Confession: When I cast on for the Fringe and Friends Log Cabin Make-along, I wasn't sure how far I'd get with it. For one thing, there was the worry about garter stitch being boring (turns out it's not boring at all, but soothing, meditative knitting). I also wondered if this project would steal too much time from other design work, causing me to put it "on the back burner." That concern also has disappeared — my Next in Line throw is actually moving along at a respectable pace, and so far it's left me sufficient time for other projects.

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The design process is enormously satisfying. I'm enjoying choosing the next color for each log, deciding how wide it should be, and where the contrast color stripes should be placed. The more I knit, the more I love these colors! Knitters have contacted me to ask about them, so here they are: Cascade 220 in Silver Grey, Straw, and Doeskin Heather, and Valley Yarns Northampton in Lake Heather.

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I might be a little too smitten with it — Snickers has had to remind me to take breaks and remember that "all knitting and no play" makes me a very dull girl.

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Yesterday, I finished Log No. 8 and began No. 9. The piece now measures about 22 x 24 inches, so I've got a ways to go — I'm aiming for about 48 x 60 inches. I don't want it to be as small as a baby blanket, but it's not meant to be a bedspread, either.

What do you think? What's your preferred size for an afghan or throw?

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Logging Along

Have you been following the new log cabin knitalong happening over at the Fringe Association blog? It's nicely open-ended: You can join anytime and make whatever you like using some form of log cabin construction. All sorts of log cabin projects are sprouting up in the #fringeandfriendslogalong Instagram feed, from very traditional to freeform blankets, to beer bottle cozies, to treasure bags, to an utterly genius translation of a Josef Albers painting into a cowl. (Seriously!)

Intrigued (I've never made anything remotely log cabin-ish), I flirted with the idea of joining — then told myself no, that's crazy, I've got too much going on already. After all, I've got my own Treat Yourself KAL going full steam in the Ravelry Blue Peninsula group, plus magazine projects to finish, design submissions to send in, and new patterns to prepare for publishing. In other words, a lot on my plate!

But in spare moments after Christmas I found myself getting more and more drawn in. I started perusing log cabin projects on Ravelry. I pulled out stash bins to see if I had anything that might work. Lo and behold, I had several leftover skeins of Cascade 220 in colors that played really well together. At the same time, I received the happy news that a friend was getting married! Well, that did it. I decided the perfect gift would be a log cabin throw . . .  or afghan . . .  or blanket (that part will get sorted out eventually).

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On New Year's Day, I cast on. With no plan. No sketch. No worrying or fretting in advance. I'm going to improvise and do what looks good, just as I do when painting or stitching abstractly. I may change my mind now and then and have to rip back, but that's OK. It's part of the process.

I'm using three colors of Cascade 220 from my stash (silver grey, straw, and doeskin heather), plus one color of Valley Yarns Northampton (lake heather) — which I did have to purchase.

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There is one recurring design element: each log will have a few contrasting rows of the color that will be the main color of the next log. So the first log was grey, with straw stripes. The second log was straw, with doeskin heather stripes. And so on.

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After binding off each log, I'm reorienting the piece and picking up stitches along another edge. So each log is connected to the last yet knit in a different direction (see photo above). I'm keeping scrupulous notes, so I can write up the pattern later on. (The pattern will be called Next in Line.)

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I've thought about knitting a log cabin blanket before, but one thing held me back: all that garter stitch. I was afraid I'd get bored and never finish. But now that I've begun, I'm pleasantly surprised. So far, it's been a satisfying, joyful knitting project — even weaving in the ends has been fun (I'm weaving them in log by log, so as not to have a gazillion to deal with at the end).

It's a nice change of pace to knit something without referring to a chart, or keeping track of shaping. And it hasn't been boring because each log brings new creative decisions: what color should it be, how long and deep, how many stripes should there be, where should they be placed, etc. 

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Read all the blog posts about the Fringe and Friends Log Along here and see all the Instagram posts here. What do you think? Will you join the party?

Treat Yourself KAL Starts Today (and Sale Ends)

It's cast on time! The Treat Yourself KAL starts today in the Ravelry Blue Peninsula group. For the next six weeks, you're invited to join us as you knit yourself a special accessory or sweater.

Perhaps a new cowl? There's my newest pattern — Waverleigh — and lots of others to choose from. Just a reminder, all individual patterns in my Ravelry pattern store are 20% off through midnight tonight (Sunday) with the coupon code TREATYOURSELF.

 Clockwise from upper left:  Waverleigh ,  Singing Beach ,  Calliopsis ,  Birchleaf ,  Erste , and  Cordulia

Clockwise from upper left: Waverleigh, Singing Beach, Calliopsis, Birchleaf, Erste, and Cordulia

A number of knitters are making the Rowhouse Socks for the KAL. I can't wait to see how they look in different colors! If you haven't done stranded-color socks before, this would be a wonderful pattern to start with. After the colorwork on the calf is done, the knitting is quite simple.

  Rowhouse Socks , by Bonnie Sennott

Rowhouse Socks, by Bonnie Sennott

The Treat Yourself KAL lasts a full six weeks, ending on February 25. So there's plenty of time to delve into a shawl or sweater. Maybe a lace cardigan, like the Drafter's Cardigan, or a chic layering piece for spring, like the Mathews Street Vest? Both are available as PDF downloads from Interweave.com.

 photo courtesy F&W Media/Harper Point Photography

photo courtesy F&W Media/Harper Point Photography

 photo courtesy F&W Media/Harper Point Photography

photo courtesy F&W Media/Harper Point Photography

If you haven't got a lot of free time for knitting, then maybe a new pair of mitts might be perfect. (That's probably what I'm making.) Whatever you choose, I look forward to seeing you in the KAL!

 The  Blue Peninsula January sale  ends midnight, Sunday, January 14!

The Blue Peninsula January sale ends midnight, Sunday, January 14!