Last Chance for the GAL Sale!

We are in the final hours to purchase GAL patterns at a steep discount! Have you bought yours yet? I have! What’d I get? I knew going in that I wanted a pair of fingerless gloves. My hands are constantly cold this time of year, but every time I put on gloves I take them right back off again because I can’t feel or manipulate anything properly with them on. After losing most of a morning to the Pinterest boards, I narrowed it down to either Colophon, by Hunter Hammersen, or Twisted Diamond Mitts by Kaitlyn Yeager. Both sat in my queue for a couple days while I debated how much I will actually have time to knit for pleasure in the next month, and then I finally went with just the Colophon. I may still go back for the Twisted Diamond at a later (post-sale, but more free time) date.

Then, while I was trolling the Pinterest boards, Kris Carlson’s Nubby also snuck into my cart. I didn’t mean to buy a hat, and probably won’t have time to make it soon, but it’s so rare to find a hat I don’t think looks dumb with my hair. The model in the photos has hair a lot like mine, and looks fabulous, so I pretty much couldn’t not buy it. You understand, right?

So, if you haven’t bought those patterns sitting in your cart yet, get on it! The GAL discount expires at midnight EST! And if there aren’t any patterns sitting in your cart…you have way more willpower than me. But by all means, let me try and fix that.

gal infographic

GAL 2014 Infographic created by Kimberly Golynskiy

P.S. – I was interviewed here, and Claire is giving away one of my patterns. Go read it, and enter!

GAL Interview: Sashka Macievich

Last year during the Gift-a-long I interviewed a couple designers for the blog, and it was so much fun I’m doing it again! Today, meet Sashka of Sashkaknits.com. Sashka is Canadian (from BC), but sells her patterns on Ravelry in U.S. dollars. Twelve of them are on sale this week for the GAL.

Tell us about yourself, both as a person and as a designer. What makes you “you”, and what makes that noteworthy?

Ha ha, I’d like to think that all the little idiosyncrasies that make me ‘me’ are charming but I might be slightly delusional about that.  I am always awkward in social situations, especially large crowds.  I do best in small groups of people I know well.  I do make friends easily especially if we have something in common.  I love reading – all types of books but right now I am reading a lot of Scandinavian mystery novels translated to English, I drink good coffee and nibble on dark chocolate.  As a designer I love detail and texture and spend a lot of time experimenting until I get the right mix.  I am a process knitter, when the project is done I don’t have a whole lot of attachment to it and usually give it away as a gift.

auberge

“Auberge” by Sashka Macievich

Describe your design process for us. Do you usually start the same way? Is there a particular place you go for inspiration? Do you have a set routine?

My inspiration could come from anywhere – sometimes while I am working on one design another one works itself out in my head, sometimes I see a pattern while I am out and about and sometimes the yarn itself tells me what it wants.  A lot of time I have one idea in my head and when I start swatching it morphs into another better idea.

Once I start though I do have a set routine, I always swatch, sometimes several times, then I do the math in a spreadsheet and make my charts.  Then I knit my sample working from the spreadsheet and the charts.  My spreadsheets are very detailed and I keep meticulous notes during sample knitting.  Once the sample is knit, it is time to put the pattern into words and take photos.

Do you have a favorite fiber, yarn weight, or color family you tend to gravitate toward? You certainly have a wide variety of pattern types and textures represented in your GAL patterns!

Yes, I love fingering weight yarn and I love texture.  I love to experiment with creating texture with cables, lace and ribbing. Now I am starting to add colour to mix as well. As far as the wide variety of designs I decided to design whatever I wanted for a while to determine what it was I meant to be designing instead of what I thought I should be designing.

What’s your favorite thing you’ve ever designed? Why? 

I love my Windmill Bay Stole.  I knit it purely because I needed a warm snuggly wrap for when we were camping at our favourite spot.  Whenever I pull it out I am immediately transported to a calm happy place.

Windmill Bay

“Windmill Bay Stole” by Sashka Macievich

Why indie patterns? Why do you publish them, and why should crafters buy them?

I tend to over commit myself.  With self-publishing the only deadlines I have are the ones I create for myself.  While this is definitely a job where I have to wear a lot of hats, I wear them because I want to and I like to take the time I need to do them well.  I love to be part of the indie community, knitters and designers are always ready to help and teach those who truly want to learn.  Crafters who buy indie patterns are really getting a lot for their money, indie designers are putting a lot into their craft.  Never before have so many resources been available to designers and so many places to provide their designs for sale.

Which of your GAL patterns do you think would be the best gift?

Arboles Cowl, Alberni Cowl, Busu Cowl and Syxx Hat are all quick knits and I think would appeal to many people of different ages.

arboles cowl

“Arboles Cowl” by Sashka Macievich

Do you plan to make anything during the GAL? If not, do any other GAL designs really stand out to you?

I do!  But I can’t reveal my plans as it is secret Christmas knitting. (shhh)  I have discovered so many designs in the GAL I would not have known about otherwise, many have jumped into my cart already!

Any new or exciting developments on the horizon? We’d love to hear as much as you’re comfortable sharing!

I have so many designs for next year already.  Watch for shawls and garments for spring and fall.

Now for one of the hallmarks of the GAL – prizes! Sashka was kind enough to offer a free pattern to one of my fabulous readers. Would you like it to be you? Check out her full list of GAL patterns (here!) and tell us in the comments which one you’d most like to make and why. The random number generator and I will announce a winner this Sunday, November 23 at 6pm EST. Be sure to leave your Ravelry name or some other contact info in the comment so I can get you your prize!

Happy GAL Ya’ll!

It’s officially GAL time! Are you as excited as I am? I plan on going on a serious shopping spree this weekend! I’ve been carefully avoiding looking at the Pinterest boards (well, mostly) because they are so, so dangerous. I may have lost a good half-hour on the sweater board already, and I SO don’t have time for another sweater with all the upcoming designs going on. The rest of the boards are totally getting devoured once I have an hour or two to devote to it (and buying) this weekend though.

puck drop detail

Which types of patterns do you plan to knit for the holidays? Or for that matter, just because but before the end of the year? I don’t tend to lean towards any particular type of pattern myself, but for the sake of my upcoming design deadlines I’m going to try to limit my GAL knitting to accessories like hats and mittens. Don’t forget that patterns you don’t buy during the sale may also be eligible for some of prizes in the GAL! As long as they’re indie patterns by a participating designer and not free patterns, they totally count.

swept crop

As a designer I’m also really psyched for the start of the GAL, and not only because the extra exposure for my independently published patterns is nice. It’s actually really fun putting my favorite other designers out there, and I have a pair of really interesting interviews coming up to share on this blog. Keep an eye on my G+ and Twitter for other exciting info on participating designers.

hyacinth neckline

Just as a reminder, you can find all of my discounted patterns here. The discount lasts until next Friday, November 21. I hope you’ll take advantage!

gal 2014 poster

It’s Almost GAL Time!

Thanks for all your empathy and warm wishes this past week; every little bit is truly appreciated. As promised, I have a real post this week.

Did you participate in last year’s Indie Gift-a-Long on Ravelry? Dozens of designers and hundreds of knitters and crocheters did! Sign-ups have begun for this year’s participating designers, and we’re already up to over 250 designers. I seriously can’t wait to see how many makers we get. Just over a week to go!

GAL join in yellow

So those of you who didn’t participate last year are probably wondering what on earth I’m talking about. The Gift-a-Long (GAL) is a huge event on Ravelry that starts in November and ends New Year’s Eve. It’s designed to both provide exposure for indie designers and provide some seriously sweet discounts and prizes for avid knitters and crocheters. For the first week of the event all eligible patterns are 25% off, and we all (even the designers, frequently) go on a shopping spree to get all the patterns we plan to knit for the holidays. This is the “gift”  part of the Gift-a-Long. You can see which designs your favorite designers are including by checking the GAL bundles on their designer page (mine is linked below) or see all the participating patterns on Pinterest.

2014 bundle

Once you’ve got your patterns it’s time to join a (few) KAL/CAL(s). Each KAL/CAL gets its own thread in the GAL Ravelry group where we all share progress, cheer each other on, and ask questions as relevant. Thus the “-along” part of the Gift-a-Long. The designers tend to be extra busy during this time as we’re not only frequenting the threads to answer questions and cheerlead, but also often working on projects of our own! Another good reason to be an active participant in these threads is that, every now and then and without warning, a mod will post that the next person to post a WIP photo gets a prize! The prizes range from free patterns to yarn and other fibery goodies.

gal 2014 poster

While only select patterns (by which I mean hundreds) are eligible for the discount and only for a one week period, all independently published patterns by participating designers are welcome in the -alongs. Additionally, all paid (not free) patterns by the designers are eligible for prizes. Some designers save new releases for this period for this reason. There are also periodic games and contests where the winners get still more prizes, and a huge giveaway extravaganza at the New Year’s Eve “party”. For those of you who are not new to Feel Good Knitting, yes, I will be giving away prizes in addition to my usual birthday/New Year’s giveaways.

As you can see, this is a big, big deal. This year’s specifics are below (note that some links will lead to empty pages until the start of the event). I hope to see you in the threads!

Sale Dates- November 13-21, 2014

Event Dates – November 13-December 31, 2014

Ravlery GroupIndie Design Gift-a-Long

Pinterest Boards - List of boards with links

Prizes – Listed here!

GAL FAQ- Here!

I Do, In Fact, Have Internet

Hi all. It occurs to me I haven’t updated in…2 weeks? I’m still here, but we had an unexpected death in the family and we’ve all been scrambling to stay afloat, so the blog has kind of fallen by the wayside. Hopefully next week I’ll get up a proper post, but in the mean time here are a couple quick and dirty photos of the Flaming June sweater. It’s been done for ages but I somehow never managed to post photos or mark in done on Ravelry!

front

back

Happy Halloween!

Kettle Dyeing at Home

My Flaming June is finally done! The knitting’s actually been done for almost a week, but I’ve been putting off dyeing it because I had other projects with deadlines breathing down my neck, not to mention a whole bunch of late nights at the day job. Then I tried a new dyeing technique over the weekend that utterly failed, so I turned to my old standby of kettle dyeing to fix it. It turned out lovely, as kettle dyeing tends to, and there is no evidence of the abomination my sweater was after the first dye job. Want to learn how to kettle dye at home? Read on.

soaking

Yes, this is the pre-bad dye job soak. No need to soak twice, in my case.

First, soak your FO or yarn for a few hours in water mixed with 3/4 cup of white vinegar. The vinegar acts as a mordant (any acid that helps dye “stick”) to improve color absorption. If you want more muted colors you can use less mordant than that, but I would be cautious about using more vinegar. Too much can make your pigments (in this case, blue and red) soak in at different rates and create some seriously bizarre looking yarn. Note that if your tap water tends to be high in minerals or have a distinctive smell or flavor, you’ll want to use filtered water as well. Random extra minerals can also do funny things to your color.

materials

While your project is soaking, gather your materials. I don’t have separate dyeing equipment, so I am careful to only use food-safe dyes and mordants – usually food coloring and vinegar. For kettle dyeing I prefer to use a crock pot, but a carefully watched stock pot will also work. It’s just a slightly less lazy process, and I’m all about the lazy. You will also want a large spoon, spatula, or tongs for pulling your hot, dripping mess out of the pot when it’s done dyeing, and a pan or bowl large enough to hold said mess so it doesn’t drip all over your kitchen. I like to use metal and glass because you can clean the color off of them, but since we’re using food-safe chemicals this is optional. Keep in mind that food dye might not be permanent or even long lasting on plant fiber or synthetic yarns, but it is definitely permanent on your wooden spoons and many plastics. You’ll also want to cover as much of your work space and yourself as you can with something you don’t mind getting splattered with dye.

dyeing

After your yarn or FO has had a good long soak, heat a cup of water to boiling. I’m lazy and do this in the microwave because it’s fast. Add as much dye as you would like to the boiling water (I used about a teaspoon and a half of Wilton’s for this cardigan) and stir. Keep in mind that the color will be much deeper in the pot than it will be on your yarn. Then drain off as much of the water/vinegar mix as possible into your crock. If your yarn isn’t superwash, be careful not to get too aggressive here. Add in the boiling dyed water and as much extra water as needed to fill your pot about halfway. Set your crock pot to low (with the lid on) and wait a few minutes for it to start steaming. Give it one last stir to make sure your dye is well mixed, then add in your project. Make sure it’s spread out as much as possible and that all parts of the project are covered in colored water. Put the lid back on and go away. Seriously, just go do something else for a few hours.

cooling

Periodically check on your dye pot. When the water looks clear and there is no more dye in it, you can pull it out of the pot and into the pan or bowl you set out. Let it cool to room temperature and rinse thoroughly with room temperature water. The temperature is extra important if you’re not using superwash. Some colors and dye types will bleed more than others, but the vinegar and prolonged exposure to heat should have set your dyes well enough that not too much color should run off. When the rinse water runs clear, dry your piece as recommended by the yarn manufacturer.

rinse

Clean up is pretty simple. Since you’ve used up all the dye in your pot, and you’re carrying your dyed fiber goodies in a pan or bowl, there’s not too much risk of dye winding up on your floor. Hooray! Glass, metal, and crockery should return to their natural color if you clean them with bleach. Be sure to follow with a soap and water cleanse afterward to make sure they’re safe to eat off of! Wash or throw away whatever you used to cover your counters and yourself. That’s it!

Another Crochet Cast-On

Previously I shared with you a provisional crochet cast-on, but today I’m going to share an easy everyday cast-on which also uses a crochet hook. I like this particular cast-on (there really isn’t a synonym for that word, is there?) because it looks identical to the knitted bind-off, and I can be a little obsessive about having matching ends sometimes. It also saves me from the pain of having to estimate how much yarn to use for a long-tail cast-on with sometime big like a sweater or rectangular shawl, only to be a half yard short at the end.

Step 1

slip knot

Choose a crochet hook roughly the size of your needle (exact size is not important, but if the difference is significant, go bigger rather than smaller) and make a slip knot on it. Hold the working yarn behind your left needle.

Step 2

pull through

Reach the crochet hook over the left needle and scoop up the working yarn. Pull it through the loop on your crochet hook.

Step 3

loops

Now you have a loop on your left needle and a loop on your hook. Move the working yarn back behind the needle again.

Step 4

reach over

Repeat the process as many times as necessary, until you have one less than the called for number of stitches on your needle.

Step 5

final loop

When you have one less than the needed number of stitches, slip the loop on your hook to the left needle to serve as your final stitch. Knit away!

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