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1. Writing Odes this past month

My Poetry Sisters and I have been scribbling down Odes all through the past month. Every month this year we are working on writing different forms of poetry in a group challenge. It's been both fun and frustrating at times! But Odes are pure fun. We agreed to take a light-hearted look at things this month, and some of these are downright funny! Check out my compatriot's Odes at these links:

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2. S is for Sisters


from Thin Time.... in the Shropshire village of Tong, a bad tempered dog called Fymm, who is many centuries old, makes a mistake and chooses the wrong girl to be Task Bearer. Chased by gargoyles, Alice reaches the Green Lady’s cottage, receives the first of her three gifts, and learns that she must enter the Other World at Thin Time. Her task is to bring back the New Year seeds before midnight and prevent the world from dying. With her small stepbrother Thomas, Ratatosk the squirrel who can’t be trusted, and Fymm by her side, she sets out on her dangerous quest. Using the skipping rhyme password to enter the door into the Tree of Life, she travels into the Other World. With the help of the singing cockerel from Tong’s church tower, and armed only with a stone and a gargoyle’s shield, she must face the three terrible Sisters at the Well of Wyrd and the fury of Nidhogg the Snake-Dragon. But does she possess the one thing that will protect her – a loving heart? For without that, she will never be able to return to her own time, and the treasure, whatever it may be, will never be hers.


Fifteen - Knitting Frog Skins at the Well of Wyrd
The three sister’s clothes were twisted layers of dripping pondweed. Long ribbons of frogspawn hung round their wrinkled faces. They were knitting strips of wet frog skin on clacking fish-bone needles. I shuddered because the heaps of skins at their feet were wriggling and trying to crawl away.
 ‘The Three Sisters of the Well of Wyrd,’ whispered Fymm, settling beside me and pointing at the women sitting on the wall. ‘They are the Guardians of all the knowledge in the world. It is knowledge written in magic symbols on stones at the bottom of the well. Go on, Task Bearer. Speak to the sisters. Ask them to read the runes and to tell you where to find the seeds. Be quick, there can only be an hour or two left before midnight. Thin Time will soon be over.’
 ‘You ask them,’ I said angrily. ‘They are horrible. Why must it always be me?’
 Fymm growled under his breath and I backed away, trying to keep clear of his snapping teeth, and not looking where I was going, stumbled into the clearing.     
 The three sisters saw me, stopped knitting, and stared at me through strands of frogspawn hair. Their silvery, fish-scale skins glittered in the moonlight, and on the sides of their necks were gill slits that flapped as they breathed.
 They looked so alike it was impossible to tell one from another, and I stared at them in horror. There were bubbling watery sounds coming from their throats and they chanted, ‘Go away, go away, GO AWAY!Waving their strips of frog skin knitting at me, I saw the leathery skins on their needles lift their heads, their bulging frog throats croaking like kettledrums. 

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3. Jane Austen Knits

Have I ever mentioned before that I knit? I don’t knit as much as I used to, mostly because I have tendonitis in my wrist and if I am not careful I can very easily make it flare up and give me all kinds of unhappy pain. But I still knit, if only for short periods of time at sometimes widely spaced intervals. In spite of the fact that I don’t knit a lot, I still enjoy reading knitting magazines and collecting patterns for things I will very likely never make. But that doesn’t matter really because I get great pleasure in imagining the whole project.

Recently I was perusing the latest issue of a knitting magazine I borrow electronically from my public library and saw an advertisement for a book called The Best of Jane Austen Knits. Whaaa? Of course I immediately checked to see if my library had it and they do. Yay Hennepin County Library! I love you so very much!

The book has patterns for 27 “regency inspired designs.” That translates to lots of shawls and shrugs. But there are a few cardigans, a couple of bags, some baby clothes, a tea cozy, some elbow-length gloves, some super-cute stockings, and a few other items. I can’t imagine Austen herself wearing any of them, maybe the stockings, or her heroines, but the idea is still fun. There are a few of the shawl designs I like very much from a filmy lace to a solid cute number that is long and designed to wrap over the shoulders and tie behind the waist. And did I mention the stockings? They are just below the knee and have a pretty lace and heart pattern up the side and are held up by a satin ribbon.

There is also a “loyalty and pin ball.” These were popular projects to make and give to friends (so the book says). They have a medallion-like motif on each side. It is stuffed and sewn together and trimmed with a ribbon or twisted rope. It is made with a very fine cotton and calls for size 0000 (1.25mm) needles. I have used size 1 (2.25mm) needles before but nothing that small. It seems like it would be something really fun to try. I promise if I manage one I will take a photo to share.

For all you bookish knitters out there, I recommend you take a look at this book. It’s got some super-fun patterns in it.

Do any of you have some favorite literature-inspired knitting patterns to recommend?


Filed under: Books, Jane Austen Tagged: Knitting

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4. Cybils Scarf Knitting

As you know, I was a second-round Cybils judge this year in YA Nonfiction. To help me prepare, and to have fun arm-chairing the first-round panelists, I read several of the nominations when the first-round was reading them, too.

And, while I was reading, I knit a scarf.




It is warm and cozy and can also be worn as a loose hood to keep my ears warm while not messing up my hair.

It also can cover large portions of my face when the weather requires!





The pattern isn't 100% exact, but if you want to knit one too, here's the general recipe. The actual knitting is pretty easy, but you have to be able to do it while reading. (Knitting while reading is my superpower. It got me through college--the knitting kept me awake while reading boring articles, and if that wasn't enough, I could randomly stab myself with a needle to help me perk up.)

Gather a few colors of yarn in a similar weight.
For this scarf, I used a KnitPicks lace sampler that had been sitting in my stash forever. It's a mix of their various lace-weight yarns, a total of 5 colors.

Find a gauge that gives a nice drape, but is tight enough to still be warm
For me, that was 5 stitches/inch on a size 3 needle.

Cast on 60 inches worth of stitches
So... 300 for me. BUT I did not take into account that, when worn, the weight would stretch it, so it's a lot longer than I intended, so I can loop it 3 times instead of 2.

Join round, being careful not to twist stitches, mark beginning of round
I totally twisted my stitches. :(

Knit in the round while reading your first book
Yes, you have to read and knit at the same time.

When you finish your book, break yarn, join next color
Don't worry about finishing the round. I used a split splice so I wouldn't have to weave in any ends. As you're striping, you can't really tell where the yarns overlap in the finished project.

Purl in the round (reverse stockinette stitch) in the round while reading your next book

Repeat in this way until you've read all your books or are running out of yarn.
I ran out of yarn. Some books were read more than once (especially on the short list) so they have multiple stripes.

Finish final round, bind off in pattern

Lightly steam block
One of the things that makes it so cozy is that the changing between stockinette and reverse stockinette make it bunch up, so it's even more extra warm!


Here's a close up of my striping pattern:



One stripe is not a full round long. Nonfiction lends itself to this, as the books tend to be a size where they stay open nicely on their own. A stapler across the top of the pages also works well to hold it open. If you're working with longer books, you can also switch every chapter or reading/knitting session. I kinda want to do one that is smaller (so it'll just be a cowl, no looping) in shades of dark gray/black with the stories in one of the City Noir books.

Also, just to brag, here's the vintage WWI poster you can see in the edge of the frame:




Links to Amazon are an affiliate link. You can help support Biblio File by purchasing any item (not just the one linked to!) through these links. Read my full disclosure statement.

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5. rolling over

Here's another one for the knitters. As I said in my last post, I have been doing some design work for a knitting/wool/yarn centre. This was the finished design for their leaflets, website, promo, etc. I'm really pleased with how it turned out. And, I don't often say that.

The exquisite wools made such a gorgeous subject. The colours were just lush. Plus, I love pattern making which is probably why I enjoyed it so much. You can get your mits on this original, as it's up for sale HERE.

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6. all my colours turn to clouds

I've been doing a little design work for a wool/knitting/crocheting centre recently. It took a few attempts to come up with a design that both the client and I were happy with and agreed on. This was one of the earlier attempts and the original is up for sale HERE. yes, I really really need a new phone (see last blog post).

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7. HAT WEEK: Happy Birthday, Madame Chapeau and David Roberts’ previous life as a milliner

What’s a life without love, even if that love is a bit wonky and not quite what you expected?

1403988049Madame Chapeau, the latest creation from the finely paired team of Andrea Beaty and David Roberts, does her best to send little flights of joy and love out into the world, by making hats that perfectly match each of her clients. She’s imaginative, attentive and playful with what she creates, and her customers are delighted. However, poor Madame Chapeau lives alone. There clearly once was someone important in her life, but now, on her birthday she is left dining without close company.

What makes it even harder to bear is that her most treasured hat has been lost en route to her solo birthday meal. Passers-by try to help by offering their own hats to Madame Chapeau, and although their kindness is appreciated. nothing is quite right.

But then up steps a secret admirer, who has been watching Madame Chapeau for some time. A young girl, clearly fascinated by the hats Madame Chapeau creates, offers the milliner a little something she has been working on. It’s rather odd, but this gift has been made with much love and turns out to be the best sort of birthday present Mme Chapeau could have wished for. A new friendship is formed and – one suspects – a new hat maker begins her training.

Detail from Happy Birthday, Madam Chapeau. Note the hat that Madame Chapeau is wearing and compare it with the hat in the photo below of David Roberts' mum.

Detail from Happy Birthday, Madam Chapeau. Note the hat that Madame Chapeau is wearing and compare it with the hat in the photo below of David Roberts’ mum.

This is a whimsical and charming book which celebrates creativity, generosity and thoughtfulness from start to finish. Beaty’s rhyming text tells a heart-warming tale, but Roberts’ detailed and exuberant illustrations steal the show. With lots of famous hats to spot (look out for Princess Beatrice’s hat, for example, or Charlie Chaplin’s Derby) and fabulous fashion, food and architectural details to pour over, this book rewards repeated readings. Happy Birthday Madame Chapeau is a joyous, life-affirming read and if that isn’t enough of a reason to seek it out, do read Maria Popova’s commentary on the subtle message this book has about diversity and cultural stereotypes.

We brought Happy Birthday, Madame Chapeau to life by customizing our own hats with pom-poms (these play an important role in the book).

chapeau1

Beanie type hats, plus some colourful craft pompoms make for some enjoyably silly headgear – perfect as winter approaches ;-)

chapeau2

chapeau3

I wonder what David Roberts would make of our hats? I ask this because it turns out he was himself a milliner before he became an illustrator. From a young age he had an interest in fashion, making clothes for his sister and her dolls, before going on to study fashion design at college. From this, a special love and skill with hats grew – a love and eye that can clearly be seen in his Madame Chapeau illustrations. I asked David if he would share a little about his love of hats, how it developed and what he finds so enjoyable about making hats. Here’s what he had to say:-

One of the first hats David Roberts made  - for The Clothes Show competition in 1993.

One of the first hats David Roberts made – for The Clothes Show competition in 1993.

“As a kid I was fascinated by Mrs Shilling, and the hats her son David made that she wore to Ascot. They were so theatrical that it would make the news! I loved how she wore these amazing and often bizarre creations with such style and elegance – even if the hat was ridiculous she never looked ridiculous in it.”

David Shilling with his mother Gertrude Shilling. Photo: Sidney Harris

“So when I had the option to do a course in millinery while studying for a degree in fashion design at Manchester Polytechnic, I jumped at the chance, and from then on I was hooked.”

David Roberts' sister in the hat he made her for her wedding day.

David Roberts’ sister in the hat he made her for her wedding day.

“I love the sculptural aspect of millinery; a hat can be so individual, so singular, a one off. It’s so exciting to have all your elements to create a hat, cloth, wire, glue, buckram, feathers, beads, tulle, net and just let something evolve in your hands. It can turn in to anything really – an abstract shape or something natural like a plant or a flower.”

Stephen Jones, surrounded by some of his hat creations, London, circa 1985. Photo: Christopher Pillitz

“I worked for Stephen Jones for 5 years make his couture hats , where I learned so many skills. And although I loved making his imaginative creations, I stared to realise that I wanted to try my hand at illustrating children’s books – the other great passion in my life.”

This hat is one David Roberts made for his partner Chris (modelling it here). David used this as one of the hats in Madame Chapeau's shop.

This hat is one David Roberts made for his partner Chris (modelling it here). Do look out for it in Madame Chapeau’s shop!

“I am glad I made the step in to illustration, but I do still love to get the wire and beads and feathers out to make a hat once in a while. Madame Chapeau came about when the author Andrea Beaty heard that I had once been a milliner: She wrote the text for me and sent it from Chicago in a hat box! I was utterly captivated by it and enjoyed illustrating it and indulging myself once more in the wonderful world of millinery.”

This is the hat David Roberts gave to Madame Chapeau to wear. It is one David made for his mum to wear at his sister's wedding.

This is the hat David Roberts gave to Madame Chapeau to wear. It is one David made for his mum to wear at his sister’s wedding.

My enormous thanks to David for sharing some of his millinery background with us today. His passion for hats shines through in his gorgeous illustrations for Happy Birthday, Madame Chapeau. Don’t take my word for it – go and find a copy to enjoy yourselves!

3 Comments on HAT WEEK: Happy Birthday, Madame Chapeau and David Roberts’ previous life as a milliner, last added: 10/30/2014
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8. More herbs, good news, and some knitting

I was tempted by some more herbs - Bay Leaves and Oregano. So I did drawings of both. I am really enjoying doing these. I like the size (5" x 7"), and the soothing quality of the subject matter. And they smell nice!

Fresh Bay Leaves



Fresh Oregano


I used Polychromo colored pencils on Fabriano Artistico paper for the whole series. I thought it was important to have them all look and feel the same.
Prints, and some of the originals, are available in my shop.

I'll be doing notecards too, but have hit a minor snag. The nice card stock I ordered won't go through my Epson printer - boo. I can't figure out why, since I have other card stock that's, to my eye and hand, the exact same weight, which goes through fine. It must be something in the finish. Whatever it is, the printer either refuses to take the paper and flashes lights and has a fit, or just spits it through un-printed, then prints the image on the sheet of cheap bond that's queued up behind it. Baah! So I will now have to make lemonade somehow out of this batch of lemons (250 sheets of it!), which I think may end up being hand made knitted cards or something. I'm sure I'll figure something out. Meanwhile, I have to find more of the paper I already have that the printer does like, which will go with the envelopes . . . oh, the trials and tribulations of being a 'do-it-yourself' art maker and etsy shop owner!


In happier news, I just found out that two of my pieces have been accepted into the UArt Open 2014 art show! Berry Tart, and Molasses Cookie will be going in to be framed tomorrow, so I can meet the final 'deliver the art' deadline. I'm pretty happy. This is a nice regional art show sponsored by University Art. The art will all be on display in their Redwood City store. Both of these pieces were done with colored pencils on paper.


Berry Tart


Molasses Cookie



And then, you know (or do you?) that I also do a bit of knitting, and have a little shop on etsy here
I was excited to learn that someone who bought several pieces last week will be using them in a production of "Annie" in New York! (no, not on Broadway, but still)

These are some of the pieces that will be in the show:




There was a little bit of drama with the post office not getting them there when they were supposed to - I paid extra to get them there overnight, but they didn't, and whoever was in charge of the package didn't think it was important to scan in any tracking info for a whole day, so we were dying a little, wondering where everything went! But then they got there the next day, in time for the show, so phew.

I'm doing some more knitting, trying to get a few more things in the shop for the holidays. Now its actually starting to be real knitting weather (well, actually it was 103 here again this past weekend, but its September at least, and the cool crisp weather will be starting soon - I hope!) 

I also have a 'Fall' illustration piece on the board that started out being done with watercolors, which may now be started over with colored pencils. Its funny - I've been doing so much colored pencil work that going back to painting feels awkward to me. I will of course share when its finished, whatever medium it ends up being done with.



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9. The Scourge of Upside Down Knitting

KidsKnit The Scourge of Upside Down KnittingWhen you grow up with a mother who is a knitter, there are certain facts in life that you simply have to accept.  Knitting all the time, everywhere, is the norm.  A bookshelf full of different kinds of yarn is not weird.  Fiber Fests are de rigeur and knowing the difference between a gossip wheel and a walking wheel (when talking spinning wheels) is par for the course.  Don’t even get me started on drop spindles and dying wool with Kool-Aid.  Not that I ever took to the craft myself.  Maybe it was just so prevalent in my home that I never felt the necessity to learn.  Also, why learn to knit when my children are amply provided for, not just by my always knitting mama, but by her friends and my knit-worthy co-workers as well (Alison Hendon shout out!)?

My mom, as it happens, is heavily involved in the knitting blogger community as a commenter.  I have honest-to-gosh had people say to me, “I saw that someone called Rams commented on your blog.  Is that the same Rams as the one on Ravelry?”  Mom be famous.  And like all knitters, she pays attention to how they are portrayed in children’s literature.

In a recent Harper Collins post the comment section suddenly got very interested in the subject of books in which knitting is accurately represented.  The talk started bring up book after book, so that I suddenly had the idea for this post.  You see, the portrayal of knitting by illustrators is very touch and go.  Artists are not particularly thrilled by the notion of the ends of knitting needles going down, in spite of the fact that that’s how one actually knits.  So as often as not you’ll see an image like this with the ends up:

LesterSweaters3 The Scourge of Upside Down Knitting

Note the knitting needles to the right.

Rather than this:

KnitYourBit The Scourge of Upside Down Knitting

Not sure what their fingers are supposed to be doing here, but at least the needles are down.

Here then, are a couple of our favorite artists, answering the “Does the illustrator care how to hold knitting needles?” question.  The answers may surprise you.

DOES THE ILLUSTRATOR CARE HOW ONE HOLDS KNITTING NEEDLES?

Penguin in Love by Salina Yoon – YES!

PenguinLove The Scourge of Upside Down Knitting

You’ll find that for some of these books I don’t have images of the knitters knitting, so you’ll just have to take my word for it.  A penguin is naturally going to have some difficulty knitting since it is without phalanges, but in spite of this impediment Yoon’s flightless waterfowl still knows the proper way to hold its needles.

Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett, ill. Jon Klassen – NO

ExtraYarn 500x220 The Scourge of Upside Down Knitting

When the Caldecott committee sat down and considered Barnett and Klassen’s fabulous book for an Honor, did the fact that its heroine didn’t know how to hold knitting needles ever come up?  Was there a knitter on the committee?  Or did they feel that in light of the lovely art and great storytelling that this wasn’t an issue?  It’s surprising, certainly, to find that for all his talent and charms, Mr. Barnett is unaware of how one knits.  However, knowing knitters I suspect he has been informed of this misdeed more than once, and shall continue to be told for years to come.

Swamp Angel by Anne Isaacs, ill. Paul O. Zelinsky – YES!

SwampAngel The Scourge of Upside Down Knitting

Interesting, is it not, that I can find images of people knitting incorrectly but never correctly?  What does that say, I wonder, about the state of knitting today?  If you know Zelinsky then you know he is meticulous in his research.  If someone is, say, spinning straw into gold as in his Rumpelstiltskin, then doggone it he’s going to create the world’s most accurate spinning wheel.  And if Swamp Angel is going to knit something gigantic using (as I recall) trees for needles then you can BET Paul will make that image as correct as he can.  Other award winning artists take note.

The Hueys in the New Sweater by Oliver Jeffers -NO

Hueys 500x337 The Scourge of Upside Down Knitting

Nope.  Not even close.  Repeated several times over in the same book, too.

Nana in the City by Lauren Castillo – YES!

NanaCity The Scourge of Upside Down Knitting

This one’s not out yet, but when it is you’ll have a chance to see some truly keen knitting on the part of Nana here.  Castillo, one suspects, actually knows from whence she draws.  Well done!

Lester’s Dreadful Sweaters by K.G. Campbell – NO

LesterSweaters4 The Scourge of Upside Down Knitting

This one breaks my heart because I was a BIG fan of this book when it came out.  It’s delightful.  It just doesn’t know how to portray the act of knitting.  Doggone it.

Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword by Barry Deutsch – YES!

Hereville sequence The Scourge of Upside Down Knitting

A rare graphic novel where knitting is not only important but the climax of the book hinges on it.  And you can BET that when it came to knitting, Barry studied precisely where the fingers are supposed to go.

This begs the question: Is it possible to knit with the ends of the needles pointed high to the sky?  I leave that to the knitters to answer.  In the meantime, what are some of your favorite knitting books for the kiddos?  How did those needles fare?  High to the sky or low and proud?

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10. Made by Raffi by Craig Pomranz & Margaret Chamberlain & other knitting picture books

Indulge me: Have a quick brainstorm about picture books you know for young kids which explore what it feels like to be different?

[Go on! Play the game!]
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.
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Of those you’ve come up with, how many are about emotions rather than physical characteristics?

How many of them feature humans rather than animals?

How many of them have a boy lead character rather than a girl?

[I came up with very few, and even then I needed help from the ever resourceful and generous Letterbox Library. Between us we came up with Oliver by Birgitta Sif, Eliot Jones, Midnight Superhero by Anne Cottringer and Alex T Smith, Weslandia by Paul Fleischman and Kevin Hawkes but that was pretty much it.]

raffifrontcoverSo when Made by Raffi written by Craig Pomranz, illustrated by Margaret Chamberlain (@madgiemadge) appeared in my hands for the first time I sat up and noticed; it’s about a boy who feels he doesn’t quite fit in, for instead of football, his passion is knitting and sewing.

Although he’s a curious and generous kid, he feels sidelined at school. Unlike most of his classmates, he doesn’t like noise and rough play. But thanks to a supportive teacher he discovers a new passion – making his own clothes. When it is time for the school play could this new skill help him gain the respect of his peers? Without giving the game away, the ending is upbeat, but also authentic. This isn’t a sugar-coated story. (For the really interesting background to the story, take a look at this article).

This book deserves to be in every school and read in every family for a whole plethora of reasons. It’s bold, tackling gender issues that many adults might skirt around: I love Pomranz daring to use the word “girly“, and it certainly helped us talk about how being a girl interested in ‘boys’ things’ is often more accepted by society than a boy interested in ‘girls’ things’. It’s big hearted; not just the warm, loving family Raffi is part of, but also his supportive school. It shows all sorts of children playing together, with different skin colours and different physical abilities, as well as different interests. It’s a joyously inclusive book, which tackles big themes gently and playfully.

raffiinside

Margaret Chamberlain’s illustrations are delightful. She uses colour very cleverly to portray moods and to mirror how much more interesting – indeed colourful – the world is for a diverse range of characters; wouldn’t the world be a dull grey place if we all liked only the same things?

A book about loneliness, respect, difference, and learning to trust your instincts even when it means you don’t follow the crowd, Made by Raffi is a vital, delightful and unusual book I urge you to share.

M and J were recently shown how to knit by their Grandma, and reading Made by Raffi offered the ideal opportunity to practice their recently acquired skills. (Here are some Youtube tutorials we found helpful to refresh our memories of what Granny had taught us: Casting on, knit stitch, casting off.

knitting2

knitting1

Having a ball of wool with lots of different colours on it was an effective tool in motivating the kids; each child would knit one or two colours and then hand the needles and ball over to the other. It gave them easy targets to aim for, and I’m sure this is partly why they completed a long scarf far more quickly than I was expecting.

completedscarf

Whilst knitting we’ve been listening to:

  • Lots of songs by Raffi (an Egyptian-born Canadian singer-songwriter who creates great kid-friendly music), – here’s a whole playlist on youtube.
  • The Knitting Song by Bill Oddie
  • Knitting by Arthur Askey. Massively old fashioned but a great rumble through all sorts of stitches and garments.

  • Other activities which would go well with reading Made by Raffi include:

  • Learning to finger knit. Here’s the youtube video we used to learn how to fingerknit.
  • Letting the kids embellish their own clothing. I found this the easiest/most satisfying way to let the kids have a go at making something themselves – they chose buttons they liked and sewed them onto a couple of pieces of clothing. Simple sewing but with a relatively big (and ‘real’) result.
  • Making a cloak as described in the story. Alternatively, if you can find a department store selling off curtain samples (eg in John Lewis or House of Fraser), you can pick up pretty much prepared cloaks – all you need to do is add something (eg a large hook and eye) so you can have the cloak safely stay on your shoulders as you zoom around wearing it.
  • If in a school or a library setting, making a display with images of clothes designed by men (Galliano, Versace, Gaultier for example, cut out from glossy magazines) and as the centre pieces place Made by Raffi and The Boy in the Dress by David Walliams. Whilst not for primary school kids, I’d also encourage you to read Boys Don’t Knit by T.S.Easton, a hilarious take on a teenage boy who loves to knit. Ben Fletcher and Raffi would definitely like to meet each other!

  • Other picture /illustrated books which feature knitting include:

  • Socks for supper by Jack Kent
  • Knitting Nell by Julie Jersild Roth
  • Mr. Nick’s knitting by Margaret Wild and Dee Huxley
  • Shall I knit you a hat? : a Christmas yarn by Kate Klise and M Sarah Klise
  • Derek, the knitting dinosaur by Mary Blackwood and Kerry Argent
  • Annie Hoot and the knitting extravaganza by Holly Clifton-Brown
  • Mrs. McDockerty’s knitting by Ruth Martinez and Catherine O’Neill
  • Noodle’s knitting by Sheryl Webster and Caroline Pedler
  • The knitting of Elizabeth Amelia by Patricia Lee Gauch and Barbara Lavallee
  • Knitty Kitty by David Elliott and Christopher Denise
  • The truly terribly horrible sweater that Grandma knit by Debbie Macomber, Mary Lou Carney and Vincent Nguyen
  • Carrie measures up! by Linda Williams Aber and Joy Allen
  • knittingpicbooks1

  • Pa Jinglebob, the fastest knitter in the West by Mary Arrigan and Korky Paul
  • Pa Jinglebob and the Grabble Gang by Mary Arrigan and Korky Paul
  • The best little knitter in the West by Sermsah Bin Saad and Samantha Cook
  • The three billy goats Fluff by Rachael Mortimer and Liz Pichon
  • The long red scarf by Nette Hilton and Margaret Power
  • It’s gone, Jac! by Rob Lewis
  • A winter’s yarn by Kathleen Cook Waldron and Deborah Turney Zagwyn
  • Love from Woolly : a lift-the-flap book of woolly gifts by Nina Michaels and Nicola Smee
  • Pelle’s New Suit by Elsa Beskow
  • Milo Armadillo by Jan Fearnley
  • knittingpicbooks2

    If you like the sound of Made by Raffi and are anywhere near Edinburgh in August, don’t miss the chance to meet author Craig Pomranz talking about his book as part of the Edinburgh Book Festival.

    Disclosure: I received a free review copy of this book from the publishers.

    3 Comments on Made by Raffi by Craig Pomranz & Margaret Chamberlain & other knitting picture books, last added: 7/2/2014
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    11. freeform fibers

    This class was kind of funny too. I came up with the idea with older kids in mind, but the way it worked out we were a group of 6-9 year old's.  I had had great plans of room size fiber installations and free form crochet/knit/weaving projects, but for these smaller people we took it down a notch.

     These snakes were knit on an oversized "knitting Nancy". Although a few of the kids grumbled a bit about the time it took to make them, as soon as the eyes and tongues were added they were in love.

    The girl faces were embroidered on a hoop, then hand sewn into  little pillows and stuffed.
    By the end of the week everyone's patience and attention span had magically expanded and they were crocheting fools. (picture of the "magic tree" installation to follow later)

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    12. K is for Knitting in Vogue

    Knitting in Vogue by Christina Probert, a collection of vintage knitting patterns from 1932 to 1979, is a keeper for a single reason: I live in hope.

    In all the years I've owned the book, purchasing it in San Francisco and hauling it from one side of the country to the other more than once, I have only knitted one garment from the entire text. And that was a very easy 1950s ski sweater that didn't even have long sleeves. But I have plans, I tell you, plans.

    One day when I'm not writing/painting/cooking/reading/sleeping,  I will make:

    Thick Tri-colour Windjammer
    Diagonal Pattern Shirt Blouse
    Twisted Rib Sweater and Scarf (sounds a bit painful)
    Shetland Honeycomb Pattern Sweater

    And my absolute favorite: 

    Butterfly and Moss Stitch Jacket

    That's just for starters. I've got the book, I've got the needles, now all I need is the time. Anybody got some extra to spare? No, I didn't think so. Oh, well. See you on Monday with the letter "L." Happy weekend!

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    13. Sweaters for Penguins


    The internet is all abuzz about knitting sweaters for penguins. Snopes.com first said it wasn't true, but now they're showing uncertainty. As a children's book illustrator, I can just use the story as a jumping off point for a sketch. Lucky me. What could be cuter than penguins in sweaters?

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    14. Knit Your Bit: A World War I Story by Deborah Hopkinson, illustrated by Steven Guarnaccia

    When I was 10 years old, I was diligently knitting away at a mitten when I realized I had made a mistake.  Imagine my surprise when my dad sat down beside me, took my knitting and fixed my mistake.  Turns out, my dad knew how to knit rather well.*

    So, I knew I wanted to read Knit Your Bit the moment I first heard about it.  The United States had entered World War I in April 1917, and lots of men rushed to enlist, leaving their families behind.  This is true for young Mikey, whose Pop is also a soldier and who has just shipped off to fight overseas in Europe.  Mikey is very frustrated that he has to stay home and can't do something big and important to help the war effort, too.  Nevertheless, he turns up his nose when his mother asks if he would like to learn to knit for the soldiers along with his sister.  Mikey turns the offer down, because, well, boys don't knit!

    But when his teacher announces that there will be a three-day Knitting Bee in Central Park to make hats, socks and scarves for US servicemen overseas, Mikey is challenged by a girl to learn to knit and participate - boys against the girls.  And so it is settled - the Boys' Knitting Brigade vs. the Purl Girls.

    The only problem is - knitting isn't quite as easy as the boys thought it would be.  Yet, they soon master knit, and then it is on to purl.  Mikey works on socks, friend Nick on a muffler and Dan works mostly on tangling and untangling his yarn.

    The first day of the Knitting Bee finally arrives and there are lots of people participating - men, women, girls and, yes, even other boys.  And there's also lots of food, a band and before they all know it, it is time to cast on.

    As Mikey does his best trying to knit a pair socks, he learns a mighty important lesson from a disabled soldier about what it really means to do something big and important to help the war effort and the brave soldiers overseas.  But who wins the challenge? The Boys' Knitting Brigade or the Purl Girls?

    Knit Your Bit  is based on a three-day knitting bee held in Central Park in August 1918 and sponsored by the Navy League Comforts Committee.  It is a heartwarming story that might even bring a tear or two to your eyes.  Hopkinson has seamlessly woven in Mikey's story with this event to produce a wonderful story that shows that sometimes what counts it isn't how well you do something, rather what counts is doing something out of your comfort zone, doing your best and doing it in the right spirit.  Wonderfully humorous pen, ink and watercolor illustrations by Steven Guarnaccia add much to the enjoyment of Knit Your Bit.  The lines are clean and simple, yet delightfully expressive, and I really liked how they reflect the clothing of the period.

    Hopeinson has provided lots of back matter including a Red Cross knitting poster from WWI, an Author's Note which you should be sure to read all about the real Knitting Bee and sources for more information.

    Though this is a story that all will enjoy, sending gifts to loved ones fighting in a war is long held tradition and for that reason, I think Mikey's story will particularly  resonate for readers in today's world, especially those who have or know someone who has a relative deployed overseas.

    This book is recommended for readers age 7+
    This book was sent to me by the publisher as part of a Knit Your Bit Blog Tour.
    For other stops on the blog tour, be sure to visit Deborah Hopkinson's blog.

    And guess what?  You can still Knit Your Bit.
    All you have to do is visit The National WWII Museum to download patterns and learn how to participate.  Your knitted scarves will be sent to veterans all over the country.

    Want to know more?  HistoryLink.org has a wonderfully detailed essay on Knitting for Victory - World War I, complete with photographs, posters and even an ad.

    I always like to look up these kinds of historical events in the New York Times and sure enough, here is the article announcing the results after three days of knitting:



    *Oh, and my dad the knitter - poor guy was in his fifties when I was born, so yes, he knitted as a young boy for WWI.

    4 Comments on Knit Your Bit: A World War I Story by Deborah Hopkinson, illustrated by Steven Guarnaccia, last added: 2/26/2013
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    15. Botanical Knits

    I recently finished working with Alana Dakos on her newest book, "Botanical Knits." The patterns are inspired from plants, trees, leaves, etc. I love the designs (as always when looking at Alana's stuff) and once again wish I had the physical dexterity to knit. 



    Working with Alana (see also "Coastal Knits" and "Annie and the Swiss Cheese Scarf") is really great because there is a lot of room for exploration. For example, she gave me several photos of her knits...


    ...along with images that inspired her to create the patterns. Then essentially said, "here is what I created, now you create something." So I did.





    If you have the book you could play a fun "Where's Waldo" trying to find where some of the illustrations ended up. The interesting thing for me is to see what made it into the book (of course not all do) and where. 

    Alana also asked me to design the title. Always a fun challenge. She wanted something natural, rustic, with tall letters, almost like they are growing. So here are some examples I came up with.




    But ultimately this style was the winner (see above cover).





    Another interesting request was for the resource page. She knitted little leaves out of the fabric she used for the knits in the book, and used those as reference for where she got the yarn. Photos of the knitted leaves were eventually placed onto an illustration of a tree branch. You can get an idea for it from the color studies. You will have to buy the book to see how it all really comes together.  :)


    Thumbnails.

    Color Studies.

    Final Illustration.



     That's it! Thanks for reading.

    2 Comments on Botanical Knits, last added: 2/24/2013
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    16. Wool

    wool_RobertaBaird

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Ethel was always a little bit different than the other sheep.

    0 Comments on Wool as of 2/16/2013 9:23:00 PM
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    17. The Knit Spot (6)


    The Knit Spot features characters spotted knitting in books.

    This week we feature the "aunt farm" from 

    I'm not certain if this is a picture book (a little scary and complex for that) or a graphic novel (maybe a graphic novelette?) but what I am sure of is that it's awesome and funny. I love these little "aunts" who knit and bake but never really farm. There's also another Aunt in the story who knits everything. I love it!



    You can find Curiosities on Mike & Victoria's site, Extracurricular Activities.




    1 Comments on The Knit Spot (6), last added: 2/10/2013
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    18. Needles and Pins

    firstsewingproject

    Rilla found a Winky Cherry beginner sewing kit on the shelf—one of those things I’ve had stashed for ages and forgot we owned. I used to feel pangs of guilt over forgotten acquisitions, but they so often seem to turn up at exactly the right moment, such a nice surprise. She’s busily stitching away and I look forward to a menagerie of felt critters in the days ahead. Felt is the nicest thing for a beginner, don’t you think? For both sewing or embroidery. No hemming required, overstitch looks lovely, it’s stiff enough not to need an embroidery hoop (for small pieces, at least), and no matter what you do it always looks cozy and cheerful. I love Felt Wee Folk and Doodle Stitching for ideas.

    I had all sorts of little stitchery projects going before Huck was born (a mere four years ago), but I put everything aside when he came along and haven’t returned to it since. (To my chagrin: I still owe a couple of quilt blocks to certain VERY UNDERSTANDING members of my virtual sewing circle, and I never even sent out my own fabric for them to magic into something wonderful. IT’S STILL ON MY LIST OF THINGS TO DO, THOUGH.) (I’m shouting at myself.)

    We had planned to go to the zoo today to celebrate Beanie’s 12th (TWELFTH!!!!) birthday, but the rain foiled our plans. Perhaps next week. Among all the other delights of the zoo, I want to give Rilla and Huck a chance to pet a real sheep, feel the lanolin in its wool, for a little sheep-to-yarn rabbit trail I’ve planned for Rilla, who got knitting needles for Christmas. With pink cats on the ends! And how’s this for incentive to pick up my own needles: I was sent a KnitCrate package to review for my subscription-box series at GeekMom—it’s loverly. The two yarns they included are to swoon for. I’ll let you know when that post goes up, probably next week.

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    19.

    Chicanas Making Art, Making Story

    By Amelia M.L. Montes

    Reporting from two places this week: San Antonio, Tejas and Lincoln, Nebraska. This past week-- in San Antonio, Tejas, I was very lucky to spend a late afternoon/evening in Chicana writer Dr. Norma Cantu’s graduate seminar at the University of Texas, San Antonio (UTSA). What an animated, smart, passionate group of graduate students. Orale! We were all quite involved with the discussion on Cherrie Moraga’s new book, A Chicana Codex of Changing Consciousness.

    A Chicana Codex of Changing Consciousness

    While various ideas and perspectives were expressed, my eyes kept focusing on the swift-moving hand gestures to the right of the table (note the picture below). Those hands are Rita Urquijo-Ruiz’s hands: knitting!

    Dr. Norma Elia Cantu (Chicana author of Canicula and countless edited books) —leading her graduate seminar at UTSA. Notice Rita Urquijo-Ruiz’s quick knitting hands on the right-hand side of the table.

    Chicana academic and performance artist, Rita Urquijo-Ruiz was knitting a gorgeous brown winter scarf during the entire graduate seminar while also contributing brilliantly to the discussion. She, like me, was a guest that night. I had brought my writing materials. She brought her knitting loom and yarn. I kept watching Rita’s fingers move up and down the loom while students quoted, argued with, questioned Moraga’s words. <

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    20. Lazy knitting success

    The first two blogs I ever started reading regularly werebased around knitting and yarn (yarnstorm and needled) - I still read them regularly and am still amazed by just how much the authors are able to create. I’d love to write a knitting blog but my postswould be few and far between as it takes me so long to complete a project. Starting new projects is my favourite part – I love choosing the yarn, finding a pattern, casting on (and then usually ripping and casting on againand again as I get to grips with the pattern). I hate all the boring stuff likesewing up or winding wool (hence my yarn looks like this and I waste lots oftime sorting out tangles…).


    The space under my bed is not only stashed with yarnbut also half (and not even half) completed projects – the crochetedbedspread, a Noro silk wavy bed-runner, a stripy Kidsilk Haze scarf, atank-top in Rowan 4-ply). Anyway, there’s cause for celebration in SW15 becauseI have finally finished something! And I’m rather pleased with it.


    In fact, I'm so pleased with it I reinvigorated my defunct Ravelry account and posted about it there (come say hello, I'm HannahHHBB - Ravelry has changed so much since I was last on it, I need someone to show me around!). 

    Anyway, back to the cushion...I bought tons of this lovely Malabrigo 'worsted' pure merino yarn at a discount when a local, very upmarketyarn shop closed down. I meant to make a jumper for myself but after gazing atthe crotcheted cushions in Laura Ashley, I had the inevitable ‘I could knitthat myself…’ thought. And so I did, though I daresay it would have been a lotquicker (and cheaper) if I’d just bought the cushion. 

    There arelots of patterns for cable cushions around but I made this up as I wanted itto fit a 40 cm cushion (to use some cushion pads I already had) and incorporatedouble moss stitch, which is such a lovely nobbly feel and contrasts nicely withthe cable (and helps to distract from my uneven cabling!).

    11 Comments on Lazy knitting success, last added: 4/18/2012
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    21. Oops! Super-Sized Toddler Sweater

    You may remember this sweater and its issues. I started knitting it 5 years (!) ago in what I thought was size 4T for my then-2-year-old daughter. When I ran into problems with gauge, it went on the shelf until last fall, when Little Miss found it and begged me to finish it for her.

    Well, I finished it. Only, as you see, it fits me rather than my daughter. Guess the sizing was off even more than I thought!

    It’s the first sweater I’ve ever knitted, and even with the sizing craziness and various other flaws, I’m still pretty proud of it.

    My daughter has been a really good sport about it. She knows it’s hers as soon as she grows into it.

    I like the back the best:

    This sweater pattern (free on knitty.com) actually does come in an adult size version, but I’m glad I didn’t start with that, since I don’t think a husband-sized version would get used very often. I don’t fault the pattern, just my understanding of gauge.

    In other news, I’m combing through my photos from Spain to share with you soon, and next week I’m participating in Meg from elsiemarley‘s Kids Clothing Week Challenge, which is like a big online sewing-for-kids party.

    I haven’t been feeling very inspired about cooking lately (though I did have some awesome food in Spain which I’ll tell you about), so let me know if you’ve tried any great vegetable recipes lately. It’s just the beginning of white asparagus/ strawberry season here in Germany, so hopefully that will inspire me.

    Also, slogging away at revisions on my novel manuscript. Off to go slogging.


    6 Comments on Oops! Super-Sized Toddler Sweater, last added: 4/23/2012
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    22. Fusenews: Answer – The Horse

    The laptop of my infinite sadness continues to remain broken which wrecks a certain special kind of havoc with my gray cells.  To distract myself, I plunge headlong into the silliest news of the week.  Let’s see if there’s anything here to console a battered Bird brain (something tells me that didn’t come out sounding quite right…).

    • The best news of the day is that Matthew Kirby was the recent winner of the Edgar Award for Best Mystery in the juvenile category for his fabuloso book Icefall.  My sole regret is that it did not also win an Agatha Award for “traditional mystery” in the style of Agatha Christie.  Seems to me it was a shoo-in.  I mean, can you think of any other children’s book last year that had such clear elements of And Then There Were None?  Nope.  In any case, Rocco interviews the two winners (the YA category went to Dandi Daley Mackall) here and here.
    • It’s so nice when you find a series on Facebook and then discover it has a website or blog equivalent in the “real world” (howsoever you choose to define that term).  The Underground New York Public Library name may sound like it’s a reference to our one and only underground library (the Andrew Heiskell branch, in case you were curious) but it’s actually a street photography site showing what New Yorkers read on the subways.  Various Hunger Games titles have made appearances as has Black Heart by Holly Black and some other YA/kid titles.  Just a quick word of warning, though.  It’s oddly engaging.  You may find yourself flipping through the pages for hours.
    • A reprint of Roger Sutton’s 2010 Ezra Jack Keats Lecture from April 2011 has made its way online.  What Hath Harry Wrought? puts the Harry Potter phenomenon in perspective now that we’ve some distance.  And though I shudder to think that Love You Forever should get any credit for anything ever (growl grumble snarl raspberry) what Roger has to say here is worthy of discussion.
    • And in my totally-not-surprised-about-this department… From Cynopsis Kids:

    “Fox Animation acquires the feature film rights to the kid’s book The Hero’s Guide to Saving your Kingdom, per THR. A fairy tale mashup by first-time author by Christopher Healy and featuring illustrations by Todd Harris, revolves around the four princes from Cinderella, Snow White, Rapunzel and Sleeping Beauty. Chernin Entertainment (Rise of Planet of the Apes) is set to produce the movie. Walden Pond Press/HarperCollins Children’s Books release The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom (432 pages) today.”

    If y’all haven’t read The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your King

    9 Comments on Fusenews: Answer – The Horse, last added: 5/4/2012
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    23.

    I think the bad taste in my mouth is just about gone after that rejection of my (Olympic) Pretzel Rings art by Zazzle (see last post). Onto other,  non- unintentional intellectual property rights infringey pursuits! (How's that for a headache - let's just say, onto fresh art and other creative stuff.)



    I've signed up for a couple of free art webinars this next week, which you might be interested in too.

    ~~~~~~~~
    The first one is by the wonderful illustrator Carlyn Beccia. She's doing a webinar on how she creates her art with Corel Painter. Its Tuesday July 17th, 12-1 pm Eastern time (so, 9-10 Pacific ... can't help with any of you across the pond or anywhere else, sorry).

    I have Painter but haven't used it too much. I would like to learn more. Her art, and how she uses the program, are certainly inspiring!

    ~~~~~~~~~
    Next up is called "Designing E-books for the New Tablet Reality, Fighting Distraction and Delivering Quality".  I very much want to do some e-picturebooks, and need all the help and info I can get. 
    This one is on Thursday July 19th, 12:30-1:30 Eastern time (9:30-10:30 Pacific). 

    Be sure to read the system requirements for each of them before you sign up. (I'm so glad now to have an upgraded Mac, so I can listen in on these things.)

    ~~~~~~~~~
    The Colored Pencil Society of Canada has posted its 1st National Exhibition 2012 winners, here. Congratulations all of you! There's some beautiful work there.

    ~~~~~~~~
    Remember that colonial scene I was working on a few posts back? Well, I thought I had the drawing the way I wanted it, then slept on it, and decided it needed more. Lots more. So I started sketching in props, and a kitty and a mouse, and also reworked some of the figures and costumes. Again.


    click to see it bigger

    Back then it would have been very common to have a shotgun hanging on the wall over the fireplace, but I didn't that was a very friendly image to draw, authentic though it may be. So I've opted instead to draw homey objects and bits, like a coffee grinder, candlestick, iron, pots, a piece of needlework, etc. I figure no one really lived like the austere recreated rooms we see in books and at historic sites. Families have always had 'stuff' and some clutter, and shelves full of it all. Right? 
    So this is still a work in progress, in between other art projects

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    24. An interview, and thoughts about Fall

    I'm very honored to be featured this week on the wonderful blog, Lobster and Canary.




    Daniel Rabuzzi, the blog's author, emailed with all sorts of very flattering things to say about my Un-Still Life pieces, and asked if he could interview me. I blinked a few times and thought "Seriously? ME?" and then of course I said yes.

    After you've read my interview, please take some time to peruse the rest of the blog, because its a treasure trove of really interesting art and creativity.
    Thank you Daniel!

    ~~~~~~~~~
    In other news - I've been knitting a lot, and am juuuust about ready to stock my etsy knitting shop with some new goodies for the Fall and Winter. Small, affordable cable-y things.




    Hope you're all enjoying September. Its one of my favorite months, as the season changes back to cooler weather, and the anticipation of the holidays begins. Sweaters! Knitted woolies! Fall colors! Crunchy leaves! Stew! Picturebook kitty characters wearing Fall colored woolie sweaters, walking through crunchy leaves and eating stew! (OK, that will be the next thing on my drawing board.)

    There's a lot on my 'to-do' list, so I've better get to it. Bye for now ~




    1 Comments on An interview, and thoughts about Fall, last added: 9/11/2012
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    25. Knitting cables

    Its knitting season!




    I've had a knitting shop on etsy for a while, which I haven't "worked" much. At all. In fact, I've emptied it out altogether more than once, and left it sitting there, abandoned, for long periods of time. 



    But I have all this yarn. A lot of yarn. Seriously. I'm a yarnaholic. Some of you might like beads, or colored pencils, or fabric, or something else. You know what I'm talking about. Your 'thing' is on sale somewhere, and its calling out to you. You never need it, you just have to have it. 
    Well, that's how I am with yarn.


    Sometimes I just can't commit to doing a whole big project, like a shawl or big scarf even, because of time. So I've been trying to come up with something small I can make, that's fun and cool.


    I love love love love cables, so starting playing with some ideas. How could I make a 'stand alone' piece of cabling, not attached to a sweater or something? Usually you see cabling done within a panel, with plainer stitches on either side. I wondered what would happen if I just isolated them. What would it look like? Sometimes you try these genius ideas and end up with a hot mess.  


    But this time my idea worked. I actually started with a much more complicated braided piece, then edited it down to these simpler ones. And having it look like a bow tie was a happy accident! My intention was to make an accent pin - something you could wear for a pop of color or texture on a sweater or jacket. The larger ones just happen to look like a bow tie.


    So I sewed a pin back to the back of each one, and voila! We have Cable Knit Bow Tie Pins and Mini Cable Knit Bow Pins.


    It was fun to make the little cards to pin them to. Taking the pictures for the shop is never my favorite thing, but a necessary evil. (I always wonder about the people who do the pro photo shoots, with models and all. How on earth do they manage that?) So I do the best I can.


    There are 25 new pieces in the shop, mostly all Fall-ish colors. Christmas and holiday ones are in the works. I hope to do some hair clips and other little goodies too. How cute would these be on pet collars? If you have an idea for one, or would like to commission me to make some for you, please let me know! 

    1 Comments on Knitting cables, last added: 9/19/2012
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