Searching for Spring

The thermometer outside my kitchen window reported a bone-chilling two, count ‘em,  two sorry degrees this morning.  So, I checked the weekend forecast, hoping for a sunny reprieve.  Snow and ice starting on Saturday afternoon, lasting into Sunday.  Not exactly what I was hoping for, but par for the course around here this year.

Yet, even with this bleak forecast, as in life, there’s always a ray of sunshine somewhere; sometimes, we just have to look for it a bit further down the road than we’d guessed.  “Wintry Mix” – innocent enough words on their own; one monumentally nasty affront, as a team.  If we can just get through Sunday’s “wintry mix”, there’s a chance – mind you, it’s just a chance – but there’s a real, bonafide, 100% maybe-almost-reasonable chance that my poor, downtrodden thermometer might actually get revved up all the way into the 30’s for a little bit of…you guessed it…rain – glorious rain!  Yes, kids, before too terribly long, things might actually warm up around here.  One of these days, the black-brown mountains of frozen roadside nastiness really will give way to tender little tufts of green.  Really!

Until then, if you’re as starved for spring as I am, at least we know we can count on our knitting to lift the doldrums.  Here’s a little dose of green for you, to warm you up and tide you over:

Shamrock Mittens

Ladies’ “Shamrock Mittens” by Mary Ann Stephens. Knit in Jamieson’s Shetland Spindrift. Kits available through Kidsknits.com. Downloadable PDF available through Ravelry.

leprechaun

mittens

Shamrock Mittens kits using Jamieson’s Shetland Spindrift available through the designer’s online yarn shop, Kidsknits.com.

Shamrock Mittens knitting pattern PDF available through the designer’s Ravelry store.

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Chevron Fingerless Mittens – knitting kits, colorway ideas

We’ve just added a new kit page for my Chevron Fingerless Mittens.  You can select your three favorite Dale Alpakka colors from the three little pull-downs, right there on the kit page.  But, how do you choose three favorites shades?  And will they behave themselves and play together nicely in the design? Here are some of the countless possibilities, to get your wheels turning:

chevron mittens colorways

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Free Knitting Pattern – North Shore Hat – UPDATE

Free knitting pattern for an adult's earflap hat, knit in bulky weight wool.

Free knitting pattern for a quick, warm, adult-sized earflap hat – North Shore Hat by Mary Ann Stephens.

February 9th, 2015 – Today, I’ve updated my old North Shore Hat free knitting pattern PDF with a new version which includes a bunch of explanatory notes which will hopefully clarify the earflap joining process. 

Since most of my work involves colorwork, I often hear knitters complain when they have to weave in loose ends. So, with the original version of this pattern, thinking I was writing it for my usual, relatively experienced customers, I tried to avoid loose ends, when possible.  But, doing so required a shift in direction at one point and a partial round on one side.  Not ideal, especially when so many other websites started sending folks here, referring to this pattern as a “beginner’s” pattern!  I wouldn’t call it a beginner’s pattern, but I’m happy to help lure advanced beginners into the joys of charted knitting. To that end, I’ve changed the process slightly: Now, you’ll make one extra cut in the yarn and you’ll shift your stitches around a bit to get back to the beginning of the round. But, as I hope you’ll agree, doing so makes the layout much clearer.  And, hopefully, the notes will further encourage those of you who are new to charted knitting.

Click here to see the updated North Shore Hat PDF: North Shore Hat with notes

If you usually follow the old link, I’ve put the updated PDF on that old page, too.

 

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Interview on “How to become a Professional Knitter”

Robin Hunter recently interviewed me for her blog, “How to become a Professional Knitter”.  It’s up there now, right…over…HERE!

Posted in Fair Isle Knitting, Knitting, Mary Ann's Designs, Norwegian Knitting | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Fair Isle “Gentle Hat” kits now online

 

Fair Isle Hat

Gentle Hat

Ladies’ Fair Isle “Gentle Hat” kits are now available through my Kidsknits.com store site.  The kits come with my pattern (printed or emailed PDF, your choice) and seven different shades of delightful Dale Garn “Alpakka” (aka “Royal Alpakka”) 100% alpaca yarn.

If you’re the type who loves using up leftovers, you’ll be glad to know that the Gentle Hat design is laid out so that the seven shades are quite evenly distributed.  So evenly, in fact, that by adding just one extra ball of off-white to the one-hat kit, you’re able to make three, count ‘em, THREE identical hats.  So, in addition to the printed/PDF pattern choice, you also have a 7-balls-for-one-hat OR 8-balls-for-three-hats choice.

And yes, as always, you’re welcome to request color substitutions.  I carry all of the Alpakka shades right…over…here!

fair isle hat knitting kit with alpaca yarn

Ladies Fair Isle “Gentle Hat” with simple, short, “peerie”repeats, knit in exquisite Dale Garn 100% alpaca.

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Andrea’s Spice Route Gloves

Spice Route Gloves knit by Andrea McKinnon

Andrea’s “Spice Route Gloves” project, as shown on Ravelry.
Photo copyright Andrea McKinnon 2015.

I thought you’d like to see the lovely result, above, that my customer, Andrea, shared on Ravelry.  She knit my “Spice Route Gloves” design to a “T”, but in her own choice of colors.  As a designer, I think it’s a very special thing, to see one of my own designs knit in the same yarn, but in an entirely different colorway.  It’s a little like having my own, brand new baby handed to me, without having to go through pregnancy and labor.  Of course, I LOVE it! Thanks so much for sharing, Andrea!

excerpt from Ravelry designer's activity page

Nothing makes me happier than seeing someone’s happy result on Ravelry!

If you’d like to see the details on Andrea’s color choices, here’s a link to her project on Ravelry.  And here are my original Spice Route Gloves, from last year:

Spice Route Gloves

Spice Route Gloves, a knitting design by Mary Ann Stephens copyright 2015

ladies fair isle gloves knitting pattern

“Spice Route Gloves”, by Mary Ann Stephens copyright 2015

Haven’t lost one yet! :)

 

 

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Knitted Hem Fine Points

Fair Isle knit "Dianthus" top's knitted hem

Sewing the hem on my “Dianthus” knit top.

Happy 2015!  I hope you all had a wonderful 2014 and are ready for an even-better 2015.  Now, it’s time to get to work on those resolutions!

One promise that I made myself for 2015 was that I’d stop letting some worthy designs languish on the shelf, unpublished.  So far, I probably publish only about half of the knitting projects that I complete (and, being constantly surrounded by more yarn than I could ask for, I don’t complete ‘em unless I feel they’re worth publishing.)  It’s not that I don’t like finishing them – actually, that’s one of my favorite parts!  It’s that so many distractions arise in that lull between the finished knit and the finished pattern.

And so, my friends, I’m going to use your kind attention to bolster my resolve.

I knit my “Dianthus” top to wear to a dear nephew’s wedding that took place…I’m ashamed to say it… last August.  That’s the inside, bottom hem of it that you see in the photo.  I happen to love that top, yet here we are, five months later, and I haven’t shared it with you yet.  But now that I’ve taken this first, tiny step in debuting it, I know that I’ll get busy finalizing the pattern shortly.

In the meantime, Serendipity gave me a great photo for answering some of the questions knitters often ask me about the knitted hems on their Fair Isle / Norwegian knits.  Usually, any close-up photo of a Norwegian, or especially a Fair Isle, knit is apt to be blurred by the fuzz of wool yarn.  But, there’s no way in the world I was going to wear wool to a steamy August wedding in Boston.  And there was no way I was going to knit a boring, monotone top.  (Those of you who know me know that it had to be stranded!)  So, as it happens, we’re looking at a Fair Isle / Norwegian knit done in clear, sharp, 100% mercerized Egyptian cotton Dale Garn “Vipe” yarn.  And, it seems my camera was even behaving well that day!  So, here you have it, my tips for hemming your stranded knits, complete with an ulterior motive that…hopefully…you’ll see the results of here before long:

hem on a fair isle knit top

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