GREEN FLAME! Cowl Pattern Available on Ravelry

Learn how to knit!

Buy now through Ravelry

Take on the challenge of this fiery colorwork pattern that knits up faster than Viari can sneak past a giant!

This GREEN FLAME! cowl sits close to the neck for +5 to warmth and +10 to geeky fashion.

Be the nerdiest nerd at your next D&D session and show off your love for Acquisitions Inc with this GREEN FLAME! cowl. Or better yet, be the first one to wear a GREEN FLAME! cowl to the next Acquisitions Inc session at PAX. Yeah, I know you’re their biggest fan.

SIZING
Circumference approx. 20.5in (52cm)
Height approx. 5.75in (14.5cm)

GAUGE
Gauge in the round, in stockinette, blocked
26 sts x 38 rounds = 4in (10cm)

MATERIALS
Needles
2.75mm (US 2) 16in circulars or size to obtain gauge

Notions
4 stitch markers (1 unique to mark round)
Tapestry Needle

Yarn
DK-weight wool in 3 colors, approximate lengths:
104yd (95m) in lime green (MC)
38yd (35m) in dark green (CC1)
60yd (55m) in gray (CC2)

Yarns used in sample:
Sheepish Yarn Co, Merino DK, 100g/231yds in Summer Fields colorway
Knit Picks, Swish DK, 50g/123yds in Jade and Ash

Buy now through Ravelry

Updated: GREEN FLAME! Test Knitters Found

GREEN FLAME! Cowl

Update:

Hey guys! Thanks so much for your interest in test knitting the GREEN FLAME! cowl. I’ve collected the names of many lovely knitters who I will be contacting about this test knit but do not need more at the moment! If you’d like to be notified by email about future test knitting opportunities, fill out the form here.


Help a gal out and knit this awesome GREEN FLAME! cowl while giving me feedback about your experience. You’ll get the pattern for free, plus any updates in the future.

I will need knitters with colorwork experience and the ability to get this cowl done within 2-3 weeks. I am looking for patient knitters who will be available for answering questions, giving feedback, and have the ability to take some nice photos to post to Ravelry!

SIZING

Knitted circumference approx. 20.5in / 52cm.

GAUGE

26 sts x 35 rows = 4in / 10cm

NEEDLES

2.75mm (US 2) 16in circulars — or size to obtain gauge

NOTIONS

  • 3 stitch markers (1 unique to mark round)
  • Tapestry Needle

YARN

DK-weight wool in 3 colors, approximate lengths:

  • 104yd / 95m of lime green
  • 38yd / 35m of dark green
  • 60yd / 55m of gray

Are you in?

Sign up below and I’ll contact you within the next few weeks to let you know if I’ll be needing your help! Unfortunately, I can only handle so many test knitters, so you may not be chosen, but I greatly appreciate your interest and hope you’ll still knit your own GREEN FLAME! cowl when it’s released!


Sign up form closed.

When to let go of a WIP (and how to decide)

Too many WIPs!

This weekend, the gals and I are getting together for another Lost Projects Club. So I’m took out my WIPs (works-in-progress) to get a good idea of what I might want to work on while sipping tea and chatting.

I have 9… and then I walked out of the room to get some coffee and noticed another one not organized with my stash of WIPs.

So I’m wondering “When do I give these up and use the yarn for something else?”, “Why haven’t I finished these when I obviously felt like I wanted to knit them in the first place?”, and “What can I do to spark some interest in these again?”.

One thing I’m noticing here is that 3 of the projects that I’ve stopped working on are scarves. I think it’s because it’s hard to keep my knitting mojo up for a garment that I will only get to wear when we go on vacation. Or I go on a walk at 5am in January. Maybe.

That jewel-toned, striped scarf at the top is my weather scarf, started in 2013! The scarf is already 8 feet long and I think I was a little over halfway done with it. For as much time as I spent on this, I could have created a Doctor Who scarf! It’s time to cast this one off and just call it finished.

There are two cross stitch WIPs there too. I stopped cross stitching because I feel like I’m not very good at it. I didn’t think there would be much technique to making neat Xs with thread, but there is! It seems like I end up splitting my thread with each stitch. But my new motto is “Done is better than perfect!” so I’m going to finish these. Plus, I have 4 more cross stitch kits waiting to be made after these!

Because it’s not entirely enthralling, I’m not going to give a synopsis of every WIP, but I have figured out whether or not I want to keep each one by answering a set of questions.

Do you have a ton of WIPs collecting dust? Want to do something about them?

Get them all out. Notice what types of projects they are, what kind of yarn you’re using, even what needles/hooks you’re using and ask yourself:

Is there a certain garment I always quit working on? Why?

Try ripping out your yarn and use it for something you think you’ll use. Or get someone in mind for the current  project – think of how happy they’ll be to receive your item and start working for them!

Is there a certain type of yarn I quit working with? Is it too soft? Scratchy? Thin?

Maybe give this yarn to someone else and try your project with something new and more exciting!

Do those needles, that crochet hook, or whatever tools you’re using just suck?

Maybe it’s something as simple as a stitch marker that just kept getting caught on your work, annoying you to no end. You’re gonna hate me, but dammit, go splurge on some awesome tools! Treat yourself and get excited about your project again!

Is it the stitch pattern?

Do you find it too difficult? Try a new pattern with a more TV-friendly stitch pattern. Too boring? Get some lace on those needles!

Has it been 10 years since you started the project?

It may just be time to let it go…

Maybe none of these issues applies – you still love the pattern, the yarn, the needles are fine… but you just put down your project and you’re not sure why. My best advice to spark your interest in the project again would be to go on Ravelry and look for other finished projects using the pattern you’re using. Get jealous of what others have completed and tell yourself, “Self, I don’t have to be jealous! I can kick butt and finish this project so I too can have this garment (or whatever)!” Find the inspiration that led you to start the project in the first place, keep it fresh in your mind, and pick that project back up.

I hope these questions help you figure out what to do with your old WIPs. If you have any advice for what you usually do with WIPs, I’d love to hear them!

Nice Cuppa pattern now available!

Nice Cuppa hat knitting pattern

For your knitting pleasure, let me introduce my newest pattern, Nice Cuppa!

This is a stranded colorwork beanie, knit up in primary colors, with a bit of vintage style that was inspired by a friend and her teacup. Read about my inspiration here.

I used O-Wool’s O-Wash Fingering yarn because the primary colors are deep, the yarn is organically processed to be a superwash wool, and O-Wool produces their yarns with a concern for animal welfare and the environment. The big bonus is that they also sell their fingering weight yarn in smaller mini-skeins, which is perfect for colorwork!

The hat is made to fit adult heads with some wiggle room. I’ve included measurements for the pattern repeats so that you can alter the circumference and the height if you need or want to.

You may want to have some colorwork experience, since this pattern uses 3 colors to a row in places. But hell, I’m all about challenging yourself, so go for it! Some tips on colorwork: Trapping long floats in colorwork by Paper Tiger & Three Color Stranding video by KnitPicks

The Nice Cuppa pattern is available on Ravelry, where you can find more details about the pattern and purchase it for download.

I’ve been published! Saturday Afternoon Armwarmers

Saturday Afternoon Armwarmers Knitting Pattern

As I mentioned in my 2015 Year in Review, I was finally brave enough (or crazy enough) to submit a design idea to a knitting magazine last year.

That idea became Saturday Afternoon Armwarmers and they have just been published in the latest issue of Knit Now!

Designing and knitting a sample for a magazine within a month was a little hectic… As seen below, you can see how stressed I am, filling every second of my day with knitting.

Mandy knitting on the beach
I’ve never knit so much in my life! We took a trip to the beach while my mom was in town and I knit while we walked. (Thanks to my mom for the pic.)

Saturday Afternoon Armwarmers were inspired by ‘slow moments’. I imagined sitting in my favorite arm chair, knitting a project with the softest yarn on a chilly, spring afternoon (which don’t exist here in Florida, but I tried). Oversized, snuggly arm warmers came to mind. I sketched them up, made a swatch, and the rest is history!

The sample was knitted with Erika Knight’s British Blue Wool and it is lovely to knit with! Erika Knight has created beautiful, subdued hues for this yarn.

The sample shown is in the Fawn and Boho colorways.

I’d also recommend combos of Pretty and Milk Chocolate, Milk and Leaf, Sea Fret and Dance, Sea Fret and Mr Bhasin, and for some nice contrast, Mouse and Boho.

Saturday Afternoon Armwarmers Color Combo Suggestions
Saturday Afternoon Armwarmers Color Combo Suggestions

Check out Saturday Afternoon Armwarmers in issue 59 of Knit Now! If you knit some of your own, please share them with me (leave a comment or tag me on Twitter or Instagram @mandybee)!

Stress Less – Knit or Crochet!

Saw this super cute Instagram post from Lion Brand and thought I’d share it! Cute little lemon stress balls! 🙂

Stress can be a killer and what a great little reminder to take a break and stitch a little.

Free-Spirited Knitting & Crochet Patterns

Free-spirited knitting and crochet patterns

I sometimes dream of putting on an outfit that brings out my inner hippy. I love the white lace that always seems to be front and center in so many bohemian outfits. It’s also the only style I know of that has so much crochet!

I went on a hunt for knitting and crochet patterns that feel bohemian and free-spirited to me.

Elegant Flower Headband by Amanda Saladin Elegant Flower Headband by Amanda Saladin (Free!)

How adorable is this?! I want to make 10 of them… but first I need to learn how to braid my hair like that.

Yoga Shawl by Andrea MowryYoga Shawl by Andrea Mowry ($6)

I love Andrea Mowry’s design style. The things she designs are simple in a way that I could imagine wearing all of them with my own, current wardrobe. Like this yoga shawl. Can I just wrap up in it?

Lady Bat by Teresa Gregorio Lady Bat by Teresa Gregorio ($6, picture of Mamatronic’s project)

This top looks so comfy. I love the way that it’s open and oversized.

Cancun Boxy Lace Top by Erin Kate ArcherCancun Boxy Lace Top by Erin Kate Archer (Free!)

I think I may have gasped when I saw this and then to see that the pattern is free…! I love that this is knitted, as it has a different look than a lot of the boho tops you see (crocheted in white). Super cute, though I couldn’t get away with wearing a crop top.

Bohemian Bracelet #2 by Maya KuzmanBohemian Bracelet #2 by Maya Kuzman ($5)

I can imagine so many different color combinations with this bracelet, or maybe making it a bit smaller using thinner yarn and a smaller crochet hook. Also, sitting at a computer all day, I find hard bracelets to be a bit cumbersome, so a soft bracelet like this seems like it would be rather comfortable.

Den-M-Nit Pineapple Skirt or Poncho by Flora YangDen-M-Nit Pineapple Skirt or Poncho by Flora Yang ($6, picture of Malviina’s project)

Is it a skirt or a poncho? A soncho? A spirt? No… I’m glad Flora didn’t try any of that for this pattern name. This crocheted skirt looks perfect for the beach!

View all of these patterns and more on Ravelry: Free-Spirited Bundle

I’ve put together some extra inspiration on this Pinterest board, not all pointing to patterns, but eye-candy nonetheless! Enjoy!

Follow Mandy’s board Inspiration: Funky, Free-spirited Knitting and Crochet on Pinterest.

**All pattern photos are copyrighted to their original owners. I’m claiming nothing here! 🙂

Making time for making

Felicia’s latest post, Craft as “a little space to collect oneself”, on The Craft Sessions hit me today. I wrote a comment in response, but I realized as I posted it that it probably would have made for a better blog post than a comment.

In a nutshell, her post is about having lost a private, physical space to craft in and how it’s affected her. There are more interruptions to her craft time because she’s out in the open and available. And sometimes she feels guilty about taking craft breaks since everyone can see her taking a break. She’s basically lost all craft time because she lost the privacy.

One of my current WIPs - Granite and Clouds Wrap - with my cute incense holder >^_^<
One of my current WIPs – Granite and Clouds Wrap – with my cute incense holder >^_^<

My circumstances are a bit different than Felicia’s. While I’ve never had a private space for crafting, I do have private time. It’s me that’s holding myself back from taking time out to craft, not someone else. This is what resonated with me from Felicia’s post:

“I may be voicing a universal longing for enough space to breathe and put things in perspective…… More and more we’re challenged and unsettled by it in part because I think we’re more and more addicted to our busyness. ”

— Pico Iyer – Dumbo Feather Issue 46

And Felicia’s feelings of guilt for not filling her time with busy things…

“But thinking about it I’m not even sure the judgement I’m trying to avoid is external. I have the feeling some of it, might be coming from me. My feelings around what I should be doing.”

— Felicia from The Craft Sessions

I have been struggling with this lately. I don’t have a full time job anymore, which clears up so much space. I had hoped to make room for crafting and design as a freelance career, but it seems that I have filled every nook and cranny with my old job (web design), just on a freelance basis. I think I’ve done this because I swear that everyone around me thinks I’m sitting at home just drinking a cup of tea. (They really don’t. If anything, they imagine me doing magic with two wands as I knit up a project, since most people I know don’t know how to knit and think they never could.)

Shawl

The process of crafting from scratch is slow. Web design is much faster, so I think I’ve filled my time with it as a way to show those around me that I’m being productive. I’ve been saying “Yes” to so many things I don’t even really want to do! I’ve been valuing my worth by how many ‘things’ I’ve accomplished.

As Paco said, I seem to be addicted to how busy I am. Ticking off small, quick items on my to-do list. Forgetting about the bigger goals, like becoming a knitwear designer. (Well, not forgetting… More like anguishing about it while I do other things that aren’t moving me toward my goal.)

I feel like I have to earn my time to craft.

It’s good to consider how well we’re treating ourselves. We’re not robots. To me, life isn’t about how hard we work, it’s about family, friends, compassion, growing, enjoyment…

Knitting needles and crochet hooks in a holder made by Carly
All my knitting needles and crochet hooks, waiting for me in the holder Carly made

How do you give yourself permission to do what you really want to do, even when it doesn’t pay? Even when you already have enough money?

Emma Mitchell touched on this during her interview on A Playful Day. She quit a well-paying, high-power job to craft because it felt better. It’s a great interview, give it a listen!

I’m going to get a little Buddhist here, but I think it has to do with remembering that our human lives are precious. Yes, we need money for food and shelter, but if you’ve got that covered, it may help to remember that you’re lucky to be here, alive, as a human.

In Buddhist views, you could have been born a cat, doomed to nap all day! No thumbs to knit with!

Black kitten
Yes, like Binx here.

The fact that you’re able to craft should be celebrated! Take the time for yourself to do what makes you feel alive. Everyone and everything else can wait 5 minutes. (Or 30!)

Learn, make, repeat… What making means to me

I’m a long-time listener of the A Playful Day podcast. This year, Kate rebranded her podcast and is hoping to create a community that supports makers.

The first episode of this season came with a creative challenge:

What does making mean to YOU? 

Making means a lot of things to me, so I may elaborate with future posts. But for now…

There is making with my hands…

Handspun yarn
Spindle-spun yarn from sheep fleece

And making in a less physical manner (digital design, music, writing, photography).

Succulent flowers
Succulent flowers by the pond I made with a little help from my friends… ♬

I might make something designed by someone else…

Knitting a hat
Lovely Westminster Hat pattern with Blue Sky Alpaca yarn

Or design something myself. (Or try.)

Knitted Cloud
First of a couple of failed attempts at designing a mug cozy

I may make something practical, to be worn or used…

Completed Kelso sweater
I made a flipping SHIRT! With sticks and string!

Or maybe I’ll just make something for the sake of looking pretty.

TARDIS sunset painting
Gotta love those wine & paint nights where you just go off on your own wibbly-wobbly-whim.

There’s also something about doing things the slow way that is extremely satisfying to me. Like the time I collected acorns and simmered them for a day, then roasted them for an hour.

acorns
They were alright…

Or picking and shelling pigeon peas for days…

pigeon peas
Pretty pigeon peas!

It seems that people don’t know much about how things are made anymore. Because we don’t need to make from scratch, a lot of us don’t.

Knitting seems like voodoo to some that watch me. Planting a garden and keeping it alive (not even thriving) seems like a major feat (when in reality, I probably visit my garden every other week sometimes and it seems to do quite fine without me). Seeing my friends turn flat fabric into a garment blows my mind. When I realized that I could create yarn with my own two hands from fleece, I was amazed. There is always something to learn and most crafts, even if they seem impossible, are within reach with a bit (or a lot) of practice.

Yes, making is a slow process but it is so satisfying to make something from scratch — mindfully — yourself. To know every step from raw material to end product has made me appreciate the conveniences available to me. Most of all, it teaches me patience.

Read about The Maker’s Challenge

Listen to A Playful Day: Season 1, Episode 1

Inspiring #themakersyear photos on Instagram

Some of my favorite blog posts answering what making means: