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Ravellenic Games Projects

1 Mar

Although I’m a big Ravelry user, I had never “competed” in the Ravellenic games before. For those who don’t know, in the Ravellenic games people try to finish as many projects as possible in the time frame of the Olympic games. There are teams, events, medals, etc. and I don’t even really understand the whole thing. The first time I heard of it was in relation to the controversy between the Ravelry and US Olympic Committee in which they sent a cease-and-desist for calling the games the “Ravelympics”. The controversy is pretty funny, although the amount of power that the USOC has is a little terrifying (they tried to sue Seattle when it built the Olympic sculpture park… which as a view of the Olympic mountains. Wonder if they have tried to rename the mountains yet).

This year I kinda-sorta competed although since I moved to Brazil during the Olympics I was a little preoccupied! But here are the projects I finished:

Aidez Collage

The first project I finished was Aidez by Cirilla Rose, one of my favorite designers (my project page here). It’s one of the most popular patterns on Ravelry (3,348 projects!) and I’ve wanted to make it for a long time. I couldn’t wait to start it so I actually started before the games, but I finished it in a record 10 days so I did get into the spirit of sprint knitting for the games. For this pattern I used a different gauge yarn (worsted instead of bulky) and I also improvised a lot of the sizing. I had read that the gauge on the pattern was messed up so instead of just knitting according to a larger size (to fit my thinner yarn) I based my stitch count off my own gauge and sizing. Luckily there isn’t much shaping in this pattern so it was pretty simple. The only problem I had was with the shoulders–definitely the thing I struggle with most in sweater design.

Besides sizing, I also switched out all the cables. I thought the ones on the original pattern were a little boring, especially on the back. For mine I chose 2 cable patterns from Stitchionary Vol. 2. For the back I staggered two columns of “Aztec”. Next to this I worked “Ring of Fire” which matched the seed stitch from Aztec and also had a cool name. On the sleeves and the fronts I worked just the zig-zag side cables from Aztec.

I’m really happy with how this turned out and I think it’s beautiful, the only thing is the yarn is a little scratchy! I chose a blend of wool, alpaca, and acrylic so I thought the acrylic and alpaca would counter the wool’s itchiness but not so… I just hope it gets softer with washing and I will probably have to wear it over long sleeve shirts.

My second project was from the pattern Turban(d) (my project page here). I’d wanted to make an ear warmer for a long time and had half a skein of soft Malabrigo Rios yarn left over that was perfect. This is so cute and I love the colors, I almost wish it were cold enough here for me to wear it (ha… actually I don’t miss the cold at all).

Hey Girl Sweater Collage

I didn’t get to finish my third project because of the move, but it’s one I’m really excited about. For Christmas I received 3 skeins of Madelinetosh DK and one of Malabrigo Arroyo and I was imagining a cardigan with stripes in reverse stockinette. At first I thought I would write a pattern myself, but then I thought since I would be doing a lot of plane knitting with this, it was best not to have to be doing a lot of math and note taking. I chose the pattern Hey Girl by Chic Knits (my pattern page here), who I think is one of my new favorite designers. I usually knit things to be form fitting but this will be a more slouchy, casual sweater. I am planning on doing the lower portion with more of the reverse stockinette stripes (I love how the interlocking purl stitches make the colors blend together), and I will do the cuffs of the body and sleeves in garter stitch. (I apologize for the poor quality photos, there’s no good place to shoot photos in my hotel room!).


New book: Japanese Cowichan-style Knits

14 Feb

Granted Clothing

A few months ago I discovered Granted Clothing and fell in love with their sweaters, handmade in Vancouver BC! As a non-knitter, I would look at the $400 price tag and cry a little tear, but as a knitter I get to figure out how to make my own!

If you’re like me, you recognize this style of sweater–they’re bulky, usually with animal designs, and are vaguely Native American-looking–but don’t know much about it. I did some background research and the style is called Cowichan knitting, after the Cowichan people of Vancouver Island, BC, and was developed when the Cowichan were introduced to European settlers’ knitting methods. Like other styles of Native American/First Nations art, mainstream fashion decided these sweaters were something that could sell and now you can now find mass produced “Cowichan” aka “Big Lebowski” sweaters at Urban Outfitters (great blog post on this issue here).

I *think* I get to bypass these issues by making a sweater myself… and acknowledging that I’m remixing the original style into something of my own creation while still honoring its origins. I’d love to have something that incorporates more color and maybe has horses on the back?

Japanese Cowichan Book

In any case, the idea to design my own Cowichan-style sweater was on the back burner when last week I saw this book on sale from Fringe Association (a great store/blog I just discovered). It light heartedly (and obliviously?) combines traditional designs with Scandanavian motifs and other styles. It’s a total cultural mash up and it’s great.


One of my favorite Granted sweater is the whale vest for kids, and this book has its own whale design. Perfect!


I love this lion head too. Would be so cute on a little boy’s sweater.

If you’re wondering “wait… isn’t the book IN JAPANESE?” well yes, it is, but Japanese patterns have such detailed charts and diagrams that no reading is necessary (except numbers–at least those are the same). And if anyone finds this on Ravelry, please let me know!


The past 6 months

12 Feb

I haven’t written in this blog in FOREVER but I’ve started reading blogs again and got the hankering to write some of my own. For now the old theme of the blog, which was more of a style blog, isn’t as relevant for me and I’m shifting the focus of this more towards knitting, which is what I’ve been really involved in recently.

I’ve had a lot of free time on my hands waiting for my visa to Brazil to be approved, so I’ve been on a real knitting kick. In the past few months I’ve accomplished some big goals for myself, professionally and creatively!

Etsy Shop Banner

First, I became a small business owner (!) and started selling my creations on Etsy! This is something I’ve thought about doing for a long time but didn’t really have time for it until now. One challenging with selling knit items online is that you typically can’t sell items based on someone else’s design, so all the items in my shop were original designs. The shop was a huge success and sold better than I had expected. There is only one item left, if anyone is interested in some cute yellow gloves, click below!

Yellow Harvest Gloves

Next, because I was producing items based on my own patterns, I was able to organize the sketches and notes in my notebook into real knitting patterns. I’ve now published 4 patterns on Ravelry, 3 for free and one for sale, and I’ve had almost 2,000 downloads.

Ravelry patterns

I’ve learned a ton from writing these and receiving feedback from test knitters online. Personally, when I knit from a pattern I use it more as a starting point and make lots of adjustments for fit etc. In reality, lots of people follow patterns down to the letter so when you can’t leave any room for interpretation in published patterns! It’s really easy for me to overlook details or unclear instructions when I know how to do something in my head, so I’ve relied a lot on the feedback to figure out what’s confusing or what I need to explain more. Professional pattern writers have tech editors who pick apart the finished item and check the pattern for accuracy down to a single stitch. I wish I had someone like that to proofread my work! Maybe someday…


The biggest surprise this year is that my paid pattern (and my personal favorite), the Snowbunny Hat, reached #3 on Ravelry’s “Hot right now” list. For those that aren’t familiar with the site, Ravelry is like Facebook for knitters. It has 3.9 million users and a database of almost 300,000 patterns. Basically everything is on this site.

The “hot right now” list changes based on what patterns are receiving the most attention that day. This list is usually dominated by established designers but when I used to look through it I wondered if I would ever have a design in the top list (bearing in mind that to be a professional knitwear designer is actually not my goal in life).

Ravelry Hot Right Now Screen Shot

One of the popular activities on Ravelry is to knit items along with the Olympics (they call it the “Ravellenic Games”) I’ve never been a part of this, but I found a forum where people were posting promotions on patterns or yarn in conjunction with the games, so I posted my pattern there with a free download code to try to drive some traffic to my page. Suddenly my email inbox was EXPLODING with download notifications; they were coming in by the minute. I had no idea what was going on but apparently people had re-posted my promotion to various other blogs and tons of people were downloading my pattern. It’s hard to explain how shocked I was to see my pattern climbing to the top spot on the main pattern page, and it maxed out at #3–not bad at all, and way better than I ever thought my first paid pattern would do!

In all, I’ve been really happy with all this success but I am REALLY missing the social and intellectual stimulation of college. At the same time, all the snow and ice outside is making me feel trapped at home. One problem with knitting is that you have to be sitting down to do it (with the exception of this guy) which makes me feel like a bum, and there are only so many Netflix movies and podcast episodes one can sit through. Everyone says I’ll miss the free time when I start working but I’m VERY ready to start working and have a daily schedule and co-workers to talk to (in Portuguese!).


the scarf curse??

13 Dec

A few days ago I posted my first published knitting pattern on and a couple people have started making it! (find it here if you don’t have a ravelry account) On Friday I was excited to find that a woman had emailed me asking for suggestions on making the scarf for her boyfriend. But then yesterday she emailed me back reporting that “the sweater curse has transferred to the scarf” and that her boyfriend had broken up with her half-way through knitting it! The horror!

So what is the “sweater curse,” two words which strike fear into the hearts of knitters world-wide? It’s the unfortunate and awkward situation in which the knitter makes a hand-knit sweater for their significant other (usually a boyfriend) and is dumped while making or soon after completing said the sweater. According to Wikipedia, 15% of knitters have experienced this phenomenon and 41% “consider it a possibility that should be taken seriously.” The threat is so serious that some knitters abstain from knitting before marriage, and others sign “pre-knitual” agreements!

The reason why I find the sweater curse so interesting (and why I believe in it myself!) is because it has real-world explanations, the most convincing of which is (again from Wikipedia), The Sweater Curse as a catalyst for analyzing the relationship:

“Giving or receiving a significant gift such as a sweater may cause either the giver or receiver to evaluate the relationship. For example, the gift may seem too intimate, too domestic or too binding to the significant other. It can be seen as a signal that makes them realize that the relationship is not reciprocal, prompting them to end the relationship before it involves obligations.”

What a surprise, a guy thinks things are getting too serious and heads for the hills. *ahem* I’ll stop here lest I begin making offensive generalizations. Good thing I only made John gloves for his birthday!