Lions and Tigers and Bears…Oh My!

I guess I should admit right off the bat that there are no tigers.  Sorry for the deception, but since I posted about lions earlier, I thought that the title was fitting.  This is just a short update to showcase another new item that I’m making for my Etsy store.  Introducing bear hooded cowls!

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Bear hoods can be requested in sizes ranging from 3-6 months-Adult.  They can either be made in all one color or with a contrasting color around the front of the hood and tip of the ears.   I can also add a small knitted flower by one of the ears with either a button or yarn center.  All bear hoods come with a wood button.  The teen and adult sizes are not made to fit over the shoulders, but the smaller sizes are. The adult size hood pictured below is currently available, and I’m hoping to have a toddler hood like the one pictured above available next week.

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This is another cute pattern by The Velvet Acorn.  Stop by and give her shop some love.

I can’t recommend her patterns enough. They are easy to follow and the finished results are always adorable. They incorporate knitting with touches of optional crochet which are simple enough that even a novice at crochet, such as myself, is able to do them. I was pretty proud of myself when I mastered my first bear ear. She also includes a knit version, though, if you’d rather stick with what you are comfortable with.

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Lion Mitt Makeover

I’m going to start this post with a bit of a cautionary tale.  I implore all of my fellow craft companions to think twice, and then think a third, fourth and fifth time, before you decide to throw any of your project notes away.  A couple of years ago I used to make animal fingerless mitts.  After my son was born, I decided that I was going to concentrate entirely on designing my own patterns and stop selling finished items.

Fast forward to when I was pregnant with my second son and trying to fit a whole craft room of items into my room so that my son wouldn’t have to sleep in a basket of yarn.  I had to downsize a lot, and as I was going through stuff I came across my notes detailing how I made my animal fingerless mitts.  I wasn’t currently selling physical items and hadn’t made any since I had made that initial decision almost two years before.  I didn’t think that I’d ever want to or have the need to make them again, so I THREW MY NOTES AWAY.  Well, guess what?  I decided that I want to start making them to sell again.  While It’s not catastrophic since I’ve grown as a designer and can take the opportunity to improve on and slightly change the designs, there are some things that I wish I knew from my old notes.  So heed my warning and keep your notes!

Now on to the main topic of this post.  Before I stopped selling them, the last design I came up with were my lion fingerless mitts.

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I was never completely satisfied with them, because they didn’t have the realistic quality of the other animals that I made.  When deciding how I wanted my owl and bear mitts to look, I performed several image searches trying to make them as true to life as I could.  I paid special attention to the details of their eyes.  I didn’t do that with my lion mitts and I’m not sure why.  Maybe I had made so many pairs in preparation for a craft show that I got lazy, or maybe I just never really thought about how underwhelming they seemed when compared with my other animal mitts.  When I decided I was going to start selling them again, the first thing on my agenda became a total redo of my lion design.

I started pouring over images of real lions, and this is what I came up with:

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I hope you like them as much as I do.  There is a pair currently available in my Etsy store and they are always available by request.

My owl, bear, and sock monkey fingerless mitts will probably receive some minor upgrades as well, but nothing so drastic.  Some other animals that I hope to create eventually include koalas, dogs, cats, and pigs.  I also have some ideas for some seasonal designs around the holidays.  I’m sure I’ll come up with more once I get those finished, but if there is something you’d really like to see, let me know, and I’ll add it to my list.

A note to my fellow knitters: I don’t currently offer a pattern for how to make my animal mitts. I’m somewhat selfishly keeping the details to myself so that I have something moderately original to sell, but my advice to you is this. If you would like to make some, find a simple fingerless mitt pattern that you like and use it as a blank canvas. Let your imagination run wild and you never know where it might take you!

Two Color Brioche Knitting In The Round

Have you ever tried it?  If not, I highly recommend the technique. I’ll admit that I was slightly confused when starting out, but once I got the hang of it it was so simple and it creates such a fun and lofty fabric.  I thought I’d share some of the resources that I found helpful in case anyone else out there wants to give it a try for the first time.

I’ve been in love with the look of brioche stitch since I first discovered it, especially with varigated yarns.  This isn’t the first time I’ve knit brioche stitch, but it is the first time that I’ve done it with two colors in the round.  My previous brioche projects were all scarves.  I have been wanting to design a cowl to make to sell in my etsy store, but I wasn’t sure on the stitch I wanted to use or how I wanted it to look.  Then Lion Brand Yarn came out with a new yarn called Zaps (I should mention here that I have not used this yarn yet, because it isn’t available in any of my local stores, but the point is that I fell in love with the fun vibrant colors that it comes in.  I’ve had an obsession with neon yarn lately).  When I saw the colors available I found myself thinking how great they would pop with brioche stitch and decided that that was the kind of cowl I wanted to make.  I did some searches for brioche stitch cowls to see what was out there and discovered that most of them were knit flat and seamed.  I like to avoid seams whenever possible, so next I searched for brioche stitch in the round and discovered a wonderful tutorial by The Purl Bee.

That’s where I saw two colored brioche and my jaw hit the floor.  Not really, but I was instantly imagining the infinite possibilities of awesome color combinations. I knew that that was what I wanted to do. I decided how many stitches I wanted to cast on and how tall I wanted my cowl to be and pretty much followed the tutorial. I experimented with doing an i-cord cast on before deciding on a seed stitch border. I also found a great video that helped get me started and answered any questions that I had.

Here is the finished result (I told you I was obsessed with neon yarn lately):

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I used a combination of Lion Brand Wool-Ease Thick & Quick and Hometown USA.  I’ve never used Hometown USA before and read that while soft it was a little fuzzy, but it was the only yarn I could find in the shocking pink color that I was looking for, so I decided to give it a try.  Did I find it a little fuzzy?  Yes, but sandwiching it with the Thick & Quick eliminated the problem.  I added a lime green button with orange and pink flowers as a little embellishment and to hide the small gap created between the first and last bound off stitch.  This cowl is now availble in my Etsy Store for any non knitters reading this.  You may also request one made in different colors if your tastes aren’t quite as electrifying as my own.

Another great thing about brioche stitch is that it creates a reversible fabric.  Here’s a picture of the cowl turned down giving you a glimpse of the inside.

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I hope I’ve convinced you to give this stitch a try!  I’d love to see what you decide to make.

New Beginnings

It’s a new year and it’s time my crafting business got a fresh start.  After having two kids in two years, most things yarn related fell by the wayside in favor of more important matters, such as sleep.  I feel like I finally have things somewhat under control and am ready to dive back into business full force…with a few changes.

First, I am starting to make some ready made items again and take a few custom orders.  You may think that this will actually require more work for me than sitting back and reaping the rewards of pattern sales without doing anything, but lets face it, I’m tired.  Sometimes I just want to knit and not have to think about shaping and how to achieve the look I’m after.  That’s not to say that I don’t have a few new designs in the works.  I just need another way to keep my business afloat when designing seems daunting.  Expect to see some new things as well as some old that are made using my own patterns as well as others. Whereas I’ve concentrated on knitted toys in the past, I now plan to concentrate mostly on animal themed wearables with some other things thrown in.  Speaking of knitted toys, though, I need to clear out some stock, so the prices of all the older toys in my Etsy Store have been drastically reduced to clear.  Also, add the coupon code NEWYEAR at checkout to receive free shipping (domestic only) on orders of $25 or more through 2/15.

The first new thing available is a fox hood.  The one that is currently for sale is size toddler 2t-4t, but it can be made in sizes ranging from 12-18 months-adult.  Contact me to make a custom request.  I wish I could take credit for this adorable design, but it is a pattern from The Velvet Acorn.  Be sure to check out her store of beautiful knit and crochet patterns.

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For the time being, I am no longer selling patterns on Etsy.  This is because a new law went into effect at the beginning of the year regarding taxes and the sale of electronic items to customers from countries belonging to the EU.  Etsy doesn’t have anything in place to deal with these changes, so I removed my patterns from there and Craftsy as well.  All of my patterns are still available from Ravelry and six of my most popular patterns have been added to LoveKnitting to make them available to EU customers.

I know that’s a lot of info packed into one post, but I needed to get everyone up to date with the changes before I can delve into the fun stuff that is to come.  Stay tuned!