Hippity hop hop

Tom_bunny

All together, now. “Awwhhhh.” This is “Colleen’s Rabbits,” well one of them, from Patricia Ann Ford’s pattern booklet, copyright 1994. I knit bunny around 1995 or thereabouts.

Nieces! Nieces are you reading this? You two twenty-somethings? Your dad found bunny at his house. He says she’s missing a few of her carrots. After all this time she must have gotten powerfully hungry. But I think that’s one stuffed in her left pocket.

My brother found bunny and sent me this photo. How sweet is that? Brothers are the best!

Click here to see six more of my knitted bunnies, including another version of this cutie. Is it a tad strange to have been knitting so long that I’ve knit an entire warren of bunnies?

More Knubbelchen

girl_knubbelchenForgive me. Yes, it’s yet a knuther Knubbelchen. This time a girl. The boy was moping around as if looking for a friend.

Knubbel_pairHe’s falling-down happy to have a companion. In fact, I already spotted them holding hands.

knubblepair2

Knubbelchen is a great free pattern from Ravelry’s Pezzi888, available in German, Dutch, Danish and English.

April in Michigan: scarf weather

katia_scarf2

This is an old friend. Well, a new version of an old friend: Lion Brand’s free Rib Sampler Scarf, pattern #70530AD. Wow. I wonder if Lion Brand really has published over 70,000 patterns. You’ll have to join their site to download it. There are 18 Rib Sampler Scarf projects posted on Ravelry and six of them are mine! Here’s another to check out.

katia_scarfThis time I knit my Rib Sampler in Katia’s Tundra, a wonderfully soft 50% wool, 40% acrylic, 10% rayon worsted weight with subtle color changes. I’ve always been partial to pink and brown combinations. I wanted a longer and wider scarf, so I modified the pattern and cast on 44 rather than 28 stitches. I lengthened the eight inch mistake and farrow rib sections to ten inches and the four inch garter stitch sections to five inches. I knit fourteen inches in the one by one rib in the neck section.

There is something totally rhythmic and soothing about knitting this scarf.

Speaking of “old friend” patterns, Jared Flood’s Noro Striped Scarf certainly qualifies. This is how my newest version started out: two skeins each of Noro Silk Garden, colors 349 and 374.

NoroSilk_greenorange

silkgarden_349

And the magic of Noro produces this:

Noro_scarf2 Here’s another view:

Noro_scarf3

One of the benefits of living somewhere that sometimes just cannot get itself to warm is that we can enjoy scarves from September to April. And even though the April 4th forecast is calling for freezing rain in the lower peninsula and massive amounts of snow in the upper peninsula, I am not ready to exchange being a Michigander for someplace else.

Don’t feel deluged by this flood of scarves, but here’s more and more and more and more and more I’ve knit. Every one different. Every one gifted and gratefully received. In fact, I still haven’t made one for myself!

A knuther knubbelchen

knubbelchen

This little guy is great fun to make. He’s knit all in one piece (except for his hat), with a clever use of double-point needle shapings. I love the sense of movement his floppy limbs evoke.

knubbelchen5

Knubbelchen is a creation of Raveller Pezzi888. Her pattern is available free on Ravelry. More than 1400 Ravelers have knit the little guy, or his girlfriend, and posted their projects on Ravelry. Mine is knit in Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sport Multi in the Glenway Colorway.

knubbelchen2

I think soon his girlfriend will join him. They’ll make quite the pair. He’s waiting patiently for her for now. He already has another friend over at Isaac’s house.

knubbelchen3

Knitwise Design’s Linda Courtney

LInda_knitting

Linda Courtney is the designer behind Knitwise Design. She lives in Lubec, Maine—the easternmost town in the United States, near the Bay of Fundy. She’s been a maker since childhood and recalls “desperately” wanting a baby doll in a cradle that was advertised on TV. It wasn’t in the family budget, so Linda used her mom’s fabric scraps and an oatmeal box and soon had a cradle and matching blanket for her doll. That was an early lesson in “how much more rewarding it was to make things yourself.”

Linda’s grandmother taught her to knit when Linda was six. It didn’t take hold at first. She recalls a red and blue acrylic scarf that sat unfinished for “a few years.” At 11, spurred on by wanting to make something special for a friend, she knit her first finished object: a sweater. After that, Linda was a sweater-making machine. She knit sweaters for friends and for family. She explains she “was hooked.”

Elizabeth Zimmerman was Linda’s knitting mentor and, in fact, her life mentor. Linda was 26 and “joyously knitting baby sweaters out of anything at hand, even rug wool.” She read EZ’s “Knitting Without Tears” and credits that book with forever changing her knitting and her life.

“Reading Elizabeth Zimmermann opened my eyes to the possibility of not following the pattern – the expected path in life. With that influence, I made some very unconventional decisions, and just like in knitting – I got a life that was custom designed for me!”

EZ is who “first empowered” Linda to make her own pattern for her life “instead of following the directions.”

Today, Linda credits her various knitting communities with providing her with inspiration and support. She meets with a knitting group in Lubec and “looks forward to every meeting.” She is also part of the larger community of knitters on Ravelry, where she and I met, in a digital sense. With the launch of Knitwise Design, the community of independent designers active on Ravelry has been an influence and a help.

So has living in Lubec. Several of Linda’s patterns are “directly inspired by the amazing natural surroundings.” Her Creek Bottom Cardigan, below, is knit of a bulky weight yarn and a worsted weight yarn. It’s an easy-to-do imitation of the almost-impossible-to-knit bramble stitch. The result represents the “pebbly bottom of a cold creek in the mountains.”

closeupcreek

Tidal Cove, modeled here by one of Linda’s daughters, was “inspired by the tidal cove across from my home. Three-dimensional folds give it an almost organic form, while also representing the rhythmic movement of the sea as the tide comes and goes.”

tidalCove

The pace of life in Lubec is “so removed from the standard American city or suburb” that it’s “very conducive to creative pursuits.” Linda explains that the closest shopping mall to Lubec is a two-hour drive and the nearest stoplight is more than 50 miles away. “Less distractions,” the influence of Lubec’s artist community (including Linda’s musician-composer husband), and the natural beauty all “stimulate the creative energy.” Linda finds that the long winters are especially inspirational.

Since August of 2011, Linda has released 12 designs, including a sweater, vests, hats, scarves and socks. She’s designed for men, women, children and babies. She plans on keeping her designing eclectic. She’s “having way too much fun to narrow down my ideas to any special niche.” Linda thinks it might make sense to focus on a particular niche “from a business point of view,” but her approach to designing “hasn’t changed much since I was making things as a child.” She is still usually motivated “by needing something specific” for herself or to give as a gift. Bumpa’s Vest was a birthday design for her father (“Bumpa” to his grandchildren.)

Jo-Jo’s Vest, with Linda modeling the prototype below, was designed as a gift for Linda’s mother.

jojosAnd the original Castle Hat, shown below, was designed as a gift for her son’s long distance hiking friend whose trail name is Castle.

Castle-hat-photo-whispering-1024x826

Even Linda’s two newer sock patterns began life as gifts for friends.  Check out Cam’s Camping Socks and Linda’s newest design, Sock Lover’s Socks. (You won’t have any trouble figuring out which is which.)

camsockssocksocksLinda explains that she “likes variety” and “challenging myself with new things, so I guess I am not going to be easily categorized as a designer.” So we’ll continue to see a variety of cool patterns from Knitwise Design.

And in addition to being committed to a mix of the sensible, the classic, the whimsical, and the stylish, Linda is committed to investing in her patterns. Every pattern is both test knit and tech edited. This kind of attention means that her patterns are “clear and easy to follow…without errors.” It takes “a lot of effort and time—and money for the tech editing” but Linda wants “to feel confident that the patterns I am offering for sale are the best they can be.”

Linda is planning a number of new designs in 2014. She’s working on some scarf patterns in the new Briggs & Little yarn “Lite ‘n Fancy.” She’s also received yarn support from Maine’s String Theory. We can expect a small shawl pattern this year and likely another sock pattern. And you saw it first here, methinks a cowl pattern in a wonderfully textured wavy stitch is soon to be released.

Lindas_cowl

Editor’s note: Thanks so much, Linda, for allowing me to use your photos and for making time for this interview.