Friday, September 28, 2012

Animal Prints are Back!

I admit, I'm normally not one to follow the latest and greatest fashion trends...but, lately, I've been pretty excited about the resurgence of animal motifs in the knitting/crochet industry. I love everything folksy, nature-inspired and adore animals so it seems like a match made in heaven!  Let's take a look -


Let's start a few years back with the Majestic Moose vest pattern from the Knitty Winter 2011 issue. I love the entire ensemble of the outfit - a whimsical vest to soften up an otherwise woodsy, lumberjack-esque look. The moose is done using intarsia (a technique I have yet to master) and each side is knit separately - which means the backside is easy-peasy! These types of knits really inspire me to look more into intarsia and try to create my own animal graphics!


Of course, the master of animal motifs done with intarsia is someone you've probably heard us raving about - Stephanie Dosen of Tiny Owl Knits!! I really can't express how much I love her patterns - they are just too cute! Plus, she makes little gnome can you not be in love?We currently do not carry the patterns shown but you can check them out on her ravelry page here!


Another guru of animal prints and motifs is the one and only Debbie Bliss! Her animal inspired knits usually show up in her Debbie Bliss Knitting Magazines, such as the picture to the right. Featured in the brand new Winter '12 issue, these adorable fox, owl, and panda (shown to the left) hats are too cute for words! I love the matching mittens - talk about a great stocking stuffer.

Debbie Bliss also shows off her intarsia talents with this pillow set of tiger print motifs. What a great way to brighten up a room! These pillows can be found in the '11 Fall/Winter issue.


The Knitscene '12 Fall issue is brimming with neat animal designs created from eyelets! Take the Huntress Shawl, for example. I am so excited to knit this little shawlette - it looks like so much fun! 
I have two skeins of Madelinetosh Tosh Merino in my stash (the Well Water color) that will be perfect.

The Nocturnal Pullover is also a favorite...shown in the same issue of Knitscene. Knit up in the luscious Shibui Baby Alpaca DK yarn, this owl pullover is not only darling but it will be oh-so soft to wear. mmmm....


 I'm not the only one who loves animal knits! Jeanne and Sandy have jumped on board and dove right in to knitting a new pattern we just started carrying - Night Birds by Sunday Knits. 

It was so cute seeing them together yesterday - pawing through the colors of Rowan Fine Tweed to pick just the right color combination. 

These pictures show Jeanne's progress...I can't believe she is already this far (she started last night)! I can't wait to see these two "Joes" wearing their matching birdie mitts. We'll be sure to take a picture and post on our project log, all in due time. 


As for myself? Well, of course I forgot my knitting today to show you...but I am almost done with the Tiny Owl Knits Deer with Antlers Hat

It's actually a lot easier (and faster!) than it looks. Everything is of course knitted separately and then sewn together at the end with simple whip stitch. I just have the antlers to go (which will then be hand felted)! Wish me luck!!

Well, I hope you enjoyed this little journey through the world of animal knitting! If you have any favorites, please share them with us - as you can see, I just can't get enough. :)

Happy knitting and crocheting!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Knit Red KAL Finale!!!



Our first Knit Red KAL has come to an end. We have been having so much fun knitting Diane Soucy's A-line Hoodie from the Knit Red book! I want to thank each and everyone of you who participated, whether you made your participation known or not. I know there are quite a few of you out there.  I enjoyed my interactions with each of you and learned a few things myself.  I have to say that you all have created some remarkably beautiful sweaters and I'm in awe of the talent, hard work, speed and persistence shown.  Kudos!!!

Some of us are still working on finishing our sweaters.  Myself included. I'm only about half way through the skirt of the sweater.  I hope to have enough time to get it done in the next couple of weeks.  In the meantime, I'm still available for questions and help anytime so please don't hesitate to contact me.

I hope you all enjoyed the videos Diane and I made to help you out.  I think I speak for Diane when I say we really enjoyed making them for you. There are still two more left to do but due to some equipment issues we won't be able to get them done for another week or possibly two.  I'll be sure to post them in the Ravelry threads and here on the blog when we have them ready for you.

In case you missed the videos here are links to them so you can watch them on our website.

How to Decide What Size Sweater to Make

How to Measure Your Gauge Correctly

How to Cast on for a Top Down Sweater

How to Create Buttonholes and Divide Sleeves for Top Down Sweater

How to Pick up Stitches for the Neckband on your Top Down Sweater

I would love to see more photos of your projects, finished or not so please keep posting them or emailing them to me the email below.

Before I share photos of some of the finished sweaters I have a couple of questions for you.  Should we do another Knit Red KAL?  If so, which project would you like to do next?

Now for the fashion show!

Tylette was able to pop into the shop while she was visiting Reno and show us her project in person!  She was the first to finish hers and she did a wonderful job!

Justfeltcreative joined us late, she didn't start until September 7th and finished September 24th! 
Gorgeous! I love this brown color.
 Grosslf just has her sleeves to go. Here is her progress photo. I love that she chose a subtly variegated yarn.

For Sara's sweater, she is still working on finding just the right button and of course they have to be as perfect as her sweater is.

 There are a couple more people who are still finishing or haven't yet given me permission to post their photos, so I think a follow up post will be in order.

Thank you again for participating!  I look forward to doing this again soon.  Be sure to let me know if you would like to participate in another Knit Red KAL and which project you would like to nominate by posting a comment below or sending me an email askTerry @ (be sure to remove the spaces before and after the @)


Friday, September 21, 2012

Journey of a Knitwear Designer

The Sierra Sunset Cowl
I was recently talking with Laura (Jimmy) about some of the things I’ve learned in the last six months as the official in-house designer for Jimmy Beans Wool and she suggested I write about those things here. I’ve learned a lot, had some hits and misses, and continue to come up with new ideas and find inspiration every day. This is my journey…

Basic Neckie Design
Some of you may know that I designed a few knitted items before I started designing for Jimmy Beans Wool. My first design, the Basic Neckie (which eventually became a free pattern on the Jimmy Beans Wool site) was designed for a friend who came to me with an idea for a short buttoned neck scarf and asked if I knew how to make something like that. I said sure, I could figure it out. I did, then I taught her how to make it, then I made and sold them on Etsy. It was fun for a while, but got pretty burned out after a while.

Sharon and her Donner Pass Cowl
Flash forward eight years. By last fall I’d self-published a few more patterns under the name “Marinade Designs,” including the Hipster Hat, Donner Pass Cowl, and Winter Wheat Hat that a bunch of the gals here at the shop have knit. (Sharon, Shevawn, and Sandy are usually the first to knit my designs, thanks for the support ladies!) Then, in September of last year I was offered the HUGE opportunity to design something for the Knit Red book. I was SO thrilled and nervous too. Being published meant that I actually had to start trying harder to make something of this little passion of mine. Now was the perfect time, the momentum was starting. It’s funny, once I started putting that energy out into the universe, it was easier to make things happen. 

So, I started submitting designs to magazines early this year. There was one hit and a lot of misses, but that’s ok, I knew it would be a challenge. While at Stitches West this year, I mentioned to Laura that I was starting to submit designs to magazines and that I really wanted to give this designing thing a shot. Being the amazing boss that she is, she listened thoughtfully as I told her my goals. I had no idea that a month later, she’d find a way to make my dream a reality! (I really do work for the most amazing people. Seriously.)

Laura and Huck in my hats.
So here I am, six months and nine designs later (mostly knit, one crochet and two sewing patterns), the official in-house designer for Jimmy Beans Wool. I create at least one new free pattern each month for our Newsletter and Free Pattern page of the website. Knitting patterns are definitely my specialty right now as that is where most of my experience lies, but as I continue to develop my skill range in crochet and sewing I am planning to offer more of those patterns as well. In fact, last month’s pattern was actually two-in-one. “Hats for the Whole Family” featured both knit and crochet versions of a simple hat pattern that covers all sizes from Infant to XL adult. The best thing is that these patterns are free to all of you on the Jimmy Beans Wool website. Hopefully you are finding some of them useful!

Green Market Tote
The market bag pattern I designed for Knit Red turned out to be my first official published design. When it hit in June, it felt so surreal that I had a published design. In an actual book. Right in between patterns from Jared Flood (aka. Brooklyn Tweed) and Cornelia Tuttle Hamilton. JARED FLOOD AND CORNELIA TUTTLE HAMILTON!!!! Wow! So amazing and such an honor to share a space with these two greats, along with so many other brilliant designers that I've idolized for years.

At the Knit Red book signing.
My next published design (aside from the Jimmy Beans Free Pattern each month) is due out in the Winter 2012 issue of Knitscene Magazine. I am SO excited! I think I have every issue of Knitscene ever published. I am so honored to have been given these opportunities. I hope that you’ll join me as I learn and grow here at Jimmy Beans Wool.

I’ll be blogging about these designs and my process here regularly and would love if you would join me here when you can. Feel free to send me your comments and feedback. I would love to hear from you and welcome any advice you might want to share. I know that we all have a design aesthetic that we lean towards and you may have noticed by now that I love garter stitch, short rows, and simple design. Someday, I would love to design beautiful sweaters and larger garments as my knowledge base grows. I am learning day by day and cannot wait to see how my style evolves over time. I welcome you to my journey and hope that you’ll pull up a chair, sit, and knit a while with me.

Happy knitting and crocheting,

PS. Did you know we have a Jimmy Beans Wool Group on Ravelry? Come on over and join the conversation! Not on Ravelry? We are also on Facebook and Twitter!

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Knit and Crochet Show Recap

Some of you may know that The Knit and Crochet show, which is put on by The Knitting Guild Association was in Reno this last weekend. TKGA moves the show to a new place each year so this was a once in a blue moon opportunity. Of course, we had to be there to represent for both Stitch Red and Jimmy Beans Wool! To add to the awesomeness, we invited our friend Kirsten from Muench Yarns to join us as well so it was a regular party all weekend!

Here are some snapshots from the booth, and some of our favorite booths from other shops at the show as well:

Our booth was so big and open! We loved having tons of space! We even had an entire Tosh Onesie Corner!

The new Limited Edition Denise2Go Sets were a huge hit! (Have you seen them yet? The cases have bicycles on them! So cute!)

One of my personal favorite booths at almost every show I've been to so far is the  Freia Hand Paint Yarns/Knit Whits booth. Tina, the gal who owns the company, is just so nice, and her stuff is lovely to boot! I have a little growing stash of her yarns at home. I am working on convincing Jimmy to start carrying her yarns...maybe someday soon! :)

Stylistically, I thought the most creative and unique booth was Knitterly, a shop from Petaluma, CA. Seriously, their displays were so neat! They re-purposed all kinds items like old wooden school bleachers and chicken cages to showcase their yarns and kits. They also had such beautiful and unique stuff I haven't seen before, much of it from local hand-dyers and artists! Everyone working at her booth wore THE cutest aprons too. It made me want to sew cute aprons. Uh oh...

Many of you Reno locals are familiar with Pioneer Yarn Company in Minden, NV. They had a gorgeous booth as well. See that Catkin shawl up on top of their display, SO pretty! The owners of this shop are a husband and wife team who are such nice folks! I love stopping at their store whenever I drive through Minden. Many of our retail customers shop there as well which we are always so glad to hear! The more local shops we have in the area the merrier!

Next up on our tour is the Sierra Sewing Center! I have yet to actually visit their retail store here in Reno but I have a feeling I am going to need to take my sewing machine in for a tune up soon! Plus, it will give me a chance to drool a little over their selection of Baby Lock Sergers. Cheryl and I were so excited because they had the cutest double-sided flannel baby blankets that were pre-cut, stitched together, and hole punched for border crochet or knitting! They have a machine that punches the holes and sews the fabrics together at the same time! It's genius! So, of course I had to buy two of them for gifts. After crocheting a foundation chain all around, I am going to pick up stitches and knit a border onto it, I think it will be simply darling! I'll share my finished project with you all of course. :)

Lastly, The Knitting Nest in South Lake Tahoe had a really fun booth! As I walked by to admire the Alchemy yarns, they invited me into their "living room" to sit and knit with them. Every time I walked by their booth throughout the show, there were people sitting, chatting, and knitting. They even cracked open a bottle of wine for everyone to enjoy at the end of the day on Saturday. It was like walking in and joining a fun knitting circle full of really nice gals. So much fun! I can't wait to visit them on my next visit to South Lake Tahoe! We are practically neighbors after all. :)

All in all, TKGA was tons of fun! We had such a great time seeing long-time customers and friends and meeting new ones as well. Thanks so much to TKGA for hosting such a lovely show right in our backyard!

Hope you all have a lovely week and happy knitting and crocheting!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Denise2Go Limited Edition Sets!

The original
Denise2Go sets.

Jimmy Beans Wool asked me to tell a little of the story of the new Denise2Go sets in Limited Edition prints. It is another story about big things in small packages and proving again how small our world can be.

First, some context. Earlier this year, Denise Interchangeables asked Lorna Miser (the original owner of Lorna's Laces and now author and designer) to design a cotton case to hold a small range of knitting needles --  just enough to take on vacation and have needles to hand when you stumble across some irresistible yarn. We now produce these sets as Denise2Go with pink roses outside and green and blue dots inside.

Roll Back to School
In June Laura Zander and I had lunch together at the trade show TNNA in Columbus, OH. When we do see each other for real conversations like this, we talk about zillions of topics that interest us. Like dogs, reading and sewing. Laura mentioned that Jimmy Beans Wool had started selling fabrics as well as yarns. We wondered what would happen if we used some of these fabrics to make Denise2Go cases in alternative colors.

Lorna Miser has worked with Laura since before there was Jimmy Beans Wool! Laura designed and built the first web site for Lorna’s Laces, the yarn company created by Lorna and still bearing her name. This all began before Jimmy Beans Wool was ever in business. (In fact, it was Lorna who suggested to Laura that she should open a yarn shop!) Lorna’s Laces now dyes special Limited Edition colorways of yarn for Jimmy Beans Wool every month. (This happy knitter was lucky enough to nab some Royal Wedding in April 2011 and dreams of the beautiful socks it will become.)

Needle Case in progress
And suddenly over that lunch table at TNNA, these ideas collided! What if we take the model of a new colorway for Denise2Go each month, produced in a limited edition, and just for customers at Jimmy Beans Wool?

They look so snazzy with
the teal cables!
Now, less than three months later, we are so excited to introduce you to what we hope will be the first of many Limited Editions: “Roll Back to School!” 

An adorable bicycle print provides a fun alternative to roses-and-dots and the inside needles are a gray with teal cables. There are just 46 of these sets available, and each set is numbered so that it is truly a collectible! We also have a series of other beautiful limited editions waiting in the wings for the coming months!

Laura, Lorna and I live far apart and sadly do not see each other very often, yet distance is not a barrier to us in imagining possibilities.

We hope you love the special limited edition Denise2Go prints as much as we do!

Happy knitting,
Barbara (from Denise Needles)

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Knit Red A-Line Hoodie KAL – Week 5


Just a quick update this week! One week to go and we have another nearly finished hoodie! Sara who has just returned to work part-time at JBW (YEAH!), has been gracious enough to allow me to photograph her progress as she's participated in the KAL.

For those of you who follow us on Facebook you may remember this photo of Sara's and my swatches.

Raglan Increase
Sara chose to use MadelineTosh Vintage in the Badlands colorway. She alternated 3 hanks throughout the body because they didn't match as well as she would have liked.

Almost finished body!
Here's her sweater with the body nearly completed. This was her second try. She didn't like the way the colors were coming out with her first try at alternating the 3 hanks. So she opted to stagger the spots where she changed from one ball to the next which really made a big difference and really helped mix the colors well.

This is how a top down sweater's raglan line should look, with that nice elongated stitch right down the center!

Back view
The back view also clearly shows those great raglan lines.

Right side
Sara opted to do a 3 needle bind off for the top of her hood. The photo to the right shows how it looks on the right side.

And this photo shows how nice and tidy this bind off is on the inside of the hood.

Inside view of the bind off.
This is a great join that is very sturdy and helps yarns with a lot of drape maintain structure. You can read how to do it on our instructional page.

All finished!
And here she is! Modeling it for us! As you can see she made some modifications. Instead of increasing for the A-Line shape she did waist decreases and then increased again for the hips. She also added buttonholes all the way down the front and made the sleeves only 3/4s.  

Here's how she did the waist shaping:

Waist Shaping
• decreased four sts every 23 rows, 3 times (12 sts decreased)
• after last decrease round work even for 13 rows
• after working even for 7 rows, increase four sts every 7 rows, five times. (20 sts increased)”

She still hasn't decided on buttons so we fastened it with a shawl pin. We'll have to wait and see what buttons she chooses but based on her past choices I know they will be fabulous!!!

There are a few more sweaters I've seen that are coming along beautifully.

Diane and I will be filming a couple more videos. We experienced some technical issues that have delayed them but we'll get them up for you as soon as we can.

Happy Knitting!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Dora's Crochet Corner- Exploring Crochet Motifs

My favorite Japanese motif book.

Do you enjoy making crochet motifs?  I've always admired their loveliness, but have only used them occasionally in my designs, at least till now. The reason is this:  I design mostly fashion, and I am terrified of my sweater resembling a table cloth or afghan!

The other concern I've had with motifs is that many were designed to be made with very thin crochet thread.  When they are blown up several sizes -- even with a fingering weight yarn -- they get so big it's not always clear what to do with them. 

The Cover
Lately I've become obsessed, however, with finding new and different ways to design with motifs.  I have quite a few motif books, but my favorites are Japanese.  One in particular has over 300 different motifs in a variety of shapes -- squares, circles, triangles, hexagons.  But even more impressive to me is that this book shows every single motif by itself, with a chart, and also -- get this -- a picture and chart of several motifs joined together!  To me it's invaluable to see what a whole fabric of motifs looks like, and to study how they can be joined.

Here are some of the motifs I've made lately.  I've been searching in particular for those that are unusual, with shapes or designs I haven't seen many times before.  To solve the problem of huge motifs, I've been looking for those that don't have too many rounds. 
Circle in Square Motif

The first is quite unusual, isn't it?  A large circle surrounded by a square.  I particularly like how the circle is made -- just chains and single crochet stitches, where the chains increase each round -- how clever!  This is made with Blue Heron Yarn's Bamboo Lace, actually more like a fingering than a lace weight yarn, and a size B 2.25 mm hook.  I haven't yet figured out what to design with this, but I really like it!

Little Star Motif
These little stars are quite cute, don't you think?  This is one of the simplest, quickest motifs I've come across, and I can see many possibilities for use in a design.  These are made with 2 colors of Manos del Uruguay yarn called Serena, a sport weight yarn I return to again and again because it's texture and drape are so perfect for crochet. The hook size is a C 2.5 mm.

Midnight in Manhattan
The dark blue motifs here are made with Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light, a more robust fingering weight yarn, almost a sport weight.  I received a skein from my LYS, The Yarn Company, whose owner, Tavy Ronen,  commissioned this very special color called Midnight in Manhattan. I'm quite excited about how it looks and feels -- excellent drape on this one, made with a C 2.5 mm hook.  Maybe a shawl?  I need to put a few more motifs together and see how they look.  Can you find the booboo I made on this sample?

Figure and Ground motif
Another motif I love is this little gem, which appeals to me because there is a figure (the 4-pointed petals) and background; it's constructed in a non-traditional way and reminds me of Irish Crochet.  This is made with Aunt Lydia's Bamboo size 10  thread, and a 1.5 steel hook.  I am really enjoying this thread, as the bamboo is much softer and more pliable than cotton and therefore easier to work with.  I've only attempted this size thread and hook quite recently and it's getting easier the more I do it.  Another great help has been my brand new Ott Lite, which helps me see what I'm doing!  I'm including a photo of a second motif that hasn't been blocked -- as you can see, blocking is essential for these lacy motifs!

Duplet motif
with Solomon's Knot 
In addition to my Japanese books, when I want a real challenge I consult my Duplet magazines, which I got when visiting the Ukraine two summers ago.  I know for sure they will be unusual, but also that the chart may not be crystal clear. The Ukrainian crocheters are so skilled, the magazine sometimes leaves out little details like exactly how to start or finish the round!  When I do succeed in figuring something out, it's always a wonderful experience.  Here's a motif I especially like because it includes the Solomon's Knot stitch -- can you see them at the edges? This is made with Claudia Hand Painted linen, a fingering yarn. Because linen is stiff, I used a size C 2.5 mm hook, rather than a smaller size.

Duplet Motif Tencel Lace
Lastly, another Duplet motif I dug out of my huge pile of swatches. I know it's lost some of it's perfect shape but had to share!  It's made with a mystery Tencel lace (lost the label, dang!) and was probably one of my earliest efforts with thin yarn and hook.  Not perfect, but so very pretty.

Here are some pointers I've learned from my recent focus on motifs: 

            -- I work at a tighter tension than I normally use when making rows of stitches.  Firstly, because tighter stitches help the design emerge more clearly to the eye, and second, because there are more open spaces in motifs than when working rows, and therefore the fabric will drape naturally.

            -- Keeping track of stitch counts in each round can be a challenge -- I find it helps to study the whole motif and how it's put together, how the number of stitches in the first round relates to the finished shape.  I've had the experience of intending to make a hexagon and ending up instead with a pentagon! 

The world of motifs is really opening up for me, and I can imagine so many ways of putting them together and combining them with regular crochet.  I'm grateful for all the wonderful resources out there to study and learn more and hope to inspire you as well!

Happy Crocheting!

Dora Ohrenstein is an author, designer and writer whose most recent book is Custom Crocheted Sweaters: Make Garments that Really Fit.  Her website  is a great source for articles, interviews and techniques, and where she teaches online crochet classes.