Friday, October 7, 2016

Shrinking a design, and I don't mean in the washing machine

In January of this year I was asked to propose some classes to the Focus on Fiber Arts Guild of Alberta, they were running a weekend long workshop in the provincial capital (and my hometown) of Edmonton and were looking for teachers. I knew that I wanted to teach both the Cottina Cowl and the Kitto Cowls since they are both great stepping stone projects. By stepping stone I mean that they traverse two experience levels moving a knitter from Beginner Lace to Intermediate Lace. Both these cowls are worked in the round with some Intermediate lace and a few techniques that are slightly more challenging to help your skill set evolve.

But they are both much too large to be worked in a single class, the class needed all the aspects of the patterns with about 20% of the size. So I set off to shrink the patterns and also design something more functional and less of a time waste than a swatch. Oops! was that out loud? I know that designers are supposed to love swatching, and of course they are useful and necessary, and of course I have to swatch before I design a project but.... really sometimes they really chafe don't they? I wanted to do a class where you come home with the beginning of a project, not just some swatch you will probably toss in the bottom of the knitting bag until you need to mercilessly harvest the needles for another project. The way I see it, if you leave a class with the start of, say, a cute pair of fingerless mittens you might just head home, hit the couch and keep working on them. And I definitely wanted to shrink the cowls into fingerless mittens since they are simple, appeal to a variety of people and fit a wide range of hand sizes.

The Cottina Cowl shrank really nicely, I used the same chart and worked it 3 times around the circumference of the cuff. Because there are stacked increases and decreases the horizontal (cast on) edge of these mittens comes down in points just like the cowl, with three points around the circumference. The hand section has a simple opening for the thumb where the palm area is worked back and forth with 1x1 ribbing, and the top is joined back into the round to be worked for a few more rows of ribbing before binding off. All in all a very simple but fun fingerless mittens pattern that is great for an advancing beginner wanting something a little more challenging.

The mittens are worked in Ancient Arts DK Superwash Mineral, and use only one skein, since I was working with a new yarn I thought I would see what the original Cowl looked like in a 2 color striping version. Above you can see the Cottina Cowl worked in 2 colors of Ancient Arts DK Superwash, Inuit Art and Blue Spruce, the pattern has been updated to include information on how to modify it for 2 colors.

The Kitto Cowl was slightly more challenging to shrink since I wanted to make sure that the mitts had the same feel as the original with the color changes.  They begin with a smaller version of the Kitto Bottom Lace Section, also 3 repeats around the circumference. Then there is a garter stitch section with the same horizontal striping as the large version. The Hand section on this mitt has a garter stitch gusset worked with knit 1 front and back increases and the horizontal lace band same as the cowl. Once again this is a great little project for those wanting to branch out past the beginning level , and bonus that once you knit the gloves you have covered all the techniques used in the larger cowls!

The Kitto Fingerless Mittens are worked in a beautiful Cotton Wool blend, the Ash Lawn Collection from Cestari. The original Kitto Cowl was worked in the Worsted weight 100% wool from Cestari and both collections have a great color selection.

You can find all 4 of these patterns on my website, 

and also on Ravelry

Friday, September 9, 2016

Always a Prairie Girl

I grew up in Edmonton, on the farthest end of South Millwoods, so far south that behind the house across the street was a farmers field. Beyond that was one last small community of rural houses before the endless straight trek to Red Deer and Calgary. You would never recognize it today, the area is now filled with houses and a new Freeway. Businesses and strip malls have popped up all over the area and the place practically vibrates with traffic. But when I was growing up it was quiet, peaceful, we would routinely ride our bikes down the highway to the play park on the other side of the field. Or spend hours all over the neighborhood and the road playing kick the can, or street hockey.

Summer was spent driving across Alberta to a lake place in B.C. watching the landscape transition from waving wheat fields to foothills, and finally to mountains usually peaked with snow. The ever unfolding terrain features were a timeline of how much trip was remaining, once you hit the mountains you were about halfway, whichever direction you were headed. This transition from wheat fields to mountains is such a defining part of Alberta, even the provincial crest is a depiction of it. And I had forgotten just how important it was for me, what a strong image of childhood and family it brings to my mind and heart.

December 2017 marks my 10 years in the U.S. and I love where I live, I love the people the friends that I have made (the best best best friends I now know are a precious gift of being in the right place at the right time). Our forever place is Spokane and I love and adore it.  A smaller and quieter city sandwiched in between mountain ranges. Most of the amenities of a larger metropolis with a slower pace. This is a great place for my kids, we have the perfect house on the perfect land and love our pace of life.

So when we went back to Edmonton last year for Thanksgiving it was almost a surprise how seeing the familiar landscape was a need I never knew I had. Somehow making the trip from the Mountains to the Prairie gave me a sense that this, and only this, was a true vacation. We had traveled to Florida earlier in the year and that felt less like a vacation than driving up Highway 22. Watching the mountains flanked by their foothills recede into the distance and travelling deeper into the wide expanse of Prairie again evoked a sense of travel nothing else did.

The trip was great, we saw lots of family and friends, got caught up with all the goings on and the evolution of our former province. Heading south once again we stopped in Canmore for a day or two where I was lucky enough to visit a yarn shop and found the most luscious Baby Alpaca. I chose 5 colors that reminded me of the landscape I had just traversed and knew right then that a piece of my first home was coming with me to my current home, and I needed to create that sense of place with this yarn.

The Always a Prairie Girl Wrap is worked from the bottom up with 5 colors and 6 distinct sections. The wheat fields are in the foreground of the piece, behind these waving grasses you can see the Highway stretching North along the foothills. The Mountains are being covered with a small dusting of snow and finally that blue vault of sky expands over all. This wrap is worked with a combination of lace stitches and slipped stitch mosaic work. You only use one color at a time but by slipping certain stitches you create the graphic color work. The vertical edges are flanked by a slipped stitch i-cord border and each section uses either 109 or 218 yds of DK weight so it can be a great stash buster.

My favorite part of this wrap was the test knit, because every test knitter had a very personal connection to the piece. Each tester chose colors for their wrap based on where they were currently living or where they grew up. You can see these project pages on Ravelry here.

This pattern is available through my website here

And you can see it on Ravelry here

Are you knitting the Always a Prairie Girl Wrap? If you post on Instagram tag me with @meghanjoneslnmp, or use hastag #littlenutmegproductions, I'd love to see it! You can also tag me on Facebook with tag @Little NutMeg Productions, hope to see you there! xo Meghan

Monday, August 22, 2016

Celestial Phantoms: Knitting across the Universe

It is no secret that I love variegated yarn, I mean REALLY LOVE variegated yarn. It seems like most of my stash is comprised of wild and crazy and fingering weight yarns, usually one or two skeins and all of them are just a bit too crazy for most patterns. It is also no secret that I love patterning, and mixing pattering with wild yarn, but lately I have been spending a lot of time investigating what kind of patterning works best with these yarns. How does it react to certain manipulations? what can we as knitters look for in a stitch pattern to help these yarns out, instead of warring with them?

One answer I have found is using slipped stitches with long floats, not only are they beautiful, but they shift the colors of the yarn around enough that it helps to prevent pooling and flashing. They also create movement within the the work that compliments the movement of the color in the yarn. After completing the Coral Palace Shawl and then the Palomino Sunset Shawl I was looking for another stitch pattern that made use of these long floats and larger lace holes. I couldn't find one that I liked or that seemed like it would really work for the shawl I was trying to create. But I did find a smocked pattern with long floats that captured my interest, and I wondered if I could alter it to include some lace as well.

After some tinkering with large triple wrapped yarnovers, extra decreases, slipped stitches and a touch of garter stitch this almost quilted, very geometric, sort of hexagonal pattern was born. With the warm orange yarn I was using it reminded me strongly of little starbursts, and the flickering light from the night sky.

I am a present time kind of gal, I live in the moment, I am direct, honest and impulsive. I try hard to be patient and sometimes succeed, but the kind of person who thinks in years? or hundreds of years? I am not that person. So for me, stars exist on a totally different time frame then I am really capable of understanding. The fact that the light from a star can take between 4 years to upwards of 7 000 years to reach earth is fascinating. The starlight from the closest star that left home August 22nd 2012 has been traveling unimpeded across the galaxy for approximately 4 years and will shine on us tonight. The starlight from further stars that shines today will never reach us in our lifetimes. And what we do see from these further stars left sometime during the Neolithic Revolution when Humans were just discovering one of the basic ingredients of civilization, namely Agriculture. When something transcends our human timeline in such a huge way how do we measure it? or understand it? It seems to me that perhaps this starlight is really just a ghost of what it was when it left the star, a Celestial Phantom of sorts.

So if you want to knit your way across the universe with me grab some crazy yarn and get ready; garter stitch tab, top down shawl, lots of extra yarnovers and a little smocking but still easy. Rave reviews from testers who said it was just plain fun to knit, interesting but simple enough to be fast and addictive.

You can find this pattern on my Website here

And you can Fav it (which I sincerely appreciate) 
on Ravelry here

Friday, August 5, 2016

Rainbow Shortstack: Making the most of a Cold

I usually get sick once a year, maaaybe twice but most of the time I get a knock down drag em out awful terrible cold about once every 12 months. 2 years ago it was the stomach flu on Christmas Eve... yeah that was fun, and then just this past Spring the whole family got hit with this monster cold. Because I enjoy good health for most of the time I am always surprised and a little disappointed when I do get sick. Especially with the type of cold that makes you stuffy and confused in the head, because then knitting is hard and not really enjoyable.

Since I was basically just lying around and just lying around makes me antsy, and all my projects were too complicated I wandered upstairs to the stash looking for something bright, happy and simple. I also wanted socks, it was barely spring, I was sick and my feet were cold.  The red, blue, yellow skein of yarn was a birthday gift from a very dear friend a few years ago and at the time I had immediately run out and bought the red to match. Not having a clue what to do with them then they were relegated to the stash. They were discontinued colors and yarn bases, and that morning they called to me, so bright and cheerful just the right thing to help my grumpy grumps.

I have knit a fair number of socks and despite my love of intricate patterning, lace and cables there is one thing a sock needs to have for me to actually choose it above all the other socks. A stockinette foot, simply that, I guess enough years of wearing commercial socks has me totally programmed to like a smooth cover on my foot. But when I truly enjoy wearing a handknit sock it is always the ones with plain stockinette feet, so in the pursuit of comfort while I was sick, a plain foot was first on my list. 

Second was top down, I know, I know, most knitters balk at top down but I just like them. I can never quite get the length right in the foot on a toe up sock and I feel like the top down version fits my foot better anyways. So top down because it is what I like, and petulantly sick I was doing what I liked. And since I was rolling with a self indulgent streak a super simple basic heel turn was also being added, nothing fancy. My favorite moment of knitting a sock (and probably the reason I knit them) is the moment when you've just finished the heel flap, and short rows and pickup around for the Gusset, and this weird tube with a flap suddenly realizes its purpose. There is magic in that moment and I needed magic right then.

And Third it needed to be the ultimate simple alligator brain knit, something so mild and easy that my mucus filled noggin could not only knit it but also write the pattern. I wanted to showcase the yarn colors in a simple and striking way, emphasize that they are similar but different and also play with the fact that since the colors are so close they can fade in and out of the patterning. Stripes seemed the right choice since they were simple enough to see the pattern through the color changes, and easy on the brain.

But stripes? Really? They are so.. done... I mean I love them and all but I am also tired of them. These needed to be something a little more special than just stripes, something that made stripes more than lines. Something that appealed to my need for more patterning all the time... but with less patterning. 

The stripes in these socks are worked with a 4 row 2 row repeat, the leg area is worked with the 2 rows in garter and the foot area is all in stockinette. The color roles are reversed on the foot of the sock, and the second sock is worked with opposite color roles, for a fraternal but still matching pair. Because the socks are shorter in the leg the yardage requirements can accomodate a totally matching pair if you like. And since they use a small 50g skein of yarn you can always work with small leftover amounts and use up some stash!

Rainbow Shortstack is available as a PDF download here, and all the specifics are there as well. 

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Deepening Twilight and the Lattice of Trees against a night sky

I grew up in the North, where twilight is slow and steady and in the summer it lasts for hours. I love that moment in the dusk when the branches of the trees become almost indistinguishable from the sky. An ever darkening lattice that become less and less the separate living tree they were in the light and more a pattern that stretches across the dome of advancing night. It seems like a magical time when all things are one, united by their inability to breach the depth of the retreating sunlight.

When I got this yarn to design with the color immediately reminded me of that moment, the dusky mauve purple with it's halo from the baby Llama yarn was just perfect to illustrate that gentle and subtle transition from day to night. I knew that I wanted to somehow illustrate the look of the branches over the semicircular dome of the sky. But I also wanted something more than just a half circle shawl, I needed something geometric to set off the semi circle shape, something unusual and unique.

I adore knitting shawls from a provisional cast on outwards, I find that even the simplest of patterns becomes something magical when you mirror it on itself along one line of stitches. It also means that you can work the pattern in the round, which (for me) is a bit of a carte blanche for working with some lovely intricate patterning on every round. For this shawl the rectangular section is cast on with a provisional cast on, and the shawl is worked in the round from the center out. The rectangular section has the center area which has patterning on every round and a border of brocade lace to separate it from the sides.The side sections are worked on either end with increases every round directly beside the rectangular section. This creates the half circle dome I was wanting and the patterning on these side areas seems to emanate out from the center.

The border is a knit on border which repeats the brocade border combined with a simple garter stitch triangle to really emphasize the unique shape.

You can find this pattern on Ravelry and soon (shhh.....) perhaps a new website of my very own.

Do you love the finished product and want to own it on a Totebag? or maybe a coffee mug? You can check out this pattern on my Society6 store right here. 

Friday, May 20, 2016

When you can't find what you want; design it!

 About a year ago I was looking for a spring/summer cardigan to knit, not necessarily only for spring or summer either, I find that I wear my warm and cozy wool sweaters in my cold 100+ year old house but as soon as I leave to the grocery store, or a friends house (who has this crazy "insulation" stuff everyone is so hip on) I get way too warm. So I like lighter sweaters for the winter as well for layering pieces. I had the yarn, some Louisa Harding Merletto that I had purchased for another project that ended up getting the 'rip', and now to find the pattern I wanted to knit!

There were a few, but none that were lighter choices in my size that struck my fancy. And really it came down to sizing choices, I am a voluptuous and gorgeous 3X with curves and Mama stretch marks. I have a nice comfy belly and broad shoulders, and it can be truly discouraging to find a stylish pattern in the larger sizes. Or if they are sized large they tend to be a boring box pullover that hides my goddess beauty in yards of fabric.

After a few hours of frustrating searching and unfortunately a few self derogatory comments (hey they happen) I realized that truly I needed to write the pattern I was so desperately looking for. It may be a lofty dream but I would love to reclaim the knitting pattern industry sizing issue one pattern at a time and what better project to start with than this?

I knew I wanted to use this beautiful geometric lace pattern on the back, it was just so striking and was going to create a 'wow' moment when the wearer turned around. It seemed like a plain front was in order to really set off  the surprise of the back, and then some texture on the sleeves to match the hem and collar. The shoulders got a bit of a special treatment with an extended lace section that places the lace 2 inches past the shoulder seam onto the front of the garment. Giving the front a sneak peek of the lace work you are about to be amazed by on the back of the work.

This garment is worked from the bottom up, the lace pattern does need shaping at the armhole areas and you will need to know how to work shaping in lace without a totally charted decrease. The sleeves have cap shaping and are set in for a streamlined and fitted look. The front is designed to have a 3-4" opening which you can play around with when choosing what size to knit.

Because this cardigan is worked with 3 different patterns that are also worked on differing needle sizes it is a seamed garment, this also gives the finished piece a stability that it would not normally have in this yarn. It is a giant pain and yet REALLY IMPORTANT to swatch each pattern and then wetblock them if you are going to knit this garment. The Lace back opens up considerably when blocked and having the blocked sample helps you not to overknit the length on the Back. Also some of my testers used wool instead of a cotton blend and they had a significant increases in yardage used. Wool tends to have more rows per inch than cotton so there are more rows worth of knitting in a wool version which means more yardage.

I hope you like this pattern as much as I do, I have worn it so many times and in additional to being comfortable and getting great comments from others it truly makes me feel beautiful! You can purchase this pattern on Ravelry

If you knit this or any of my patterns I would love to see pictures! You can share finished pictures with me on Facebook, my Ravelry Forum or on Instagram by tagging @meghanjoneslnmp or using #littlenutmegproductions and #meghanjoneslnmp

Do you love this Lace pattern and want to own it on more than just the Cardigan? Checkout the Glassberry section of the Society 6 store for mugs, pillows, iphone cases and more!

Friday, May 6, 2016

A quick knit, someone, anyone, can you get me a quick knit!

 As I sit here writing this there is a tiny terrorist toddler beside me jumping on the guest futon, the downstairs has flooded thanks to a brilliant husband enacted plumbing "quick fix" and the lawn is over 8 inches tall because the mower is trapped behind the latest building project in the garage. I have exactly 5, wait 8, okay probably more like 10 projects on the go and a giant backlog and that's before we thought we could build a greenhouse, and a play structure, do dance recitals, spring concerts, campout and piano recitals. My point is that life is busy, right? It seems like it zips past us so quickly, the most surprising example being that our oldest is 9 (?!?!?!) which baffles and delights me daily.


Sometimes when I am feeling overwhelmed I retreat into a small project, I dismiss all the other things I have on the go and find something really quick to work on. Usually it is a gift for a friend, or a baby outfit of some sort, it needs to have just the right amount of interesting and fast. My daughters love to receive knitted items and the smallest and most coveted one is a headband. I have designed a few headbands but I think my favorite is this one; Polos Headband was originally released in Knitscene Accessories in 2014.

At the time the call for submissions was for knits inspired by history, or historical characters and places. I have always been a fan of Greek Mythology and rather liked Hera the queen of the Gods. She was steadfast, the goddess of marriage and family she never had dalliances with humans or anyone (or thing, it's mythology, we need a proviso) outside of her marriage. Originally I had come across an image of this bust of Hera and really liked her Diadem, it was actually a symbol of her power and fidelity and was included in many sculptures of her. I wanted to try to emulate the feeling of this Diadem in my proposal with a combination of cables and lace where the stitch patterns shape the headband, not increases or decreases.

The headband is worked from end to end, it begins and ends with 1x1 ribbing, transitions into a subtle cable pattern behind the ears and a delicate lace pattern for over the crown of the head. The finished piece only uses about 20 grams of sock weight yarn and is perfect for those bits of leftover yarn from socks and shawls. Actually it would look great if you changed color between the ribbing, cables and then lace and back again.. hmm... someone try it and share it on Facebook with me okay?

Please take note of the button, that almost perfectly matches the yarn. It is a vintage button I had in my stash from who knows where, and when the time came to find the right fastener for this yarn the button magically appeared at the top of the pile. It gives me this silent and deep feeling of satisfaction when I look at it, like perhaps if I can find a button to perfectly match yarn then I can do just about anything, (or at least keep telling myself I can).

If you knit a project with this pattern I would LOVE to see it, please tag me on Instagram with @meghanjoneslnmp or use the hashtags #littlenutmegproductions and #meghanjoneslnmp. You can also share photos on my Facebook page, or to my Ravelry Group, Happy Knitting!! xo Meghan

You can find this pattern on Ravelry here