Thursday, 19 April 2018

Colours of Spring Test-Knit Call!

**This post contains affiliate links.  Any link marked with an * may give me a reward or commission if you visit and/or purchase something using that link.  And, if you do purchase from my affiliate links, thank you for supporting my yarn habit!  For more details, click here.**

Welcome, all, to my newest call for test-knitters!  So, this call is for the Colours of Spring Shawl!

A woman wearing a garter stitch and lace crescent shawl. The shawl is striped in a blue-green gradient. One edge of the shawl is out of frame, with the other end wrapped around her shoulder, with the wingspan held open
Photography: Stephanie Wallace
I'm excited to have this up for testing, since these are the Q2 release for the Pattern Muses on Patreon!  And, despite a few delays in getting things posted, I'm now looking for test-knitters!

 This is a garter-stitch and lace crescent shawl, designed for gradient kits or a gradient yarn.   The sample was knit using two *Gradient Sets from *OceanWindKnits on Etsy(approx 880 yards/804 meters) but it could easily be done other gradient kits or yarn.   I did it on my *3.5mm circulars, but being a shawl, gauge is not pivotal. 

If people are interested, sign ups are here on the Ravelry Thread!  You will have to be a Ravelry.com member to view and post to the thread, but sign up is free.
A woman wearing a garter-stitch and lace crescent shawl across her back. The shawl is striped in a blue-green gradient.
Photography: Stephanie Wallace

The deadline for this test is May 24, 2018.  Testers who complete the test will receive the finished pattern for free, as well as one pattern of their choice from my self-published patterns.

Also, if you want to be notified on Ravelry about new test knits, you can PM me on Ravelry to sign up in my test-knitter's thread.  I'll also post test-knit calls here, to my other social media platforms (FacebookG+PatreonInstagram ), and, I'll send out test-knit calls to those on my mailing list, as well, so hopefully, anyone who's interested will see my test-knit calls.

As always, any questions, feel free to reach out, and thanks for checking out this test-knit call!  

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

WIP Wednesday: Still Waters Shawl

**This post contains affiliate links.  Any link marked with an * may give me a reward or commission if you visit and/or purchase something using that link.  And, if you do purchase from my affiliate links, thank you for supporting my yarn habit!  For more details, click here.**

Hello all, and welcome back to another WIP Wed!

So, for those who are wondering what came out of my attempt at the Initiate Knit Design Challenge, well, here's the answer -- I recently cast on for the full size of the Still Waters Shawl!  The very initial idea for this came from the Ravelry Designer Challenge, but the idea didn't get past a rough brainstorm in the challenge, so I was glad to put it back on the table for the IKD challenge!

Those who follow me on Instagram have possibly already seen my (admittedly deformed) swatch. Now, it's time to see the whole thing come to life. . . starting with the 450-plus stitches I have to cast on! I'll be honest and say that I'm not fully cast on yet!
A set of cast on stitches on a long circular needle.  Stitch markers in a variety of shapes are placed along the needle.

I know, I know, why would I do that?  Well, this is a s shawl that's being knit from the bottom up.  Why? Because that was the way I had to do it to get it to look the way I wanted.   So, each other row will decrease (which, I figure, will probably be the saving grace of this shawl, since each row will be getting shorter and shorter!)

It's my first beaded design, so I admit, I'm a little nervous about that.   I'm quite comfortable beading with a teeny crochet hook, so I don't mind in the slightest, but I know that beading is something that not everyone's comfortable approaching.

Yarn is the absolutely amazing Dye Version Silver, in the colourway "Lagoon".  I got this at the Toronto Knitters Frolic in 2015, and it's been sitting in my stash bin ever since, so it's a good excuse to get it out of the stash and knit up into something awesome.  Needles are my 3.5mm *32 inch HiyaHiya fixed circulars from *Eat.Sleep.Knit -- now that I've finished the Colours of Spring Shawl, these needles are free to use! 

The stitch markers are whatever ones I grabbed at hand to mark repeats of 50 sts, so they're a mix of sets right now!  The rose and the circle of dolphins are from *EfficientSense's Etsy Store, while the shells and the crab (the crab is my centre stitch marker at the moment) can be found *here, at *winemakerssister Etsy Store.   Both sets are absolutely gorgeous!  I got the lobster claws for both the sets, so yes, they fit over the 3.5mm needles, but they also hook into the knitting (or crochet), so that you can mark rows and such for repeats.  Plus, there's no danger of accidentally knitting them into your work!

Well, that's the newest WIP Wed update here!  Stay tuned to see what I'm working on next week -- and I'd love to see what you're working on too!  Feel free to post your WIPs in the comments (and they don't have to be knitting, anything crafty would be amazing to see)!

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Pattern Release: Woodland Mittens!

It may be April, but I'm quite thrilled to present the first pattern of 2018!  The Woodland Mittens pattern is now live on Ravelry and Etsy!

Photography: Stephanie Wallace
Knit in DK-weight yarn, the slipped-stitch palm provides an extra layer of warmth and protection against friction (and provides help in making snowballs, too!)  The back of the mitten is cabled, to keep the knitter's interest.   They need between 175 and 310 yards (160 to 283 m) of yarn depending on size, making them a good way to use up those impulse purchases of one or two skeins!  The mittens come in 4 sizes, Adult XS to L; with a hand circumference of 6.5 (7, 8, 9) inches, 16.5, (18, 20, 23) cm.

The sample was knit in Baa Ram Ewe Dovestone DK, in Eecup, but these could easily be made in a wool or wool blend DK weight yarn. I’d suggest something with a mostly wool content, with at last 50% Bluefaced Leicester (BFL) if possible, for durability and warmth.
CAD$ 5.50
I have to admit, I had my doubts about releasing this in April.  It was released far later then I had first planned, and I was wondering who would want mittens in spring! But then the huge winter storms hit, so it's one of the few silver linings -- I don't feel so out-of-place releasing a mitten pattern in April when it's -12 C outside!   So, I do hope these mittens help keep your fingers warm during the chilly spring this year!  Stay safe and stay warm while the storms rage!

And, as always, I look forward to seeing what you make, and please, tag your creations on Social Media with #SarahDawnsDesigns, so I can find your awesome things! If you've got feedback, comments, or  questions about the pattern, you can comment here, send me a PM on Ravelry, or e-mail me at sarahdawnsdesigns@gmail.com.  

Sunday, 15 April 2018

Patreon Revamp and Re-launch!

Well, this is a challenging post to write, so please, bear with me!

I've already talked about this a few places online, but I want to talk about it here, too.  See, I recently did a huge update to my Patreon About page, so I think it's a good time to have this conversation go live, and I admit, I'm rather nervous about it!

People usually ask me two questions when the topic of Patreon comes up. The first question is "Wait, what is Patreon?"

Patreon is a crowdfunding platform specifically geared towards artists. It's a way for people who love something to be able to support that something without having to shell out lots of money, and get some cool things in return.  At it's simplest, it's a crowdfunded version of artistic patronage.  People pledge a monthly reoccurring amount, and get cool stuff in return!

Patreon LogoThe second question I often get asked is, "Well, why are you on Patreon?"   The answer to that question is another question, this one, with a much longer answer.

See, I've had people openly ask me how they can support my work more then they already do. And  "How can I support your work further?" is a very exciting thing to hear as an artist!   For example, when I've done commissioned knitwear, I've had people offer me tips (and you folks are total sweethearts, just in case one of you is reading this!)  So clearly, people actually do want to support me (I admit, I would not have thought that true when I started this business)!

But, most of my business is digital patterns, and my customers are from all over the world.  My digital marketplaces don't have an option for tips (understandably), and straight Paypal donations play havoc with international tax laws.   I needed, -- for lack of a better descriptor -- a 'digital tip jar,' that would do things like handle VAT; and Patreon fills the role nicely!   So, now, when people ask "how can I further support and get involved in your work?" I now have an answer that isn't convoluted:  Become a Patron.

I'm thrilled that by using Pateon, it's not just about awesome, kindhearted people giving tips.  Through Patreon, I have the option to offer something in return!     Patrons get get cool stuff, like signed books, early access to test-knit drafts, access to my self-published pattern library, live Q & A, and lots more!  Most other 'donation' style platforms don't offer the option for me to provide stuff in return, but Patreon does!   Plus, Patreon provides financial security -- I never see your credit card info -- and it's risk-free pledging for Patrons, since you can cancel at any time! 

The other thing is, that the people who do become Patrons -- well, they support amazing stuff.  They help keep the fiber world open, they make it so I can produce more free content, so that I can give teachers and classes patterns at a discount (or even free!).   They're supporting my (upcoming) free Youtube tutorials, and helping to make sure that everyone, regardless of situation, has access to resources in the Fiber Arts.  And, you can some of the people who've signed up to support the making of amazing stuff over on the Patreon Sponsors Page! (Not everyone is on my Sponsors Page -- some people aren't interested in being credited, and that's fine too!)

With all this said, though, please, I want to be absolutely clear:  This isn't about "give me money."  I really want to make that point, because I think it sometimes does get lost with Patreon Campaigns.  If you don't pledge to me, that's perfectly ok too!  Becoming a Patron is not a requirement, or me trying to guilt-trip, or anything else of that nature.  Sure, Patreon pledges are amazingly helpful, I won't deny it.  But, they're in no way required or expected.  Rather, it's me saying "hey, for the folks were looking for a way to tip me - here's a way to do that!  If you want to get more involved, here's a way to do that!"

So, for those who are willing to pledge on Patreon -- you're amazing! Thank you for your awesomeness! And for those who aren't, please, please, don't worry! Even just by being here and reading this blog, you're helping me out!  (No, seriously, -- the more views and readers I have, the higher this blog ranks in search!)

Well, that's it!  I know Patreon is new to some people, and can be a divisive topic for others, so I wanted to really sit down and go through what it is, why I'm using it, and why it's an effective way to further support my work, for those so inclined.   Thanks again for reading!  And, for those who are willing, I'd love to see you as Patrons! 




Wednesday, 11 April 2018

WIP Wednesday: Lorien Cowl

**This post contains affiliate links.  Any link marked with an * may give me a reward or commission if you visit and/or purchase something using that link.  And, if you do purchase from my affiliate links, thank you for supporting my yarn habit!**

Hello folks!  This week, I've been revisiting some WIPs in an attempt to clear my needles.  This week has been a return to the Lorien Cowl!  It and my Crochet Hood make very good Knit Night projects, since they're both relatively easy-to-remember repeats! Yeay for simplicity, right?

I know it's not the best picture, but the weather here is pretty disgusting right now.  It's quite grey, and overcast enough that I had to turn the living room lamps on to get this picture -- and this is at 3 pm in the afternoon!   That said, the incoming rain is always good for the early crops, plus, it's supposed to be 16 C tomorrow, so I'll luxuriate in the spring weather tomorrow provided the weather holds.

A deep turquoise fingering-weight lace cowl on a circular needle.  Yarn and cowl are tucked inside a wooden yarn bowl. Well, with my annoyance about the weather out of the way, I can write about the cowl now, right? 

The Lorien Cowl is actually pretty close to done, and I actually think I won't use up my entire skein.  The way I've knit it here (Yarn is the now-discontinued Blue Moon Fiber Arts BFL Fingering in "Neptune"), it doesn't look like I'll need the full skein of what I have left.  I like my cowls close to the neck, so that way, they do end up needing less yarn.   Originally, I'd just planned to knit until I ran out of yarn, but now I think that if I do that it will be too deep a cowl for my liking.

It's sad this yarn has since been discontinued, as it's absolutely wonderful yarn!  But it's 'deep stash' from at least 2013, so I guess I shouldn't be surprised.  I don't have a full skein, I salvaged it from a previous project (my first and only attempt to work colourwork socks two-at-a-time).  The result was so horrible that I ended up loosing some of the yarn, it was just too tangled to sort.   I have since come to the conclusion that despite my many cases of second sock syndrome, two-at-a-time socks (or anything else), just isn't a method that works for me.

It's with projects like these I'm also quite glad of my *yarn bowl from Natural Knot Wood.  It makes it really easy to just take my work somewhere, yarn bowl and all!  When I first started knitting, I dismissed the usefulness of yarn bowls, and boy, do I regret that now!   

In this case, the cowl sits nicely in the yarn bowl, and the yarn bowl fits in my knitting bag, which makes knitting in public super easy!  And since the yarn bowl is maple, it's not super-heavy, unlike some of the ceramic bowls I've tried -- and, since it's wood, there's no risk of it breaking in transit, either!  Honestly, I'm quite impressed with the *Natural Knot Wood yarn bowls (and it's gotten some wonderful comments when I'm knitting in public too!) Once I get a little more confident in my spinning, I have my eye on a few of the gorgeous *spindles in their shop, too!

On the knitting front, though, I'm actually hoping to have this cowl finished up in the next few weeks, depending on how much deadline knitting gets thrown my way.  If  things go well, I'll try and release it sometime in Fall 2018, though that might change, as always!

This week's post was a bit more stream-of consciousness then my usual style, so thanks for sticking with me.  Stay tuned, as always, for more WIP Wed!


Friday, 6 April 2018

FO Friday: Birthday Sweater!

**This post contains affiliate links.  Any link marked with an * may give me a reward or commission if you visit and/or purchase something using that link.  And, if you do purchase from my affiliate links, thank you for supporting my yarn habit!*

Well, it's done!  The now very belated Birthday Sweater is finally done!

I'm glad to have this thing finally done.  It's taken long enough, and is now quite belated.  So huge thanks to my giftee for her patience in waiting for this sweater!

She has tried the whole thing on --the fit came out a bit oversized, but it's supposed to be, so that worked out just fine!  There are a few mistakes in my knitting, but nothing obvious (I hope!).  I'm happy with how it turned out, but I'm also very glad it's done.

A dark green sweater hanging on a clothes hanger.  The front of the sweater has an aran cable pattern.
Yes, I know it's not the best picture, but it was the best picture I could get before it went to it's new home.  The colour isn't true (the colour is far closer in my previous posts), and it's on the angle, so I know it looks a bit weird.

Pattern is not mine, it's the Sterling Cables Sweater from Bernat (the previous pattern links don't seem to be working, but here's the Ravelry Link).  The pattern seems to have been removed from the Yarnspirations Website where it was previously available for free, so I don't know if it's still available.   I actually wouldn't be surprised if the pattern was no longer available, as there were some issues with the pattern.  It's a gorgeous pattern, if you're willing to put up with some minor errors and an awkwardly written pattern.

Plus, I did a few mods and tweaks of my own.  I did short-row shaping for the shoulders and armholes, rather then casting off, and then worked the shoulder seams with a 3-needle bind-off.     I knit the sleeves in the round to the sleeve caps, and I worked the collar in the round as well. 

Needles were my *4.5 Hiya Hiya fixed circular needles (24 inch cord), and then Lykke Interchangable 4mm tips on a 24 inch cord for the ribbing on the sleeves and collar.

Yarn is the now-discontinued Dream in Colour Groovy, in "Emerald Darkness". 

One of the things I didn't account for is that the sweater's actually quite heavy!  Not just heavy in terms of yarn weight, but the actual garment is quite heavy in terms of weight.  It's definitely something more suited to cold winter weather.

Well, I'm glad to have another project off the needles in 2018.  Stay tuned for the next FO Friday, and thanks for reading!

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

WIP Wednesday: Crochet Scarf and Hood

**This post contains affiliate links.  Any link marked with an * may give me a reward or commission if you visit and/or purchase something using that link.  And, if you do purchase from my affiliate links, thank you for supporting my yarn habit!*

With the Colours of Spring Shawl done, I needed a new project for Knit Night!  So, I pulled out my Crochet Hood and Scarf, and took that instead! 

A crochet scarf in a multicolour yarn.  The yarn is purple, with spots of black, pastel blue, and pastel pink.  The scarf is folded up in a wooden yarn bowl, and a wooden crochet hook is on top of the scarf.
And here it is!  Though it's probably not obvious from the photographs, it's grown a lot since the last post -- I think it's getting close to done!

I'm actually really happy with how it's turning out.  I'm a bit concerned about if the hood will be deep enough for my taste in deep hoods, (I admit, I didn't swatch for this, since it's basically a giant seamed rectangle). But, I'm told this yarn grows with blocking. So, hopefully it will work out (and even if it's not as deep as I prefer my hoods, it will still be a functional hood).

I am, however, considering myself very lucky to have snagged this colourway from Eat.Sleep.Knit.  It's their *January Exclusive colourway, "Sea Witch" on *Silky Targhee from Blue Moon Fiber Arts. I have to admit, it's a challenge to get the *monthly exclusive colourways -- they're popular enough to vanish very quickly!  That said, at the time of this writing, there are still a few skeins of this colourway available on the Blue Moon Fiber Arts Featherlight Base, so if you like this particular colourway, you can still get your hands on it. 

One side note -- I'm finding the Silky Targhee to be a very 'sticky' yarn. Don't get me wrong -- it's gorgeous, it feels amazing, but I suspect it would felt very easily, and I've already had a few 'yarn barf' incidents where the yarn has stuck to itself.  Nothing I can't untangle relatively easily, but something to be aware of with this particular yarn.   That said, the skeins are absolutely huge, which is great -- far fewer ends to weave in, and even one skein is enough yarn to make a lot of things!

Like I wrote in my previous post, I was worried as to how this would work up, and yes, it does completely obscure the chevron stitch crochet pattern. . . but it still works!   I'm quite happy with how it looks.   That said,  I do have vague future plans to work up a second sample in a much less variegated yarn, to see how it looks without the colour changes.

The hook is a 3.75mm (US Size F) hook from the amazing Bill at Turn of the Century.  I'm not exaggerating, these hooks are what convinced me I could actually crochet!  I ordered a few on a whim, and absolutely fell in love! These hooks are not only beautiful, they're also functional, and so much lighter the metal hooks that I do own.

Yes, I do also own a few metal crochet hooks.  But, I find them heavy and uncomfortable, so I didn't crochet nearly as much, because I found it uncomfortable!  Now I know that's not supposed to be how it is, so I'm slowly (re)teaching myself crochet on these gorgeous wooden hooks! (And no, I don't get money from Turn of the Century, I just love these hooks!)

Anyway, I've gotten a touch off-topic with my love of the Turn of the Century hooks, so I think I'll close off this post now.  Thanks for reading, and until next week's WIP Wed!