Tag Archives: diy

#BlackerGiveAway

The Give Away of DeConstruction

BlackerGiveAway

That’s right, my first GiveAway – sponsored by:

blacker-yarns-logo

Do you want to knit DeConstructed Cowl? Do you want to use the very same colors I had for the original? Well then, ENTER TO WIN!

What you will win:
4 skeins of Blacker Elegance DK: Spice, Nutmeg, Silver, and Pewter
4 skeins of Blacker Swan over-dyed Falklands Merino DK: Summer Sea, Whitegrass, Hawkweed, and Diddle Dee
Free Ravelry Download Code for DeConstructed Cowl.

The Throw Down:
On Thursday, January 15th, 2015 I will be drawing a name out of a hat.
You can enter multiple times and here’s how:

1) I’ve started a Discussion Thread in my Knack of the Knit Ravelry Group. Join the group and comment on the thread.

Please note: You must join group to enter.

2) Magic Link DeConstructed Cowl to another Ravelry thread and mention “#BlackerGiveAway”.

Please note: You must “Magic Link” the pattern to enter.

3) RePost the Instagram Photo announcing this very GiveAway from amandaadavidson on instagram. Tag the photo with #BlackerGiveAway and @amandaadavidson.

Please note: You must have both of these tags to enter.

4) Share my Facebook post which announces the #BlackerGiveAway: KnitKnackAAD Facebook

Please note: You must share the post directly from the KnitKnackAAD page to enter. If you link from this blog post, you MUST tag KnitKnackAAD Facebook page for me to see it! I can’t track who shares this post from WordPress. 

All entries MUST be submit by 12am CST Wednesday, January 14th.

I envision many a message over the next week, so take caution when trying to contact me about technicalities!

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The 2015 Diet

Yes, it’s true. I am being ever so cliché and taking on a diet for my New Year’s Resolution. A YARN diet. You’ve all seen the Yarnerator. I have worked at two incredibly successful and inspiring yarn shops – Purl Soho and Knitche. I’ve also been knitting for over 8 years. The sad truth of it all – my Yarnerator canNOT even hold all the yarn I call my own.

Yarnerator_Open

You think I’m kidding? Ask my mother. The first time she saw my stash was just over a year ago. My mother knows nothing of knitting. She says to me, “Uh … Amanda … do you ever have a project in mind when you buy yarn?” with a look of utter confusion. Those of us in the yarn world know THERE’S NO SUCH THING. The sadder truth, my stash has grown by at least 50% since that encounter – but A LOT of that has already been used … maybe – I don’t know exactly how the math works out.

I have many resolutions this year. One is to get out of my apartment more. Freelancing, knit design, and general knitting are not activities which are great for getting me out of the house and I have decided this is the year I will try harder to meet a man – OKCupid is NOT doing it for me. Another was to not buy yarn until I have finished three projects – two of which had to be from my stash. I decided this was not good enough once I took into account all that I made in 2014:

Rav_FOWhile I am incredibly proud of all that I made in 2014 (and I don’t think this is even the whole of it), maybe 15% came from stash (part of Diamond in the Gradient, the stripe of my Staggered Cowl, two thirds of By the Mayside, half of Sparrow, meet Habu, Geometry Trapezoid, Janna’s Tunic ::Part Deux, and half of Chevron Stripes hat). Two projects were sponsored, but I bought the yarn for everything else! I am SO proud to have supported Local Yarn Shops, but I have to remember I am a broke-ass female! Here in is where I birthed my newest New Year’s … let’s call it a dare.

ONE YEAR WITHOUT BUYING YARN

Continue reading

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DeConstructing Blacker

The end of Fall has been incredibly fast-paced as I’m sure you all would agree! Before we start, I advise you all to read through to the end of this post to catch some exciting news items. And now, I wish I’d had the time to share this story sooner, but alas:

The Tale of DeConstruction

Intro

First and foremost, I want to thank my wonderful friends of Ravelry for making my newest pattern such a success. For my second knit pattern, I felt like a novelist does about a second book … PRESSURE! As a young woman still trying to find her way, I was so thrilled with the spread of Staggered Cowl; I couldn’t ever imagine matching that. Even worse, I feared I would be … a one-hit-wonder.

It was the concept of Staggered Cowl that brought Blacker Yarns into my world. It was fate that Sonja of Blacker Yarns, based in the UK, actually grew up in the town which I currently reside. Sonja contacted me about possibly collaborating and we instantly clicked.

blacker-yarns-logoBlacker Yarns is a brand of The Natural Fibre Company, a wool mill specializing in adding value to fleece supplied by local farmers and turning it into high-quality knitting yarn. They believe in a sustainable system that supports the unique breeds, UK farmers, and the bright future of all yarn crafts.

The first thing that really struck me is when Sonja told me – they know all the sheep from which their wool comes. I ask you – how is that not awesome?! Blacker Yarns sent me a gorgeous glimpse of samples and I was in love. I’ve always been enamored of heathered neutrals, strong pops of color, and real wool from my familial roots of the British Isles. Blacker Yarns instantly proved to be a company able to provide all of these qualities and they could not be more pleasant to work with.

BlackerSkeins_both

Feeling the pressure of from my first pattern and wanting to release something special before Christmas, I was waiting for inspiration to strike. One day, while accessorizing for a family event, I was trying desperately to mix a favored printed scarf and a cowl I had knit. I just couldn’t make it work, so I went with my hand knit item (of course). While socializing, I started noticing the multitude of printed scarves and realized just how unique they can be. My personal stash has been accumulated from lands afar and years a plenty. My struggles from earlier that day were still with me while this light bulb flashed and suddenly, I had my new pattern.

AAD_BlackerYarnsProject_ConceptSonja saw this come through the channels with the hastened sketch to the left. This was also when I learned that it is very difficult to draw a braid. Even worse … a braid IN a braid – totally blew my mind. I went fractal. I had to let it go, LET IT GO – this is where my niece tells me “No, no-no-no-no-no, no. No singing.” Who can say that anymore without singing?! Anyway – after I sent this drawing, I believe Sonja was frightful of the relationship she had just instigated … luckily she didn’t hear the singing.

My first step, and those who know me will attest, I needed to pick colors. True to form, I wanted a solid base of neutrals accompanied by pops of color. The original structure was for a grey set and a brown set, because we all learned from our mothers – one must never mix black with brown. Blacker Elegance was the perfect line for the neutral foundation. The color pops would filter in as your daily outfit dictated, but what to choose for sampling? For my signature, bright selection, Blacker Swan Over-Dyed Falkland Merino shined brightly as this line has a wide range of saturated hues from which it was difficult to make a selection! Also, this yarn is scrumptiously soft.

rainbow

It was a blast knitting, frogging, mathemitizing, button-holing, finalizing, playing, photographing, AND THEN writing this pattern. Those who worked with the Staggered Cowl chart have witnessed a true merge of my graphic skills, pattern oriented thought process, and color love. I am happy to report that you will not be let down with this new set of stitch patterns. I worked hard with the DeConstructed Cowl pattern to achieve a strong written and chart pattern. The charts were especially fun to play with and YES, you will discover some new symbols.

A_teal

I cannot thank Blacker Yarns enough for sharing their incredible yarns with me. Blacker Elegance truly hit the spot for the perfect natural, heathered neutrals I find myself always craving. The blend of alpaca and wool is truly gorgeous and I can promise I will be knitting a cardigan with Nutmeg in the [very] near future!

B_Hangers

Also, I re-discovered my love for blue in Blacker Swan Falkland Merino‘s Summer Sea. I thought the Whitegrass was singing true to my more recent cravings, but the Summer Sea is simply electric.

C_Floral

I hope you all enjoy DeConstructed Cowl as the fun and functional shape-shifter of the knitting world and as a fun journey into an array of stitch patterns. I also hope you take the time to introduce yourself to this great yarn company. I guarantee you will not be disappointed!

Please also be aware, DeConstructed cowl is officially Cat Approved (you cannot stage this).

CatApproved

A huge & heartfelt THANK YOU to Sonja and Blacker Yarns for this great opportunity, I can’t wait to work with you more in the future. Hint, hint something light & fresh for Spring.

“What more could she have to say?” one might ask. Lucky you – those who made it to the very end of this, my longest post to date. There are:

Some EXCITING Things To Come

My friend and gifted crocheter, Beth Strauss, and I will be collaborating on DeConstructed :: CROCHET. Watch for this pattern [hopefully] by January’s end.

Even sooner! Blacker Yarns and I will be hosting a Blacker GiveAway :: The GiveAway of DeConstruction on Instagram in early January. If you loved the very colors I used and MUST have them, start following amandaadavidson (mind the second “a” in the middle!).

And lastly – where will she find the time?! – a very near & dear friend and I will be launching a very social, very delicious, very wooly Podcast in [what?] JANUARY. Watch out for SSK (Sip, Sip, Knit) where we talk yarn, life, patterns, OKCupid-Catastrophes, and best BLOODY MARYs of Chicago.

SSK

No, really, someone please tell me where to find the time. I’m so excited for January that I might not sleep in December.

Final note: to those of you who have downloaded DeConstructed Cowl, there will be an update catching a few typos and a minor correction to the Chevron chart by the end of the week. If anyone else has caught anything, please let me know!

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Share the Knit [and crochet … and more]

I’ve been working hard and long to bring some fun designs to my favorite group of people – my fellow DIY-ers.

ALL

All of these designs are near and dear to my heart. I’ve got something for knitters, a little something for crocheters, and two of my three GiftTags work for any kind of handmade item! With a checklist of washing instructions on the back, you just can’t go wrong! Make sure to grab them on Etsy in time for the holidays.

TAGS

These designs are modern typographic plays combined with hand illustration. Everything is printed with my good friends at HD Design & Print right here in Chicago. They run old school on a gorgeous offset press, but with a twist of inventive design.

This is just the start. Think big with me – these designs are screaming project bags, notebooks, and surely a coffee mug!

EtsyListing_Lace_Full_ALT

This was a happy accident. I was knitting with one of my favorite groups and I thought my friend put on a parody – I honestly heard “I’m all about that Lace.” I then got looks of confusion followed by looks of amazement.

EtsyListing_SSK_Full

This is definitely a favorite because it combines two of my favorite activities. SSK [Sip, Sip, knit] – increase the fun. This card is perfect to send to a friend who hosted your last boozy knit night. I’m seeing this foil stamped gold for the cover of a grid-lined notebook.

SingleCard_ChainGang_EtsyListing_ALT

Of course, I had to have a little something for my crocheting friends. There are three fun designs for you, including the very cool “It’s not knit, IT’S CROCHET” GiftTags.

Come out and support the shop so we can start making more fun things to promote our pride and love of crafting! Contact me on Etsy for any special quantities, sets, or designs!

 

 

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Rolling in the Waves

Strauss_RollingWavesShawlA very dear friend of mine, Beth Strauss, is very passionate about crochet. It’s how she keeps connected to her cherished great aunt who was very involved in her family’s history. When Beth came to work at Knitche in Downers Grove, she only knew how to crochet, but was soon broken down and she learned to knit. She is now well versed in both crafts, but that’s not what we’re here to talk about.

This past summer, Chicago held its annual Yarn Crawl. Knitche was about to only feature a knit pattern for the event until our beloved Beth insisted on designing a crochet pattern. Featuring one of our new favorite yarns, Quince & Co. Osprey, Beth created the Rolling Waves shawl. Rolling Waves is decked to the nines with modern striping play and a trendy handkerchief fit.

Strauss_RollingWavesShawl_pics

When it came to sharing Rolling Waves with the World, Beth came to me for a clean and clear layout. Using a breakdown of the visual pattern and hand lettering, we made her pattern sing. I was so happy to help Beth release her first pattern and can’t wait to see what she comes up with next!

Make sure to download the Rolling Waves pattern on Ravelry! ravelry

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Va Va Voom

Vs_narrowThis last year, I’ve been fortunate enough to be on an intensive knitting binge … and I still just cannot stop. Lately I have been knitting garment after garment. My most recent accomplishment is my Violette Seater.

As soon as I saw the pattern for Sombra in the Summer 2014 issue of PomPom Quarterly, I knew I must knit it. I set out to find a great lace weight yarn to use – it was a whole new world as I hadn’t really knit with such a light weight yarn before.

I decided on The Fibre Company Meadow because I highly admired the color and fiber blends. I love yarns with depth to them!

This was a very fun pattern to knit and goes very quickly. The color is achieved simply by adding in strands of yarn. The lightest section (the background) is just one strand while the darkest section is three strands thick using all colors.

Side_by_Side

This has turned out to be one of my favorite knit items – I love the fit AND I love the color layout. As soon as the temperatures cooperate, I’ll be wearing this quite often!

BOTHFont_ModeledFor more of my notes, check out my Ravelry Project page for Violette. ravelry

 

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Knitting on the Front Porch

It’s my favorite time of knitting season again, Spring.

pattern

The weather [finally] warming up and choosing the right light-weight garment to knit can help to coax the warm temperatures.

This Spring, I was lucky to take on a test knit for a knitwear designer I’ve admired for awhile, Sara Gresbach of Front Porch Knitting (see her  ravelry  profile). In March, Sara posted a call for Portico, a t-shirt she designed.  Sara asked that we use the yarn the pattern called for, Luna Grey‘s Aspen Sport. This 100% superwash merino wool was hand-dyed the day after I ordered it and I received it within the week.

Pic2_amended

I chose to work this t-shirt by working both sides at the same time. Probably doesn’t really speed up the process, but when you’re done, you’re done – no going back to the beginning!

Pic2

I was very happy with the final garment! For more info and notes, see my Portico project page ravelry

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Ombré Grocery Bag

Last summer in Brooklyn, my little group of crafters came together for a Bring Your Own Project with a special twist. My very good friend, Sally had a craving to do some tie-dye on her roof while the weather was still nice. Each person brought different items to play with. I chose to knit a grocery bag for a dip dye.

Here we are goofing off during set up.

PlayTime

For this project, I used the pattern Grrlfriend Market Bag by Laura Spradlin. I had a few skeins in my stash of Maya by Tahki Yarns. It’s a gorgeous thick & thin spin of 100% cotton – sadly now discontinued. When knitting a bad, I always think it best to use some kind of blend of plant fiber so that your final product doesn’t stretch too much.

IMG_4331Sadly, I didn’t take a before picture of the un-dyed bag. I ended up bringing the bag while still in the process of knitting. We had the primary colors for dying, but I knew I wanted a teal. I took a little bit of the blue dye and yellow dye to make in a separate bucket. I played around with the amounts of blue and yellow until I had the desired color. I did tests on scraps of the yarn I was using – you really need to use the same yarn for testing because the color will be different on other blends / colors. The yarn was an off-white being a natural un-dyed fiber.

To get an ombré effect, I simply laid the bag, bottom down, in the bucket. I didn’t submerge the entire bag, but just a larger section to start off. I let it sit for a few minutes, letting some of the dye creep up the part not in the dye. I then pulled just part of the bag out and let the bottom rest in the bucket for a long period of time, again letting the dye creep up the bag. I didn’t pay attention to time, but more watching the bag and letting it soak until I was happy with the result.

 

detail

BottomProfiletop

Being a precious handmade object, I don’t put particularly heavy items in the bag. ravelry

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Taken By Surprise

1_65Wall

I realized in January that my mother was to have a special birthday this February.

She was turning … ?5.

I quickly got to work and organized a surprise party! For invitations I designed a very simple, clean postcard. I love drawing type by hand – I think it added a warm, personal touch to the invitation. Being in Chicago, I wanted to find a local, independent printer that I could work with to achieve the best result for the postcard. The people at HD Design & Printing were fantastic to work with – I was able to make an appointment, talk to them about the result I wanted and look at papers. They were able to turn this small job out in a matter of days.

 

2_Invites

 

Next task was to start planning the decorations. My go-to books at home are Paper + Craft by Minhee & Truman Cho and Handmade Weddings by Eunice Moyle, Sabrina Moyle, and Shana Faust (I find that at least 80% of this book translates to Handmade Events, not just weddings!). My apartment has a strong white base with a heavy dose of natural lighting – it’s the perfect neutral setting to easily transform. When choosing materials, I stuck with a palette of white and gold using subtle pops of pink and black.

 

3_Wall

 

The cone wreath came from a project in Paper + Craft. I chose a variety of neutral metallic papers to construct this decoration. In the dining room, I used two long strings of lights to run back and forth across the ceiling which created a party tent-like effect. From Handmade Weddings, I took inspiration from the Cupcake Liner Pom-Poms using both metallic gold and a black patterned liners. I also used coffee filters to create some contrast in size. In the dining room, I had different stations which I denoted with floating signs. I created these by cutting letters out of glitter paper. I then used blue tape to secure the letters to metal wire I hung from the strings of lights.

 

4_Deserts 5_counter

 

As for refreshments, I kept things classy and simple by serving coffee, a variety of teas, a blackberry lemonade champagne punch and  an assortment of both savory and sweet finger foods – no forks! To serve food and drinks, I used a mismatched system based on the white and gold palette. The outcome was subtle, but still very fun and eclectic.

 

6_dessertfood

 

What worked in perfectly was a set of china I inherited from my grandmother. I was both ecstatic and terrified to use this thin, fragile set of Bavarian china for the first time. While being acquired a number of generations back on my mother’s side, it has a delightful Art Deco feel to it – it’s simple with just a thin band of a geometric plant pattern on the edges, outlined in gold (of course). However, I figured that if I were ever going to use it – this was the right age group to give it a go!

 

7_ChinaComp8_China_Rim

 

For a more original decoration, I went back to the original branding I had created for the invitation. I blew up the “?5” I had drawn and printed these 2′ elements as an engineering plot at Staples for about $4. I used a large piece of cardboard and cut these pieces out with a larger exacto knife. After these were cut, I carefully wrapped the pieces in crepe paper – carefully taping the strands in back and pulling the corners over the curves. I then took them outside and lightly spray painted them gold. I then took the “Sally turns”  hand-drawn elements, blew them up, printed them out and cut them out of black glitter paper. I placed all these elements in a similar position to the invitation and it became a beautiful wall decoration.

 

12_Wall_Comp

 

Last, but not least, I made the birthday girl a pin to wear. I used the Felt Bud project from Handmade Weddings. Instead of making boutonnieres, I glued the buds and leaves to a pin back.

 

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When the hour finally arrived and I coaxed my mother upstairs, nothing beat the look of astonishment on her face when her close friends and family yelled “Surprise!”

 

16_Hugs

 

 

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Pondering Process: The Herringbone

It’s been a rough week for me here in Chiberia (Chicago’s Polar Vortex). I came down with the flu Monday – out of no where – and it’s thrown off the week. Hence, I’m going keep it simple and talk about process. One of the joys of doing it yourself is altering, adding to, or subtracting from existing patterns. DIY patterns should also be seen as ideas to build upon. Today, I share a process told through the story of Purl Soho’s Big Herringbone Cowl.

HowIGotThere

This gorgeous pattern debuted during the time I worked at Purl Soho and it was immediately an international craze. For the yarn world, that’s big. Being a graphic designer, I challenge myself to add my own special flair. Or, as they tell me at Knitche – a way to make my life more difficult …

Here we go!

1I made the infinity cowl once as a gift. My first amendment to the pattern was simple – and a common adjustment – I used a different yarn. Having worked in now three yarn stores, I can safely say that this is the most common help I give – substituting yarns! It’s really very fun. For this cowl, I used Swans Island Worsted instead of the recommended Blue Alpaca’s Worsted Sky Hand Dyes. Because the gauge of the new yarn was different, all I had to do was drop a needle size. Note: I don’t usually start this process by making an entire test piece – this was just for a quick gift.

IMG_5121

What was really stunning in this cowl was the natural, subtle color striping from the hand dyed quality of the yarn. Because I hastily gave the first cowl away, I made my own (above) in Swans Island Worsted Beetroot.

2Then I took it a step further. I wanted a small, quick cowl in this stitch that could carry into the Spring. I was able to alter the pattern simply by using the gauge of the first cowl I knit. I multiplied the number of stitches per inch by the new circumference. For a slip-on cowl, I typically use anywhere between 22-28 inches. This number becomes your cast on. Note: depending on your pattern, you might need to keep a certain number of stitches divisible by your base pattern.

3When Choosing a color palette, I personally strive for a neutral main color with a pop of a favorite color from the same brand as the main color. In this case, I had two stunning colors from this brand and weight IN my stash! I generally like to incorporate the color pop in a very small way. For this cowl, I added two very thin stripes.

and

Small_Herr  Stripes

4

Hold on to your hats, because this next part gets nuts. Another of my favorite yarns is Alchemy Yarns of Transformation‘s Kozmos. Shockingly (you’ve seen my Yarnerator), I had matching colorways IN my stash as well. If you look closely at the detail image to the right above, I knit three rows in the teal color, the first row holding the matching Alchemy yarn with the Swans Island. It’s hard to see in the green, but I knit two rows – mimicking the teal by knitting the first row with the matching Alchemy. Holding the Alchemy adds a special detail texture both in color and fiber.

modeled
5The last and final step, of course, is coercing a friend to take adorable pictures in the cowl. Usually helps to buy your model coffee.

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