The Downton Abbey MKAL 2015 is Here!

Hello everyone! It’s Downton time again! Are you so excited? I know I am!

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So you may be wondering about this year’s KAL and while I can’t divulge too much info about the design itself, I can give you specifics about the MKAL and more details on the special Lorna’s Laces color I created especially for the design, Edith’s Secret.

Here are the basics:

This year, you may notice that the pattern cost is $6 for the KAL. I know we didn’t charge for the pattern the last two years, but there are several reasons for the change. JBW has always been very generous in allowing me some time to work on the KAL as part of my regular workload. However, because of the size this KAL has grown to, I spend on average 20-30 hours per week just working on KAL related stuff. Roughly 20 of those hours are outside of my regular 40 hour per week job at JBW (it’s like having a second part time job!) We both agreed that it would be better for both of us, for me to be compensated fairly for the time I put in, thus the decision was made for me to begin charging for the KAL design. As a result of us now charging for the KAL pattern, I’ve been able to dedicate much more time to creating a more streamlined and user-friendly KAL experience for you all. (ie. making each week’s clue a printable PDF, having someone professionally tech edit, providing charts in addition to written instruction, etc.) Overall, we think you’ll enjoy the changes.

Additionally, we’ve made the pattern available through the In-Store Pattern Sales program here on Ravelry so that LYS’s can purchase this pattern for their customers and participate in the MKAL.

Those of you who are new to the Downton Abbey MKAL this year, welcome! Here is how our MKAL works:

1) The MKAL will begin on Sunday, January 4th, 2015, when the first Episode of Season 5 of Downton Abbey begins airing on PBS in the US. Each Sunday morning (by 10am PST) the new clue for that week will be sent out via e-mail & Ravelry message. The KAL pattern will be broken into 7 clues.

2) A short info sheet with gauge/swatching information will be available to download when you purchase your pattern. Feel free to swatch to your hearts content in the meantime.

3) This year’s mystery project will be a shawl. (The mystery is not in what the garment is, but in the design itself. The first year we didn’t tell anyone what they were knitting and a lot of folks thought they were knitting socks instead of fingerless mitts. As you can imagine, it caused a lot of confusion when it came time to add thumb holes.)

4) This shawl uses 2 skeins of Lorna’s  Laces Solemate in 2 different colors. I have designed a special Lorna’s Laces limited edition color inspired by Downton called “Edith’s Secret” that is available only at Jimmy Beans Wool. The shawl uses one skein of “Edith’s Secret” paired with one of five different complementary color options (Farwell, Buckingham Fountain, Grand Street Ink, Old Rose, or Manzanita.) Here are photos of the options to help you decide:

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You can find pre-made kits at Jimmy Beans Wool that include a download code for the pattern at 50% off of the Ravelry price as a thank you for shopping at Jimmy Beans. Of course, you can also use Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock or any fingering weight yarn you would like for this project. Using the Lorna’s Laces yarn is NOT required.

*Please note: You may purchase any two colors of Solemate or Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock for this project and still receive the pattern download code at 50% off through Jimmy Beans. If you would like to do so, please include the following note in your order notes: “Please add download code for the Downton Abbey KAL to this order. I understand that will it will increase my order total by $3.” Or, call Jimmy Beans Wool directly to place your order and let them know you are participating in the KAL.

5) This project is an intermediate level project. However, there will be plenty of help available throughout the KAL in the Jimmy Beans Wool Group, so even if you have never knit a shawl before but have gotten beyond the basic knit & purl stitches (ie. you can do increases & decreases) you should be fine. We’ll help you through…be brave! :)

6) The KAL will be hosted as usual in the Jimmy Beans Wool group on Ravelry. All of the Downton MKAL threads will be labeled: DAMKAL2015 with the corresponding clue # after it. There will be separate threads for pattern discussion, general chat, show episode chat, and photos (spoilers.) Feel free to head over there now to begin the pre-KAL chat!

7) All pattern updates and new clues will be sent each week as an e-mail and Ravelry message. All of these PDFs can be saved in your Ravelry library for safe keeping. This means that each clue will be ready to go in an easy-to-print format, unlike years past when they’ve only been available in a blog post. This should simplify the process for everyone. At the end of the MKAL you will receive a file containing the complete pattern.

Mystery KALs are a ton of fun. If you’ve never participated in one before, this is a great one to do because the atmosphere is light, fun, and the group is always helpful. I think this year’s Downton MKAL is going to be the best one yet! I hope you’ll join us!

Happy knitting,
Kristen

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Cloud Forest Cowl

What is a Cloud Forest?

cloud forest, also called a fog forest, is a generally tropical or subtropical, evergreen, montanemoist forest characterized by a persistent, frequent or seasonal low-level cloud cover, usually at the canopy level. Cloud forests often exhibit an abundance of mosses covering the ground and vegetation, in which case they are also referred to as mossy forests. Mossy forests usually develop on the saddles of mountains, where moisture introduced by settling clouds is more effectively retained.[1]

Thanks Wikipedia!

I’ve been lucky to have spent a few months in the Great Bear Rainforest in BC, Canada, one of these amazing cloud forests. With further research, I found that cloud forests exist all over the world, including New Zealand. New Zealand also happens to be home to one of my favorite yarn companies, Zealana, of which this cowl is knit in. Scrumptious Rimu DK, a blend of New Zealand merino wool and possum fur, makes this cowl extra cozy and warm and well as soft.

The all-over fern leaf lace pattern depicts some of the foliage you might find in the cloud forest. The cowl is knit from the top down, and widens with a larger leaf design at the bottom to lay over the shoulders comfortably.

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I designed the Cloud Forest Cowl for a promotion for Jimmy Beans Wool, so if you participate in their upcoming Facebook contest you’ll automatically receive a copy of this pattern for free just for participating. You’ll also be entered to win the yarn to knit this design! Be sure to “like” Jimmy Beans Wool on Facebook and stay tuned for more info. The contest begins 9/24 and runs through the 30th!

If you’d rather cast on right away, the pattern can be purchased directly from me on Ravelry. It takes about 260 yards of DK weight yarn and a US size 6- 16″ circular needle. Either way, Happy knitting!

Kristen

PS. And if the boring photos above aren’t enough. Here is a shot of my goofy hubby modeling the cowl too. I think it looks better on him, don’t you? ;)

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Where I’ve Been…

If you read my last post, you can probably figure out what has been taking up all of my time.

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Her name is Olive Ruby and she’s stollen my heart completely.

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She was born on July 16th and was exactly 2 months old as of yesterday.

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I spend most of my time just staring at her sweet face and planning the little knits I will make her…if I ever am able to pull myself away long enough. :)

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We are over the moon with our sweet girl.

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I’ve got some new designs to talk about, so stay tuned…

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This is what I’ve been up to…

I know it’s been a while and I swear I’ve been really busy. Here is my excuse for being so quiet:

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I’ve been knitting baby sweaters…

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And hats…

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And diaper covers…

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And searching thrift stores for rad onesies…

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And knitting more hats…

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And buying cute prints to make cloth diapers…

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And re-discovering old favorite books of fairy tales…

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And choosing fabrics for crib sheets and bumpers…

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And even a matching quilt…

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And making bibs…

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And getting ready to welcome our little girl in July who is growing bigger every week!

Sorry for the crappy photography. One of these days I am going to replace our old camera with something decent. This may just be the year to do it too! Yes, we are having a baby and are so excited! I (luckily) have had an easy pregnancy thus far (knock on wood) so that is not the reason for the absence. I have just been crazy busy with work. I have found plenty of time for baby projects though and have even more on the horizon. In case you are interested, here are links to the projects shown here, except the baby sweater. That is a sneak peek at a new design. :)

-First hat knit in Friea Fine Handpaints Flux Worsted in Seaglass. It’s a modified version of these hats.

-Diaper Covers are the Darling pattern by Courtney Kelley for the Kelbourne Woolens Baby Collection. I knit these in Malabrigo Twist since JBW doesn’t carry The Fibre Company Organik.

-The 2nd hat is called Alfalfa and is free on Ravelry and from the Kelbourne Woolens Website. I used the yarn required – The Fibre Co. Terra.

-The diaper fabrics are knits from Birch Organics. I am using this free downloadable diaper pattern from Ottobre Design. The small size is huge though so I downsized it about 25%. My mom and I are both making diapers for the baby with this pattern. She is using flannel and I am using these knits. I think they are all going to be adorable.

-The nursery fabrics are also from Birch Organics by Teagan White. The collection is called Fort Firefly and all of the prints have a sage/teal and coral as the main colors. I love this palette and think its going to be gorgeous in the baby’s room. I am not a fan of overly girly girl decor for babies and I think something like this is perfect. I love that it has an outdoorsy feel too. I am really hoping our little gal loves the outdoors as much as we too and hopefully this will inspire her. More pictures to come when we have the nursery complete.

-Lastly, after seeing this bib on Etsy and not wanting to pay the hefty $40 price for it I decided to try making my own. I immediately recognized the fabric as Joel Dewberry, which we have at JBW, so I snagged some from his True Colors line in a gray woodgrain with an aqua herringbone print for the back side. Then I found this adorable (and simple!) Slobber Monkey Bib pattern from Heather Bailey’s website and decided to try my hand at it. Turns out the basic cutting and sewing part takes about 15 minutes and I was able to get 4 bibs cut out of the two 1/2 yard cuts of fabric I bought (less than $10.) All it needs now is a little embroidery and some velcro and we are in business. I’ll definitely be making more of these…for me any pretty much everyone I know with kids!

So those are the projects I’ve been working on. That and growing a human. You know, no biggie. :)

-Kristen

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Stitch Mountain is here!

So last year around this time, I was hard at work on four designs for a book. That book was Stitch Mountain. Stitch Mountain: 30 Warm Knits for Conquering the Cold actually came out in November, but with the Winter Games going on right now, we thought it would be the perfect time to talk up the book too. Especially since so many of the athletes are competing right now in Sochi!

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For those of you who don’t know what the book is about, we asked 30 winter sports athletes to tell us what their favorite or dream knitted item would be. We then took those ideas and asked a collection hand-picked knitwear designers to create items based on these athletes descriptions. The result is a book that is both designer vision and athletic inspiration–the perfect hybrid of knitting and winter sports!

I have two designs inspired by athletes competing in Sochi. Julia Mancuso, a downhill skier who has already won a bronze medal at this year’s Winter Games in Ladies Slalom and Lindsey Jacobellis who is a Snowboarder who will actually compete later today in ladies Snowboard Cross. Both have medaled at previous olympic games as well. What an honor to design for such accomplished women!

I am an ex-snowboarder myself. Not at the competitive level of course, but it was a sport I really enjoyed for about 10 years until I injured my knee and chose to quit to avoid surgery. I miss it, but I have tons of great memories on the mountain. That’s why being a part of this book was so important to me, and such a huge honor!

Ok, so onto the designs. First we’ve got the Personalized Headband inspired by Julia Mancuso and her home mountain, Squaw Valley. Squaw also happens to be in my neck of the woods (Reno/Tahoe area) so I was really excited to knit this piece. It’s inspired by the original Squaw Ski Team headbands and I wanted to make this one reversible and easily customizable. The pattern includes an entire alphabet chart so that you can create a headband that is personal to you. Perhaps in the colors of your alma mater or your favorite sports team? On the inside, a simple stripe pattern is knit to create a completely reversible piece. Julia’s version is knit in Rowan Pure Wool 4ply which was a dream to knit with. Such amazing stitch definition and it blocks out so well. I will definitely be knitting with it again.

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Next up we have the Sparkle Slouchy Hat inspired by Lindsey Jacobellis. Being a snowboarder, Lindsey’s style is super hip so I wanted to create a hat that I know she would love to wear. I chose a fun sparkly yarn by Red Heart called Boutique Midnight in some tonal self-striping colors. The hat features a wide brim that can be worn folded or unfolded depending on the look you are going for. The body is a simple mock rib that is easy, even for a beginner. The hat is super comfy to wear. I actually have 2 different versions of this hat at home and I wear them more often than any of the other hats in my collection.

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So these are two of my designs from Stitch Mountain. I’ll be back soon to talk about the other two, but I hope you are all enjoying watching the Winter Games in Sochi! Be sure to cheer on these two gals when you see them on the screen and hopefully you’ll be knitting along on something cozy while you do! Remember, both of these designs are featured in Stitch Mountain, so if you don’t have your copy yet, be sure to snag one from Jimmy Beans Wool (all copies are signed by the author!)

Happy knitting everyone!

Kristen

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Holiday Knitting & Crafting…Have YOU Started Yet?

**Dear Close Family & Friends. If you are here on my blog, thank you. I am honored that you know me so well AND still want to read what I have to say here. Maybe I am not as crazy as I think I am most of the time. This post includes some spoilers about your holiday gifts. Please don’t read this unless you want to have to pretend to be surprised on Christmas morning. If you do choose to read this, you’d better be good actors!**

I’ve been thinking a lot about holiday knitting lately and I’m beginning to worry that I’m not going to finish all of what I want to do in time. It’s a little stressful, and it shouldn’t be. I think it’s because I feel like this year has flown by seemingly faster than years past and I can remember last Christmas like it was yesterday. From what I’m told, it gets worse as you get older. Oh good.

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This week I released a new pattern at Jimmy Beans. It’s a lovely wintery star holiday garland called the Luxury Holiday Garland. It uses our Luxury Fiber Sampler that my team has been working on creating for the past month. The sampler includes 12 mini-balls of our most high-end luxury yarns.

I used those mini balls to create the stars shown in the garland, and then a cotton-linen blend yarn for the garland strand which is also included in the kit. We thought it would be a neat way to give people a chance to try out some high-end yarns they might not otherwise think to buy for themselves and actually make something with those mini skeins.

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This is my bosses fireplace. I wish it was mine. Actually I just wish I had a fireplace, period.

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More of Jimmy’s pretty fireplace. :)

 

 

I am pretty proud of this design. I think it’s stunning and I can’t wait to decorate my home with more of these little stars this holiday season. I am thinking about making star ornaments for everyone in our family with the year on it. Maybe I’ll do a new color/yarn every year and in 12 years, they will have a garland! Maybe…

 

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See how pretty they all are!?!?!

To that end, I’ve decided I really want to go all-handmade this year. We have a really big family that just seems to get bigger every year. It is becoming increasingly tough to hand-choose individual gifts for everyone, especially when I’m never quite sure what they really want or will use. Usually it’s a shot in the dark. 

This year, I’ve decided to make handmade soap and lip balm for everyone. I’ve bought all of my supplies and plan to start the process this weekend. I have a couple recipes I am excited to try this Lip Chap Recipe from Wellness Mama and I even got some cute little tins to make them in. I am thinking about having special little labels made too.

The soap process I am going to attempt is a cold process that is supposedly the way to go for really good soap. I am so excited. If all goes well, I plan to make all of my own soap and lip balm from now on.

I am also toying with the idea of Body Lotion Bars, also from the Wellness Mama Blog (my new favorite, thanks Lizard!) I’ve already made them and they are awesome! I may make more and put a little less beeswax in to make them slightly softer, but so far I am loving them and they are only three ingredients! Uber natural!

Along with all of these little items, Nick and I (yes, the hubby knits too, sometimes) are going to tag team some hand knit items for everyone as well. It’s been a while since everyone has had new hats and my MIL has been dropping hints that she would like some fingerless mitts, so I figure a few smaller hand knit items are doable. It’s also a great opportunity to use of some of my enormous yarn stash. Yet, the shear number of people to make things for is freaking me out a little as I mentioned above. The next two months are going to look like Santa’s Workshop around here. Now to go put some needles and yarn in Nick’s hands and get him knitting! Like this picture from our wedding day. He was finishing up his last groomsman’s beanie. :)

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Nick likes to knit with Malabrigo. So do I. It’s a match made in heaven.

Happy holiday crafting everyone, if that’s what you are doing! If you are going the shopping route this year, godspeed. I will wish and hope for your survival.

Kristen

PS. If you are on Ravelry and would like to favorite or queue up the Holiday Garland, please do!

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I Love Lamp

So, I’ve been looking for the perfect pair of lamps to fill in the holes in our recess lighting in the living room, but after about a solid year of looking I had about given up.  To be fair, I could probably have found something online a long time ago. Now, I like online shopping for some things (clothes surprisingly–I HATE malls, and dressing rooms, and well, you get the picture) but honestly, when I get home after staring at a computer all day, the last thing I want to do is stare more. Hence why I almost never blog anymore. But I digress…

So after about a year of halfheartedly searching here and there around town (both in thrift stores and retail stores) when I had time, I decided to hit up the Marshall’s down the street. I was also hoping to find some new pillows for the couch on the cheap, so I figured it couldn’t hurt to look for lamps there too. Well, it was my lucky day, because not only did I find lamps I REALLY liked, they are also hubby-approved. In fact, when I texted him a photo of them, he returned with a, “Those are bad a$$!” So needless to say they went home with me. Oh yeah, I found pillows too.

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One of the lamps before I filled it & my new chevron pillows.

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The pillow I got for the chair is the same brand as the chevron pillows and had all the same colors. I love stuff that coordinates but mixes prints. Super fun.

The cool thing about these lamps it that they are the jug kind that you can put stuff in to compliment the decor of your house. Usually you see similar things at Pottery Barn filled with shells or wine corks or something super classy. Since my living room is a far cry from looking like the pages of a Pottery Barn catalog I wasn’t really sure what was going inside, I just knew I really liked them. I got them home and asked the Mr. what he thought should go in them. His response? “Well, I thought we could put yarn in them, you have so much of it!” I guess I’ve trained him well, eh?

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In person it looks rad. Super rad.

So that is how the yarn lamp came to be. It’s fitting since my “decor” usually consists of lots and lots of yarn, everywhere. There is a serious pile on my coffee table right now actually. I’ll be filling the 2nd one with more yarn soon and placing it on a side table next to the armchair I showed you above. I posted this pic on Jimmy Beans Wool’s Facebook page yesterday and all of the knitters went crazy over it. I guess people liked the yarn lamp. I love it too. Yep folks. I love Lamp.

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On a side note, I also love Cascade 220 Fingering weight yarn. I had the opportunity to knit with it earlier this year for a design that just came out in the latest Cascade 60 Quick Knits book and it was seriously awesome stuff.  My design is a simple little garter stitch shawlette with a shell lace border and it’s appropriately called the Shell Lace Shawlette.  I hope you’ll check out the book. Officially, it’s titled: 60 Quick Knits from America’s Yarn Shops. I’m pretty proud of this design. It’s my first non-Jimmy Beans book publication, and I was so honored to be included in this collection. The book is due out in November, so pretty much any day now, but in the meantime, you can check out all of the designs on Ravelry.

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I have a lot of new designs coming out in the next month or two, so stay tuned. I may actually blog again soon! (Don’t hold your breath though.)

Happy knitting,

Kristen

PS. My coworker Terry, who is an outstanding knitting teacher and fiber enthusiast started a blog. You should go follow her: Terraknit

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