Saturday, January 22

Sweater for moi & a few more contest-y days...

As knitters, we often end up gifting more of our knitted goodies than keeping.  As a knitwear designer most of my knitting ends up at magazines or as shop samples (which shops you say? well, you can find my yarns and patterns at a few lovely shops; Clay, Wood & Cotton, White Barn Farm, Wing & Clover, Yarn Cupboard and even more coming soon)
So? What does that have to do with the Thomas Moran painting opening this post? I love the Hudson River school of painting & love even more the parts of the Hudson Valley that still look like this, which by the way there are still quite a lot of! I decided I needed a new sweater just for me, this was partially spurred on by a question asked to all the contributors in the January issue of Knitting Today
"What is your knitting New Year's resolution?", mine was to make more stuff for ME!

I started by sketching dozens (really) of ideas.  I wanted something fun to knit but not completely overwhelming.  Something different than the sweaters I design for magazines, a little weirder and slightly off mainstream tastes.  Once I made on the sketch to the left, I knew I had it.  I've had the Thomas Moran painting above saved to my desktop for ages because it reminds me of my favorite time here in the Hudson Valley.

I dug through my stash of "orphaned" Splendor, luckily I had 2 solids and a multi that worked perfectly for the sweater I had in mind! Then I made gobs of swatches, pulled out & reknit.  The swatch I have posted over here to the right is gigantic, I can't emphasize enough the importance of giant swatches. You might be able to tell in the mini bobble (leafy) part of the swatch I changed the pattern mid-stream, noted.  It is a one row change from knitting on the wrong side to purling but to me made all the difference, the bobbles stand out a bit more & each one has it's own color.

I then blocked it like crazy because the ribbing, stockinette stitch and bobbles all had waaaaay different gauges, I could adjust this by increasing or decreasing but I like a relaxed ribbing, it is much kinder on the *ahem* lower torso.

Blocking a swatch, crazy, you say! But, if you plan on blocking the finished piece you absolutely HAVE to also block the swatch. Since the swatch is telling you how the finished sweater will look and feel, you want to treat it just like the finished sweater.
A close up "beauty" shot

My swatch is 45 stitches across and 6 1/2" wide which gives me a gauge of 6.9 sts/ in.  I am roughly 36" at my high hip which is where I plan on the sweater hitting me and I'm using a 3x6 rib so I need a multiple of 9. Okay here comes the mathy part:

6.9 sts/ in multiplied by 38" (I want a little room in there) is 262.2.
262.2 divided by 9 (the mutiple of my stitch pattern) is 29.1333
Since you can't cast on tenths of stitches I'll go with 29 multiples of 9 for a total cast on of 261.
Just to double check, I divide 261 by my gauge of 6.9 sts/in, which should give me a blocked circumference of 37.8" so I'll have almost my desired 2" of ease.
Now to cast on & start mt sweater.  I plan on blogging my process although only in the size I'm making so if you want to follow along I'd love to see what you do!

I hope all that technical stuff hasn't put you to sleep!
Don't forget there's just over a week left to enter my contest on Facebook (details in my previous post here.)  There have already been quite a few winners & I'm so happy to have all the new people as part of my facebook community.
Have I mentioned lately that I love knitters & crocheters? They really are some of the most kind people you will ever come across.

Tuesday, January 11

New Classes & a Contest...

On Sunday I taught the first session of Thrummed Mittens at White Barn Farm.  It was an absolutely beautiful day & the class was really fun.  It was great seeing the combination of wool & yarn everyone picked out, I can't wait to see the finished products!
Now, are you wishing that you had signed up? If you are, I am teaching another 2 session class starting this Saturday at Wing & Clover in Rhinebeck,  These mittens are a fun quick knit & will keep your fingers toasty in the frigid Hudson Valley Winter!
The classes are Saturdays, January 15 &22 11:00-2:00, contact Wing & Clover 845.876.1035 to sign up.

At the end of February, at Wing & Clover I'm teaching one of my favorite classes, Knitting in Color.  I think a lot of people don't try colorwork because they're intimidated by the techniques.  I personally love color & rarely knit solid pieces.    Once you've tried fair isle, intarsia & slip stitch colorwork I think you'll be hooked & find yourself adding just a little to every project. Classes are Sundays, Feb. 27, March 6, 13  11:00-2:00 (3 sessions), you can contact Wing & Clover 845.876.1035 to sign up.

Didn't I mention something about a contest? I did! 
So,  here's whats happening,  a local chocolatier, Lagusta's Luscious had a contest on her Facebook page (through which my dear friend Cal will be enjoying some yummy artisanal chocolates). I loved the idea & thought it was a great way to grow the community & give you some yarn! This is how the contest will work:

1) ask your knitter-y, crochet-ish, fiber loving friends to "like" Jill Draper Makes Stuff on Facebook 
2) if 7 people post "I'm here because so & so - (that's you) sent me" I will send you a hank of Splendor, I'll pick a fab color for you, don't worry!

I guess there have to be some rules, so here they are:
* you have to live in the US
* you have to be 18, I guess, the legal stuff kind of eludes me but it seems appropriate, sorry minors
* Even if you get 150 people to like the page I can only send yarn once but I really appreciate it & think you have amazing networking skills!
* We'll run the contest until the end of January

How does that sound?

Tuesday, January 4

Welcome 2011!

December flew by in a total blur but 2011 is off to a great start. I've been busy dyeing lots of new colorways in both Splendor & HudsonI'm scheduling lots of classes here in the Hudson Valley and slightly farther afield, I'll update classes here often. 

One of the classes I have a lot of fun teaching (and wearing the finished product from) is Thrummed Mittens, I have classes for this scheduled at Wing & Clover and White Barn Farm. Thrumming is an ancient method of knitting unspun wool in with yarn to make a garment that is filled with soft, downy, wool which keeps fingers nice & toasty.

I've been swatching lots for submissions to magazines & new patterns.  There are a few new JDMS patterns in the works.  Over the month of January I plan to share with you my process for designing & knitting a sweater from start to finish.  Coming soon sketches & inspirations...

One of my many 2011 goals is to keep up this blog more regularly.  I love hearing what you think, seeing finished projects & sharing in general crafting goodness.  Please feel free to share here, in my Ravelry group or my Facebook page.