Friday, May 30, 2014

A semi-triumphant return...

I've taken a year and a bit off of writing.  There has just been too much going on, too much to do, too much stress.  I have a kid who is struggling with reading, I have a kid who is now a teenager - and well, he's a handful in and of himself.  I miss writing, creating patterns, coming up with new ideas.  That said, a friend of mine was talking on Facebook the other day about what to do with her blog and what direction it should go in.  Just crafty stuff?  Just life stuff?  Some combination of the two?  Oddly, her post was coinciding with my own thoughts.  I'm still not positive what I'm going to do just yet, but just typing is a start.  I've written several patterns and I'll be releasing them as I get the .pdfs done, but it'll be slowly.  Just keep a look out.  :)

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Vrida Pattern Release Day!!!

Alrighty... after working on this particular pattern since November, it's done!  I had a request earlier in November from a friend to make a hat using a picture she had sent me.  I have no idea where she found the original and mine is slightly different, but it's a pretty gosh darn good facsimile!

Using less than one skein of worsted weight, this is a quick and easy knit for everyone either familiar with or wanting to learn how to work simple cables.  The pictured sample was made using 63g of Madelinetosh Tosh worsted, in Nordic Spruce.  I adored working with this, and the color is GORGEOUS - like a really dark teal.

For a limited time, I will be offering this pattern as a freebie! If you would like a copy, please leave your email address in the comments section and I will get it out to you! In a week or so, it will be up on Etsy for the reasonable price of $2.99! Of course, if you don't want to leave it in the comments, feel free to email me directly at

In searching for a name, I was kind of stuck.  Then I looked around my living room and realized... IKEA. So, I hit up Google Translate and punched in a few options... and the Vrida hat was born!

Meaning twist, I liked the Swedish translation for the twisting pattern of the cables... and there was nothing else named Vrida on Ravelry! After weeks of revising and playing with sizing, the final design will require: a cable needle (if desired) either size 6,7, or 8 circular needle for the banding (depending on your head size), a size 9 circular needle for the body, and size 9 DPNs for the crown decreases.  This is a quick knit, usually taking an afternoon/evening depending on how quickly you knit.

A little bit of time invested for a gorgeous result! I've made four of these in the last month to rave reviews from everyone that received them!

NOTE: if you received the pdf before January 16- I forgot to note when to switch needles for the body. Make sure to switch to a US9 after the final row of the banding section!

WHOOOOO HOOOOOO!  It's now available as a FREE Ravelry download!  Click here -> Vrida!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Hey there...I'm back! (With a free pattern!)

I could say "Oh gosh, I've been gone for weeks, things have been nuts!" I'm not going to, because for me to not have posted for literally six months to the day (and, no, that wasn't planned), OBVIOUSLY I've had things going on.

Two kids, each starting different new schools (one in kindergarten and one starting middle school) tends to take it's toll on the random time available.  Concerts, conferences, school programs, etc., they all take up a ton of time.  I have also had a bunch of orders, both for retail locations and for the online shop through Etsy... that being said, Happy Christmas! :)

One of the orders that I did during my blogging hiatus was a Yoda hat for a friend of mine.  I've talked about Erin and Abby in the past, and I was delighted to work something up when Erin asked.  Abby is WAY into Star Wars (which is awesome) and Yoda is one of her favorites.  When I was in the process of creating this particular pattern, naturally, I looked around on Ravelry and online first, to see if I could make it easy on myself.  I didn't see anything that I liked enough to buy, so I just decided to do it myself.  The other caveat was that it was fairly close to Abby's birthday, so it needed to be done quickly.

Using less than a skein of Berroco's Comfort Chunky, this is a super fast knit - perfect for the last minute gift - for whatever holiday you may need it for!

The Force You Shall Feel - Yoda Inspired Hat

  • –  1 Skein Chunky Weight (I used Berroco
    Comfort Chunky)
  • –  Size 10.5 Circular Needles
  • –  Size 10.5 DPNs
  • –  Size J crochet hook – if desired (for
    attaching ears) OR a large yarn needle
**To fit an (approximate) 5-8yo**page1image5432
  • –  Cast on 60sts and join to work in the round
  • –  Work 5 rounds in 2x2 ribbing (Should measure about an inch)
  • –  Change to Stockinette (stocking if you're from the other side of the pond) Stitch- work until hat
    measures about 5 inches – or length desired
  • –  Decrease rounds (Change to DPNs when necessary):
    • –  K8, K2tog
    • –  K next round
    • –  K7, K2tog
    • –  K next round
    • –  K6, K2tog
    • –  K next round
    • –  K5, K2tog
    • –  K next round
    • –  K4, K2tog
    • –  K next round
    • –  K3, K2tog
    • –  K2, K2tog
    • –  K1, K2tog
    • –  K2tog
  • –  Break yarn, leaving a tail, weave through remaining sts, weave in ends.

    **Note – the first and last 3 sts of each row will be knit to create garter stitch border**
          –  CO 15sts –leave a long tail for attaching the ears to the hat later – trust me, it's easier to already
              have the yarn there.
          –   R1: Knit across all sts
          –  R2: K3, P9, K3
  • –  Continue these rows until the ears reach about 1.5” in length

    Ear Decreases:
  • –  You may use whichever decrease method you prefer, k2tog, ssk, whatever :) All decreases will be made on the RS. This is more of a guide, than actual pattern at this point. PLEASE read the 3rd section before beginning.
  • –  Decrease Row 1 – K10, K2tog or SSK, K3
  • –  Next row, K3, P8, K3
  • –  Continue making decreases every two or three rows – make sure that they are always on the
    BOTTOM of the ear – so, for one ear, you will do the decreases on the last two stitches before the border, the other ear you will do the decreases on the first two stockinette stitches directly after the border. Otherwise, you'll end up with two of the same ears... which, in the grand scheme of things, isn't that big of a deal – Yoda has weird ears, so...
  • –  Continue in this pattern, adjusting with an extra decrease in a row if you feel like they are getting too long, until you wind up with your border stitches – 6sts remain.
  • –  You can either do a couple decrease rows to make the ears more pointy, or leave them more blunt – there are several different Yoda incarnations, so it just depends on how true to Jedi canon you want to be. Bind off using your favorite method.

    Setting the Ears:
I tend to set my ears a bit toward the back, most people have a greater distance from front of ear to front of ear than from back of the ear to the other back of the ear.
I usually use the center back and just count a few ribbed sections on either side. Ears may be stitched or joined using a crochet hook if you prefer.

Voila! You're done... if it isn't perfect... well, have you SEEN Yoda's head? It's all wrinkly and mottled! Your favorite Star Wars fan will be delighted that you made the effort – especially if it is a kiddo! These ears are NOT designed to stand straight out. There are other patterns you could find for that. These are intended to be more floppy – as they are in the original episodes. If desired, you could always weave a green pipe cleaner in the back of the ear – as long as the recipient knows to remove it when washed.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me via Twitter (@Kusalaknits), Etsy, Facebook, or good old fashioned e-mail at By all means, please feel free to make for friends, family, charity groups. If you would like to sell products made from this pattern, please contact me prior to listing. This pattern is not to be resold. This pattern is original, any similarity to existing patterns is coincidental and unintentional, and I do not claim any affiliation with LucasFilm, LucasArts, Skywalker Ranch, or Industrial Light and Magic.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Planning for Winter...

Like so many other crafty types, I plan seasons several months in advance. How many armwarmers am I going to need, who am I doing wholesale for, what patterns am I going to do (revise, write anew), which stitches are going to work on bulky yarn? (I love bulky for winter – works up quickly, is super warm, and is usually on sale during the summer months ;))

Another thing I plan is what novelty (read: geeky) items are going to go into the fall line-up. Last year was Tribbles, Pokeballs (these sold ridiculously well at the craft fairs I went to – they'll be back), and Jayne hats. This year, in addition to those, I plan on adding some Yoda hats, more size options for the Jayne hats, and some Boba Fett hats. (I may have just typed two 't's on hat...).

I ALSO have a new baby to knit for!! (NOT mine!) A totally rad couple I know is expecting their first, and visions of how I'm going to alter several adult patterns are dancing in my head!

I am once again trying to buy local, there are several local dyers and farms that I try to support when possible, as well as some local resale shops that ALWAYS have some totally cool buttons for cowls and armwarmers.

What is going to be your focus for winter? Do you have a particular pattern you're going to churn out twelve of?

Friday, June 29, 2012

Support Indie Makers!

Because I hang out on Twitter on a regular basis - probably more frequently than I should, I have met a ton of independent dyers, spinners, knitters, designers and the like.  Two of my favorites are Erica (@FiddleKnits) - and Lee (@Leethal) - or  Erica is from the East Coast, and Lee is here in Portland.  Both have some fabulous designs.  Lee just finished up a mystery KAL (that I am about 15 rows behind on...) and Erica is about to start a gorgeous mystery shawl KAL.  If you'd like to get in on the shawl action... follow the link!  I just purchased her Black Eyed Susie Raglan (as if I don't have enough in progress...) to start for fall.  I like short or three quarter length sleeves - I just wear long sleeved under them anyway and they're less cumbersome with additional layers over them once jacket season rolls around.

Maleficent - Superwash Merino & Nylon Sock Fingering Yarn - Hand Dyed - 462 yards
Maleficent yarn (Image via
Other indie picks are (of course) Knitted Wit, and also Gnome Acres. I recently put a call out for someone to dye me Maleficent yarn - black, dark purple, lime-ish green... She's always been my favorite Disney villain and I was in the mood.  It's going to become fair isle dragon socks! It came out GORGEOUS - and she has so many more cool colors - I'm pretty fairly certain that I need the Aquaman shade as well...

Ahh, the power of the internet... just what every yarnie needs.  More ways to access yarn. ;)  Who is your favorite indie designer? Dyer?

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Tulip Top... a great summer project!

Latest Finished Project... The Tulip Top

The most recent (as of writing this) project that I have finished was the Tulip Top from Stitch and Bitch Superstar Knits book. I really liked the shaping- and even more so I liked that the tops of the shoulders had a three needle bind off as a seam – I hate seaming, which is odd, as I like sewing in general.

I had a skirt (or three) that I needed a top to match, so I chose a darker, but not quite burnt, shade for orange, with a dark purple trim in the Elizabeth Lavold Silky Wool. I really enjoyed working with this particular yarn – had just enough “squish” to it, yet the finished project isn't heavy or bulky.

One major modification that I made to this top was that I didn't work the pattern stitch. Because two of the skirts I was looking to match had a pattern to them, I didn't want anything to compete with that – as my Nip/Tuck top is currently doing with a patterned skirt. I felt that the overall wear-ability of the top would be increased without the novelty stitch. So, I worked it strictly in a stockinette. I did have to frog this top once and begin anew, as I'm a twitcake and cast on the wrong number of stitches. 72 is not the same as 75 – who knew?

When the knitting and the iCord (tee hee... let's turn everything into an Apple product!) was complete, it was small. Like, really small – and I'm a small person. I was frightened... I really was surprised at how much the blocking stretched out this yarn. Not quite doubled in size, but pretty close. It was rather impressive. I'm very happy with the finished product, and now I'm just waiting for the weather to FINALLY turn around so that I can wear it!

I would indeed make this project again. In fact, I have some Aimee in blue sitting around... hmmmm.

Monday, June 25, 2012

All About Brittany... or a Cool Soap Giveaway!

A few weeks ago, okay, it may have been months, I started planning a giveaway to do in conjunction with Brittany Hassell, of Snappy Rockfish Soaps.

The reason for this is summer is coming, people get sweaty, and I prefer people who smell nice as opposed to smelling like Hobo Joe, who just finished his cross country train ride. The other reason is that Brittany is saving up for something really, Really, REALLY cool... a trip to Antarctica! I absolutely love when people have a goal that seems ridiculously daunting to me and are going for it whole heartedly.

Brittany and Artoo
Though we live in the same town, we got here very differently – and from very different places! Brittany lived here in Portland for a few years in the early 2000's, however, left to live in Alaska. She headed back for several reasons... one of them being her boyfriend Jonathan – whom she realized that she “... wanted to actually move in with him and I didn't think I'd kill him.” After working multiple jobs at the same time, she made her way back to the handmade mecca that is Portland.

In the time since, Brittany has finished her Bachelor's in Anthropology (insert awesome Betty White Community reference here), and loves to experiment with different foods – specifically those that are crunch or tomato-y (preferably both), writes for her blog – Pro-Soup Propaganda, read, ride her bike Eleanor, and volunteer with a Portland based group called Friends of Trees, and hang with her totally rad dog, Artoo. If all of this weren't enough, she also works at Mr. Green Beans, a local shop that specializes in unroasted coffee beans, classes on soap, and cheesemaking. Oh. And she makes soap. Really yummy smelling soap. Like, with coffee and chocolate in it, though the grapefruit is my personal favorite!

Corivade Soap
Brittany says, “Your skin is your body's biggest organ, so whatever you put on it is going to get into your body. I like knowing that it (her soaps) doesn't have anything yucky in it and that I'm not supporting chemical companies by using those types of ingredients – such as sodium laurel sulfate.” So what DOES she use in her soaps? Organic ingredients whenever possible! Coconut oil, olive oil, etc., and she colors the soaps with herbs, spices, roots, and uses pure essential oils in all of the soaps.

There are currently a few shops in her native Ketchikan, Alaska that retail her products, however, Brittany is always open to more! Now that her degree is complete, she is excited about new recipes – including formulas for shampoo and facial bars. While she might “have the drawing skills of an eight year old”, she enjoys making soap because it allows her to have a creative outlet with a tangible product that looks and smells nice.

There are several quotes or mottos that Brittany says motivate and guide her, but the one that I think sums her up the best? “You may do foolish things, but do them with enthusiasm.” - Sidonie Gabrielle Carter.

For a chance to win a bar of Brittany's 'Rain-Dogg' (Beer and Citrus) soap, to be paired with one of my hand knit soap bags made from a natural colored recycled cotton, please leave a comment below... answering the following question: if you had to choose your favorite two scents to be blended into a soap, what would they be and why?

Giveaway Prize!!! One hand knit soap bag and a lovely wrapped bar of Rain-Dogg!

Good luck! The winner will be announced on Saturday, June 30! You can also “Like” Brittany's Facebook page here, or support her Antarctic endeavours here!  ALSO! If you visit the Snappy Rockfish Etsy shop and enter 'Kusala" in the coupon code - you'll get an additional 15% off!!