Book Reviews: March's 1st Quarter KAL Prizes!

Ready to see March's 1st Quarter KAL Prizes? I decided to switch things up a bit and share some of my favorite books with you this month (instead of yarn!).

Did you know I have a book addiction? I read A LOT, novels I read on my e-reader, but when it comes to knitting (and cook) books, I like those hard copy! On any given day my office, studio and kitchen are scattered with books... in fact yesterday I found my elderly dog, Noche, using one as a pillow, silly 'ol girl!

Vogue Knitting: The Ultimate Knitting Book by Vogue Magazine
Published February 2018 by Sixth & Spring Books

This encyclopedia is a masterpiece, it deserves a spot on every knitter's shelf, right next to Principles of Knitting by June Hemmons Hiatt and  The Knitter's Handbook by Montse Stanley. It is so chock full of information I'm not sure I can touch on it all in one paragraph, but I will say that I was consulted with on the bead section, which is an honor! It touches on a huge variety of topics.... I was delighted to find the shaping rule for Faroese Shawl Construction in it (something one of my Craftsy students asked me about the other day in class.)
Alter Knit Stitch Dictionary by Andrea Rangel
Published Fall 2017 by Interweave Press

Oh, this book is a joy... if you are intrigued by color work, design, or stitch dictionaries, you really need to check it out! After going to Shetland with Andrea last summer I've been dreaming of designing a color work piece or two and I know I'll be consulting this book both for the technique section which is in depth, and the stitches! Before I design something I need to explore more about color dominance and steeking, and this book delves into those topics (and tons more!). If you aren't a designer, but want to knit some color work the 5 projects included are modern and wearable. Promise me you'll check out this book!
Dimensional Tuck Knitting by Tracy Purtscher
Published September 2017 by Sixth & Spring Books

Sometimes I come across a photo and am utterly intrigued... that's what happened with this book. I saw it at a vendor's booth last fall (maybe at Rhinebeck?) and it came home with me. The techniques used to create this fabric which looks like a cross of weaving and knitting with a smattering of cables that aren't cables has me fascinated to no end. I think you'll be as in love with it as I am!
Curls by Hunter Hammersen
Published November 2014 by Pantsville Press

The self published booklet has become a classic. Hunter's innovative writing style creates a gorgeous and accessible approach to curl shawl shaping. I wrote a blog post about it a few years back... so I suggest reading that if you want to learn more!

In case you don't know about my 1st Quarter KAL in my Ravelry group, I've run them for the last few years the first 3 months of the year... there are weekly prizes for participating, and grand prizes for reaching goals! As of writing there are 296 projects completed, and 154 of my designs being knit... pretty amazing, right? Please come join us... it is easy to participate and it is SO fun to see what you are knitting!!!!


How to Cable Cast on with Laura Nelkin

Working a cable cast on is easy... and here are a few tricks to help you make sure you have success!!!

As you can see from the video the cable cast on is VERY similar to the knitted-on (or lace) cast on, the only difference is that you are working it in between the your stitches, not into the last st. A cable cast on gives a bit more of a firm edge. I have been using it as the cast on for the panels in my Novus sweaters.... it works perfectly for that application as you want the bottom edge of those panels to have a bit of structure.

I have many more tutorials and add them as I have patterns that need a new technique taught! Is there anything (knitting releated) you would like me to cover in a video? I'm happy to oblige!


Always room for improvement!

Last month I was working with my smart smart tech editor Kate Atherley on a new summer sweater that uses the Novus construction. She asked why the schematic didn't have a measurement from the shoulder to the hem, and I was like, I don't know? It should! That is a super helpful measurement to have!
 This is Caragh, not the sweater Kate and I were working on, the black line indicates the measurement that was missing!

In the Novus Construction, the length from the shoulder to the hem (E) is just the side length (C) plus half the sleeve width (F). If you understand the construction you could figure that out on your own... but why should you when I can just plug it in!
Why is this helpful?
Let's say you have "girls"... you girls are going to pull up the fabric from the top part of the side seam and the armhole depth (half the sleeve width) making the sweater shorter. So, just determining length from the side seam isn't going to tell you how the sweater length is going to fit YOU. If you also measure from the shoulder you can take these two measurements and adjust for your body so the sweater is long enough!
You can really see an example of that in this photo... we are all wearing Caragh, and you can see that the sweater is shorter on Vicki, Helene and Demerse. If they wanted to  adjust for that in a future Caragh, they can add a bit more length to the side seam and the sleeve width after casting on for the front and back (the sleeves don't need more width).

Or, what if you want a deeper than "average" armhole? You can adjust for that with the width of the sleeve, but having that measurement in the pattern is going to make the adjustment easier to make!

I am sending out updates for Pacificus, Vindur, Gola, and Caragh that include this measurement... fitting these 4 pullovers to your body will be even easier now that a new measurement has been added to the schematic!

Please feel free to ask questions, either in this blog post, or in my Ravelry group, I'm happy to help you make sure the modifications you are making work for you!

And in case you didn't know...
It is Sweater Month in the 1st Quarter KAL in my Ravelry group which means between now and Feb 28th at 12p, EST ALL my sweater patterns are BOGO! Don't miss out, I don't have pattern sales often!!!

Oh, and because a few of you might be wondering? That super secret sweater I mentioned at the top of the post? It is a collaboration with another company and should be out the first week of March!


Nicaragua... an emergency get-a-way!

A few weeks ago we freaked out and decided we needed to go warm up down south... and then the girl signed up for a month long TEFL program in Nicaragua and we figured we should take her!

Since I got asked a lot about where we went on this excursion I thought a photo heavy blog post was in order. A little background about this trip, my husband and I traveled to Costa Rica alot in our 20's, it was our "thing".... I was learning Spanish and fell in love with everything about the country. We went back in 2010 for a family vacation and were a little overwhelmed by how touristy it had gotten... ZIP LINES EVERYWHERE. Not that it isn't a fabulous country to visit, but it wasn't what I had fallen in love with anymore. I've been hearing that Nicaragua is a lot like Costa Rica used to be, super friendly people, easy to get around, not super expensive, and a very similar topography (they are right next to each other!). One thing I loved is that not a lot of the locals speak English so I got to practice my horrific Spanish... by the end of the trip we were actually having some real conversations, not just the necessary travel talk.

Here's our days in photos:
Day 1:
Laguna de Apoyo
A pristine, blue, and thermally vented lagoon contained inside the crater of the Apoyo Volcano... we stayed right on the shore, this was the PERFECT way to start our adventure! Inner tubes, kayaks, rum drinks and knitting... (in that order!)
A view of the entire lagoon
A spiky tropical tree that begged you to just try and hug it!
Day 2:
Volcano Masaya

Oh, we just drove up and looked INSIDE the crater of an ACTIVE VOLCANO. Literally... you are only allowed to be at the crater for 5 minutes as it is spewing nasty gases, and frankly 5 minutes was all I needed... pretty amazing.  
Here's a statue we loved at the side of a shed in a town along the way that day,
I don't know anything else about it... sorry!

Day 3:

Days 4 and 5:
Zopango Island
(this was our treat, who doesn't want to stay on a private island in Lake Nicaragua?)
Can you spy the great blue heron in this photo?

The island was all about birds, hammocks, swimming, hammocks, yummy tropical food, hammocks, mosquitos, hammocks... it is amazing I got any knitting done at all, those hammocks kept me super busy! (Also, they made me want to try macrame again!)

Day 6 until home:
Las Penitas just west of Leon
(we landed here for 4 nights... nothing like really getting into a Pacific beach town, right)
I will go out on a limb and say that this town made us feel a wee bit middle aged, I'm glad we weren't there on weekend nights as the disco went until 2am on Wed eve (our last night there) and I was a little bit grumpy in the morning. I think I like my beach towns a little less "entertaining" : )! The girl, though, is there for a month and she'll certainly have fun when she isn't in class!
Birding in the mangroves along Juan Venado Island Natural Reserve (this photo was taken before the great mosquito attack)
Little Blue Heron
Yellow Crowned Night Heron (or Martinet?)
Boat Billed Heron (or Spoon Billed? I am not a "good" birder!)
Gliding down the river with a flock of herons at the prow!
Obviously, a dyer is going to be getting this photo for a future yarn : )!
One thing I don't have any photos of (they weren't allowed) was our trip to the Museo de Arte Fundacion Ortiz-Gurdian which we read had the best collection of contemporary art in Latin America. WOW... totally blown away by the pieces in this museum. It went on for 5 buildings, there work from artists I had heard of before, and also many I had never seen. I really fell for some of the pieces by Nicaraguan artists, particularly the pottery. I wish I had taken out my notebook and written down names, but there was something so freeing about just experiencing the museum in the moment and not recording it for the future... do you know what I mean? Clearly, I need to go back, which isn't a bad thing! But I did get a photo for you of our Tostones con Queso (fried green plantains)... we ate these with ceviche almost every day.... ME GUSTA!
I did get a ton of knitting done on this trip too, including another Baby Novus for my cousin who is due any day!
The pattern is almost done being tested and is off to the copy editor now... can't wait to share this little cutie with you! Hopefully next week!

We planned this trip in 10 days... and I already know where I want to go in Nicaragua when we freak out next winter....