Category Archives: Pattern Design

There’s some buzz about the Mini Mania Scarf

This morning I got an awesome email from my best friend, letting me know that the infamous scarf has made it big – on Buzzfeed! That’s right, earlier this month the Mini Mania Scarf was featured in one of Buzzfeed’s pictorial “lists” – this time a tongue-in-cheek bit called 16 Scarves That Forgot How To Scarf. The hilarious sub-headline says, ” Seriously, scarves, you only have one job.”

Here is the scarf, in the illustrious number 13. position:

I really think Buzzfeed missed the mark, though, on scarves that forgot how to scarf. There are some really stellar knit and crocheted ones out there, like:

The Squid Scarf – getting stuck on you since 2007:

Or how about the crocheted scarves that can’t decide if they should be bacon and sushi?

And leave it to the Japanese to create the first-ever Boob Scarf, still being crafted over at BoobsRUs:

Thanks for the buzz, BuzzFeed!


It’s a Podcast with Moi! (courtesy of The Knotted Bag)

Diane from The Knotted Bag contacted me last week and asked if I wanted to be one of her first guests in her eponymously named podcast series. I of course said yes! because if there is one thing I like to do, it’s talk. 😉

Diane and I had a wonderful chat on Friday evening on Skype, chatting about our most recent knitting projects and generally just gabbing away the hour. To listen to the podcast directly you can check it out here on Libsyn and to listen to it on iTunes go here!

I hope you enjoy listening to it, and as always, happy knitting!

Happy New Year (and other fun news)!

I hope everyone had as happy of a new year as I did! Well, I nearly always have a happy new year, since New Year’s Day is my birthday. It’s like there’s a built-in party for me the night before my birthday every year!  However, I must say that this New Year’s Eve and Day was especially nice, as I had friends helping me celebrate it in style with a huge party and dancing and eggs benedict and balloons and men in drag and cupcakes and even a toaster oven (I love my new toaster oven)!

It's everywhere!!!

So, there’s some fun new stuff on the horizon this year that I’m really excited about and wanted to share with you.  Or give you teasers about, since this post is just a short burst of information. First off, I discovered two awesome things – my last ever shipment of yarn from The Sanguine Gryphon arrived yesterday and it was nommy and delicious and tinged with bittersweet regret. I will be sharing pictures with you sometime the next week or so of the new yarns, I promise. Also, my Mini Mania Scarf pattern was both the featured pattern of the day on The Daily Knitter  and was a “best of 2011” stashbusting idea at The Knitter’s blog!

If you haven’t stopped by the Mini Mania knitalong we have going on over on Ravelry, you’ll have to poke your head in sometime soon. I’m “knitting along” in the KAL with the other ladies (I don’t think any gents have joined us yet, so I’m safe saying lay-dees) and we’re all having fun looking at each other’s miniskeins and progress on our projects. I didn’t want to leave our cowls lovers out in the cold,  so I just started making a sweet cowl that will eventually become a companion pattern to the Mini Mania Scarf. Which reminds me, I need to take a photo of the minis I am using!

And that leads me to another exciting new year’s goodie. I got a brand new camera this Christmas, and I can’t wait to share all the uber-techy details with you (and loads of pretty pictures too, I swear)!  More on that will be in another blog post this month, but yippee! I’m excited about my new toy.

Last but not least, I bit the bullet and decided to get myself an official newsletter mailing list so that I keep keep all of you better informed of what’s going on in the Exchanging Fire circle. If you are interested in getting shop updates, pattern premieres, special deals and more supercool information like that from me, you can sign up here! I promise only to email you when something terribly important is going on and I’m having kittens* because I’m bursting from the news.

*No kittens were harmed or birthed in this metaphor, unless you count that weird dream I had three years ago about my best friend giving birth to kittens. That one really freaked. me. out.

Check me out in The Knitter!

I was stalking The Knitter, a UK knitting magazine, religiously this summer. The editor, Juliet Bernard, had asked if she could feature my pattern, the Mini Mania Scarf, in one of her stashbusting blog posts. I was thrilled, of course, and started watching like mad for it. Well wouldn’t you know it, right after I gave up the hunt she posted about my pattern! It was last month, but her stashbusting tips for all of the fabulous ways you can use up yarn are totally still relevant. Plus, hey look, there I am!

But there’s more! The Knitter (hard copy side) contacted me again because they are doing a larger spread about stashbusting in their next issue, and wanted to know if they could reprint my pattern photo there as well! I think that if the pattern is being featured (or, as the case may be, a teeny picture in the corner) it should be the most current issue, issue 36, which went on sale Sept. 5 in the UK. If any of my European readers have found it, I’d love to have a scan of the page or a copy of the magazine. Either way, keep your eyes peeled for me, please!

UPDATE: I wrote to one of the editors who initially contacted me to ask where my picture was featured, and she was so kind as to give me a digital copy of the page that my scarf was on. Yey! They had originally told me that the reason they were interested in featuring my scarf was because a reader wrote them a letter talking about it. So they actually wrote about my scarf in a response to the reader, whose letter they published in a section of the magazine called “In the Loop”. Very exciting!

In other news, I’ve joined Craftsy and I’m loving it – it’s a great complementary site to Ravelry because it offers me a chance to share my non-knitting related stuff (ok, that’s like, one sewing project, but still) and it offers great online classes and stuff like that. What fun!

My Pattern is Published – For Real!

That’s right, girls and boys, I’ve moved beyond the world of self-publishing on Ravelry. My first pattern design, the Ruched Sleep Mask, has been published in the Knitting 2012 Day-to-Day desk calendar that just came out!

My complimentary copy of the calendar came at the end of June, and I’ve just been waiting until July to tell you all about it, since July 15 is when the actual calendar went on sale. It’s available at Amazon, as well as through Barnes and Noble, Borders, and probably in your local mom-and-pop book shop as well. I’m so excited and just had to share the good news!

Knitting from Egg to Chicken

I’m not a spinner, but I recently purchased StashEnhancement’s fabulous September Phat Fiber batt, Farm Fresh Eggs. I know, I know, I’m crazy. But I fell so in love with it! She took this stock photo:

And turned it into this fiber:

Through Ravelry, I was connected to a lovely spinner named tashi, and she turned that batt into this:

This beautiful handspun not only contains StashEnhancement fiber, but to stretch the yardage a bit I added a 2 gram sample of blue-green hand-dyed bamboo rayon from Fiber-Fancy’s November Phat Fiber Stocking Stuffer, a 7 gram sample blend of angora and merino from Natchwoolie’s November Phat Fiber sample called Snow Bunny and another StashEnhancement sample, 2 grams of fine cashmere, ultrafine merino and mulberry silk called Natural Light from the November Phat Fiber box.

And finally, using some complementary tan-colored Blue Sky Alpacas, I made myself a little striped Farm Fresh Kerchief:

I adored seeing this process through from start to finish. This is a very easy shawl and I think I might just write it up as a free pattern when I get around to it, so that others can make a sweet little striped kerchief as well.

Origami Lotus Bag Tutorial

My favorite project bag is this lotus-shaped drawstring bag I own. It’s square with some design features that reminds me of Japanese origami, the beautiful art of paper folding. I love the way it folds in on itself like those old fortune teller paper games we used to play in school when we were children. The design is both simple yet clever. Pulling the drawstring shuts the bag and creates handles for carrying, all without losing its basic shape. I knew this bag design would be perfect for the vintage fabric my grandmother bought while traveling in India in the ’70s, but when I looked around the Internet in an attempt to make it, I couldn’t find a pattern or tutorial for the design I liked anywhere. I really wanted to have it replicated, so I just decided to write my own pattern! I’m a rudimentary sewer myself, so I assure you this pattern isn’t hard and will gently stretch your abilities. Let’s get sewing!

Origami Lotus Project Bag with yarn being knit into a shawl inside of it

You’ll need two matching squares of fabric that are roughly 18 inches square and some matching ribbon. The final product, when all said and done, is going to have a 12-inch wide flat bottom. Note: If you use squares of fabric that are larger you will make a larger bag and if you use squares that are smaller your bag will, consequently, be smaller.

First, take the two pieces of complementary fabrics and place the designs facing each other so you see the wrong side. If you have thin fabrics I recommend added a layer of interfacing of some sort for added strength. Sew the two fabrics together like you would for a pillowcase, leaving yourself a small hole. Then flip the fabric inside-out. Ta-da! Your fabrics are all sewn together and look like a flat, er…thicker piece of fabric. Don’t worry, we’re getting there.

Second, iron your fabric so that it’s easier to work with. This is where the fabric starts to look like origami, and as the Japanese masters will tell you, trying to fold wrinkled paper (or fabric) never works well. Before you start folding, however, we’re going to sew a nice little edging on the flat piece of pillowcase fabric to make it look finished and to keep the seam from sliding around. This should be about an eighth of an inch from the edge of the fabrics and can be as simple as a backstitch or as complex as crazy ornate miniature heart shapes. Whatever. It’s totally up to you.

Now we’re getting to the folding. At this point, your square of fabrics should be laid flat with the fabric design that you want to be the exterior fabric facing you. Turn the fabric at an angle so it looks like a diamond shape to you (see fig. 1). Then fold each corner diamond inward until it is touching in the center like the Four Corners out West. Can you see the paper fortune teller game right now? I know, so cool!

Origami Lotus Bag, fig. 1

Your folded flaps should now show only the interior fabric. Those flaps are going to become the interior side panels of the bag. Seam up the four sides of the bag halfway (about four inches), making sure that the interior of the bag is still facing you (see fig. 2). This is important, because you are going to flip the bag so that the seams are facing inward when you are done.

Origami Lotus Bag, fig. 2

The reason we only sewed up the sides of the bag halfway is because to create that lotus-like appearance, the unsewn flaps need to be folded over the outside of the bag. This creates the four origami points that look very similar to the points of a flower petal. To help the four points stay put, we’re going to sew them to the exterior of the bag roughly half an inch from the opening (see fig. 3). This creates a hole or gap large enough to draw ribbons or cord through to make the bag a drawstring one.

Origami Lotus Bag, fig. 3

Lastly, cut two long satin ribbons or silken cord. I usually cut them as long as my arm from fingertip to collarbone, but you’ll need to gauge the length yourself. Take one ribbon and thread it through all four half-inch gaps we sewed at the opening of the bag. Tie the ribbon to itself when it reaches the beginning. At the opposite end from where you started threading the first ribbon, take the second ribbon and repeat the process. Pick up the bag, pull the cords, and watch the bag close! Note: The biggest mistake newbie drawstring bag makers find themselves making is at this point. If you pull your cords and the bag doesn’t close but the ribbons just hang taut, you may have knotted the first ribbon to the second. That’s never going to work so unknot and try again.

Enjoy making your own origami lotus bag!

My Beloved Origami Lotus Bag


I have a second origami lotus bag now, sewn out of some vintage fabric my grandmother brought back with her from India in the 1970s. I am absolutely in love with it – I even had some pale brown ribbon that, just by chance, matched the fabric perfectly! My friend Heidi sewed it for me, and helped me pick out the silken orange interior, which, naturally, I ordered from India. Ah, the magic of the Internet. I had this little pocket that my grandmother had sewn ages ago, as well, so I handstitched an edging to slip the matching ribbon through there as well. Hm, my stitches don’t look to bad in this photo.

The Lotus Temple Bag

Betty & Veronica pattern goes live today!

A new published pattern, the Betty and Veronica Scarf, goes live today! After a month of testing on Ravelry (I had eight fabulous testers helping me out), we’ve worked out all the kinks and come up with an accurate estimate of yardage to make it easier for everyone else to enjoy knitting.  I’m thrilled to report that one of my testers likes the pattern so much that she is starting a knit-a-long for it on Ravelry, in the Fun KALs – Shawls and Such group that she runs.

You’ll notice that currently I only have links to Ravelry for downloading my patterns. Well, that is going to be changing soon as I want to be a gateway drug for Ravelry give those who aren’t on Ravelry the opportunity to download my patterns as well. After all, I clearly remember trolling the Internet looking for great free patterns to knit up for myself, so it only makes sense that I would give others the same courtesy.

Also, for those of you interested less in the knitting aspect of this project and more in the owning of said scarves, I am selling two of the finished projects in my Etsy shop. The Raspberry Cheesecake Souffle one was the scarf that was actually the first of my final design prototype, and was knit in an extra-ruffly style that really makes the Veronica version of the scarf stand out. The second one I am selling is Veronica’s Dark Secret, and it was inspired by the fictional character Veronica Mars, from the television show of the same name. There’s just something lovely and deep about that scarf, and it is the first fine-tuned version of the pattern. The others have been traded and given away in turn as promotional efforts for the pattern.

Again, I want to give a huge thanks to all of my testers and everyone who willingly helped me out by knitting one, or two, or even  more of these for me! In truth, this pattern is slightly addictive, and many found that they couldn’t resist doing a second or a third to see how different it came out every time! I’ve actually knit this scarf six times already, and I’m currently on my seventh scarf. As soon as I get a chance to push aside my other deadline knitting projects, that is. This is a great stashbuster – my favorite kind of project!

On hold and dreaming

As I sit here listening to Stephanie Dosen‘s dreamy, whimsical music, on hold with something for work (frowns at phone) I decided that this would be the best time to update everyone on what’s going on in my fibery world. My dream of a scarf that would show off complementary handspun yarns and be cool and cute is nearing completion. The Betty & Veronica Scarf is in it’s testing phase! I’m still looking for testers, so if you are interested, go check it out here.

It took a lot of prototypes to get it exactly right. One of the first things I realized was that I couldn’t block the scarf, because it only flattened out the ruched look I was going for:

My next foray was great, except that I pulled the ribbed edging together too much, making it look rather ruffled instead of simply having a gentle edging:

Now that I’ve knit this scarf four times, I’ve finally figured out how to make it look “juuuust right,” as Goldilocks once said. After everyone finishes testing it and gives me feedback, I’ll be able to tweak the pattern and publish it for everyone else to make! Ok, the phone is ringing and the music has ended, so I’m diving back in!

P.S. – Almond Crush Pocky is delicious.

Image by Robert Otani

Betty & Veronica are rockin’ it

I’m sugar and spice and everything nice but if you wanna mess with me you better think twice.

I knit this scarf twice – once with the general idea of the pattern I wanted, and then a second time after I realized what I had done wrong the first time. UGH. I hate frogging. It was only sheer determination that kept me going. Basically, what I wanted to do was pair together two complementary yarns in my stash. Because one was handspun and the other a very expensive skein of yarn, they didn’t have much yardage, and therefore weren’t worth much by themselves. But together, they were more than the sum total of themselves alone.

I split the Rapture yarn evenly into two balls based on weight (which weighed about 22 grams each). Then I cast on with the Rapture yarn. Ik nit four rows of k2, p2 ribbing to create a loose ruffle. At this point I was torn – my original idea was to create short-rows a la Laura Chau’s Just Enough Ruffles, but I wasn’t sure I’d have enough. As I sat and envisioned how the final project would look, I got more and more mentally frustrated by things not knitting up properly, and decided that a short scarf with the added problem of having narrow ends probably wasn’t a good idea.

Instead, I retreated to my favorite knitting technique – ruching! Unlike most of the ruched patterns on Ravelry, I stuck to all stockinette stitch in order to show off the handspun look of my center yarn, as opposed to hiding it with garter stitch. Then I created a second ruffle at the other end, cast off, and viola! The Betty & Veronica Scarf. Now it’s time to write this pattern up and get it out there to share with the world! Ok ok, just with like-minded knitters on Ravelry. 😉 I’m also going to knit it again with slightly different yardages and weights in an effort to gauge how differently it can come out. Yey!