Sunday, August 28, 2011

More Trendy Knitting

For some reason a blog post I wrote in 2008 pops up when you google "Trendy Knitting Patterns." At the time, I was exploring the most popular patterns according to Ravelry. Here we are, three years later... I guess this means it's time to make an update!

Ravelry has over 1.5 million members now! The information you read here is based on the statistics of their members. Obviously there are more knitters in the world than those who have joined Ravelry and uploaded projects but I find this to be interesting anyway. See what you think.

First we will examine what is called "popular." Ravelry uses some kind of magic to determine popularity. I think it's a blend of number of projects, number of hearts (when another user "favorites" a project), and number of queues (others who want to knit it). If anyone knows the formula, please let me know!

Here is where I would put all of the questions about the magic formulas that determine popularity of people, places and things of the world throughout time and space. Just push that schoolyard junk out of your mind for now if you can. This is about knitting, people. Knitting is safe and we are all included in it. It's ours!

Monkey sock in progress
My Monkey Socks

On to the trendspotting!

Back then, the most popular knitting patterns (in order) were:
1. Monkey by Cookie A
2. Fetching by Cheryl Niamath
3. My So Called Scarf by Allison Isaacs
4. Clapotis by Kate Gilbert
5. Jaywalker by Grumperina

According to Ravelry the top five most popular patterns now (in order) are:
1. Ishbel by Ysolda Teague
2. Citron by Hilary Smith Callis
3. Traveling Woman by Liz Abinante
4. Turn a Square by Jared Flood
5. Star Crossed Slouchy Beret by Natalie Larson

Observations: three years ago it was socks, fingerless gloves, scarf, scarf/shawl, socks. Now it's shawl, shawl, shawl, hat, hat. Back then socks were more popular. Now, there isn't one sock pattern in the top 40 most popular patterns. Fascinating!

It's safe to say shawls are the thing now. Looking at the top 10 most popular patterns, 7 of them are shawls.

Also, let's look at price. Back then, all of the top five patterns were free. Now, three of them are. This is too small a sample to make a conclusion but it's interesting to me anyway.

Okay, let's now look at the patterns with the most projects. There is some overlap, but not as much as you'd think.

My Clapotis

The top five with the most projects right now are:
1. Clapotis by Kate Gilbert (18244 projects)
2. Fetching by Cheryl Niamath (17891 projects)
3. Baby Surprise Jacket by Elizabeth Zimmermann (15353 projects)
4. Monkey by Cookie A (14730 projects)
5. Calorimetry by Kathryn Schoendorf (13325 projects)

Observations: Even though patterns like Clapotis, Fetching, and Monkey aren't considered to be as popular as they once were, they have stood the test of time. They have been knit by many and will endure, I'm sure. Monkey is 53rd on the most popular list and Fetching is 145th! What was the formula for popular again?

Compare these numbers to the top five most popular projects right now:

Ishbel 10157 projects
Citron 7752 projects
Traveling Woman 6492 projects
Turn a Square 8791 projects
Star Crossed 7919 projects

The numbers are way lower. What does it all mean? Dunno. But it's neat to see.

Finally, the Baby Surprise Jacket needs a special mention. It was first published in 1968, making it the oldest pattern on the list by a good many years. It's 10th most popular and has the 3rd most projects. Everyone has an opinion on it and making one is a rite of passage. One could write a great deal about this pattern but I'll leave it for now. I just wanted to shine a tiny light in it's direction.

All of the patterns and designers mentioned here are awesome. It's likely you've knit or thought about knitting something on here. I've made the Fetching, Monkey and Clapotis. How about you?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Mithril Cowl

Mithril Cowl

Hi friends! I've got a pattern to share with you today. Meet the Mithril Cowl.

Mithril Cowl

Mithril is a strong but lightweight rare metal appearing in J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. Gandalf even rated Bilbo’s mithril coat (later inherited by Frodo) as "greater than the value of the whole Shire and everything in it."

While you might not need the same protection a hobbit on a long journey would, surely a fine lace cowl will provide some beauty along your own path. This pattern has two versions: a complex lace and cabled cowl or a simpler lace and stockinette cowl. You pick!

Mithril Cowl


Cowl Size: One Size. Measurements taken after blocking.

Cowl Circumference: 28 inches (71 cm) Cowl Length: 11.5 inches (29 cm)

Needles: 1 set US #3/3.25mm 24” circular needle or size to get gauge.

Gauge: 22 sts/28 rows = 4" in Stockinette St.

Yarn: Any Fingering-weight yarn that gives you proper gauge. Sample shown: A Verb For Keeping Warm Creating [100% merino wool; 385yd per 100gr skein]; color: Asterix: 1 skein.

Notions: Stitch marker, cable needle (for complex version only), tapestry needle.

Skill level:
Simple version: Advanced beginner - Worked in the round with picot edges, simple lace and stockinette body.

Complex version: Intermediate to advanced -
Worked in the round with picot edges, complex lace and cabled stitches.

Mithril Cowl

I hope you like it! If you are interested in knitting your own mithril cowl, follow the links below.

buy now

add to cart

show cart

Thanks to Sorren Kerr for modeling and test knitting and Vivian Aubrey for the photographs.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Mitten Time

"For the compulsive knitter, hot weather need not put a crimp in his or her activity. Large projects may lie heavy and warm on the lap, but small things like mittens and socks are easy to carry about outdoors and can be made surprisingly fast. Stash them away as they are finished, and when the time comes, next winter, you can deal them out with a liberal hand." - Elizabeth Zimmermann (Knitter's Almanac, 1974)

Mitten TIme
photo by hyku

I am designing my first pair of mittens right now and I'm surprised by how much fun I'm having with them. Mittens, you say?

Mitten things:

1. Faster and easier than socks, but you still need to make two.

2. Designing one pair leads to designing several pairs. I have several new ideas now. Yeah!

3. I can count the number of times I've actually worn mittens on one hand. But not if that hand was wearing a mitten.

4. A list of five things is way better than a list of four things. Everyone knows that.

5. I could leave you with a cutesy rhyme of kittens with lost mittens but I am more inclined to share with you this gem from Northern Ireland instead:

A Mitten lost on Brighton Pier
by Patrick Daniel Toland

It is the most
inconsequential of things -
fallen there among wrappers,
fortunes and evening tears.

The karaoke bar is singerless,
the washing waves are morning post
waiting for the sort.
The seagulls pair and criss
and confident in their kind.

Out there, perhaps someone walks,
hand to pocket, unbalanced,
out of sight.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Sock Summit 2011 Aftermath

It was a lovely event and I am lucky to have been there. I should have taken 100 photos but instead I have a few. Wanna see? (Click on any of them to see them bigger)

The location:

sock summit 2011

My Classes:

sock design workshop

my class

The stuff:
Sock Summit 2011 stuff

Sock Summit 2011 yarn

My first Signatures!
Signature Needles

Sock Summit 2011 stuff

Speaking of Spindle Cat Studios, here is the aluminum foil sock:
Aluminum sock

Here is Stephen HizKnit hizSelf:

I posed for a project connected to a neat new book, My Grandmother's Knitting by Larissa Brown. As you can see, it was my own grandmother who taught me how to knit. I'm happy to see a book that honors the tradition, instead of the typical "This ain't you grandma's knitting" type of marketing we've had to endure.

who taught you or inspired you to knit?
photo by Larissa Brown

In summary, I loved seeing old friends and making new ones. I loved the classes I taught and took. I loved the marketplace and having friends there to share it with. The best parts for me were the little things too small and numerous to list.

Also, I came away feeling like I will be able to start designing again in full force this fall. Thank you Sock Summit, you magical beast. I look forward to your return in 2013.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Yes, you are in the right place

I updated the look of this blog!

The blog looked the same since 2006. It was time, people.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Heart of Gold

Sock Summit ended today. I was very lucky to be able to attend and witness the full banana. After a little decompression I will share more of my Sock Summit experiences with you, promise. But for now, I am overwhelmed. Tonight I find myself unable to sleep.

Do you have a few minutes to spare? This is a gem!

Recorded live in 1971, here is Neil Young performing a then-new song Heart of Gold. This song was officially released the following year on the now classic album Harvest. Great album, yes. Can I say I always feel like there is a song that doesn't belong on there? I often skip it when I am paying attention. It's A Man Needs a Maid, and it's kind of a bummer (to me).

Regardless, take a moment if you would. Perhaps it's the insomnia talking but the lyrics seem to be really mirroring my life.

"Heart Of Gold"

I want to live,
I want to give
I've been a miner
for a heart of gold.
It's these expressions
I never give
That keep me searching
for a heart of gold
And I'm getting old.
Keeps me searching
for a heart of gold
And I'm getting old.

I've been to Hollywood
I've been to Redwood
I crossed the ocean
for a heart of gold
I've been in my mind,
it's such a fine line
That keeps me searching
for a heart of gold
And I'm getting old.
Keeps me searching
for a heart of gold
And I'm getting old.

Keep me searching
for a heart of gold
You keep me searching
for a heart of gold
And I'm growing old.
I've been a miner
for a heart of gold.