A post-Gift-A-Long post

I can't believe we've come to the end! It's been a whirlwind few weeks helping behind the scenes in the Gift-A-Long, keeping up with the threads, and handing out prizes. While being a moderator has kept me extra busy, it's also been incredibly fun and exciting and I'm looking forward to doing it all again next year. :)

My fellow Hand & Arm Things host Becca worked out the final stats for our category:

Final tally is 238 finished projects (!!) (64% of those declared), but more importantly…
  • nearly 300 people participated in this thread alone,
  • sharing more than 450 GAL-designer-related projects (some not for hands but that’s totally cool),
  • calling out more than 250 GAL-eligible patterns for us to appreciate.

The ongoing parade of WIPs and FOs provided an incredible source of inspiration from the great colour choices, skilful stitching, beautiful yarn (including handspun), and lovely patterns people chose. I found out about new-to-me methods of construction, such as starting a pair of mitts with the thumb and it growing from there (Lee Meredith's Either/Or mitts), and cool-looking techniques like slip-stitch crochet (Yuliya Tkacheva's Snegurochka Mitts), and some just really beautiful cable designs I hadn't seen before (Olga Beckmann's Morosko mittens, and Kelly G.'s Cèilidh Fingerless Gloves).

Another big source of excitement was seeing my own designs pop up! My Beeswax Hat was actually the tenth-equal most popular pattern, with 11 finished projects during the GAL. In total there were 22 finished projects from my patterns, which is pretty amazing! Here are a few of my favourite photos from the 22, including two Beeswax Hats, an Ascent hat, and a Silverwing shawl:

knittingvortex's Beeswax

UkeeKnits' Ascent

rebekafish's Darkwing Duck!

theaburras' Beeswax Hat

For participating designers, a traditional part of the Gift-A-Long is sharing other designers' work. An obvious way of doing this is using their patterns for our own projects, which I did with my GAL socks, and we've also been sharing our favourite patterns on our blogs and other social media. I've been posting collages of great knit designs on my Instagram account. These are a few of my favourites from the past few weeks:

Star Anise by Svetlana Volkova (top left), Singing Beach by Bonnie Sennott (top right), Crisp Apple Strudel by Katy H. Carroll (bottom right), and Same Wavelength by Kristina Vilimaite (bottom left).

Stornoway Throw by Anita Grahn (top left), Icterine by Hunter Hammersen (top right), Tree Rings by Andrea Rangel (bottom right), and Badlands Mitts by Kathryn Folkerth (bottom left).

Hudson by Shannon Cook (top left), Ballydesmond by Irishgirlieknits (top right), Dancing with Bears by Carol Sunday (bottom right), and Grellow Love by Clare Devine (bottom left).

Another cool way to share each other's work while getting to know each other better is to interview fellow participating designers on our blogs and podcasts. I've been lucky enough to have been interviewed three times during this GAL! Once by Stephannie Tallent for her Sunset Cat Designs blog (Interview: Amy van de Laar), once by Vikki Bird for her blog (GAL 2016: Meet Amy van de Laar), and Carolyn Macpherson also featured me in an episode of her podcast The Next Beautiful Thing:

Thanks for the ride, everyone! Hope to see you all again next year. 💛

New pattern: Multifaceted Mittens

This one's for my fellow southern-hemisphere-dwellers, where the weather is settling in to proper wintery rain and cold right now. My latest knit design is Multifaceted Mittens, a pair of colourwork mittens with an all-over pattern of crystals, and optional shorter or longer cuffs.

The matching mitts pattern is coming soon, so if you prefer your mittens fingerless I'll have you covered shortly!

I became kind of obsessed with designing a crystalline colourwork pattern after watching some cartoons which had beautiful crystal shapes in their background artwork - here are some examples from Adventure Time and Steven Universe. I like my cartoons weird, and I like them pretty.

Both pics from Steven Universe, found here.

Hmmm, those columns would make an excellent cable pattern...

Features:

  • all-over stranded colourwork pattern inspired by crystals
  • thumb and mitten-top echo the shape of crystal points
  • short-cuff and long-cuff options (mittens shown with short cuffs) 
  • requires less than 50g of fingering-weight yarn in each colour 
  • one size, to fit 7-8" palm circumference
  • colourwork charts 

The crystal pattern lends itself to playing with jewel colours, and the yarn I chose, Knitsch Sock dyed by Tash of Holland Road Yarn Co, comes in a wealth of rich, vibrant colours. I used 'Amethyst' and 'Silver Lining', two semi-solid shades with a lot of light/dark contrast. Solid, semi-solid, and variegated yarns will all work in this pattern, but do make sure you have enough contrast between your main colour and contrast colour - for example you could pair a darker variegated MC with a pale solid CC. One of my test-knitters switched MC and CC around for her second mitten, which looks really cool. :)

Knitsch Sock is a good choice for these mittens because its springiness helps you knit at a tight gauge without discomfort, and it's nice and hard-wearing (which I like for anything I'm going to wear on my hands).

You can see all the details and download the Multifaceted Mittens pattern from Ravelry or Loveknitting. The mitts pattern is in the pipeline - look out for it (and the ebook containing both patterns) next week.

New pattern: Beeswax mitts

The final pattern in my Beeswax set is now available - a pair of fingerless gloves covered in honeycomb, called the Beeswax mitts. :)

 

Features:
  • a double-layered honeycomb texture made up of mini-cables
  • thumb-shaping which blends into the surrounding honeycomb
  • instructions for knitting mini-cables without a cable needle
    (see also: the links in my post on the Beeswax hat)
  • stretchy stitch patterns which help ensure a snug fit
  • knit at a tighter gauge for durability
  • one size, can be re-sized by altering gauge
  • both charted and written instructions 
  • requires less than one 100g skein of DK-weight yarn 

The Beeswax mitts pattern is available as a pdf download from Ravelry.
The set of hat, cowl, and mitts is also available as an ebook: The Beeswax Set.

I had fun drawing some more little bees to include in my photos - these ones are in charcoal and yellow pastel:




The lovely golden yarn is Vintage Purls Max once again - I used some of the second skein of 'Toffee Deluxe' leftover from my cowl.

I was pleased (and relieved) to discover that Max holds up well when subjected to repeated 'frogging'/unravelling. It took a few tries to come up with a really good way of doing the thumb increases! I wanted them to really blend into the pattern seamlessly, and happily, I found a solution after a bit of trial-and-error:

The 'gusset' at the base of the thumb looks like one more honeycomb. :)

Hat, cowl, and mitts!

New pattern: INSULATE! mittens

I designed some Dalek mittens to go with my hat. :)
You can download the pattern for free on Ravelry: INSULATE! mittens



I used the same yarn as for my INSULATE! hat, which is '8ply Pure Wool Naturals' from Little Wool Company, in the shades 'Papa' (a greyish brown) and 'Pumice' (oatmeal). I still have over half of each 200g ball left, even after making a hat and a pair of mittens. This yarn is great for colourwork - it's fuzzy enough that the strands on the wrong side felt down slightly with wear, and its 2ply structure helps with stitch definition.

The thumbs are knit plain, with the Dalek's 'weapons' (the famous egg-beater and plunger) completed afterwards in duplicate stitch. Doing stranded colourwork in such a small circumference would be fiddly, so duplicate stitch to the rescue! For an extra touch of whimsy, I added a little heart above each 'weapon' - they could be omitted or replaced with laser beams if you prefer your Daleks evil.


A few helpful links:

The best thing about my new mittens? Epic Dalek battles... teehee... ;)