Mad May Sale!

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It’s almost May again, and you know what that means around here: the annual Madelinetosh May party over on Ravelry! I don’t need to remind any of you about how much I love Madelinetosh yarns, as I have a bunch of designs (and the brand new Cousins Collection) that feature the beautiful stuff, including:

Jackson's Blanket

Jackson’s Blanket

Augusta

Zuni

Avian

Shipshape

and Sugarplums

Use the coupon code madmay in my Ravelry Pattern Store and get 20% off any of my self-published patterns OR the Cousins Collection through Sunday, May 3rd, at midnight EDT!

Happy Knitting!
xoxo Danielle

cousins collection

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Hello, all! You may recall that, last year, I blogged about two different sweaters that I had designed and knit for each of my new baby nieces. Well, it’s a big day here at MWD, as I am finally ready to release a collection of three knitting patterns that includes those two sweaters and a third design that I created especially for Jackson.

It’s the Cousins Collection! (Aptly named, don’t you think?)

First up: Avery’s sweater!

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This design is my take on a traditional color work sweater and was inspired by the mountains near Avery’s home. A simple but striking one-color pattern is knit across the yoke of the sweater, making this design equally appropriate for boys or girls.

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IMG_0627As you can see above, the sweater, knit in a toasty DK-weight merino wool (yes, of course this is Madelinetosh yarn, and more particularly, their Tosh DK yarn) is finished with simple garter edges, including a split hem.  And perhaps most importantly, now that I’m dressing a newborn baby and can truly appreciate such things, the sweater features a button at the back neck to make it easier to pull on and off your wee babe.

This is a traditional yoked sweater, worked in one piece from the bottom up. The body is knit first, and then the sleeves are knit and joined to the body to form the yoke. I chose the luminous “Button Jar Blue” as the main color and “Paper” for the contrasting color because these tones suited Avery’s beautiful complexion.  But I’d recommend any solid or semi-solid color for the body and any contrasting solid color for the colorwork to really make the motifs pop.

The sweater shown above is in a 6-9 month size, but because babies grow very fast (another detail I’m only starting to fully appreciate), the pattern also includes a 12-18 month size and a 24-month size. And of course, each size is designed with plenty of positive ease in mind to allow for wriggling and growing and a t-shirt or other layer underneath!

Next up: Grace’s sweater!

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Grace’s sweater is that heirloom-inspired cardigan for the wee girly girl in your life.

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A bodice of daisy stitch is joined with a simple stockinette yoke and garter edges for a sweet, but timeless, garment!

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The sweater is finished with matching buttons for a traditional look, but I would also happily recommend using contrasting buttons to give the cardigan a modern feel and energy.

Grace’s sweater shares many basic details with Avery’s sweater, not least because I thought that that might make for a cohesive collection of designs (and also because I wanted the girls’ sweaters to share a common thread – no pun intended!) Like Avery’s sweater, Grace’s sweater is a traditional yoked sweater worked in the same manner.

Grace’s sweater is also sized for 6-9 months (which is the size shown), 12-18 months, and 24 months, again with the same emphasis on positive ease for the baby’s comfort and growth, and uses the same yarn: Madelinetosh Tosh DK (in one of my all-time favorite colorways, “Rose”).  I chose this semi-solid color to highlight the elegant texture of the daisy stitch, but obviously a lighter solid color would work well, too.  However, I would recommend against a yarn that is too variegated, as you could lose the impact of the daisy stitch against the smoothness of the stockinette stitch.  And while the two sweaters use the same yarn, they use slightly different needle sizes, which just goes to show that the design process reveals interesting characteristics about a given yarn: the fabric that works well in colorwork/stockinette for one design might not be the right fabric for a more textured design.

And finally, last but not least, I’m happy to debut the cozy blanket I made for my own little guy to complete the Cousins Collection: Jackson’s Blanket!

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The inspiration for this one was simple and straight from the heart: just classic, timeless knitting.  Designed to work equally well in the nursery of a little boy or girl, Jackson’s blanket is all about traditional knitting textures that will never go out of style.

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Moss-stitch columns highlight two different cables, each of which also features moss stitch set against a crisp stockinette background.

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I also unexpectedly took inspiration for the color of this blanket from Jackson’s own nursery.  Even before I knew we were having a baby boy, I knew exactly the color I wanted for the nursery.  But you know how it goes: what you see in your mind’s eye may not exist in painting reality.  After several trips to the local Benjamin Moore paint store and many, many samples of green paint on the walls later (just ask Andrew…), we found just the right shade of peaceful silvery-green for his room.

Once I finally decided on the design of his blanket, I thought I had chosen the right yarn but it did not swatch up at all as I expected.  Somewhat frustrated, I dove back into the stash mountain and couldn’t believe what I discovered: just the right amount of silvery-green worsted-weight merino yarn!  I knew immediately it would be the perfect fit of yarn, color, and texture.  Once again, Madelinetosh (this time Tosh Vintage in “Celadon”) saves the day again.  I might also point out that this entire story proves the point that you should amass an enormous stash of yarn because you never know when it will save you from knitting failure.  :)

As you can see, “Celadon” is a semi-solid color which highlights both the yarn and the texture of the blanket.  Any lighter solid color would also work beautifully, and I could happily see this worked up in a classic ivory or white shade as the ultimate unisex baby shower gift.

Jackson’s blanket is worked flat in one piece and is shown in a modern carriage blanket size. But don’t worry: in case you’re in love with the pattern, but don’t have any babies to knit for right away, the pattern also includes a larger lap throw size.

So there you have it. Three different patterns for three equally special babes born less than eight months apart and united by family and knitting.  I hope that you love this Collection as much as I do.

For more specific information about yarns, yardages, and other details, head on over to the Cousins Collection page on MWD here, or find the info on Ravelry here.

As always, I would be remiss if I did not thank Elizabeth Green Musselman of Dark Matter Knits for her excellent technical and layout editing as well as her lovely schematic and chart-creation skills. Thank you, Elizabeth!

Happy Knitting!
xoxo Danielle

expanded zuni shawl

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Hello all, and Happy 2015! Hope everyone is having a great year and surviving what seems like another never-ending winter. Our little man Jackson is growing like a weed and teaching us new things everyday. And what smiles he can give when he’s in the mood!

Just popping in with a quick note to say that my Zuni Shawl pattern has just been updated with an additional, larger size! I’ve gotten great feedback over the years from many knitters who said that they would appreciate having instructions for a larger size that’s easier to wrap around the shoulders. Their wish is my command!

The larger size is about 22″ wider and about 7″ deeper at the center back neck as well. And for those folks who have already purchased the pattern and have it saved digitally in their Ravelry library, the updated pattern is now available to download for free.

Please let me know of any issues you might have with obtaining the updated pattern. I’ll admit that “mommy brain” is making me a bit more error prone than usual these days… ;)

Happy Knitting!
xoxo Danielle

jackson

2014 is nearly over, and it’s an understatement to say that it’s been a hectic one chez Chalson. For a variety of personal reasons, many big events from the past year have been kept intentionally behind the scenes. You probably have noticed less blogging and fewer new designs showcased here as a result.

But there is one event, the very best one that we’ve been anticipating for a very long time, that I can finally share: the birth of our first child, Jackson Avram, on December 13th! (12/13/14, now that’s a birthdate!)

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He is healthy and wonderful in every way, and Andrew and I are over the moon at his safe arrival.

So I think you’ll forgive me if there’s a bit more blog silence for now, as we all get acquainted and find our new rhythm as a family.

We wish you the happiest of holiday seasons and the healthiest of New Years!
Xoxo Danielle

black friday – cyber monday sale!

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Happy Holidays, everyone!

Hope you all had an enjoyable, restful, and food-filled Thanksgiving yesterday. This weekend marks the beginning of the holiday season (at least to me), so what better way to celebrate than to have a pattern sale?

And it’s not just any pattern sale: I’m one of many, many designers participating in the knitting/crochet/craft sales promoted all weekend long by the MarlyBird website. (Check out that list – it’s HUUUUUGE.) With so many wonderful vendors from throughout the crafting world participating, you’re sure to find a sale that catches your fancy – all while supporting independent designers from around the world!

For my part, get 20% off all my self-published patterns from now until midnight on Monday December 1st with the coupon code: MWD.

Here are a couple of my own designs that I’d recommend for quick holiday knitting, either for yourself or for the many recipients on your gift knitting list:

My Lakeview Hat, which has become my own favorite item to throw on when I have to walk the dog, get the mail, go to the grocery store, etc…

My Integral Shawl, which is oversized and ultra-cozy, thanks to the aran-weight gauge and rich stitch texture.

And if you’ve got a bit more time, go for my Stomping Grounds Pullover. It’s just the ticket for cozy knitting: a textured sweater worked all in one piece in the softest DK tweed yarn!

So get those computers, get those knitting needles, and get shopping!
xoxo Danielle

gift-a-long

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Howdy, all!

I know that Thanksgiving still hasn’t arrived (and it’s a holiday that always deserves its due *cough pumpkin pie cough*), but if you’re a crafter, the December holiday crunch has already begun. It’s not just that your handmade items need to be finished by the holidays, it’s that you have to choose the project far enough in advance to actually make it in time, so November is the perfect time to start!

What’s a crafter to do? Fear not: it’s the Ravelry Gift-A-Long to the rescue! While I’m not participating this year, it’s still a great opportunity to spread the word of this fantastic program that supports independent knitting and crochet designers.

So what is the Gift-A-Long, anyway? From Thursday, November 13th at 8:00 pm US EST – Friday, November 21, 2014 at 11:59 pm US EST, tons of indie designers will be discounting many of their patterns a generous 25% for this event. Just use the coupon code: giftalong2014.

There are almost THREE HUNDRED designers participating in this year’s event, and you can scroll through their work and their offerings on THIS Ravelry thread (and you can find a more condensed, alphabetized list here). You are absolutely certain to find at least a couple of patterns that scream “knit/crochet me now!” for at least a couple of gift recipients on your list.

And if you’re up for it, feel free to join the Ravelry group that hosts the gift-a-long, where there will be lots of conversation, games, and even prizes as you work through your holiday crafting.

Enjoy and happy early holidays!
xoxo Danielle

for avery

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Soooo….this may all sound/read like déjà vu, but remember that post I did a couple of months back about a new sweater design for my beautiful niece, Grace? Well, the pattern still hasn’t been released yet (I know, I know, somebody needs to grade/size and edit it….or, you know, write it down….ahem). And now I have the companion sweater for my other gorgeous niece completed and ready to show off as well!

Here is Avery’s sweater, shown in a 6-9 month size, before I shipped it off to her a few weeks ago:

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Knit in the deliciousness that is Madelinetosh’s 100% merino Tosh DK, this little garment is a traditional yoke-shaped sweater, just like Grace’s sweater, and is knit from the bottom up. Unlike Grace’s classic cardigan, however, Avery’s sweater is a cozy, casual pullover. The vivid blue yarn has the fabulous name of “Button Jar Blue,” which perfectly suits Avery’s complexion, while the neutral yarn in the yoke is “Paper” (for which you need very little yardage, as you might imagine)!

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The body is knit simply in stockinette with garter stitch cuffs for ease and speed of knitting. The bottom hem is split for ease of wearing and movement on a wee body! I also added in a bit of colorwork along the hem just to keep things interesting.

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But the majority of the color work is found in the yoke once the sleeves are joined to the body. I tinkered with many motifs before designing this simple, graphic pattern during one particularly fun session with some knitter’s graph paper. Part of my motivation was a unisex motif appropriate for little boys and girls alike, and I was also inspired to sketch something that would echo the mountainous terrain near where Avery lives. I love how it turned out!

As you can also see from the pictures (and as with Grace’s sweater), Avery’s pullover features a nice wide neck for comfort and is generously sized with positive ease to accommodate lots of growing and wear. But the neck has a fun little surprise on the back, too:

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A single button placket! I thought this would be a useful feature for parents who are trying to pull a pullover on over a baby’s head, to give just a bit more room for that skull when the neck is unbuttoned ;) (I also put the button on the back to eliminate any choking hazard. I’d strongly recommend a flat or flat-ish button for this job, so that it’s not irritating for the baby to lie on.) The placket is knit as part of the collar, so there’s no need to sew or tack it down later during the finishing; I love streamlining those steps wherever possible! And you know I don’t even have to say it at this point: of course that button was obtained from the local Joann’s Fabrics with my button partner-in-crime, my mom.

With both nieces’ designs behind me, I can say that I really enjoyed jumping into yoked sweater design over the past six months. I’m toying with the idea of releasing the patterns together as an e-book, but making them available individually as well. Time will tell…..

Happy Knitting and Happy (early) Halloween!
xoxo Danielle

annual rhinebeck sale!

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If you’re a crafter, this might just be the most wonderful time of the year: Rhinebeck weekend again already! To celebrate, how about a pattern sale?

From now until midnight EDT on Monday 10/20/14, get 20% off ALL Makewise Designs patterns! Just use the coupon code rhinebeck when you check out!

Happy knitting and Happy Rhinebeck! :)

kung fu knits, by elizabeth green musselman

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Happy Friday, all!

I’ve got another treat for you as we all prepare to enjoy this long weekend: a sneak peek at Kung Fu Knits, an animated knitting adventure for kids and adults alike, written by the inestimable Elizabeth Green Musselman!

(all images copyright of, and courtesy of, Elizabeth)

(Some of you may recall that Elizabeth and I have been working together for some time, as Elizabeth was instrumental in the design of my logo. If you’ve purchased or downloaded one of my designs recently, you’ll also notice that I have a new pattern template/layout, and some eagle-eyed technical editing, which is also down to Elizabeth’s talents. I can not recommend Elizabeth’s skills highly enough to anyone who might be looking for this type of graphic design or editing work, and I consider myself very lucky to also count her as a witty, intelligent, and collaborative friend!)

So without further ado, let’s check out her new book, which is unique on the knitting scene. Kung Fu Knits tells the tale of a young boy who sports a variety of knitwear, proudly and ingeniously knit for him by his mother, to help him combat both the cold weather outside and any monsters that pop up along the way. Not only is KFK an animated book filled with bright colors and bold imagery that will appeal to young readers, but it’s also a pattern book with instructions to make each of the knitted pieces that feature in the book! That’s probably my favorite part of the book – the way it inspires both children and adults to engage in a burst of creativity.

So where did Elizabeth come up with the idea for Kung Fu Knits? Luckily for us, she answers this question and more in the chat I’ve posted below. And trust me – you won’t want to miss the surprises at the end ;)

Makewise Designs: Inquiring minds really want to know – what made you think of combining knitting and kung fu in the first place?!?

Elizabeth Green Musselman I wanted to tell an illustrated story about knitting that would appeal to school-aged boys, but that wouldn’t tread on any trademarked toes. My son [Liam] has been studying kung fu for several years, and it dawned on me one day what a perfect theme it was for a kids’ knitting book. The kung fu uniform makes a great costume, something many kids would be more likely to wear than an Aran pullover or snow pants … not to mention that this book’s knitted pants on their own make super-comfy pajama wear. And unlike karate, the martial art of kung fu involves weapons, so that opened up all kinds of great toy possibilities: nunchuks! throwing stars!

MWD: It’s so great to see patterns for boys and better yet, that your son Liam is modeling them! Was Liam involved in the process for KFK and if so, how? What was the best (and most unexpected) part about seeing the project through his eyes?

EGM: Liam always has a huge influence on my design process. He’s such a great reality check. On the one hand, if I’m getting too fancy, he’ll bring me back down to earth. On the other hand, he reminds me every day that boys are not always predictable. You really can’t pigeonhole them, so I wanted to design a collection that let their fertile imaginations run wild.

I love how seriously my son takes the design process. He will talk with me at length about what he likes and what he doesn’t. And when I asked him to do kung fu moves for the camera at the photo shoot, he really turned up the drama! It was all I could do to keep from chuckling while I was holding the camera.

MWD: How did you connect with your illustrator and what was that creative process like? Did you always know that you wanted the book to have a comic book look and feel?

EGM: Though it’s not obvious from the illustrator’s bio at the end of the book, Ben Bender is my son’s kung fu teacher! I had been thinking about a comic book format for a while, and when I found out Ben did comic illustration, I realized I had hit the jackpot. He knows what kung fu really looks like—I did have to give him a little coaching on what knitting really looks like, though—ha ha.

MWD: The great (and totally unique) thing about your book is that it’s not just for knitters and not just for kids; there are plenty of elements to please both camps here! How do you envision knitters and children alike enjoying your book?

EGM: Here’s what I really hope will happen: that a kid and a knitting adult will read through this book together, fall in love with the story, and then decide between them which patterns they want to make. (Listen to episode 53 of the Down Cellar Studio podcast for a perfect example of this dialogue—the host recorded her nieces and nephew begging her to read it again and knit all the things!) I would love it even more if kids this age knit these projects for themselves. Finally, I intended the comic book story to work on an adult level, too. The whole premise of the book is that it’s painfully hard sometimes to get boys to wear knits—it’s a plot that too many of us are familiar with. And this book, I hope, bridges some of that gap between what we want to knit and what kids want to wear.

MWD: How did you go about designing the pieces that accompany the story in KFK? Did some real-life kung fu garments come in handy?

EGM: Absolutely! I modeled both the garments and the toys directly off of my son’s kung-fu gear—right down to the gusseted pant legs. I wanted the pieces to look as authentic as possible while still having a big dose of fantasy. The backpack is the one piece that isn’t directly modeled on kung fu stuff, but it’s the ideal cool bag for holding all kinds of adventure gear.

MWD: Do you have a favorite design from the book? Where would you recommend that beginning knitters start with a project?

EGM: I know that designers usually say that this question is like making one choose a favorite child, but I’m not going to be that person. I love the nunchuks the best. They’re a fast, easy, and fun project to knit, and they’re even more fun to play with. I designed them to be nigh-indestructible. Believe me, there were several failed prototypes before this version won the day.

Thank you, Elizabeth!

And now that surprise I promised you: Leave a comment on this blog post by Thursday, October 16th and I’ll randomly choose one person to win a digital copy of Kung Fu Knits!

But wait, there’s more! From now until the end of November, the coupon code kfklaunch will earn you 15% off ALL of Elizabeth’s self-published patterns! Elizabeth is well known in the knitting world for her wearable, fun pieces especially designed for men and boys – check out her portfolio and be prepared to download!

I hope you enjoyed this peek into this fabulous book, and if you’d like to follow along with the Kung Fu Knits book tour, or purchase your own copy, you can learn more below! Happy long weekend!

xoxo Danielle

22 September | Mixed Martial Arts & Crafts blog
24 September | Fibretown podcast
28 September | Must Stash podcast
29 September | Through the Back Loops blog
2 October | Through the Looking Glass blog
5 October | The Knitgirllls podcast
15 October | Sunset Cat Designs blog
17 October | Joeli’s Kitchen podcast
22 October | Slate Falls Press blog
3 November | Wattsolak blog

Other useful information:

Pricing:
Digital download: $9.95
Paperback: $15.95 (comes with the digital download if purchased through Cooperative Press)

Where available:
Currently available on the Cooperative Press website and on Ravelry (as digital download only)

Intellectual Property for Indies

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Good morning, all!

A quick post to share today: my podcast on intellectual property issues for independent designers/yarnies/crafters with Marie Segares of the Creative Yarn Entrepeneur is now live and available for listening!

It was a great pleasure in the past to be interviewed by Marie as part of her Underground Crafter blog series.  Marie has just begun this recent podcast venture, which is specifically geared toward the owners of indie yarn craft businesses who are looking to generate ideas for launching, managing, and evolving those businesses, and I was thrilled to collaborate with her on this most recent episode.

We spend the episode chatting about general intellectual property issues that might arise in the yarn business, from how to read (and negotiate) your design contract, to what copyright issues you should be aware of and how to generally adopt an intellectual property mindset to the benefit of your business!

I hope that you enjoy our chat and learn from it as well – the Creative Yarn Entrepeneur is a wonderful series chock full of education and it’s an essential new resource to have in our industry!

xoxo Danielle

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