Spud says (the blog)

February 25, 2016

Designer Spotlight: Heidi Gustad

Heidi Gustad currently resides in Chicago; she enjoys spending her time blogging, pattern writing, knitting and crocheting. Recently, two of her patterns caught our attention: the Quad Cable Scarf and the Long John Cowl, both of which are available for free and knit with Spud & Chloë Outer Yarn. On today’s post, you can get to know Heidi a little better and get inspired to give cabling a try, too!

1. How did you get started knitting?
My grandma knew I loved crafts as a kid. She also knew I was pretty anxious. She’d tried giving me journals to write in and meditation tapes to listen to, but I was still having a hard time sleeping at night despite being 8 years old. One day when she visited, she brought some old aluminum knitting needles and leftover yarn from a baby mitten project. I still have the needles – they’re pink and the color has worn off the tips. The yarn was variegated acrylic, flowing between pink, white and blue. Unsurprisingly, I was a very tight knitter at first! Obviously, I fell in love with the craft after I loosened up a bit, in more than one sense of the word. :)

2. What are your favorite projects to knit for yourself? Does that differ from what you prefer to design?

I feel like I swing really wildly in what I like to knit for myself. I like a good sweater, but so often find myself knitting on deadlines and rarely make time for stuff for just me. I’m more likely to knit a gift when I’ve got a lull in deadlines instead of tackling a cardigan my wardrobe desperately needs. It’s ironic how many worn out, store bought sweaters I wear!

I love knitting and designing with lace and cables, but I also love knitting completely mindless projects too. Working lace and cables with long repeats is something I find really meditative – I just love getting completely lost in focusing on the pattern. I think the process of designing with lace and cables is my favorite. Then again, I love putting on an audiobook or a tv show on auto-play and plowing away at some garter or stockinette too!

3. Your newest pattern, the Quad Cable Scarf, features intricate-looking cables that might be intimidating to newer knitters. What are some of your best tips for folks who are new to cables?  

Always use a cable needle! I used to think the only cable needles out there were the ones shaped like a shrug, sort of like this shape: ¯¯¯\__/¯¯¯, and I hated them. I felt like I was always dropping stitches with them or dropping the needle itself on the floor while my hands were full of live stitches. Then I discovered cable needles shaped like a shepherd’s hook, and my cable knitting life was saved! You can hook these needles in the collar of your shirt to keep track of it while you work, and they’re so much harder to drop stitches with. I recently found a cable needle necklace that has a similar shepherd’s hook shape, and I think I might have to splurge on it for myself since it looks like it might be even more convenient than the hook/collar trick I currently use.

Heidi’s Patterns are available on Ravelry: the Quad Cable Scarf and the Long John Cowl.

You can visit www.handsoccupied.com to see more of Heidi’s work and read her blog.

February 11, 2016

Crochet Inspiration: Home Decor in Outer Yarn

Meredith Crawford’s Crochet With One Sheepish Girl continues to top our list for crochet inspiration; each colorful project is simple enough for beginners while still being of interest to more experienced crocheters. Today’s featured patterns both use our super-bulky weight yarn, Outer, to create fun, fast projects for your home.

Explore the gradient trend by stitching up a set of the Ombré Baskets in Three Sizes; they’re perfect for stylishly storing your yarn and other craft supplies!

Update your decor with the “Home Cozy Home” Pillow Case; this simple sham adds a whimsical touch to your home and is designed with a button closure on the back for easy removal, too!

Click here to view more projects from Crochet with One Sheepish Girl on Ravelry.
Click here to find your nearest Spud & Chloë Stockist.

January 28, 2016

Simple Chic Knits

Stylish projects needn’t be complicated to knit – at least, that’s the philosophy behind this latest collection of beautifully simple modern knits from Karen Miller and Susan Ritchie of the online yarn store Mrs Moon. Their upcoming book, Simple Chic Knits, arrives in bookstores and your LYS next month, and it’s filled with project inspiration for knitters of all skill levels. We’re pleased to share two of the must-knit patterns which feature Spud & Chloë yarns in this exciting new book.

The Honeycomb Pillow adds modern touch to your home decor; choose your favorite color combination of Spud & Chloë Sweater yarn, shown here in #7525 Manatee and #7516 Grape Jelly.

The Wectangular Wabbit is a great introduction to toy knitting techniques. This adorable project is a quick, simple knit for little ones in Spud & Chloë Sweater yarn, shown here in #7524 Chocolate Milk with small amounts of #7500 Ice Cream and #7526 Tiny Dancer for the pocket, tail and features.

Simple Chic Knits will be available on February 11, 2016 from Cico Books.

January 14, 2016

Designer Spotlight: Nancy Eiseman

Winter’s chill has finally arrived, and sweater knitting is all we can think about! Nancy Eiseman’s Aster Cardigan, knit in Spud & Chloë Sweater yarn, recently caught our eye over on Ravelry. This classic design features textured stitches and some interesting design elements which all come together to create a wearable garment. This month, we caught up with Nancy to chat about this new design. She gave us an inside peek into her design process and also shares some great tips for knitters. Enjoy!

1. What was the design process like for the Aster Cardigan?
I wanted to make a warmer spring/summer cardigan that would look nice with skirts and dresses, so for this design I started with the yarn. I was looking for a heavier-weight cotton yarn and found Spud & Chloë Sweater.

I had an image in my head of the length and general shape that would work for this cardigan when I started to play with stitch ideas with the Sweater yarn. I liked the stitch definition that the yarn gave me and I knit swatches of a few different texture stitches.

At the same time, I began sketching ideas in my sketchbook. This is my typical process. I knit a swatch, then I sketch ideas, which then gives me more ideas about swatches to knit, which then gives me more ideas to sketch. At that point I typically have several swatches piled up and several pages of sketches in my sketchbook, and then I have to decide what I want to make most. Which idea will make the best design and best sweater?

For the Aster Cardigan, I liked the contrast of the texture of the Roman Rib stitch against a smooth stockinette stitch and worked on ideas to combine those stitches and create the simple, slightly boxy, sweater shape that I had in mind. It seemed easy to make inset pockets fit into this design, and as I was knitting I thought how fun to work the pocket linings in a contrasting color so that the color would peek out a little bit.

2. How did you arrive at choosing Spud & Chloë Sweater yarn for this design?
I was looking for a heavier cotton yarn and Spud & Chloë Sweater really fit the bill. I liked that it is partly wool, which would give a little extra warmth while the cotton component creates a drier feel which is nice in warmer weather.

Color also influences my decision about yarn choice, and I like the Spud & Chloë palette for this yarn. The grey that I chose for the Aster Cardigan is a lovely, fresh shade that can be paired with almost any color.

3. Do you find that there is any crossover from your day job as a textile designer to your knitwear designing?
I am sure that my experience and training as a textile designer strengthens my ability to design knits. As a textile designer, I design jacquard-woven fabric that is mass produced for use as upholstery and then used in public spaces (office furniture, healthcare settings, hotels, restaurants, retail spaces, etc), so in a way it is very different than designing for hand knitters.

However, at the same time, in my work as a textile designer, I am very tuned into color, texture, proportions and basic design principles. So the skill set translates very well to knitting design. Like knit design, designing jacquard-woven fabric is very technical and creative at the same time. Learning to knit, read and write stitch charts, calculate and grade patterns, seemed like a natural jump to me as a weave designer.

4. What is your best tip for anyone who is new to knitting sweaters?
Read the patterns very carefully! Always read ahead a little in a pattern, but then take the pattern line by line and just be careful that you understand the directions. Make a copy of the pattern that you can write on so that you can mark it up and keep track of exactly where you are in the pattern.

Additional Advice:
• Always knit a gauge swatch and be sure that it really comes out to correct gauge. If it is just ¼ inch too small or too large, your sweater will be many inches too small or large.
• Always measure gauge on a swatch that has been blocked.
• If you are not sure about how to do a technique, look it up in a book or Google it and watch a video.
• Don’t be afraid to take on new challenges in knitting (You can always Google techniques if you don’t already know them).
• Don’t be afraid to rip out if you notice a mistake that will always bother you. Ripping out is part of knitting, so just consider it part of the process.

The Aster Cardigan is available here on Ravelry.
You can visit nancyeiseman.com to see more of Nancy’s work and read her blog.

December 22, 2015

The Return of Tiny Elf

Each holiday season, our Tiny Elf comes out to play here at Spud & Chloë HQ. This free pattern is a great way to spread holiday cheer (in addition to singing loud for all to hear, of course). Last year, our Tiny Elf made quite a bit of mischief in our photo contest (click here to view the entries in our Ravelry Group archive), and we are sure that he’s continuing this trend whenever we aren’t looking.

You’ll need just 3 colors of Spud & Chloë Sweater yarn (shown here in #7509 Firecracker, #7502 Grass and #7500 Ice Cream) to knit a Tiny Elf of your own, and we also have some helpful tutorials located here to help you complete your project.

You can download a free PDF of this quick-to-knit pattern on our website and on Ravelry.

Happy holidays from all of us at Spud & Chloë!