It's a friday Fluff-fest y'all!
Friday night. End of February. Pandemic life. Ravelry in tatters. Sounds like a good time to publish a new pattern, right? Well, it couldn't get worse.
Honestly, I love this hat. I've knit seven of them, so far. It lends itself to nearly limitless fluffy yarn and finished size combinations. AND I expect it to tank hard on Ravelry. I hope to be proved wrong, but I'm not holding my breath.
Why? Because everything I designed last year tanked on Ravelry. Something fundamentally changed on the backend of their platform, resulting in a small business nightmare for not-Andrea-Mowry and not-Stephen-West indie designers, like myself. It's been rough. And Ravelry completely fails to acknowledge it. I tried to regain some creative control by upgrading this site--to the tune of several hundred dollars. To date, I've sold one pattern. Let that sink in.
In a year with no markets (no hat sales), and no job (as a non-essential contractor at a hospital I've been 'laid off' since March 2020), the virtual collapse of Ravelry was both unexpected and devastating. Why couldn't they just have left well enough alone?
Hmmm. I'm on a rant.
Bottom line: Sometimes you just have to be tough, to keep putting one foot in front of the other, even when it feels like your world is crumbling. Especially when it feels like your world is crumbling. I started to design Tough Fluff more than a year ago, before the pandemic was even a thing, back when I thought Ravelry was just being "glitchy". I kept waiting for the perfect time to release it. But now, with winter almost over, Ravelry and IG becoming increasingly useless, and COVID fatigue feeling painfully REAL, I figured What have I got to lose?
You can't move forward if you remain anchored in the past.
And so, in the spirit of moving forward, and of staying tough (and fun and fluffy!) no matter what, I give you Tough Fluff. I hope you like it. I know I do :)
I'm not going to lie. This pattern almost didn't get published. This "simple" lace wrap almost ended up down the garbage chute...more than once. But thanks to the friendship of fellow knitters, and a whole lot of TENACITY, I'm proud to announce that, as of today, the pattern is alive and well in my Ravlery shop. Woohoo!
I learned so much--ahem, the hard way--while designing and knitting this epic wrap. Clean lines, for instance, may look simple and professional, but achieving "simplicity" can require technical adjustments, and careful attention to detail. The good news? I worked out all the kinks so you don't have to. Oh hello photo tutorial!
TENACITY features clean and tidy slipped stitch edges with neat, almost "raw" looking, cast-on and bind-off ends. The pattern contains specific instructions for a modified WS method of alternating hand-dyed skeins, to preserve the pretty edges, and step by step directions for binding off so that the "raw" ends match.
You'll need 4 skeins of light fingering weight yarn. I used the utterly sublime FINO by Manos del Uruguay, a blend of 70% wool & 30% silk.
If substituting a different colour—or a different yarn—it’s best to use solids or semi-solids with very little variation in colour. Why? TENACITY is based on a vertical pattern. Yarns with colour variation tend to pool horizontally, which will compete with, or even obscure, the overall pattern.
Running a little low in the tenacity department? That’s okay! I’ve included info on how to adjust the stitch count for a smaller project. However, dimensions and yardage for these changes are not included because I, too, have a tenacity limit ;)
so go, be tenacious!
get the pattern in my Ravlery shop before 11:59pm July 8th and save 40%!
The last few months have been challenging, to say the least. I moved six weeks ago--in the middle of the pandemic--and have been living amongst boxes and masked contractors ever since. My stash is in complete disarray; every time I think I'm getting it organized I have to pack it up and shift it to another room.
Normally I spend the summer months creating designs for Fall & Winter, but the move and the lockdown have made this process a challenge at best, and an anxiety-provoking, creativity-sapping, mind-melting chore at worst.
But yesterday, while elbow deep in fingering weight stash, I was reminded of a cheery little pattern called The Aldershot Hat. Last September, it was the #1 pattern on Ravelry. Today, I'll be casting one on. This hat is fun, fast, easy to modify, and a terrific stash-buster; exactly the kind of knit I need right now!
If it's exactly the kind of knit YOU need right now, you're in luck! The Aldershot Hat is available in my Ravelry shop at 30% off from now until Sunday, June 21st at 11:59 p.m. EST. Happy stash diving my knitty friends!
this free pattern is inside 20 care packages heading to OTMH hospital staff
it's also on Ravelry and IG for every other knitter in need of a wee break
"Normally" I teach the hospital staff at OTMH to knit twice a week as part of a wellness initiative to encourage stress management and work/life balance. For obvious reasons (ahem, pandemic), the program is currently on hold. But we knitters know one thing for sure: Knitting for therapy is never on hold! So when the wellness director asked if I could develop some knitting "care packages" to be distributed to stressed out staff, my answer was HELL YES!
Crunch time. The request came just 24 hours before retail shops were mandated to close. But the knitting gods smiled on us and I was able to snag 20 pairs of needles from my wholesaler, while the gals at my LYS hooked me up with 20 cheerful skeins of Cascade Ultra Pima. Thanks Spun!
I thought "spa cloths" would be an ideal self-care project. Nice to knit now. Nice to use later. So I set out to design a few patterns that could be made from just one ball of Ultra Pima, and appeal to different skill levels.
wash your worries away
Nailed it! The Halton Spa Cloth Trio. Three simple cotton cloths to wash your worries away. If you can cast on, knit, and bind off, you can make the garter stitch spa cloth. If you can purl, you can knit all three!
1 ball of luxurious Ultra Pima + 1 pair of 4mm (US 6) knitting needles will yield three spa cloths ~ 6.75" (17 cm) square. I allowed extra yarn for anyone knitting wildly off gauge but, personally, I had enough yarn to knit a fourth spa cloth, and still had yarn to spare!
stay home. protect our healthcare workers.
The Halton Spa Cloth Trio is a free pattern on Ravlery, and on Instagram @coldcomfortknits. And if you don't have cotton yarn in your stash, local yarn shops are still shipping. So de-stash or order online, get the free pattern online, and lockdown like a BOSS. Protect our healthcare workers. Stay home and knit!
Knit Kit Care Packages on their way to OTMH.
A four-month digital absence is a loooong time by modern standards, but just a blink of the eye when you're in the midst of a global pandemic. As I write this, we are a planet on lockdown, sheltering-in-place to slow the spread of a virus that didn't even exist when I stopped blogging last November. Today, the world looks dramatically different than it did four and half months ago. But, for better or worse, I'm still knitting. Always knitting.
When I posted on November 14th I had just published my final pattern of the Fall/Winter 2019 season, The Harbour Hat. Normally, I would have immediately turned to mad market prep, but since I'd already sold my entire inventory of cold comfort hats in September at Burlington MADE, it seems I got the gift of time for the holidays. I had planned to use that time to make decisions about cold comfort knits, and the direction it would take in 2020.
To be honest, I'd been toying with the idea of throwing myself head-long (head-long!) into hat making, and decreasing my focus on other types of design work. My goal had been to create a hat *empire*, albeit a very tiny one. A tricked out online hat shop. A book of cold comfort hat patterns. I really *really* like knitting hats.
But then Shibui Knits invited me to participate in a design collaboration I would have been a fool to pass up, the holidays happened, I resumed teaching at the hospital twice a week, our condo went on the market and, if that weren't enough, I had to have some scary cardiac issues evaluated. Suffice it to say web & blog updates went on the back burner, along with my hat empire.
Days passed. Months passed. And Time sorted things out, like it always does. I completed my collaboration with Shibui Knits, we signed on the townhouse dotted line and got an official moving date, and I began to receive follow-up care with a cardiologist. As March arrived it finally seemed like it was time to start that empire. It was not.
Two weeks later the world went on lockdown, and our collective physical and financial security became a very sudden, very BIG question mark. Naturally, I now find myself questioning the future of cold comfort knits.
Will the financial impact of the pandemic cause families to turn away from the type of high quality (higher-priced) hand-knits I had hoped to stock in my online shop? Will there be a resurgence of illness when the cold weather arrives and, if so, will that result in the cancellation of Holiday Markets--in other words, if I invest the next 6 months of time & money in knitting sufficient market inventory, as I normally would, will I end up "out in the cold" this coming winter?
And patterns? What about patterns? I've given away thousands of free patterns over the last few years...several hundred as a goodwill gesture when the lockdown started. But Ravelry has tons of free patterns. Many are good. Many are the classic you-get-what-you-pay-for knitting nightmare. Will financial uncertainty cause knitters to take their chances with free patterns, or will they still value the clarity and ease of a $4 pattern from an experienced designer?
In spite of all the uncertainty, it's times like these that remind me how incredibly grateful I am to be a Knitter. I've said before and I'll say it again: Knitting saved my life. Knitting saves my life. Every single day, and now more than ever.
So instead of feeling "stuck" at home, I'm feeling SAFE at home, with a comprehensive set of knitting needles, an inspiring set of stitch dictionaries, and a stash that will outlast the apocalypse.
And that's enough for now.
At the end of each year I usually enjoy sitting down to do a recap of the year's knitty highlights. Unfortunately, 2019 got away from me and, now that it's April, I'm afraid this little gallery represents that recap in it's entirety. My bad.
I published eight original designs/patterns in 2020, comprised of six hats, one cowl, and one hat + fingerless gloves set, in collaboration with Queen City Yarns. Many of the patterns reached Ravelry's Hot Right Now Top 20 and, most importantly, your knitting needles!
Thank you SO much to anyone and everyone who purchased a pattern from the cold comfort knits 2019 collection. Your support means the world to me!
click on any image to be taken to the main pattern page
left to right, top to bottom
I'm Alexis, the knitter/designer behind cold comfort knits. My favourite animal is a sheep (obvi). My primary knitting fuel is coffee. And my inner child is actually more of an inner senior-citizen.