December 31, 2013

If Only It Were This Easy

If I could erase parts of 2013 like this wave erases it…boy would that be nice and easy.

But no…that's not the case.  Instead of focusing on all that went wrong this year, I will focus on what went right with my knitting.  I did a lot more designing this year and it really has paid off.  Between my Fleckle Mitts and Just One More Cowl, I've had small successes (both patterns helped pay for Christmas in a lean year).

I also am writing and designing for Knit 123.  While my patterns haven't appeared in an issue yet, it's something to look forward to next year (I think April?).

I also started working in my LYS, Iron Horse.  It has been fun, interesting and has let me feel like part of a knitting community.  I get to knit samples for them and and I get to teach!

Some of my favorite projects that I knit this year (not my designs) are:

Last year I posted this line:
 I wish you a Happy New Year - 2012 is one that I don't care to repeat and I do hope that 2013 will be much kinder.  Happy New Year!

So here I go for this year:
I wish you a Happy New Year - 2013 is one that I don't care to repeat (in fact - GOOD RIDDANCE 2013) and I do hope that 2014 will be much kinder.  Happy New Year!

December 28, 2013


One of the advantages of working in a LYS is you sometimes get to knit store samples.  When Berroco pre-released their newest free pattern, I volunteered to knit the store sample of Schoonheid.  All it takes are four skeins of Berroco Ultra Alpaca Light.  The pattern is easy and quick to remember.  I knit this up in a week and loved how it looked.  I definitely recommend this one!

December 26, 2013

He Understands

My Christmas gift from my DH shows he totally understands me and my knitting.  Check out this wonderful storage unit he gave me for organizing my yarn and knitting stuff.  The needle case and yarn were a gift from my parents and don't they look fantastic in this storage unit?  The cool thing is it fits in this odd space in our family room which must have been a fireplace originally or it was used to store firewood.  I can't wait to remove the Christmas decorations and put my yarn nook to use!  The other great thing is he got me 2 of these so I can put one upstairs for more storage.

December 25, 2013

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas

For the past few years I have sent my parents one of my hand knit ornaments.  This year when my mom saw the mini Santa Hats I knit up she quickly asked if she could have one.  So I kept one aside for her and mailed it to her - here's her Christmas tree.  What made me smile is seeing the mini stocking I sent her a few years ago too.  Hmmm, what will next year's mini knit be?

Merry Christmas all!

December 23, 2013

I Love Contests!

The other day I was reading Kristen's blog and she had a post about peg people ornaments with a contest to win an angel ornament.  Well, a few days later, I got an email from her saying I won!  Friday's mail brought this adorable ornament which I promptly hung next to two angels that my godmother gave me.   What I love most is the Swedish feel to this angel and that it goes perfectly with the angel that my godmother gave me which came from Sweden.  I can feel her smiling down from heaven as she sees this little section on my Christmas tree.

December 16, 2013

Thank You

I have been blogging for a while now and I must admit there are days I ask "why bother?"  It is a good outlet for me and I do enjoy sharing what I've done/learned/observed.  However, sometimes I still think that I am talking to no one THEN I get a comment like this from  Eileen:

Thanks in part to your blog, I've taken up knitting after many years. I was in Micheals a month or so ago and came across some gorgeous teal wool on sale (my daughter's favorite color!) 

I found a pattern for a cowl and made it up for her, and like your daughter she loves it!

Just the other day I was in a store and saw something similar on sale (on sale!) for $30. I paid less than $10 for the yarn which made me feel even more thrilled.

Your daughter looks lovely! Thanks for sharing.

It was the opening line that got to me - my blog got someone back into knitting.  That is what blogging is about - sharing a passion.  Thank you, Eileen, for reminding me why I blog.  While I may not post on a consistent basis, I do try to write about things that share my passion for knitting.

December 14, 2013

A You're Adorable

When I saw a bunch of Berroco Comfort Chunky in the sale bin at my LYS, I got an idea.  I was going to make matching sweaters for my husband's great niece and his newest great niece to be born in January.  Chances are that they will be together sometime and can wear their matching tops.

I found this pattern - it is well worth the $5.  I made the coat length version and trust me this knits up in no time.  The smaller one took 3 days and the bigger one took 6 days.  Can't beat that!  I think they are adorable and I know the moms will love them.

December 11, 2013

Favorite Knit in Action

I truly wondered when our daughter claimed this cowl how often she would wear it.  I figured it was a phase and it would live in her closet.  Well, I am glad to report I was wrong.  She wears it a lot!  I had to share these wonderful photos of her wearing it yesterday - of course, styled in her own wonderful fashion.

November 23, 2013

Pinch Me!

I knew this was in the works but to have it come to fruition and be so beautifully done had me thinking it was surreal.  Pinch me now!

I had been in contact with Ashley at Berroco about my Just One More Cowl pattern and she decided it belonged on the blog in their Designer Spotlight which appears on Fridays.  Yesterday, my cowl was featured.  I was working at Iron Horse when a customer came in and said "Estella, you are famous!".  I hadn't seen it and didn't get to see it until I got home.

Just last week when I received payment for another design, I realized this is real.  I am a designer.  This blog post made it real for everyone else.  It may not pay all the bills, but my designing is making Christmas happen for our family and for that I'm thrilled and thankful!

Thank you Berroco, thank you Ashley, thank you Andra for giving me the push to contact Berroco, hmmm should I say I'd like to thank the Acadamy?  Thanks to my lovely daughter for making this pattern shine.

November 20, 2013

Loving Statistics

Ravelry is amazing for so many reasons but as a designer you can track a lot about your patterns and designs.  You can see who has queued or favorited patterns and you can see how many downloads are made of your individual patterns.  Ever since I put my mini Santa Hats pattern on Ravelry, I've had at least one download ever day for a month!  The Santa Hat pattern is my most popular one from a download perspective with over 300 downloads in the past month.  It is a free pattern so that helps.  I neglected to put my free Farfalle pattern in Ravelry until last month - it has only 21 downloads in the past month but I do know via Craftsy it has been downloaded 445 times on their website.

I am loving these statistics and tracking them…I know it seems a bit boring but it is a small sign that things are beginning to click on the designing front.

November 17, 2013

Wrapped in Warmth

I was asked to knit up a sample of Navarra for Iron Horse in Berroco Kodiak.  It was off the needles in less than a week and boy is it lovely and warm!  I cast on 46 stitches instead of the called for 66 and used only 4 skeins instead of 6.  This truly makes it a lovely, affordable gift.

November 13, 2013

Magic Cake Update

I have been working on my magic cake cowl and writing down the pattern.  When I started with my cake, I decided the colors in the center weren't in harmony with the rest of the cake.  Here's what I knit up and have put aside to join in with another magic cake.

After breaking off the yarn, I continued with the cake and got to knitting - I added in some textured stitches for interest and already have some ideas for the next one involving some slipped stitches.

I have pulled out my yarn, the bag of yarn I got that belonged to Kate Gilbert and I've started sorting.  I'm in trouble here - I can see a slew of these magic cakes being made.  Our kitchen table won't be used for meals for a while!

When I was at stitches, I saw magic cakes being sold in plastic containers that made them look like cupcakes - so very clever.

November 11, 2013

Stitches East - Part II

In my wanderings around Stitches East, there was one other indy dyer that I felt has some amazing colors - Periwinkle Sheep.  I circled back around and purchased these two skeins which are a new yarn base and they had on special for $21 instead of the $28 they will be charging.  I love the name of the gray - Silver Lining.  I'm always looking for the silver lining and found that was a perfect one for me to get.

I'm thinking of a cowl with stranded color work - I of course noticed they didn't have a lot of pattern support and gave them my card in case they were looking for some designs.  I'll wait a week and email the owner.  In the meantime, these two are ready to be wound and turned into something spectacular!

November 9, 2013

Stitches East - Part 1

I just got back from Stitches East - I took a day trip to Hartford which is only about 1 1/2 hours away.  I was there by 9:30, bought my ticket and waited in line to get in.

I immediately went to the aisle where I knew Kate and A Hundred Ravens would be…she saw me before I saw her and called out my name - not many Estella's out there.  Her booth was fantastic!

That's Kate on the left in the long black skirt.  The display in the center has our Mitt Kits.

Check out the gorgeous fall color ways!  In the background in an apron is Rachel who was a contestant on Fiber Factor.  Sadly, she is no longer in the running but it was so fun to finally meet her.

Okay, a few pics of the Mitt Kits.  She was almost out of them!

I had to take this as I used to live in Charlottesville and have purchased yarn from here.  Had a fun conversation with one of the owners who lives near where I grew up.

I spent about 2 hours walking around.  I must admit I didn't buy a lot - only 2 skeins of yarn which I'll talk about in the next post.  I also told Kate in my biased but honest opinion that her yarn has some of the best colors at Stitches.

November 8, 2013


No sooner than I finished my final design for Knit 123 I had to start something new.  I was listening to Paula on Knitting Pipeline and heard her describe the Magic Cake technique.

I hustled to my pile of leftover balls of yarn and followed her way of weighing them.  I then reviewed Jane Richmond's Magic Knot technique and set to winding.

Here's my Magic Cake which I'm going to turn into a long slouchy cowl.  You will see some beige and green in the center - once I started knitting I didn't like them there (I'm using this as a center pull with the shorter bits of yarn in the center).  So I broke it off and started with a different color from the center.  I'm thinking this would make a fun class of using up yarn and exploring color.

November 1, 2013

I Guess Free is Good!

Two days ago I posted this pattern as a free one on Ravelry.  I decided not to sell it as I had adapted someone else's free pattern for a different weight yarn - I also put in clearer directions.  In two days, it has been downloaded 100 times!  Wow!  I guess Free is Good!

October 27, 2013

What Fun It Is To Teach

On Friday I had my first class at Iron Horse.  Five knitters (two from my local knitting group) had signed up for my Fleckle Mitt class.  I never expected I would have as much fun as I did and the two hours just flew by!

In the first 20 minutes I had taught two people how to knit using magic loop - they were fantastic.  One knitter had a hurt finger and it was affecting her gauge and knitting but she totally had the right plan of wanting to learn the stitch and technique and she didn't worry about how her knitting looked.  Loved her positive, learning attitude.

I had fun sharing my little tricks and tips and seeing the "aha" moment when I shared them.  I can't wait for next week's class!

Here's a photo of us in action - no faces to preserve privacy.  You will notice though my next design on the table - the Fleckle Hat.  More on that later.

October 19, 2013

Another Title

The other title I talked about in my post a few days ago was one I couldn't talk about until announcements had been made.

You've heard me talk about my talented friend, Kimberly.  Well, she got a new job!

Kimberly had been writing and designing for these publications for a while and she had a regular technique article in Knit 123.  When she was promoted she came to me and asked me if I'd be interested in taking this position - not a difficult decision by any means!

What it entails is writing about a technique for three different skill levels (Beginner, Novice and Intermediate) and incorporating that technique into three patterns (one for each level).  I am responsible for the article, the photos, videos for the website, and of course the patterns.

I've already submitted my first article which will come out in the March/April timeframe with issue 10.   When it hits newstands, I'll fill you in on what I did.  I just got my marching orders for Issue 11.  It is a wonderful challenge to scale my knitting ability for three levels of experience and to come up with new designs.  I'm knitting things I've never thought of knitting before.

Thank you, Kimberly!  I love my new title!

October 15, 2013

Gotta love a quick knit

I was reading Leslie's blog and she had whipped up some super bulky cowls.  I then found a skein of Peruvia Quick on sale and decided I needed to design my own cowl.  I love it!  It only took a few hours and it is warm and cozy.
I went back to see if there was more yarn on sale and stumbled upon Berroco Kodiak which is so soft.  So I whipped another one and my daughter claimed it immediately.  I must get more yarn...this is such a gratifying knit!

I thanked Leslie for her inspiration by gifting her the pattern...can't wait to see her FOs!

October 12, 2013

Another Winner

I love the look of this cowl - it is easy to knit up and goes wonderful with the Fleckle Mitts.  I used A Hundred Ravens Iachos in the Tardis and Fantasia color ways.  I'm so glad fall is here and cosy knits like this can be part of my day!

October 3, 2013

Reinventing myself

I remember my husband proudly noting how I have reinvented myself a few times...I remember looking at him quizzically when he said this.  Then it dawned on me that my career has had several iterations during my life.  I started as a secretary, became an advertising account executive then ended up as a marketing and media manager at IBM.  All that was BC -"Before Children".

I then took on the job title of mother...which at times was complimented with other titles.  I sold clothes for Doncaster, toys for Discovery Toys, and kitchen products for Pampered Chef.  Necessity for a job during a bout of  unemployment for my husband landed me the title of preschool teacher and      stationery store sales person.

Then I took on the role of substitute teacher which I have continued for 6 years and am currently doing in our new town.

Here's where the knitting comes in...all these previous paying jobs did not involve a passion for me.  They were what I did for money and to help keep us afloat when necessary.  However, I now have a new title, a new job, that involves something for which I have a passion.  Yes, I am now a knitting instructor.

My first class at Iron Horse in Natick is at the end of the month!  I am so excited!  I love how the owner of Iron Horse used some of my titles in the description: We welcome Estella Haines, wife, mother, local designer, knitter, and now instructor to Iron Horse

I have one more title to add to my list - I'll fill you in on that next time.

September 17, 2013

Pink and Green and More Pink

My husband's nephew is expecting his first child - his wife is a Lilly Pulitzer fanatic (big day of mourning for her when Lilly died).  Fortunately, they are having a girl so the child can wear all these Lilly dresses she has been stockpiling for years.  Their wedding even reeked of pink and green stuff EVERYWHERE!

Her baby shower is Columbus Day weekend and I can't attend but I could send her something Pink and Green!  I whipped up this cardigan and finished it with a lovely polkadot button band inside and then I whipped up some booties (different yarn but still keeping with the pink and green theme).

They are in the mail and I'm all pink and greened out!

September 13, 2013

Sidebar Note

As you can see from my sidebar, I've been busy designing.

I met Kate, owner of A Hundred Ravens yarns, at a local farmers market and we struck up a working relationship.  I designed one hat for her and then she asked for some mitts which I told you about.  The pattern is released and the mitt kit is on Etsy.

I also designed another hat by my daughter's request, not Kate's, out of A Hundred Ravens you can see in the sidebar, I called it Cabobbles Hat.  Lots of cables and bobbles cover this cozy hat.

More designs to come but I have to keep them secret for now...

September 12, 2013

Check THIS out!

Look at the wonderful A Hundred Ravens Mitt Kit!

Yes, that is my design all packaged up in a wonderful available on Etsy!  Don't walk, run your fingers over there and order one!

September 10, 2013

Christmas on the Brain

So, it's football season and for me that means hours of knitting on Sundays.  Hooray!  After finishing the stocking for my nephew, I decided to use some of the leftover yarn to whip up some mini Santa Hat ornaments.

I referred back to a pattern I've used before and adapted heavily for worsted weight.  This time I even added little jingle bells.

Here's what I got done in one and half football games yesterday - the most time consuming part is making the pom-poms.  I was covered in white fuzz and lint!