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On 2016

courtney spainhower

My final pattern released in 2016 was the Arrowhead Stole (a contribution and cover girl for Interweave Press, F+W Media collection, Garter Stitch Revival).

It's a nice pattern to close the year with... simple and lovely... a piece that reminds me of summer's eventual return... a true warm weather stole knit in a crunchy, cool yarn.  In fact, it's a taste of my recent transformation as a designer.  I'm getting down to the bare bones of where I want to go with knitwear, how I want to approach design, and what feels appropriate for seasonal pieces.  Things I once would have thought nothing of years past (like Icelandic wool sweaters for spring) utterly repel me.  However, like any other period of growth/change, I become rigid in a new way of thinking and then soften again with newfound knowledge. But this is all looking ahead rather than back - back into 2016 - *the year of "persevere" when in reality, it ended up being the year of "hold-on-for-dear-life" 

Looking back, 3 things stand out - first, the year went by so quickly, too quickly, months and seasons tumbled over each other at such a rapid pace I could hardly keep up.  Second, from start to finish, people were divided.  Race issues, gender issues, political issues... every time I turned around.  It forced me off social media for the most part and aided in my already steady retreat inward.  Lastly, 2016 was a big year of change for our family.  Mae's Trichotillomania spiked, causing strife and periods of melancholy.  Alizah chipped away at her chrysalis to expose a glimpse at the gorgeous creature forming within (that girl is a force).  And we made huge strides toward our goals on the homefront, adding ducks, chickens, and fruit trees to our little plot of earth, along with the start of our gardens. 

In the end though, I knew '16 would be a tough one for this monkey girl (navigating a monkey year) and so I avoided conflict, stayed steady, and wore a lucky amulet every day.  Hubs, on the other hand, was destined for good fortune.  We couldn't see the path, but as always, time cleared the way for us and the path was revealed.  I was grateful for his promotions and ability to leap over adversity like a gazelle... it gave our family stability and balance.

There seems to be a general "good riddance" attitude toward 2016.  Even though I felt mostly under water for the past 365 days, I don't feel that beaming optimism for the new year.  I feel older.  I feel rooted.  I feel rushed.  I am, however, looking forward to breaking the spell of introversion that I sank deeply into.  I also look forward to getting my feet out of the mud and getting back into design with a new, fresh perspective.  Mostly, I look forward to making it to the other side with my family intact and my little homestead growing.  **At this point, I feel like anyone who really knows me, knows about my New Year's Mantras... this post still resonates with me as I was saying farewell to 2014 - here is a small excerpt:  

 I don't make resolutions, as some of you already know, but I do set a mantra for myself.  2014 was simply "stay steady" and 2013's "be brave". I haven't quite settled on one for 2015 yet, but the past two years have served me well and have been years of personal and professional growth, and unexpected adventures.  Truly, I want to continue on in this way - staying steady, being brave, and pushing those two tasks further than I ever thought possible... and I wish that for all of you, too.  #pushitfurther

But, I was on a high when 2014 closed.  2016 hardened me.  And since I've been setting a word, phrase, or general idea to lean on for years, out of necessity and creation, I notice that this year, the not-even-day-old-year of 2017, social media is all a buzz with everyone's "word for the year" and I'm realizing quickly that the mantra I set for myself weeks ago is going to be far more difficult for me to lean into than I could have imagined.

2017.  Open, Flex.

And yet, I'm leaning back into the feeling I felt most of 2016 (hide and lock doors!).  I wish I could talk to 2014/2015 Courtney.  I bet she would have excellent advice for me right now.

Horus Shawl {guided knitting pattern}

courtney spainhower

I've mentioned in the past that I approach knit design in two, but really three ways.  I say three because sometimes I design for a purpose - like a submission - and I'm guided by editors and mood boards rather than my own vision.  It's actually really inspiring to design in this way because it pushes me to think beyond my own parameters... but that's another post altogether!

My two main approaches are to design something I want to knit / design something I want to wear.  One almost outweighs the other and in the case of Horus, this was something I designed to wear, but keeping the stitches simple and manageable was important for me here.  Being bound to my notes or computer drives me crazy! I happily knit, going this way and that, starting sections and re-starting sections, until I managed to meander my way to the last stitch.  When I sat down and began writing the instructions, I realized very quickly that I just didn't feel like it!  I had knit Horus intuitively with an easy flow, but all of that easiness was thrown out the window when it came to putting it on paper.  I had written some knitting recipes a long, long time ago and offered them as free patterns... and I thought it was time to bring that loose recipe style back.  However, I can't really just throw out some basic instructions and expect the majority to wing it, so I'm calling this a guided tour.

If you're not feeling super confident about working in pattern for the Right and Left sides after the fully written center, you can simply work the body in St st and the border in Garter st!  Take on what you feel comfortable with and simplify the stitches how ever you'd like.

Ready?


HORUS SHAWL

Notes Worked from the top down for center section, then working each side separately using short rows to create wings.  Ears of Grass Lace will not repeat fully between each point of moving markers, simply continue in pattern.

Yarn DK (#3 Light); Shown: Rowan, Felted Tweed (50% Merino Wool, 25% Alpaca, 25% Viscose; 191 yds/50g): Color 157 Camel about 7-8 balls. - However, yarn isn't particularly important for this pattern.  A lighter weight will produce a smaller shawl and a heavier weight will produce a larger shawl.

Needles US6 (4mm) 21" cir for working a large number of sts; Gauge 5.5 sts & 7.5 rows = 1" St st worked flat.

Notions Waste yarn or spare needle, removable marker, yarn needle.

Stitches

Ears of Grass Lace (worked over 15 sts)

Rows 1, 3 (WS): Purl

Row2 (RS): *Ssk, k4, yo, k3, yo, k4, k2tog; rep from *

Row 4: *Ssk, k5, yo, k1, yo, k5, k2tog; rep from *

Rows 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15, 17, 19: *P7, k1, p7; rep from *

Row 6: *Ssk, k3, yo, k2, p1, k2, yo, k3, k2tog; rep from *

Row 8: *Ssk, k4, yo, k1, p1, k1, yo, k4, k2tog; rep from *

Row 10: *Ssk, k2, yo, k3, p1, k3, yo, k2, k2tog; rep from *

Row 12: *Ssk, k3, yo, k2, p1, k2, yo, k3, k2tog; rep from *

Row 14: *Ssk, k1, yo, k4, p1, k4, yo, k1, k2tog; rep from *

Row 16: *Ssk, k2, yo, k3, p1, k3, yo, k2, k2tog; rep from *

Row 18: *Ssk, yo, k5, p1, k5, yo, k2tog; rep from *

Row 20: *Ssk, k1, yo, k4, p1, k4, yo, k1, k2tog; rep from *

Rep Rows 1-20

Garter Ladder Lace

Row 1 (RS): *Ssk, k1, [yo] 2 times, k1, k2tog; rep from *

Row 2: *K2, knit into the first yo, purl into the second yo, knit 2; rep from *

Rep Rows 1 & 2

PATTERN

CO 5 sts.  KNit even 12 rows, rotate work clockwise, pick up and knit 5 sts along garter edge between bumps, rotate work clockwise, pick up and knit 5 sts along CO edge - 15 sts.  Alternatively, use a provisional CO and knit last 5 sts from CO edge.

Row 1 (WS) K5, sl1pwise wyf, k1, sl1pwise wyf (this is the center stitch - mark with a removable marker), k1, sl1pwise wyf, k5.

Row 2 (RS) K6, yo, knit to center st, yo, k1, yo, knit to last 6 sts, yo, k6 - 4 sts inc'd.

Row 3: K5, sl1pwise wyf, knit to center st, sl1pwise wyf, knit to last 6 sts, sl1pwise wyf, k5.

Rep Rows 2 & 3, 6 more times - 43 sts.

Begin Ears of Grass Lace (EGL)

Row 1 (RS) K6, yo, pm, work EGL patt (starting on Row 2 of patt - See Stitches) working 1 repeat, pm, yo, k1, yo, pm, work EGL patt (Row 2) working 1 repeat, pm, yo, k6 - 4 sts inc'd.

Row 2 (WS) K5, sl1pwise wyf, knit to marker, slm, work in lace patt to marker, slm, knit to center st, sl1pise wyf, knit to marker, slm, work in EGL patt to marker, slm, knit to last 6 sts, sl1pwise wyf, k5.

Row 3: K6, yo, knit to marker, slm work in EGL patt to marker, slm, knit to center st, yo, k1, yo, knit to marker, slm, work in EGL patt to marker, slm, knit to last 6 sts, yo, k6 - 4 sts inc'd; 51 sts.

Rep Rows 2 & 3, 13 more times, then rep Row 2 once more removing markers as you come to them.  Rep Row 1 - 103 sts.

Rep last 31 rows, 3 more times (283 sts), then rep Row 2 once more as follows: work as established to center st, purl into f&b of center st, work as est to end - 1 st inc'd.

Separate for Right & Left sides

K6, yo, k136, place remaining sts onto spare needles or waste yarn, continue over Left side only. 

Left side

Short Row 1 (WS) Sl1pwise wyf, knit to last 9 sts, turn; (RS) Sl1pwise wyb, knit to end.

Short Row 2 (WS) Sl1pwise wyf, knit to 9 sts before gap, turn; (RS) Sl1pwise wyb, knit to end.

Rep Short Row 2, 12 more times.

Next row (WS) BO 15, knit to last 6 sts, sl1pwise wyf, k5 - 127 sts.

Next row: K6, yo, knit to end - 1 st inc'd.

Next row: K1, purl to last 6 sts, sl1pwise wyf, k5.

Begin Floating Wings short rows along live stitch edge using Chart A and continuing edge sts as est.  Each RS short row increases by 3 sts.

Now, as you can see, this chart is short and has a red box around a small section for the pattern repeat.  This is where I cut you loose a bit.  You will continue on in pattern while increasing along the edge sts with a yo, and knitting 2 sts from the live stitch edge.  I've written the chart out so that the first stitch is slipped each WS row, and the two sts worked from live stitch edge are worked in St st throughout.  You will work a total of 13 Floating Wings lines (6 +1 full repeat as charted), then work even 4 rows in St st, increasing as est and ending on a WS row.  Need some guidance working in pattern?  Some help below!

When working in pattern, you'll notice that the RS rows start the floating wing patt on the Left side.  In the far left image, I've marked the center st of the floating wing from the previous repeat.  The left purl bump will be 6 sts to the right (as illustrated in the center image).  After the left purl bump, k11, then p1, k1, p1(as illustrated in the right image) - this is the foundation of the next row of floating wing patt. 

Begin Garter Ladder Lace (GLL) - These are not going to be full repeats of the pattern since they are still short row sections.  Simply work in pattern each row, increasing 3 sts every RS row.

Row 1 (RS) K6, yo, work Row 1 GLL patt to end, k2 sts from live edge, turn.

Row 2 (WS) Sl1pwise wyf, work Row 2 GLL patt to last 5 sts, sl1pwise wyf, k5.

Rep Rows 1 & 2, 7 more times.

Next Row: *BO to double yo, chain 2; rep from * and BO to end.  Break yarn.

Right side

Rejoin yarn with RS facing, sl1pwise wyf, knit to last 6 sts, yo, k6 - 1 st inc'd.

Next Row (WS) K5, sl1pwise wyf, knit to end.

Short Row 1 (RS) Sl1pwise wyb, knit to last 9 sts, turn; (WS) Sl1pwise wyf, knit to end.

Short Row 2 (WS) Sl1pwise wyf, knit to 9 sts before gap, turn; (RS) Sl1pwise wyb, knit to end.

Rep Row 2, 12 more times.

Next Row (RS) BO 15, knit to last 6 sts, yo, k6 - 1 st inc'd.

Next Row (WS) K5, sl1pwise wyf, purl to last st, k1.

Next Row: Knit to last 6 sts, yo, sl1pwise wyb, k5 - 1 st inc'd.

Begin Floating Wings short rows along live stitch edge using Chart B and continuing edge sts as est.  Each RS short row increases by 3 sts.

 You will work a total of 13 Floating Wings lines (6 +1 full repeat as charted) then work even 4 rows in St st, increasing as est and ending on a RS row. 

This time, when working in pattern, you'll notice that the WS rows start the floating wing patt on the Reft side.  In the far left image, I've marked the center st of the floating wing from the WS row.  The left purl bump is 12 sts to the right of the end of this row (as illustrated in the image on the left), but I was working all of the 2 extra stitches from the live edge in St st, so there is no purl bump 11 sts to the left of the left purl bump.  The following WS row, I will add a purl bump (as illustrated in the center image).  Now, there is purl bump 11 sts to the left of the p1, k1, p1 (as illustrated in the right image). 

Begin Garter Ladder Lace (GLL) - These are not going to be full repeats of the pattern since they are still short row sections.  Simply work in pattern each row, increasing 3 sts every RS row.

Row 1 (RS) Work Row 1 GLL patt last 6 sts, yo, k6 - 1 st inc'd.

Row 2 (WS) K5, sl1pwise wyf, work Row 2 GLL patt to end.

Rep Rows 1 & 2, 7 more times.

Next Row: *BO to double yo, chain 2; rep from * and BO to end.  Break yarn.

Weave in all ends and block well.

Pattern drudgery & a sneak peek!

courtney spainhower

It probably seems like I've fallen off, but there is much happening; the untold, secret life of design.  I decided to work up a small collection of patterns and self-publish - my goal was to have all pieces ready to roll out at the end of August, but mid-August seems to have come upon us and I'm still knitting one sample and finishing three patterns.  Sigh.  Such is life when life is being lived.  However, I'm excited to share these little darlings and so I've included some sneaky peeks at one of them here.

Knit in Zealana Air Lace using just 3 balls and large needles, this is a quickie.  

The #realtimesweaterproject sweater on the other hand is not a quickie.  And yes, it's going to be included in this collection also! If I can ever get it finished.  I'm on to the sleeves - and mostly done with the first one ta-boot, but you know... sleeves. Even though there is still much to do to get these patterns out, I'm already mulling over what I want to be knitting next.  Why not?  No matter how tedious a knit, as soon as its on the blocking mat I despair.  I'm a full-blown introvert and without busy hands and a busy mind, I might have to talk to people and we can't have that.