Coupled Cowls & SMS GIVEAWAY DAY!

Holy crap, people, it’s GIVEAWAY DAY! Ohmygosh, I love Giveaway Day – it’s so exciting: visiting new blogs, making new friends, free stuff! What’s not to like?! I know I’m mostly a knitter and embroiderer, but I do enjoy a good sewing project here and there, even if I’m not terribly good at it, and Sew, Mama, Sew is just about the best blog around for tips and tutorials and just general fabric-y know-how. I’ve learned a ton just from keeping an eye on their blog and reading along.

So thanks to SMS for organizing this amazing thing time after time – I’ve never won anything, but it’s always so fun to all explore the crafty side of the internet together for a week, and I’m going to swallow my shyness and join in as a giver for the first time. Actually, my first giveaway ever. Eep! Honestly, I almost chickened out, wishing I had something a little more exciting to offer you all – but I’m forcing myself to be brave and take a baby step as a new designer and offer you the only thing I really have: my own knitting patterns!

Coupled Cowls

This is Coupled Cowls, a pair of cowls with cables that sort of match, but aren’t matching. I made these for a pair of family friends, very very beloved friends, as part of their Christmas gift this year. Because they came out rather well – squishy and luxurious, fast knitting (they’ll knit up in a day) and a relatively small amount of yarn – I decided to write up the pattern for anyone else who might be in need of a last-minute holiday gift. Here’s the quick stats:

Yarn: Rowan Cocoon 100g/126yd per skein x 2 (per cowl) or approximately 140yd / 128m bulky yarn (per cowl)

Needles: 6.0mm circular needles, 16”/40cm length, or sizes needed to obtain gauge

Gauge: 18 sts/4”, 20 rows/4” (more detailed gauge information given in pattern)

Finished Sizes:
White Cowl: 9” tall and 21” circumference
Gray Cowl: 8.5” tall and 19” circumference

Coupled Cowl: White

Coupled Cowl: Gray

So, what about the giveaway, you say?! I will happily and excitedly give TWO readers a full set of my output so far — the Coupled Cowls pattern AND my Flurries cowl and mitts pattern. Ok, that’s only two patterns, but it’s still three cowls and a pair of fingerless mittens! And I’ll send them to the two winners in any format they like. I can email the PDFs straight to you, send them via Ravelry if you’d like to have them in your library there, or even send printed copies by post anywhere in the world – whatever’s most convenient for you!

Two patterns each to two readers!

Here’s what you do: since this post announces the release of the Coupled Cowls pattern and since I made those as a gift originally, leave me a comment and tell me about something you’re making (or already made) as a gift for Christmas or whatever winter-based holiday you might celebrate. If you’re a sane person and aren’t crafting for the holidays this year, tell me about something you made in the past or a handmade gift someone made for you. In exchange, I’ll take this week to tell you about the gifts I’m making this year, and I’ll pick two commenters at random in some fashion (fingers crossed there are actually two of you!) on Friday. Please make sure there is an email address left with your comment so that I can reach you if you win and keep visiting the Sew, Mama, Sew blog to enter more giveaways. Thanks for stopping by!


The Little Elves – freebie embroidery pattern!!

I’m excited enough that I can’t really contain it for as long as it would take to write an elegant intro: today’s a big day for us! It’s December 1st and the countdown to Christmas begins (I had a serious flutter of panic just before, oy vey) and it’s also the day we can begin to announce the plans we’ve been working on quietly in the background.

I suppose this post here marks the official beginning of Little Dorrit & Co., the name we — and when I say ‘we’, I’m referring to myself and my mother aka Chris (or Chrissy, as I like to call her, just ’cause it’s funny) as a design team — will be using for the little collection of embroidery patterns we’ve been working on. We’re very excited to have them almost ready to release on the world – and hope, hope, hope that someone out there will like them!

The Little Elves (freebie)

In the meantime, here’s a little Christmas pattern for you to stitch while you wait for Santa — I guess it’s a little taster of what our style will be like, but also an update of an idea we tried out last year, in cross-stitch, that just didn’t quite work out right. This embroidered illustration is based on the original Brothers Grimm tale of The Little Elves.

The Little Elves (the version linked there is slightly different than the copy we have, including its title, but is the same story) is a very short tale about a shoemaker “who, from no fault of his own, had become so poor that at last he had nothing left, but just sufficient leather for one pair of shoes.” He got all of his materials ready to start but, when he awoke the next morning, the shoes were all made up for him! They were so beautifully crafted that he was able to sell them and buy enough material for two more pairs. This continued until one night near Christmas, he and his wife decided to stay up late to see who was helping them. Much to their surprise, “in came two little mannikins, who squatted down on the board; and, taking up the prepared work, set to with their little fingers, stitching and sewing, and hammering so swiftly and lightly.”

So grateful to the tiny elves for all the work they’d done to help them, the shoemaker and his wife decide to make “a little shirt, coat, waistcoat, trousers, and stockings for each” – and shoes, of course – to keep their little elf selves warm. When the elves come back that night to work, they find the pile of gifts laid out for them in place of leather, and they sing and dance with pleasure. And swear never to do any more cobbler work because why would they once they had such lovely clothes? Anyway, it all works out rather well for the shoemaker as well; because of the help the elves gave him, he was able to build his business back up and he and his wife became quite prosperous.

The Little Elves (freebie)

The Little Elves (freebie)

The real Grimm tales are, on the whole, very odd and very funny, and often quite different than the versions that are popular nowadays. But The Little Elves is just sweet and perfectly Christmassy – a simple story about helping someone selflessly and getting some unexpected help in return. It’s really quite charming. So we chose to make this our freebie Christmas embroidery: The Little Elves and their gifts, looking rather dapper in their new threads, dontcha think?

We did ours in a selections of red and greens, of course, and silver and gold Anchor Lame thread (the best metallic ever, really, it’s lovely to use!) to give it that little extra magic for the holidays. (Click through to see bigger versions on Flickr.) We happened to have this gorgeous antique frame handy, but it was designed to fit nicely into a 12″ embroidery hoop without any resizing. We thought painting a hoop red or gold might look pretty, no? There’s a lot of stitching going on there, we love to cram as much detail as we can in — but if that wreath is a little more than you can squish in alongside all your other holiday crafting, you can always leave off the wreath and stitch just the elves and their gifts.

Update: we’ve made a new (clearer) version of this pattern. The pattern is laid out on one A4 sheet but was created to be larger, spanning an A3 (or two regular sheets of paper taped together). To enlarge it on your home printer, open the file in Adobe Reader (which is free!) and, in the print dialog, chose to ’tile large pages’, ‘scale’ to about 130% (or however large will fit on your paper / how large you want to stitch it), and ‘overlap’ by .25″ or so. The overlap doesn’t have to be that large, but is very useful for piecing the pages together. And because this is our first intended-to-be-enlarged embroidery pattern (and won’t be the last!), we’d be hugely grateful if you’d let us know about any downloading or printing problems you run into.

The Little Elves (freebie pattern)

Download: The Little Elves – free embroidery pattern (PDF)

This pattern has been removed to be added the Little Dorrit & Co. Embroidery Pattern Shop in July 2014. It will include a color and stitch guide and a tutorial for making it into a Christmas wall-hanging! I hope you’ll come back then to check it out!

* U.S. downloaders, remember to choose to scale the pages when printing to fit letter size paper!!!

Classic Colorwork Cowl: my first knitting pattern (Feelin’ like a proud mama)

Hey, lookit! My first knitting pattern!!! And, geez, it took long enough – this was started way back in November or so – but it’s finally here!

Classic Colorwork Cowl
Classic Colorwork Cowl

This project basically started just as an intellectual exercise – I really just wanted the experience of designing something knitted and creating a pattern from it. At about the same time, I started seeing fair isle absolutely everywhere. And in that way that trends brainwash us, I wanted me some fair isle so badly. It seemed like those two wishes could go together quite well.

In one of those John Lewis winter sales, I picked up a few balls of the oh-so-lovely (but now sadly discontinued) Rowan 4 Ply Soft that happened to go together beautifully. It was not at all intentional, just a happy accident.

Classic Colorwork Cowl

So I threw in some creamy goodness in the form of a ball of Rowan 4 Ply Cashsoft and I had a readymade fair isle palette. A couple of days flipping through Sheila McGregor’s fabulous Traditional Fair Isle Knitting and Traditional Scandinavian Knitting gave me a selection of motifs that were exactly what I was looking for – so traditional that it almost borders on cheesy, but is still cute: snowflakes, hearts, and the most perfect reindeer. Though some people insist that they’re moose. The more I look at them, the more unsure I am either way, so I say the knitter is free to choose.

Classic Colorwork Cowl

I kept it basically simple, to allow the colorwork to speak for itself and not get too cluttered, though I did throw in a little detail with a slightly fancier-than-normal ribbing. The project stats are all included in the PDF (link down at the bottom of the post), but here’s the basics:

Yarn: 4-ply wool yarn in four colors (pattern will work best with a neutral + three shades of one color); 50g of each will be more than enough, this would be a good use for leftovers and partial balls

Needles: 16” circular needles, 2.25mm and 3.0mm

Gauge: 34 st and 35 rounds = 4” in stranded colorwork, blocked

Finished Size: 11.5” height x 21.5” circumference

I learned so much from working on even this simple design. There’s so much more to consider than I expected, both in the design and the creation of an actual pattern. But I really really enjoyed it. I really hope some people knit it (that would be amazing to see!), but I’d still be pretty dang proud of myself just for getting something this far. And now that I know what to expect from the design and pattern-writing process a little better, I hope to step it up a little for whatever ends up being my next design project!

(Disclaimer: this pattern has not been test-knitted! If you find any problems or mistakes, pretty please let me know at: julie [at] button-button [dot] co [dot] uk.)

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