Monday, November 28, 2011

New Mittens!

These mittens were sample knit for me by the intrepid and wonderful Colleen Croce.  The pattern was inspired by a trip back to my native Berkshire Hills (Massachusetts) last spring.  As anyone without a GPS will tell you, it's very hard to find your way around all of those loopy, winding roads.  There's hardly one straight one in the bunch.  Honestly, though, I love it!  And so, the Winding Roads Mittens were born.

They have a short cuff, like a driving glove would, but in the pattern there is a modification for a longer one.  Made from a blend of alpaca and merino, they are very warm, and oh-so-soft.  The yarn is Cascade Yarns Lana D'Oro, and it is delicious.  It comes in generously sized hanks (210 yds), and one hank easily makes both mittens.

Available on Ravelry as Winding Roads Mittens for $4 USD, or .  Enjoy them!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

For the Love of Money

I don't know how things are at your house this season, but at my house they are tight.  My knitting budget is small, and my wishlist is as big as ever.  Whether shopping for me or shopping for another knitter, there is great stuff out there way below retail!

19th cent. Ball Trap
I know I've mentioned this before, but there ARE other options!  I'm a big fan of yard sales, both for yarn and for knitting needles and notions.  If knitting stuff isn't out, I ask.  People very often say yes, and sometimes even offer to give the stuff away.  Often the stuff is still in its packaging.  Beautiful vintage tools like darning eggs, needle boxes, and ivory crochet hooks have been in these sales, and now they're in my home for less than their modern plastic counterparts would be.  It's a great way to recycle and to save lots of money.  Your money stays at work locally.  You might even make a friend!
Sterling Art Deco Needle Case
No yard sales near you?  Try Craigslist.  Run the search in a variety of ways for the best luck.  Knitting, crafting, needles, yarn, patterns, needlework, etc will all yield slightly different groupings depending on how the ad was phrased.  I don't have frequent luck with this, but when there is something listed, it tends to be a very large lot, sold by folks who can't knit anymore due to eyesight or arthritis problems, or sometimes an estate.  Save the old stuff from becoming landfill fodder.  Again, money stays local, and you get the needle sizes or notions you need.

Not worried about buying local?  There's always eBay for needles, yarn, and notions. will have most of the knitting books you're looking for at prices anywhere from 10% - 90% off.

Silver and Wood Darning Eggs
Then again, you can approach it from the other side.  Place a "want" ad in the newspaper or on Craigslist for knitting and crochet notions.  Even if you only do one or the other, people who have inherited someone's needlework materials don't always know the difference.  Ask  for what you need in your ad, including pattern books, patterns, stitch counters, etc.  You'll be contacted by folks who have what you need.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Gift Knits Club is Open!

It's here!   The Gift Knits Club is open for membership.  Knit the gifts you want to give (or keep - we won't tell!) at a manageable pace throughout the year.  Each pattern comes with the recommended yarn, so you'll never be searching for that last, elusive skein to finish a project.  Membership is limited, and will be closed without notice when the club maximum has been reached.

New kit each month including original Liz Marino pattern and premium yarns to make the Gift Knit of the Month, shipped on or about the 15th of the month

Exclusive Liz Marino Club patterns will not be made available to non-club members until 3 months after Club release date

Kits will not be made available retroactively or to non-members

Jan = Straight needle gloves for her (s,m,l)
Feb = Snuggly Socks - adult (men, women)
Mar = Woven-look Purse
Apr = Eco-Friendly Washcloth Gift Pack
May = Holiday Knit-Ahead Hat
June = Yoga Stirrup Socks - one size

No substitutions are available.  Color and size is determined by Liz Marino.  Each month's kit is the only kit available for that month.  Kits are not available retroactively. 

Membership will not be automatically renewed for July-Dec.  Membership will be opened to current members in April and non-members in May based on availability.

Membership is open to North American mailing addresses only.  The price is $27 per month, for a total of $162 USD.  Payment must be received in full; no month to month memberships are available.

Thanks for joining this adventure!  I can hardly wait!

After joining, email me at with your:

Shipping address

Do this even if they are the same as the ones on your PayPal ID, please, just to confirm!  I want to make sure I know how to reach you via email and USPS.  If this info is not emailed, your membership will be rejected and your payment will be returned.  Thanks!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Gift Knits Club details

We're getting close to the club going live.  (I'm hoping to post it Thanksgiving weekend.)  Each month, members will receive a kit with an original pattern, and premium yarns.  Membership will run Jan-June, and July - Dec.  Patterns will be appropriate for gift giving - i.e. home decor, hats, gloves, socks, mittens, scarves, purses, etc.   Each club pattern will be a club exclusive for 3 months after its publication to club members, and kits will not be availble to non-club members.  Club membership will be open for a limited time, until all slots are taken. 

Ruffles for Lisa
The most complicated part of all of this has been sourcing the yarn at good prices, and making sure it will be inspiring to club members.  I've got that pretty well nailed down, so I'm in the design phase now. The club membership price will be $27 per month, payable up front and covers yarn, original pattern, and shipping. For now, I plan to offer the club to North American shipping addresses only, due to huge pricing variations for shipping overseas.The first shipment will go out on January 15th. 

This is a club that some folks would give as a gift to other knitters, and that some would use themselves.  Which kind of member would you be?

This is the last forum on the subject that I plan to offer before making this club a reality.  Please express all preferences now to make sure I've got a good sense of what you want.  Don't wait for someone else to comment for you!  Do you want gender neutral or gender specific patterns?  Home decor?  Toys?  Children's stuff?  Do you have a type of yarn you really DON'T want to work with?  One that you DO?  Any feedback you can imagine is something I want to hear.  After all, this club is for you.  Thanks in advance. 

Friday, November 18, 2011

Freebie Friday - Angry Golf Club Cover

From the wonderful blog, knitterbees, comes the Angry Birds Golf Club Cover.  I love this as a goofy holiday gift idea for the Angry Birds crazed loved one on your list.  Please credit knitterbees if you share this pattern, and direct folks to her site.  Her patterns are terrific, and her stories are often hilarious.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Building the Gift Knits Club

I've been talking with yarn companies, fans, customers, and students, and the Gift Knits Club idea has really started to gel.  I'm looking at having subscriptions for either 6 or 12 months at a time.  The club member would pay up front, and kits would be mailed on the 15th of each month.  Any month's project that doesn't appeal to you can be substituted, but only for the mitten pattern and kit of my choice based on availability.  The calendar would look something like this (example only! Not real calendar!):

January: Easy Straight-needle Gloves for HER
February:  Easy Straight-needle Gloves for HIM
March: Sprightly Spring Socks
April: Woven-look Spring Handbag
May: Set of 4 spa washcloths in organic cotton
June: Lacy Ribbon Scarf

...and so on throughout the year.  No really long patterns, and no really high prices.  It depends on the deals I'm able to make with yarn manufacturers what the exact price will be.  I'm aiming for about $25 - $35 per month.  This appears to be on par with most other knitting project clubs, and considering the pattern design, yarn, coordination and shipping, seems to be a good bargain.  After much consideration, I've decided to work with multiple manufacturers to keep the patterns and variety really interesting.  (An all Cascade club might not be interesting to you if that's all your LYS carries!)

Skill level of the patterns will vary from easy to moderate.  Knitting in the round, simple cables, simple open work, and grafting will all be part of patterns at one time or another.  If these are newer skills for you, get help from your LYS, YouTube, or your knitting circle friends, and expand your skills! 

I cannot accommodate fiber allergies (there are too many possibilities), so if you have multiple fiber allergies, this might be a problem, or you may wish to give the kit as a gift on the months you are allergic to kit contents.

Each pattern will be a club exclusive for at least three months after it is released to the club.  At the end of the year, all 2012 patterns will be available as a collection in an e-book. 

We're down to crunch time, folks, so please, tell me everything on your minds!  I would love to make this club meet your needs as gifters, crafters, and knitters!  Thanks.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Toe Up Socks

I get the appeal of socks knit from the toe up.  No grafting of the toe, easy placement of full pattern repeats, they're a designer's dream.  Or so I thought. 

I'm going to need to knit several more of these before it becomes second nature.  Now that I'm well ensconced in making them from the cuff down, turning heels from the toe up feels very strange.  The available cast-ons for them are alien to me, too. 

One of the reason I started designing my own patterns is because I'm not very trusting of other people's patterns.  I chicken out when I can't picture it in my head.  (Like doing these upside-down heels. You wouldn't believe the mess I made trying to learn to knit cables!) So why make the change?

Well, first off, it's not permanent.  I'll be bouncing back and forth as I see fit while I design.  It's a bit like going from DPNs to double circs - it's just another available option.  I want to have this skill available to me.  Many people prefer working their socks this way.  (Or at least, there is a very persistent rumor to this affect.)  It definitely makes me look at the anatomy of a sock differently, and therefore offers new design insight.  In particular, shaping the gusset as you turn the heel offers a design window I had previously overlooked. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

I've Been Thinking...

Everybody in my life gets a gift from me at one time or another.  As you might imagine, many of these gifts are knitted by me.  And designed by me.

I knit gifts all year, not just at the holidays.  Birthdays, graduations, weddings, retirements, people fall ill, baby showers - these thing just keep happening long after December.  It makes me think that perhaps I should share my gift knit patterns, maybe as a club.  This would make the patterns exclusive to club members. They would be emailed as PDF files or snail mailed, if you prefer.  The patterns would include spa-style washcloths, mittens, socks, baby blankets, hats for kids and adults, scarves, shawls, toys, etc.  Right now I'm thinking one per month.  I'd start in January. 

What do you think?  Let me know.

Monday, November 7, 2011


Plenty of time at my mother's this weekend has me thinking.  I worked cleaning and hauling and carrying and repairing among all of my mother's things, and most of those things are things I grew up with.  Yet, the mother around those things is not the mother I knew. 

This mother has aged.  This mother is tired.  This mother is now frail and needy, and not the resource I used to rely on.  The roles have reversed, and now I'm the resource.  I saw it coming, but it seems like it happened in just the one visit. 

My mother taught me to knit.  Now, her fingers are so gnarled by arthritis that she's unable to write legibly, let alone knit anything.  It's hard to see her in such pain. I'm designing her a pair of fingerless mitts like the ones I wear when my hands ache.  I don't know if they'll help any, but I want to try.  I don't know why I didn't picture making lap blankets and mitts for my own mother, and now I wish I had made them sooner.  Better late than never. 

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Doing the Right Thing, Under Duress

I am about to whine and carry on in a very petty way.

The frost on the grass is beautiful, and the woodsmoke in the air is sublime.  The houses across the street wear labels of their building dates - 1762, 1795... It's a charming place, Western Massachusetts is.  And I'm bathing dogs, scrubbing floors, and otherwise being a lackey to my mother's wishes.  I've been at it for three days now, and my muscles are starting to complain at the most moderate requests. (You know, like pick up the coffee and bring it to your mouth.)  There is no Internet service at her home on the top of a mountain, so I took an excuse to drive down to town and plug in at the coffee shop for a few minutes before returning to hard labor.

When I grew up here, I had no idea what an active knitting and fiber community it was/is.  Like so many young people, I didn't appreciate what I had.  I moved to Buffalo, and came back this weekend to help my aging mom with her heavy chores.  And now, the New England Fiber Festival is 30 minutes away, and I can't go! Half a dozen fibery friends are there, and I'm elbow deep in Pine Sol. I can hear the festival calling me over the mountains - "You have friends here.  The yarn needs you.  Ditch your chores and come and play!!"  I wish it would just shut up.

I know what my dad would have said - "Do a good job on your chores, and if you have time to play later, go enjoy yourself."  Well, I started at 5:30am yesterday, and 4:30am today, and I won't make it.  It's like being in the Principal's office during recess.  Everyone gets to play except...  I'll plan better next time.  I'll come 4 days early instead of 2, and get everything finished in time.  Nothing will sooth next year's aching muscles like wandering through the Fiber Festival.  Yarn is good for the soul.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

What to Knit - Holiday 2011 vol 8 - Sweaters

Toboggan Sweater
I've put it off as long as was reasonable - I've finally chosen the sweaters to recommend knitting for this holiday season.  As you can see, like all holidays, cables are popular.  This year they're everywhere - big and chunky, tiny and mixed with ribs, just one or two for interest - whatever you like.
Humphrey Vest

Not feeling cabley?  Maybe replace them with ribs.  It's a very textured season, but I did find one timeless, simple and smooth sweater in Eve.  Make it in any color, and any yarn you love as long as there's a bit of stretch to it.  Otherwise the neck might be too small!  Enjoy these, and let me know what you make.  I can't wait to see what's under my tree!

Glam Cable Tunic
Parseval Sweater
Dad Cardigan

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Snowbank Mittens Pattern

Snowbank Mittens
These mittens are made in a wool/linen blend, which allows them to be light, dry quickly, and still be very warm - just what you want in a shoveling mitten.  Here in Buffalo, we rarely get to shovel just once.  The snow comes, we shovel, we go to work, and we shovel again when we get home.  We go to bed, and we shovel again when we get up.  There is a men's pattern, and a women's pattern in the main pattern.  If you need, there is a separate children's pattern available on Ravelry under LizMarino.  This link will take you to the adult page.  Thanks!  Buy it Now