Happy Valentine's Day to you!
There's still a little time to knit for your sweetie.
This post contains only Fast and Free patterns with Ravelry links in each caption.

heartfelt rings for your fingers by Tiny Owl Knits

Be Mine Heart Garland by Kristen Ashbaugh-Helmreich 

Heart Bunting by Knit 1 Slip 1

i carry your heart mitts by Margaret Bloom.  I made my own set below:
I made my own set last night.  It took about an hour!  I added pompoms and sent off to my 16 year old granddaughter.

Little Hearts by Susan Anderson

Little Hearts by Teresa Fox

LoveSocks by Devon Clement--maybe not so fast, but I love these.

Mini Crocheted Hearts by Morgan Joyce

Tiny Rose by Anna Hrachovec

Valentin le robot by Amelie Lambert (check out his zipper mouth!)

Crocheted Valentine Sweet Heart by Lucy of Attic 24.

Crocheted Valentine's Day Treat Bags by Sonja Blackstone

Winged Heart Tattoo--probably the only tattoo a mother would love, by Annypurls

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Happy Valentine's Day! 


how to knit a set-in, top-down sleeve

I originally published a post on top-down, set-in sleeves a year or two ago.  It was time for an update with better pictures and more concise instructions!

Knitting top-down, set-in sleeves is a technique I learned years ago, and from that first time, it became my go-to sleeve construction.  This is the best way to get a perfectly fitted sleeve around your shoulder and arm.   It occurred to me that many experienced knitters aren't familiar with this simple and fool-proof construction.  While this sleeve technique is rarely written into patterns, it can be used in any pattern to replace a standard sleeve that has a bell shaped cap at the top.  I've only used it with stockinette and garter, but I think with a little bit of planning, this technique could be used with more complicated stitch patterns.  

The sleeve scythe, or the opening where the sleeve is set into the body,  is totally customizable.  If this is a sweater you will be wearing right next to your skin, you might like the look of a more fitted sleeve.  If this is a sweater you will most likely be wearing over a shirt,  such as a cardigan, you'll likely want the opening a little larger to accommodate for that. Top-down set-in sleeves give you the freedom to change these measurements on the body of your sweater, but your sleeve will need no adjusting; your sleeve will automatically fit!  You'll never have too much sleeve and not enough sweater or vice versa,  avoiding any potential puckers around the sleeve scythe once and for all.  And, this sleeve will fit your arm too, because you can try it on as you go along.  

You can either knit your sleeves in the round or flat.  If you knit them in the round, seam both sides.  If you are going to knit them flat, leave them un-seamed.  For both, seam the shoulder seams.

Before you proceed, please read the entire directions below.

Start with the right sleeve, and using a circular needle with the right side of the back facing you, start at the underarm and pick up stitches all around the back arm scythe to the shoulder seam.  The ratio is 1 stitch per 2 rows, even at the underarm.  Pick up the same amount of stitches down the front arm and underarm.  If you have 30 stitches up the back, you will need 30 stitches down the front.  Now the knitting begins.  Turn your work and with right side facing, begin row 1.

Row 1:  Knit stitches up the front to 1.5" (for an adult, less for a child) past shoulder seam, wrap and turn next stitch.
Row 2:  Purl to 1.5" past shoulder seam, wrap and turn next stitch.  
Row 3:  Knit to your last wrapped stitch, knit the wrapped stitch, wrap and turn next stitch. Turn your work.
Row 4:  Purl to your last wrapped stitch, purl the wrapped stitch, wrap and turn next stitch. Turn your work.

Repeat rows 3 and 4 until all stitches have been incorporated into the bell.  Note, I almost always stop at the last 1" on each side of the side seam, the first cast off stitches at the underarm. These stitches do not need to be wrapped and turned, instead, simply knit "through them".  

If you are knitting your sleeves in the round, join for working in the round.  If you are knitting your sleeves flat, cast on one stitch each side for seaming and continue working to end.  For either way, you can add any sleeve shaping desired.  Generally, the decreases are made every 1.5-2 inches, but try it on frequently to get your perfect fit. Knit to desired sleeve length, adding the finish edging the pattern calls for; ribbing, lace, etc.

Directions for Short Rows, Wrap and Turn:
On knit side: Knit to the stitch you want to wrap, bring yarn between needles from back to front. Slip stitch purl-wise from left needle to right needle.  Bring yarn between needles again, from front to back. Slip stitch purl-wise from right needle to left needle.  Turn work to begin next row.
On purl side:  Purl to the stitch you want to wrap, bring yarn between needles from front to back. Slip stitch purl-wise from left needle to right needle.  Bring yarn between needles again, from back to front.  Slip stitch purl-wise from right needle to left needle. Turn work to begin next row.

If you are familiar with wrap and turn short rows, you're probably used to "picking up the wraps".  In this sleeve technique, you DO NOT pick up wraps.  This gives a more "full-fashioned" look to the sleeve, which I prefer, however, you can pick up the wraps if you prefer that look.

See the pictures below for help with each step.  I hope you give it a try!  I bet you'll find yourself using it as often as you can!

Pick up stitches all around the arm scythe at the ration of 1 to 2.

Begin your short rows. You'll notice I have a marker at the top.
I didn't include it in the instructions because it's not necessary.

As you continue your short rows, the bell of the sleeve grows.

When you are done shaping the bell with short rows, you will knit the sleeve down.

You can knit the sleeves flat or in the round.  The picture above shows a sleeve that is being knitted in the round, but the previous pictures show a sleeve that was knit flat.

This sweater is a loose fitting sweater and the sleeves are not meant to fit tightly around the upper arm.  I hope my instructions will show you 
I finished this sweater last summer and it's taken me this long to get this post written.  The pattern is Soho by Martin Storey from Easy DK Knits, a book I'm totally in love with--so many beautiful and classic patterns to knit and wear everywhere.  I made my first Soho more dressy with Kidsilk Haze Eclipse and ended up wearing it so often, I figured I would love to wear it knit in a more casual yarn. Enter Pure Wool DK--it's perfect for our cool summer nights.  

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Thank you!  Kristen

Edited on 2/8/17:  Good timing!  Just this morning, Kate Davies published a great post on this same subject! 


night stripes

Here's the most recent addition to the Totally Free/Totally Adorable sweater collection. 

Did I tell you that several months ago, when a craft store in my town was going out of business, they put the expensive Alchemy Temple on sale?  I ended up buying them out, at least 50 plus skeins for $1 each!  There are all different colors with different dyelots, and some weren't even labeled, but they are perfect for a project like this.  Temple is super soft, 100 % machine washable wool and lovely to knit.   This little sweater is for a baby who lives in  Upcountry Maui, Hawaii, where the temperatures can get quite cold, yes, even Hawaii can get cold in certain parts of the state!  They yarn is so lovely and soft and I'm quite thrilled with stripes all the time--what's not to like?

Here's the links:

my project page on Ravelry
free pattern from Keya Kuhn

totally free/totally adorable blog post
with hints and tips for making FREE baby sweaters from your stash!

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Thank you!  Kristen


Little Explorers

I have an early release copy of Martin Storey's new book, Little Rowan Explorers, a collection of 11 knitted unisex designs for children age 3-8 years.  I saw the darling garments displayed at the TNNA show last week and I couldn't wait to get my hands on my own copy.  You know I love knitting for babies and children and with me loving stripes the way I do--and after hunting through my stash, decided that Deacon below, would be my first.  I chose orange and black, white and gray, the San Francisco Giants colors, and will have it finished in time for baseball season. Go Giants!

The garments are knit in either Softyak DK, Summerlite DK, Summerlite 4-ply, or Handknit Cotton, all yarns I've used before and can recommend for their easy, machine-washable care and next-to-skin softness, plus they are all easy on the hands.  So many knitters have told me that cotton hurts or tires out their hands when knitting, and I've experienced that too.  But not with these, I don't know why, or what is different about these cottons, but they are very easy to knit and won't result in achy fingers.

The book is being sent to retailers now and you should be seeing it in your local yarn store soon.  All the yarns are readily available at your Rowan stockist now.

The garments have an outdoorsy, active, explorers theme.  
After all, exploring is what kids do every day, right?

 Kaptain, the striped cardigan below, has a skull and crossbones option, above.

 Outlaw has a plain version above, and striped, below.

 Love the tiger pullover below, knit in Softyak DK.

Below is a corner of the Rowan booth at TNNA.

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You can view the collection on Ravelry
where some can be purchased as an individual download.

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Thank you!  Kristen



My week sailed by and I wasn't able to capture a minute to write up the few posts that are languishing half done, however, I didn't want to let any more time go by before I posted my TNNA pictures--The National Needlearts Association trade show.  This year it was held in San Jose, California, very close to where I live, and Rowan Yarns kindly invited me to visit and have a look around.  Here are the highlights:

The prettiest booth was Rowan's, made dramatic with dozens of sweater samples from the new Rowan 61 Magazine, Rowan Loves Home, and Little Rowan Explorers--all displayed beautifully as only Rowan can do.  Rowan Magazine 61 and the other books are just new and should be at your yarn store very soon.  

I have an early copy of Mag 61 and already cast on Celestial, pictured here in white.

I can't even begin to tell you how gorgeous Bommie was in person.

Some examples from Martin Storey's Little Rowan Explorer. 

 Lisa Richardson in front of some the the gorgeous designs from her new Rowan Loves.  The Kaffe coat design on the right is sold as a kit.  I think they are hard to find, but worth the hunt.

Say hi to David MacLeod, brand manager for Rowan Yarns!

More than a few of us were swooning over the artsy dress knitted in leaves of Fria Handpaints.

Above, Blue Sky Fibers had gigantic, yard-long plumes of yarn tassels displaying their silky, touchable yarns.

Below, Mrs. Crosby displayed her yarns spilling out of hatboxes, steamer trunks and traveling cases--adorable.

You've probably been to yarn fairs and Stitches and you wonder where the crowds are?  This was taken right before it opened, however, trade shows, mercifully, are never as crowded as the shows open for public--it's all business.  

 There was masses of needlepoint too.  I was charmed by an entire wall of Kate Dickerson's Herend-style animals.

I love Shelridge Yarns above, and did manage to get into a little trouble in their booth!

Below is Appalachian Baby and their beautifully soft USA organic cotton and darling baby patterns.

I loved meeting West Yorkshire Spinners for the first time, and I imagine I'll be trying out their British grown yarn soon.  Read their great story here.

Below, and also from Yorkshire, Baa Ram Ewe brought their simply stunning Titus.  Must try.

Charming Jonathan Berner of MJ Yarns dyes the most scrumptiously soft yarns.

I often rave about the Gleener, the greatest sweater de-piller invented, and now they have a new travel size.  I'll have a giveaway soon, so stay tuned!

Della Q, above, will keep you super organized, see below!

It was a fun day!

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Thank you!  Kristen