Friday, June 27, 2014

New Pattern Coming on Monday, KAL Updates and Other Fun Stuff!

Game of Thrones Season 4 has come to a close and if you are like me, the withdrawals have already started.  It's the only show on tv that I find so completely enthralling that I don't knit while watching it.  A year is just too long to wait for next season!

After Mother of Dragons was released, Miss Babs and I have been collaborating to create a series of Game of Thrones themed patterns.  I have been having a hard time containing my excitement and not letting the Direwolf out of the bag!  There will be two more patterns coming out this year and the next one is being released on Monday June 30 and will be available in my Ravelry Pattern Shop.  The third in the series will be coming out later in the fall so you will have plenty of time to get this one knitted up before the next release!

Night's Watch is a effortless one skein garter stitch triangle shawlette in Miss Babs Yummy 2-Ply in the Coffee Break colorway.  I have included both charted and written instructions and the pattern is easy to memorize which makes this a perfect knit night project. I've included some fun Game of Thrones graphics and a few other surprises in the pattern layout that I hope you will enjoy.

For a chance to win a copy of Night's Watch "like" the Lara Smoot Designs Facebook Page and share the Night's Watch post on Facebook.  The drawing will be on June 30 in conjunction with the pattern release.

The Summer of Socks KAL is in full swing with lot's of lovely projects popping up.  Be sure to pop on over to the KAL thread and check out all the socks!  A huge thank you to SuchGwenderfulStuff on Etsy for sponsoring the Summer of Socks KAL with a set of stitch markers from her shop.  I absolutely love her stitch markers.  They are thinner then some of the other brands that I have used the past and the colors show up well in my knitting.  The winner with have their choice of a set of markers in Gwen's shop.

The Mother of Dragons KAL is ending on July 1.  If you haven't posted your finished Mother of Dragons in the thread be sure to do so before July 1 to qualify for a chance to win a skein of Miss Babs Yummy 2-Ply in Biker Chick or your choice of one of my patterns.

Photo courtesy of Miss Babs.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Knitting from Charted Instructions 101

Knitting from a chart as opposed to written instructions is much easier than what you might be thinking.  When I first started knitting I never thought I would be able to knit from a chart and I was afraid to try.  Then a charted pattern caught my eye and I figured that I would give it a go.  I found it to be not only easier, but much faster too.

This is a quick tutorial to get you started knitting from charts.  We will start out with an example chart that will be knitted flat (back and forth in rows).

The first thing to look at before you start knitting from a chart is the key.  This will tell you what each symbol in the chart means. It is important to look at the key each time you start a new pattern as not all designers use the same symbols.
Note that there are RS and WS (right side and wrong side) instructions for two of the symbols.  This tells us that those particular stitches, knit and purl, will be worked in the opposite manner on the wrong side of the fabric creating a stockinette stitch there. We also have: yarn over, k2tog (knit 2 together), ssk (slip, slip, knit) and cdd (centered double decrease).

The next thing that I notice about this particular chart is that it is surrounded by a red line.  Many designers, myself included, will often use a red outline on a chart to indicate that a portion of the chart or the whole chart is repeated.  On this chart we would work the 15 stitches that are shown and then repeat them as many times as the pattern indicates.

We have our chart and have looked at the symbols to know what stitches they represent.  We also know that the red line means we will be repeating the fifteen stitches X  number of times per row.  For simplicity's sake we will skip the cast on and assume that we have 60 stitches on our needles.  Our pattern says work rows 1 - 10 of the Example Chart once.  This means that we would work the 15 stitches of the chart 4 times for each row.

Notice that there are row numbers on both sides of the chart.  It is important to look to see where the number is and begin working the chart at that point.  Row 1 begins on the RS and starts on the right hand side of the chart and is worked across towards the left.  Opposite of how we normally read things!  Row 2 is worked from left to right, and so on.  Note that charts written for knitting in the round differ in that they are read from right to left on every round.

Row 1 would look like this if it were written out:

1. P2, YO, SSK, K7, YO, P2, P2, YO, SSK, K7, YO, P2, P2, YO, SSK, K7, YO, P2, P2, YO, SSK, K7, YO, P2

Row 2:

2. K2, P11, K2, K2, P11, K2, K2, P11, K2, K2, P11, K2

Remember that our knit and purl symbols mean the opposite on the wrong side of our knitting for this chart which is why row 2 starts with a knit stitch.

If you tend to loose track of where you are in the chart when you are knitting try using a post it note or ruler to keep your place.  I strive to have the charts in my patterns in a larger size so that they are easier to read.  If you find that you are using a chart that is small and hard to read you can enlarge it and print it out separately by using the snapshot tool.  A tutorial for that can be found here: Snapshot

I hope that this brief tutorial inspires you to try your hand at chart knitting.  Once you get the hang of it, it's so much easier than knitting from a written pattern!

~ Lara

Friday, June 13, 2014

Catching Katniss

Earlier this year I was asked to design a project for a joint venture with Wendi from Indieway Yarns and our friend Sally who is a bag maker extraordinaire.  The theme for the project was Catching Fire from the Hunger Games books and movies. 

When I started planning Catching Katniss I wanted something light and airy that would be perfect to wear over your shoulders in the heat of summer without being too warm.  With the Catching Fire theme in mind I decided to incorporate the flames from the Mockingjay dress that Katniss wears.  The scene where Katniss's dress bursts into flames and looks like the wings of a bird is my favorite part of the movie.  It's kind of magical and stunning all at the same time and just takes my breath away.  The lace edging represents the flames of the dress and the fun colorway called Ring of Fire has many different tonal shades that flames tend to have.

It was really important to me to create a design that would be both fun and easy to knit and completely effortless.  Summertime is when we all want to relax and have something that we don't have to think a lot about while we knit.  This is a perfect take to the beach or work on during a road trip project. Catching Katniss is deceptively easy to and begins with the lace edging and is worked from the bottom up. The body is worked in garter stitch short rows.  I hope you enjoy knitting it as much as I have enjoyed designing it!  Beth and Margi both had their test knit's done in a matter of days.

Wendi has a very limited number of kit's for Catching Katniss left in her Etsy shop.  Right now I think there are only 3 available.  If you really like this color be sure to grab up one of the kit's before they are gone!  If you would like to purchase just the pattern, it is available in my Ravelry Pattern Store.

Thursday, June 5, 2014


Grab a cup of coffee or glass of wine, I have a lot of things to share with you today! 

First up is the release of Aquasocks.  They are written from the cuff down and incorporate a lace chevron pattern that flows down the foot and is also on the heel flap. These socks are a super fun knit as my test knitters, Beth and Margi,  can tell you.  Margi liked knitting them so much that she made a second pair and converted them to toe up.  I really love this yarn, it was a lot of fun to knit with.  It's House Gnome from Gnome Acres.

Andy and I had so much fun on the photo shoot.  We were scouting out a spot that had good light and a nice background and found this lovely spot complete with snail and wildflowers.  We thought the snail went along with the whole underwater theme for the socks. 

The Aquasock pattern is available on Ravlery and will be added to my Etsy shop next week.  We will be having a KAL in my Ravelry group beginning next week.  I hope you can join us!

Now for some yarnie goodness!  Last Friday, Beth and I went on our first ever Yarn Crawl.  We wound up being able to make it to all six yarn shops that were participating in one day!  We covered a huge area of Virginia and even stopped for lunch and went to two non yarn shops.

Our first stop was The New River Fiber Company in Blacksburg.  I picked up this beautiful skein of Soul in Onyx from Kismet Fiber Works.

 Next on our stop was an adorable shop in Floyd: Woolly Jumper Yarns. I hadn't been to Floyd in several years and it's really grown.  There are a lot of cute shops and restaurants that will need to be explored at a later time.  Each shop on the crawl had it's own limited edition yarn dyed up.  I missed it at the first shop, I must have been overwhelmed by wool fumes or something!  The one at Woolly Jumper was from Unplanned Peacock and is their Kinky Sock.  Beth used Kinky Sock on her Aquasocks test knit and they turned out great! The limited edition is a really vibrant fuchsia with tones of lighter pinks and absolutely refused to cooperate when I was taking pictures.  It's really much more lovely in person.

I also picked up a vintage book: The Story of Wool.  It's filled with lovely illustrations and dated 1939.

I also won a door prize while I was there!  It's a shawl kit and has a book of pattern and three skeins of  Berroco Linus.

When we were heading out of Floyd we notice a shop that had a lot of cute garden statuary.  We just couldn't resist stopping and I wound up bringing home a Saint Francis of Assisi complete with a sheep.  I have never seen one with a sheep and I just couldn't resist him! 

We packed Saint Francis into the CRV and headed out to our next stop.  I figured at some point we would be driving on a back road or two, but I was completely surprised at the route that Garmin took us on from here!  The road was paved and didn't look bad to start with.  It was a wee bit narrow (we had to pull over when meeting oncoming vehicles), started to go up a significant grade and then pretty much turned into Mister Toads Wild Ride.  Between laughing hysterically because we had no idea where we were and Garmin kept telling us to make turns that didn't exist, I wasn't sure we were going to come close to our destination.  We finally made it out to a main road and sooner than we planned we were at The Crooked Stitch in Rocky Mount.  I was a bit worn out from driving over the mountain and starting to feel overly hungry so I probably didn't pay as much attention to all the wonderful yarn in the shop.  I wound up finding some HiyaHiya stoppers for my interchangeable needles that I have been searching for.  Not as exciting as yarn, but cute and useful!

Fried chicken had come up several times in the car so we decided to stop for a quick lunch at Bojangles before heading to Roanoke.  I was much happier after I ate and it was a short drive to Mosaic Yarn Shop

The first thing I noticed was the caked yarn and matching cupcakes!  I know, I know, I am all about the food.  I heard there was champagne and strawberries on Saturday too.

Because of my stupid food allergies I couldn't eat a cupcake, but Beth sacrificed herself and ate one for me.  I thought that since I couldn't eat one, I should at the very least get some of the yarn.   I wound up with a skein of the caked yarn which is part of the Yarn Crawl limited edition and it's sister yarn which is a light grayish lavender.  They are both from Kismet Fiber Works.  We are heading back to Mosaic tomorrow because Beth won a door prize and I am going along for the ride.  I'm glad we are going back because time was really tight and I would like a chance to look around at more of the yarn.  Because I need more yarn.  Really, you can never have too much yarn.

We hopped in the car and headed over to Yarn Explosion which is also in Roanoke.  This shop has large selection of yarns and tools.  Their focus is larger brands of yarns, and they also have a few indie dyed yarns.  Their limited yarn for the yarn crawl was from a local dyer, Green Dragon Yarns.  Of course, I completely forgot to take a picture of it.  Beth wound up with some nice lace yarn from here, JaggerSpun I think.  This shop may be on our route tomorrow too since Beth mentioned she may need a second skein.

It was about 3:30 when we finished up at Yarn Explosion and we decided to go for it and head up to Orchardside Yarn shop.  It's a bit off of the path of the other shops, but well worth the drive.  We got on Route 81 which is a major highway and headed up to Raphine.  We got there in just over an hour and it was a really easy drive.  I'm really glad that we made the trip up there and that it was our last stop.  The shop is in a serene country setting, you pull into the peastone lined drive, cross a wooden bridge and park under seasoned shade tree's.  I haven't seen Carol, the owner, in several years but she recognized me and immediately made us feel welcome.  I asked her about the yarn bombed bike on the front porch of the shop and she said someone left it under one of the trees last year on the fourth of July.  To this day no one will own up to it!  It's really a fantastic piece of art and I'm so glad that someone did that for Carol.  She's really one of the nicest people you would ever want to meet. 

I picked up a skein of Pagewood Farms Artesana and Woodsey along with a skein of local alpaca that doesn't have a name on the label.  The alpaca is one of the softest yarn's I've ever touched and whatever I decided to make with it is going to be something that goes directly on my skin  - small cowl, mitts, fingerless gloves or something along those lines. 

We made it back to my house by 5:30, the car full of yarn and both of us wiped out!  It was so much fun and I am really looking forward to doing it again next year.

Finally, on a very happy note, the trees and stumps are gone!  Woot!  Let the deck building commence.