February Pattern Round-Up

Normally this is the time when I ask if you can believe that it's already the end of another month.

But this time I want to know if you can believe that it's been an entire year since I started this monthly pattern round-up series. I've had a lot of fun digging through all the amazing patterns that are published each month.

February Pattern Roundup.png

It occurs to me that I've never laid out my criteria for why I pick the patterns I do -- basically, I pick them because I like them (and knitting specifically because I don't crochet). But to narrow it down, I try to pick patterns that have a low number of queues when I stumble upon them. There are so many wonderful patterns that I want to highlight some of the ones that might not be getting the hits they should when they cross my path. I also try to only choose pay-for patterns. I know that there's a lot of controversy surrounding free vs paid patterns, but I personally try to buy patterns when I can because I want to support independent designers. And that's my third criteria. Unless it is a new publication I've started weeding out magazines. Some books make the cut if I just love the design, but for the most part I'm trying to stick to those patterns that are independently published and available online.

Here are just a few of those patterns that have caught my eye in February.

Cardigan

Going Steady.png

Going Steady by Kristen Jancuk

You guys know I love stripes, and the placement of these is just perfect. And in reverse stockinette no less! The color combination pops in such a way that I want to knit it in the exact same yarn and dye my hair blond again. That's not weird, right?

Pullover

Miss Bracken by Annie Rowden

This is one of those lifestyle aspirational knits. This gorgeous sweater has me dreaming of moving somewhere that is below fifty degrees so that I can pull on something so cozy. Also, she has a previously published kid's version. If you live somewhere cold enough you can wear this I am so envious.

For the Head

Integrity by Kate Oats

Cabled hats never go out of style. And knit in fingering weight? Where do I sign up?

For the Neck

Allegany by Christina Danaee

Continuing with my daydreams of cold-weather living, this not-so-little lovely is a vision. It is a DK weight shawl, which means you get a lot more plaid for your effort. Plus it is rectangular so it can double as a blanket for outdoor summer concerts. I love the fact that Christina is highlighting the Appalachian region with this pattern collection.

For the Hands

No Deer in Chinatown by Kristen Kapur

Even if it wasn't appealing I had to look at this pattern just because of the name. But luckily it is also a really cute design. The stripes pair nicely with the quirky deer colorwork to give a lovely eclectic look.

For the Feet

Aguacero Panel Socks by Kerri Blumer

It's no secret that I don't have the attention span for an elaborately patterned sock, but I also get really bored with vanilla socks. This looks to be the best of both worlds. Kerri took a panel from her all-over patterned Aguacero Socks to create a pattern she says is a step-up from vanilla.

Kids

Cullen Earflap Hat by Julie Taylor

Baby hats are so cute. Add a pompom and earflaps and you're in for adorable-overload. It's never too early to prep for last-minute baby showers.

As always, there is no way I can highlight all of the amazing patterns that were published. Please tell me some of your favorites in the comments. And I've started creating Ravelry favorites bundles for each month. You can find February's here.

Baby Selfies

I'm sure I'm not the only parent of the smart phone era to discover the wonders of the baby selfie.

At first I was just using the front-facing camera on my phone to distract Pasha when he was tired of sitting for a while. He started hitting the front of the camera and laughing at himself which resulted in some pretty adorable photos. 

Then he started figuring out how to open the camera app (if you don't have a Samsung, you can open the camera from the lock screen without unlocking the phone). And that has resulted in all sorts of mayhem.

It really is keeping him entertained.

Of course now that he has started to pop some teeth he is doing more chewing than photographing, but it is a fun record of our life together. And yields some surprisingly insightful images.

I call this imitation of a blogger. Get ready. He's going to be the next internet sensation.

Shelved: What I've Been Reading February (Part 1)

I've still been reading a lot

It seems to be a theme for this year. Pasha and I just started going to storytime at the library, so our book exposure is only increasing.

Because of this and because it took me so long to write up my book list from January I'm going to try sharing my reading more frequently. Ok? Ok. Let's dive in.

The Trespasser, Tana French

I discovered Tana French while in my thriller / dark mystery phase during my pregnancy. I guess you could say I'm still in that phase a little, but I plowed through all five of the books that had been published and then promptly forgot to pre-order book six when it came out in October. In a way I am really glad because this means I only have a year and a half until the next one rather than a full two (provided she sticks to the same schedule. This book was a return to form after the narrative departure of the last book and I enjoyed French's continued ability to tease things out in such a way that I feel I am chasing the narrative. All of her books give me a sense of claustrophobia and frustration, which I'm pretty sure is totally intended. Also it may be my own personal bias, but I think her writing is strongest when featuring a female protagonist. I gave this one four stars instead of five but that was more out of irritation with the featured detective than any actual writing (Sorry, Tana).

Girl Meets God, Lauren F. Winner

I read this one on my phone, mostly in the middle of the night while nursing Pasha because, surprise, he has stopped sleeping through the night again. I was hesitant to pick this one up but it was a dollar on the Kindle at some point so I grabbed it as an alternative to the creepier books I read that really don't make for a calm 3am feeding. At some point I started just reading this all the time because I found Winner's discussion of marrying her Orthodox Jewish understanding of the Bible with that of Protestant America. I grew up in a church that encourages understanding the Jewish roots of our faith and I took a Jewish studies course in graduate school, so I appreciated gaining another perspective on Jewish culture. Some parts were a little odd, but I did love her story about an ill-advised hip tattoo as I too have a tattoo in that same location and I can attest to the problematic placement in relation to pregnancy and/or weight gain. Overall I found it a little frustrating, like she was not being as completely open as one expects from a memoir. This could just be the nature of reading an ebook on my phone or the fact that she combined and altered the people in her story rather than just renaming or changing their description.

The Posessions, Sara Flannery Murphy

So remember a few years ago when Girl on the Train came out and everyone was like "this is the next Gone Girl!" and then it wasn't quite as good as you'd hoped and you geniunely hated everyone? This is a book that should be getting that kind of hype. The longer I think about it the more it does fill that Gone Girl space in my life without being anything at all like it. I loved The Posessions so much I don't want to tell you anything for fear of spoiling the magic. It's not quite a thriller, not quite sci-fi, not quite dystopian, not quite romance. I described it to someone as alt-sci-fi and I think that's where I'll leave things.

Ghettoside, Jill Levoy

Before I can discuss Ghettoside I have something to get off my chest. I listened to the audio and while it was masterfully narrated, it was done by the same woman who narrates all the Rainbow Rowell books which I found rather disorienting. Ok, now on to the actual book. I really enjoyed this in as much as you can enjoy a book that does a deep dive into the problems surrounding homicide investigation in the South side of LA. Which is to say I found it very educational. I am a middle-class white girl, so the life of a young urban black man is not something I'm intimately familiar with. But I want to own my own privilege and be more informed about the lives of others so that I can do what I can to help. If you have any interest at all in learning more about this I highly recommend giving it a read.

Onward

So even though it is deliciously warm these days

(deliciously warm? Seriously, who am I?), I did finish one final true winter item just in time to no longer need it -- my Onward shawl.

To recap, this is Onward by Shannon Cook knit out of Happy-Go-Lucky HGL Worsted in Salt Silo. The yarn was originally purchased for a cardigan, but I think it reached its true potential in this shawl. The white with blue and purple flecks matches pretty much my entire wardrobe, neutral without being boring. I've already picked out the pattern for a matching hat in my remaining yarn and have fond visions of myself wearing this while walking around the neighborhood with Pasha and Helo next winter.

This was my first worsted weight shawl and I must say that even though they are not a year round item here, I am a total convert. I've taken to keeping it in my car for the odd occasion that I find myself chilly and it has kept both Pasha and I quite cozy, doubling as a nursing cover in church last week.

Both the yarn and pattern gave a five star experience. Juri's yarn is a beautifully round and soft 100% merino. I am so glad I bought the sweater kit because it means I still have three skeins to play with (and that's after I knit Pasha's Elephant last week). I have several of Shannon Cook's patterns, but this is actually the first one I have knit and I completely understand her popularity. The pattern was super clear. There are no charts, but there is a nice note that once you get going things will become intuitive. And then they do and it becomes a comfort knit with just a bit of counting. I did not get it finished while we had our one snow last month, but it was the perfect thing to sit while curled up by the window with a mug of tea.

As much as I am enjoying our warm weather I am already looking forward to bundling up in this next winter. I might need to create an entire stash of worsted weight shawls to keep by the door for when I dash out to run errands or walk the dog. That wouldn't be overkill, right?

Settling In

I'm sure you've heard, but it is unseasonably warm here in the Southeast United States.

Mid-February is usually when I can count on major cold weather to hit us. Since moving to this part of North Carolina I have been snowed in more than once around Valentine's Day, so the fact that we've had multiple days above 65 degrees is just mind boggling. Normally it bothers me when we start to lose our cold weather. It means that summer is impending and our summers are long and largely miserable. But this year I find myself welcoming spring.

It could be that I am responding to the fact that we have been sick for what feels like ages (really it was only a few days but man). Pasha is cutting several teeth at once and Chris and I succumbed to some variety of stomach bug that laid us out hard. But yesterday as we were starting to feel like moving again the world was so beautiful that we just had to venture outside.

We've been in this house for two months and I think it is just starting to hit us that we don't live in a sketchy apartment block anymore. Don't get me wrong, our last apartment was exactly what we needed when we needed it and I felt generally safe in our neighborhood, but we did not hang out outside. Our neighbors were all smokers so anytime it was nice enough to use the porch we would be overwhelmed by second-hand smoke. And it was not possible to go sit out on the lawn or take a leisurely walk because we were right off several major roads. But now . . .

We are completely smitten with the luxury of being outdoors. We have screens in the living room/play room and Pasha loves to look out windows. We have birds (we never saw song birds), gorgeous trees, and dappled sunlight. I'm actually writing this to you from the deck where Helo and I are spending some much needed bonding time. So if you'll excuse me I have a puppy to cuddle and a sock to work on.

How are your days lately? I hope they have been just as inviting!