Cloud Cowl

I have a new knitting pattern coming out this week! Cloud Cowl is exactly what it sounds like, a cozy chunky cowl that’s as soft as a cloud. Perfect to burrow down in and a satisfyingly quick knit to boot. I hope you like it!

Update: Cloud Cowl is now available on Ravelry and Etsy.
x Rena

Ode to Sheep: Merino Wool

Merino ram.

Since I wrote about alpacas, it’s only fair that I write about merino wool, another favourite fibre. Merino wool, as you’ve probably guessed already, comes from merino sheep. Did you know that there’s several varieties of merino sheep, including the Saxony and Peppin? You can impress your friends with the fun trivia that you learn visiting here.

Merino is prized due to its softness,  warmth and ability to wick water. Merino wool is excellent at regulating body temperature and even has antibacterial properties thanks to the lanolin in the wool.

Merino ewes and lambs.

Another fun fact: merino wool is available in several grades based on its coarseness: strong (broad), medium, fine, super fine and ultra fine. Ultra fine can be blended with luxury fibres such as cashmere or silk to produce a lightweight and highly insulating yarn.

Some of my favourite yarns are made from single ply 100% merino, including RainCityKnits and Madelinetosh. They are absolutely lovely to work with and come in a great array of colours.

Lamb.

And to be fair since I showed a picture of a cria at the end of the alpaca post, here is the requisite lamb photo! Enjoy the cuteness.

x Rena

September Knitting Pattern Contest

Morgan Hat pattern.

A new month and unofficially a new season has arrived. Autumn is prime time for knitting and I have a list of stuff that I want to knit and create. If only I had more hours in a day! Or knit faster, ha.

Star Slouch Hat.

To celebrate September, I think it’s time for a contest. All you need to do is e-mail me at theredfoxandgown@gmail.com with ‘pattern contest’ in the headline and your name and country before 1 October 2012. Easy, right? I will then randomly select the lucky winner out of the proverbial hat on 1 October 2012. I promise not to distribute or share your e-mail. Please note that I would love to name the lucky winner in a future blog post, but I will check with you to make sure that is okay with you before I do.

Edinburgh Mittens pattern.

What do you win? A PDF pattern of your choice from the Red Fox and Gown to get into the spirit of fall knitting. Or spring knitting if you’re in the Southern Hemisphere! 🙂 I’ve posted the 4 current patterns on this page so you can see what I have on offer. I’ll e-mail the pattern as soon as you let me know which one you like. And that’s it!

English Rose Hat pattern.

Sounds like fun, right? The email address again is theredfoxandgown@gmail.com.

x Rena

Dog Days are Over: Autumnal Hints

Star Slouch Hat. PDF pattern available from The Red Fox and Gown.

As Florence + the Machine put it, the dog days are over, unfortunately. I don’t mind being proven wrong, though! For those who don’t know, the dog days are the hottest days of summer, usually in July and August for us in the Northern Hemisphere, and falling in January and February for Southern Hemisphere folks. Here in Vancouver, Canada, the dog days usually are in July, but with our late summer this year, August put in a good showing with a heatwave earlier this month.

From every ending comes a new beginning. I really used to scoff at that truism, but there’s really a lot of wisdom in the phrase. Just because you can’t see the road ahead through the fog doesn’t mean that there’s no road ahead. With the ending of summer, a new season and new beginnings. I always have felt that September is really the start of the New Year with back to school and crisp autumnal days.

And the point of all this? With the arrival of fall comes knitting coziness. Fresh patterns, new yarn, supplies. Lists of design ideas. I feel like it’s the first day of school, although I’ve been out of school for some years now; graduate school is all but a memory. I’m ready to hunker down with projects and lose myself in knitting.

Star Slouch Hat in grey.

In preparation for the upcoming Fall / Winter, I’ve been busy working on a line of knitting patterns aimed for beginner to intermediate knitters who are ready to move beyond variously shaped rectangles and are ready to learn a few new techniques. One easy project is my Star Slouch Hat pattern- as promised, it’s an easy-to-knit slouchie beanie, or toque for the Canadians, that you can dress up or down for that urban look. I made mine out of alpaca for extra luxury.

Edinburgh Mittens in alpaca.

My Edinburgh Mittens are a classic, trim mitten style with modern colour blocking. Me being me, they’re also made from alpaca. I took the colour cues from my time in Edinburgh when I fell in love with the city and Scotland in general, particularly from Arthur’s Seat overlooking the city.

Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh, Scotland. View from Edinburgh Castle.

Click on the pictures above to go to Etsy for the patterns. If you prefer, you can also find my designs on Ravelry for another option.

I am very near ready to post another pattern this week, a twist on a hat pattern. I promise that it’s cozy!

What are you doing to get ready for fall? Do you have any knitting projects lined up?

x Rena

A Beautiful Mind: Designing Knitting Patterns

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Swatching, always swatching. And this…

I am truly in awe of knitting designers who can create –and most importantly, recreate– knitting patterns out of thin air with stitch patterns beyond stockinette or garter stitch (and not I’m not being sarcastic for once) and making decreases and increases as they see fit… without writing any of it down until they’ve knit the pattern a few times. Rest assured this isn’t my method.

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…becomes the Star Slouch Hat

As my sister was looking over my design notebook the other day, she remarked that it was like the film ‘A Beautiful Mind’ (yes, with Russell Crowe) from a few years back. I’m not quite making calculations on glass and mirrors, but I definitely do a lot of sketching and measuring, calculating and recalculating. And there’s sometimes muttered curses. However, I have a new found love for my old school calculator and Excel. And I don’t think there’s a coloured pen that I can pass up.

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A glimpse into one of several sketches for the Edinburgh Mittens pattern

Everyone’s process is unique. I can’t imagine what anyone else – like my sister- would make of my notes with seemingly random numbers and tallies and sketchy looking pseudo-technical drawings of accessories and garments. And she’s a knitter, so she totally gets the idea about the effort of designing. She’s designed herself. But my sketchbook does look a bit like a descent into madness. But a beautiful madness, I hope!

Just like making lists, whenever I need to remember anything important beyond my name and address given my rotten memory, I sketch to visually jot down what’s floating about my brain so I can stop thinking about it. Of course, then I can’t stop thinking about the changes I want to make. And inevitably I won’t have the desired materials at hand for this, so it’s a good exercise in patience for me. At least there’s the sketch for reference.

So lately I have a stack of Excel charts and a sketchbook full of ideas and seeds of patterns. Fear not, there is plenty more to come and so very much more to learn.

x Rena

New Blog for the Red Fox and Gown!

The English Rose Hat

Hi everyone! Welcome those who have followed over from The Vintage Design Shop blog and those joining in here at The Red Fox and Gown blog home for the first time. The Red Fox and Gown is my new venture into the fashion design realm with sewing and knitting. I plan on regularly posting my latest knitting design previews, sewing projects, contests and more.

You can find The Red Fox and Gown both on Etsy and Ravelry – on Etsy for both sewing and knitting, and Ravelry for knitting ventures. I’m a self-taught indie knitter and sewist, with some time in the museum world, including at London’s Design Museum where I worked with contemporary fashion exhibitions among other fun stuff. I was inspired by both the emergent and established designers and I have finally launched my own shop with my creations.

For the latest news, check here – and please join us on Facebook and Twitter.

To get started on the fun, I’ve just released my English Rose Hat knitting pattern today on both Ravelry and Etsy. It’s a slouch hat with a repeating rose motif, which I think is really cute. But I’m biased. 🙂

Here’s a sneak peak of the first page of the English Rose Hat knitting pattern. Stay tuned for an upcoming contest and a blurb on my newest favouritest ethical sock yarn from Vancouver, Canada.

x Rena