Wednesday, January 11, 2017

January: Knitting, Reading & Early Spring Cleaning

I'm working on a new blanket design this week.  I can't show too much of the design yet but I'm really pleased with how it's coming together.  I'm nearly finished knitting the blanket so I hope to be ready to share more details in the near future.  I'm using Lion Brand Hometown USA in the color 'Dallas Gray' for this new blanket.  Here's a sneak peek...seed stitch border for the blanket...

This week: knitting, reading & drinking hot tea.
I often use favorite objects from around my house in my knitting photos.  In the photo above there's an old 8 oz. weight that brings back fond memories of going to antique fairs with my dad.  I include this weight in many of my photos...I just love the simple, round shape and the way it anchors the white background. The old mason jar has an assortment of buttons...some were my grandmother's. 

I've been reading "Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking" by Susan Cain.  I highly recommend this book!  The section about the power of working alone and how it sparks creativity is especially interesting to me.  If you are an introvert, live with an introvert, work with introverts, are the parent of an introvert...you should check out this book. (Just a coincidence that the book cover matches my yarn perfectly!)

Westport Blanket - an easy to knit blanket.
This month I'm also trying to get caught up on sorting through piles of stuff that accumulated over the holidays (and for months and years before that!). The photo above was taken in the now peacefully organized guest room in our house.  I painted this room last fall so that forced me to empty everything out of the room and carefully evaluate what would go back in. (Within the next couple months I hope to do the same to at least one other room!) The gray blanket in the photo is my Westport Blanket knit with Hometown USA in 'Dallas Grey'. I love how this chunky blanket looks tossed at the end of the bed.  And, in case you are wondering, the white duvet cover and pillow shams are from IKEA (purchased fall 2016).  I made the Peace Pillow when I designed my "Peace : Love : Home" pillow knitting pattern a couple years ago.  The pillow cover is knit with super bulky yarn. The letters are cut from felt and stitched on with DMC embroidery floss.  

If you like seeing behind the scenes photos like the ones included on this post, follow me on Instagram.  

Happy knitting!  
Mary Lee
Fifty Four Ten Studio

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

My Favorite Knitting Pattern Highlights from 2016

Today I'm reflecting on all that I accomplished and enjoyed in 2016.  It was a great year!  I enjoyed many fun times throughout the year with my family and dear friends. I did pretty well keeping up my goal of walking every day and trying to reach 10,000 steps each day.  My FitBit does a great job of motivating me and keeping me accountable on that goal! 

In the knitting department...2016 was a record year for Fifty Four Ten Studio!  My pattern sales for September thru December were outstanding!  I really appreciate all the purchases of my patterns and the kind feedback I have received from customers.  I recently celebrated my third year of designing knitting patterns.  I love what I am doing and feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to publish my patterns online.  I'm old enough to remember the days of relatively limited choices in knitting patterns which were primarily published in knitting magazines, yarn company pattern books and hardcover craft books.

I published nine new knitting patterns in 2016....eight easy to knit blankets and the Side Line Cowl.

These are three of my favorite easy to knit blankets from 2016...

Easy to knit blankets!
Top: Third Street Blanket - my best selling pattern in 2016!
Middle: Stones in the Road Blanket
Bottom: Westport Blanket

All of these blankets are knit with super bulky yarn and are very easy to knit.  All of these blankets have directions for five sizes so it's easy to make a baby blanket or a large throw.  These patterns are available on Ravelry, Craftsy and Etsy.

In 2016, I also enjoyed knitting a few items using my previously published patterns.  I used Lion Brand Wool-Ease Thick & Quick in the lovely color 'Glacier' to make The Parkway Pillow.  I love how it turned out!  (See more about this project on my August 2016 blog post.)

The Parkway Pillow made with Lion Brand Wool-Ease Thick & Quick in 'Glacier
In this first week of January 2017, I'm catching up after a fun holiday season.  I'm carefully packing away my collection of Christmas decorations.  All of my homemade ornaments get packed in a special box.  (If you missed it...I wrote about my homemade Christmas ornaments in December.)   Also, I am making lists of things to accomplish this year.  There's a few house projects on the list such as cleaning out all of the kitchen cabinets and painting a couple rooms.  I told my family my new year's goals are to read more and knit more!  Right now I'm reading "Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking"...it's very interesting!

My list of knitting project ideas for 2017 is pretty long! This week I started working on a new blanket design.  I'm using Lion Brand Hometown USA in the color 'Dallas Grey'.  I'm looking forward to sharing more details as the pattern comes together!

New blanket design in progress.
I hope the new year is off to a great start for you!  Thank you so much for reading!
Happy knitting in 2017! :)

Mary Lee
Fifty Four Ten Studio

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

"Where the Sidewalk Ends" - Easy Blanket Knitting Pattern

I'm so excited to announce my newest blanket knitting pattern called "Where the Sidewalk Ends".  This blanket is very easy to knit with super bulky yarn.

"Where the Sidewalk Ends" blanket knitting pattern.
The book "Where the Sidewalk Ends" by Shel Silverstein was one of my favorite childhood books.  I loved the quirky pen and ink illustrations and the clever poems.  The poem "Where the Sidewalk Ends" is a reminder to get off the beaten path and slow down...explore new places and find our own path...

Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein

There is a place where the sidewalk ends
And before the street begins,
And there the grass grows soft and white,
And there the sun burns crimson bright,
And there the moon-bird rests from flight
To cool in the peppermint wind.

Let us leave this place where the smoke blows black
And the dark street winds and bends.
Past the pits where the asphalt flowers grow
We shall walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And watch where the chalk-white arrows go
To the place where the sidewalk ends.

Yes we'll walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And we'll go where the chalk-white arrows go,
For the children, they mark, and the children, they know
The place where the sidewalk ends.

Quick and easy blanket knitting pattern.
This blanket was designed for my teenage daughter.  She loves simple, uncluttered design.  She loved the idea of a bright white blanket with a very simple stripe texture.  (She loves stripes...and I do also!)  The finished blanket looks fantastic in her room with her dark gray chair and light gray comforter.

The yarn I used is Lion Brand Hometown USA in the color 'New York White'.  This is a clean, bright white!  Hometown USA yarn is very soft and makes a great blanket for anyone.  This is a nice yarn choice for children or babies because it is 100% acrylic and according to the label is machine washable and dryable.  (I have not tried machine washing and will probably choose to hand wash when needed.)  

This pattern will also work well with other super bulky yarns including Lion Brand Wool-Ease Thick & Quick or Loops & Threads Cozy Wool (sold at Michael's)...as well as many other super bulky yarns.  I suggest solid color yarns so the pattern shows up best.  

A couple stitch markers are helpful reminders for the easy pattern.
Hometown USA is a very economically priced yarn.  It is available in a wide assortment of colors and is sold at many US craft stores including JoAnn's, Michael's and Craftsy. I used 10 skeins of yarn.  One or two skeins did have a knot in the middle of the skein.  I choose not to let this bother me!  In order to sell the yarn at such an economical price the manufacturer has to make the most of all of the yarn!

The pattern includes instructions for five sizes...from very small baby blanket up to an XL throw/afghan.

Approximate sizes after blocking...
XL: 50" wide x 55" long
Large: 42" wide x 50" long
Medium: 37" wide by 47.5" long
Small (Crib/Lap): 34.25" wide x 35" long
Baby: 30" wide x 30" long

It's easy to make any of the blanket sizes longer by adding additional pattern repeats.  Each pattern repeat adds about 2.5" to the length of the blanket.  The pattern includes estimates for additional yardage needed to make each blanket size longer.

"Where the Sidewalk Ends" blanket - easy to knit!
This pattern is very easy to knit!  With the super bulky yarn the chunky blanket knits up very quickly.  I finished knitting this blanket in only a few days.

I love the texture of the super bulky yarn!
I loved photographing this blanket!  We had brown butcher paper sitting out for wrapping Christmas gifts.  I spread a large piece out on my craft table to try as a background.  The brown paper is a fun contrast with the bright white blanket.

White yarn, red ribbon and simple brown paper.
 My "Where the Sidewalk Ends" blanket pattern is now available on Ravelry, Craftsy and Etsy.

Thanks so much for reading.  Best wishes for happy holidays!

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

My Annual Tradition - Making Homemade Christmas Ornaments

I love making homemade Christmas ornaments to give to my family and friends each year.  The photo below shows just a few of the many ornaments I have made over the course of many years.


Over the years I have used a variety of craft techniques: knitting, felted knitting, cut out painted cardboard (using old gift boxes), cross stitch, and hand stitched felt (this was one of my favorite crafts for many years!).  The little owl ornament in the center of the photo above was made using my free pattern: Ole the Owl.

The first knitting pattern I published was my Mini Sweater Christmas Ornament.  It was only fitting that that one of my favorite traditions led me on a new path to share my knitting ideas.  Last month (November 2016)  I celebrated my third anniversary since publishing that first knitting pattern!

Mini Sweater Christmas Ornament - Knitting Pattern
Last year I made several of these mini sweaters to give to dear friends.  It was a great way to use up a lot of stash yarn!  My favorite yarn for these ornaments is Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride Worsted.  I have used this yarn for many years.  It works up beautifully and lasts very well for heirloom quality gifts.  

Here's a few of the ornaments I made last year.  It was fun to stitch on felt applique decorations for a mixture of textures and a variety of designs!  



I made used my duplicate stitch sailboat design from my Mini Sweater Christmas Ornament pattern to make two more of these nautical themed ornaments.  These were made for dear friends who we have enjoyed sailing with for many years.

Mini Sweater Ornament with Sailboat Duplicate Stitch
I also love making Felt Applique Mitten Christmas Ornaments.  I updated this pattern in January 2016 to include even more ideas for personalizing ornaments with letters or numbers...in addition to hearts, stars, snowman and gingerbread house designs.

Felt Applique Mitten Ornament - Knitting Pattern
I love pulling these ornaments out of the box each year to hang on the tree.  It brings back memories of making special gifts for my family and friends over the years.  

A few of my favorite homemade ornaments.
Now it's just a couple weeks until Christmas 2016!  I need to open my box of ornaments I made last January...these are waiting to be wrapped up and given this year.  And...this weekend I may need to make a few more ornaments!

Thanks for reading!  Wishing you happy holidays! 

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Knitting in November

At the end of the month, it is fun to reflect back on knitting projects I have completed.  In November, I published three blanket knitting patterns and one free cowl knitting pattern.  It was also fun to open my box of handmade ornaments to hang on the Christmas tree.

Here's a few photos of my November 2016 knitting....


In the lower center photo you may notice the pale pink hydrangea.  Those usually bloom in the spring and summer here in Kansas City.  This fall was so warm and consistently beautiful that my hydrangea bush was confused and started blooming in early November!

In case you are curious about the knitting patterns...

All patterns shown are knit with super bulky yarn.  Click on each pattern name for more info:

Stones in the Road Blanket (upper left)
Flint Hills Blanket (upper right)
Across the Diamond Blanket (lower right)
Side Line Cowl (lower left) - this pattern is free every day on Ravelry and Craftsy

In the last couple of days I started working on a new blanket design using white yarn.  This new blanket is for my teenage daughter.  She loves simple, modern design.  I love having her input on new pattern ideas!


The white yarn is Lion Brand Hometown USA in the color 'New York White'.  This yarn is so soft and cozy.  It's great for making a blanket.

For updates as this pattern comes together follow me on Instagram and Facebook.

I can't believe it's almost December and time to put up the Christmas decorations!  I love making Christmas decorations to give as gifts for my friends and family.  I made these little red houses last January...these are in a box waiting to be wrapped up for gift giving.

The Little House Knitting Pattern with felt applique. 
Thanks for stopping by!  Happy knitting!


Sunday, November 20, 2016

Chunky Blanket Knitting Pattern - Across the Diamond

I'm so excited to announce my new chunky blanket knitting pattern called "Across the Diamond".

Across the Diamond blanket knitting pattern.
This blanket is easy to knit with super bulky yarn.  I used Loops & Threads Cozy Wool in the color 'Stone".  This yarn is sold at Michael's Crafts.  The yarn is very soft and makes a great blanket.

New chunky blanket knitting pattern - "Across the Diamond".
If you are a baseball fan, you may have already figured out the inspiration for the name of this blanket.  Sets of four purl stitches are similar to the layout of a baseball diamond.  I started designing this blanket while watching the 2016 World Series.  When I read an article in the newspaper about one of the games, the phrase "across the diamond" jumped off the page.  I knew that was the name I wanted to use for this blanket pattern.

I am a life long Kansas City Royals baseball fan.  I remember going to a few games as a child with my family and watching many games on TV.  When I attended college in another state, the Royals won the World Series.  I watched all of the games in the dorm basement on a small television with only one other person...a girl from St. Louis...who was cheering for the other team...the Cardinals.  Last year, our city was decked out in royal blue as we watched the Royals win the World Series. It was a really memorable event that brought our city together.

Easy to knit blanket with wide seed stitch border.
The pattern includes instructions for making five blanket sizes.

Approximate dimensions after blocking:

XL Blanket: 48" wide x 52" long
Large Throw: 41" wide x 47" long
Medium Throw: 37.5" wide x 42" long
Small Crib / Lap Blanket: 34" wide x 37" long
Baby Blanket: 30.5" wide x 32" long

It is easy to make any of the blanket sizes longer.  The pattern includes more information, including estimates on how much additional yarn would be needed to make each size blanket longer.

The blanket is knit in one piece, back and forth on long circular knitting needles.  I use US size 13 knitting needles 38" in length.  This length can easily accommodate a 40" -  50" wide blanket...or a bit larger.  It's really worth investing in set of circular needles with a long cord if you like to knit blankets.

Stitch markers are handy for keeping track of the pattern.
Stitch markers are helpful for keeping track of the pattern.  Yes...it's an easy pattern to remember.  But, the stitch markers help knitters remember when to pay attention.  The green stitch markers show in the photo above are Clover Jumbo Ring Markers.  I can't remember where I bought my set of stitch markers but it looks like they are available on Craftsy and at JoAnn's.

Across the Diamond - easy blanket knitting pattern.
I can't believe this is my 10th blanket knitting pattern!  I really love knitting blankets with super bulky yarn.  Cozy blankets make great gifts.  The added bonus is these knitting projects keep me warm as I knit on a cold day!

The "Across the Diamond" blanket knitting pattern is available on Ravelry.

Thanks so much for reading!  Happy knitting!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Free Knitting Pattern - Side Line Cowl

I have been working on a lot of patterns this fall and I'm happy to announce my newest pattern...the Side Line Cowl.  This pattern is free...every day...on Ravelry and on Craftsy.

This cowl will keep you warm when you are sitting on the side lines at a football, baseball or soccer game!  And...the pattern is so easy to knit you can make one while watching a game...from the side lines.

Side Line Cowl - quick & easy knitting pattern.
This chunky cowl is quick and easy to knit with super bulky yarn.  It makes a great gift!

I used Loops & Threads Cozy Wool in the color 'Pewter'.  This yarn is sold at Michael's Crafts.  The yarn is 50% wool and 50% acrylic.  It's very soft and makes a great cozy cowl.

This pattern will also work well with other super bulky yarns including:

Lion Brand Wool-Ease Thick & Quick - "wooly" texture & very warm.
Lion Brand Hometown USA - silky soft & cozy (pick a color to match your favorite team!)

You will need about 120 - 130 yards of yarn to knit this chunky, cozy cowl.

I recommend solid color yarn to show off the pattern texture.  The subtle striping effect will not show very well with multi-color yarn.

Use an interesting large button to make your cowl one of a kind.
A couple years ago I purchased this large navy blue button at a craft store.  I wasn't looking for a button...I simply was walking through the store and this button caught my eye.  I love the color navy blue so my eye is drawn to that color.  I sketched out this design two years ago and it unfortunately got overlooked for a while.  I'm excited to have the button and pattern design finally come together as I originally intended.

Warm & cozy chunky cowl knitting pattern.

At first glance you may think this pattern is simple garter stitch.  Look again!  An easy to remember P3, K3 repeat pattern creates a subtle striping effect.

If you like this texture, you might also like two of my other free knitting patterns:
The Boulevard Blanket and the Side Line Scarf.

Meanwhile...I have a blanket pattern in the works.  Here's a couple behind the scenes photos from the last few weeks...

First rows of a new chunky blanket design.

On my work table - pattern designing and writing in progress.
If you like seeing behind the scenes photos...follow me on Instagram.  I love sharing photos as I work through new designs.  I also announce new patterns on Instagram and on my Facebook page.

Thanks so much for reading!  Happy knitting!