Welcome to our little bit of knitterly Heaven- I'm so glad you found your way here!
Our goal is to teach beginning knitters some tricks of the trade as well as to work enough swatches to have a finished afghan by the end of the year! Join along with us as we learn about patterns, cables, lace, and some other handy techniques! A new pattern will become available each month ranging from newbie to adventurous. So stop on by, pick your pattern and knit along with us!

All patterns can be found here as well as on Ravelry.com!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Hello knitters- welcome to 2012!  I am really looking forward to another great year of knitting with you.  As I said in a previous post, the patterns will be coming out around the middle of the month and there will usually only be one pattern (some months will have a bonus pattern).  As always, the patterns are available on Ravelry, so you can start a project page and share your work :)  I've also started a new group called "Year of Swatches."  If you search that under the groups page, you should be able to find it.  I'd like to build a community around these patterns, hopefully so I can get to know you better as well as answer any questions you might have about the patterns. 
Well on to what you've really come here for... the knitting!
I've started the year off with a really simple pattern.  Like last year, I am using US7 needles as well as worsted weight yarn (a soft acrylic to make it washable friendly- I have two little one's in the house so its gotta go in the washing machine). 

January Swatch:
Diagonal Stripes
Cast on 42 stitches

Lower Border Rows:
Rows 1, 3, 5: K1, P1 across 
Rows 2, 4: P1, K1 across

Pattern Rows:

The borders for the left and right sides are in parenthesis.

Row 1: (P1, K1, P1, K1, P1) *P1 K3 repeat from * until 5 stitches remain (K1, P1, K1, P1, K1)
Row 2: (K1, P1, K1, P1, K1) P2 *K1, P3 repeat from * until 7 stitches remain K1, P1 (P1, K1, P1, K1, P1)
Row 3: (P1, K1, P1, K1, P1) K2, *P1, K3 repeat from * until 7 stitches remain P1, K1 (K1, P1, K1, P1, K1)
Row 4: (K1, P1, K1, P1, K1) *K1, P3 repeat from * until 5 stitches remain (P1, K1, P1, K1, P1)

Repeat these four rows until square is approx 9 inches from cast on edge.

Top border rows:
1, 3, 5: P1, K1 across
2, 4: K1, P1 across
Bind off all stitches

Happy knitting!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake

Our book for January is The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender.

Here's a bit about the book from the author's website (you can find out more about Amiee Bender and her other books here):

On the eve of her ninth birthday, unassuming Rose Edelstein, a girl at the periphery of schoolyard games and her distracted parents’ attention, bites into her mother’s homemade lemon-chocolate cake and discovers she has a magical gift: she can taste her mother’s emotions in the cake. She discovers this gift to her horror, for her mother — her cheerful, good-with-crafts, can-do mother — tastes of despair and desperation. Suddenly, and for the rest of her life, food becomes a peril and a threat to Rose.

The curse her gift has bestowed is the secret knowledge all families keep hidden — her mother’s life outside the home, her father’s detachment, her brother’s clash with the world. Yet as Rose grows up she learns to harness her gift and becomes aware that there are secrets even her taste buds cannot discern.

If you care to discuss, or just like thinking a bit deeper about books, here are some points to think about:

1. Rose goes through life feeling people's emotions through their food. Many eat to feel happy and comforted. Does this extreme sensory experience bring any happiness to Rose or only sadness?
2. What does Rose mean when she says her dad always seemed like a guest to her? How does this play out in the rest of the novel?
3. "Mom's smiles were so full of feeling that people leaned back a little when she greeted them. It was hard to know just how much was being offered." What does Rose mean and how does this trait affect the mother's relationships?
4. Why do you think the dad like medical dramas but hate hospitals?
5. Rose says, "Mom loved my brother more. Not that she didn't love me—I felt the wash of her love everyday, pouring over me, but it was a different kind, siphoned from a different, and tamer, body of water. I was her darling daughter; Joseph was her it." Do you think Rose is right in her estimation and why do you think the mother might feel this way?
6. What does the grandmother suggest when she tells Rose "you don't even know me, How can you love me?" How has the grandmother's relationship with Rose's own mother affected the family dynamic?
7. What is Joseph trying to accomplish by drawing a "perfect" circle when it, by very definition, is impossible? How does George's idea to create wallpaper out of the imperfections affect him? How does validation and affection through art recur in the novel and what does it signify?
8. Why does George suddenly conclude Rose's gift isn't really a problem and stops investigating it?
9. What is the significance of the mother's commitment to carpentry (compared to other, short-lived hobbies)? How does this play out in the rest of the novel?
10. What is the impact of Rose's discovery about her father's skills? Did this change the way you see the father?
11. Joseph is described as a desert and geode while Rose is a rainforest and sea glass. Discuss the implications.
12. Why does Rose want to keep the threadbare footstool of her parents' courtship instead of having her mother make her a new one?
13. Are the family dinners—with Joseph reading, the dad eating, Rose silently trying to survive the meal and the mom talking nonstop—emblematic of the family dynamic? How has it evolved over the years?
14. How did you experience the scene in Joseph's room, when Rose goes to see him? What did that experience mean to Rose? Is there any significance to Joseph choosing a card table chair?

Let me know if you've read this and what you thought in the comments section below :)

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Welcome 2012

Hello friends.  I hope you had a wonderful holiday and start of a new year!  Can you believe that it is 2012?  Seems like just yesterday we were celebrating a new millennium, and here we are twelve years later?  Boggles the mind.

We had a wonderful New Year here.  My husband took the first week of the year off from work so that we could spend some quality family time together.  This, coincidentally, is why I'm a bit tardy with the first swatch of the year...  Also I have been considering some new ideas/ rules for the new year.

The first change is that I am planning on only releasing one pattern a month. There will be an occasional 'bonus' swatch throughout the year, so there will be a couple of options for ya.  The swatch will be released in the middle of the month (on or around the 15th).  If you have a pattern or technique you'd like to learn, shoot me an email at yearofswatches@gmail.com or leave a comment below and I'll see what I can do! 

I will also be sharing our book club book for each month, posting info at the beginning of the month.  I get my info from Google Books, which is a neat book search tool (you can find synopsis, comments, ratings there) and will also share any author info I have.  There's a button to the right that will take you straight to the info for this month's book.  The full list for 2012 is up on the ''Book List" page.

I was also thinking about having a bonus knit-a-long during the summer months (perhaps starting around May) for a sampler stole/ scarf.  I would like you to vote on your preference in the poll to the right on whether you would rather knit a cable stole or a lace stole?  Voting will go on until the end of January.  What I'm thinking is I would release a section every couple of weeks and at the end of the summer you'll have a pretty sampler something.

Like always, the swatches will be written for worsted weight yarn using US 7 needles yielding a 10 by 10 inch square.  But feel free to substitute to your liking, just remember to be consistent with your yarn weight and needle choice throughout the year.  All of the swatches are on Ravelry, so please make a project page.  I love seeing what you've done :)  Check back in on the 15th for our first Square of 2012, and I look forward to a great year of knitting!

I found this on Lion Brand's website- check out their free ecards and printable cards!