Kung Fu Knits preorders are live!

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So excited to share with you that my knitting pattern collection / comic book Kung Fu Knits just went up for preorders!

The book will be released on September 15, 2014, and is available in two formats:

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The book includes six patterns: a kung fu jacket, pants, and belt, nunchuks, throwing stars, and a backpack to carry cool stuff in. The hilarious comic book storyline will make your kid plead with you to knit ALL THE THINGS!

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Kung Fu Knits book launch and prize giveaway

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Today I have very exciting news to share with you: on September 15, I’ll be releasing my first-ever knitting book, Kung Fu Knits, published by Cooperative Press.

Read on for more info about the book and how you can win a copy (and other prizes) in my pre-launch giveaway.

The book features six kung-fu-themed patterns for kids’ sizes 4–12 and a comic book story designed to light up your kid’s imagination and make them want ALL THE THINGS. (Honey, I knit for boys. I feel your pain. You have to make them want it, and this book will make them want it.)

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The patterns are:

  • an entire kung-fu uniform (gi): jacket, pants, and belt (shown in photo above)
  • nunchuks (also shown in photo above)
  • throwing stars
  • a backpack to hold all the things

I’ll share more photos and information about how you can get a copy soon. For now, though, I want to tell you about my Kung Fu Knits pre-launch prize giveaway!

From now (August 7) through September 11, 2014, enter to win prizes by posting your favorite photograph of a child wearing one of your knitted or crocheted creations. Doesn’t have to be your child; can be a baby, or even your own child grown up. I just want to see your favorite photo of a kid wearing something you knitted or crocheted.

Post the photo in any of the following ways:

You may post one entry per social media site. (For example, you can post once on Ravelry, Facebook, and Instagram—you just can’t post twice on Ravelry.) I’ll draw for prizes from all the entries on September 12.

Here’s what you can win:

  • Grand prize: Signed paperback copy of Kung Fu Knits (which also comes with the digital download in your Ravelry library) and four skeins of Berroco Vintage (the yarn used for the patterns)
  • 3 digital/PDF copies of Kung Fu Knits
  • fantastic ninja project bag from Kicks and Giggles
  • equally fantastic ninja stitch markers from Bead Passion

Good luck—let’s see those photos!

Boys’ knitting roundup #4

Time for another roundup of recently published boys’ knitting patterns! This time around, we’re looking for some color to cheer those of you stuck in week bazillion of gray, cold weather. (As I type this, it’s 75 degrees here in Texas. Before you shoot daggers out of your eyes, remember that you can have your own moment of Schadenfreude when we here in TX have had our 40th straight week of 100+ degree temperatures.)

ImageFirst up, a design to keep your eye out for: the Benjamin pullover by Gabrielle Danskknit. The pattern is currently being tested, but will be released next month. Wouldn’t this be a fun use for some leftover bits of colorful worsted yarn? Maybe even some leftover bits of handspun?

ImageThe pattern will come in an impressive range of sizes, from newborn up to 12 years—and the simple, charming quality of the design can easily support that kind of size range. The garment is worked top-down, so there’s very little seaming—just the kind of quick knit you might be looking for as spring hovers around the corner.

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ImageI know that technically this is a knitting roundup, but I couldn’t resist including the great-looking, crocheted Zigzag Spiral hat by A la Sascha. This design also comes in a wide range of sizes, from newborn to adult large, but I can see this appealing particularly to boys aged about 9–18.

This is the kind of hat that just might get your son to pick up the crochet hook himself. I know my three 20-something nephews would all want to make this.

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ImageSome boys are not particularly keen to wear knitted items, but would love to play with something that you knit for them. Polar Pete by Cilla Webb is an absolutely charming (and ridiculously inexpensive) pattern for a knitted bear that has a complete wardrobe of hoodie, overalls, and boots. He even has his own fishing pole and fish to catch! The shaping of the face, body, and clothing have some really nice attention to detail.

This would be an ideal gift for a younger boy (say, around 4–7 years old), but I’m pretty sure my nine-year-old would also covet this hard.

Boys’ knitting roundup #2

What’s new in the world of knitting for school-aged boys? Here are some of my picks from what’s come out in the month since we last did a roundup….

Now that fall is creeping up on the northern hemisphere, a little sweater knitting might be just the ticket. Check out this handsome, easy-to-wear pullover from Julia Stanfield:

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Isn’t that one natty little dude? He is modeling Sullivan Street, available as an individual download for $6 on Ravelry. The sweater is sized to fit anyone from 6 months to 12 years, and also looks great on girls. Knowing how well-written Julia’s patterns are, this would be an excellent first project for someone who is knew to sweater knitting.

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I also adore this new sweater from Terri Kruse called Little Spare Time. Terri is running a knitalong that starts September 16, and in advance of that date is offering an excellent sale on the pattern. Sizing goes from 12 month to 10 years.

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Isn’t that a fabulous neckline? If you’ve got a kid who hates the feel of a tight neck going over their giant melon, then this is the perfect sweater for you. I’m thinking about knitting this for my own son, since this would look great over a collared shirt, which he has to wear to school every day.

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If you’re knitting for a teenaged boy, Kirsten Hipsky’s new Woodstove Pullover might be just the ticket. It’s knit in an inexpensive, super-bulky yarn — you can make the smallest size for less than $50.

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And finally, if your child is a fan of the minions in Despicable Me, you’ll want to check out this free crocheted hat pattern posted on Craftster. Quick, go do it before Universal Studios sends this woman a cease-and-desist letter.

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Teaching kids to knit: what I learned this week

I got to teach a kids-and-parents knitting class this week and the whole experience was so interesting that I had to tell you about it.

For many (perhaps even most) knitting teachers, the idea of teaching 5-8 year olds how to knit is a total nightmare. Talk about a chaotic, twitchy group of people who might not have wanted to come in the first place — not quite the ideal audience for a class where you’ve got to sit still and do intricate things with your hands for 90 minutes.

But somehow I found the challenge exciting. When the LYS where I do most of my teaching asked me to do a class for parents with children too young to take the store’s independent fiber camp, I jumped at the chance.

As it turned out, this first time around I had two kids — a good small number to use as guinea pigs. They were both seven, one boy and one girl. The former came with his mom and the latter with her grandmother. Both adults already knew at least a bit about how to knit, so I didn’t have to worry about teaching them much. Plus, they were able to help out when their kid was struggling.

Here are my take-away lessons from this experience, which I’ll use to improve my August class.

  1. Keep it short. Next time I’ll make each session one hour long. Either that, or I’ll need to incorporate a very different yarn-related activity into the 90 minutes. Sitting and concentrating on a difficult task for more than an hour is trying for kids this age. On the second day, even the more patient kid moaned a half-hour into class, “We have a whole hour left?! Unnngggghhh!” And she was enjoying it.
  2. Change it up. The little boy who took the class was really struggling with knitting — to the point where he just kept melting onto the floor in defiant embarrassment. So I had to think fast and come up with something else for him to try. How about finger knitting? He liked that and busily made a bracelet for himself, so I brought a crochet hook to the second class and showed him how he could make the same chains using a hook. His face lit up. Bingo. One of my mottos has always been to go with a plan and be willing to change it. That approach is especially important with kids.
    Next time I do the class I’ll also get them up and moving about more. I might take a page from Melanie Falick’s ingenious Kids Knitting book and teach them to dye yarn with Koolaid. I was also thinking I might figure out some way to dramatize the making of a knit stitch, having each kid play the role of a stitch. Still working on that one….
  3. Don’t take their comments or behavior personally. Kids are brutally honest — most have little filter between their reptile brain and their mouths. You can choose to be bothered by this, or you can decide (even if it’s only for the 90 minutes you’re teaching the class) that it’s refreshing. Kids let you know right away when they’re bored. Or frustrated. Or tired. Respond to their honesty with a light sense of humor and a willingness to change, and you will have them in the palm of your hand. When the little girl moaned about how long we had left in class, I could have gotten really upset (jeez, I spent so long planning this — how could she be so rude?!), but I knew she was just tired. So I said, lightheartedly, as her grandmother looked mortified, “I know you’re tired, sweetie. Why don’t we take a break, maybe have a snack, and then try something new?” So we took the break, she had a little food, we learned how to purl, and she perked right up. (“Look, grandma — my knitting looks different now!”)

I’m teaching the class again in August — it’s full to the brim this time (four kids and four adults) — so I’ll report back on how it went.

 

Been caught stealin’, once when I was 5 **

We here at Dark Matter Knits design studios like to encourage delinquency in our youngest members of society, and so I have created the Better Pocket Scarf, just right for tucking sticky, sticky candy into.

This is all part of my campaign to come up with better knits for boys. The idea is simple: if we start from what they want — instead of what we want them to want — and figure out how to knit that, maybe they’ll actually use what we knit for them.

And what my son wants is POCKETS. Big, deep pockets on every piece of clothing. Pockets into which he can cram all manner of things and then promptly forget about them so that in the washing machine several days later they turn the family laundry into an ink-stained, gum-fused monstrosity. Pockets that can withstand 80 interesting rocks from a hike, an uncapped pen, a half-chewed piece of fruit leather, a gnawing reptile of some sort, and a small explosive device.

If this is the tall order, knitted fabric does not seem to be the ideal metier, but we are knitters, by gum, and we can make ANYTHING WITH YARN. With, in this case, a little bit of plastic thrown in for good measure. So this scarf’s pockets each have hidden inside a plastic CD sleeve so that no matter what gets tucked into those pockets, the yarn blissfully goes on thinking it is being worn by a middle-aged shut-in with manicured nails.

Oh, and also, the scarf has cool shaping (the pockets are knit like hats so that you can knit all the lovely color work in the round) and a fun color scheme courtesy of the affordable Berroco Vintage.

the obligatory Twilight reference

The scarf appears in the just-released Winter 2012 issue of Petite Purls, which is a beautifully produced online magazine of free knitting, crochet, and sewing patterns for children. This issue focuses on accessories, and — I’m warning you — you just might collapse from how sweet they are. I’m especially partial to Alison Stewart-Guinee’s mittens made to look like the Fantastic Mr. Fox. And I want to bottle her kid’s geeky cuteness.

All right, now, get back to work! I’ve got to go get my teeth cleaned, which is so much more fun than anything else I could be doing right now.

** Bonus points to you if you know the song from the title. (It’s one of my favorites — one of the best song bridges ever — though the video creeps me out.)

It has come to this…

I have so much knitting to do between now and mid-October, that I resorted to swatching while walking around with my son at Chuck E. Cheese at 9 a.m. on a Sunday. (Best time to go! While everyone else is at their church.)

I don’t go see Chuck under just any circumstances. This was a reward for Liam’s extraordinarily selfless behavior the other day. Without anyone asking him — or even hinting in his general direction — Liam helped Jack clean the inside and outside of the cars, then he came in, grabbed the mop, mopped the entire kitchen floor, and wiped down the kitchen counters with a sponge.

You would have needed a fork lift to pick my jaw up off the floor. Dude’s six years old. Advanced. Life. Form.