Monday, November 9, 2009

Knitcircus #8 winter edition

I got my copy of the magazine with my design in it! It is exciting to see something I created in print, know that lots of people will see it and maybe learn from it. Knitters who follow the pattern will still create something unique, something that is still just as much them as it is me, who created the pattern. It is a good feeling to give something - well, and it didn't hurt that I even got paid in the process.
The magazine looks good and has lots of great designs in it! I even found something that I will most probably knit. Yes, me, the one who has never followed a pattern before (other than my own).
It also inspired me to get more patterns ready, and come up with newer ones....
So, yes, I'm more of a knitwear designer now than a writer, and I haven't done any translation in a very long time... though this might change when I see my story in print next month....
For now I'm enjoying the knitting and designing process. I even came up with a design on paper, though I'll have to make it before I can really write it down. This is the opposite of what I'm usually doing, which is knitting something then writing down the pattern I came up with...
I also have more new yarn to play with; I love the yarn shops in this town! Jessica Knits has a great sale going on, I was there with my friend a few days ago. Unfortunately I couldn't quite finish my shopping, since my daughter called from school to pick her up; she wasn't feeling good. I still walked out of there with some beautiful yarn, probably enough for a new project - of course I'm not sure what it will be.
I finished a mini-shawl using the mohair I got from Tempe Yarn and Fiber. I used a very simple stitch, since the yarn itself was sooo wonderful! It came out great, too bad it was in the high 80s this weekend, so I couldn't wear it to Swan Lake. But I'm going to see the Nutcracker with my daughter in it, so I'll get an opportunity to wear it soon..... hopefully by December it'll be a little cooler, not 90 like tomorrow.... love the desert, but by this time I'm really done with the heat!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Cables and Stripes

I am so excited! My first published design is coming out next week in Knitcircus magazine, issue #8! Here is the professional picture, courtesy of Knitcircus.
Here is the link to the magazine:

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


They are sooo amazing, so beautiful, especially in autumn. With their bright yellow leaves fluttering in the slightest wind, their smooth white trunks shooting up to the sky.... they are unlike any other tree on our planet.

Did you know that most of them are not growing from seeds, like other plants? Aspens are all clones, or a better way to describe it, they are all part of a whole. One seed germinates and if it becomes a tree, it starts to clone itself. Its roots start to shoot upward and in time they become trunks of a new tree. Over time the root system expands and a whole aspen forest is grown, with identical trees. Aspen colonies can survive almost anything; cutting them down just kills individual trees, the root system remains intact; deer and elk may destroy individual trees, but not the colony; extreme temperatures cannot harm them since deep underground temperatures are always the same; forest fires cannot destroy the either, the root system underground is safe from the heat and as soon as the fire is over, new aspens shoot up towards the sky. Did you notice that aspens are the first trees back in a forest after a fire? I did, since I started to pay attention...

I was always fascinated by aspens. I've seen them in my homeland, grew up with them around me, drove through neverending aspen forests in Russia - one of the most beautiful sights I've ever seen - ; the Kachina Peaks have a few aspen forests, most dense and beautiful around Lockett Meadow....

They live almost anywhere, in temperatures of -78F as well as 110F, in moist soil, as well as desert environments. I've read that scientists have dated aspen colonies. The oldest one is 80,000 years old! They named it Prando. It lives in Central Utah, in Fish Lake National Forest and it has about 47,000 aspens....

Some amazing facts, right? I've read about this subject after hearing a ranger talk one night at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon about aspens a few years ago..... but with or without knowing all these facts, aspens are still some of my favorite trees, especially at this time of the year....

Monday, September 28, 2009

I'm still here.....

Yes, I'm still here, though extremely busy being a mom.... checking homework (and helping when needed), driving to ballet classes, rehearsals and shows, sitting in a gymnastics studio watching four year olds jump around, playing with my own four year old - ok, that part is fun, most of the time - and knitting for my sanity while doing some of this.
To be honest, I did take some time to go to a yarn shop with my friend. I had a great time! We even had lunch together, something I don't do very often without the kids. In the yarn store I felt like a little kid in a candy store.... we were touching everything we saw, and ended up with some wonderful mohair yarn... for mohair it is very soft and its colors really impressed me. I picked a dark blue haze with purple undertones..... it will look wonderful no matter what I'll make from it.... it calls for a very lacy, wisper light something - yes, for me..... I wanted to get way more, it was hard to walk out of there with just a few skeins, but I do need to downsize some of my stash before I can do that..... it also helped that we were together and talked things over before jumping to buy everything soft that we touched. I know I'll be back there though - my days of shopping for yarn at Joann's are over...
I did manage to knit/design a new hat and matching fingerless gloves, I'll try to post them soon, though learning from my past mistakes, I asked one of my friends to test knit them for me before I'll publish them. I learned in the meantime that this is what real designers do - and they also have a technical editor..... I wouldn't need one for a hat or gloves, but for a more complicated sweater it might help.... there is quite a bit of math - algebra, to be exact - involved in figuring out all the different sizes for a sweater... I should have my kids do it, they need the practice....
so... I'm still here, but I'll go to bed soon, and hope to post just a little bit more often.

Monday, September 7, 2009

more good news....

Knitcircus has accepted one of my sweater designs for publication.
"Cables and Stripes" (ok, not very original, I admit, but I couldn't come up with anything more sophisticated before their deadline) will be published in their fall issue, coming out in November. I think this makes me an official, "real" knitwear designer???.... It was the first pattern I ever tried to write down; after a few tries I did it.... but then I had to do more math, to figure it out for at least two more sizes..... that part is definitely not as much fun as knitting and making it all up..... but it still made me feel good to realize that I could actually do the math!!! I didn't loose all my brainpower (yet)....
I need to get working more now.... I have lots of projects waiting for my time; but kids come first!..... so at the moment all this is still just hobby/part-time fun. As the kids get older though, I'll get to it a bit more often; and yes, I will update this blog a bit more often, too..... I hope...

Friday, August 21, 2009

good news..... in the writing world

One of my children's stories, "Noise in the Night", was accepted for publication. It will be published in the December issue of Stories for Children magazine.

I wrote the story a few years ago, when my youngest child was still in the wonderful habit of napping.... then as she got older, and the other two had more issues, my writing got pushed in the background and I ignored the finished stories.... no, they were not gathering dust, since I never printed them out, they were just sitting in a file in my computer. They were waiting patiently until I had a discussion with my friend about writing, and I decided to show her my stories... she is a writer herself, I thought she would appreciate seeing them. She did. Seeing them on paper, made me think about sending them to some magazines, in case someone might think that they would be worth reading... So far this was the first one I sent out... and it will be published! It was worth sending it, if I never did, how would I have known that someone liked it? Now I have to do the same with the others and start writing again.... in my nonexistent spare time....

Monday, July 13, 2009

New Adventures

Well, I set up a separate blog for my patterns, called Réka Knits. That will be my patterns site, while I will keep this to just write.

I am a writer before I am a knitter... yes, I have even been published (in Hungarian though) a few times.

The new design site is lucky so far. I've posted a design there of ballet legwarmers, with a link to Ravelry, and lots of people love it! I didn't quite expect much, since they are just simple legwarmers, that I thought would only be of interest to dancers, but I was wrong.... they do look pretty good, thanks to my model.... I won't post a picture here, I already have a few on Ravelry and on EmeseReka Designs... anyway, next step will be to set up a store, where I can even sell some of my patterns. My knitting friend likes them, so I thought maybe others will, too. If I can set it up soon, I will have all proceeds go to sponsor my friends' team for Race for the Cure.... I didn't say it was my team, though it should be, but to be honest, I can't count on my family being in town that specific weekend, besides I have a problem with crowds. I do have something I call crowd-phobia, I definitely don't feel good with too many people around me... I know I'm not the only one; I know someone who has to leave a store if it is crowded - well, I've done that, too...

So I am renaming this blog, I think, to accommodate my writing... OK, I will try to keep it mostly about knitwear design, since that is what I'm doing most at the moment.

I do not knit much, though. I never was much of a knitter in the summer. Since I've lived in a hot zone, I can't even touch anything warm between May and October. Before that, when I lived in a temperate zone, I had other things to do in the summer, like taking trips, going places, just being outside.... In the winter I always enjoyed sitting down with a pair of needles and some yarn... just knitting, not really knowing where it would take me...

I have a wonderful friend who got me hooked on designing, or who made me realize that I am a designer. It first started when she got some of us, her friends, together, to form a knitting club. The first time I knitted with them - in public, of course - I realized that what I was doing was unique, at least around here. I learned that people followed patterns. They actually have written patterns and knitters follow them. That was quite a revelation for me, since growing up I didn't know many knitters who had ever followed one. We all just started knitting, and when a knitter would see another one doing something she (or he, but to be honest, I haven't seen a man knit in public, though I've known a few who did it in private) liked, she would ask how it was done, observe, then try it out. That was how knitting was done in the "old country", at least when I was a kid.

I consider the first real designed pattern I ever followed one that my brother drew out for me. He was an art student, I was studying languages, and knitting on the side. I decided one day that I wanted to make a black & white sweater with a very classy, but way different design on it. So I asked my artist brother to draw the design that would go on the front. He did indeed draw a very intricate design. Trouble was, I got the sweater long enough and only got to the middle of the design. I finished it the way it was, and I loved it. I still have the sweater, about 25 years later. My brother, on the other hand, was a bit disappointed, since it would have looked best if it had the whole design on it....

Since then I never thought of anything I made as designed by me or anyone for that matter. Everything I made was just a unique piece, made for someone specific, with love. Now, I am learning that I can write down these patterns I've used and others may enjoy them. I am becoming a teacher again, I think... and I like the feeling.

Monday, July 6, 2009


My family loves camping. We especially enjoy Sunset Crater, just outside of Flagstaff, in the shadow of Kachina Peaks (also known as San Francisco Peaks). The air is filled with the scent of pine, you walk around and set up your tent on black lavabed.... what more can you ask for? Oh, yes, cooler temperatures than Phoenix, right? You got that, too. We camped there this past 4th of July weekend. We enjoyed the cool temperatures, hiked a little, the kids rode their bikes, and the little scooter. The first afternoon we even got the rains. We enjoyed the clouds coming in, then sat in the tent and watched the storm, starting with heavy, male rain, which turned into softer, female rain (I did not make these names up, I learned them from a Dineh guide in Chinle). The rain cooled things down even more than we expected. We could actually wear long sleeved shirts and long pants! By nighttime the rain stopped just in time for the last rays of the setting sun to illuminate Sunset Crater so we could enjoy the colors that gave it its name.
We didn't go to see fireworks this 4th of July, instead, we gathered around a campfire that we made, enjoying the fresh, pine scented, cool air, and each other's company.
We stayed an extra day, but the rain didn't come again. In fact, even the clouds stayed away. Still, it was a wonderful, though sunny (if you don't live in Phoenix, ignore the "though") day, with temperatures just reaching the 80s.
I didn't hike as much as I usually do on camping trips. Instead, I got to read and knit a bit. I started two knitting projects, I hope I will finish them by the end of the summer, though one is a summer top that would be nice if I would get to wear before the fall...
We're back in the heat of the desert and the city. You know, even the desert would be way cooler if we didn't have all the concrete jungle around us. You guessed right, I don't necessarily like the city, but it's all right, as long as we can take trips away from here pretty often. We have possibilities in the city that we wouldn't have if we lived in a small town or in the middle of the woods; I know. My kids get more opportunities to try out different activities than I did, since I grew up in a small town. So, we deal with the city, the traffic, the noise, but the best part is that we live close enough to some wilderness, that we can just take weekend trips and be out of here. It is a pretty good deal, after all.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Spider Woman

I have just returned from a vacation where we drove through the Southwest. We did spend most of our time in the mountains of Colorado, but drove through Dinetah, or Navajoland. I did get a chance to knit, and also to read a bit.
Part of my reading was about Spider Woman, one of the major goddesses from all of the Southwestern Native American mythology. Generally she is the mother of humankind, as well as of all living things, our father being the Sun. It made me wonder, why is Spiderwoman so very important? She was the one who taught Dineh women the art of weaving. It just shows how important weaving was for the early civilizations. More than that, the Dineh society is a matriarchal society... does that have to do anything with it?
Spiderwoman not only taught the earliest women the art of weaving, but also patience and perseverence. When First Woman couldn't finish her first rug, and got so frustrated that she ripped it apart, she got restless, she couldn't sleep well. Spider Woman came to her, fixed her rug and taught her that she could never give up, when she started something she needed to finish it, because her soul was in her work...
Our soul is in our work, too, when we knit, crochet or otherwise create something unique. We can never forget that; we cannot expect it to be done quickly, but put our best work in it, and be patient, give ourselves time to finish it the right way.
Spider Woman taught me something new, too.....

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Pinky Toddler Beanie

- featuring buttonholes and "buttons" or Latvian "knupps"...

worked flat, sewn together at the end.

Cast on 56 stitches.

Row 1: Slip first sts,*K2tog, YO*, repeat until last sts. K1

Row 2: Slip first sts, Purl to end.

Row 3: Slip first sts, Knit to end.

Row 4: Slip first sts, Purl to end

Rows 5 - 20: Slip first sts, Knit to end. (garter sts)

Row 21: Slip first sts, Knit to end
Row 22: Slip first sts, Purl
Row 23: Slip first sts, Knit.
Row 24: Slip first sts, Purl.
In rows 25 and 26 will make the knupps (buttons):
Row 25: Slip first sts, Knit 6, Knit 5 in the same sts, *K7, K5 in the same sts.*, repeat to end.
Row 26: Slip first sts, Purl 6, Purl 5tog, *P7, P5tog*, repeat to end.
Row 27 - 30 Slip first sts, Knit front rows, Purl back rows (stockinette stitch)
Rows 31 - 35 : Slip first sts, Knit (garter sts)
Start decreasing:
Row 35: Slip first sts, K11, K2tog, *K12, K2tog*, repeat twice. = 52 sts
Row 36: Slip first sts, Purl to end.
Row 37: Slip first sts, K10, K2tog, *K11, K2tog*, repeat twice. = 48 sts
Row 38: Slip first sts, Purl
Row 39: Slip first sts, K9, K2tog, *K10, K2tog*, repeat twice. = 44 sts
Row 40: Slip first sts, Purl.
Row 41: Slip first sts, K8, K2tog, *K9, K2tog*, repeat twice. = 40 sts
Row 42: Slip first ts, Purl.
Row 43: Slip first sts, K2, K2tog, *K3, K2tog*, repeat to end of row = 32 sts
Row 44: Slip first sts, Purl.
Row 45: Slip first ts, K1, K2tog, *K2, K2tog*, repeat to end of row = 24 sts
Row 46: Slip first sts, purl
Row 47: K2tog to end of row = 12 sts
Row 48: slip first sts, purl
Row 49: K2tog to end of row = 6 sts.
Row 50: Slip first sts, purl
Row 51: K2tog 3 times = 3 sts.
Row 52: Purl
Knit the last 3 sts together, then pull the yarn over to the wrong side. Finish by sewing it together.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Empirical knitter or knitwear designer?

Getting back to this question I posed for myself recently, I decided that the difference is huge: to be a designer, you need to be able to write down what you are creating, be able to figure it out for different sizes, make sure someone else will be able to create something following your directions. And that is a lot of work!

Sometimes - most of the time, in fact, to be honest, I feel like I just want to sit down and enjoy creating something new, just creating it, not writing it down, not worrying about it in any other way... but then again, that's what I've been doing all my life with knitting, so I need another challenge. After all, I am middle aged (at least I think I am, isn't that what people over 40 are called? - please don't tell me we are "old"), I need to do something new.

So I got set-up as a designer on Ravelry... trouble is, I am slightly computer illiterate and I am having trouble connecting actual patterns to a link... If people want to see my pattern, I don't want them to go through my whole blog... who would want to do that?, but at this moment they still need to, until I figure this all out...
I think I need to spend more time on it, time that I don't really have (my three kids still need me - they are on vacation - and no one else is going to clean the house either - ok, to be honest, they do, but need the help and guidance). That was really just an excuse, I seem to be able to make time for things I enjoy, like knitting or writing, but it's quite another thing to make time for things like learning something new about computers, and how they work... To be honest though, I did learn about computers, I even learned how to program them, but that was a lifetime ago (26 years to be exact, as a dear friend of mine so graciously reminded me recently...), in high school... and we were still using punchcards (of course you wouldn't know what those are, unless you are really old and a computer programmer, but in Romania we were still using them, as I said, twenty-six years ago... they are these cards we would punch holes in, translating human language into computer language - the computer only understood two number sequences, 0 and 1, even those only if they were translated into hole sequences... well, maybe you get the concept, if not, don't worry about it, it really has absolutely nothing to do with knitting - hmmm - I wonder... if I sit here long enough, I may come up with a connection - just kidding)...

Anyway, I meant to write down another pattern, but that will have to wait now... I will figure it out, hopefully soon...

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Sunshine Yellow Twirly Skirt

I just recently finished this one, so my little one could wear it to school before it ended (school, I mean). She really loves it! Of course that makes me feel really good, especially since there are plenty of garments that I had made for her and she never wears (even though she likes them, or so she says).

The skirt is knitted in the round, I started it on top, and increased every other row at regular intervals - I chose 7 stitches to start with - no particular reason other that it just felt right at the moment... it would probably work with any amount of stitches in between increases, depending on how big you want the skirt to be... my daughter likes her skirts very wide at the bottom...

Towards the end I got quite bored with the simple pattern and decided to add something extra, so I added a basic little lace pattern: "k2tog" 3 times then "k, yo", 3 times. After a few rows of lace I added a bit of lavender yarn, continuing the lace pattern. I ended it with a couple of purl rows, so it wouldn't turn out...

I am working on a matching top in lavender, and I'll add a bit of yellow to that one...

It will be done some day... hopefully before she grows out of this skirt....

although, of course the beauty of knitting in the round, top down is that I can always add more rows to make it longer....

Pattern for it:
Cast on provisionally, with different color yarn, 110 sts.
Work about 5 rows in rib sts, then switch to yellow.
Work 14 rows.
Fold to get the first yellow row together with the next one.
Row 15 will be worked from the first yellow row and row 15 together: *Knit one sts from first yellow row, and one sts from row 15 together*, repeat to end. Now carefully cut off the provisional cast-on, so you have double knitted ribbing where you can later put elastic in.
Join to work in the round.
Divide work for increase as follows:
*K7, PM, P1*, repeat to end of row.
Increase by K1,P1 in the same stitch in every other row at the stitch marker, just before the P stitch.
Work in this fashion until you almost reach the desired lenght.
Bottom: Stop decreasing. Start lace pattern:
*K3tog three times, then K1, YO three times*. repeat to end of row.
next row knit to the end, then repeat lace pattern every other row about 6 times, or as much as desired. Switch to lavender.
Repeat lace pattern with lavender for 6 rows.
To end:
Knit one row, then purl two more row.
Bind off by purl stitches.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

"Anyuka" purse

I made this purse for my mom (Anyuka)....

It ended up looking much better than I even expected.... I forgot the name of the yarn I used, it was something that just wanted me to knit it into a purse of some kind. Knitting the body was the esiest part, I just played a bit with cables and the pattern showed itself.

Sewing the inside for it was much harder, especially since I wanted to add a pocket, and it needed to be stiff enough. The first cloth I used didn't work... it was too thin, didn't hold a shape...

My brother was here visiting at the time (he is an artist) and we had bought canvas for him to paint a picture.

I found that the leftover canvas worked best, it made the purse stiff enough... Tibike got the links in also, since I just simply don't have strong enough hands to do that. The beads were an afterthought, we basically looked at what I had that could work with it, and placed them according to my brother's suggestions.

We finished it around midnight on the last day of his visit.

The next day he was on a plane going back to the old country...

Of course my mom loves the purse (I hope)... it was basically a team effort of two of her kids - what mom wouldn't? I know I would....

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


I'm reading some Elizabeth Zimmerman books... and what she says makes perfect sense to me, I feel the same way!

I really think she is right when she says that our hands somehow remember what to do with yarn and knitting needle as soon as we pick them up. You just have to let go of preconceptions about patterns, about how things are "supposed to be" done.. your fingers will know what to do.

I love her word "unvent" and its definition. While knitting, we don't invent things, even though it may seem that way to us. It is more unventing, like unearthing something ancient, maybe long forgotten, but still there, somewhere in our subconscious, patterns that our hands remember, even if our mind doesn't. That is what knitting feels like to me.

When I pick up some yarn, I may have a vague idea about what I might want to do with it, maybe it is my daughter's favorite color, so I know that it should be something for her, or maybe it feels right for some specific garment... As I start casting on, some shape starts materializing in my head. Usually it is still somewhat vague at this time, but it helps me figure out how many stitches to cast on. Usually by the second or third row I have a pretty good idea of what I am making (on a lucky day).

The pattern itself just shows up as I go along. It really seems that my fingers just take over and remember some long forgotten pattern that my ancestors used, or something I have seen my grandma make when I was very little. Yes, when I am knitting I am going back to my roots, sometimes to the most ancient ones.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


This doll started out because I wanted to learn how to knit socks.
I found a pretty basic sock design, made it in miniature, just to see how it worked. It worked just fine, but now I ended up with a tiny sock... so I knitted another one, and decided to make a doll for my little girl.
From the two socks (they were started at the toe) I continued in a different color yarn for legs, then connected them into a bigger circle for the body. The head was a bit more challenging, I rounded it up a bit by increasing then decreasing - basically like a hat... I made the arms separately and had sewn them on later. Her eyes and mouth were sewn on from different colored yarn.
I did intend to sew hair on top of its head, but my daughter started playing with "her", and named her "Banana", I guess because of the shape... she didn't want her banana to have hair. It is kind of cute the way it is... but let me know what you think.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Cabled Hat pattern

This was the first pattern I actually wrote down... I had it available for free for a year, I am happy that so many of you have enjoyed it. Thank you for all the feedback, thanks to you all I was able to edit it and design it for more sizes.
The new and edited version of this pattern is available for purchase through Réka Knits or Ravelry.

Thursday, May 7, 2009


I was reading about yarn... well, a lot of things are starting to make sense now. Like why the yarn "talks to me" (as my friend put it once), or why my old knitted baby shirts are still looking like new after 42 years, five kids, and storage...
My grandma used linen for those baby shirts, and from what I read about linen now, they probably got better with age. Living in Phoenix, I realize now that I want to use linen again. Here is the difference though: my grandma used linen because it was the cheapest, most readily available thing at the time and place she lived in - for summer clothes at least. Now, here in the States, I didn't even see linen yarn in a mainstream store like Joann's for example, and I'm sure when I find it, it won't be cheap.
Wool is another example: everyone in the old country used it for all their winter knitting projects. I used it a lot, and yes, we did have a variety, we could have it spun thick or thin, soft or not so soft, but the colors were basically the same, either white, brown or grey, all natural. I used it so much and have seen it so much, I got sick of it, and acrylic seemed way better than anything - it had more color.
Now I feel like I am turning into my grandma... I am searching for (softer varieties, true) the same yarns that she had used. I realize that it will last longer and always look better.... and of course, it's all natural, what more could you wish for?

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Learning Another New Language

Although I've been designing my own knitwear basically since I learned to knit at the age of eight, I have just recently tried to write down my designs. Well, it is way harder than I anticipated. Since I never really followed a pattern, or even looked at a written one, I have a hard time understanding it. It is a whole different language, be it written in English or in my native tongue, Hungarian. It's hard for me to master it, even though I am a translator and writer and I speak quite a few other languages. I am lucky enough to have a friend who knows this language very well. She can correct me when I call cables "eights", or I try to say "cast off" instead of bind off.... Until I can write down some patterns, I'll be back with more stories of my learning the knitting language.