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holiday knitting? Too Late?

Is it too late to start knitting for Christmas? Maybe, but maybe not. How can you figure that out? Well let’s do some math…it’s simple math.  

  • How long can you knit each day? For me, it’s realistic to say that I could knit 1 hour a day for at least 6 days a week. That’s 6hours a week.  
  • How long until the holidays or when I have to mail presents?There are 6 weeks until christmas and hannukah week. So that is 36 hours of knitting.  
  • And so how long would a project typically take? Well that depends, right. So we have to think strategically. Use a bigger yarn and bigger needles or a smaller project like hat, cowl, mitts.  I know that I can knit a fingerless mitt in about 2 hours. And so that is 4 hours for a pair.  I could probably do a hat in that time as well. And I’ve timed myself on my Lacy Cowl made with luxurious Zephyrette and I know that takes me about 3 hours of knitting. So let’s go with 4 hours.  I could make 9 projects in the time left.  9?!?!?!

But is that reasonable? I’ve already told you all that I am the world’s slowest knitter. But still I could conceivably get some presents knit for some very special people.

Need some ideas? Well a Zephyrette cowl makes a very luxurious gift with very little knitting time. The Lacy cowl below took me 2-3 hours of TV knitting to complete. The other cowls will take slightly longer. The yarn is so soft and warm and beautiful that it is a pleasure to knit and it will be a treasured gift for that knitworthy friend or relative. Pick a skein of Zephyrette and let me know what pattern you are interested in and we’ll get you started on this gift.

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what does that colorway look like?

I’m asked at every show what a particular colorway will look like when it is knit or crochet. There isn’t a simple answer. Even if I did a swatch for every base and every colorway I have made, when you use that yarn, it will look different than the sample.

It all depends on the number of stitches. A yarn that will stripe in a sock of 62 stitches will might have sections of pooling and striping in a shawl where the stitches are constantly changing row by row.

Here is a good example. Both mitts were knit from the same skein. The smaller mitt on the right has bigger areas where the deeper blues and greens will pool and stripe. The larger mitt is less dramatic as the areas of deeper blue and green are more spread out and therefore have a more subtle look. There is only a difference of 12 stitches between the two mitts.

These two mitts are the samples for my new mitt kitts. The yarn is my 2 ply mohair yarn from our animals. It is lofty and has a nice halo that you can actually brush to make it even more pronounced. The kitt includes the yarn and pattern for a mere $15. It is a fast gift for the holidays. These will be available during the Holiday Fiber Art Studio Tour on December 7th and 8th. Find out the details here. And I will be adding these to my online store in Monday’s update. Check back here to find them.

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Store reopened after a lovely family weekend

This last weekend was full of family. A family wedding, lovely visits with two 93 year old aunties and their caretaker daughters, a scavenger hunt of Allentown and a concert that got cancelled. But instead we had a great time talking with Bill’s brother and sister in law and sharing our live’s stories and good, good wine.

So coming back I opened the store up with 2 major shop updates. First I added hand dyed natural colored yarns…what??? So I have a great yarn base that is made with 2 different shades of grey and 2 different weights, so it’s a thick and thin kind of yarn.

I overdyed this yarn with a brick red, a bright violet and a navy blue. The results are rich colors. These yarns are farm yarns. They are made with wool from farms of other shepherds. The yarn is highly durable and wearable. Is it soft? It is not too scratchy but it is not cashmere. It would make lovely hats, mitts, socks and even one of those great colorwork sweaters.

You can find this yarn here. What other colors would you like to see? Reply to this blog to let me know!!

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Handmade Holiday

I may be too late or I may be too early, but nevertheless, I’m working on my holiday gift list. And at this time of year, I think back to all the wonderful childhood Christmas gifts that I received over the years. I remember the anticipation to see what Santa brought for me. I remember the ritual of opening presents…not all at once, but one at a time around the family circle. And I remember the gifts that I made for my aunts and grandparents, mom and dad. Sometimes I cringe when I think back to those homemade gifts made by my small hands. But at the same time there was a nice exchange involving the whole family.

My first presents for adults were pot holders. My mom had taught me to use the sewing machine and I think that I made these when I was 10 or so. I used leftover fabric from clothes mom had made for us. And I stuffed them with old worn out towels. They were cute and functional and I could replace them year after year.

When I was in high school and knew how to type, I made a salad cookbook. I used carbon paper to make the multiple copies and so you know that it was less than neat…. I had gelatin salads and tuna salad and egg salad all the favorite salads that my family liked to make and eat.

shibori

One of my favorite presents each year was the dress that my mom sewed for me. I don’t remember being mortified by handsewn clothes as some people talk about. I loved these outfits. My mom was really good at keeping these hidden and so they were really a surprise.

Do you make handmade gifts? A tin of cookies or a knitted hat? Or do you shop for special items at a free trade store or a small business? I have 2 suggestions for you. First, if you are local you should come out for our Fiber Art Studio Holiday Tour on December 7th and 8th from 10-5. At each stop we will have indie yarn of course and we will have many finished goods ready to be wrapped and labeled for gifts, such as jewelry, felted figurines for your mantle or your tree, hand dyed scarves, napkins and tea towels, hand knit hats and shawls and many other fun items. At each stop there will be a free pattern for a small item to make for a gift. So come out and get in the holiday mood with us.

Secondly, if you are busy that weekend or live far away, you can get a quick cowl kit to make with zephyrette yarn. My Lacy Cowl is a really quick knit. By making it with Zephyrette, you will have a luxurious gift for a special friend or family member.

What am I making? I’m going to do some shibori tea towels dyed with indigo and/or walnuts that I’ve found around here. I also found some awesome handmade necklaces made by a fellow fiber farmer and I snagged a few of those for presents as well. What will you be making?

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One more day closer to Rhinebeck!

And even if you aren’t going, I wanted to show you our new colors of Synergy yarn. Synergy is a yarn that I have dyed before it is spun into yarn. So it has a hand spun look. It is made with merino fiber and has a beautiful hand and is next to the skin soft.

Raspberry Synergy Yarn
Malachite Synergy yarn
Jasper Synergy yarn
Sunset Synergy yarn
Cream Synergy Yarn
Correlation hat made with Mushroom Synergy yarn

And what does it knit up like? Well it has a heathery look and there is some gradiation in the colors through the skeins. This yarn is perfect for those shawls or sweaters that are using a handspun looking yarn, like Night Shift by Andrea Mowry or one of her beautiful sweaters.

We now have 10+ colors of synergy. These 5 new colors will be added on Tuesday after the show when the store is back from vacation mode. But if you see something you love, you can send me a message and I’ll set some skeins aside for you.

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knitting as self care

I did jump right in to do that dyeing. BUT…

This afternoon, I decided to put my feet up and take out my current shawl knitting and to take a little down time in order to rejuvenate myself. Why does knitting help me to rejuvenate? I can be moving my hands, but my head can clear a bit. I can focus on the stitches and the pattern, and I don’t have to focus on my to-do list or all the “shoulds” in my head. The repetitive nature of knitting has been well documented to help people get into a meditative state. And it certainly does help me to reach a quiet, peaceful place in my life.

So I can finish listening to a podcast or a TV program and emerge with a clear and peaceful mind, ready to take on the rest of my day.

When you need some down time, what do you do?

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Book Review: Untangled by Shelley Brander

Untangled by Shelley Brander of LoopsLove.com is a wonderful book that I want to share with you. The subtitle is a step by step guide to joy and success for the modern yarn lover. I have to say that it is a really quick read. BUT if you are going to actually follow the steps it will take you a while to complete it. If you are a reader of this blog or on my email list, some of these steps will sound familiar. I think all of us yarnies try to figure out ways to help our community of knitters to find a way to be happy and stash shame free. But Shelley has gone a little deeper in each step. She has also combined an accountability piece through her online community.

The steps that Shelley takes us through are all challenges. And they are:
The 21 day stitch every day challenge, the 90 day LoopsLove stash challenge, the WIP challenge, the Love to Give Challenge, the Love Sweater, and the Love Yourself Challenge. Each of these challenges is broken down into smaller achievable steps and accountability if you so choose to pick up the challenge. In some of the chapters, Shelley suggests patterns for you to use that are easy and quick and can help you to work through your stash and to knit for quick gifts.

The first challenge is the 21 day stitch challenge. Shelly has you remember your why. What do you love about stitching. And she challenges you to create a knitting place where you have peace. You can add smell, taste, touch, sound and sights (including the color choices) that will make you happy, content and peaceful. She has you pick 3 projects to work on in this challenge period. She wants you to find an accountability partner and to share with the Loops Love Community. I am working on this challenge myself. I also added the layer of allowing for knitting just 10 minutes per day. In all honesty, I have knit longer than the 10 minutes. And I have finished on WIP and am within a day or two of finishing a tank top. I know this works. Will you join me in this? Many of you have said that you are doing this…I’d love to see and hear about your progress in our Ravelry group here.

So if you are ready to regain your joy and love of yarn and knitting, I urge you to get this book and work through the challenges within it.

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fun hat that I just finished!

So the 21 day knit challenge is really working for me right now. I finished one UFO. Okay, it’s a hat. Not a sweater. Not a million stitches, but it is done and I LOVE it!!

I love it because it is next to the skin soft. The yarn is my Synergy yarn in the mushroom color. It is merino and each skein has about 232 yards in 4oz. It is somewhere between DK and Worsted weight. I was conflicted about whether I wanted to design my own pattern for a hat or use this one. So I thought I would just do the ribbing and then decide as I was knitting. Do you do that?

This is Correlation by Hunter Hammersen. Available in Ravelry. It is seen through Knit Companion which I love to use for charts and written instructions.

Well, I decided to try out this hat. I love the fact that this is a double sided hat, each side is so different. And it was also a stretch for me. The designer of the pattern wanted me to swatch and I didn’t. And I didn’t because I wasn’t sure I was going to make this hat. I just started.

brown marled merino yarn
Synergy yarn for the hat

So as I got closer, I got really worried. Would I have enough to finish the hat? I practically held my breath for the last series of 12 rows of decreases. I kept telling myself, you have less stitches, just keep going!!

And so I was able to finish with some to spare. And it fits just fine…see below!!

So this 21 day challenge is working. I’m finished with one project and I know what I’m going to pick up today. Another project that has only a little bit left to be done. What are you knitting? Want to join in the challenge? You can join our Ravelry group and use us as accountibility!

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Challenge: knit 10 minutes a day wherever!

Waiting in the MVA line for an emmision check on a Prius….REALLY? Yarn is synergy in mushroom colorway

I’ve told you all that I am the slowest knitter. That’s probably because I don’t knit everyday. I know that if I did, I’d be able to make a lot more and I would feel accomplished. So I’m going to challenge myself to knit everyday for 21 days. It can be as little as 10 minutes a day. Or it can be an hour or two. Whatever feels right. But the bare minimum is 10 minutes a day. Who’s in with me? Comment on this blog to let me know!

Had to wait a long while because the chick in front me didn’t know how to open the gas compartment…..REALLY?

So yesterday was a day to run errands. I needed to get an emission check on the Prius. And I needed to see if I have immunity to measles. REALLY? Yes, apparently if you travel abroad you need to have some documentation that you have immunity or you’ve received a vaccine.

Waiting for my blood draw. Pattern is Correlation by Hunter Hammersen cable hat with 2 different sides!!

So yes, knit wherever you are. Knit 10 minutes a day. See how much knitting you get done. Join me in the challenge!!