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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!!

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new kits for Camau shawl

crescent shawl

The Camau shawl is a triangular shawl that is mostly garter stitch…so easy TV knitting. It is intersected with short rows of eyelet stitches. There is also a lace bind-off. These kits contain 4 skeins of my Cirrus yarn. This yarn is a 2ply wool and alpaca yarn. It has a tweedy look from the differences between wool and alpaca. This yarn is on sale right now, since my collaborator and myself, no longer have these animals, so we can’t reproduce the yarn. This shawl kit is also on sale. So grab one today. It is fun and easy! Get one today!

cirrus wool alpaca yarn
All the new kits waiting to be packaged
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new colorway on 2 yarns for the fall

yarn for knitting and crochet
Cardinal in Snow on Zephyrette yarn

Here’s the next installment of fall colorways. These are inspired by cardinals in snow. These yarns along with other nature and autumn inspired yarns will be available at the fall fiber festivals: Shenandoah Valley Fiber Fest, Fall Fiber Festival at Montpelier and Rhinebeck. Come and grab a skein or two for lovely socks, shawls, hats and mitts!

sock yarn in fall colors
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gradient set to make a pretty shawl

gradient set shawl

This shawl is a really fun one to make. It  is a shallow crescent shape. It can be worn in so many ways from over your shoulders or backwards like a cowl.  It is made with my Corrie Sock yarn. The kit includes a 5 mini skein gradient set, beads for the edge and the pattern.  The mini’s do all the work for you, most of this shawl is garter stitch and at the end there is some lace stitches for interest.  This is a good project to take to the soccer field or swim meets. All you need to do is add needles and you’re ready to cast on. There are 5 colors to choose from, so go grab one in my online store.

5 mini skein gradient
Cherry set
5 mini skein gradient
Purple set
5 skein gradient set
Brilliant Blue set
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color combos for making the Camau Shawl

kits to knit a shawl
shawl for alpaca wool blend yarn

I have some beautiful color combos to make this fun shawl. It is a crescent shaped shawl with short rows of eyelet in a contrasting color. The main color is all garter stitch and it easy vacation knitting. It makes a nice light shawl for summer nights. The kits include 4 skeins of Cirrus yarn and the pattern. Just add needles and you are ready to get knitting. Grab one or two kits in my online store. It’s currently on sale for $45 per kit.

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Sock Blanks: What Are They? Why Would I Use Them?

bright polka dot sock blank

Hot Fuschia Sock Blank

Let’s talk about sock blanks.

What are they?  A sock blank is a pre-knit fabric that is then used in an entirely different way than it’s first rendition.  It is not a sock. It is not in the shape of a sock. It is a rectangular shape.  Does that make sense?

Why are they call “sock blanks”? I think this name was originally coined by the manufacturers of these fabrics.  They were made with sock weight yarn for the hand dyer to dye, paint, or print onto.  And there simply hasn’t been a change in name and really there should be. I think there would be less confusion that way.

How do they come? There are “double” sock blanks and “single” sock blanks.  Doubles are made with 2 threads in each stitch. Singles have just 1 thread in each stitch.

What can I do with a double? With a double you can knit Two at a Time socks. This way you will get matching socks. You can also just reknit the blank, holding the yarn double to make a cowl or scarf.  If you don’t know how to make socks TAAT,  then you can knit with one of the threads and you will ball up the other one as you go along.  And if you do this you can make socks, scarves or shawls with the single thread.

What can I do with a single? You can reknit this fabric into anything you desire; a cowl, scarf, shawl or even a cardigan.

How do I work with the blank? There is a “live” end that unravels and the cast on edge that doesn’t unravel.  So work from the live end. Unravel the stitches as you knit your new garment.

Why would I do this? I hate to rip out knitting!  Well the fun part about knitting with sock blanks is that it is a mystery. Your finished product will NOT look like the original.  If the sock is dyed in a gradient fashion, it will stay a gradient but will have some striping in it. If it is printed or dyed with a pattern, that pattern will not be maintained.  You will have a more spreckled, freckled look to your finished product.  What I love about these fabrics is that as I knit, the new fabric is coming into focus. It is becoming its own new fabric. This mysterious nature keeps me knitting.  I want to see what will happen next.

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Finding Your Joy!

Joy is not the same as happiness. Joy is in the small moments. It is in the smell of cinnamon almonds and kettle corn. It is in the turning of the fall leaves.  It is in the light playing off the Potomac as you are crossing over it.  It is in the feel of a great yarn like our Zephyrette. It is in the feeling you get when you start a new project OR when you finish one. It is in the sound of the trick-or-treaters at your door, the cute ones, not the teenagers (LOL). It is a feeling of connection with other people and with nature. It is the feeling that all is right in your world, right now.

 
Last week, I wrote about overcoming overwhelm at these shows.  I realized just recently, that I need to regain my joy at fiber shows. And I am writing today because I have come to understand that maybe you need to find that joy as well.  And while I don’t know if I have all the answers for finding joy instead of overwhelm, I think this is a start. 
 
Before I was a vendor, I would go to these shows as a buyer and a looky-loo and a participant. And it is true that there are a lot of people and a lot of activities and a lot of things to buy. There are things to eat and drink and there are animals and fleeces, too.  There is a lot. 

 
Now that I am a seller at these shows, my perspective is a little different.  There is all of that still and there is my color work that I have up on my wall for you to look at and hopefully to take home with you.  But, I think today I will peel back the curtain and let you know that I have felt myself losing the joy at shows. You know that’s hard to write, because I love what I do. I love to make beautiful color combinations. I love packing up the yarn and roving and putting it up on the grid wall. I love to have you look at what I’ve been making for you. But I feel my joy starts to dissipate as I respond to people telling me that they are overwhelmed or that they just got here and have to look around first or that they are on a fiber diet. I start to take on those feelings too. 
 
My message to you today is this: when you are feeling stressed and overwhelmed at a show, stop and take a moment.  Maybe go outside and sit for a minute. Maybe go into that empty booth instead of the one with the line and take a moment to appreciate the work that artist has done. Even if it isn’t anything you want or need, that person has brought it there for you to admire.

I’m asking you to do something not only for me but for all the other artists at the show. Just tell us something good. Tell us that you love our colors. Tell us that you appreciate what we are doing. Tell us that you love that shawl. That kind of interaction will build us up.
 
And I promise to you that I will do the same. I will complement your sweater or shawl. I will appreciate the colors you put together. Together we can spread that joy throughout the show. We, artists, don’t expect you to buy something at everyone’s booth. Of course, I hope you will find something that you love in my booth. But don’t make an excuse, just say thank you.

And what about that family that is walking too slowly or that person who just stopped dead in her tracks? Spread the joy with them too. Complement them, don’t get angry. It’s supposed to be a fun day not a stressful one. Say a kind word to that person or admire their hat or sweater or shawl that they have made.  Feel that connection to the artists, fiber farmers and creatives who are out for a day of joy at the fiber festival. And of course, come by our booth and say Hi! It will be one of the joys in my day!

 Rhinebeck is in just a few days on October 21 and 22. There’s nothing like Rhinebeck and we can’t wait to be back again this year. We are in Building A. The weather is usually fantastic! Everyone is out in their special Rhinebeck sweaters. The food is good and diverse.  If you haven’t gone, you really need to put this festival on your bucket list, because it is just that good.  

New shawl kit includes 5 mini skeins and pattern $35 This the Summer Berry Gradient Set

And if you can’t get to any of these festivals and you see something here that you want to add to your collection, just send me a message and let me know. I can send you a skein or two.  I won’t be putting these skeins up on the website until after these shows. 

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Using Hand-Dyed Yarns: Epic or Fail?

If you are like me,  you have many, many hand-dyed yarns in your stash! I am just so drawn to bright, vibrant colors and it is hard to walk away from a beautiful skein.  The question is what kind of garment should be made with these yarns to really show them off.  I have learned a couple of lessons the hard way and I wanted to share these with you so you will be pleased with your knitting, crocheting or weaving results.

There are 2 categories of hand-dyes: semi-solid and wild color. The skeins below are what I would call wild color. They have multiple colors sitting next to each other in the skein. They can be manipulated to pool if you like seeing spots of color, or they can appear like random color.

  
When you use a wild color skein, use simple stitches and simple shapes to really show off the colors you so love. Let the color itself do the work.  A pattern like Hitchhiker would be wonderful to use.  When you use a pattern with more complex shapes or patterns you might get an epic fail, like this shawl I made with a 2 color skein. You can barely see the lovely leaf shapes.
 
I also love wild color for socks and cowls, because I like to get pooling, stripes, argyles and spirals.
I also like to use the inside and outside of the yarn cake so that each sock has a little different pattern.
Because the wild color skeins have different color placement, for larger projects you may have a pattern change when you switch skeins.  You can minimize the jarring effect by knitting from two balls as you end one ball and begin the next. To go even further, you can compare your skeins to determine if the repeats are more similar from one end or the other of your skeins.
The skeins above are semi-solid. They have variable saturation but are all one hue or color. For semi-solid skeins you can use all kinds of fancy stitches and patterns. They are great for cabling and for lacy shawls.  They really show off your knitting expertise.

My one big caution is this, even if the skeins were dyed in the same dyepot, at the same time, they still may not match perfectly. Small batch kettle dyeing is just like that. So for bigger projects, like a sweater, you should absolutely knit from 2 balls when you are switching skeins. I would also suggest that you pick your skeins carefully to make sure the ones you get match well.  If you don’t do this, you will most probably get a definite line where you changed skeins and after all the work you just put into making this sweater you want to be totally happy with it.  Believe me I speak from experience! Another epic fail that I fixed by frogging and redoing is this sweater below. I reknit  the entire sweater using two balls. I was so frustrated that I didn’t even take a picture of the failed rendition.  Now that sweater gets raves by everyone who sees it.

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Wool Love Wrap-up

Wool is so diverse and so can be used for so many different projects with different looks and different hand (they way it feels).  To recap, there is a wool out there for all of your projects from soft next to the skin cormo for shawls, scarves and hats to tough lustrous Leicester Longwool for warm rugs or blankets.  Wool has memory to spring back when stretch with wearing.  It also is very insulating yet it is breathable wicking moisture away from your skin.  Next week, The Year of Stash Appreciation will continue with an indepth look at mohair.

merinocloseup
Super fine merino showing the bounty of crimpy goodness.

 

 

What is your next wool project? Post your answers in the comments to share what’s on your needles.