Craft Friday, Hope You'll Join Us!

November 26, 2014

I'll say this up front, I have always found the idea of Black Friday shopping very unappealing. Each year I make a point of staying home, eating Thanksgiving leftovers, and enjoying time with my family. Of course this means that I'm also usually knitting on Black Friday. So Beverly's Craft Friday is right up my alley. Beverly is much more eloquent than I am, so go visit her blog to learn more. She's also written several posts with ideas and inspiration.

One of my favorite last minute holiday gift knits are mittens -- I've got two pairs on my needles right now. There's still time to crank out several pairs, and most knitters already have enough yarn in their stash for a pair or two. And if you don't you can always stop by your LYS while you're running your last minute Thanksgiving errands, and buy a few skeins, because supporting small businesses is always a good thing.

To help get you get prepared for Craft Friday (and beyond), I've put all of my mitten (and mitt) patterns on sale for 50% off. Head over to Ravelry and stock up. There's no need for a coupon code. Just put the mittens in your cart, the discount will be taken at checkout. The sale lasts til Sunday 11/30, so you can celebrate Craft Friday, and Craft Saturday, and Craft Sunday.

Mitten Sale Collage

Joan Fuller: Test Knit

November 25, 2014

When a knitter passes a wall of yarn that looks something like this:

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and it's a beautiful fall day, and this knitter is surrounded by passersby in spectacular hand-knits, and this knitter has given herself permission to spend a wee bit of money on yarn because it is a special occasion, and  this knitter has a lovely chat with the shepherd/designer/dyer of this wall of yarn, it is incumbent upon our knitter take a small piece of that wall of yarn home with her.

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Of course this leads to an inevitable question, what will the knitter make with her new acquisition? It's special yarn -- every time our knitter sees it, she is reminded of a beautiful, yarn-filled day, and all of the friends, old and new, that she saw that day. So the answer to this question is that she needs to find a truly special pattern.

Now imagine our knitter is getting hungry after all of that yarn petting, and she heads off to meet up with a group of friends for lunch. Let's say one of those friends, is a crazy talented designer, who is wearing a hot of the presses new cardigan. And this talented designer mentions that she needs this new cardigan test knit. Well, our knitter now sees that the stars have aligned, and she has her pattern.

Joan Fuller. 

Our knitter is the sort who has a tendency to become obsessed with a project. She is the kind who might knit until her fingers bleed because she cannot put the object of her obsession down until it is complete. And once off the needles, our knitter might wear that new cardigan every day, because it seems to go with everything. You see, it has excellent details like a hem that dips slightly lower in the back, and gorgeous plump cables that frame the button bands, and adorn the back. Our knitter also loves how the edges of the three-quarter sleeves are shaped with short rows so that they are ever-so-slightly longer in the back. 

Our knitter loves her cardigan and would like to show it off to you. Since no one was home to snap photos of our knitter in her cardigan, she only has one badly focused selfie to show you what it looks like on her. 

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But you deserve to see more of Joan Fuller, because it's the sort of sweater you may want to knit. So our knitter asked her dress form if it wouldn't mind modeling this lovely knit. Now the dress form is a very la-de-da, fru-fru sort, so the dress form insisted on a tulle skirt. Our knitter will probably not wear this sweater with a tulle skirt. But that's dress forms for you.

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 If you love this cardigan as much as our knitter, you should go visit Ellen Mason, and get the pattern so you can make one for yourself, with some of your very-special-yarn-that-reminds-you-of-a-fabulous-day.

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Rhinebeck

November 10, 2014

Rhinebeck came, and went in such a blur for me this year, that now almost a month later, I am just getting around to posting photos. I was only able to spend Saturday at the festival, as I had to leave early on Sunday to catch a flight to England to visit my sister.

As always Rhinebeck was all about visiting with friends, squishing yummy yarns, sweater watching, and admiration for the farmers and their animals who create the yarns and fibers that keep us all in knitting and spinning bliss. Each year I plan to take lots of photos, but I get so caught up in it all that when I return home I find that I have very few photos, but lots of wonderful memories. This year was no different. And so I give you my compact Rhinebeck collage. It contains only a small glimpse of the people, animals, yarn, and general delightfullness that make this festival one of my favorite events of the year.

Rhinebeck Collage


Abingdon

November 05, 2014

Introducing Abingdon, a two-color, asymmetrical shawl with playful garter stitch stripes, and a charming lace border. 

Abingdon Collage

I had so much fun with this design that I quickly whipped up 4 of them. The three above are knit with Bare Naked Wools Breakfast Blend DK in Granite and Marble, Jill Draper Makes Stuff Mohonk in Straw into Gold and Moss, and Madelinetosh Dandelion in Astrid Grey and Fog. 

Abingdon is written for DK weight yarn (Bare Naked Breakfast Blend DK), but as the photos above show, it works just as well in fingering (Tosh Dandelion) or Sport (Jill Draper Mohonk). The DK weight version shown is the size small, for the sport and fingering weight samples I knit the large. Once you get going on the pattern you'll see that you can easily add more repeats of the lace bands to make the shawl as large as you'd like.

The fourth version of the shawl (actually, it was the first one I made, but it's the fourth that I'm showing you) I knit with two cakes of Freia Ombré Sport in Lichen. Both cakes were the same color, but I started them from different ends to take advantage of the lovely gradient shifts. Freia comes in 75 gram yarn cakes, so I was only able to work two bands of the lace before running out. But I think the shawl still works well, and is a decent size. 

Gradient Abingdon Collage

 

Think of this shawl as a canvas for playing with color. You could use two different gradients for a big bang of color. Maybe try three or four solid colors in different quantities and positions. Or, how about one gradient and one solid, or one solid and one variegated? The possibilities are limitless. Go ahead, stash dive and see what you come up with. And don't forget to send me a message and show off your creation if you do!

Abingdon 2 Collage

ABINGDON

Sizes: S [L]

Finished Measurements: Approximately 23 [27]” deep x 60 [66]” wide

Yarn: Bare Naked Wools Stone Soup DK, 80% Wool, 15% Alpaca, 5% combination of tencel, bamboo and silk, 300 yds per 115 g skein. 

MC:  Slate: 1 (2) skeins, CC: Marble 1 (1) skein.

Needles: US 9 (5.5mm) 32” circular needles  or size to obtain gauge

Gauge:  13 sts & 24 rows = 4”/10cm in garter st blocked, always take the time to check gauge

Other Materials: crochet hook US H (5mm), tapestry needle

Price: $6.00 US

Dreaming of a Chilly Saturday

October 15, 2014

I have been a little lax in the commitment I made last month to post more often. The thing is, and I know a lot of you will completely understand, I am an obsessive knitter. Once I have a project in hand, all I want to do is work on it. Stopping to write a blog post, or do laundry, or whathaveyou, is just not anywhere on my radar.

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A few weeks ago I went stash diving and decided to make myself a gigantic cozy sweater to wear to Rhinebeck. I have lots of discontinued yarn in my stash that I can't design with but that I love too much to give away, sell, or donate. One of these yarns found its way onto my needles - 7 precious skeins of Queensland Kathmandu Chunky, a scrumptious blend of merino, silk, and cashmere. I wanted to make one of those sweaters that you see all the time in romantic comedies. You know the one, it's huge and slouchy and the lead actress wears it as she drinks too much wine and laments what could have been in an impossibly beautiful downtown loft.

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Now I am no rom-com heroine, but I do love a cozy sweater. I wear them as outerwear, layering on scarves, hats and mittens until the winter winds finally force me to get out a real coat. From the moment I purchased the Kathmandu Chunky, this sweater is what it was always meant to be. So I knit like a woman possessed. And before I knew it -- it was chunky yarn after all -- I'd made myself that sweater that I'd dreamt of.  It is a wonderful thing when that image you had in your head slips off your needles so effortlessly. Trust me, this is not often the case in my knitting life.

Sofie is modeling it here, and in my size it is truly enormous on her. A quality she finds delightful. I will need to hide this one well, or it will end up on her back for most of the winter.

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Now if only it would be cool enough on Saturday to wear such a sweater. 

Happy Friday

October 03, 2014

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have already seen this, but I thought I'd share it here too. If you have phone charger thieves in your family, as I have in mine, I recommend you dress your charger up with a bit of crochet. Those sneaky pilferers will have a hard time making a case that it's their charger. This also works great for head phones, especially those with cords that tangle easily.

To make mine, I selected some leftover fingering weight yarn (variegated yarn works great) from my stash and found a crochet hook that worked with my yarn. I tied the yarn to one end of the charger and then worked single crochet around the cable until it was covered.

If you decide to cover yours, let me know. I'd love to see it.

ETA: It has been brought to my attention that this could be dangerous if your cord is old, frayed, or has hot spots. As with any charger, be sure to check you chargers frequently and dispose of any with exposed wires, or hot spots, and unplug your charger when not in use. If you choose to crochet over your cable as shown here, you do so at your own risk.

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 ETA: Since a few of you have asked, the yarn is Cephalopod Skinny Bugga in Elephant Hawk Moth. Saddly, they are no longer in business.

My Favorite Things: Blocking

September 29, 2014

I am always amazed when knitters don't get around to blocking. The second that I bind off the last stitch I am itching to get my latest WIP onto the blocking board. Then I'm as antsy as a kindergartner waiting for recess until I can unpin and see the finished piece in it's full glory. For me that is pure magic. 

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Blocking 1

(Pictured above, a new design knit with Jill Draper Makes Stuff Mohonk in Moss and Straw Into Gold.)

Trillium Yarns Grand Re-Opening

September 22, 2014

Visiting Trillium Yarns is like going home for me. It is owned by Beverly, one of my dearest friends, and is close to the town where I lived and raised my kids for 21 years. Even without the personal connection there are the piles and piles of spectacular yarn, books, magazines, and knitting supplies. It's easy to understand why Trillium Yarns is one of my favorite places to hang out. Earlier this month Beverly moved the store into a charming downtown location in an old building in Morristown, New Jersey. I love this new location for several reasons: the new space has rustic brick walls and a beautiful front window, I can easily walk there from the Morristown train station (yay no driving and worrying about the traffic at the Holland Tunnel), the new location is a few doors down from a fabulous cafe where we can grab a tasty lunch, and there is a beautiful garden out back where knitters can gather in nice weather. 

I went to the grand re-opening party on Saturday and snapped a few pics of the new spot. If you are every in the area be sure to stop in and support this wonderful LYS.

Trillium Yarns Collage

FO Friday: Prolix Mitts

September 19, 2014

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What could be better than a quick knit that you cast on one morning, work on sporadically throughout the day, and weave the last end in on the following morning? I'll tell you what's better, one that accomplishes all of that PLUS plays nicely with those lonely skeins of variegated yarn that you have around the house. Thank you Laura Nelkin for your versatile and lovely Prolix Mitts pattern. They were an absolute joy to knit. (Laura actually knows that I feel this way about these mitts because she was seated on the couch with me for a while as I worked on them and effused about my admiration.)

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Pattern: Prolix Mitts from Knockout Knits

Designer: Laura Nelkin

Needles: US 6 & 8 circulars, magic looped

Yarn: Quince & Co Lark in Frost that I over-dyed at Fiber College

Size Made: Medium

Started: September 18

Completed: September 19

 

Fourth Thursday Friends: Laura Nelkin

September 18, 2014

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As I sit here typing I await the arrival of my good friend, Laura Nelkin. She is coming to NYC this weekend to celebrate the publication of her new book, Knockout Knits. She'll be teaching classes and signing books all weekend. The fun begins tonight at Lion Brand Yarn Studio where she will be signing books beginning at 6:00 pm. Then tomorrow and Sunday she's teaching several classes at LBYS. I happen to have it on very good authority that Laura is an EXCELLENT teacher. So if you're anywhere near NYC, sign up for one of the several classes she's teaching.

But that's not all that Laura has planned for the weekend. On Saturday she's heading out to Morristown, New Jersey to teach a beaded jewelry class from 1-4pm at Trillium Yarns' new location at 4 Cattano Ave. Next, starting at 4pm on Saturday there will be a Grand Reopening Party at Trillium, where you will find Laura signing books, and me drooling over Trillium's fabulous yarns.

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Since this is going to be the weekend of Ms Nelkin, I thought I'd cast on one of the patterns in her new book. Fingerless mitts are very popular in my family, we can never have too many pairs, so I decided to cast on Prolix Mitts. This pattern is shown in an elegant shade of Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock in the book, and I really adore them in that color, but I have a basket of yarn sitting around that I dyed at Fiber College last week, and it's filled with variegated yarns. Since the elongated stitches that Laura features in these mitts really show off variegated yarns beautifully, I decided to dive into my basket and cast on. These mitts will be extra special since the design is Laura's and the yarn was dyed with the help of Ellen Mason in her fabulous dye tent at Fiber College. These are truly friendship mitts.

I should tell you more about the book -- which is excellent and as you'd expect is filled with new techniques taught in Laura's easy-going and very effective style -- but I've gone on and on already, and I have to tidy up the house so that Laura doesn't know what a slob I really am. However you should  go pour over the designs from the book on Ravelry. Then queue and favorite them to your heart's content, and buy the book!

If you come to one of Laura's book events this weekend, please do say hello! I'll be the one merrily knitting away on a pair of bold green mitts.