Monday, September 29, 2014

Say What? The Final Conversation Sock Pattern Is Live!

Knitting socks with a cotton yarn may cause you to exclaim “Say What?!” - but the uniqueness of SilverSpun is well-suited to the task! Featuring combed cotton with a touch of lycra, the resulting yarn is incredibly stretchy. The addition of pure silver adds a variety of benefits: silver inhibits the growth of odor-causing bacteria and also has excellent thermal properties (read more about this unique yarn here).
Say What? Socks in SilverSpun yarn

While the conductive properties of the yarn make it excellent for gloves or mittens, you’re sure to love these textured, cabled socks for year-round use. SilverSpun yarn is made from cotton which is raised and spun in North Carolina; it is a finalist for the Martha Stewart American Made Craft Awards, and I highly recommend you click here to cast your vote!

The cabled panel gives a faux knotted look (without having to cut any yarn!), and it is complemented by a background of simple seed stitch.

The Say What? socks are super-stretchy and surprisingly warm, and they are an excellent yarn splurge for the fall season. Bonus: You can use your leftover SilverSpun yarn to knit the fingertips on gloves, allowing you to use a smartphone or tablet while wearing your gloves this winter!

For anyone who might be wondering about pricing, I have decided that the current price for the eBook ($14) will be the final price. Originally, I was going to raise it to $18 when the final pattern came out, which is still a great deal considering the fact that my individual patterns sell for $6 each - but with the holiday season on its way, I'd really like to keep this eBook affordable; this just seemed like the right thing to do!

I have also decided to change my policy on what can be done with items made from my patterns. Previously, the fine print on all of my designs explicitly stated that finished items may not be sold for monetary gain. For quite some time, I've been thinking about changing this to support folks who intend to sell at craft fairs or on Etsy, and one of my personal heroes (Stacey Trock from FreshStitches) makes an excellent case for allowing folks to sell finished items which credit the designer with a mention on the tag or link back to the website. I'll be updating all of my patterns as time allows to reflect this change, and I hope it will be positive one to the benefit of all.

Friday, September 26, 2014

The Admiralty Pillow is DONE + Socktober KAL with Knitter's Pride!

I am beside myself this week: at long last, I have finished the  project I started back in August for the Holla Knits KAL (which has come and gone), the Admiralty pillow by Emily Ringelman!

I won the yarn to make this project during a Holla Knits blog tour earlier this year, and it was a great motivator to actually making this project. Intarsia and I aren't friends, and to be honest, it's a technique I try to avoid whenever I can. However, knitting 12 intarsia pieces turned out to be a good way to become a bit friendlier with the technique...although it's still not my favorite!

I did modify this design to only use two colors in the intarsia panels rather than 3, because I knew I would lose my mind if I had to juggle 3 colors of yarn. That turned out to be a really good move, and while I think the third color definitely adds some definition to the finished object (which is probably why the designer did it in the first place!).

If I had been smarter, I would have transferred the stitches from each piece to a long interchangeable cord instead of scrap yarn - then all I could have just attached the correct needle tips when it was time to knit and seam the pieces together. These are the things we think of way after the fact, am I right? At any rate I am happy with how my project turned out.

Conversation Socks KAL!

Just announced today here on the Knitter's Pride blog: a KAL for any of my 5 patterns from Conversation Socks during the month of October (aka, SOCKtober). The final pattern will be released this coming Monday, and there is a sneak peek on the Knitter's Pride blog today!

There is also a special discount for anyone who wants to buy the eBook and participate in the KAL - click here to claim your coupon code. It should be a whole lot of fun, and of course, there will be prizes!

The First 4 Designs from Conversation Socks - Click here fore a sneak peek of the 5th!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

WIP Wednesday: Sweater Weather!

I actually have two sweaters on the needles right now, but I'm only able to share one on my blog (the other is a test knit for a not-yet-released pattern!). Over the weekend, I started my sleeves for the Chill Chaser KAL: as you can see, I opted for two-at-a-time on magic loop. While I never seem to suffer from Second Sock Syndrome, I almost always get Second Sleeve Syndrome; I also find sleeves two-at-a-time to be a practical choice: you are pretty much guaranteed that your sleeves will match up, both in terms of length and placement of increases/decreases.

I had some pretty new yarn sent to me recently and couldn't resist casting on for a small project to see how it knit up. The yarn is a new exclusive base available at A Good Yarn Sarasota - it's called A Good Yarn Fingering, and it's hand-dyed by Yarn Love. Currently, you have to call them to order this yarn, but soon they will have it available for purchase online. The name of the colorway I got is Autumn Jewels, which happened to coincide nicely with the Hops & Hanks Fall KAL that's happening right now! I decided to re-knit a pattern from my back catalog, the Sweetest Baby Socks:

I haven't worked much on my Wedge socks recently, but they have grown a bit since I last posted a photo. These are my primary knitting-on-the-go project, so I haven't had many opportunities to pick them up recently, but I might have to start knitting on them at home. They are going to be so pretty, if only I can finish them! I'm looking forward to getting something else off the needles so that I have more time to devote to them next month:

Since finishing the FreshStitches Mystery CAL, I have been fighting the urge to start a new crochet project. Over the weekend, I signed up for Stacey's Amigurumi: Design Your Own Monster class on Craftsy (it was on sale for just $9.99!), and then my FreshStitches Kit Club shipment arrived yesterday! Hopefully I can stay strong and focus on my current WIPS, but I make no promises!

What's on your needles this week?

Monday, September 22, 2014

2 Weeks Until Spinzilla + Free Printable

In just a few short weeks, Spinzilla will be kicking off! Today is the last day to register for a team; those of you who would like to spin Rogue have until October 3 to register - click here for more info on the Spinzilla website!

#TeamLouet is officially full, and we are ready to spin for the glory this year. Our team thread in the Spinzilla group is buzzing with activity, and between now and October 6, I'll be sharing Spinner Profiles of our teammates here in the Louet Ravelry group. We'll also be discussing various topics to help folks prepare for the big event - our most recent thread is focused on fiber prep. Even if you aren't a member of our team, all are welcome to join in the discussion!

#TeamLouet will have some amazing prizes up for grabs in addition to all of the other opportunities to win prizes throughout the event:

GRAND PRIZE: The Bison Boogie will be awarded to the spinner with the most yardage, who will win a fiber prize pack valued at $400 retail!
Runners-Up: Winners in the following three categories will win 2 pounds of any in-stock Canterbury spinning fiber!

  • Bronze Bison: This award will go to the person who spins the most naturally-colored fiber by weight (must post your final weight in the #TeamLouet Ravelry thread to be eligible).
  • Brilliant Bison: This award will go to the person who spins the most dyed fiber by weight (must post your final weight in the #TeamLouet Ravelry thread to be eligible).
  • Beguiling Bison: This award goes to the person who shares the prettiest photo of their finished Spinzilla yarns (to be judged by the finished photo submitted at the end of Spinzilla)!

Adventurer Award: We’ll give out a fibery prize to a random teammate who tried a new fiber or technique during the event!

Monster Mile Club: Each person who spins a mile of yarn (1760 yards) during Spinzilla will win 2 pounds of any in-stock Canterbury spinning fiber, plus they will get a special badge they can add to their Ravelry profile, blog, or website!
To ensure that everyone has a fair chance at winning an award, each person is only eligible for one prize per person  (i.e., if you are the grand prize winner, you won’t be eligible for the other prizes). We’ll do our best to ensure that things are as fair as possible; if you have any questions or concerns about our awards, please PM me  on Ravelry
Over the weekend, I was inspired to organize and catalogue my yarn and fiber stash, making sure that everything was entered into my Ravelry notebook so that I could keep track of everything more easily. I discovered that I was the most lax about remembering to enter two things: first, nearly all of my recent purchases of spinning fiber were never entered into my stash. Second, I found that I had added in photos for many of my finished skeins of handspun yarn, but little else. 

I also discovered that I wasn't so great about labeling handspun skeins before releasing them into my stash. While my memory tends to be fairly good in this department, it would still be nice to have all of the skeins labeled for easy identification later (especially all of those naturally-colored skeins of brown romney/jacob/dorper/etc.). I decided to make myself some labels to use for all of my Spinzilla 2014 skeins and beyond, and then I realized that other spinners might also enjoy having ready-to-print labels at their disposal for Spinzilla, so I decided to turn the labels I made for myself into a free printable PDF for all to enjoy! 

Click here to download your FREE printable labels for handspun yarn courtesy of the Handmade by Stefanie Blog!

Friday, September 19, 2014

FO Friday: Spoiler Alert

I'm way too excited about this week's FOs! The first is the Pokemon Card Deck Bag I made for my nephew's birthday, which was earlier this week! I ended up making up my own design, though it was heavily inspired by this free pattern on Ravelry. However, I wanted to construct mine a bit differently and crochet it in the round, so that necessitated a lot of changes; factor in my crazy-loose style of crochet, and I ended up starting from ground zero, more or less.

The second FO for this week might be a bit of a spoiler, though I hope it's not - I just can't wait another week to blog about it! I finished my FreshStitches Mystery CAL project, and it turned out to be a super-cute puppy!

Also, if you're just now tuning in, I have a new sport-weight sock design that came out this week! Air Quotes are the second-to-last design from my Conversation Socks ebook, and you can read more about them here!

Thanks for joining me this week. Have a crafty weekend!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

WIPs: #ChillChaserKAL+ Friends

The big news this week is my progress on the Chill Chaser Cardigan, which is part of the Spud & Chloe #ChillChaserKAL happening here in their Ravelry group: I'm just about finished with both of the fronts and will be knitting the rest of the back piece shortly!

My other knit-worthy news item is the progress I made over the weekend on my Admiralty pillow:

As you can see, I bit the bullet and seamed all of the panels together, and I even wove in most of the ends in anticipation of beginning the final phase of pillow assembly. However, I can't proceed until the pillow form I ordered online arrives, so this project will return to the backburner til then.

Consequently, not much time as been allocated to my Wedge socks, though a bit of progress has been made since last week:

That's it for this week! I'd love to hear what's on your needles or hooks currently, too - and I'll meet you back here for FO Friday!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Air Quotes Socks in Baah Yarn!

I'm pleased to start the week off with a brand-new sock pattern, the Air Quotes Socks! They are the second-to-last design from Conversation Socks, and I am beyond thrilled to have this ebook so close to completion. In fact, my goal is release the final pattern two weeks from now, and you know what that means - the ebook price will increase once more!

The  cable panels on the front of the Air Quotes Socks remind me of the old-timey quotation marks (in journalism class, we called them 66 and 99); the cuff is ribbed on the back to ensure excellent fit. The stitches are very easy to read so that you can fly through the pattern without needing to constantly consult the chart, and they are the perfect way to show off the beautiful hand-dyed colors from Baah Yarn. Bonus: the superwash merino of Sonoma is soft and easy-care!

If you're just joining me, here's the deal: all 5 designs are written for sport weight yarn on US #3 needles; each pattern was created with the express purpose of being simple enough for knitting on-the-go, but interesting enough to keep you engaged. These patterns are perfect for your morning commute, knit night, or a trip out of town! They don't require huge, hard-to-follow charts or incredibly complicated techniques. Instead, they take the basic building blocks that the average knitter has at their disposal to create five designs the whole family will love.

I'm giving everyone a chance to pre-order ALL FIVE sock designs for the low price of just $14. I'll be releasing the final pattern very soon, and when I do, the price will increase to $18 for the entire collection (five patterns).

You will receive the Air Quotes sock pattern pictured above plus 3 more great designs for immediate download AND an automatic update once the final pattern is published.

Friday, September 12, 2014

FO Friday: Luxurious Lory Shawl

I am so incredibly excited about my FO this week: the Lory Shawl by Bristol Ivy, which is a pattern from the Fall 2014 issue of Knitscene. It calls for Bijou Basin Ranch's Himalayan Trail yarn, and I knit mine in one of their new Outlandish colorways, Geillis.

"Shawl" is a bit of a misnomer in this pattern, as I'd really consider it to be more of a scarf - at least, that is how I intend to wear it this winter! It's 80 inches long but not terribly wide (at least by shawl standards), so that qualifies it as a scarf, at least in my book.

It will be great for wrapping around my neck this winter, and I love the bright green color. Yak fiber is known for being incredibly warm (after all, they are native to the harsh, rugged regions of Tibet and Mongolia). In particular, the Himalayan Trail yarn is a 50/50 blend of both yak and merino fibers, and it feels cashmere-soft. It's the kind of yarn I can only knit slowly, because I keep stopping what I'm doing so that I can pet the resulting fabric.

I soaked it in a sample of a new fiber wash from Bijou Basin Ranch called Allure; it's a no-rinse, all-natural wash that's developed by one of the owners of the company, Eileen, who has a background in chemistry. The sample I had was in the Woodland Mist scent, which was a fresh, clean scent that wasn't too overpowering.

Blocking the scarf was a breeze with my new Knit Blockers from Knitter's Pride (click here to see them in action with another recent project). Just for funsies, I timed myself while pinning it out on my blocking mats. I was done in exactly four minutes. FOUR! I'm certain I would have spent at least twenty minutes blocking this with T pins, and the straight edges probably wouldn't look as nice.

The welt technique was easy to learn (and the magazine includes a full tutorial articles), and I like the way they look on the fabric of the scarf. They were a bit slow, but it was a nice way to break up the monotony of the stockinette stitch. The final step was an i-cord bindoff which was never-ending, but it does provide a nice, polished edge that was well worth the effort.

I am really excited to add this super-warm scarf to my winter wardrobe this season!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

WIP Wednesday: Irresistible Socks & Dancing Sheep

As I mentioned on my blog earlier this week, I was able to snag the third-to-last limited-edition colorway in Bijou Basin Ranch's Tibetan Dream sock yarn which was hand-dyed by Miss Babs. Even though I'm test knitting a sweater, participating in the Chill Chaser KAL and also doing the FreshStitches Mystery CAL this month, I have thrown all caution to the wind and cast on for another pair of Wedge socks by Cookie A with my pretty new sock yarn:

This pattern is really fun to knit, and it's absolutely perfect for variegated yarns. The first pair I made ended up being a bit large, so Tyler ended up being the lucky recipient of the finished socks. Though I didn't keep detailed project notes in my Ravelry notebook, I was able to find the pattern I'd copied for knitting-on-the-go, which had all of my handwritten notes on it. I'll be making the next size down so that I'm assured these socks will fit my feet this time around! 

I printed out the second clue for the Mystery CAL on Monday, but I probably won't get to it til later this week since I'm working on a top-secret project for my nephew's upcoming birthday. However, I have made some progress on my Chill Chaser, this week - though it's not very exciting to look at, I do have 12 inches of stockinette under my belt:

If you're thinking of joining the Chill Chaser KAL, there is a fun new video to help you pick your colors which was animated by my husband Tyler (and it features an instrumental version of a Shalloboi song!):

Monday, September 8, 2014

All Things Midwest

This past weekend, I spent an afternoon at the Wisconsin Sheep & Wool Festival with my fiber friend Lauren, which is one of our favorite regional shows to attend (second only to YarnCon in the spring).

I had a specific shopping list in mind which somehow I managed to stick to:

L-R: Cloudlover Spinning Fiber, Green Mountain Spinnery Weekend Wool, and Bijou Basin Ranch Tibetan Dream in Seaside, a limited-edition color dyed by Miss Babs.

Besides shopping the vendor marketplace, I spent a lot of my time talking to people at the show - I ran into a friend I haven't seen in a while, met up with Sarah of the excellent Knitting Sarah blog, and chatted with a few of my clients who had booths at the show. As always, there was plenty of temptation, but I was somehow able to resist.

We didn't get a chance to see the sheep shearing demonstration (though we caught it last year), but I did get a chance to make some sheepy friends and snap a few shots.

We also popped into the fleece auction right before it started, but thought it was best to remove ourselves before we filled our car with huge bags of fleece.

Per our tradition, we stopped on the way home to pick up some New Glarus Beer:

All in all, it was a fantastic day!

While I'm waxing poetic about all things Midwestern, I'd love to share my friend Allyson's latest project, which is currently raising funds via Kickstarter:

Midwestern Knits is a pattern collection celebrating the history and culture of the midwest, and it promises some great designs from both well-known and up-and-coming designers, all knit in yarns from the region. It's being curated by Allyson  Dykhuizen (from Holla Knits and the Sweatshop of Love) and Carina Spencer (designer of many great patterns, including Zuzu's Petals).

Allyson has published many design collections with Holla Knits, and the work ethic that both she and Carina have is exemplary; if they reach their funding goal, I know that the the resulting collection and book will be nothing short of spectacular.

Having done my own Kickstarter, I also know what an uphill battle reaching the funding goal can be. It's really hard work - even harder than doing the project you're raising funds for, in many ways!

If you can take a moment to visit their Kickstarter page to pledge - even $5 will be a big help to the cause (though I highly recommend taking advantage of some of their killer rewards). 

Click here to back Midwestern Knits! 

Friday, September 5, 2014

Review: Sockupied Fall 2014 Issue

It's been a while since I've checked out out an issue of Sockupied, but when I was offered a free download for my review, I couldn't say no! This latest issue is a user-friendly, interactive app which is available for both Mac and PC. I really liked the overall presentation; the images of the socks and products were well-done, while the graphics interface was eye-catching and engaging.

The layout is such that you can click (or tap) various areas on the page to bring up more content which are generally well-marked with graphic elements such as asterisks or arrows.
True North DK Socks by Lucy Neatby
Navigating through each section was fairly intuitive for the most part (although sometimes I would totally miss something which probably is quite obvious to tablet users, which this format seemed geared towards).

After so many years of knitting (and designing) socks, I have countless books and patterns in my library, and I find it hard to get excited about most "new" sock designs I come across. While I'm not sure that I'll be casting on any of the designs from this issue any time soon, I can definitely see adding some of these to my queue for knitting in the not-so-near future. All six sock designs are well-presented within the issue; it seems that there was great care in selecting each one to cater to a variety of sock-knitting preferences. There was a nice range of basic socks (Enduring Sock, Lida Rose), intermediate (Daisy Field Socks, Time Traveler Socks, Thyme Marches On), and the show-stopping technique-based True North DK colorwork socks by Lucy Neatby.
Lida Rose by Anne Podlesak
The patterns are included within the interactive application, plus there are also links to download individual PDFs.

After so many years of knitting under my belt, I am always pleased when I can learn something new which helps me hone my craft, and I definitely picked up some useful tidbits to sharpen my sock-knitting skills in this issue. I found many handy tips in Kate Atherley's Knit Durable Socks article, and the product spotlights on wool washes and breed-specific sock yarns were eye-catching and interesting. Jennifer Crowley Raymond's short article about vintage knitting patterns contained a list of extremely useful resources, for those of you who are vintage pattern enthusiasts.
Daisy Field Socks by Maria Leigh
The Fall 2014 issue of Sockupied is well worth the purchase price of $7.99; for just a few dollars more than the average cost of a single pattern, you get six great designs and access to articles, tutorials and resources to help you level up your sock knitting for fall.

I'm excited to see what future issues of Sockupied will look like under the editorial leadership of Amy Palmer!

You may like to know: I was provided with a free issue of Sockupied in exchange for this review. 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

WIP Wednesday: -Alongs Aplenty

Though I failed to finish my Holla Knits KAL project for last month's event, I am pleased to say that I made some major progress on the Admiralty pillow - the second pillow piece is done! Blocking it gave me an opportunity to test out a new product from Knitter's Pride which I had seen at TNNA earlier this year and was anxiously awaiting:

These new Knit Blockers are the most ingenious blocking tool I think I've ever come across. Having spent a good 15-20 minutes blocking the first pillow side with a ton of T-pins, I found myself wondering where the Knit Blockers had been all my life....because using them to block the second side took UNDER FIVE MINUTES!

Needless to say, I am incredibly excited to bust them out whenever I happen to finish the Lory Shawl. I was really hoping this project would be done before the Wisconsin Sheep & Wool Festival this coming weekend, but I am not sure that's a reasonable expectation at this point. However, I am reeeeeaaallly close to being done. It could be a photo finish!

The start of September (and the beginning of my favorite time of year) brought with it two more -alongs: the Spud & Chloe Chill Chaser KAL, and the annual FreshStitches Mystery CAL. I had been eyeing the Chill Chaser Cardigan pattern ever since it came out, and now that sweater weather is just around the corner, I can't resist joining in this two-month KAL. Plus, I love me a stockinette stitch sweater - I find I make a lot more progress since I can take the project just about anywhere and sneak in a few rows whenever I have down time. Check out how much progress I've made in just a few short days - almost 7" of stockinette stitch!

I also finished the first clue for the FreshStitches Mystery CAL, and I have absolutely no idea what it is so far. If you are wary of Mystery KALs or CALs (as I am), rest assured that this is a really good one to take a chance on.This is the third year I've participated, and I am pretty much always stumped til the end - but ALWAYS happy with the outcome!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Louet Fall Collection: Emin by Anne Podlesak

Photo © Caro Sheridan
I hope everyone is having a great holiday weekend; I am excited to be today's stop for the Louet Fall Collection Blog tour! If you haven't seen their new fall collection, click here to check it out on the Louet Blog. There are plenty of knit-worthy sweaters and accessories for fall (and even some crochet-worthy ones, too!).

When I signed up for the tour, I immediately went digging through my yarn stash to find all of my GEMS yarn - turns out, I have quite a bit of Sport on hand! As luck would have it, I had the exact same color of yarn shown for the Emin Cowl, Hat, and Mittens; it also happens to be one of my absolute favorite colors.

Though you probably noticed that all three pieces are listed separately on Ravelry, the actual pattern includes instructions to make all 3, making the $7.50 purchase price an absolute steal!

There are two size options for the cowl, and I made the smaller version, which is a close-fitting 20" circumference that will be great for layering under a scarf or wearing around the house. I ended up knitting the entire project in just 3 days; I'm sure folks who practice project monogamy could even finish it faster than that!

The smaller-sized cowl took less than a skein of yarn, and the larger size (40" circumference)  calls for two. Should you want to make a matching hat or mittens, you'll need 2 more skeins of yarn (one for the hat and one of the mittens).

The stitch pattern is charted and it's ideal for cabling without a cable needle, which I opted to do for my project. It was fairly easy to memorize and keep track of where I was in the chart simply by looking at my work, which is probably why it knit up so fast.

The only modification I made was in the cast-on; while the pattern calls for the long-tail cast-on, I opted to use the crochet cast-on because it more closely matches the bound-off edge (note: while pretty much every tutorials talks about using this cast-on provisionally with waste yarn, I highly recommend trying it with your actual yarn to create a nice, neat edge without using a ton of yarn!).

Given the circumference of the smaller size, however, it does seem like a stretchier cast-on such as the one called for is way more appropriate. I happen to have a pretty small head, so my finished cowl is quite easy to slip on and off, but I wouldn't recommend substituting a less stretchy cast-on if you are concerned about fit.

The stitch definition provided by the high twist of the GEMS yarn is quite striking, as you can see in the photo above. In addition to textured stitches, it's also great for colorwork and stripes, as I discovered with my own recent design in GEMS, the Chittery Chattery Socks.

If you're planning on gift knitting this holiday season, GEMS is a superwash yarn that is soft enough for next-to-skin wear, yet hard-wearing and pill resistant. You can find out more about GEMS here on the Louet blog!