Wednesday, September 30, 2015

WIP Wednesday: All the Grey Projects

I find myself with only grey projects on the needles right now! How did that happen?! It seems like I get stuck in little color phases, and this one is all grey, all the time! Each project is from a different portion of the grey spectrum - for instance, my project for the Sweater of Broad Shoulders KAL is kind of a brownish-grey (the colorway is named Mousey, after all). It's been coming along a bit slowly after a few false starts, but last weekend I finally made it though the first two stitch patterns!
I am still plugging away on my other gray sweater, which is knit with Bijou Basin Ranch yak yarn in a nice, crisp light grey color (I think it has an ever-so-slight bluish hue). I'm using the Pennant Cardi pattern from the fall issue of Knitscene. Yep, That's a lot of grey stockinette!
Last but not least, I am still chugging away on the Leonarda Wrap...which is more of a purple-y grey. Everything was going well till I realized I'd incorrectly knit a crucial row, which has increases across the board to maintain the stitch count - and this mistake was several rows back. Naturally, I discovered this mistake near the end of the evening, so I basically undid all of my work for the night before putting this project down and going to bed. Kind of a bummer, but I'll give it another try tonight, and who knows? Maybe it'll be done by the end of the weekend!
It's the end of September and I have finally decided to give up on my monthly goal-setting. I thought it would help me be more of a productive crafter, but it turned out to have the opposite effect. I was going to try to stick with it til the end of the year, but there is just too much happening this fall to dedicate an entire post to something that my heart's not it. So, this Friday I'll be announcing the winner for the Knitter's Pride needle set and WEEKEND book giveaway, plus I'll have a fun new FO to share, too. See you then!

Monday, September 28, 2015

One Week til Spinzilla!

Spinzilla is almost here! In just one week, I'll be spinning with my excellent teammates on Team Louet North America. This is my third time spinning with Team Louet (and also serving as the team captain), and I think we are definitely in contention for unseating Team Fancy Tiger Craft for first place.
If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I have been prepping a LOT of rolags for Spinzilla using my new Louet Blending board. Part of this is because the blending board is just so incredibly fun & addicting to use - but the other part is because I am going to be traveling for the second half of the event, and I want to make sure that I have plenty of fiber that is easy to use while on-the-go. Small, portable rolags seem tailor-made for travel spinning!

This year, I am going to take a totally different approach to my Spinzilla spinning: I don't plan on plying ANY of my projects til after the event. I have plied in years past, and I just want to try something new, especially since I don't see myself plying while traveling. Of course, that poses some challenges: first, I only have so many bobbins for each wheel. Second, I'll need a way to measure the yardage of my singles which doesn't involve using my niddy noddy (winding my singles off on a niddy noddy will add another step later down the road, because I will have to transfer the singles back onto a bobbin to ply).
The solution came to me one day out of the blue: why not use my ball winder to wind the singles into center-pull balls which I can use to easily ply from later on? From there, I can use a yarn balance to calculate the yardage of each single. I'll just have to take care to label each ball and keep everything well-organized until it's time to ply. I think I can handle that!
I plan to take my travel-friendly Louet Victoria wheel with me, along with my 3-D printed Turkish spindle from Turtlemade. Here's hoping I'm able to keep up with everyone else on my team, we've got some pretty prolific spinners amongst us!

Friday, September 25, 2015

Introducing: Weekend (and a GIVEAWAY!)

I've been anxiously awaiting the release of WEEKEND: Simple, Modern Knits by Jen Geigley this fall, and I'm so excited to share ithis new book with you today!

It seems like indie publishing is where it's at right now - some of my favorite collections have been self-published (or are slated to be self-published, pending their crowdfunding campaigns). I love that designers are taking it upon themselves to make the projects they want to make and overseeing all aspects of the process to fully realize that creative vision. It's a lot of work from start to finish,  and seeing it turn out so well is always exciting.

For WEEKEND, I was fortunate to play a small role in helping it take shape - I was the tech editor for several of the designs. At the time, the concept of a book seemed really esoteric to me, and seeing the finished result of all of Jen's hard work (and her photographer friends Joelle Blanchard, Geof Fischer and Joey Leaming)  is really incredible.

Aside from that, I am just really excited as a knitter to have an entire book of wearable patterns that can be knit up quickly, just in time for the return of cooler temperatures - most can be made in just one weekend!
Each project in WEEKEND is knit using bulky and super bulky yarn to create sweaters and accessories that are casual, contemporary and wearable handknits. Jen's goal was to create pieces that can serve as foundation pieces in anyone’s wardrobe - and I say, mission accomplished! The photo styling is crisp, modern, and perfectly shows off each unique aspect of the pattern. As a music lover, I enjoy a lot of the titles of the patterns: Undone, Sliver, Debut, Valhalla - just to name a few.

I decided to knit the Sliver hat from WEEKEND with a skein of my handspun yarn. It's been a while since I've knit with US 15 needles - this hat practically flew off the needles! In fact, I knit it in just a few hours' time from start to finish. Not bad! With Spinzilla just around the corner (and a HUGE bin of handspun yarn begging to be knit with as it is), I am really excited about using these patterns for more of my handspun yarn. They are a perfect match!

You can visit Jen's website to purchase hard copies of the book (which includes a free e-book copy); WEEKEND is also available as individual pattern downloads and PDF ebook here on Ravelry, or you can snag it on Amazon.

Giveaway Time!
One lucky reader will win a hard copy of WEEKEND: Simple, Modern Knits and a Nova Platina Chunky Interchangeable Set, perfect for knitting projects from the book (it's what I used to make my Sliver hat)!

To enter, leave a comment on this blog post saying which pattern is your favorite from the book. Be sure to also let me know your Ravelry ID or email address so that I can get in touch with you in case you win. For bonus entries, be sure to follow my blog via Bloglovin or follow any of these 3 Instagram accounts:

....then leave a comment here telling me which action you performed. 

I'll randomly select 1 lucky winner to announce next Friday, October 30; please note, this contest is only open to the US and Canada. Many thanks to the nice folks at Knitter's Pride and to Jen Geigley for their generous prize donations!

ETA: Giveaway reopened! Since the first winner didn't claim the prize, I'll be announcing a new winner on Friday, October 30!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Take 5: Teresa Gregorio of Canary Knits & Great Northern

Today I have an extra-special bonus post from Teresa Gregorio, who is working on an exciting new project with Leah Coccari-Swift called Great Northern, a pattern collection inspired by Twin Peaks (more on that in a sec!). Teresa is a talented designer and blogger whom I met at TNNA earlier this year, where we shared our love of craft beer and I got her hooked on Untappd! 
Leah and Teresa are raising funds for their project via Kickstarter; as you may or may not already know, I absolutely love supporting cool projects on Kickstarter, especially when they involve knitting (see: Midwestern Knits, Wooly App, etc). They already have my pledge - I hope you'll consider supporting them too!
Without further ado, I'll let Teresa share more about this project along with her list of the Top 5 Knitwear Themes inspired by the show!
Knitters and sweaters. We go together like cherry and pie.
Or like Audrey and Dale.  Or Norma and Ed.
I’m alluding to Twin Peaks; for those who may not have encountered this 90s television gem before, it was a groundbreaking series that ran for two seasons and is well known for its unusual, eerie atmosphere, bizarre characters, and (for the fashion-watchers) its collection of vintage knitted sweaters.
The wardrobe on the show is one of those things that made the show so groundbreaking; director David Lynch brought a big-screen sensibility to tv, where he created a sense of timelessness and character individuality through wardrobe. There’s the mid-century class of Audrey; the cozy 70s vibes of the Log Lady; and even the oversized pre-grunge of the late 80s/early 90s. The show is filled with fantastic inspiration; so fantastic, in fact, that fellow knitwear designer Leah Coccari-Swift and I have a Kickstarter campaign to fund the publication of a pattern book filled with our own take on the vintage vibes of Twin Peaks. Our book is called Great Northern, and we’re really excited!!
Let me walk you through some of that vintage fabulousness and what we’re doing with it.

Sweater Type 1: Late 80s oversized ski sweater
Twin Peaks was filmed right at the dawn of the 90s, so it’s no surprise that there’s a great set of late 80s/early 90s fashion sensibilities in the wardrobe. Several character sport sweaters of this kind; here you see Donna (a young Lara Flynn Boyle) in her oversized circular yoke pullover. 

Leah has drawn inspiration from this garment type to create Filled With Secrets, one of her coziest sweaters that’ll be part of our book Great Northern.
Sweater Type 2: Retro Vibe Cowichan
Everybody loves a cowichan sweater. They’ve been around for over 100 years now, getting love from each decade and picking up a sense of 20th century timelessness along the way. They’re cardigans/jackets that feature graphic colorwork. The non-sequitur spouting Log Lady, a fan favourite, is often seen wearing one of her many cowichan style jackets.

Leah’s taken the spirit of this garment type and added an updated flair with cable work and waist-defining belt in her design, My Log Does Not Judge.
Sweater Type 3: Mid-Century Glamour Top
Audrey Horne has got to be the most stylish character on Twin Peaks. She goes from sweet high schooler in saddle shoes to self-directed, powerful seductress over the course of the show. This journey is reflected through her wardrobe. One of her iconic outfits is the fitted, set-in-sleeve sweater and plaid skirt she sports near the beginning of season one.
Leah has drawn inspiration from Audrey for a number of pieces in Great Northern. One is her classy Jack with One Eye, a figure-hugging vintage crop top with attractive yoke detail.
Sweater Type 4: The Henley
A Henley is a classic sweater shape. They started out as menswear many decades ago, and gained wide popularity in the 1970s. They’re essentially collarless polo shirts, with a buttoned placket running beneath the rounded neckline.
One of my favourite characters in Twin Peaks wears a Henley in a season one scene. This sweater is a fantastic representation of vintage inspiration, with delicate lines, set-in-sleeves, and a classic, wearable style.
I drew inspiration from this sweater to design my own Henley; slightly updated for a 21st century palette, including a graceful neckline, gentle ease throughout the body, and a tailored look with clean, turned hems.
Sweater Type 5: The Drop Shoulder
Knitting was super popular in the 1980s. It was THE era of the drop sleeve sweater. And that uber popularity came to pigeonhole that sweater type as exclusive to an earlier age. Fortunately, this is turning around, with loads of drop shoulder designs once again hitting the knitting world.

Both Leah and I have drop shoulder sweaters in Great Northern. Mine was inspired by yet another of my favourite characters, the sweet and silly Lucy. The costume designer for the show LOVED to put her in oversized drop shoulder tops; I love this cabled one, and have embraced it and updated it in my design Jelly Donuts, with angled pockets, toggles, and a cozy collar.
Want to help make Great Northern happen? Please consider becoming a backer! There’s loads of fun incentives, and the opportunity to pre-order your own copy and receive free shipping when it’s published in the fall of 2016. Click here to make your pledge!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

WIP Wednesday: Inching Along

Last Wednesday night, I discovered that I had inexplicably cast on 100 extra stitches from my Broad Shoulders KAL project. I don't even know how that's possible, but that's just the kind of crazy stuff my brain seems to enjoy doing lately. Thank goodness I discovered the mistake early on - having 5 extraneous stitches at the end of the first row of the first stitch pattern section was a major tip-off...though you would think that the unusually large size of the ribbing would have been my first clue.

At any rate, I ripped out the entire thing and started again. By the start of the weekend, I was ready to start the first stitch pattern once more, and I am now halfway through that section:
It's been slow going for most of my projects because there is just so much stuff going on right now. I'm not even finished with the third clue of the Perspectives MKAL! The final clue comes out tomorrow, so I definitely need to put some hustle in my bustle to get caught up:
I've been working on my yak sweater, but it's still not very exciting to photograph - just miles and miles of stockinette. However, I did finally get to an exciting point on my Leonarda Wrap - the very beginning of the border stitch!
And that's it for this week, thanks for stopping by!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Winner + Love+Leche Lotion Bar Review

Congratulations to A Van Ness and megnolia13, you have both won super-adorable animal tote bags from Gleener - just get in touch with me via Ravelry to arrange for the delivery of your prize! Thanks to everyone who entered this giveaway; stay tuned for later this week, when I announce a BONUS giveaway for this month!
Recently, the folks at Love + Leche sent me some lotion bars to review. I am kind of a product junkie, especially when it comes to natural products, so I was pretty excited to give these a try. They let me choose which lotion bar I was sent, so I went for the Citrus Rose lotion bar in the shape of sleeping cats (act surprised, ok?). They also included two generous-sized sample lotion bars in the Cedarwood and Lemongrass scents - and I have to say, I loved all three.
What bothers me about a lot of products in general is the fake chemical fragrance that is added in lieu of essential oils (even from products claiming to be natural). That's definitely not the case here: each Love + Leche lotion bar is made by hand using local beeswax, locally-grown (and organic) calendula flowers, and plant-based essential oils. The bars themselves are very easy to use - they quickly melt into a nice emollient that is easy to rub into your skin. The fragrances are pleasant, but not overpowering. I've been doing a lot of fiber prep in anticipation for Spinzilla, which really sucks the moisture out of my hands even more than just plain knitting does. My hands have been baby-soft since adding these to my repertoire!
The lotion bars come in various shapes, and you can choose from scents such as citrus rose (which I absolutely LOVE), cedarwood, lemongrass, lavender, lavender-rosemary, and - of course - unscented. To round out their product line, they also offer goat milk soap and  anywhere balm, which is a versatile lotion tin that can also double as lip balm! ETA: They are giving away a trio of anywhere balms on Facebook this week, click here for details!

As an added bonus, you can enter coupon code HMbyStefanie to receive a free mini-lotion with any $14 purchase at! Offer good through September 30.

Friday, September 18, 2015

2015 Wisconsin Sheep & Wool Festival

It's been such a busy week, I haven't had a chance to share all of the awesome stuff I bought at the Wisconsin Sheep & Wool Festival last weekend! Being on a budget and having some very specific pre-Spinzilla needs, I made a list of what I was looking for at the show ahead of time. Believe it or not, this is me sticking to that list - really! My only yarn purchase was a skein of Xanadu yarn from Bijou Basin Ranch. It's their new fingering weight cashmere and I had to get my mitts on it. So soft! Are you surprised to see that I chose grey??
My next quest was to find some gradient roving for my yak cardigan because I want to use a handspun gradient for the yoke colorwork detail. I was 99% sure that I would find what I needed in the Fiber Optic booth - and I was right!
I also wanted to get a fair amount of either grey or black alpaca fiber to blend with colorful bits of fiber on my new blending board. Naturally, I ended up coming home with both. Oops!
The final thing on my shopping list was blending fiber, and lots of it! In particular, I really wanted to check out something I saw on Knitty, the Jar of Inspiration from Mielke's Fibers. This cool little jar is stuffed to the gills with a variety of fibers in the same color family - I could definitely see myself picking up a few more in different colors at a later date (they sell them online, too!). Cleverly placed near the Jars of Inspiration were these small bits of Alpaca/Silk roving which I couldn't resist. And while I'd vowed not to buy any more Cloudlover spinning fiber because I have so many braids in my fiber stash already,  but I couldn't resist a superwash fiber grab bag for blending purposes. Of course!
That pretty much filled up my tote bag and exhausted my budget, which meant it was time to look at some sheep. We happened to walk into the hall of breeds right as the sheep shearing demonstration started, which is always cool to watch:
Just getting my hairs did, NBD!
We said hello to some fleecy friends, such as...
An adorable pile of British Soay.
This handsome fellow is an Awassi.
This friendly Suffolk was all too happy to pose for my photo.
These fuzzy little guys are Babydoll Southdowns. As the name would imply, they are quite petite!
...and this guy with the coolest marking ever!
There were some pretty interesting rug hooking projects on display as well (and some ladies who were happily hooking nearby). These were two of my favorites:
Of course, a trip to Wisconsin isn't  complete without stopping for some New Glarus beer to take home:
I can't think of a better way to kick off the fall knitting season. I'm looking forward to playing with all of my new fiber treats and preparing some beautiful rolags to spin during Spinzilla next month!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

WIP Wednesday: What's Crackin'

On Monday, the Sweater of Broad Shoulders KAL kicked off (click here if you missed it!). I've made a modest bit of progress since Monday - hello, 1x1 ribbing!
I am still plugging away on my other gray sweater, but I feel like I'm basically posting the same progress photo each week, even though the sweater is just a little bit longer each time! That's also how I'm feeling about the Leonarda wrap I have on the needles - progress is being made, but is it really exciting to see the same photo of a blobby work in progress? I'm assuming no (correct me if I'm wrong in the comments!) and skipping over these two projects to get to what's actually seeing the most noticeable change....for example, I'm finished with the second clue of the Perspectives MKAL and anxiously awaiting Clue #3, which comes out tomorrow!
Unbelievably, I've resurrected the destash mitered square blanket this week thanks to the #BlanketMadness KAL that's happening on Instagram right now (I believe it runs 9/12-9/18?). Thanks go out to Laura from The Corner of Knit & Tea who alerted me to this freeform KAL; it's exactly what I needed to reinvigorate this project. I've only added 3 squares (gray, purple and aqua) since the KAL started, but that's almost as many as I added during the entire month of that's something, right?!
That's it for this week - don't forget to check out my awesome giveaway for super-cute Gleener Tote Bags, which ends on Monday, September 21. Spoiler alert: I'll be sharing all of my Wisconsin Sheep & Wool purchases (and *coughcough* sheep photos!!) this coming Friday, see you then!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Gleener Tote Bag Giveaway & Broad Shoulders KAL Kickoff!

The Sweater of Broad Shoulders KAL starts today in the Midwestern Knits Ravelry Group

Read more about this Chicago-inspired sweater here on the Sweatshop of Love blog. We'll be knitting along for the next three months here on Ravelry and I hope you'll join us! There are several other KALS happening this fall featuring projects from Midwestern Knits (click here for more info). If you don't own a copy of Midwestern Knits, you're in luck - TODAY ONLY, you can get 20% off your eBook purchase by entering the coupon code KALKickOff at checkout! 

KAL Prizes Include (everyone who finished by the deadline will win):
  • Pattern of your choice from Allyson Dykhuizen, Carina Ferguson, or pattern designer
Grand prizes include (3 grand prize winners):
  • MWK project bag
  • River Walk kit (yarn + project bag)
  • Screen printed tote bag
But guess what? I have an extra-special surprise, just for my blog readers: 2 lucky people will win their choice of a super-cute animal tote bag from Gleener

I first spotted these totes at TNNA earlier this year and went totally nuts. I was psyched when they offered to send me a tote of my very own AND offered two prizes for me to give away! Each bag is made of 100% cotton and really sturdy - think heavy-duty cotton canvas, not flimsy muslin. These totes are clearly built to last! They're available in cat, owl or dog designs, and each is silkscreened on by hand, then embellished with beautiful embroidery and cotton applique details. Naturally, I chose the cat bag, are you surprised?!
Besides the adorable prints, my favorite feature is that they are the perfect size for sweater projects (the website says each bag measures 16" h x 14" w, FYI). Those three mondo skeins of yarn I'm using for the Broad Shoulders KAL? All 3 fit in my cat tote with room to spare! 

Want to win a tote bag of your own? Leave a comment on this blog post saying which print is your favorite! Be sure to also let me know your Ravelry ID or email address so that I can get in touch with you in case you win. For bonus entries, be sure to follow my blog via Bloglovin, follow me on Instagram, or follow Gleener on Instagram, then leave a comment here telling me which action you performed. 
I'll randomly select 2 lucky winners to announce next Monday, September 21; please note, this contest is only open to the US and Canada. Many thanks to the nice folks at Gleener for their generous donation! 

Good luck! 

Friday, September 11, 2015

FO Friday: Argent Curl

Recently, I was given a test dye lot of yarn to play around with. I wasn't quite sure how much yardage was in the test skein, so I figured that one of Hunter Hammersen's Curls would be a great way to test out the yarn and knit a project without fear of playing yarn chicken.
Eventually, I'd like to knit all of the Curls patterns, but this is only my second project from the book. I chose the Argent pattern, which ended up to be fairly easy to memorize.
The yarn base here is a 50/50 yak and silk from Bijou Basin Ranch called Shangri-La. It's absolutely gorgeous, both to work with and the resulting fabric. It really makes dealing with those tiny needles worth it, and after seeing what beautiful drape the resulting project has, I may have to reconsider my stance on using lace weight yarn in future projects!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

WIP Wednesday: The Same, But Different

While I wait for the Broad Shoulders KAL to start next Monday, September 14, I'm trying to focus on making progress on what's already on the needles and avoiding the ever-present temptation to start something new. And I've mostly been successful, believe it or not (I would totally understand if you were in the "not" camp)! 

I've added another few inches to the yak sweater - the body is now about 10 inches from CO edge:
There has been just a little bit of progress on the Leonarda Wrap since last week: 
A lot of my knitting time has been spent on the first clue of the Perspectives MKAL - I'm ready for the next clue which will come out tomorrow! 
Lastly, I had started a project last week with my handspun flax which I had forgotten to share on my last WIP Wednesday post. I'm using the Tile Stitch Washcloth pattern from Knitter's Stash, which I've modified slightly for a larger gauge. 
That's it for this week, thanks for stopping by!

Monday, September 7, 2015

August Goals / September Goals

This was originally supposed to post on 8/31 - but you know what? I didn't hit the "publish" button at the appropriate time, which is really the most important step! I think that last week was the first time in at least a few years that I've missed a Monday post, the irony being that this was totally ready to go, I just had to pull the trigger. At any rate, August is over and September is here, which means that my favorite time of year (autumn) is just around the corner. Hooray!

Before I get ahead of myself, however, I need to evaluate those pesky monthly goals which I've gotten quite good at neglecting. At this point, I am questioning why I continue to do this each month, as the results are mostly me feeling bad for neglecting my original set of goals because new and more interesting things keep presenting themselves each month. Look! Shiny! There is no end to shiny things to distract me, and even when I am ultra-modest in terms of goal setting, I can't quite seem to achieve more than a 60% success rate these days. I guess it could be worse, but it could also be better, you know?

At any rate, I'm going to see this farce through til the end of 2015, so without further ado.....
Finished Flax!


1. Finish the flax spinning project-in-progress on my wheel. This one's left over from the Tour de Fleece, and it took a back seat once the Tour was over and I switched gears to working on my Stitches Midwest project full-force. DONE! I haven't blogged about it, but it has been instagrammed as proof

2. Release a new pattern this month. It's pretty ridiculous that I haven't self-published any new patterns in the last several months - believe me, it's not for lack of ideas! Nope. But one of my patterns WAS used for a KAL in the Paradise Fibers Yarn Club last month...does that count?!?!

3. Finalize my holiday knitting plans. I've actually decided to purchase most of my gifts this year because I know I simply can't make enough things for gifting purposes. However, there are a few projects I do want to make if time allows, and planning ahead right now is probably my best bet at making that happen. DONE - I've decided I'm pretty much just knitting hats for the kiddos and calling it a day. 

4. Start some projects with handspun yarn. I've already picked out some patterns to put my recently-finished handspun skeins to work, so it shouldn't be too much of a leap to cast on a few new projects this month! Or is it? Because I only started this one washcloth in my handspun flax yarn. Oops.
I'll be using my new blending board to prep for Spinzilla!

5. Show the scrap yarn blanket some love! I'm sure it's feeling rather neglected these days. I've added a paltry 4 squares for August. Which is better than the 2 squares I added in July, but still... 

Yep, that was bleak. So why not move on to set some goals for me to ignore in September? 

September GOALS

1. Spinzilla prep! Spinner registration is already open, and I just found out that I'll be traveling for the second half of Spinzilla. So I have a lot of preparations I'll be making ahead of time to ensure that I am able to spin a respectable amount of yardage while on the road. Oh, and I'll be returning to my role as the captain for Team Louet for the third year in a row - so come spin with us! 

2. KAL it up. I'll be leading a KAL for Midwestern Knits which begins next Monday, and I've also joined the Perspectives Mystery KAL that started last week. Hopefully, I'll be able to resist adding any more KALs to my plate for the month of September! 
3. Spin some gradient yarn to use in the yoke on my Pennant Cardi. I'll either use this pretty gradient batt that I bought from Classy Squid Fiber Co., or I may buy something at the Wisconsin Sheep & Wool this coming weekend. Luckily, I have plenty of time to spin the yarns and decide which one will work best, as I'm not even done with the body of the sweater. 

4. Check some holiday gifts off my list. Like I said earlier, I'm just knitting some small projects for the kiddos (mostly hats), so hopefully I can get everything locked down fairly early to avoid last-minute stress! 

I'm reticent to set any more goals than that. September is going to be a REALLY busy month for me, and I'll be pretty thrilled if I can just keep everything chugging along without losing my sanity (or what remains of it) in the process!