Friday, May 19, 2017

FO Friday: Handspun Aspen Cowl

Between launching a new free hat pattern and celebrating Tyler's birthday (which was on Wednesday), it's been a rather busy week. Also, I totally forgot to share my first guest post from the Interweave blog that went live last Friday - click here to check it out!

Anyway, in the midst of everything, I managed to squeeze in a quick photo shoot for this fun cowl that I recently knit with some of my handspun yarn:
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I can't seem to find any record as to what this fiber is, or where I purchased it, since it was spun for a Tour de Fleece long before I stated to keep better records in my spinning notebook. BUT, I can at least tell you what pattern I used: the Aspen Cowl by Andi Javori (note: affiliate link).
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This was a fairly easy knitting project, and it was fast, too - I just love patterns like that!. The stitch repeats were easy to "read" as I worked, so a lot of mistakes I would normally make were easily avoided just by taking a minute to count stitches or compare to the previous section.

I didn't do the best job of blocking the edges of the cowl because my favorite blocking tool, the Knitter's Pride Knit Blockers, were in use by a different project at the time. Also, I had to let it dry on the floor of my knitting room, and I kept finding it in slight disarray, no doubt from a certain cat who likes to run through the house a breakneck speed.
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However, it lays quite nicely and is easy to wear, plus I love how the colors in the handspun yarn worked up! I had been digging through my bin to find something that would be a suitable substitution for the yarn that was called for in the pattern, and I wasn't totally sure that this skein would be a good match. I'm glad I gave it a try, because I think it turned out great. Two thumbs up!

Monday, May 15, 2017

Jinxproof Hat: Free For a Limited Time!

I'm really excited to introduce the Jinxproof Hat pattern with everyone today, because I've been working on it for what seems like for-EV-er! I started it over the holiday break, but it grew from being just a simple slip-stitch hat pattern in a chunky weight yarn to a choose-your-own-adventure short story that allows you to custom-make a hat based on your preferences and whatever yarn weight you have on hand (sport, worsted, or chunky).
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The Jinxproof Hat is available for FREE now through June 15 to anyone who signs up for my newsletter, after which the pattern will be available for $6 in my Ravelry store (Note: if you already subscribe to my newsletter, an email with a free download link will be arriving in your inbox later today - I got your back!!).

I asked the kind folks at Briggs & Little Woolen Mill to supply the yarns for each hat sample. They're Canada's oldest mill and seriously the nicest people ever (full disclosure: I work with them in my day job at Stitchcraft Marketing). I wanted to spotlight their well-made, affordable yarns in a simple hat pattern that looks good on anyone. If you need help sourcing their yarns, I recommend googling "Briggs + Little" plus the name of the yarn you're looking for to find online retailers, or you can call or email them and they will gladly look up your nearest LYS (or take your order over the phone if there's no one nearby).

Here are the yarns and colors used in each of the three hat samples:

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Sport Weight: 1 skein each Briggs & Little Lite n’ Fancy 
in Ocean Blue (Color A) and Cream (Color B)

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Worsted Weight: 1 skein each Briggs & Little Heritage 
in Light Grey (Color A) and Grape (Color B)

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Chunky Weight: 1 skein each Briggs & Little Super yarn 
in Jade (Color A) and Light Green (Color B)

The pattern features instructions that are color-coded your choice of 3 yarn weights; I also include lots of tips for making adjustments to the pattern to suit your own tastes. It's a bottom-up hat that is knit in the round using an easy-to-memorize slip-stitch pattern.

If you follow the instructions exactly, you will have a comfortable fit that doesn't give you crazy hat head; however, I know that some people really like a snugger-fitting hat, and that is completely doable by just going down a needle size from what's recommended in the pattern.

My sample knitting (who is a a superstar) knit TWO versions of the worsted weight size: one as written (the larger sample below) and another one following the same set of instructions but using a smaller needle size (the smaller sample below):
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If you are nervous about signing up, don't worry - I don't send very many newsletters out, so I promise I'll only email you if there's something truly noteworthy (for example, when I have a new pattern!). If you decide you just want the pattern and don't want to be on my list, that's fine, too - just unsubscribe and enjoy your free pattern, my feelings won't be hurt!

I hope you'll share your Jinxproof Hats with me on Ravelry or on Instagram using the #JinxproofHat hashtag. Happy knitting!



Friday, May 12, 2017

FO Friday: A Potpourri of Projects

Last weekend, I finished a several crafty projects (all the better to start new ones, right?!). First, some fingerless mitts which used the leftover yarns from the Fade:

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The pattern called for US 4 needles and fingering weight yarn, and I thought that might be a little too loose for my liking so I went down a needle size. I should have knit a few more rows to make up for the gauge difference, but that didn't occur to me til I had already grafted both mittens together. There was no way I was going to rip them back to knit a few more rows!

I also finally finished the destash scarf that's been on my loom for several weeks now. All it took was an afternoon baseball game to knock out the final 20 inches of weaving!
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Since I was able to get the loom cleared off on Saturday, that left Sunday for warping a new project:

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I'm using handspun for both the warp and the weft. The warp is a two-ply Louet Merino and I'll be weaving with a skein of Cloudlover Superwash Merino. I got a little crazy and decided to use the entire width of the heddle since I had so much yardage in both skeins, so I'm expecting a nice-sized wrap.

And, I finally found time to ply together two 4oz singles of Polwarth from Bee Mice Elf that I'd recently spun I bought both braids a month or two ago with the intention of plying them together, but when I spun them into singles they didn't look like they'd go together so well. I decided to try plying them together despite this fact because most of what I think won't work usually ends up looking amazing....and I am quite pleased with the results!
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That's it for this week, thanks for stopping by. Have a crafty weekend!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

WIP Wednesday: Sleeve Party

This week is all about knitting sleeves! I finished the body of my Rockling Cardigan and started on the sleeves; usually I prefer two-at-a-time, but I just couldn't fathom doing that while managing several giant balls of the bulky yarn I'm knitting with. So, against my better judgement, I am knitting the sleeves one at a time on DPNs - but on the plus side, I finally get to give my Sirka Row Counter a proper test drive!
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I'll share more about the Sirka on a later post once I've used it more, but so far I am totally digging it.

Last weekend, I started a baby sweater for one of the few people I will accept commission work from at this point (hint: they are all very closely related to me by blood). I'm knitting a pattern I've used before (Seed Stitch Yoke Cardi) from one of my favorite baby knitting books, 60 Quick Baby Knits. Since a few of my friends are also expecting later this spring/summer, I am hoping this motivates me to knit some more baby stuff already!
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I am still working on the handspun cowl from last week, it's gotten just a little bit longer since then:
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It's kind of crazy to have the Fade finally off the needles. I need to resist the urge to start another long-term project in its place, since I'd really like to finish the Rockling Cardigan by the end of this month - a task I think is quite doable, but only if I don't get distracted by too many new projects between now and then.

Thanks for stopping by, see you back here on Friday when I share some of my most recently finished projects!

Friday, May 5, 2017

I Finished My Fade!

Shout it from the mountaintops: my Find Your Fade shawl is officially done! Look at how gargantuan this thing is:

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I started it on January 2 of this year after being inspired by all of the beautiful color combinations I'd seen posted on Instagram, and realizing that I could probably find 7 skeins of sock yarn within my own stash to make one for myself.

Sure enough, I dove into my stash and found exactly what I needed! Here are the yarns I ended up using, in order:

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  1. Koigu KPPPM - Black/White/Grey (they just have color numbers instead of names)
  2. Ancient Arts 80/20 Merino/Nylon Fingering - Russian Blue
  3. Fleur de Fiber Asbury Sock - Dirty Martini
  4. Susquehanna Knitting Company Sparkle Sock - Winter Waves
  5. Hazel Knits Artisan Sock - Aquarius
  6. Leading Men Fiber Arts Show Stopper - Drama Queen
  7. Koigu KPPPM - Black/Purple
I'm hoping this becomes my go-to shawl in the fall - or maybe even the spring since it's been on the chillier side here in Chicago. I find small shawls difficult to style sometimes, so the blanket-like size of FYF is definitely appealing.

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I'll be sharing more photos on my Ravelry project page and Instagram, if you're interested!

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I call this one "shawl monster."

Also, I have quite a bit of yarn left over from most of the skeins, so I'll be adding them to my sock yarn mini skein grab bags here on Etsy! If you enter "Fade me!" in the comments at check out, I will be sure to include some of these yarn colors when you place an order (while they last, of course).

Thanks for stopping by, have a crafty weekend! 

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

WIP Wednesday: Staying Focused

I've been focusing on the Rockling Cardigan since it's my oldest WIP currently on the needles. I am almost finished with the body of the sweater - last night, I started the final section of ribbing before bind off!

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I'm also working on the second destash sideways mitt with my leftover Fade yarn. Currently, it looks like a mess of spaghetti, especially since the first mitt is still on the needles while I figure out a way to graft the ends together and leave a spot for the thumb...a detail I'd neglected to think about when I decided to sub in a provisional cast on. Oops!

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One new WIP is joining the mix this week: I started a cowl project with some chunky handspun yarn using the Aspen Cowl pattern by Andi Javori, which you can find here in the Interweave store. (note: affiliate link).

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I still have the same project on the loom as last week and I've only added about 10 inches, so there's not much to report on the weaving front. Here's hoping I can find some time to weave this week, because I have so many more weaving project ideas I want to try. So far that's the only downside of weaving - you can only have as many projects in progress as you have looms!

I do have my finished Fade to show off, hope to see you back here this Friday!

Friday, April 28, 2017

FO Friday: Totally Tubular

It seems like forever since I've finished a pair of socks, especially since I've been working on this particular pair since the end of January.

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I purchased this dyed-to-order color inspired by Monet's Waterlilies on the Otter sock base from The Fawn and the Fox on etsy. I knew I was going to knit myself a pair of plain vanilla socks with it (pattern is from my brain), with the intention of adding an afterthought heel until I discovered that the heel-less socks fit me quite well.

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It took me a long time to decide what to do (put in the afterthought heels or wear them as tube socks?), but someone in my knitting group suggested that I do a little test drive to see if the heel-less sock was comfortable, or if it would move around in my shoes as I walked as tube socks tend to do.

Last week, I finally remembered to do this little experiment, and I wore one of the socks while running errands. It passed the test, so I decided to take out the placeholder yarn and graft the live stitches together to make these into (official) tube socks.

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I'm not sure that tube socks will be my new go-to for sock knitting, and I'm curious to see how the socks wear over the heels since they will be stretched a little thin - but it was fun to try something out of the norm, and I'm pretty excited about my new socks!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

New WIP & Handy Tip!

I've finished several long-term projects lately, so I allowed myself to cast on a new project from this book I got for Christmas:

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I chose the Simple Sideways Mitts using several of the yarns leftover from my very-recently-completed Fade (it's still in the blocking process, but look for finished Fade photos sometime next week!). I have no idea why I'm trying to cram it on these DPNs....apparently I just like the challenge?!

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Rather than seaming a cast on and bound off edge, I opted for a crocheted provisional cast on so that I can graft each end together when I'm finished knitting. This is my favorite provisional cast on because you just make a single crochet chain that's a little longer than the amount of stitches you need, and then you pick up and knit into the bumps underneath the crochet chain like. I made a (hopefully helpful) mini-tutorial for anyone who wants to give it a try:
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My current destash woven scarf is now past the halfway point, so my goal is to get it off the loom this coming weekend so that I can put on a few warp for the week ahead; it looks more or less like it did last week (lots of blue, gray and green yarn, only longer), so I won't bore you with another photo. I'm also working on a few new designs that I can't share just yet, but I did finally resurrect this sweater in Cascade Eco:

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The only other active project I have on the needles the never-ending striped laceweight scarf/cowl thing I've been knitting since last August....it's baaaarely past the halfway point, but I've been slowly chipping away here and there - no photo since it looks more or less the same as it did the last time I shared it here on this blog (I like to think it's much longer, but who am I kidding?!).

I know it's a little weird, but having lots of WIPs, especially long-term, stresses me out - so it's felt amazing to finally move some projects into the final finishing stages (weaving in ends, washing and blocking, etc). I look forward to sharing some of these recent FOs with you soon, starting with this coming Friday!


Friday, April 21, 2017

FO Friday: Lhasa Wilderness Woven Scarf

I finished my third woven project! Carl at Bijou Basin Ranch asked me to weave a sample to be displayed in their booth at the Intermountain Weaving Conference in July, and I couldn't resist the change to try weaving with this luxurious yarn!

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Since I'm still a total novice, we agreed upon a very simple scarf using two skeins of Lhasa Wilderness in one of my favorite new colorways, Joseph. I'm still really nervous to have my weaving work on display for Real Weavers to look at (gulp!), but at least I won't be there to hear them remark on my still-figuring-it-out selvedges. This is what I tell myself, anyway!

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I loved weaving with this yarn - it's a yak/bamboo blend that is a bit slippery, so it did take some getting used to. In my sample, you can totally see where I started to get the hang of it:

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Thankfully, my finished scarf looks a lot better than the above swatch. If you want to try weaving this scarf project, I've shared my calcs and supply list below. Happy weaving!

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Lhasa Wilderness Scarf
Totally Mathematical: 
Width of Project: 8 inches
Total Width on Loom: 9 inches (10% shrinkage)

Project Length: 68 inches (not including fringe)
Warp Length: 93 inches

Number of Warp Ends: 90

Stuff You'll Need: 
Yarn: 2 skeins of Lhasa Wilderness in Joseph
Heddle: 10 Dent
Loom: Rigid Heddle Loom (I used a 20" Schacht Flip)
Stick Shuttle
Scissors
Measuring Tape

New to weaving? So am I, but I made this scarf with the help of Angela Tong's awesome Craftsy class, Rigid Heddle Weaving. Click here for my full review!

You may like to know: I am a Craftsy affiliate & receive a commission for purchases made on Craftsy when affiliate links are clicked. 

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Back to WIPs

Over the last few weeks, my crafting time was focused mainly on a few deadline projects that I couldn't share publicly. Now that they are done, I can get back to my regular WIPs, a few of which seem close to the finish line!

The waterlilies socks are getting closer to the finish line - last night I started the toe shaping on the second sock!

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But the big news is that I'm on the FINAL color of Find Your Fade; how did that happen?!

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I picked up the crocheted handspun blanket last weekend and discovered that it was just a few rows away from being done - so now the crocheting is complete, but I do have ALL of these glorious ends to weave in:

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Most of the yarn is big and fluffy, so I was excited to give these darning needles from Knitter's Pride a try - they've made the process so much easier since I don't have to struggle to thread each yarn end through a narrow needle eye!

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I also warped my loom for another destash scarf project, though I was intending it to be a wrap - unfortunately, I misjudged the amount of yarn I had for my warp, oops! I ended up adding a second color to either side on the loom, which makes it way off-center. While I'm sure that's not the end of the world, it is a little annoying from an OCD standpoint, and tensioning the warp evenly was a bit more challenging (but not the disaster I feared it would be).

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Don't get me wrong, I would definitely prefer to have a centered warp for those reasons just listed, but I'm totally ok with going with the flow and having a project that's fairly loosey-goosey. I'm sure more experienced weavers have compelling reasons why I would want a centered warp (feel free to share in the comments!), but I'm chalking this one up to learning curve and forging ahead!

Friday, April 14, 2017

Friday Fun, Inaugural Edition

I know I haven't been blogging as much as I used to, but I don't want to get out of the habit since it's something I've always enjoyed doing. I've been working on a lot of long-term projects (some of which are secret) and haven't had an FO in quite some time, so that made it easy to skip Friday posts...and then I didn't want to keep posting the same projects with very little noticeable progress each Wednesday - basically, it was a slippery slope.

Anyway, I thought it would be fun to start sharing what's new/interesting/noteworthy, especially when I don't have a finished project to share. For example, here's what's been tickling my fancy lately:

Enamel Pins
Has anyone else noticed the enamel pin craze? I've been following this trend for a while (mostly on Instgram) but only recently hopped on the bandwagon. I was super excited when one of my clients, Bijou Basin Ranch, came out with a cute Yak Knitting enamel pin earlier this month (it's the first in the series!). It's joined my small but growing pin collection:

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3D Printing
Here's another trend I've been following, and quite honestly, I am surprised that this hasn't found more of an audience in the knitting world. Turtlemade's 3D printed Turkish spindles have been quite popular for a few years now, but I figured that someone would be selling 3D printed knitting needles or hooks by now (if you know of someone, let me know in the comments!). Anyway, my friend Julie sent me this link about a 3D printed sweater and I thought it was rather interesting. Perhaps this is the perfect answer to the constant question we're always asked as crafters (that is, if they reach their Kickstarter goal).
Image via Kniterate

Amazing Billboards
I can't imagine how much this cost, but one clever artist has been replacing ads on billboards with photos of the landscape they're blocking. It's genius! I would absolutely love to see one when driving down the highway.
Image via DesertX.org.
Rally Cats
I am delighted whenever animals run on the field during a sporting event, and secretly hope it will happen at one I am watching. The closest I got was last year's Rally Mantis for the Royals, which was fun, but not as fun as this cat that ran on the field during a Marlins game earlier this week! He looks just like a tiny Robin, and the commentators' play-by-play makes it even funnier to me - and I love how the Marlins social media team handled it in the Twitterverse:

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I'd love to hear about what's inspiring you this week, too!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

A Knitter Goes to a Quilting Show....

Last Friday afternoon, I took a few hours to check out the International Quilt Festival at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, IL. It had been a very long and somewhat stressful week at work, and to be honest, I didn't feel like I could spare those few hours...but I was SO glad I went anyway. It ended up being a much needed break from spending too much time at the computer, and I came home feeling refreshed and ready to return to work (which can be hard after you've left the house to do something fun). I ended up crossing off everything on my to-do list, even some of the things that had been eluding me all week.

The show was smaller than I was expecting, but it was probably for the best because each booth was stuffed with colorful fabrics, notions, sewing machines, and gadjets. I thought that 2pm on Friday would be slow, and it probably was,  relatively speaking. Considering that there was quite a crowd and walking the floor was an exercise in patience at times, Saturday and Sunday must have been bonkers with wall-to-wall people.

Half of the space was dedicated to exhibition quilts, which were positioned at the entrance so that you had to walk through at least a portion of them. A friend had mentioned that this was her favorite part of the show, so I made sure to check out as many quilts as I could; it was truly awe-inspiring! This piece was the first thing you saw when entering the show:

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Northwood Awakening by Ann and Steve; this piece is 25 feet wide and didn't fit in frame!
As a non-quilter, this show was worth the $10 admission for the eye candy alone, and the marketplace was surprisingly varied. Obviously, the focus was on quilting-related products, but I saw several booths that had materials for other crafts - and I even spotted some yarn! I was tempted by a quilted pillow pattern with cute alpacas on it and the plush toy sewing patterns I spotted in several booths; I had to firmly remind myself that I don't have enough sewing skills (or time!) to make them, otherwise I'm pretty sure they would have come home with me.

So what DOES a non-quilter buy at a Quilt Show?

My first purchase was a rotary cutter, which I've been meaning to get for a while because I'd heard it was an efficient way to trim fringe evenly on woven projects. This ergonomic cutter from mynotions.com was a steal at just $7!

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I also bought some handmade buttons for a top-secret project I just finished (I can't share it on here til later this summer, though!) - they are tiny ceramic birds that are handmade in South Africa, sourced through Fair Trade Federation guidelines via a company called Akonye Kena.
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My final purchase was two sets of small wool circles for a project I hope to weave soon, inspired by this booth display:
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I'm planning to weave black or gray fabric to make a pillow to sew the circles onto. I'm not sure if I will mix and match the color families, so I'll either make two smaller pillows (one with each set) or blend them together to  make a large 20" square pillow, which might be overly ambitious. Then again, I do love biting off more than I can chew when it comes to weaving!

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I'm hoping to attend more sewing-related shows in the next year; if you know of any good ones in the midwest that need to be on my calendar, let me know in the comments!

Monday, April 3, 2017

YarnCon Recap

Last weekend was one of my favorite yarny events of the season, YarnCon! I love this show because it focuses solely on independent makers, and this year's was the biggest and best yet. Vendor booths spilled out into the hallway and up into the balcony of the venue, and I think that this was the most varied and interesting collection of vendors yet. There were a lot more hand dyers this year, and all of them really brought their A games: unique yarns, gorgeous colorways, and LOTS to choose from.

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It was great to see so many returning vendors (Why Knot, Brew City Yarns, & Yarn Geek come to mind), but I would say that more than half were new to me, which made exploring the show floor really exciting. It really seemed like there was something for everyone, with each vendor bringing something unique to the mix. I did see a lot of the speckled yarns and gradients which are still really popular, and there were even more mini skeins for sale than I think I've ever seen at the show.

What really caught my eye were some of the custom blends of yarns or spinning fiber. There were many breed-specific options, and also some unusual fiber blends. It's clear the indie dyers are getting the message that developing their own unique yarn bases is the way to set themselves apart from the thousands of dyers who are using the standards MCN/Superwash Merino/BFL sock yarns. I really hope this is a trend that continues!

I'm no stranger to yak yarn, but this is the first time I've seen a Merino/Yak/Nylon blend - perhaps MYN is the new MCN?? At any rate, I couldn't resist this skein of Khalessi Sock (70% Merino, 20% Yak, 10% Nylon) in Sun Kissed in the Grinning Gargoyle booth....and I didn't realize it at the time, but it coordinates perfectly with the handsewn needle keeper I bought from my pal Emonie from Hopkins Studio:

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I couldn't resist this Bonkers Dusky TnM (20% Tencel, 80% Merino) in Green Williwaw - I really love it when there are darker fibers mixed in with the natural fibers before being dyed. The black fibers are actually the Tencel!

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Also, they win the award for the best display mannequins in a booth - how fun are these?!

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There was also a cute sheep on the other side of the booth:

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Every year, I love seeing what Rita from Yarn Hollow has in her booth, and this year a pretty Foxy Batt came home with me:

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Apparently, blended spinning fibers are my new favorite thing, because I couldn't resist this custom mix of colorful 100% Merino fiber from CJ Kopec Creations, and this colorway's name is Cat's Eye!

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Would you believe me if I told you that I've never purchased a set of mini skeins? It's true! These lovely squishy skeains from Little Patch Alpacas were calling to me....they've a blend of Alpaca, New Zealand Polwarth & Merino in sport weight yarn. I think I'll be knitting a cowl with them very soon!

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I didn't buy this Chicago-themed/BMO project bag at the show, but it's the perfect way to show off my new YarnCon enamel pin. I think I'll be adding more fun enamel pins to it in the very near future!

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Did you go to YarnCon this year? I'd love to know what caught your eye and came home with you this year!