Thursday, June 30, 2011

The road to yarn con is paved in fiber....

oh gauge'll be a project someday.
...glorious fiber!  I know there are many yarny events to look forward to in Chicago over the next several months, but I am most eagerly anticipating Yarn Con on September 24th - which just happens to be when my friends will be launching their brand-new yarn company, The Wool Dispensary.  I know I blogged about their beautiful yarns a while back (see:  Oh! The Squishing! from April 11 of this year)... well, just wait til you see what they have in store for the fall.  I assure you, it will knock you hand-knit socks off.

But! They can't get to Yarn Con without your help (there's always a 'but,' isn't there?!).  They're raising money the internet-savvy way, via a fundraiser project.  You can pledge now (and get dibs on some truly great prizes - I myself couldn't resist the limited-edition silk-screened poster print!), but you won't be charged unless they reach their fundraising goal by August 10th.  If you can't make it to Yarn Con to fondle some of their fabulous fibers, you can join their Ravelry group or follow them on twitter to find out when and where you can get your mitts on some pretty skeins of your very own. 

Meanwhile, I will tempt you with the gauge swatch I just knit up - I can't spoil too many of the details, but I can tell you that it will be fingerless gloves knit in their sport-weight...naturally, you can expect the release date to coincide with Yarn Con!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Ostrich Times!


The Summer of Toys KAL series continues - this time, I'm asking you to break out your Malabrigo and ready your needles...the time for knitting Ostriches is now!  Can you think of a better way to beat the heat of July than staying indoors and knitting a cute Stuffed Ostrich?  I can't....but I am probably biased (and I finally live in an apartment with central air).  At any rate, come July 5th,  I'll be making mine using Malabrigo Twist in Sunset and Malabrigo Rios in Solis.  What will you be using for yours?  Leave a comment here, or join the fun in my Ravelry Group!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Mr. Nubbins Cuts A Rug

This video was posted last week, but I've been slow to blog about it since it's taken a while to sort through everything from TNNA.   

Ever since his cameo in my band's Paper Doves video, Mr. Nubbins has been hungry for a starring role.  I think we've created a bit of a monster....

My husband Tyler shot the footage before I left for TNNA, edited it and added some original music while I was in Columbus (that's right, Mr. Nubbins has his own theme song, courtesy of Tyler!), and then we uploaded it I got back into town.  Mr. Nubbins really likes all the attention, he's getting to have quite the massive ego.  Where will fame take him next??

Monday, June 20, 2011

TNNA: Dispatches from the Show Floor

monkey in disguise.
At last, we made it to Columbus!  We arrived Friday evening, checked into our hotel, and then I scurried off to meet up with my boss Leanne, head honcho at The Wool Wide Web, and Sarah, my fellow telecommuting coworker - both for the first time! It's pretty crazy to trade emails with someone for half of a year before meeting them in person, but we all got along quite well from the start and headed out in search of sushi.  Midway through dinner a torrential rain began to fall, complete with a crazy lightning show that caused the restaurant's power to flicker a few times...good thing we were ordered food that didn't require power to prepare!   Since the rain didn't let up, we flagged down a cab to take us the very short distance to our respective hotels, and I reconvened with my trip buddies, who were enjoying a Jeni's-based dessert back at the hotel. 

The next morning, it was time to hit the floor!  The last TNNA trade show in Columbus just happened to be my first-ever show I got to attend. Having spent four years dyeing yarn at Lorna's Laces, I'd heard many a story about the goings-ons at such events, so I had a vague idea of what to expect. If you've ever been to a Stitches event, that's pretty close to what my TNNA experience was like - except the floor isn't cash and carry, so I didn't leave Columbus totally destitute. I squished beautiful yarn like the crazy knitter lady I am, but was somewhat relieved that the temptation to buy was removed from the equation. When it comes to yarn and fiber, I have zero self-control.

My main mission was to talk to as many people as possible about my pet project that I've been working on with Leanne, Yarn Dealer, which is going to officially launch in August. Most of the folks I spoke with seemed genuinely interested in what Yarn Dealer has to offer - the main selling point certainly seemed to be the ability to manage Facebook, Twitter and Ravelry all in one spot. I know that I that feature to be extremely helpful whenever I have to post a new pattern all over the place!  As I filled people in on all the other exciting features we had available and in the works, I handed them a button and then continued on my merry way - I should probably admit that I was REALLY excited about making Yarn Dealer buttons.  Buttons are to indie rock kids as t-shirts are to sorority girls....but I digress.

Mission #2 was to procure more design work for myself, and despite the fact that I didn't have a 'designer' designation on my badge (being that I was there via The Wool Wide Web),  I was able to speak with several people who were interested in working with me some time in the future.

There were some really great booths, but I just wanted to highlight a few to give you a taste:
hungry for yarns....aren't we all??
  • Ysolda created a magical garden party on the show floor, complete with a photobooth and tons of design samples to play dress-up.
  • Imperial Stock Ranch made good use of their corner booth by creating a rustic ranch feel.
  • Berocco had a yarn bar where you could choose from several yarns to try knitting with.
  • Alisha Goes Around turned a lot of heads with an amazing knit polar bear she was kind enough to let me photograph.
  • Scarlet Fleece had several Rebecca Danger monsters hanging around their booth,  and some other great designs courtesy of boothmate Cheryl Beckerich (my favorite being a warm-looking chunky cabled hat)!
  • The ladies at Soak let us rest our tired feet for a bit on Sunday afternoon and recharge with some zippy peppermint Heel foot cream.
TNNA Swag - nothing to sneeze at.
I think the swag was better for retailers or designers (not complaining, just an observation!), but I did get some fun prizes along the way...and also procured a few Sample It! items, too.

We happened by many of the knitterati, usually by accident (which actually means 'while in line at Jeni's)...tried not to be all gushy or interrupt conversations, so I didn't end up taking to a great many of them...which is usually a good situation for me, as I tend to say silly things to people I admire, and then feel embarrassed about it later (great example being the time I talked to Bobby Hecksher after The Warlocks played the Empty Bottle, as Tyler can attest to).

We did the Jeni's thing, had breakfast and lunch at North Market a few times, drank a good amount of local micro-brews, and found some tasty dinner spots along the way....which makes me bummed that it will probably be a very long time before I return to Columbus - but without the excuse of a trade show, visiting family or exploring someplace new is higher in travel priority.

As the dust settles from the show, it's time to focus on designing and getting Yarn Dealer off the ground. You can bet I'll keep you posted!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Mustachio May Wrap-Up & TNNA, part I

I didn't spot too many mustachioes in the wild, but I did end up making a whole slew myself - and even dreamed up a few new mustachio recipes (to be released at a later date)!
Birthday 'stache by mercourier.

My 'stache stash.

If you missed out on the fun of Mustachio May, fret not - your chance shall come again next year.  'Til then, you must fill your days collecting the necessary yarns worthy of mustachio-making.   This is one of very few projects wherein it's ok to let the fun fur fly.
Git yer own!
I'll be posting a longer entry on Monday about my exploits at TNNA, though the story of how my friends and I got to the show certainly bears repeating!  We had a slight navigational error that resulted in our taking what was surely the most circuitous route possible between Chicago and Columbus.  I lost track of how many different two-lane highways we were on...but trust me, they numbered many. 
Off we go!
I think my pal Sam's blog entry sums up our journey to Columbus better than I could - but stay tuned for part two - dispatches from the show floor through the eyes of a TNNA virgin.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Spotted in the Wild: The Overdue Edition

Last night I rolled back into Chicago just in time for rush hour - what a treat!  I had a great time at TNNA - but after being bombarded with so much yarny goodness, I need a few days to decompress and get back to my normal routine.  I'm also woefully behind in showcasing fellow Ravelers' FOs, so without further ado, here is the latest crop:

You may remember Purselover from the last episode of SITW - and it's even possible that you recall she was pondering knitting a mondo version of the Kitchy Pleated Bag using Malabrigo Rasta.  Well, she walks to the walk (I had to resist the urge to say something dorky, but you can use your own imagination if you'd prefer a more knitting-appropriate yet eye-roll-inducing expression).  She used 4 skeins of Oxido and size 19 needles to create her 'extra-bulbous' version of this design! 

Another creative use of my whale chart has popped up on Ravelry, this time in the form of an adorable hat.  I think this is my favorite aspect of releasing a (free) colorwork chart:  letting people use my work as part of their own in creative ways.  Yarnstormer used several types of sock yarn to knit up this cute little baby beanie on size 2 needles.  The main color is Madeline Tosh Sock in Golden Hickory, and the
contrasting colors are Zitron Trekking Pro Natura in White and The Loopy Eye Solid Series in Strawberry and Smoke. 

One of my first sock patterns ever published was recently knit by Rav user JessicaRose to be a model for the Lorna's Laces booth at this past weekend's TNNA show.  Somehow, this managed to escape my notice after the fact, but every time I walked by that booth, it was jumpin'!  Consequently, I didn't get to see all the new things they had on display, including my Side Swipe Socks knit out of their newest (and most technologically advanced!) yarn, Sole Mate.  While I was still working there, I knit myself a pair of socks with some Sole Mate, as we were testing it out and seeing how we liked it.  Those are actually some of my favorite socks, and they really do regulate temperature as advertised.   I'm not sure what color this is, but I'm guessing it's something new they debuted at the show, and I trust that once all the dust settles, there will probably be a blog post to fill us in on all the details.  Looks like they're naming this newest crop of new colors after Chicago landmarks!

Speaking of socks, looks like Rav user Meezercat is the first person to complete a pair of my Quick Draw Socks from Malabrigo Book 3.  She just so happened to knit them in my favorite color, too, using Malabrigo Sock in Lettuce.  Check out the super-cute sheep sock blockers! 

I'm also excited to see the completed pair of Heliotrope Stockings, as knit by one of The Sanguine Gryphon's own elves, Cacie.  She's been posting her progress on twitter and reportedly this is her first-ever sock-knitting experience!  Is there any better flattery in the world?  Even more notable (and impressive), she was able to successfully knit this pattern whilst partaking in the whiskey.  That's a bold move, but I've heard rumors that the Elven-kind are not affected by the earthly spirits in addition to having their magical powers. 

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Off to my first-ever TNNA Show!

Tomorrow morning some knitting friends and I will be headed to Columbus, OH for the TNNA Trade Show.  I'm attending mostly to promote Yarn Dealer, which is an exciting all-in one software program made specifically for those in the yarn industry - LYSOs, wholesalers and designers. I've been part of the development team since January of this year, and this show is going to be our 'soft' roll-out, so I'll be spreading the word about how much I love being able to manage my Facebook fan pages, Twitter accounts, and Ravelry groups all in one spot in addition to all the other features that we've added along the way...with more to come!

I'll also be shamelessly self-promoting - I'm pretty excited about the 'calling cards' I just had printed up.  They're double-sided, which is a feature I always like on cards for some reason - on one side is the beautiful 'Handmade By Stefanie' banner I've been using for many years now (on this very blog, in fact), which was created for me by a Chicago artist named Diana Sudyka.  The other side features my ever-popular whale chart, which - spoiler alert! - may or may not be featured later this year in a new pattern release. 

I'm really excited for this weekend and no idea what to expect.  Safe travels, fellow trade show attendees, I can't wait to meet you! 

Monday, June 6, 2011

Faster than the speed of blog

Things are happening faster than I can craft blog posts for them!  Since I'm going to TNNA this week (which I imagine will be a few blog posts unto themselves!), I will have to fill you in on the bullet points:

1.  Mustachio May:  I made a total of 5 nosewarmers from a single ball of Knit Picks Comfy Sport - and I still have yarn left over!  I'm guessing I'll be able to make two or three more.  I did create two new mustachio options, which I'll be including on a more official PDF version of the pattern, to be typed up whenever next I get a chance - hopefully sooner than later...
2.  Last week I finished a project that's been on the needles since JANUARY 15 (sorry for the all-caps, but that is just madness) - the languishing Stalagmite Socks (by Cookie A) are at last languishing no more.   It's a great pattern, and though the cable pattern is a little daunting when you look at it, it's not too difficult once you get into it.  However, it does happen to be a pay-attention project and therefore isn't suitable for working on outside of home - and as previously mentioned in several blog entries, my at-home knitting time has been drastically reduced of late.  It's still pretty ridiculous that I spent four and half months knitting these, but I'd say it was worth it! 

3.  Figure this - I spend nearly half a year knitting a pair of socks, but bust out the Pogona Shawl by Stephen West in a week! I have no real explanation, except that this pattern was extremely addictive - it was easy to memorize (I used color-coded stitch markers to help me keep track of my increases) but still interesting to knit.  I started this project a few days before I had to fly to Louisville, KY for a wedding, and it ended up being the perfect flying companion.  I made some major progress whilst in Kentucky, mostly due to the fact that everything I wanted to do (check out yarn stores, visit the craft museum) was closed the entire time we were in town (which was a sum total of two days - Sunday and Memorial Day).  I got so into the pattern, I forgot to start the garter edging when I was supposed to - I ended up omitting the last two rows of garter for fear I'd run out of yarn on my bind off.  Unfortunately, I did run out of yarn with only 40 stitches left to bind off!   However, I was able to find some similar-colored sock yarn in my stash to fudge the remaining stitches.  I have to look good and hard to find the place where I ran out of yarn.

4.  I got a great deal on some Malabrigo Rasta for the first project in the Summer of Toys KAL - our favorite trouble-maker Mr. Nubbins is about to have some new friends (compatriots?).  Lady Nubbins, as I've dubbed this one I'm knitting out of Oxido, would have been finished in a day if I hadn't gotten sleepy - I knit the legs and body in under two hours.  Gotta love big yarn!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Summer of Toys KAL

A few months back, I dreamed up a summer-long series of toy KALs.  I probably should have clued all of you in on it a bit sooner - but summer snuck up on me this year!  Among my other excuses are: having to attend 2 out-of-town weddings during the month of may (and I don't get time off at my work, I have to make up every day I miss - so it made for a chaotic month), and now I am preparing to go to my first ever TNNA in a week!  So much traveling!

But back to the Summer of Toys - as the temperature rises, I like to work on smaller projects - it's tough to want to work on a sweater when it's 90 degrees, especially if you don't have a/c.  Plus, if you are on-the-go, they travel well! 

To kick off the series, we'll be knitting Mr. Nubbins (if you aren't a Ravelry user, you can purchase the pattern by clicking on the 'Patterns' page on the sidebar to your right). 

From now ‘til the Fourth of July, the Army of Mr. Nubbins is recruiting. It’s your patriotic duty to answer the call - cuteness wins over all!  He’s a fun-loving trouble-maker you can knit in a day using 1 skein of malabrigo rasta, but use any yarn you like - just remember to tag your projects in Ravelry with “summeroftoysKAL" or leave a comment with your FO photos.

And of course - there are prizes involved!

Most creative buttons/bow tie combo will be awarded some Found Buttons! They will be super-special ones not listed in my Etsy shop, and worth of another Mr. Nubbins (or perhaps a Ms. Nubbins), should you choose to make another one!

I will also award a few FREE copies of my next soon-to-be-released toy pattern (top secret!) to some randomly selected people, using a random number generator to choose from posts in the FO thread (and, if applicable, comments with FO photos on my blog).

Hop on over to my Ravelry Group to stay updated on what's next for the Summer of Toys...