Friday, September 29, 2006

Busy, Busy

My apologies for the days that have passed since I last posted. I’ve been so busy lately that I just don’t know where the days go. The good news is that when I’m busy that means lots of yarn listings! Many of the colorways of Superwash Merino Sock Yarn that were out of stock have now been relisted in my Etsy and eBay stores. I also replenished the exhausted supply in my Etsy store of laceweight cashmere in Endless Night, Passion, and Exotic Wood. More Sedona, Blue Dreams, and Deep Sea will be listed soon.

In addition to replenishing stock, I have several new colorways in the works. One new colorway – Alpine Lake – is now available on Superwash Merino Sock Yarn.

I also have a couple of more new colorways, with warm and golden browns for the fall, almost ready for listing. Be on the lookout for those to be listed soon!

In other news, my husband and I have finally begun working on our own Fearless Fibers webstore. We’re a long way from going live with that, but come hell or high water, we WILL get it done! A Grand Opening announcement will be listed here together with a link once we’re up and running.

Be sure to check back on Monday when another Customer Project will be featured. And get working on finishing those projects with your Fearless Fibers yarn! I have only a couple more customer projects lined up and so I need your photos!

Everyone have a great weekend!

Monday, September 25, 2006

Monday Featured Project

It’s Monday again, which means it’s time for another featured customer project!

This week we have a pair of MaryJane slippers created by Amy. Amy sells a variety of handmade goodies in her Etsy shop, called My Sweet Loveable Goods, but MaryJane slippers are her signature item.

These slippers are crocheted with Fearless Fibers Alpaca/Wool in the Wisteria colorway. It was quite a kick for me when Amy contacted me to purchase the yarn and explained that one of her customers had specifically requested MaryJanes made from this yarn. What a lovely job she did on these slippers!

Don’t forget to e-mail your photos to me of the projects you’ve completed with Fearless Fibers Yarn. We’d love to see what you’ve done!

Friday, September 22, 2006

Sweater Progress

I’m rather embarrassed to admit that I still don’t have a photo of the completed raspberry socks that have been waiting for the final few rows of toe to be completed. I keep meaning to finish the socks, but every time I have a few minutes to knit I’m tempted away by the six-color sweater in progress. The good news is that I’ve made some real progress on the sweater!

What you see in this photo is a closeup view of the transition from the bottom section of the sweater with the checkerboard slip-stitch mosaic of color into the semi-solid stripes of the upper portion of the sweater. I’ve decided to give you only this tease of a photo so that I don’t ruin the punch line when the sweater is finally completed. The body of the sweater is actually done now (YIPPEE!) and I’ve just started on the first sleeve. It appears that the sweater will fit well, although it’s a little “poofier” at the transition into the stripes than I would have liked.

Some of you asked whether I would be publishing the pattern for this sweater. The answer to that question is No. It’s not that I don’t want to share with all of you lovely folks; it’s just that this isn’t a true “original” design. I saw a sweater similar to this a couple of years ago (either a Filati or Gedifra publication, I believe). It was a spring sweater in cotton that had the same type of slip-stitch checkerboard pattern at the bottom, done in pastel colors. The top was either solid white or possibly predominantly white with thin stripes of color. I don’t have the pattern book, but this sweater I’m working on is very similar to my recollection of that sweater and so I definitely would not call it an original design and so I’m not comfortable sharing the pattern.

What I can share with you is the slip-stitch pattern that I used for the bottom portion of the sweater. It’s a very simple four-row repeat with the only variable after the first four rows being the colors used. Once you’ve knit a base row of Color A, proceed with the four-row pattern as follows:

Row 1: With Color B, *K2, SL2* and repeat across
Row 2: Purl across, using Color A where Color A appears in the previous row and using Color B where Color B appears in the previous row

Continue rows 3 and 4 by dropping color A and introducing your next color, Color C, as follows:

Row 3: With Color C, *SL2, K2* and repeat across
Row 4: Purl across, using Color B where Color B appears in the previous row and using Color C where Color C appears in the previous row

Continue in this manner, beginning again with Row 1, dropping Color B from use and introducing a new color, Color D. You can continue introducing new colors as long as you like. I chose to use 6 colors for my sweater, so after introducing all six colors I cycled back around and reintroduced the first color again.

This may seem confusing, but if you try it with scraps of several colors over a small number of stitches, you will quickly see how easy it is.

Before I sign off for today, just a quick reminder to all: Please send me pics of projects you’ve completed with Fearless Fibers yarn for my new Monday photo feature! This new feature won’t last long unless I get plenty of pictures from all of you.

Happy Knitting and Crocheting!

Monday, September 18, 2006

Show and Tell Monday

Thanks to all for your comments to my last post. Since so many of you were so kind as to oblige my request for comments, perhaps some of you may help with another request?

I’ve been thinking that it might be fun to show a photo each week of a project someone has completed with a Fearless Fibers Yarn. Obviously, I’ll need your help to do this. If you’ve completed a project with Fearless Fibers Yarn and have access to a digital camera, please e-mail a photo to me of your project for inclusion in this new weekly feature.

If you’re a new knitter or just not very confident in your skills, please don’t let that stop you from participating! First names only will be used to identify the knitters, so there is nothing to fear. There will be no posse of enraged knitters arriving at your doorstep, wildly chastising you for irregular tension or a poor choice of stitches.

E-mail photos to me, along with any information you would like to include about the project. I’ll do my best to have a new photo listed every Monday.

For the first week’s project photo, we have this lovely pair of socks by Joan. These socks were knit with Fearless Fibers Merino Wool Sock Yarn in the Hudson colorway. To see the lovely detail of these socks, click on the photo below to view a larger version.

Per Joan, this pattern is “California Hikers” from the book Friendly Socks. There is a Knit-along for socks from this book as well. The book itself can be purchased from Sirius Knitting.

Great job, Joan! The socks turned out wonderfully. And thank you very much for sharing the photo!

Everyone have a great day … and don’t forget to send me your Fearless Fibers project photos.

Happy Knitting … and Crocheting!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Where Has All the Pretty Cashmere Gone?

Some of you may have noticed that the laceweight cashmere has disappeared from my eBay store. Don’t despair! The cashmere has simply moved from my eBay store over to my Etsy store.

I moved the laceweight cashmere to Etsy for one simple reason: to save my customers money! Because of the ever-increasing eBay fees, I simply could not continue to offer my laceweight cashmere at such a low price on that venue. Rather than raising the price, I’ve instead decided to give the cashmere a new home in my Etsy store and see how that works out.

There are quite a few colorways of the laceweight cashmere currently available in my Etsy store, although quantities of each are limited. If you see something you like but there is not enough listed for the project you have in mind, please feel free to e-mail me and – assuming my supplies hold out until my next shipment arrives – I’ll whip a batch up for you in a jiffy.

You’ll also see two new colorways in the Fearless Fibers cashmere line: Sedona and Morocco. Here are a couple of pictures to get those juices flowing!

In addition to lots of dyeing, I’ve gotten a wee bit of knitting done over the past week. The multi-colored sweater is slowly progressing. When I get a bit further I’ll post a new picture, but right now it just looks the same as it did in the last photo, only a bit longer.

The rather plain and boring raspberry socks that will be part of the Christmas Sock Package for my mother are almost done. One toe to finish and ends to weave in and they’re ready to go.

I also began something amazing and innovative and so exciting that you won’t be able to contain yourself!!

OK. Not really.

In truth, I began a very simple scarf. I haven’t knit a scarf in ages and particularly not a super-simple scarf. I like to crank out a few items of this type at this time of year, so that as the holidays approach and I suddenly think of folks to whom I’d like to give a small but special gift, I have some things ready to go. I’m doing this scarf in plain old seed stitch (rudimentary but still, in my opinion, one of the prettiest stitches!). I’m using my Fearless Fibers DK mohair/wool in the Blue Dreams colorway and I love the way it’s knitting up! The colors blend together in a lovely, muted, dreamy haze. I usually gravitate toward strong colors, but I really like the look of these gentle colors. They have a slightly romantic, feminine feel to them, without being so “cutesy” as to cross the line into the territory of the insipid.

I’m only working on the scarf during hubby’s softball games, just as I only worked on the socks in that setting. He has a game tonight, so perhaps I’ll have enough progress to share a photo next time.

That’s about all the news that’s fit to print. I will resist the urge to ramble on for the next 30 minutes about how my time was hijacked over the past two days due to attempts to hook up our new Tool 'O The Devil, Tivo. Sigh.

Finally, if you’ve actually read through all the way to this point, you are now bound by my magical spell and will be compelled to leave a comment for me. (Yes, that’s right, I’m begging. I see my blog stats and I know you’re out there. You’re visiting. You’re staying sometimes for a fair bit of time. I get your e-mails, telling me that you saw “such and such” on my blog. Do not leave me here feeling unloved and unwanted, with few of you willing to say hello. Yes, it’s insane, but blog comments give me a wonderful little shiver of delight, a small sense of rise that keeps me whistling while I work.)

Now get back to your knitting!

Sunday, September 10, 2006

An Abundance of Riches

On Friday, I tore myself away from my dye workshop to go to a knitting session at my favorite LYS, Farmhouse Knits in Beaverton, Oregon. It’s so difficult to find the time to get away for these sessions on occasion, but every time I do I vow that I’ll make time more often. The gals at this session are such a hoot and it’s always a great time!

Here are a couple of photos of the knitting fun.

Just visiting Farmhouse is always a treat in itself! These photos were taken in a section of the shop with a small table for intimate group gatherings. This area of the shop houses some of the needles and a selection of mostly staple yarns. Of course, that’s staple yarns by the Farmhouse standard, which is miles above what you might find in some shops. There’s far, far more to this shop than one could ever gather by these photos. It’s absolutely packed with the most luscious yarns imaginable!

The owner of the shop, Sandy, is an added bonus. She’s a true fiber-lover and it comes across loud and clear when you visit Farmhouse. The selection is fabulous and the quality of yarns is amazing (you won’t find any acrylics here!). Once you get over the initial shock and delight of all the fabulous yarn tucked into every nook and cranny of the shop, you’ll begin to notice the abundance of knitted items hanging up around the shop, stacked in neat piles on top of shelves, sitting on worktables, and in just about every other place you can imagine. Sandy is a very talented and prolific knitter, with a special gift for combining yarns to create fabulous one-of-a-kind items. It’s a common thing to see her walking through the shop with a customer, picking and choosing yarn from the shelves and offering advice on yarns to combine to create amazing texture and variety in a project.

Sandy has also been amazingly supportive and encouraging to me as I embarked on the adventure of beginning Fearless Fibers. As a small thank you, I brought some yarn for her on Friday. This is my Alpaca/Wool DK weight yarn, but don’t ask which colorway … I custom painted this one for Sandy, so you won’t find it in my shops. It’s similar to the Morocco colorway on Mohair/Wool, but not identical.

For those of you who live in an area with limited choices for yarn shops, you may want to skip the next paragraph to avoid a terrible case of yarn-shop envy! OK. You’ve been forewarned …

Here in the Portland, Oregon area we have nothing short of an abundance of riches in the way of fantastic yarn shops! There are somewhere around 1.7 million people in the Portland metro area, so we are a sizable city but certainly not a truly large city like NY, L.A., or even Seattle. I’ve never counted the yarn shops myself, but another Portlander on the Knitty CoffeeShop board counted 17 that she knows of. That number doesn’t count the big box craft stores, such as Michael’s or Joann’s, that also have yarn available. Adding those to the mix brought her tally to 23. Additionally, she counted 5 more that are coffee shops that carry yarn, knitting books, and such, for a total of 28. If you ever visit Portland and decide to do a yarn shop tour, you better plan on a few days and wear your hiking boots, carry plenty of fresh water and pack a napsack full of food!

How about you? How many yarn shops in your area? Does reading about Portland’s shops give you a bad case of yarn envy?

Happy Knitting!

Monday, September 04, 2006

New Sweater Plan Underway … and, of course, more socks

As those of you who read my prior post know, my plans for a Fair Isle sweater are on the backburner and I’m re-allocating that yarn to a different sweater project. The new sweater is now underway and I can share a rather poor-quality picture of the progress-to-date. The knitted fabric is very curly at the bottom, so that’s the edge of my laptop holding it down for the photo. Blocking should resolve that when the time comes.

The stitch here is a simple slip-stitch combo, with two colors in play at a time out of the total six colors. I chose this stitch pattern for a few reasons. First ... well … I’m just a fool for slip-stitches! Also, I like the idea of having a sturdier knit at the bottom of the sweater. In this case, I plan to carry it all the way up through the midriff to the point just below the armholes where the “bodice” section begins. It won’t be form-fitting, as a ribbing would be, but the stranded nature of the stitch pattern gives the knitted fabric a firm and structured feel so it will have more shape than stockinet or many other possible stitches. The slip-stitch pattern and small vertical columns of color also help to draw the eye in a vertical line to counter the effect of the horizontal striping of the colors. That's appealing to me as I try to mask my pear shape.

When I get to the bodice, I will switch to stockinet and move in horizontal stripes of color. The change in stitch will give the sweater a bit of a blousing effect at the top and the horizontal stripes of the bodice should combine with the finer detail and vertical look of the lower section to create more of that slimming illusion that I need around the middle. At least that’s my theory and I’m sticking with it!

In addition to beginning this sweater, I also have a new pair of socks on the needles. They are going to be, in my opinion, rather hideous. Just plain ugly.

The socks are for my mother as part of a Christmas pack (I’m hoping to have six pair for her this Christmas). This pair is made of my sport-weight superwash merino. It’s a bit heavy for socks, but she likes to have thick, warm socks to keep her feet toasty during the cold Pennsylvania nights.

The socks are particularly ugly mostly because of the odd ribbing I chose. I used a 1X1 ribbing for the cuff and then switched to a 2X2 for the top side of the remainder. I decided to go with a 2X2 ribbing rather than simple stockinet body because these heavier weight socks seem to have more of a tendency to stretch out and so I thought a little extra ribbing might help with that. Regardless of how they look, they will be warm and cozy for the winter and if I really do follow through with my grand plan for six pair for mom, I will have plenty of other opportunities to make something prettier.

In fact, I already have one other pair done. I knit them some time ago, with no real plan for who would receive them, so I'm using them to jumpstart my plan my mother's Christmas pack. I need all the headstart I can get!
These are cashmere. They are far less practical than the pair I’m working on right now and really just for occasional wear or perhaps bed-time only, as cashmere won’t wear terribly well in the long haul if cooped up inside boots trudging through the snow!

There’s more to the plan for my mom’s Christmas sock pack, but I’ll save that for another day.

What about you? Have you started knitting any holiday gifts yet? What’s on your sticks?

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Fair Isle Shmair Isle

A few days ago, I finally began the Fair Isle sweater that I’ve talked about recently. Now, don’t get excited. The news is not good.

First, I had a gauge problem. I knit about 15 rows (which is a good amount on a sweater in the round!) and something looked off. Despite my careful swatching for gauge, it looked too large. I pulled it off the needles and indeed found that it was absolutely huge! The problem, I think, is that I did my gauge swatch with #3 DPNs that just happened to be handy on the table next to me. On short DPNs I tend to hold the needles more firmly and my knitting motions are small and restrained. When I switched to the large circular and got into a more natural rhythm, my knitting got much looser. I never thought of this before but it makes sense I suppose. I was knitting “sock style” with my gauge swatch and “sweater style” with the actual garment.

Oh well. Frog, frog, frog.

I started again with the right number of stitches, comforted by the thought that despite having to rip back quite a bit of knitting I would be proceeding with fewer stitches and so in the end I’d make back the lost time quickly.

With little time for knitting these days, I was thrilled with the speed of my progress. By yesterday morning, I had about five inches of sweater in the round done … but something was nagging at me. I just didn’t like the look of it. I set it aside yesterday morning and returned to it last night. Nope. Still didn’t like it.

I finally decided that there are two things that caused my distaste for the thing. First, I think the scale is too large for Fair Isle. I understand now why that Norwegian sweater pattern I mentioned liking so much calls for a laceweight yarn. Even though I was knitting with a sport-weight and #3 needles, which is a fairly small gauge for a sweater, it’s still too large a gauge to yield the kind of fine, detailed colorwork that I yearn for in a Fair Isle sweater. I just didn’t like the looks of the pattern. It was just too large for the sweater I had envisioned.

The second problem was the colors. I LOVE the six colors I selected for this sweater. I LOVE how they look together. I LOVE them individually. But I don’t love them for Fair Isle. There are too many dark colors and not enough light. I thought the contrast between the dark colors would be enough to give the look that I wanted, but I was wrong. I don’t know why exactly, as I’ve seen many Fair Isle sweaters done with darker shades where the contrast is still enough to bring the pattern to the forefront, but in the sweater I was making it just didn’t work for me. The pattern didn’t pop enough for my taste.

And so I frogged again.

I still have the itch to make a Fair Isle sweater, so I will return to the plan at some point, but this is not the yarn for it. Before I start planning again, selecting a new yarn, dyeing, calculating, etc., I want to make a sweater with this yarn that I like so much. I’ve actually got a new idea for it – much less interesting and intricate – but something that I hope will work out better. I’ve cast on again and will share pictures of the progress as soon as I get a little further along. I won’t bore you with the details of the new plan, as I’ve already wasted enough blog-time jabbering on about the now-defunct Fair Isle plans.


Some happier news on the yarn front: I’ve been dyeing like crazy! My workshop is bursting with yarn that’s drying. For any of you who have been disappointed with the low stock on sock yarn, that will soon be rectified. I’ve had quite a run on sock yarn lately and my stock is shockingly low, but there’s plenty on the way. I’ll also be diving into a new supply of cashmere in the coming week or so.

I’ve also got two of the “complementary color” sets listed right now. The first is on Etsy (click the photo below to go to the listing). In fact, this set is currently a Featured Item on the front page of Etsy! This is the first time I’ve had an item on the front page, so that’s quite exciting. It will stay there for a couple of days, unless it is sold first. Either way, it’s good exposure and makes me happy (easing a bit of the pain in my neck and shoulders caused by the Fair Isle sweater!).

The other set is a Christmas Color set. Click on the photo below to link to the Etsy listing. Perhaps it’s still early to be thinking about the holidays, but it seems that some knitters’ minds would already be looking forward and planning for holiday knitting.

Another set of each of these yarns is also currently at auction on eBay.

That’s all the news for today. Happy Knitting!