Monday, December 31, 2007

Is it Monday Already?!

I was happily beginning my morning of dyeing when it suddenly dawned on me that it's Monday already and I hadn't yet posted my Monday project features. Monday again -- How did that happen?!

I scurried back to my office to rectify that and now have these two great sock projects ready to share with you.

First up I have a pair of gorgeous socks by Kelly made with FF Superwash Merino Wool Sock Yarn in Sublime. The pattern is Interweave Web Socks, with a mock cable seed rib.

Aren't these great?! I love the photo also. You can really see the stitch detail and the color variations. "Sublime" is probably the single most popular sock colorway I carry and I don't know that I've seen such a good photo of a finished project before that really shows the color variation.

Although Kelly doesn't have a blog, you can see more of her work in her Ravelry projects. She's "beanstealer."

Next up are these cuties by Jinann:

These are made with FF Classic Merino Wool Sock Yarn. The colorway is an older one that I no longer carry in the sock yarn.

You can see the lovely stitch detail in this closeup:

For a look at more of Jinann's wonderful work, pop on over to her blog.

Now that the projects are posted, it feels like Monday again! Great week to all!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Zipper Anyone?

With so many people busy with family and holidays it's been a quiet week for me. I've given myself a bit of a break and taken a slower pace of dyeing this week and am feeling well-rested and ready for the new year.

I had hoped to take advantage of the quiet and get lots of knitting done this week, but a migraine put me out of commission for a while, so I didn't get nearly the knitting time I would have liked. I did get a good start on the scarf requested by one of my bowling friends though.

The yarn I chose is a 4-ply merino with 3 plies in dark evergreen and the fourth in an almost-white shade of light gray green.

The pattern is super-simple, from the Yarn Harlot. It's just the same row repeated over and over again, but it creates a nice texture and a little bit of a ribbed look, although not actually ribbed. I thought it was a nice choice for a man's scarf, as the texture roughs it up a bit and the fabric is a bit sturdy and has a little structure to it, so it doesn't have too much drape and flow. Overall, with the tweedy look of the yarn combined with the textured stitch, I think it has a reasonably masculine appeal. I'm about two thirds done with it now, so it will be off the sticks soon.

In the meantime, I finally sewed in the second sleeve of the zipper-front sweater that I've been working on for 65,382 years now. Next is a bit of crochet edging and then the sweater is ready for a zipper. (I've hunted everywhere and for the life of me can't find my little bag of crochet hooks. Must keep hunting!)

Now for the zipper dilemma. I got a recommendation for someone to put the zipper in for me, but it's a good half hour drive from where I live. I may need to nose around a bit more or it might just be that this sweater sits stagnant for yet another month or two before I get around to making the drive to get the zipper done. What I do still need, however, is the zipper itself. Does anyone have any websites to recommend for a really good quality zipper? Perhaps with various options of zipper pulls? I have no idea where to turn for this, so any guidance would be most appreciated. The only fabric store near where I live is Joann's and the zippers I found there were very cheap and flimsy. After spending so much time on this project, I really want a good quality zipper.

That's about to report here. Stay tuned for news soon on the release of the first of the "Virtues" sock yarns. I also have several new Laceweight Merino colorways to introduce at the same time, so there will be lots of new things to see soon.

Everyone have a great weekend!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Parting Ways

For today's customer project feature, I have a lovely pair of socks to share with you. These socks were knit by Lynne using the Parting Ways pattern from Heartstrings. She used FF Superwash Merino Wool Sock Yarn in the Cantaloupe colorway.

Aren't they great?! If anyone decides to knit this sock pattern, Lynne advises to be sure to be sure to cast on very loosely. Lynne used size 1 needles and her usual long tail cast on and found that the socks were tight at the cast on row. She corrected this by ripping out all but three rows of the ribbing and then reknitting the cuff with a larger needle and using a decrease cast off with still larger needles.

Take a look at the lovely detail:

Fabulous work, Lynne! Thank you for sharing your photos.

Everyone keep those project photos coming! If you'd like to share a project, just send me an e-mail with photos attached or a link to your blog photos, along with any relevant project details you'd like to share.

Happy Holidays to all, and to all a good knit!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Last Minute Knitting

I'm sure many of you are spending your free moments this week furiously knitting to finish up last minute holiday gifts. I spared myself that down-to-the-wire frenzy this year by simply not knitting gifts. I've never done a ton of holiday knitting anyway, as my gift list is pretty short, but this year I kept it down to zero. Until the last minute anyway, when the number suddenly changed to One.

Last week, I showed you a hat that I started for my husband, not as a gift but rather a necessity. I finished that up the day after I started it and was able to give him his new hat and take back the one he had swiped from me.

The hat is Anne Hanson's new Waffle Stitch Hat pattern. The pattern comes in a set together with a pattern for matching fingerless mitts. The pattern is available at KnitSpot and also in my Etsy store. I made this version of the hat for my husband using my FF Superwash Merino Wool Sportweight Yarn combined with a strand of Superwash Merino Wool Sock Yarn. He's been wearing it pretty much every moment since it came off the needles.

Here's an angle shot lightened up a bit so you can see a bit more of the stitch detail:

I enjoyed this simple, quick knit pattern so much that I decided at the last minute to whip up a quick gift for my mother. I was feeling a bit guilty that I hadn't knit a thing for her this year (although I knew she would entirely understand, given how busy I've been with the recent move).

For my mother, I made a pair of the matching Waffle Stitch Mitts from the same pattern, except that I made them full mittens rather than fingerless. I used the same yarn for my mother's gift as I did for my husband's hat. The mitts knit up in no time and I had them ready to go earlier this week. I proudly packaged them up and zapped them off by mail before even thinking to take a blog photo, so you'll just have to do without this time. My apologies!

In the meantime, I still haven't sewn in the second sleeve of my zipper-front sweater, but I have made a bit more slow progress on the ripple stitch afghan. I was feeling really good about getting so much done on these two projects that my mind began to wander to what I would begin next. Then I suddenly remembered another project in-progress that I seem to have blocked out of my mind.

Remember this?

This is a simple rectangular wrap with my FF Worsted Weight Mohair/Wool in the Morocco colorway that I started some months ago. I got about 75% or so done with it and then set it aside for one reason or another and forgot all about it! I'll need to get back on that and finish it up, although I still have no idea what I'm going to do with it.

In the meantime, ideas are brewing in my mind for a little cashmere sweater. I've been swatching a bit in spare moments and have almost settled on the pattern in my mind. I'm thinking of something short-sleeved, more for cool spring or warm fall days than for winter, with a cable stitch incorporated into ribbing around the midsection and simple stockinet in the bodice. I always gravitate to construction of this sort, with some structure and shape around the midsection to give a bit of extra definition at the waist. My preference is for simple pullovers, so I'll probably stick to that, perhaps with a short mock turtleneck. I have to think and perhaps swatch a bit more and then I'll get started on that.

I also need to do a scarf here soon. One of the men on my bowling team asked last night if I would knit him one. I'd been thinking of knitting something for him for some time now (he's not only a friend, but he's also really sweet about inquiring from time to time about what I'm knitting and so I thought he might appreciate something). I'd never seen him wear any type of scarf, hat, or even sweater, so I wasn't sure what he might want. When he brought it up and mentioned a scarf, I was all too happy to have the answer provided to me.

I can't remember ever knitting a scarf for a man before, so I'm a bit unsure as to what's appropriate in terms of size. Anyone have any input on that? The recipient is of small stature (perhaps 5'6" or so?). How wide and long would you suggest? I know he wouldn't want anything "fancy" in terms of stitch patterns, so I was thinking perhaps using a very lightweight yarn (maybe even my Superwash Sock Yarn) in a woven stitch. Does that sound like a reasonable plan? Any input would be most appreciated.

That's all the news for today. I'm just taking a quick break here in the midst of today's dyeing activities, so it's time for me to get back to work. Everyone have a wonderful weekend!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

SALE Today!

Just a quick note to let you all know that I'm having a sale today and tomorrow only in my Etsy shop! Sale items are marked as such and I've also created a shop section for sale items so that you can find them easily.

Stop on by and have a peek around for some great bargains on limited edition colorways, as well as a few orphan skeins and other miscellaneous yarn.

Thanks for looking! Have a great day!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Two More Great Projects

This Monday morning, I have two more great projects to share with you. First up is this scarf by Sandy. This is machine knit using FF Superwash Merino Wool Sock Yarn in Sky & Clouds together with natural undyed superwash merino.

Isn't that just gorgeous! Everytime I see Sandy's work, I have an overwhelming urge to brush off my knitting machine and try to transform it from its current use as some sort of sculpture that sits in the background of my inventory room into the actual purpose for which it was designed! But alas, reality then creeps back in and I know that I just don't have the time to learn to use it well (nor the natural talent with the *&#*#$**! machine). Kudos to Sandy for mastering the beast!

Sandy's scarf features a snowflake and maze pattern in fair isle. The body of the scarf is a tuck stitch that creates a puffed-pillow dimensional texture that has a cloud-like feel. What a perfect marriage of stitch and yarn! Here's a closeup of the fair isle detail:

This scarf, along with a host of Sandy's other lovely pieces, is listed in her Etsy shop, Sandrikas Fiber Art. If you're a fan of glass bead lampwork, you also absolutely *must* visit Sandy's other Etsy shop to see her amazing work!

Next up is this pair of fabulous fingerless mitts by Keri:

Keri used the Orchid Lace Mitts pattern by Anne Hanson of KnitSpot with FF Laceweight Merino in Golden Olive. The pattern can be purchased at KnitSpot and is also available in my Etsy shop.

Keri did such a lovely job with this project! And look at the perfect fit:

To learn more about Keri's knitting endeavors, pop on over to her blog and have a look around.

Thank you to Sandy and Keri for sharing their inspiring work!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Waffles Anyone?

A few weeks ago, I decided that I would not cast on anything new for the remainder of the year so that I could force myself to finish the long-delayed Zipper Front Sweater that I'm working on and also make substantial progress on the ripple-stitch throw. Well, of course, my resolve has now weakened and last night I gave in and cast on a new project.

Now before you decide that I'm weak of will, keep in mind that I have succeeded in accomplishing my goal of making some real headway on those two larger projects. As I reported last week, the knitting is finished on the sweater and I have only construction remaining. I seamed in the first sleeve a few days ago and when I can muster up the required "umph" I'll do the other one. (I despise finishing!)

I've also made lots of progress on the throw blanket. I'm trying to put an inch on it each evening and that all adds up. Here it is as it currently stands:

It's going to grow a fair amount with blocking as well. I'm not looking forward to blocking it though. I had a thought that perhaps I could take it to a dry cleaner and just have them steam it out flat. Is that possible or just a wacky thought from a lazy finisher?

The project that broke down my willpower and caused me to instantly cast on is a new one that Anne Hanson just came out with yesterday. It's a pattern for a hat and mitts set in a waffle stitch. Here's the photo from her site:

You can buy the pattern at the KnitSpot site and it's also available in my Etsy shop.

As soon as I saw this, I knew I had to knit the hat right away. The timing is perfect. A few days ago, I threw away my husband's "go to" hat. I made the hat for him three years ago and he's worn in to death. The wear was really beginning to show, mostly in the form of stretching. It had seen its day and it was time to put it to rest.

Unfortunately, when he turned to his alternate hat, he soon found that it was really too small for him. The alternate hat is not a handknit and it's not particularly attractive. Since it was too small for him and since my favorite hat is really too large for me, we did a swap. That left me with an ugly little gray number with no shape and no style and left him with this!

Isn't that hat great?! Sandy made it (machine knit) using various shades of FF Superwash Merino Wool Sock Yarn. She sells a few of her knits in her Etsy shop and when I saw this last year, I had to have it. Sounds crazy for someone who knits to buy a knit hat, particularly one made from my own yarn, but I loved it so much that I had to have it. I didn't give much thought to the fact that my head is the size of peanut though. The hat really is too big for me, but I wear it anyway and I want it back from my thievin' husband!

I've been noodling on the right pattern to use for his new hat. I've flipped through stitch dictionaries and patterns to no avail. Every one that I've shown him has elicited the same response, "It's nice, but I'd rather just have stockinet." (Before you get too impressed that my husband knows what stockinet is, let me point out that he pronounces it "stocking net." I've given up on correcting him.)
When I saw Anne's waffle stitch hat, I knew that was the perfect answer. It's a very straightforward pattern and will be a very quick knit, yet so attractive that it screams, "KNIT ME NOW!" I'm not kidding about a quick knit either. I spent a couple of hours getting started on it last night while watching a bit of TV and I already have this to show for my efforts:

The pattern calls for a DK weight yarn and my FF Mohair/Wool DK is one of the recommended yarns. My husband, however, hates mohair or anything else that has the tiniest amount of fuzz to it. I also knew that he would be wearing this in his workshop, which means lots of flying sawdust and dirt. Machine washability is important for this one.

I thought I'd use my FF Superwash Merino Sportweight, but it's a bit lighter weight than the pattern calls for. I could have easily modified the pattern to accommodate the yarn, but I didn't have the right needle size on hand and I wanted to start immediately. My solution was to combine the sportweight together with a strand of Superwash Merino Wool Sock Yarn.

I'm using the Deepest Forest colorway on the Sportweight and a handpainted colorway on the sock yarn (colorway no longer carried in my shop). As you can see in the photo above the result is predominantly green with flecks of light gray popping up throughout. When you get closer up, you can see the variations of color more, with bits of mocha, charcoal and varied shades of green showing up. You can't really see the waffle stitch very well in the photos and it's not all that pronounced in person either. The pattern would have shown up better with just the Deepest Forest colorway alone, but I do like the flecked look so I'm happy enough with how it's progressing.

I'd love to sit down right now and finish this baby off, but I have lots of work to get to today. In fact, I better get my butt in gear right now and get back to it!

Great day to all!

Monday, December 10, 2007

When Knitting Magic Happens

As much as I love to knit, it seems rare that every element comes together perfectly to create knitting magic. There are so many variables with any project that there's bound to be something in a finished project that the knitter wishes were a bit different. Is the yarn the right choice? Was the pattern clear and an enjoyable knit? Did the yarn and pattern marry in the way you hoped? Does the finished item fit the way you imagined? Is the drape or firmness of the fabric just as you hoped? Do you still love the color after spending many hours looking at it as you worked the pattern?

I don't know about you, but I find myself so often just a tiny bit dissatisfied with my end products. I also find myself pointing out the flaws. This is a pet peeve of my friend Tess, the knitting instructor at my favorite LYS and the talent behind Polar Bear Patterns. Why, she asks, can't knitters accept a compliment on a project with a simple Thank You rather than immediately responding with something like, "Thank you, but if you look here at the seam of the sleeve you'll see where it's a little crooked and the stitch pattern doesn't match up just perfectly." Tess is right, I suppose, but it seems in our knitters' nature to always strive for perfection and always feel a small twinge of disappointment when we don't reach it.

For today's Monday project features, I am very pleased to share two projects that seem to have fully satisfied the knitters' visions and hopes. And well they should, because they are both just lovely!

First up are a pair of fingerless gloves by Cindy. The pattern is Little Gems from Interweave Knits 2007 Holiday Edition. Cindy used two colors of FF Superwash Merino Wool Sock Yarn: Sloth (from the Seven Deadly Sins Sock Club) and Midnight Blue.

Cindy reports that she is "110% satisfied" with this project. And I can see why! What a great little pair of fingerless gloves. Lovely work by Cindy! You can pop on over to Cindy's blog to see more of her fabulous knitting.

The next project I have to show you is Dharma's rendition of the Storm Shawl by Handmaiden. Dharma reviewed scores of patterns looking for just the right shawl to make as a gift. She found the Storm Shawl and knew it was the one, but also had a particular color in mind. Finding just the right color that she had in mind turned out to be a bit of a challenge, but she eventually found it in my FF Superwash Merino Wool Sock Yarn in Shades of Teal.

It's easy to see why Dharma was happy with this project! As she reports on her blog, this is one of her favorite projects so far, because the pattern, the yarn and the person that she knit it for all matched her vision perfectly. Who can ask for more than that?!

Here's a closeup of the detail:

You can visit Dharma's blog for a look at more of her gorgeous work.

That's all for today. Everyone have a wonderful start to the week!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Yarn Overload

As promised, I have an update to share with you on one of my projects. It's the zipper-front sweater from the Vogue Knitting 2004/05 Winter Edition.

I frogged the back and one side down to the armholes to correct an error and reknit those portions over the course of the past week. With the end suddenly in sight (sleeves are already finished and waiting) my enthusiasm for the project resurfaced and I motored right through and finished the collar as well. In the photo, it looks as though it still has a line across the armhole stretch (that's where the mistake was previously). That's just an illusion though. Every little stitch is in its place now. I'm not sure why the line shows up in the photo. It might just be where I folded the piece to set aside. Or perhaps my tension switched up a bit there when I reknit. Either way, all is well with the stitchwork now and any last vestiges of a funky line should disappear once blocking is done.

Next step will be to add a crocheted edge along the front sides and collar, and then to sew in the sleeves. From there, it's just a matter of weaving in a few ends, blocking, and finding someone to put a zipper in for me and it will be done. (I can't be trusted to put a zipper in! My sewing skills are non-existent.)

The ripple stitch throw is also growing. It's now over three feet long. The finished, unblocked piece will measure somewhere around 3.5 X 5 feet (and will grow a bit with blocking), so I'm well past the halfway point now. I can't say with any certainty that I'll finish it before the end of the year, but I'm going to do my best to get close.

For the moment, I'm still sticking by my plan to focus on these two projects (that have taken me way too long!) before I start anything new, but I don't think that plan will last much longer. Not only is the itch to cast on something new very strong and difficult to resist, but I'd also really like to make a few small things for some of my new neighbors for Christmas. They are all just so unbelievably nice!

The couple across the street invited us for Thanksgiving. We weren't able to join them, as we were knee deep in preparing for the big move, so the wife baked us a loaf of pumpkin bread and brought it to us - still warm from the oven - while we were busy working on the new house. Another neighbor up the street brought us dinner our first night here. Enough Swedish meatballs, homemade mashed potatoes and biscuits to feed us all the way through the weekend! Then there are our neighbors across the way, who stop by from time to time to check on our progress and who have been so welcoming and happy to have us join the neighborhood that one wonders who on earth they expected to have move in here? Actually, I know the answer to that question: The big fear in the neighborhood was that three or four families would all move in here together, with a half a dozen cars and perhaps an old sofa and refridgerator in the front yard! Although the house isn't huge, it does have four bedrooms and the garage is quite large and could easily be converted to living space. There's also the huge shop building out back that could easily house a small family. The entire neighborhood seems to have let out a collective sigh of relief when just my husband and I moved in!

We still have tons and tons of work to do on the house, but I am now at least settled in my new, temporary workspace. I'm using the upstairs of the house for my workshop until the time comes that we're ready for my husband to build me my own building. (He has taken possession of the workshop building for his woodworking.)

Ready for yarn overload? OK. Here goes:

That's the laceweight to worsted yarn, except for sock yarn.

The one above is the wall of sock yarn. You can also see some of the undyed yarn in that photo. There are various shelves scattered about housing undyed yarn.

Of course, that's not all. There is so much undyed yarn that it's rather overwhelming to think that I'll be dyeing it all and cycling it through the inventory in fairly short order.
This still remains to be unpacked and housed away:

And this also:

(Yes, that's roving. And no, I don't sell roving. And no, I don't spin. But hey ... that doesn't mean I can't have 80 pounds or so of roving hanging around, does it?)

Since I took these photos a couple of days ago, another 200 pounds of yarn has also arrived. All in all, I'd estimate that I have around 700 pounds of yarn at the moment. Wow. Wow. That is *a lot* of yarn!

Now it's time for me to get back to work. Today was my first day actually dyeing in my new space. I'll have to take some photos of that workspace soon. It's quite funny actually. We did nothing to remodel the upstairs yet, since it's just workspace for now. The only things we did were to remove the old carpeting and replace it with the rather ugly workshop floor you can see in the photos above and also to remove the sink in the bathroom and replace it with a large double-basin work sink.

When we made these changes, I didn't think much about how the workspace would look. I was focused on functionality. It wasn't until I moved in that I realized that the room where I actually dye is painted a very bright pink. Add that to the mottled brown floor and you have the ugliest workspace on the face of the earth.

And so now I'm off to create beautiful yarn in the most uninspiring space imaginable! Great day to all!

Monday, December 03, 2007

A Queen and A Mystery

It wouldn't be a Monday without a project or two to share and this Monday is no different, despite the piles of boxes and mess surrounding me as my husband and I slowly settle into our new home after an exhausting weekend of moving.

This week, I have two fabulous projects by Suzy. First up are these Queen of Cups socks that Suzy knit with FF Superwash Merino Wool Sock Yarn in the Prosperity colorway. The pattern is by Nathania Apple and is available on Knitty. Suzy reports that the pattern was neither too difficult nor to easy and was overall a great knit.

Next up, we have Suzy's Swan Lake (Mystery Stole 3) in FF Laceweight Merino in the Spring Breeze colorway. Here is a shot of her daughter modeling:

Here's a picture of the back, where you can see Suzy's lovely handiwork along with the interesting detail of the assymetrical shawl design.

Great work by Suzy! You can see lots more of her wonderful work on Suzy's blog.

That's all for this Monday. Everyone have a wonderful start to another week!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Big Day Looms Ahead

I'm going to be a bit quiet with blog posts this week, as my big moving day is coming up on Friday. At long last, my husband and I are moving into our new house!

Before you begin to congratulate me on the conclusion of the house remodeling project, let me set you straight on that. It is in no way done. It is in no way anywhere near done! It will be at least another year before it's anywhere near what one might call done. It is, however, now livable.

In case anyone has been thinking about what fun it would be to buy a fixer-upper house, let me give you a dose of reality. Here's what we've done so far:

  • Major electrical work. Thankfully, my husband's brother is a licensed electrician, so we got that done for about 1/4 what it might have cost us!
  • Had the entire house repiped for water. Galvanized pipes close to 40 years old mean very bad water pressure. Not something I can live with given the nature of my business.
  • Had the house plumbed for gas and got a new gas water heater. The remainder of the gas piping is capped off for now, as we will slowly convert to gas as we proceed with the remodel.
  • Removed "popcorn" ceilings for the living room, two downstairs bedrooms, and hallway.
  • Retextured the ceilings and all of the walls in those rooms.
  • Painted those rooms, including all of the trim. We'll eventually need to replace the windowframes and sills and such, but for now at the least the old marred wood is painted and looks reasonably fresh.
  • Cleaned and painted the brick fireplace. There's a woodburning stove there now and the whole thing is butt-ugly and out of place, but we won't be making any changes to it soon, so again, at least a coat of paint freshened it up so it's not such an eyesore. (It was previously a lovely shade of baby-diarrhea yellow stained with ground-in gray and black ash.)
  • Cleaned the hardwood floors throughout the previously mentioned rooms. Thankfully, the hardwoods are one thing that was in fair shape and didn't need refurbishing. A good cleaning should do it for now. (Apparently, the children of the household were fond of melting crayons on the floor and sticking the occasional wad of gum under a piece of furniture.)
  • Painted all of the downstairs interior doors. They also will eventually be replaced, but at least now look clean and fresh. We also bought and installed all new interior door knobs in a brushed pewter type of finish. I love the door knobs. Isn't that silly?
  • Moved the laundry area from off the hallway downstairs out into the garage, along with the plumbing that goes with it.
  • Knocked out the wall that used to separate the laundry from the downstairs bath and expanded the bathroom.
  • Tore everything out of the downstairs bathroom and replaced all but the tub. Actually, we haven't replaced the vanity yet either. We put that back in temporarily. We already bought a nice new sink, but my husband will be building the new vanity and that won't happen quite yet.
  • Tiled the shower area and the floor in the bathroom. (And I must mention here that I - yes I - laid the tile. Yep. That's right. I'm ridiculously proud of myself, even though we kept it super straightforward and plain, and it's not a perfect job by any stretch of the imagination.)
  • Ripped out the carpeting throughout the upstairs and replaced it with a really ugly but functional workshop floor.
  • Ripped out the sink in the upstairs bathroom and replaced it with a worksink.

I'm sure there's plenty more small things that I can't think of, but that's what we've done so far. Our plan is to bit by bit finish up with the rooms that are started (we need base and crown molding still, new doors, etc.) and then focus on kitchen and dining area. Everything in that part of the house will go and my husband will build us a new kitchen. I see a kitchen floor tile job in my future!

When the downstairs of the house is in good order, it will be time for my husband to build me a separate building for my workshop. We already had the electricity and water brought out to the site and capped off for the future. (We've also been to the City Planning Department to be sure our plans will be alright.)

Once the workshop is in place and I can move my operation out there, then it will be time to gut and remodel the entire upstairs.

Oh yes, and we need a new roof. And we need new siding. And we need landscaping work. My husband also has plans to eventually build a detached garage and then entirely convert what is now the garage into expanded living space.

Have I convinced you yet that a remodel is not all that much fun?!

Actually, it is fun and exciting, as long as progress continues forward. I've actually been through this before. (Yes, I'm insane!) I bought a house in California in 1998 that was absolutely trashed and in need of new everything. Back then, I was not with my current husband, Bruce. My boyfriend at the time was not nearly such a go-getter as Bruce. After living in that house for 5 years, the remodel was still not nearly done. I sold it half-finished. Oh, how much better this remodel is going!

It may sound as though there's no way I could have time to dye and knit with all of this going on, but it really is my husband doing most everything. I've done quite a bit of cleaning and painting and also did the tile job, but the rest has been all my husband's doing. I've even found a bit of knitting time in the evenings and have been keeping to my resolve to finish the zipper-front sweater before the end of the year and to make good progress on the ripple-stitch afghan. Progress on those items is pretty good right now and I'll have some new photos to share soon.

But right now, I must return to packing!

Monday, November 26, 2007

A Parade of Projects

To start off this new week, I have a wonderful array of projects to share with you! Each of these items was knit by Catherine, who lives in Turkey where she and her husband own a shop carrying a variety of treasures including her handknits. Catherine also has a shop on Etsy: Bazaar Bayar. In addition to some of her knit items, you'll find jewelry, embroidered pillows, and other lovely handcrafted items there. She'll be adding lots of new items throughout this week, so pop on over and have a look around!

First up are these fingerless mitts that Catherine knit in FF Superwash Merino Wool Sock Yarn in the Inner Sanctum colorway, along with the Butterscotch colorway.

Catherine also knit this fabulous shawl using the Butterscotch and Inner Sanctum colorways.

For this shawl, Catherine combined three different colors of FF Superwash Merino Wool Sock Yarn:

Isn't it just lovely?! Check out a close up of the detail:

But that's not all! Catherine has been a busy gal! She also has this sweater jacket, knit with FF Mohair/Wool in the Blissful colorway.

This one's not in her shop though. It will be keeping Catherine warm this winter. Here's a photo from the back. I love the detail of the collar!

A huge Thank You to Catherine for sharing her beautiful work and helping us to start our Monday morning off the right foot with some lovely photos to peruse!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Process, Product, and Resolve
(please pardon the crazy paragraph spacing in this post ... blogger is misbehaving!)

From time to time I hear conversations or read discussions in online forums about whether someone is a "process" or "product" knitter. As far as I'm concerned, these conversations are mostly just an excuse for us to chit chat about knitting and yarn. Any reason for a nice, long discussion about knitting is a good enough reason, isn't it?

In truth, I think the answer is always pretty much the same. That is, neither one nor the other, but a bit of both. Oh, once in a while we all knit something either purely because the pattern seems so interesting or purely because we or someone we know simply MUST have that boring-to-knit-but-beautiful-to-wear-XYZ. For the most part though, I think we all search for projects that satisfy both the desire to enjoy the knitting process and the desire to enjoy the finished product. This is where the struggle comes in for me.

My tastes are simple. Take me into a store with knitwear and show me an amazing sweater with an intricate pattern of interlocking cables and an assymetrical shawl collar and I'll finger it and study the stitches and ooh and ahh, but in the end I'll choose the plain ribbed turtleneck sitting quietly in the background on a nearby shelf. It's a rare occasion when I find a pattern that satisfies me from both a process and product perspective. I think that's why I find myself drawn lately to small projects.

With a small project, if my motivation to knit a particular pattern is mostly based on the end-product, but the pattern itself is not terribly compelling, that's alright. Even mindnumbingly dull and irritatingly slow 2X2 rib is alright for a short stretch. Small projects also allow one to take on something very detailed and requiring close attention to every stitch without having to commit six month's of one's life to painstakingly slow progress. Small projects are just that . . . small.

With all of that said, you know I'm leading somewhere, don't you? Well, I'm leading down the path to Excuseville. Yet again I am making excuses for not making enough progress on the two larger projects that I've been working on for what now seems an eternity. I keep allowing myself to get sidetracked.

What recently caught my fancy and derailed my plans to make good progress on my larger projects (the zipper-front sweater and the ripple stitch afghan) was this:

I came across this little gem while sorting through various knitting bins in preparation for the move I'll be making to my new house (one of these days soon, really). I knit this mitt several months ago in another moment of distraction from my larger projects. If I recall correctly, I had plans at the time to knit three pair of fingerless mitts for my three nieces. I got as far as this one.

When I saw it, I immediately recalled this project and the fact that I had liked it so much that I had written up the pattern for it as I knit. I was able to dig out that pattern from the depths of my hard drive so that I could knit the other mitt. It was also a great opportunity to test-knit the pattern myself, since it's been several months since I created the first one and so I was viewing the pattern with a fresh set of eyes. I finished the second mitt over the course of the next day or so (while my sweater and afghan languished in their respective bins, sighing with resignation from time to time).

I must say that I really like these mitts. I used my FF Sportweight Superwash Merino Wool Yarn in the Butterscotch colorway. I chose that yarn because I wanted a sturdy, warm and fitted end-product. Most of the mitts I've knit in the past were in sock yarn, so this slightly heavier yarn was a nice change and also a very quick knit. The design carries a single line of the ribbing pattern from the cuff up along the back of the hand on either side of the main cabled pattern. This creates a bit of extra stretch in the hand and makes for a really nice, snug fit that will work for almost any adult female hand (although perhaps not "ManHands" from Seinfeld).

Since the heavy lifting was finished months ago, it took little time to finalize the pattern so that I could make it available in my shop. It is there now for anyone interested.

Now that I've taken this little knitting sidetrip to finish these mitts, I am determined to get tough with myself. NO MORE NEW PROJECTS! I will not cave. I am firmly resolved and committed to making substantial progress on the zipper-front sweater and ripple stitch afghan in the remaining six weeks or so of this year.

On the zipper-front sweater, I am happy to report that I finally finished the second sleeve. Here's the photo I already showed you of the first sleeve. You'll have to trust me that it now has a twin. I can't be bothered taking another photo of the same thing.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: these sleeves were a royal pain in the rear. They are broad at the base, so there's none of that quick-start you usually have with a sleeve where you whip out the first 8 inches or so in a flash. These babies are very wide and with a 2X1 rib, they are slow going from the start. Add to that the six-inches of extra length that will form the broad cuff upward and you've got a sleeve that is way larger than any sleeve has a right to be. But the sleeves are part of what drew me to this pattern in the first place (there's that struggle and tension between process and product again!). Here's the photo of the pattern again so you can see the sleeves on the finished piece:

Now that I've finished the sleeves, you would think it's time to start blocking pieces and constructing, before putting on the collar and then moving on to the zipper. But no! Remember this:

That's the body of the sweater with an odd line that moves horizontally across the back and one side. That's my goof up that I didn't notice until I photographed the piece. It's actually barely perceptible close-up, but as you move at a distance it suddenly jumps out and becomes visible. That means I have quite a bit of frogging to do and - worse yet - reverse engineering.

Why reverse-engineering, you ask? Ahhh . . . you must have missed the post so long ago when I lamented the mistakes in the pattern. The two sides of the sweater were unbalanced in stitch number and the decreases for each of the two armholes were different. I recalculated and rewrote the pattern to correct this, but of course, those notes are long gone. And so now I have the happy task of trying to figure out what I did on the one side that is correct and then recreate it on the other side that needs to be frogged to fix that horizontal line.

As to the ripple stitch afghan, the fact is that I simply got bored to tears with this project and have been entirely ignoring it for the most part. Right now, it looks about the same as the last time you saw it several months ago, except about a foot or so longer. And it also looks a little angry at me, but perhaps that's my imagination.

I can hear the yarn and the sticks crying out to me to cast on something new. Something lace, perhaps in my new Superfine Alpaca Laceweight? Or maybe something in cashmere? I actually have a nice batch of sportweight cashmere with my own name on it, but I'll hold off on telling you about that until some time in the future. For now, if I allow myself to think about that luscious cashmere I will certainly lose my resolve.

Stay firm, Deb. Hold on. Knit through the pain. Frog the back of that sweater. Re-knit the SOB. Tackle that ripple stitch afghan as it were a little-bitty bookmark. Just Do It! Because then - oh then, oh happy day in the future - your sticks will be clear, you will be a free woman with a world of knitting possibilities before you!

Everyone have a wonderful day . . . and make some progress on those languishing UFOs!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Great Way to Start the Day

I have two great finished projects to share with you today to get your day started off right!

First up are a pair of "Smokin' Socks" knit by Lynne using FF Superwash Merino Wool Yarn in the Brick House colorway. The Smokin' Sock pattern is by Anne Hanson of KnitSpot and is available in her online shop as well as my Etsy store.

Here's a closeup view of Lynne's lovely stitchwork:

Great socks and great job by Lynne!

Next up is another project from a KnitSpot pattern. This time it's the Japanese Feather Scarf. Lisa knit this using FF Laceweight Merino in the Hendrix colorway.

So very beautiful! Get a load of this closeup:

If you'd like to see more Lisa's gorgeous work, take a trip over to her blog and have a browse around.

Thank you to both Lynne and Lisa for sharing their work!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Introducing a New Yarn!

I am pleased to introduce a new yarn in the Fearless Fibers line! The new yarn is a 100% alpaca laceweight. It’s a superfine yarn that runs at 610 yards per 2-ounce skein and will create a very delicate, gossamer lace piece, with a light halo effect. The yarn is wonderfully soft and feels fabulous next to the skin.

Initial quantities of this new yarn are extremely limited, so if you’re interested be sure to visit Fearless Fibers shop soon! If you miss out, never fear. If the yarn is a hit, there will be more quantity and colorways in the future.

Let me give you a small taste, with a photo of one of the five colorways:

This one is called Reverie and oh my ... I love it!

As you can see by the introduction of this new product, I'm continuing to drive myself hard to keep adding fresh new things for all of you in my shop. Believe it or not, despite all the time spent on my shop as well as the ongoing work on my new house (we're getting VERY close to moving in!), I'm still finding a few moments here and there to knit. In fact, I'd probably be a raving lunatic by now if I weren't knitting a bit here and there. Best thing ever to ward off stress! I'll provide an update here on my knitting endeavors within the next few days.

Everyone have a great day!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Socks of Wrath

For today's Monday project feature, I have a pair of socks knit by Chelsea using FF Superwash Merino Wool Sock Yarn in the Wrath colorway.

I have to say, I simply adore these socks! The pattern Chelsea used is Fawkes, a free pattern available from Socktopia. Take a look at this lovely detail:

Didn't Chelsea do a wonderful job? Be sure to check out Chelsea's blog for a look at her other work.

I know these great socks will get some of you itching to have a skein of the Wrath colorway, but this one is still not available in my shop. It's one of the Seven Deadly Sins Sock Club yarns and so right now there are only 50 people out there who have a skein. Don't worry though . . . sometime in '08, the colorways will be available in my shop.

While on the subject of Sock Yarn Clubs, I know many of you are anxiously awaiting the next sock club. I still don't have a firm date set, but will likely open sign ups either late in '07 or early in '08. I'll post here to let folks know when the memberships open and will also notify everyone on my mailing list. If you aren't on the list yet and would like to hear about the future sock club, sales, new products, and other news, just send me an e-mail and ask to be added to the list.

To whet your appetite a bit for the next club, I might as well let you know the theme. I think it will be no surprise to many of you. It will be The Seven Holy Virtues!

Everyone have a wonderful day!