Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Faster, Faster . . . The Lights Are Turning Red!

Sometimes, I'm quite a dolt. But hey, I recognize it, so isn't that sort of like the concept that you can't be crazy if you're sane enough to wonder whether you're crazy?

Why am I dolt you ask? Here's an example for you. I've started working on another pair of Delicato Mitts from the fabulous KnitSpot pattern. I mentioned in last week's post about the mitts I already finished that I really wanted to make another pair using a slightly heavier yarn and size 2 needles as called for in the pattern, so that the beautiful details of the lace pattern would be more pronounced and visible.

The gorgeous handspun that I won as a prize in the Red Sweater KAL was just crying out to be turned into a pair of mitts. I knew going into it that I might not have enough yarn to complete the mitts. Normally, I wouldn't risk it, but the wonderful Anne of KnitSpot had actually mentioned to me when she sent the prize that there might not be enough for a pair of mitts and that she would be happy to send me a bit more if I needed it. (Yes, she's an angel!) But still, I really hoped to have enough yarn.

And so I began. The first mitt progressed quickly and I found myself beginning the second mitt within a day or so. I won't show you the first mitt yet, as that would be spoiling the punchline for when they're complete, but here's a photo of the second mitt-in-progress.

I just love it! I've never worked with handspun yarn before and I must say it's really a treat. The yarn is beautifully spun and yet still has those very subtle variations of thick and thin that add a bit of texture and a true "handmade" feel to the knit fabric. Yes, yes, my husband frowns and says that I'm knitting sloppily, but he just doesn't get it. The yarn is alive and full of character and it comes through in the knitted product. I'm not sure who the recipient of these mitts will be (they're normal size, so they won't fit my tiny hands properly), but I hope it's someone who can appreciate the life of the yarn and not just think, "Hmmm ... Deb's not a very good knitter."

As I progressed into the second mitt it became apparent that Anne was correct and I won't have enough yarn. It's not a big deal, as I will certainly take her up on her offer and humbly ask for a bit more. However, before I do that, I am first displaying my doltish-ness.

The more obvious it becomes that I won't have enough yarn, the faster I knit. I've done this before. Why do I do it? It's as though my subconscious believes that yarn is consumed at a fixed rate per hour and so if I can only knit quickly enough, I won't run out of yarn. Obviously, I'm not such a complete moron as to believe this . . . and yet, I continue to knit faster and faster as if I may be able to outrun the inevitable.

Of course, when it becomes absolutely undeniable that I will indeed run out of yarn, I suddenly slow down to a snail's pace, again thinking that maybe the yarn will somehow last. Perhaps it won't notice that I'm using it up if I just pull small quantities at a time from the diminishing ball? That's where I stand right now. Three quarters of a mitt to go and a tiny ball left. Maybe if I just knit one row at a time, it will hold out?

Perhaps I'm not the only one who does such ridiculous things. Please, someone out there tell me that I'm not the only dolt!

Monday, February 26, 2007

Delicious Socks to Start the Week

For this morning's customer project feature, I have a pair of delicious socks knit by April. She used FF Superwash Merino Wool Sock Yarn in the Chocolote Pink Cherry colorway. Great job, April! They look good enough to eat!

For more information on April's knitting endeavors, check out her blog.

In case you're wondering whether the Chocolate Pink Cherry colorway is gone forever, the answer is NO! I have none in stock at the moment, but there will be more before too long. As mentioned in my previous post, I'm working furiously to replenish my stock of Superwash Merino Wool Sock Yarn. There are already several colorways back in stock and lots more on their way, so keep your eyes peeled for more to come.

Everyone have a great week and keep those great photos coming to me by e-mail!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Knit Talk with Deb

At long last, I have some of my own knitting progress to share with you, but first I want to take a moment to get a bit of business out of the way. Many of you have noticed that my selection of Superwash Merino Wool Sock Yarn has been a bit scant of late. This is because the base yarn I use has been on backorder. I'm usually very good about ordering well in advance, but my vacation in January caused some timing issues with the delivery and so I waited a bit longer than usual to order. I got a call from my supplier while I was on vacation with the bad news that the yarn was on backorder.

There's a rather long story here about the nightmare and magnitude of the backorder, but suffice it to say that I now have a whopping 150 pounds (that's enough for 600 skeins!) in my hot little hands. The truly miraculous part of this is that the supplier actually only had a total of 400 pounds, with hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of pounds more on backorder. This supplier works with just about every big name in handpainted yarns out there, but through some miracle of good fortune little ol' Fearless Fibers was first priority on their list for filling the backorder. (I know the reason for my priority position is almost certainly because my order was likely the first one on the backorder list, but I would prefer to think that I am The Chosen One. Ha! I know I certainly felt that way when I learned that I was getting such a large chunk of such a scarce commodity!)

I received the yarn on Monday this week and have been dyeing furiously ever since. You'll start to see the Superwash Merino Wool Sock Yarn filling up my shop again in the coming days and weeks. Once I've replenished the stock of my standards, you can count on some new colorways coming. I'll be sure to highlight a few here for you.

And now, on to Knit Talk . . .

Some of you may remember the Red Sweater Knitalong that I joined some months ago. I started with plans for a sweater, which then dwindled down to a simple felted vest when I found myself not loving the yarn I selected. When I got close to finished with the vest I had to face the fact that I just hated it. It's been draped over the back of a chair for ages now. I keep thinking that one day I'll be inspired to finish it, but that's looking less and less likely each day.

Given that I totally abandoned the project and then snuck quietly away from the KAL hoping nobody would notice, I am totally undeserving of the reward I received. That's right! I won a prize! I am so thrilled to have been chosen to receive Anne's (of KnitSpot) handspun yarn prize. If I were a truly good person, I would have meekly and apologetically declined and allowed someone more deserving to receive the prize, but I have to admit that getting my hands on some of Anne's handspun was too good to pass up.

I received the yarn, along with a copy of the KnitSpot Cloverleaf Mitts pattern (available in the catalogue on the KnitSpot site) and a bar of chocolate to boot, earlier this week.

I'm really looking forward to knitting with this yarn and also trying the Cloverleaf Mitts pattern. Last week, I began another of Anne's patterns: the Delicato Mitts. I meant to post a work-in-progress photo but have been so busy that I never got around to it. And now, the Mitts are done!

This photo definitely doesn't do justice to the wonderful pattern detail, but you get the idea. The Delicato Mitts pattern is a real gem! It's a small project and so you get that nice sense of satisfaction in completing something in a relatively short space of time, but it's not something I would categorize as a "quick knit." The pattern has just the right amount of detail and intricacy to make it interesting and to give it a more substantial feeling than most quick projects. Just as you become comfortable with the lace rib portion and can see the pattern emerging, it's time to move on to the main lace pattern. As that portion of the pattern begins to take shape, the increases to shape the thumb gusset begin. A bit further and it's time to return to the ribbing to finish the edge that wraps around the fingers. A little more work to finish the thumb and Voila!

The detail of the lace really is lovely, but it's not as visible in my mitts as it could be. Part of that is my rather blurry photos, but part of it is also that I used a different yarn and needle size than the pattern recommends. My FF Classic Merino Wool Sock Yarn is one of the recommended yarns for the pattern and I did play around with that a bit and it worked perfectly. I decided to go with the Superwash, which is a thinner yarn and I knit on a size 0 needle, because I have rather delicate hands (OK, OK . . . they're freakishly small) and I also prefer quite a snug fit on any handwear. The yarn and needle size worked perfectly for fit, but the smaller needles meant the yarn-over details of the lace are smaller and more closed so you lose some of the beauty of the pattern. I'm thinking of knitting some of these mitts for my nieces and will look forward to seeing the pattern detail as it was meant to be with slightly thicker yarn and a size 2 needle.

In other knitting news, I've been making slow and steady progress on my Faux Russian Stole from Meg Swanson's book, A Gathering of Lace. I'm too lazy to take another photo, particularly since it looks the same only about twice as long, but here's a reminder from the last update on this project a month or so ago:

I've now finished 4.5 pattern repeats out of the 5.5 the pattern calls for. I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel! I used a smaller needle than the pattern recommends (yes, I do that a lot!), so I may have to go a bit further than 5.5 pattern repeats, but I am definitely nearing the home stretch. Now if I can only get myself to knit more than a few rows in one sitting maybe I'll actually finish it!

In yarn news, I should let you know that I've added a couple of the colorways designed for my new Laceweight Merino Yarn to the Worsted Weight Merino options. The Worsted Weight Merino would be an absolutely divine yarn for sweaters. It's also great for hats, scarves and the like of course, but the soft, plush feel of the yarn just screams SWEATER! to me.

The two colorways I've added to the Worsted Weight Merino options are both rainbow dyed, while the other colorway options I already had available on the worsted weight are handpainted. As with my sock yarns, the rainbow dyed yarns won't pattern or stripe when knit. On the worsted weight yarn this makes for a nice option for a project with a bit more detail to the stitch work since color patterning won't mask the detail of the stitches.

Golden Olive is now available on Worsted Weight Merino:

And so is Hendrix:

Alright. I think I've rambled on long enough for today. Everyone have a wonderful day!

Monday, February 19, 2007

It's Customer Project Time Again!

This morning, I have a great pair of Embossed Leaves socks to share with you. These socks were knit by Sara for her KnittyBoard sock exchange pal. She used Fearless Fibers Superwash Merino Wool Sock Yarn in the Raspberry colorway.

The detail on these socks is just lovely! Since they're a gift for someone else, we don't have the benefit of seeing a picture of the socks on the foot, but you can easily imagine how pretty the lacey leaves will be when stretched around the calf and foot to reveal the details. Wonderful job, Sara! To see more of what Sara's up to with her knitting pursuits, check out her blog.

Please, please: Keep the photos coming! You can e-mail them directly to me.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

It's The Responsible Thing To Do!

In perusing blogland lately, there has been much talk about de-stashing. This got me to thinking about the term "stash" when referring to one's yarn supply. I'm sure others have said it, but I'll say it as well: I really don't like that term. I admit, I use the term myself, but I need to break that habit. It brings to mind images of a junkie's hidden supply of his or her drug of choice. That's not the image I want to associate with my cherished yarn!

There's a new movement afoot to think of one's yarn not as a stash but rather as a "collection." This is certainly a more pleasing term than stash, but it still doesn't quite hit the mark for me. Although there are some positive connotations to a collection, such as a collection of art, rare books, or something else of value, there are still some unpleasant associations that come to mind. Many "collectors" are people who hoard items of no real value. You know the people. When they eventually die, those who care about them spend weeks or months of their lives sorting through giant stacks of newspapers or endless sets of NBA-themed plastic cups from fast food restaurants. I'm satisfied enough to have my yarn viewed similarly to a priceless collection of art, but not so happy to think of it on a par with thirty years worth of TV Guide magazines!

I prefer to think of the accumulation of yarn as the responsible thing to do. I am knitter and that will never change. Just as any responsible person will do their best to build a nest egg for retirement years, shouldn't a responsible knitter build a fiber nest egg? My plan is simple: To accumulate enough yarn so that in my golden years I can happily knit whatever I choose without consideration to whether I can afford to spend money on yarn.

My idea of a beautiful retirement dream is to have a room in my house entirely filled with yarn. When I want to start a new project, I want to be able to view my stash . . . uhhhh, collection . . . I mean nest egg . . . and select the yarn I will use just as I would if I were in a yarn shop. I want to be able to lavish knit gifts on people I care about without having to dine on canned dog food to afford it. I want to smile as I reminisce about that beautiful spring day when my husband and I went for a drive on the coast with the convertible top down and the radio playing, and we stumbled on a yarn shop where I bought that gorgeous laceweight alpaca in colors that reminded of the ocean we had been enjoying all day.

Some may say I have too much yarn. I say that I'm planning ahead and doing the responsible thing. That's my story and I'm sticking with it!

Monday, February 12, 2007

Gentleman's Fancy Socks for a Monday Morning

For this Monday morning's customer project photo, I have a wonderful pair of socks to share made by Micki.

Micki made these lovely socks with FF
Superwash Merino Wool Sock Yarn in the Deepest Forest colorway. The pattern is the Gentleman's Fancy Sock from Knitting Vintage Socks by Nancy Bush.

Here's a closeup of the lovely detail where you can see Micki's perfect little stitches. Fabulous job as always, Micki!

If you'd like to see more of what Micki's up to with her knitting, pop on over to her wonderful blog,
A Thing for String.

Keep the project photos coming. I never tire of seeing the fabulous things you're all doing with your Fearless Fibers Yarn.

Now go have a wonderful week and get some knitting done!

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Spreading the Word

Instead of my usual knitting and yarn content, today I want to introduce you to an Etsy shop that's well worth a look. The shop is California Crafts. Now I know that all of you either knit or crochet yourselves and likely wouldn't normally have much interest in a shop that sells knit items, but this is a very special shop. Remember the wonderful machine-knit scarves by Sandy that I featured a few times on my blog? Come on kids . . . you cannot have forgotten the spectacular Elephant Sampler, for exampler!

Well, Sandy now has her own Etsy shop full of lovely scarves as well as a hat or two, ranging from simple and elegant right up through the famous Elephant Sampler! Even if you have enough knit items of your own to last a lifetime, this shop is definitely work a look just for the drool factor, or perhaps you might know someone who doesn't knit but would love this shop. If you know someone who might be interested and want to help spread the word, the direct URL is

Sandy's California Crafts shop is going to be my new standard Go To when I receive those inevitable requests from people I barely know to knit them something. You know the ones? Your friend's cousin who you met once and encounter in line at the movies. She comments on your lovely scarf and when you tell her you knit it yourself she responds with: "Oh! Can you knit one for me? I'll pay you for it." Flattering, yes, but there's no way you have the time or inclination to knit for a stranger. My new response will be to refer them to Sandy's shop!

Congrats and good luck to Sandy on the opening of her new shop!

Now I'm off to start another day of dyeing. My supply of the new laceweight merino yarn I added to my shop just two days ago is already almost gone, so I have lots of replenishing work to do. You may also have noticed that my selection of Superwash Merino Wool Sock Yarn is rather limited these days. Unfortunately, that's because the undyed yarn is on backorder right now and I'm running frightfully low on supply. The new yarn should be in any day now, so it won't be too long before stock is replenished and the usual sprinkling of new colorways returns.

Everyone have a fantastic weekend!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

New Yarn!!

At last the day is here to unveil the new yarn added to my Fearless Fibers line! You will find a new category in my shop for Laceweight Merino Yarn.

I am absolutely in love with this new yarn. It's a top quality 100% merino wool that's soft and lovely with a wonderful drape. It weighs in at 410 yards per 2-ounce skein, which is (in my opinion) I perfect laceweight. It's not so thin and unmanageable as a cobweb yarn, yet it is most assuredly a laceweight. It makes for a comfortable knitting or crochet experience and the finished products are light and airy without being so diaphanous as to be impractical.

Although you'll want to check your own patterns for yarn requirements, the rough guidelines for this yarn are: 1 skein for a scarf, 2 skeins for a very wide scarf or shoulder wrap/stole, 3 skeins for most triangular shawls, 4 or 5 skeins for a square shawl.

In addition to being a lovely laceweight merino, this yarn is priced for value at just $9 per 2-ounce skein!

To get started, there are five colorways now available. There will be more coming, but these five are a nice start to this new shop section. I love these new colorways so much that several of them are also now available on FF Classic Merino Wool Sock Yarn.

Without further ado, here's a sneak peak at a couple of the colorways. Visit the Laceweight Merino section of my shop to see the rest.

Here's Hendrix (midday update: the Hendrix laceweight has sold out, but don't worry . . . there will be more listed soon!):

And Golden Olive:

I'm so excited to offer this new yarn to all of you who love to knit lace! For those of you who have been contemplating your first lace project, it's also a perfect opportunity to give it a whirl without much of an investment of your yarn budget.

The best part about this yarn for me is that I love it so much that I can't wait to knit with it myself. That means that I have a new motivation to get my butt in gear and make some progress toward finishing the Faux Russian Stole that I'm knitting now. I won't get a new project on the needles with this lace yarn until that's done and now perhaps I've found the motivation I needed!

Everyone have a fabulous weekend!!

Monday, February 05, 2007

Polar Bear Socks

For today's Monday customer project, I have a pair of lovely knee socks to share with you. Don't let the post title fool you. These are not polar bear themed socks. Rather, they are socks by Tess of Polar Bear Patterns.

Before I show you these grand socks, let me introduce the maker. Tess is the knitting instructor extraordinaire at my favorite LYS. She also designs, writes and sells her patterns under the name Polar Bear Patterns. Unfortunately, Tess is having technical difficulties with her website at the moment, so if you pop over to buy the pattern, you will find that the Polar Bear site is temporarily down and in its place for the moment is her local website with class information and such. You can, however, click on the "About Us" link on her site for contact information. I'm sure if you would like to purchase the pattern, Tess would be happy to provide you with information or notify you when the site is up and running again.

Without further ado, here is the lovely sock made with FF Superwash Merino Wool Sock Yarn in the Marrakesh colorway:

If this sock looks familiar to you, that's because it is a collaborative effort between Tess and me. Some months back, you may recall the similar knee socks I knit in the Deepest Forest colorway. I wore these socks to knit club one day and Tess fell in love with the elegant simplicity of the socks, which is very much her style. Since I'm no designer or pattern writer and also had taken very poor notes when knitting the socks, I passed along what I could recall about the pattern to Tess, who then reverse engineered them and turned them into this polished version, with one of her well-written patterns to boot. Tess is an engineer by training and this comes through in her patterns, which are known for being straightforward and easy to follow. As with most good engineers, Tess leans toward elegance and simplicity of design.

Wonderful job, Tess, on both the knitting and the design!

And to all of the rest of you: PLEASE E-MAIL YOUR PHOTOS OF FINISHED PROJECTS TO ME! The steady flow of photos I've been receiving for the past several months has suddenly dried up. I get so many notes saying how much you all enjoy seeing the finished project photos, but I need your photos to keep it going!

Before I sign off for today, I want to be sure to let all of you know that I have some exciting news to share later this week. Well, it's exciting to me anyway and I hope it will be for you too. Okay, okay! I'll tell you a bit more: It's a new type of yarn coming to my FF line! I am rather ridiculously excited about this new yarn and very much looking forward to the unveiling later this week. The first batch of colorways will be ready for listing in a few days, so tune in later this week for details.

Everyone have a wonderful week . . . and get some knitting done!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Oasis Socks

I know many knitters can juggle multiple projects at one time and in many cases even thrive on it. I'm not one of those knitters. If I have too many projects in progress at any given time, I'm destined never to finish any of them. Perhaps it's because I enjoy the beginning of a project most, when I'm just getting a taste of how the finished product will look. Or perhaps it's because I tend to stray from patterns or not use a pattern at all, which - when combined with my lack of good notes when knitting - makes it difficult to pick up a project after a hiatus. Whatever the reason, I know my weakness and so I try to stick with one larger product and one or two smaller projects on the needles at any given moment.

The larger project I've been working on for what now feels like an eternity is the Faux Russian Stole from Meg Swanson's A Gathering of Lace. I won't bore you with another photo, since it looks pretty much the same as last time, except a wee bit longer. Progress on this project has definitely reached my least favorite part. It's that point where the excitement of the early part is gone, good progress has been made, but the end seems a million miles away and not getting any closer despite continuing efforts.

The truth is my "continuing efforts" have not been all they should be, to say the least. I do love the pattern and it's not difficult at all, but it is painstaking. The center motif is 81 stitches by 96 rows, so there's no way to cast the book aside and roll forward falling into the blissful rhythm of knitting-on-a-roll. The chart must be referenced continually and stitches counted frequently.

I've now finished 3.5 of the 5.5 chart repeats that the pattern requires. (I may actually have to go to 6 repeats since I used a smaller needle than recommended, but I'm not going to think about that right now.) I've reached the stage where I become a math machine. With each mini milestone in the pattern, I beginning calculating. "I've finished 3.5 repeats out of 5.5. That means I'm 63.63% of the way through the pattern, excluding the edging." These are the kind of thoughts that go through my head.

Then there's the bargaining. "I can only watch Top Chef tonight if I work on the shawl while I watch." Or perhaps ... "I don't have to clean the bathroom until later if I complete 10 rows right now."

When I reach this stage in a project, the only solution is to give it a rest and allow myself to knit something small and quick to give me that sense of satisfaction and reminder that it is actually possible to complete something! I started a pair of dark brown socks with a textured rib a week or two ago, but I ended up ripping those back as the pattern just didn't show up enough with the dark yarn. I also realized when I started those socks that what I really needed was a small project that takes absolutely no thought whatsoever. Enter the Oasis Socks.

I think of them as my Oasis Socks because they call out to me and lure me in like a mirage in the vast desert of endless, eye-strained, chart-following, intensely-focused lace shawl knitting. They are the simplest socks imaginable with a 2X2 ribbed cuff and stockinet body. If there were a power outage, I could probably have knit them in the dark.

For the Oasis Socks, I used my FF Classic Merino Wool Sock in Sand and Sun. I haven't knit with the Classic Merino Sock Yarn in a while and had forgotten how much I love it.

I know most of you are diehard fans of my Superwash Merino Sock Yarn, but I must admit that I actually like the classic merino better. Yes, the socks must handwashed, but that's not such a big deal. The yarn itself is just a tad heavier than the Superwash. The superwash has 550 yards to 4 ounces while the Classic Merino has 410. For me, it's a perfect knit on US #2 needles. I think my knitting is quicker with this yarn than any other I've used. It's just a perfect weight for me and the knitting flows effortlessly. The knit fabric itself is also absolutely wonderful. Look at the perfect little stitches, so neat and straight and lovely.

The knit fabric is in a way even softer than the Superwash, although at the same time it's also a bit sturdier. It's soft in a different way than the Superwash. The Superwash has more of a squishy and slightly silky feel, while the Classic Merino has a matte finish and more of a traditional wool softness. It feels softer in the finished knit form than it does in the skein.

I began the Oasis Socks on Friday and here it is six days later and they're done. Admittedly, they are short ankle socks (I used a partial skein of the Sand and Sun yarn and wanted to be sure I had enough to finish without breaking into another skein), but still six days from start to finish, while continuing to make some progress on the lace shawl and spending a great deal of time working is pretty good.

Without further ado, here they are! The colors in this photo are totally off, as the sun is not cooperating with me today, but you can get the idea. The actual colors of the sock are far more accurately represented in the photos of the yarn and stitch closeup above.

And now I'm faced with the decision of whether to bite the bullet and dive into the lace shawl again with renewed vigor or whether to allow myself another small project on the sticks as I continue to make slow progress on the shawl (which I do still love, by the way!).

Knit On!