Monday, August 27, 2007

Good Monday Morning to All!

Today, before I dive into my Monday customer project photos, I want to give everyone a piece of hot news: it's almost sale time!

As most of you know, I rarely have "sales" since I work very hard to keep my everyday prices as reasonable as I possibly can, but from time to time I need to clear the shelves to make room for new inventory and so I have a special sale. With Fall right around the corner and quite a number of new colorways in the works for my Alpaca/Wool and Mohair/Wool blends, it's time to make room on the shelves. That means sale time!

The sale will be for two days only on Wednesday August 29th and Thursday August 30th. I will begin listing sale items on Wednesday morning, likely sometime before 7:00 a.m. Pacific. All sale items will be marked as such with the sale prices listed (no need to wait for a revised invoice to reflect the discount). I'll also temporarily create a "Sale" section in my shop where you can easily view all sale items.

In addition to the Alpaca/Wool and Mohair/Wool blends that will be on sale, there will also be a few sock yarn colorways that I'm moving to the backburner, as well as several skeins of "Limited Edition" sock yarn colorways. As always, there will also be plenty of other non-sale items available to browse. And here's a small tip just for blog "insiders": There will be a small increase in price on my sock yarns coming in September. It won't be terribly significant, but still, that makes this a good time to stock up on anything you've been eyeing and also to take advantage of combined shipping if you are picking up any sale items.

Everyone on my mailing list will also get a note about the sale later today. If you're not on the list yet, just send me an e-mail and I'll add you to the list so that you don't risk missing hot news such as this in the future.

Alrighty then. On to the Monday project features!

First up are several wonderful pictures from Judith of her Morning Glory Shawl from the KnitSpot pattern. Judith used FF Classic Merino Wool Sock Yarn in Antique Rose.

Judith provided several lovely photos showing the closeup detail.

Unfortunately, Judith didn't get a picture showing the entire completed project, but the lovely detail of the stitchwork is still such a treat!

Gorgeous work, Judith! Thank you so much for sharing your photos.

Next up are Chelsea's River Rapid Socks in FF Superwash Merino Wool Sock Yarn in the Prosperity colorway.

I just love these socks! Here's another great shot:

You can view more of Chelsea's knitted goodies on her blog.

Thanks again to Chelsea and Judith for sharing their work! Just lovely!

Also, I almost forgot to mention that at long last I've finalized the pattern for my Tri-Color Slip Stitch Socks and added the pattern to my shop. I've also listed two "kits" with the pattern and yarn. A third kit with the color combination I used when designing the socks will be added soon, once my latest batch of the "Lime Kiwi" colorway is dry and ready to go.

Great day to all!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

I Owe You One

I know I've been rather scant with my blog postings of late and I owe you a good, long post. I'll rectify that today with updates on a variety of things.

Before I dive in and risk losing the attention of those of you with no time or inclination to wade through a long post, I want to give you all a heads-up to be on the lookout for a sale coming in my shop very soon. I've been working on some new colorways for my Alpaca/Wool and Mohair/Wool blends that I'll be adding to my shop in September and so it's a good time to clear out some of the remaining stock on the colorways that have been around for some time. There will also be a few Superwash Merino Sock Yarn colorways moving to the backburner that will also be on sale.

I don't have a firm date for the sale just yet, but I hope to have everything ready to go for that early next week. I'll post here when the dates are firm and will also send an update to my mailing list subscribers. If you haven't already asked to be added to that list, just send me an e-mail and I'll be happy to add you.

On the personal front, my husband and I are driving hard to the hoop with our purchase of a new home. Our needs are pretty unique and so we're thrilled to have found a place that should work well for us. Neither I nor my husband are the sort to procrastinate. Since we saw the house one week ago, we've visited a second time to be sure, put in an offer, negotiated the offer details and come to an agreement, got the loan firmed and approved and rate locked in, and had the home inspection completed. As I said, we're driving hard to the hoop!

All of this has consumed much of our time this week and will continue to do so, but that doesn't mean that there's no time for knitting and dyeing! As I mentioned, I'm working on new Alpaca/Wool and Mohair/Wool colorways. The first month's shipment of the Seven Deadly Sins Sock Yarn Club also went out this week and I'm way ahead of the game with next month's shipment and half of the month after that already completed.

Between all of this, I've also managed to squeeze in a bit of knitting time. I'm almost done with the body section of the zippered jacket/sweater that I'm knitting from the 2004/05 issue of Vogue Knitting. Just a few more rows on the back section and I'm ready to move on to the sleeves.

It wasn't until I took the photo above (bad photo, I know) that I realized I made a stupid mistake. You can hardly notice it in person but the photo picked up what looks like a line across the center back, moving horizontally across the back at the point where the armhole shaping begins. I inspected the piece and am fairly certain what I did to cause this. When I split off to do the front sections and back separately, I did the first side section correctly, but when I returned to do the other side and center back I began with a right side row instead of a row side wrong, thereby missing one purl row. So dumb. Tsk tsk.

As of now, I'm not really inclined to fix this. It really isn't very noticeable in person and I can't bear the thought of frogging back to the armholes. I may view this differently later though, so I think I'll motor on for now and finish up the last few rows of the back. I can then move on to the sleeves and when those are done, I can view the body with a fresh eye and decide whether I want to correct it.

I even tried to get a closeup photo of the problem area, but in closeup you can't even see the problem. Here's a closeup I showed you previously so that you can see the pretty stitch pattern much better than in the photo posted above.

Another loose end I left with all of you was my order of two new knitting books all the way back in June (or was it even May?). Both books were backordered for an eternity, but at long last I received the first one a couple of weeks ago.

I already have one of the Barbara Walker Treasury books, but I like this one even better. It's the first of her four-book "Treasury" series and is more of a traditional stitch dictionary style of book than the other one I have. It's chock-full of wonderful stitch patterns. Like most dictionaries, there are many that I already have in other dictionaries, but there are quite a few that don't look familiar to me.

I also love the way the cable stitch section is handled. In many cases, there are two stitch patterns shown together, creating something more like a cabled panel. It's very helpful to be able to see how some of these patterns work together, while also having the pattern instructions themselves written out as two separate sets of instructions making it easy to mix and match. Yep, this book's a winner. If you're in need of a good stitch dictionary, I highly recommend it. The only drawback is that it's in black and white, but of course, that helps keep the price within reason. Here's a link to the book on Amazon, although you may want to shop around for a possible better price and perhaps a shorter wait than I experienced with this order through Amazon!

Finally, I want to quickly mention that I know some of you are anxiously awaiting the addition to my shop of the tri-color slip stitch sock pattern and kits.

I haven't forgotten this! Everything's just about ready to go on that. I just need to find some quiet time to finish formatting the final pattern.

I think you are now all officially up-to-date on what's going on here in the land of Fearless Fibers. Thank you all again for your kind comments and e-mails about my house-buying venture! It surprised me how many of you sent me e-mails or put a note about it in your orders from my shop. There were so many of you that I didn't even know were readers of my blog! Come on out from behind the curtain and post a comment now and then so I know you're out there :)

Everyone have a wonderful day!

Monday, August 20, 2007

It’s That Time Again

Before I begin today’s finished project pictures, I want to thank all of you for your kind words of congratulations and best wishes about the house my husband and I are pursuing right now. Reading all of your comments just got me even more excited about the prospect of a new home! I’ll keep you posted on that as we go forward.

Now, here I am on Tuesday and still haven't posted my "Monday" customer projects. Unfortunately, the Blogger site has been absolutely uncooperative for the past 24 hours and it's driving me mad! I simply cannot load any pictures. I don't want to leave all of you hanging until this gets resolved, so I'm going to at least give you one project to look at with a link.

Kathleen made a lovely pair of “Anniversary Socks” (pattern by Nancy Bush, available in her book entitled Favorite Socks). Kathleen knit the Anniversary socks in FF Superwash Merino Wool Sock Yarn in the Infatuation colorway. Just visit this Flickr page and you'll find several photos.

Love them! Great job, Kathleen!

Everyone keep the photos coming. Just send them to me by e-mail along with any relevant details you want to share and I’ll put them in the queue for posting here. Thank you to Kathleen for sharing her work and to all of you who continue to send your photos to me. It’s a great way to start a Monday morning ... or Tuesday morning as the case may be!

Friday, August 17, 2007

The Ultimate Impulse Buy

I dragged myself up at 5:00 a.m. this morning so that I could squeeze in a few hours of work before an appointment mid-morning today. I answered a few e-mails and drank some coffee before preparing to head down into my workshop, when I suddenly realized that I haven't posted on my blog at all since Monday. Oh my! I'm so sorry. I have a good excuse though.

I'm in the midst of what may be the ultimate impulse buy: a house!

It's not entirely an impulse buy, of course. It's been clear for a while now that my little business is growing way too large for our current home, but our plan was to wait until Spring '08 to take the leap and start house shopping.

My husband's little venture into making sock blockers was what really spurred us forward. He loves woodworking and really has the bug to get seriously into it again now, but we just aren't set up well for that. He mentioned in passing last week that perhaps we should start looking for a house now.

That's all it took really. I decided to head to the bank in the morning to get a loan prequalified. I walked out an hour later with that in hand and next thing I knew, my husband and I are were driving around town looking at possibilities. A day or two after that and we decided to sit down with a realtor and get serious. Much to our surprise, we think we may have found the right place for us already. It's a definite project house that will need a complete remodel, but that's what woodworker husband wants. It's in the right neighborhood for us, the house is the right size and a good layout for us, there are options to convert the entire upstairs to a workshop for me or possibly to convert the large garage, there's an enormous separate workshop building which is split in two areas large enough for my husband to have a full woodworking shop and large enough for me to have a completely separate yarn drying room, and on top of that it's on a good third of an acre (which may not sound large to some of you, but in the area where we live, it's very unusual to get that size lot).

Anyhow, I'm running around like a nut this week, trying to keep the yarn production going without interruption, while also trying to squeeze all of this house stuff in. I hope you will all forgive my lack of blog updates this week now that you know I have a good excuse!

More news to come next week. Everyone have a great weekend!

Monday, August 13, 2007

More Lovely Projects

To start your week off on the right note with a bit of oooh'ing and aahh'ing, I have a couple of lovely projects to share with you today.

Kirsten made this gorgeous
Adamas Shawl by Miriam Felton with FF Laceweight Merino in the Hendrix colorway.

Here's another shot so you can see the pattern detail close up.

Didn't Kirsten do a lovely job?! If you pop over to
Kirsten's blog you will find more photos in her July 25th post, but be careful . . . you may end up there for some time! Kirsten's blog is chock-full of wonderful projects and fiber photos. Just reading it and seeing how prolific Kirsten is makes me want to sit down right now and get some knitting done!

Next up are these lovely Waving Lace socks that Janet knit. Although I forgot to double-check with Janet (oops, my apologies!), it looks as those these are knit with my
Superwash Merino Wool Sock Yarn in the Gentle Peach colorway. Click on the photo for a closer view of the lovely waving lace stitch pattern.

For an eyeful of a wide array of delicious sock photos, you can visit
Janet's blog.

A big Thank You to Kirsten and Janet for sharing their project photos! If you'd like to share a project you've completed with FF yarn, just send me an e-mail with your photos and any project details you'd like to share and I'll put them in the queue for a future Monday project feature.

Everyone have a lovely Monday!

Friday, August 10, 2007

So Little Time

When I sat down today for a new blog post, it hit me how very little time I've had for knitting recently! Although summer should be the "slow" time for me, I've been busy working on all sorts of things.

The addition of my husband's handcrafted Aromatic Cedar Sock Blockers to my shop took more time from me than I expected. Not only is there the photographing, listing, questions, etc. for me to handle, but he's full of talk about the challenges he's facing and I - of course - must take a great interest not only in my constant role of supportive wife but also to ensure his interest remains strong since everyone seems to really love this new product!

Once the design work was done, the biggest challenge with the blockers is actually getting the cedar. Little did we know when we completed the first batch that getting aromatic cedar boards wide enough for sock blockers is no easy task! Apparently, the trees don't grow all that large and so most boards are narrower than the sock blocker. We've already picked clean every wood supplier in our area and had many a conversation with those further away. Never fear though! This only means that we'll need to consider splicing boards together in the future. This is not a problem and no different than the construction you'll find in kitchen cabinets or other common wood products, but it does mean more time and effort invested in each pair. I think the initial flurry of sales of the blockers scared my poor husband a bit and he's wondering what he's gotten himself into. He must be crazy to try to meet the needs of a bunch of obsessed sock knitters! I've talked him down off the ledge now though, reminding him that he can produce whatever quantity he's comfortable with.

On the dyeing front, I have no photos of new yarn to share with you, but that's not because there is none! Between my frenzy of dyeing for the Seven Deadly Sins Sock Yarn Club and just keeping my shop stocked as always, I've managed to squeeze in some time to work on some new colorways that I'll be introducing in the Fall. No sneak previews though! You'll just have to wait for the big reveal in September.

All of this has left little time for knitting. When I've found a few minutes here and there, I've mostly just added a few rows to the ripple stitch afghan. Nothing new to see there though. Just longer and longer.

The only other thing I've knit are a few swatches of color combinations for the Tri-Color Slip Stitch Socks. Remember those from a week or two ago? Here's a new picture, after blocking on my very own pair of Bruce's blockers.

As promised, I'll be adding the pattern to my shop before long and will also have some kits with yarn and pattern. The swatching I've been doing is to decide upon the color combinations in addition to the one above that I'll use for the kits. I've decided on these two:

The one above is Inner Sanctum, Butterscotch, and Marrakesh. The one below is Royalty, Green Gray, and Raspberry.

I may add another, but for now, at least I have three solidified. The pattern and kits will be available before long. (Hey now! Don't rush me. Didn't I say I've been busy, working my little fingers to the bone for all you? Ha!)

Speaking of being busy, I better get back to it now. Everyone have a wonderful weekend!

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Mmmmmm . . . Smell the Cedar

A couple of months ago, I mentioned in passing to my husband that I might buy a pair of sock blockers. He, of course, responded with: "Huh?" Translation: "What are sock blockers?"

Although my husband, Bruce, now works in the high-tech world, he was at one time a finish carpenter and still loves working with wood. And so with my simple mention of sock blockers began a long journey that has now reached the point that I can announce a new product in my shop!

You guessed it! Sock blockers!

These aren't just any ol' sock blockers though. They are handcrafted from solid aromatic cedar. No finish is applied to the blockers so as to allow the aromatic cedar to retain its natural moth and insect repellant properties. When the blockers are not in use, you can slip them into a sock drawer or closet to help protect against the enemy moth. (Aromatic cedar does not rot from moisture, so a bit of dampness from your sock during the sock-blocking process will not harm them.)

Unlike most sock blockers which are made from thin plywood, these babies are made from ¾” to 1” thick cedar, with gently rounded edges. The thicker construction not only creates a sturdy blocker, but it also provides a nice smooth and rounded edge that won’t result in blocked socks with sharp creases at the edges.

I showed you a photo of my latest sock last week while it still sat on the blocker. Here's a photo of the finished sock, off the blocker, looking just perfect and ready for action.

Another use for the sock blockers is to save the fate of a shrunken pair of socks. Some of you may recall from long, long ago when I knit a pair of eyelet ribbed socks from my Classic Merino Wool Sock Yarn. That's the classic wool -- not the superwash. Well, I have to admit, I accidentally put them in the washer and in a heat cycle on the dryer, not once but twice! They have been sitting sadly in my sock drawer for some time now, shrunken to a shell of their former selves.

I took one of those shrunken socks and blocked it with my new sock blocker and took this photo to show you the comparison with its shrunken twin.

Yippee! All I need to do now is block the other one and my precious socks will live again!

You can find Bruce's handcrafted sock blockers in the "Patterns and Blockers" section of my Etsy shop. They come in three women’s size (S/M/L). Dimensions can be found in the listings. In time, we'll add men's sizes as well and perhaps even children's.

I can't tell you what a kick it is to see Bruce excited about participating in the business! He occasionally helps with a bit of packaging or labeling, but getting him interested in yarn and knitting has been beyond my capabilities. At last, I've found a way to combine knitting and woodworking!

Of course, it seems that perhaps this little business venture is for Bruce just a good excuse to purchase a myriad of new tools . . . Hmmmmmm. Ah well. It matters not. I have new sock blockers of my very own and something new in my shop to share with all of you. Can't ask for a better outcome than that!

Monday, August 06, 2007

Notorious in Lace

As promised, I have a project to share with you today that is something other than socks. And oh what a something!

This fabulous shawl was knit by Micki using FF Laceweight Merino in the Notorious colorway. The pattern is Eunny Jang's Print O' The Wave Shawl (in Eunny's blog, there's a link from the right side bar to the free pattern). If Micki's shawl looks slightly familiar to you, it's the same pattern I used a few months ago for the shawl I knit for my niece's prom.

Micki claims to be a bit of a novice to lace knitting, but you'd never guess that by looking at this beauty!

These two photos are just a tease really. Micki has more photos on her blog, but you're going to have to pop over to see all of them (see July 24th post).

Kudos to Micki for a fantastic job and giving us such a treat for the eyes to start the week off right!

Friday, August 03, 2007

I Love My Sock

Last post, I showed you a photo of a new sock I have in progress. It was just a wee thing, with a short ribbed cuff and a few inches of tri-color pattern moving down toward the ankle.

Now, just two days later, it's this:

I cannot tell you how much I love this sock! It just pleases me to no end with its fun, youthful colors mixed and mingled along the leg, together with the textured stitch that adds visual interest. Knitting the sock was quick and painless, despite the somewhat complex look achieved by this stitch pattern.

You can click on the photo above to get an even closer look at the detail. It's a slip-stitch pattern, which means that you get that nice mingling of colors and complex-looking stitch work without ever having more than one color in use on the same row. This keeps the knitting swimming along without any of the awkwardness that can come from stranded knitting in the round on small needles or having to refer back to a color chart.

I also mentioned in my last post that this was a sock with a purpose. The purpose was to utilize leftover quantities of skeins of my FF Superwash Superwash Merino Wool Sock Yarn. The colors I used are Lime Kiwi, Citrus, and Gentle Peach.

Skeins of my Superwash Merino Wool Sock Yarn are intentionally extra large, at a full 4 ounces and 550 yards. This means that you can make almost any pair of socks imaginable without needing a second skein. It also, however, means that you can end up with fairly good sized portions of leftover skeins remaining. Although I'm sure all of you have been finding good uses for your leftovers, I thought that now that I've added a Pattern Section to my shop it would be a good idea to add a sock pattern or two specifically designed to utilize those leftovers.

I'll be finishing up the details for this pattern and adding it to my shop soon. Details on required yardage for the different colors will be included then.

In addition to the pattern, I also think I may put together a few pattern and yarn kits for this sock. Even if you have leftovers in your stash, the colors may not happen to work well together and so perhaps some of you would like ready-made kits with the correct yardage. (Or perhaps I'm just looking for an excuse to have the fun of test knitting swatches of the stitch pattern in various different color combinations!)

I'm so very glad that I decided to knit this. Over the past few months, I began to think that perhaps I was rather "over" the whole sock-knitting thing. Of course, I'll never entirely stop knitting socks, but I thought I needed a good long break from it. As it turns out, I just needed the right sock project to get me excited again.

Everyone have a wonderful weekend and get some knitting done!

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Stupidity or Conspiracy?

Bit by bit, I've continued making progress on the zipper-front jacket that I'm working on from the Winter 2004/05 issue of Vogue Knitting. I've come to an odd point in the pattern that has me wondering whether I am stupid or whether there is a conspiracy afoot.

The sweater is knit beginning with one wide piece that will then separate into right side, back, and left side to be worked separately when it comes time to begin shaping the armholes. I'm just a few rows away from this point right now.

Before I began the project, I skimmed through the pattern to be sure there was nothing lurking there that might cause me problems. You know the type of thing I mean: Over the next 4.7 rows decrease by 3.2 stitches. Decreases are accomplished by twirling in circles while standing near the equator and knitting stitches together. Okay. Maybe nothing that extreme, but I do search for certain things I dread, such as the mere whisper of the word steek. (Yes, I know it's silly, but I can't help it. I suffer from FOSD - Fear of Steeks Disease.)

Thankfully, I found no such oddities in my quick skim of the pattern and dove right in. Perhaps the fact that I only skimmed the pattern quickly is the first bit of evidence leaning toward stupidity as the answer to my question rather than conspiracy. I should have read closer.

Now that I'm right there on the verge of beginning to split the stitches onto holders and work the portions separately as I shape the armholes, I read the pattern more closely. The first thing that jumped out at me is that it instructs me - the trusting and dutiful knitter - to place 64 stitches on a holder for the left front, 119 for the back, and 59 for the right front, with four stitches of bind off before and after the back stitches. The numbers add up correctly to account for the 280 stitches on the needles at the start, but why oh why would I hold 59 for one side and 64 for the other?

The sweater is a zipper-front with no odd panel or strange assymetrical detail, so why would I have five more stitches on one side than the other? The stitch pattern is a 3-stitch repeat so it's clearly not a bit of fudging to maintain a full pattern repeat, since the difference in the two sides is 5 stitches. Perhaps the designer assumes that many women have one breast larger than the other and she is kindly accounting for this in her design? (Yes, I'm joking here, but I suppose the mere fact that I would type anything so ludicrous adds further weight on the side of stupidity over conspiracy?)

At this point, I decided it was about time that I checked the Vogue Knitting site for errata. (Again, perhaps stupidity that I didn't do that before beginning!) But alas, no. No errata listed for this pattern. I then began a Google search to see if any other knitters out there have worked this pattern and noticed this oddity. I Googled and clicked and clicked and Googled until my mouse hand was numb. Apparently, I am the only knitter in the cyber world who has knit this pattern.

Back to the pattern again. I continued reading to see if this mystery would resolve itself further into the pattern. First, I jumped ahead to see if the left and right front would land in the same place, with the same number of stitches remaining to be joined for the top of the shoulder on each side. Oddly, the answer was Yes. This can mean only one thing. That is, that the armhole decreases on each side also don't match. A quick glance at the details of armhole shaping and indeed that is the case. The pattern has each armhole being shaped differently. The two sleeves, of course, are to be mirror images of one another, so why the two armholes would be shaped differently is quite beyond me.

At this point, I am leaning again toward conspiracy. I must stop myself from believing this though. What would be the point of such a conspiracy? And don't tell me that it's probably just an error and not a conspiracy! The designer wrote the pattern. A test knitter must have also been involved. In fact, with a pattern for Vogue Knitting, one would hope that there were a couple of test knitters. Then there's the editor or editors. Did nobody in this line-up of knitting experts notice that there are issues? Or am I just stupid and completely overlooking a perfectly rational explanation for this odd construct?

At this point, I'm leaning toward a plan to rebalance the number of stitches for right and left front and to adjust the armhole shaping a bit (and - imagine this - use the same shaping on both sides!). I'm just a bit hesitant about all of this. It seems so much more likely that I'm missing something and that what I'm reading as an error is in fact intentional and has some grand purpose in the design that I cannot see. So which is it: My Stupidity or Their Conspiracy?

In the short-run, I'm following a different plan. I'm coldly ignoring the zipper-front sweater. I cast on a new sock a couple of days ago. And it's so damn cute I can hardly breathe when I look at it.

This is a special sock pattern with a purpose. More to come on that in an upcoming post! Everyone have a wonderful day!