Thursday, September 27, 2007

A Woman in Knee Pads … And Yarn Stuff Too!

In a comment on my last post, Shafira “tagged” me to post seven random facts about myself. I wanted to mention it here so that she wouldn’t think I was ignoring the tag. I was actually tagged for this long ago and already complied, so I won’t bore you with seven more random facts. Knowing 14 random facts about me is more than anyone should have to endure! My post today, however, will be a bit of this and a bit of that, which may well amount to seven random facts if viewed in that context.

Life goes on as usual here. My time is split between dyeing, all things business-related, and my time on my new house. We closed on the house about a week and half ago, and we’re already in full swing on getting things done that must be done prior to moving in. The house had only electricity and no gas, so we’ve had the house plumbed for gas and had the gas lines brought up to the house. We’ve had tons of contractors out to the house and have now selected one for plumbing and have that work scheduled for a couple of weeks from now. That’s a huge one! We’re having the entire house re-piped. We’re still considering roofers. (Yes, that’s right. We need a new roof too.)

Smaller jobs have been started as well. We’ve demolished the two bathrooms in preparation for remodeling both of them, including expanding one. We’ve ripped out drywall to prepare for the plumping re-piping.

I say “we” in all of this, but it’s really my husband and not me. My jobs are the simple ones that just help save him some time. This week in the few hours that I made it over to the house, I tore out filthy contact paper in the kitchen and cleaned everything (we’ll be living with the existing, horrific kitchen for a while), I ripped out all of the old and battered molding in the downstairs of the house, removed lightswitch and electric plates, and laid down painter’s paper and blue taped to prep the living room, two downstairs bedrooms and hallway for painting. I donned kneepads for this job, since I was down on my hands and knees for a long time. I must say that I felt quite empowered in my dirty sweats, kneepads, and dust mask!

If you’re asking yourself whether my husband and I are insane to take on such a project, the answer is probably yes. We did want a bit of a fixer house, but this one needs more major work than we would have liked. It just had too many things that worked perfectly for us to pass it up though. And on top of that, there was a sign that it was meant to be! (OK. I don’t believe in signs, but this one was too good not to mention.)

When we were trying to make our final decision as to whether we would put in an offer on the house, we went back for a closer look. In the kitchen, for no reason whatsoever, I randomly opened a drawer. (I say “for no reason” because the kitchen is so old and trashed that everything will be removed and replaced eventually, so how smoothly a drawer slides was totally irrelevant.) When I opened that drawer, imagine my surprise when I saw two big fat skeins of mint green yarn! Why someone would keep yarn in a drawer in their kitchen is beyond me. Whatever their reason, it tickled me to no end. It was as though the house was crying out, “You belong here! Buy me, please!”

Although the house project is keeping me extra busy, that doesn’t mean I’m not running full-speed on dyeing! The business will never take a backseat. A few things on that front …

I know many of you were disappointed that you did not get one of the 50 available slots of the Seven Deadly Sins Sock Club. Never fear, there will be another club at some point in the future, but there’s also an upcoming chance for you to get a small taste of the current club in November. Although the Seven Deadly Sins colorways will not be generally available until at least some time next year, there will be one exception.

Some of you may know that Anne Hanson of KnitSpot is creating a sock pattern for the “Greed” colorway. The pattern will be part of the final club shipment in late November. By popular demand, Anne and I have decided to make the Greed yarn and pattern available as a kit in late November. Here’s a taste of one of Anne’s design-in-progress photos:

This will be her “Acorn” socks. The acorn theme is Anne’s take on a greedy little squirrel, hoarding away his acorns for the long winter.

The kits will sell for $23 plus $4.60 for Priority Shipping in the U.S. (If you are interested and are outside of the U.S., you can send me a message for a Priority Shipping quote.)

I’m taking names for a pre-order list for the kits, so if you want to have a kit reserved for you and ready in late November, just send me an e-mail and ask to be added to the pre-order list. When the kits are ready, I will create “reserved” listings in my shop with the kits for folks on the pre-order list. Don’t worry though. You don’t have to be on the pre-order list to get a kit. There will be kits generally available as well, but the quantities will be small and will be replenished as they sell, so getting on the pre-order list is just a way to ensure you get a kit as soon as they become available and that you don’t have to scramble and try to snap one up before others do.

In addition to the kits, the sock club yarns, and my usual dyeing to replenish stock, there are plenty of new things in the works as well. Most of you have already seen the new Mohair/Wool and Alpaca/Wool colorways that I listed a couple of weeks ago. I’ve also taken two of those new colorways and put them on laceweight cashmere. I listed the first – Promise – today:

The second will be Verdure and will be listed in a few days.

I am also slowly but surely adding more Sportweight Superwash Merino to my shop, using some of my most popular superwash sock yarn colorways on the heavier sportweight yarn. Sublime was recently added and there are still a few skeins left.

Smoke was added this morning:

Butterscotch will be added very soon as well -- perhaps by tomorrow.

To jump over to a completely different topic, I also have a new acquisition to show you. I purchased this darling “cube” sock bag from Cathy of Schrodinger Originals on Etsy.

I really like the cube shape and I think it will be a bit more accommodating to my needs than the more shapeless, ovalish one that I previously used and that you most commonly see. (“My needs” include digging around in the bottom of the bag to try to find that missing stitch marker or size 0 needle.) I also really like that it’s made of a very sturdy fabric that not only holds its shape perfectly but should also wear well over time.

Cathy has a nice variety of patterned fabrics to choose from, so pop on over to her shop and have a looksy.

Alrighty then. I think I have officially rambled on in every possible direction long enough. Time for me to get back to work!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Crochet Anyone?

For a bit of a change for this morning's Monday customer project feature, I have a crochet project to share.

Cindy made this absolutely beautiful crochet shawl using FF Laceweight Merino in the Miracle colorway.

This shawl is an original design by Cindy. She calls it the "Olde Peddler Crochet Shawl." Isn't it lovely! If you'd like to crochet one for yourself, you will find Cindy's pattern available in her Etsy shop.

You may also want to pop over to Cindy's blog to have a look at all the many knit and crochet projects she has in progress and finished. You'll find some lovely, lovely work there!

And now I'm off to start another crazy day of dyeing and demolition (demolition work in the house we just purchased and are already knee-deep into the early stages of remodeling).

Everyone have a great week!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Did I Ever Mention That I Knit?

It seems as though it’s been a long time since I’ve given an update on my own knitting activities. Although I haven’t had much time to knit lately, I have managed to squeeze in a row here, two rows there, and it does eventually add up.

I’m still working on the zipper-front sweater from the Winter 2004/05 edition of Vogue Knitting. Last time I gave you an update, I showed you the nearly completed body. If you recall, the picture showed a thin shadow-like line running across the back. The line was caused by a purl row I missed on the center back and right front. I hadn’t noticed it until I took the photo. Sigh. I finished up the last couple of rows of the body despite the error, telling myself that it was barely noticeable. Although that’s true, I’m pretty sure I’ll go back and fix it after I finish the sleeves. It just seemed like such a huge step backward right then, when I’d finally just about finished the body, but once the sleeves are done I think I’ll be able to go back and fix that without it seeming quite such a massive task.

I began the first sleeve a couple of weeks ago and still haven’t finished it! But good progress has been made:

Now before you think that I’ve done something crazy and stupid again, let me explain why the sleeve looks this. If you look at the photo from the magazine, you’ll see that the sleeves and very wide at the bottom and include a broad cuff. The huge line and change of stitch pattern you see in my sleeve-in-progress photo is where the turning row is where the sleeve will cuff upward. The pattern change is because the bottom portion of the sleeve will cuff over and so the wrong side will become the right side. With a P2,K1 rib, the front and back look different. Never fear … all is well on the sleeve so far. With such a broad sleeve and that extra 6 inches of cuff, it is taking far longer than any sleeve has a right to take, but I suppose I can blame some of that on the fact that I only have a few minutes here and there to add a row or two.

In the meantime, I had an urge to cast on something new in laceweight. I really wanted to do something with my Laceweight Merino in the Notorious colorway. I swatched and tinkered and flipped through patterns, but couldn’t make up my mind for quite a while. It finally dawned on me that I really just needed a simple, straightforward lace knit that would fit into my crazy schedule. Just like with the sweater, I needed something that I could pick up for a few minutes at a time without having to focus energy and waste time figuring out where I was in a complex pattern.

I decided to go with Anne Hanson’s Ostrich Plumes Shawl. I have a friend who lives down south where the climate is always warm, so a lace shawl will make a nice gift for her. She’s a fiend for oranges, yellows and peaches, so I decided to use my Sunny Peach colorway.

I hadn’t knit with this colorway yet and I have to say that I really love it! It looks even prettier and far more interesting when knit. You can see the varied shades of peach, tangerine, and sunny yellow much better in the knitted piece than in the skein. I had a hard time getting good photos today, as it's midafternoon here now and very bright and sunny.

I love the wide variation of tones that are still subtle enough to let the pattern shine through. The pattern is also absolutely perfect. It’s very straightforward and can be committed to memory almost immediately. It also perfectly fits the bill for knitting in small spurts. I can just pick it up whenever I have a minute and whip out a few rows. It’s knitting up very quickly as well. I really needed a bit of instant knitting gratification to help fight the feeling that I wasn’t finishing anything at all lately! You'll find the pattern over at KnitSpot and also available in my Etsy store.

This one’s also going to be fun to block. The stitch pattern has a lot of rippling and texture to it while knitting, so the blocking process will be a more dramatic transformation than you have with some flatter knit pieces.

And so you see, I do knit after all!

Everyone have a wonderful day and get some knitting done!

Monday, September 17, 2007

I'd Never Forget You!

Here it is a tad after 8:00 a.m. and I haven't posted my Monday morning project photos! I must admit, it completely slipped my mind until now. I've been busy staring at my cell phone all morning and waiting for it to ring. Today is the day that we are supposed to "close" on our new home purchase and we're still waiting for final word on the total closing costs and appointment time at the title company.

It's been an insane process this time around, much more painful than my two previous home purchases. I keep waiting for the bank to call and say, "Just one more thing before we can finalize the loan. We'll need DNA samples from you and your husband."

Anyhow . . . it may have slipped my mind for a moment, but I would never forget you! And so, without further delay, I present to you Chelsea's Charade socks.

Chelsea made these fantastic socks with FF Superwash Merino Wool Sock Yarn in the Marrakesh colorway. On my monitor, the socks look entirely brown rather than the olive green of the Marrakesh colorway, but who cares about the accuracy of the color? These socks are fabuous whatever the color!

Here's another shot for your viewing pleasure:

Fantastic job by Chelsea! If you'd like to learn more about Chelsea's knitting endeavors, pop on over to her blog.

Alrighty. I'm off now to return to staring at my cell phone. Wishing everyone a great start to another week!

Friday, September 14, 2007

New Colorways Are Here!

As promised, I have lots of new colorways in my shop this week. To be exact, there are fifteen of them! There are five new colorways each on FF Alpaca/Wool DK Yarn, Mohair Wool DK Yarn, and Mohair/Wool Worsted Yarn.

Here's a small sampling of some of the new colorways, starting with "Fascination" on Alpaca/Wool:

"Promise" is a new one that I particularly like. It's on the DK Mohair/Wool:

We can't leave out the Worsted Mohair/Wool from the sampling, so feast your eyes on "Warmth":

Those on my mailing list received an e-mail to let them know about the new colorways. If you're not on the list yet and would like to receive future updates about new items, future sock clubs, sales, etc., just pop me an e-mail and ask to be added to the list.

Everyone have a great weekend!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Contest Winners + NewsFlash!

Today is the day to announce the winners of my latest blog contest! To recap, the challenge was for you to guess which state had the second most members represented in my FF Seven Deadly Sins Sock Yarn Club. The first place to state - California - was too obvious an answer so I began the contest with guessing state number two. There were three prizes to be given and so I also specified that if three people did not guess the answer correctly, the prizes would be given to those who guessed the state in position number three and so forth. If more than three people answered correctly, prizes would be given based on first entries received.

The results were rather interesting (to me anyway ... but hey, I'm easily amused). The correct answer for the state right behind California with representation in the sock club is: ILLINOIS! Of all the entries I received, only one answered correctly. Congratulations to Leslie for her correct answer and capture of a prize!

The next most highly represented state in the sock club is: Virginia. And guess what? Not a single person guessed Virginia, which means we now move on to the next most highly-represented state.

The next answer is: Ohio. Only one person guessed Ohio correctly. Congratulations to Maureen for her correct answer.

For the final prize, we move down another notch on the list of most highly represented states. This one was the guess made by scores of people. The answer is: Oregon! This one was guessed by lots and lots of you, since it is after all the state where I live. The first person to submit the correct entry gets the prize. That was Cindy. Congrats, Cindy!

I quite enjoyed reviewing the submissions for this contest. Thank you all for your entries!

In other news, I want to give you all a quick heads-up to let you know that new colorways on my Alpaca/Wool and Mohair/Wool blends are right around the corner. I have fifteen new ones that just need to be photographed and named before they're ready to list. I'll post a note here when they're listed and will also send a message to mailing list. If you're not part of that list and want to be added, just send me an e-mail and I'll be happy to add you.

In addition to the new colorways on the Alpaca and Mohair blends, I'm also finally doing something I've meant to do for ages. I'm slowly beginning to take some of the very popular colorways on my Superwash Merino Sock Yarn and duplicating them on my Superwash Merino Sportweight. So far, there are just three of these added into my shop this morning, but there will be more slowly added over time.

The ones I've added already are all greens (no reason for that -- just happened to be colors I was working with at the time as I replenished Superwash Sock stock). Here's a photo of one for a bit of a taste. It's Deepest Forest:

This yarn is worth saying a bit about, as there are some important considerations about gauge and needle size if you choose to knit with this yarn. It's a 4-ply Superwash Merino, wonderfully soft with a slightly silky feel to it. I call it a sportweight, but some would look at it and say it's more of a DK or Light Worsted.

The thing about this yarn is that it's very soft and springy, with a good bit of memory. It can be knit on a pretty wide range of needles depending on your purpose. I recommend US #3 or 4 on the labels and in the listing, but here's a bit more info.

Many folks like this yarn for a heavier, winter sock. It's a great choice for that, but if you're using it for socks, I recommend you go down to the smallest needle that you feel comfortable with. That would likely be a #2. The reason for this is that superwash merino is a very slippery fiber and can have a tendency to stretch out over time and with wear. Knitting it at the firmest gauge possible for socks is going to give you better wear over time. I also always recommend that you keep in mind when washing that even though the yarn is superwash, it is still a delicate hand knit! Wash in cold water on gentle cycle, and avoid including it in a wash with big bulky items such as jeans that will cause lots of agitation and banging about in the wash. I would also put the socks or other garment into a lingerie bag for added protection. Once washed, lay flat to dry.

If you're using this yarn for a sweater, I would go with a #3 or 4 needle. You may be tempted to use a larger needle, but again you must keep in mind the slippery nature of the yarn. With a sweater, gravity will come into play when you wear it. The weight of the sweater will continually pull down with wear and you may find that if you knit it too loosely, the sweater may grow a bit over time.

Some of you who have been reading this blog for a long time may recall a sweater I knit with this yarn some time back.

I knit this on US #4 needles and it worked out perfectly. It's a loose enough knit that the sweater is soft and not too rigid, yet at the same time, it's tight enough that it's holding it's shape beautifully.

Some of you may also recall the ripple stitch throw blanket that I've slowly been knitting over these past several months. I must admit that I haven't touched it in a long time, but I *will* finish it one of these days!

This blanket is also knit with my Superwash Sportweight. I'm using a #5 needle for this. In fact, since I knit continental style and on large pieces tend to have a very loose hand, I'd say this is more like the equivalent of how a #6 needle would work for most people. This works perfectly for the blanket, since a little play and stretch over time won't hurt it at all and also since a blanket won't have the same gravitational effects with use that a sweater would (unless of course I decide to run about the house wearing it like a cape, playing superhero perhaps?).

Although all of this information on needle size and gauge may seem a bit much, don't let it scare you away! This is a wonderfully versatile yarn that can be used for a wide variety of projects.

Whewsh! That's about all for today. Stay tuned for news on the new Alpaca and Mohair blend colorways very soon. On top of that, I've actually found a few spare minutes here and there for knitting, so I'll have some WIP photos to share soon.

Everyone have a smashing day! I'm off to e-mail the contest winners now!

Monday, September 10, 2007

And We're Off!

Time to kick off another new week with customer project photos. Before I do that, however, I want to remind everyone to get their contest entries to me. Scroll down to my last post for contest information. The deadline for submissions is tomorrow (Tuesday) night at midnight pacific. I will notify and announce the winners on Wednesday.

First up for today's project photos is this pair of socks by Mary, made with FF Superwash Merino Wool Sock Yarn in the Royalty colorway.

Mary used the Rococo Sock pattern from KnitSpot. You will also find this pattern available in my Etsy shop.

Here's a closeup so that you can see more of the lovely details of Mary's socks.

Fantastic job, Mary! Love them!

Next up is another wonderful pair of socks by Suzy. She used FF Superwash Merino Wool Sock Yarn in the Butterscotch colorway. The pattern is the Simply Elegant Sox by Polar Bear Patterns, also available in my Etsy shop. The pattern is written for knee socks, but as you can see, they are as cute as can be in a shorter version as well.

Another fabulous pair of socks, Suzy! These are too cute not to take another peek.

Nothing like starting the week off with an eyeful of colorful socks. Thank you very much to Mary and Suzy for sharing their work!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

It's Contest Time!

You've all been so kind and understanding about my less frequent blog posts during this busy time in my life that I thought I would thank you all with a contest!

There will be three winners for this contest, each receiving a skein of FF Superwash Merino Wool Sock Yarn in the "Gluttony" colorway. This is one of the colorways that went out in the first batch of the FF Seven Deadly Sins Sock Yarn Club. If you weren't part of the sock club, here's your opportunity to receive one of the yarns from the club. If you were a member, perhaps you can use a second skein to plan a larger project such as a shawl.

The colorway is a mix of shades of milk chocolate tinged throughout without caramel.

Here are the contest details:

CONTEST QUESTION: The Seven Deadly Sins Sock Yarn Club was limited to 50 members (U.S. only). California led the way with the most members. The contest question you must try to answer is: Which state had the second most members in the Seven Deadly Sins Sock Yarn Club?

TO ENTER: To enter the contest, send me an e-mail with your guess for the answer to the contest question. For obvious reasons, I will accept and consider only one entry per person.

WINNERS: If more than three people guess the state correctly, the three winners will be selected based on who sent me their entries first. If less than three people guess the state correctly, prizes will then be awarded based on who guessed the state with the next most sock club participants and so forth down the line (with the same rule applying concerning earliest correct entry received gets the prize).

DEADLINE: I will accept contest entries through midnight on Tuesday September 11th. Winners will be notified by e-mail and posted here on Wednesday September 12th.

Let the games begin!

Monday, September 03, 2007

Delicious Socks

To start out this Labor Day right, I have two socks to share with you, knit by Lisa. Both were knit with FF Superwash Merino Wool Sock Yarn. The sock on the left is in Multifarious and the one on the right is in Blue Rain.

The pattern for the Multifarious socks if from and is called the Wildflower socks. The pattern used for the Blue Rain socks is Peacock Socks, which is a slip rib pattern that hugs the leg and foot nicely. It's from

Didn't Lisa do a great job on both socks! Both of the colorways she chose are relatively new ones and I think these are the first finished projects I've seen with either of them. What fun! A big Thank You to Lisa for sharing her work!

Please keep the project photos coming. I love to see each and every one of them! Just send me an e-mail with photos attached or a link to your blog, Flickr account, Ravelry, etc. where I can find them.

Everyone enjoy the remainder of the long weekend!

Saturday, September 01, 2007

10 Signs That I Need a Break

1. I haven't knit a stitch in a week.

2. Six hours of sleep sounds like a long, luxurious night's sleep right now.

3. I haven't written to my mother yet to tell her I'm buying a new house. (I always write rather than call. Even with her hearing aid, my mother just can't seem to hear anything over the phone. As much as I love to talk to her and hear her voice, I don't much like yelling at her. "I'm buying a new house. BUYing a HOUSE. HOOOOUUSE!!!!!!!")

4. The only clean rooms in my home are my workshop and studio.

5. In the past week, I've eaten MacDonald's AND Taco Bell. Eeeeww!

6. After months and months of waiting and *finally* receiving my Ravelry login a few weeks ago, I have spent a total of about 10 minutes on the site.

7. I haven't gone to the Friday knitting group at my favorite LYS in close to two months now.

8. My gray roots are now a full two inches long. With my very dark hair, the top of my head is beginning to look a bit like the back of skunk.

9. I was relieved this week that there was no bowling on Thursday night, as it's break week between summer and fall league. (Yes, I'm a huge geek and usually eagerly anticipate bowling night.)

10. I have been a very, very bad blogger and for that you have my apologies!

No complaints though. I don't mind being so busy. It's all good. I just want to be sure you all know that you haven't been forgotten and I do apologize for my recent neglect. I'll be back on track soon!