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!