Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Congratulations to Anne!

Many of you have probably seen this already, but if not, take a peek at the preview of the Spring 08 edition of Interweave Knits. Scroll down and you'll find a design there by our beloved Anne Hanson (the Bleeding Hearts Stole).

I just wanted to step back today and offer up a "hearty" congratulations to Anne! I doubt anyone who visits my blog or my Etsy shop is unaware of the deep respect I have for Anne's work. It's been so wonderful to see her popularity grow and grow. This latest pattern in such a reputable and widespread publication is just the latest in a series of well-deserved milestones in her design career.

As I perused the photos of Anne's design on the IK site, I got to thinking about the internet and the knitting world. Before my Fearless Fibers days, I worked for many years for Intel. I remember the work the marketing folks there did on finding ways to show the human side of computing, how it touches our lives everyday in more subtle ways than just the obvious tasks we do at work or paying bills, etc. The knitting world seems such a good example of this.

The online knitting community is just that: a community. The popularity of knit-alongs is just one example of how knitters connect online and interact in a way that is not so very different than they would at a LYS. Online knitting and crochet forums provide inspiration, assistance, ideas, and motivation for many of us. There is always someone out there to provide guidance, share a laugh, or lend a sympathetic ear about a project gone awry. I think most of us who engage in this global online community recognize and appreciate this.

My interaction with Anne is another example of this "human" side of the internet. I first encountered Anne in Spring 06. I can't quite recall exactly how we got in touch, but I think it was one of her students who was a customer of mine in my old eBay shop and brought some of my yarn to a class to work one of Anne's projects. This led Anne to check my shop and ask me a few questions. In turn, that led me to her blog, which was quite new at the time. I remember sending her a note to let her know how much I enjoyed her blog. It stood out from the rest, both because of her amazing design work and also because of the quality of her writing and the fascinating insights into the mind of a designer, knitter, spinner, and overall fiber guru.

Thus began our relationship. I loved her designs. She loved my yarn. And we were also two women in a similar boat, both working on new ventures to translate our fiber passions into our livelihoods, and doing so primarily online.

Fearless Fibers has been an amazing journey for me. I sold my first skein of yarn in January 06, so I guess I've been at it for two years now (my "anniversary" passed without my even noticing it!). It's been equally amazing for me to watch Anne's journey. Anne had, of course, been teaching and designing long before I encountered her in Spring 06, but she was at that time just beginning to seriously branch out and focus strongly on her design work and the online world.

Although Anne and I have never met, she is still a friend and a constant source of inspiration. I feel extremely fortunate to have found her. Her work continues to amaze and delight me, and just knowing someone else out there who is successfully pursuing her dream in the vast cyber world is a steady reminder that the dream can be fulfilled.

A big Thank You again to, Anne ... and a hearty congratulations on the Bleeding Hearts Stole in IK!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Something Wonderfully Different

For this morning's customer project feature, I have something wonderfully different to share with you. Before you look, I must warn you that if you're anything like me, you may find yourself overcome with a yearning to take up weaving! Of course, this also happens to me when I see a great crochet project and am then overwhelmed with the urge to learn to crochet. And then there are the machine knit projects that get my fingers itching to dust off my knitting machine, despite the fact that the thing brings me close to tears every time I touch it. But enough of that. On to the project . . .

Elisa brings us this delightful woven scarf:

She used FF Superwash Merino Wool Sock Yarn in the Deepest Forest colorway, with two strands used for the warp (long-wise threads) and one strand for the weft (side-to-side threads). Don't be too impressed that I know this terminology. I don't. I read it on Elisa's blog.

Elisa reports that the finished piece is very soft with a lovely drape. It certainly looks that way:

Here's one more shot where you can see the fringe and detail nicely:

Oh my. Weaving. Hmmmmm. Weaving. Oh Yeah! Ahem. No. Must resist the temptation! It is projects such as these that set me to thinking of how grand it would be to win the lottery. As much as I love my little business and would never stop dyeing yarn altogether, I have to admit that if I were to suddenly have some lottery-esque windfall, I would immediately set about finding the perfect home with ample studio space for me to set myself up to spend the remainder of my days not only knitting, but also learning to crochet, spin, weave, and machine knit. Until and unless that day comes, I'll have to be satisfied living vicariously through those of you who pursue these arts.

Everyone have a great start to the week! Please pardon my blogging silence last week. I actually did have a post up for a brief period, but I pulled it down pretty quickly. I'll explain that story soon when the time is right (teaser).

Monday, January 21, 2008

Monkey Monday

For this morning's project feature, I have a pair of the ever-popular Monkey Socks to share with you. These beauties were knit by Kristen.

Kristen used FF Superwash Merino Wool Sock Yarn in the Chocolate Pink Cherry colorway.

Everytime I see a pair of the Monkey Socks, I think that I really must get with the program already and knit a pair. Kristen's socks are just so cute and look like such fun to knit that I'm thinking that once again! One of these days ...

A big Thank You to Kristen for sharing her work! Check out Kristen's blog to see more of her wonderful work.

If you have a finished project with FF yarn that you would like to share, just pop me an e-mail with your photos and any relevant details and I'll be happy to put your project in the queue for posting.

Everyone have a wonderful start to the week!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


As my husband and I settle more and more into our new home, we are for the most part very happy with it, despite a huge amount of work looming in front of us for a long time to come. The one exception is that the house is just plain cold. Really cold. Apparently, the windows were installed by brain-damaged monkeys. At some point, something major will need to be done about that, but not now in the middle of winter. The house also has crawl space underneath, which makes for very cold floors. Then there's the hole in the wall in the kitchen that brings the cold air rushing in from the garage. Oh and did I mention that the kitchen and dining room are lacking any heat source at all? There's a vent between the kitchen and dining room, but it's just a vent that goes nowhere. What it's doing there, I just don't know. The house doesn't even have a central heating system, so why there is a vent there will remain a mystery.

Living with this constant chill has put me in the habit of wearing a hat indoors much of the time. I now have permanent hat-head. It's quite sad really. I decided to let my short hair grow out again several months ago and I've been trying to hold off on getting a haircut as long as I can, so that at least there will be a bit to work with when I finally go in for a haircut. It really looks quite awful. Add to that the constant hat-wearing and my oh my, I'm quite a sight!

Rather than lamenting my hat-head woes, I decided to focus instead on making myself a new hat to match the fingerless mitts that I made a couple of months ago. I used the same yarn - my FF Sportweight Superwash Merino in the Butterscotch colorway. Only the yarn and color match. The stitch pattern is entirely different.

Now before you go thinking that this hat looks pretty small, keep in mind that my head is the size of a peanut.

This was rather fun to knit. I've used this stitch pattern a few times before and I really like it. It's very easy to memorize and track, and has a nice flow of undulating waves. The fun part was figuring out how to handle the shaping at the crown while keeping the pattern flowing as long as possible rather than simply switching over to stockinet.

Here's another shot where I tried to capture the stitch pattern a bit better by stretching it a little so you can see the yarnovers. It's not a great photo, but the best I could do while using one hand to stretch the hat over a bowl that's even smaller than my peanuthead and using the other hand to take the photo.

Now that I look at the photo above again, it really makes the hat look quite funny! Imagine if my head were that small?! Obviously, that's just an illusion. I'm stretching a small portion of the hat around a small bowl, to try to show more of the stitch detail.
All in all, this was a fun little quick-knit project that yielded a hat that will get plenty of use.

Hope everyone is having a great week and staying warm!

Monday, January 14, 2008

A Touch of Spring for a Cold Winter's Day

For today's Monday project, I have a lovely lace shawl knit by Judi. Just looking at this lace piece on this cold winter morning brings a bit of the warmth of Spring to me!

This is Judi's version of Eunny Jang's Print 'O the Waves Stole. Judi used FF Laceweight Merino in the Hush colorway. (If this looks vaguely familiar to you, it may be more than just the lovely pattern that so many have knit. Last spring, I made this stole in the same yarn and same color for my niece :)

Here's a work in progress shot that shows a closer view of the lovely stitchwork.

You can see more of Judi's wonderful knitting in her Ravelry projects (she's Tootsiemama) and on her blog. You really need to pop over to her blog just for the fun of scanning through pictures of the darling knit pants she's apparently been cranking out by the gross for her daughter and other wee ones in her circle. They're so cute and funky it makes me want to run right out and make a pair, despite the fact that I have no little girls in my circle to wear them!

Everyone have a wonderful start to yet another week!

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

The Thrill of the New

In spare moments here and there for the last couple of weeks I've been playing around with stitches and swatching and plotting and measuring and swatching and planning for my next larger project.

Before I dive into the new, I suppose I should give you an update on the two other projects that I tried to focus on finishing in December. Unfortunately, I don't have much news. The knitting is done on the zipper-front sweater and the sleeves are now seamed in. I need to do a crochet edge before having the zipper put in, but for the life of me I can't locate my crochet hooks. I don't crochet, but I know that I bought a whole set of a range of sizes of hooks about a year ago when a local Joann's Fabrics was closing up and had a big sale. Where I put them, I have no idea. The funny thing is, I'm not all that concerned about finishing it. I think I'm going to like it very much, but I guess in the end this proves that perhaps I am not much of a "product" knitter. Now that the end is right there before me, all of my motivation for the project is gone.

As to the ripple stitch afghan, I did get a good bit done in the first part of December, but I've barely touched it lately. My excuse is that I've been too busy, with my time split between Fearless Fibers and working on getting my former home ready to go on the market. (We are finally ready to do that and are sitting down with our realtor tomorrow.) If I'm entirely truthful with myself though, I must admit that being busy is really just an excuse for not working on the afghan, because somehow I have found the time to plan and swatch and begin my next new project. It's the thrill of the new enticing me again!

The new project is a cashmere sweater. Yep. Cashmere. Sweater. For me! I've wanted to make myself one for some time and finally decided to do it. I'm using my sportweight cashmere in the Promise colorway. (Don't go searching my shop for it, because I have none in stock. In fact, all of my cashmere stock is pitifully low right now, but I'll find time to do something about that soon, I promise!)

Here's a rather terrible photo of the work in progress. Please pardon the streaks of light interfering with your ability to see the pattern.

Now before you go looking all confused and concerned, let me explain. You're correct if you think that the bottom portion of this looks way to small to be a sweater. It's very narrow when left unstretched, but the pattern intersperses the cables with ribbing from the bottom right up through the torso. When I stretch it out gently, it grows tremendously. It looks odd and the whole thing may not work, but for now I'm just trusting in the process and that all of my planning and swatching and calculations will work out in the end.

I'm thinking of this as my "Be My Valentine" sweater. Take the red tones of the yarn, the "embrace me" call of cashmere, the colorway named Promise, the X & O cable pattern, and the timing with Valentine's Day looming ahead, and it seems to me that this sweater is destined to be my Be My Valentine Sweater.

Only time will tell if it all works out. I want the cabled section to gently hug and skim the torso before the sweater fills out in stockinet for the bodice. It will likely have short sleeves (I love a sweater that works in the springtime). I'm still vascillating on whether to do a little mock turtleneck, perhaps with the X & O cables repeated and the mock turtleneck knit the shortway and attached to live neck stitches, or whether to stick with a crew neck but with some added stitch detail to liven things up.

That's most everything I've done on the knitting front lately, except to add a bit to the simple scarf that I'm making for one of my friends. In fact, I think I'll go try to finish that up right now so that I can bring it to him tomorrow when he'll be having dinner with me and my husband. Time to sign off and knit now . . .

Monday, January 07, 2008

Mmmmm ... Warm Shawl

For this morning's customer project feature, I have a lovely shawl to share with you. This was made by "Samtosha" (aka MFS on Ravelry).

The shawl is a Catharina Shawl with garter stitch for the yolk and a stockinette ground for the lace. The yarn is FF Worsted Weight Merino Wool in Hendrix. At first glance, the shawl may appear to be made with a lighter weight yarn, but as I looked at the specs on Ravelry I saw that it's labeled as made with the Worsted Weight. When you click on the closeup photos, you can see that it is indeed the heavier weight yarn. I really love this! So nice to have a warm, cozy shawl for cooler weather.

For more of her great projects, check out MFS on Ravelry. She's also just getting started with a new blog.

What a lovely project to start the week! Thank you for sharing the photos!

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Sin, Virtue, and Lace

Those of you who are on my mailing list are probably aware from my last update that rather than offering another sock club with the "Seven Holy Virtues" theme as originally planned (a follow up to my last club with the Seven Deadly Sins theme), I have instead decided to introduce one new "virtue" yarn each month for the first seven months of 2008. At the same time, I will release the corresponding Sin yarn from last year's sock club.

I am happy to report that the first of the Virtues yarns is now available in my shop. It's Chastity:

(Notice the new "ice cream bowl" photos? I haven't converted all of my shop photos yet, but I am in the process of doing that. It's a new look for the new year! You'll still find a closeup photo within the listing. You can also click on third photo in each listing to expand to a full view of the skein.)

The Sock Sin of Lust is also now listed and available:

As if all this weren't exciting enough (hee, hee!), I also have five new colorways of Merino Laceweight now available. You'll find those in my shop section labeled Laceweight Merino. Here's one to whet your appetite. This is Infinity:

As always, initial quantities are somewhat limited, but never fear! I do have a fair amount of each of the new items and, of course, if they're a hit there will always be more available in the future.

Now I'm off to send a note about these new additions to my mailing list. If you are not on that list and would like to be added for future updates, just send me an e-mail and ask to be added to the list.

Happy New Year to all of you!