Wednesday, April 30, 2008

So Close

I know many of you have been waiting patiently for a while now for the release of my new FF Merino/Tencel Sock Yarn. Well, the wait is almost over! The new yarn is just about ready to go. I'm hoping to have all my ducks in a row to list the first of this new yarn on Friday. Worst case if I don't make my Friday plan, Monday will be the day.

There will be seven colorways in this initial offering. Initial quantities available will be eight skeins of each colorway, so if you're anxious to get one in the first batch keep your eyes peeled on my shop, as well as for an announcement here. If you're on my mailing list, I'll also send out a note to let everyone know. (If you're not on the list, pop me an e-mail and I'd be happy to add you.)

In addition to the new Merino/Tencel Sock Yarn, the next set of Sins/Virtues yarns in Pride and Humility will also be released, along with a pattern specially designed for the Humility Yarn, by Tess of Polar Bear Patterns.

Stay tuned for more news soon!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Spring is in the Air (at last!)

Winter seemed to last forever here in Oregon this year. Right through last week, it was downright cold most days. I really can't complain about the cold weather here in Oregon, since it is quite mild comparatively speaking. I was born and raised in New York and lived there until I was 27, and I also spent some time in the mid-90's living in Michigan, so I am no stranger to cold weather and I do appreciate Oregon's mild climate. But it was getting old. It should not be 40 degrees in mid-April in Oregon. It just isn't right.

But at last, Spring seems to be just about here!

What better way to celebrate the arrival of Spring than with a bright and cheery scarf project to share with all of you?

In last Monday's customer project feature, I showed you two wonderful ripple stitch scarves knit by Sandy. Somehow when I posted that I missed the third one that Sandy had sent to me. Here it is to start your Monday off on a cheerful note:

Sandy used FF Superwash Merino Wool Sock Yarn in the Sunshine colorway for this. (Sunshine is yet another older colorway, that I put on the backburner some time ago. As always when I see a project in an older colorway, it makes me itch to go whip up a batch again!)

The pattern is available on Karin Bole's site. She calls it the Warrick Worsted Wave Scarf. It's a version of a Feather & Fan stitch, always a popular choice for a scarf or shawl with pretty, intricate detail that is accomplished with a very simple stitch pattern.

How's that for a burst of sunshine to start the week off with a smile? Many thanks again to Sandy for sharing her lovely work!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

At Least a Bit of Knitting Progress

Last night, I got a note from Elisa letting me know that the Yarn Harlot had posted about her Portland trip and that there was a picture of me on her blog. How cool is that? (That is, cool if I set aside the fact that I look pretty haggard and a little weird in the photo ;) Of course, a mere mention by Stephanie has brought traffic here to my blog, which in turn reminded me of what a bad blogger I've been lately.

Actually, perhaps rather than a bad blogger perhaps I've been a bad knitter. I've been focusing on so many new things coming for my Fearless Fibers Shop that I haven't had much time for knitting. The Merino/Tencel Sock Yarn is ready to launch in early May. (If you're on my mailing list, you'll receive word about that. If you're not on the list, feel free to send me an e-mail to be added.) I also have a new batch of Laceweight Merino colorways that will be coming shortly thereafter. A sale on heavier weight, cold-weather yarns is also in the works for the relatively near future. Add to that a big 'ol secret project that is starting to take up some time and I must admit that I haven't been the most prolific knitter of late.

I did manage to finish up the shawl I've been working on. This is the one of my own design using my FF Laceweight Merino in the Philosophy colorway. I haven't gotten any good photos yet, but here are a couple that will have to do for now.

In this one, you can better see the center and how the pattern flows and shifts where it's grafted together. I rather like this little design element.

The pattern is undergoing a down and dirty test run (thank you, Christine!) and should be ready to release in early May at the same time as the new Merino/Tencel Sock Yarn is released.

So you see, I may be a bit delinquent in my knitting, but I have managed to make some progress - and, of course, the lack of knitting is to accommodate time for yarn dyeing - so perhaps you'll forgive me!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Harlot Comes to Town

Last night, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee - the infamous Yarn Harlot - was here in Portland on her book tour. Believe it or not, I successfully tore myself away from my usual evening in my comfy chair to make the trek into Portland to attend the event. Tess, knitting instructor extraodinaire and designer behind Polar Bear Patterns, joined me.

My camera, of course, came along with me. Here's the first photo I took of the crowd, focused on a group of knitting bloggers from the Portland area.

That, in fact, is also the last photo I took. I am a very bad blogger, I admit. Once the evening got underway, the camera was long forgotten.

We arrived almost two hours early when the doors first opened, which we understood was the norm for these events. Many others showed up early as well and the time passed quickly as folks mingled and knit and chatted and knit and mingled some more. I fought my urge to hide behind my ClarkKent Knitter persona and spent a bit of time flinging little yarn samples at any one who cared to take one. Along the way, I met lots of lovely folks, including a few that I recognized from various online interactions.

Tess and I also found time for a little knitting lesson, during which I taught her a thing or two. Ha! Kidding, of course! Tess is a wonderful knitting instructor and has a wealth of knowledge about all sorts of interesting techniques. I was anxious to have her show me something firsthand last night. She's been working on a new sock pattern using my FF Superwash Merino Wool Sock Yarn and the pattern includes an interesting Japanese technique for producing twisted cables. It's a technique that involves no cable needle, but it's not the ordinary flapping-in-the-wind method of cabling without a needle. I won't even try to go into the details here, but suffice it to say that it's definitely fun to try out and although it involves certain motions that don't come naturally (at least not to me) I can see that it would be a handy method of moving swiftly through twisted cables once one becomes accustomed to the motions.

I'm really looking forward to the release of this new pattern. Tess designed it using the next "Virtue" colorway of sock yarn that I have coming in early May and we're hoping to have the pattern ready for simultaneous release. It will be available both in my Etsy shop and also on the Polar Bear pattern site.

The pattern is going to be a good one! Tess and I were chatting a bit last night about what distinguishes patterns as noteworthy, not only in terms of what makes a pattern "a good one" but also about what differentiates a pattern and makes it stand out in the crowd. There are so many great patterns (and also not-so-great patterns, of course) available today that it's a subject that could be discussed at length. In thinking about it today, what makes this pattern noteworthy and unique to me - beyond the fact that it produces a beautiful sock, of course - is that the pattern includes instructions for traditional twisted cables as well as instructions for the Japanese technique. Anyone not interested in wrapping her brain around the Japanese method can breeze forward in the traditional way. Anyone who enjoys trying out new things and exploring the complexity of knitting can follow the instructions for the Japanese method which are also included at the end of the pattern. What more could one want from a pattern? Clearly written. Beautiful design. And an opportunity to learn something new to boot.

Back to the Harlot . . .

I wasn't at all sure what to expect of her talk. I've read some of her books and enjoyed them very much, but I found it difficult to imagine what it would be like to hear her speak for an hour. Five or ten minutes respite for a bite-sized good laugh with one of her books is one thing, but an hour's "talk" is another entirely.

As it turned out, it was thoroughly enjoyable. Stephanie was funny, smart, entertaining, informative, and generally everything one could hope for. I laughed out loud and learned a few interesting things along the way. What more could you want?

Afterward, I paid my dues by waiting a good hour for my turn to have my book signed. (I also, of course, brought an offering of yarn and knitting goodies :)

Of course, I have no photo to share of Stephanie holding one of my socks or of me standing next to her grinning like a starstruck teenager, because of course my camera was long forgotten by then. Stephanie did snap a photo of me holding her traveling sock though and I'm sure she'll cherish the photo forever (ha!).

All in all, it was a wonderful evening out. It was great to see some of the knitting bloggers I'd previously met from this area and also to meet some new ones. Tess and I ran into a lovely gal I used to see at my favorite LYS knit-night long ago, whom I haven't seen in a very long time. The Harlot kept us laughing and entertained, as did some of the folks in the audience (there was a song about a traveling sock sung for Stephanie, a funny knit hat or two and a sock necklace, and all of the usual knitterly nonsense). I got to spend some time with Tess, which is always great fun.

Yes, a great evening all 'round.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Color Me Happy

For this morning's customer projects, I have lots of lovely color to start off the week on a happy note!

In the past, I've shared some of Sandy's wonderful Fair Isle machine knit pieces. Today, we get to see some of her lovely hand knitting!

Sandy knit this scarf with FF Superwash Merino Sportweight Yarn. She used a ripple stitch pattern from the book 101 Ripple Stitches to Knit and Crochet. There's no name on the stitch pattern, but if you have the book it's #54. The colors in this scarf are not regular colors in my line. Long ago, I put together a few special sets of this yarn, each set with six coordinating colors. Sandy used one of these sets for this beautiful scarf.

Isn't it fabulous?! As if one weren't enough to get you excited and all geared up to dive into your own knitting, here's another:

This one is made with FF Alpaca/Wool Yarn in an older colorway called Jazz (one of many I had entirely forgotten!). It's #25 in the ripple stitch book.

Just looking at these makes me want to break out my own ripple stitch book again. I will resist for now though. I still haven't finished the ripple stitch afghan I started more than a year ago! I'm making that at my husband's request and had planned to have it done in time for this past winter. Once I realized that wouldn't happen, I set it aside and have bearly touched it. I really need to get back to that soon before another winter sneaks up on me!

A huge Thank You to Sandy for sharing her fantastic work!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

I Should Have Been ClarkKent

Next week, the Yarn Harlot will be here in Portland and I may just make the trek downtown to see her. I wouldn’t even know of her visit if it weren’t for a Yahoo group called the PDXBloggers. I joined this group of knitting bloggers about a year ago. In addition to the chit chat through the Yahoo Group, they also have weekly meetups in various locations, occasional outings and yarn crawls. I attended one quite a long time ago when the group first got underway, but other than that I almost never participate in the group. It’s not for lack of interest (although to an extent lack of time does play a role). Rather, it’s a hesitancy I always feel about joining in online knitting discussions and forums. For whatever quirky reason, I find it difficult to participate in the same way that I would if I did not sell yarn.

For many yarnies, the fact that they sell yarn means that they are more likely to participate in online forums. Maintaining visibility and networking within the community is a good thing. In most cases, the yarnies are welcomed with open arms. Other than perhaps just a few who take “participation” to an extreme, the yarnies are like any other knitter or crocheter who enjoys a bit of cyber fiber chatting. (Hmmm. Cyber Fiber Chatting. I like the sound of that. Perhaps a new acronym to add to the long list of knitters’ lingo? “What did you do last night?” “I went to my LYS and when I got home I did a bit of CFC.”)

I’m trying to get over my hesitancy to participate in these online discussions. I’m missing out on all the fun! In the case of the PDXBlogger group, I’m beginning to feel as though I’ve taken “lurking” to a whole new level. Every day, I receive an e-mailed digest of the messages from the group and I always read or at least scan it. Not only do I know about the knitting and spinning pursuits of the members, but I also know about new jobs and lost jobs, illnesses, moves, and all sorts of other things. My lurking is beginning to feel a bit like voyeurism!

Sometimes I think I should have signed up for the various online forums as ClarkKent, an alter-ego to FearlessFibers. In the guise of a mild-mannered and straight-laced (no pun intended) knitter, I could have participated without the nagging fears of being viewed as a spammy intruder. But, of course, then I would have felt disingenuous, hiding my true fearless self behind a pair of horn rimmed glasses.

If I can make it to the Yarn Harlot’s Portland appearance next week, I’ll surely join up with the folks from the PDX Blogger Group. What if I had been ClarkKent all this time? What if one of the PDX Blogger group had innocently brought up the subject of where to find nice sock blockers? Would I break away from the group, dash into a nearby phone booth (or perhaps restroom since phone booths are virtually extinct these days), and emerge wearing a cape and a leotard with a big F on the front, with a set of sock blockers in hand? Yes, it’s probably a good thing that I’m not ClarkKent.

If I do make it to see the Harlot, I’ll be sure to report back here. I’m very interested to see what the experience is like, not only in terms of the Harlot’s talk but also just the experience of being in the presence of such a vast number of knitters.

Before signing off for today, I want to change subjects entirely for a moment. I don’t generally post about the various charitable fundraising activities going on in the knitting world. Knitters are such a giving bunch and I hear about so many worthy causes that my whole blog could easily turn into a Sally Struthers commercial. Nobody wants that, I’m sure!

There is, however, one going on right now though that I want to point out to you. Krystofer (knitswithballs on Ravelry) is participating in the Aids Life Cycle Ride (cycling from San Francisco to Los Angeles!) in June. When I learned about this from Krystofer, it struck me how little we hear about Aids these days. In a sense, I suppose there’s a small positive in that. It’s not the same mystery – nor the certain death sentence – that it once was (at least not in this country). This, of course, is a very good thing, but the sad part is that the strides that have been made since those early days make the topic less newsworthy to the media and so it seems that we can easily fall into the trap of “out of sight, out of mind.” There is so much more work needed still and that means funds needed, of course. You can visit Krystofer’s page on the Aids Life Cycle site for details. He’s also giving away some of his wonderful knitting in a drawing for those who donate.

My apologies for ending this post with a bit of down note, but is it not really a positive note? Yet another knitter reaching out and doing good. ClarkKent would be proud.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Green With Envy

I'm green with envy this morning over Marjorie's socks, knit with FF Superwash Merino Wool Sock Yarn in the Envy colorway. Not only are the socks beautiful enough to stir up a bit of envy, but somehow Marjorie also managed to capture the color nicely in her photos. I had a terrible time photographing this yarn and the photos in my shop listings just don't capture it well. No such problems with Marjorie's photos.

Marjorie used the Four Stitch Pattern from Charlene Schurch's book More Sensational Socks. You can see a bit more of the beautiful detail in this photo:

Beautiful work, Marjorie!

So many of you have been sending me photos of great socks knit from the Sensational Socks book that I think perhaps I may be forced to pick up a copy of my own soon.

You can see more of Marjorie's lovely work on Ravelry. She's mmarker.

Everyone have a great start to the week!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Stealth Knitting

These past few weeks, I've been knitting on the sly. Stealth-knitting, so to speak.

It started innocently enough with a germ of an idea for a shawl quietly sprouting up somewhere in the back of mind. A bit of furtive swatching came next, followed by more and more swatching. It wasn't long after that when the secretive charting began. Then came the knitting, and more and more knitting, all the while remaining surreptitious.

Alright. So it's not really a big secret. It's just that these past few weeks my blogging time has been a bit consumed by updates about testing of the new Merino/Tencel Sock Yarn I have in the works, followed by the contest that ended earlier this week. Add to that my usual Monday posts of customer projects and the end result has been very little blogging airspace for my own little knitting endeavors of late. So let me bring you up to speed . . .

Despite the fact that the red cashmere sweater that I started a few months ago has been sitting sadly on the end table next to my knitting chair, occasionally whining for lack of attention, I've had the urge to start a new shawl project. Perhaps it's the whiff of Spring in air (barely a whiff, mind you, as it's been unseasonably cold here in Oregon these past few weeks).

I decided that I wanted to use my FF Merino Laceweight in the Philosophy colorway:

Given that this particular colorway has more variation of color than many of my others, I wanted to do something with strong lines so that the pattern wouldn't be obstructed by the color changes. I also wanted to do something with just a little more heft to it, to provide a bit more warmth than some lace pieces. Swatching and playing led me to a few stitch options I liked that also worked well on a size 4 needle for a slightly denser fabric. Still lace, of course, but a tad on the weightier side.

I chose to go with a simple rectangular stole shape, which is usually my preference. I just find it easier to wear a rectangle than a triangle, perhaps because I can always switch over to flinging it about my next scarf-style if the mood strikes me.

Here's what I came up with for the starting pattern:

Even pre-blocking as it is, I like the strong lines of the simple lace panels paired with the bands of faggoting. You can't see the edges here, but they are straight edges with a couple of garter stitches followed by a thin band of a second type of faggoting.

After about 14 inches or so in that pattern, I moved into the next stitch pattern, which picks up on the general V-shaped, wing-like feel of the earlier lace panels:

Here's a photo where you can see how the first stitch pattern moves into the second. I'm pleased with how this transition flows and I think it will only improve once the piece is finished and blocked.

I finished the first half (the second half will be knit identically to the first and then the two pieces will be grafted together) and am now ready to start on the second half. Here's a shot of the first half, dangling precariously in front of the window from my husband's one good hand.

Now that my stealth-knitting is out in the open, I hope I can keep the momentum going and finish up the second half quickly before I lose interest and find this latest project sitting on that end table keeping the red cashmere sweater company. I know the sweater wouldn't mind though. Misery loves company, as they say.

Everyone have a great day!

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

The Envelope Please

The winners for my blog contest posted last week were drawn this morning from almost 150 entries.

And the winners are (insert drumroll here) . . . Linda Jo, Debbie O, and DJ. Each winner was notified by e-mail this morning as well, so be sure to check your e-mail for my message about shipping your prizes.

Thank you so much to everyone for participating! I now have a ton of useful information about people's favorites color choices that I need to sort through and analyze.

Everyone have a wonderful day and congratulations to the winners!

Monday, April 07, 2008

Happy Feet

Today's customer project features are sure to make any feet happy! I have four - count 'em four! - pair of fabulous socks to share with you.

First up are these knee socks knit by Sarah using FF Superwash Merino Wool Sock Yarn in the (currently discontinued) Midnight Passion colorway:

Sarah used Cat Bordhi's Master Coriolis Pattern from New Pathways for Sock Knitters. Here's another shot of Sarah's socks happily playing in the grass:

You can see more of Sarah's lovely work on Ravelry. She is Eselque.

The remaining three pair of socks today were all knit by Cheryl in FF Superwash Merino Wool Sock Yarn, in three patterns all by Charlene Schurch from her book "Sensational Knitted Socks."

These are the BlueBell Rib socks in the Blue Violet colorway:

Next up are Cheryl's Waterfall Rib Socks in the Imagine colorway:

And last but not least are the Slipped Stitch Rib socks in the Prosperity colorway:

Stop on by Cheryl's blog to see more of her lovely work. You can also check her out on Ravelry where she is wildflower38.

WOW! All four pair are fabulous. A big Thank You to Sarah and Cheryl for sharing their lovely work!

Before I sign off for today, just a quick note: If you have not yet submitted your contest entries, today is the last day. Scroll down to the prior two posts for details. Winners will be announced and notified tomorrow.

Great day to all!

Friday, April 04, 2008


As promised, I have photos to show you today of the three skeins of Merino/Tencel Sock Yarn that are the prizes for the blog contest I announced early this week. (If you haven't submitted an entry yet, scroll down to the last post for details.)

The photo above was taken away from the sunlight, with a flash. Here's a natural light photo, as the skeins relax in a warm afternoon sunbath in front of the window:

They are all three trying to remain patient as they wait to go to their new homes next week and find out what they are destined to become. I hear them whispering to one another, "I'm sure we'll all be socks!" .... "No way, I know I'm meant to be a scarf" ... "You guys are so boring! I can't even imagine what I'll be, but I know I'm no scarf or socks!"

Be patient, my little yarns. Time will tell.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Wrath, Patience and Contest Time!

It's that time again ... time for a sin and a virtue! I am pleased to introduce the next set of the Seven Deadly Sins and Seven Holy Virtues sock yarns. “Wrath” and “Patience” are now available in my shop.

I also mentioned last week that it feels like it's about time to have another contest. Well, that time has arrived! Here are the details:

Prizes: Three winners will each receive one skein of the yet-to-be-released FF Merino/Tencel Sock yarn. I'm still six to eight weeks away from introducing this new product to my shop, but three lucky winners will get a sneak preview! (Sneak preview photos of the three skeins that will go to the winners will be posted later this week.)

How to enter: To enter the contest, visit my shop and select a colorway or two that are your favorites. Enter a comment here (or send me an e-mail) naming which of the colorways are your all-time favorites. This information will be very helpful to me when it comes time to plan the new colorways for the new Merino/Tencel Sock Yarn.

Don't forget your e-mail address: When leaving a comment here, be sure to fill in the space for your e-mail address in the comments fields so that I know how to contact you if you are a winner. An e-mail address listed in that field will be visible only to me. (Side note: For those who entered their e-mail addresses in the text of the comments, I've deleted the comments from public view, but rest assured that your entries are in the pool!)

Note: Your e-mail address will never be used for any other purpose than this contest. It will not be shared, sold or added to any mailing list. (Of course, if you want your e-mail added to my mailing list, include a note to let me know and I will be happy to add you to the list.)

Deadline: Submissions will be accepted until midnight PST on Monday April 7th.

Winners: Three winners will be selected by the highly scientific name-in-a-hat method and will be announced on Tuesday April 8th.

Thank you all and have a wonderful day!