Friday, August 29, 2008

I've Been a Busy Gal!

Last week, I told you about a new shawl I had in the works. I had knit a miniature version of it in order to get a good test of the stitch designs, transition, edging, etc. before diving into the real thing.

You may recall that I didn't share a photo of that miniature version, because I thought that would give away all of the surprise. Translate that to mean that I expected it take me a couple of months of slow progress to finish the piece and I imagined very little for me to blog about during that time. I figured if I kept the design under wraps there would be at least a little something new to show you as I progressed.

Well, it turned out that my concerns were unfounded. I cast on for the shawl last Friday and finished it off last night. It is blocking right now. Imagine that?! It's been a long time since a project has grabbed hold of me that way, where I can't seem to put it down.

Here it is, looking a bit odd with three different colored towels beneath it:

A close up of the smaller stitch motif:

And another of the larger stitch motif, which also shows how the two transition:

And of course the edging, simple but pretty I think:

And one more shot together again just for fun:

I'm really pleased with how this turned out and I certainly enjoyed knitting it! It will be a couple of weeks before the pattern is tested and finalized. In the meantime, it needs a name. Any thoughts? I don't think my nickname for it would work well. Who wants a shawl called "Carpal Tunnel"?

Everyone have a glorious long weekend!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Warm Feet

After a stretch of blazing heat here in Oregon, it's been raining most of this weekend and the evenings have been cool. Although this weekend's weather has been a sad reminder that the summer will soon end (which means endless months of rain coming soon here!), it's also been a reminder of the joy of a warm pair of handknit socks to keep the toes toasty on cold night. I've got two examples of just that to show you today.

First up are Lisa's Order From Chaos Socks. She knit these with a merino/tencel yarn that was hand dyed by the owner of a LYS in her area. Although my "Monday Project Features" are normally knit with FF yarn, this project still qualifies as an FF project in my mind since the pattern is one of my own, available in my shop.

Don't they look great?! You know how I love stitches with some texture to them! Check out the beautiful detail of Lisa' handiwork:

You can see more of Lisa's work on her blog or on Ravelry where she is LadyBug03.

Next up are Marjorie's Ribbed Lace Socks in FF Classic Merino Wool Sock Yarn in the Sand and Sun colorway.

This lovely pattern is one by Charlene Schurch. Although an intricate pattern such as this usually looks best in a solid or semi-solid yarn, I think Marjorie made a nice choice with this. The multi-colored handpaint holds up well to the patterning and the results are beautiful:

You can see more of Marjorie's work on Ravelry where she is mmarker.

Lovely work, Lisa and Marjorie! A big Thank You for sharing your projects!

Friday, August 22, 2008

So Much Going On

Although you might not realize it from my rather scant blog posts of late, there's lots going on here at FF headquarters.

On the knitting front, I whipped up a scarf with the 100% Kid Mohair Yarn (previously known as the Mystery Yarn):

This blocking photo doesn't look like much, but in person it's quite pretty. The stitch pattern pops a bit more in real life and the yarn has such a lovely drape. You'll get to see how pretty the yarn is in a future post when I share Elisa's shawl with you that she also made with this yarn. Perhaps it's better that I don't show that to you just now anyway. After knitting this scarf, I think that my decision on whether to carry this yarn will be a No Go. I haven't entirely decided yet, but it did really hit home just how crazy the idea of carrying a yarn to which I'm allergic might be. Mohair blends don't bother me much at all in the dyeing process, but with this pure mohair it's inevitable that some of the furry little fibers will become airborne. Even with good storage, ventilation and plenty of dusting and cleaning, I fear that just having too much of this in my home will send my respiratory system into meltdown. I will, however, eventually dye the small quantity of this yarn that I have now and make that available in my shop, but I'm definitely questioning the wisdom of carrying it as a regular item.

Also on the knitting front, I've finished the sock pattern for the first installment of my Fall Sock Club. Sorry, but no sneak previews. You will just have to wait. The other two sock patterns are also in the planning stages. Tess Mattos of Polar Bear Patterns has her tentative plan in place. I won't spill the beans, since it's not written in stone yet, but suffice it to say that she has a smashing idea for a sock pattern that will be both beautiful and interesting and also versatile and quite unique. The wheels are turning for Anne Hanson of KnitSpot as well. She's got a tentative plan for a winter themed sock churning in her amazing brain. There are still plenty of spots available in the club, so pop on over and check it out if you haven't already.

As if that weren't enough knitting, I've also got a new lace shawl that I've started. I'm so excited about this one! I suddenly got the urge last week to design a triangular shawl. Rectangular "stoles" are usually my preference, but the pattern that was forming in my brain cried out to be applied to a triangular shape and so I set about work on that. I fought my natural tendency to dive in head-first and instead took my time and did some very rigorous planning and pre-work before casting on. I swatched and tweaked the first stitch motif quite a bit before settling on a final choice. I even took the time to block my swatches, which takes quite a bit of self control for me!

Once the first motif was done, I moved on to designing a larger motif for the next shawl section and not only took the time for plenty of swatching but also did a really large swatch of the two stitch patterns together to ensure I nailed the transition just as I wanted it.

Then I moved on to planning how the motifs will work in the increase sections of the shawl. At that point it took every ounce of self-control not to cast on for the real thing! But I was bound and determined to get this just right and so I proceeded to knit a miniature version of the shawl. This also gave me a chance to work on the edging with a much better view of how it would work with the overall piece.

I finished up that miniature shawl yesterday and I have to say that I'm so glad that I took all of that time in the planning stage. There were a few things I changed along the way that I think will improve the end product and now I'm ready to cast on and knit it almost as if it were a regular pattern written by someone else. I've even dyed a new Laceweight Merino colorway for this project.

If you're wondering where my photos of these swatches and the miniature shawl are, the answer is that there aren't any photos. If I show you what I've done so far, what will I have to show you as I progress? No, no. I won't ruin the surprise (nor strip myself of blog fodder for future posts ;).

On the dyeing front, there's tons going on as well. I'll have a big shop update coming late this month or in the first few days of September. There are lots of new colorways coming on my heavier weight yarns. Must prepare for the upcoming High Knitting Season! I've also got several new color choices on my Superwash Merino Sock Yarn coming and even a couple of new laceweight colors. Perhaps I'll give you a little preview of some of those next week to whet your appetite. There are some real gems in this group!

So there you have it. That's what I've been up to these days. Lots and lots going on, with plenty of photos to come as these different activities unfold over the coming weeks.

Hope you're all staying busy and happy as well!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Just Plain Beautiful

This morning, I have two projects to share with you both knit by Sheryl with patterns by KnitSpot.

The first is the Twinings Stole. Sheryl used FF Laceweight Merino in the Philosophy colorway (yep, another colorway that I've set on the backburner at the moment).

The photos are pre-blocking but still absolutely gorgeous!

Sheryl is actually fairly new to lace knitting, but you would never know it to look at her work! In fact, she's pretty new to knitting in general, with just two years under her belt right now. Right from the start, her work never looked like that of a newbie. I know this because Sheryl is one of the gal's who frequents my favorite LYS, Farmhouse Knits in Beaverton, Oregon. She's part of the nicest little knitting group in the world. I try to make it down to their knitting sessions at Farmhouse from time to time, but it's tough to get away in the middle of a weekday morning. It's been quite a while now and I'm really itching to make it to another session. Perhaps even this Friday. It would be a much needed little break and a chance to chit chat and laugh and knit and relax.

Since Sheryl is someone I know personally, I'm going to take a great liberty and show you another of her projects. She sent me the photos of Twinings, but I couldn't help noticing that she has another project posted on Ravelry using FF yarn. Now, normally I would never use someone's photos without their permission, but I'm going to take a giant leap here and assume that Sheryl won't sue me ;) It's just too pretty not to share and it's also one of the fairly new KnitSpot patterns, so not one I've seen before outside of Anne's original.

And so I present to you Sheryl's version of the Rivolo Scarf in FF Merino/Tencel Sock Yarn in the Humility Too colorway:

It's so great to see some projects coming in with the still fairly new Merino/Tencel yarn. This is a yarn where the colors just don't quite "sing" in the skein photos, but it transforms so beautifully when knit. It's something that Anne commented on when designing the Rivolo Scarf using the Serenity colorway and I see it now also in Sheryl's version using the Humility Too colorway. So much prettier than you would imagine just by looking at the skein!

Gorgeous work, Sheryl! (And hope to see you soon! :)

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Mystery Solved

Remember this mystery yarn?

It's a base yarn that was mixed in with another that I purchased. I didn't know what it was, but I fell in love with it and set about to find out.

After discussing it with the supplier from which I received the yarn and learning that indeed it is not a yarn that they carry, I sent a sample back to them so that they could investigate. They were successful in tracking it down and so now the mystery is solved!

The yarn is 100% kid mohair. I was really surprised, as it's not quite so fuzzy as I would expect from pure mohair and it also has a fabulous silky quality and drape. I guess that's what you get with the highest quality of kid mohair. And, unfortunately, that's exactly what this is. Of course, it's not unfortunate that it's an incredible quality! Rather, it's unfortunate that as I rather suspected just from the general fabulosity of this stuff, it carries a price tag that fits.

I'm going to whip up a scarf with the yarn and see if I continue to love it as much as I do in skein form. Although it's definitely pricier than I would like, I'd love to add this to my line. Sometimes, a bit of extra expense is worth it, as long as it's still good value for what you actually get for your money.

Now if I can only find some time to knit!

Before I sign off for the day, just a quick reminder that signups for the FF Fall 2008 Sock Club are open. Pop on over to my shop for all the details!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Just Plain Beautiful

For today's Monday project feature, I have two fabulous projects to share with you.

The glorious shawl above is Bonnie's Arctic Diamonds Shawl in FF Laceweight Merino in the Hush colorway. The pattern is by Donna Druchunas, published in Interweave Knits, Fall 2006.

Doesn't it just make you sigh?! Bonnie did an amazing job in creating this stunning piece. Here's a closeup that really shows every perfect little detail:

You can see lots more of Bonnie's work on her blog or on Ravelry where she is bluepeninsula.

Next up are a pair of spiral socks by Lynne in FF Superwash Merino Sock Yarn in the Thoroughbred colorway.

In our e-mail exchange, Lynne referred to these as the "World's Most Boring Socks." They were knit to be practical and serviceable for her husband, rather than pretty and glamorous. I have to say, I don't think these socks are boring at all! They are definitely practical (spiral socks tend to fit and stay up well), but I also think they're quite beautiful. Now actually knitting spiral socks that are 27" tall using very lightweight yarn . . . well, that could certainly get boring! But the results are worth it:

That's one of the great things about knitting; some of the simplest stitches are the most beautiful.

You see more of Lynne's beautiful work on Ravelry where she is LynnE.

A big Thank You to Bonnie and Lynne for sharing their work!

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Big News: Sock Club!

I'm very excited to announce that today I launched signups for a new sock club! I know, I know . . . I've been keeping this a secret from all of you for quite some time. You'll have to forgive me for that, but I wanted to be sure that I had all of my ducks in a row and was completely ready to go before leaking the news.

Some of you may recall that I decided against doing another sock club late last year. My problem with sock clubs is that there's just too much uncertainty for members. In a sense, sock clubs can involve buying a substantial quantity of yarn sight unseen. Since so many folks have asked again and again for another club, I set about to design the structure of this club to eliminate as much uncertainty as possible, while still maintaining an element of surprise.

For this club, there are three shipments each with a different base sock yarn and a pattern. For each shipment, there are two colorways designed specifically for the club to choose from and there is also an option to choose a backup from my regular FF line. Full details about the choices, as well as photos of the new sock club colorways, are available in the SignUp Listing in my shop. There is still a nice element of surprise for members, with the patterns remaining a secret. One will by Anne Hanson of KnitSpot, one by Tess Mattos of Polar Bear Patterns, and one a Fearless Fibers original (that means me).

I'm really excited about this club and hope you are too! If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Beauty for a Monday Morn

Here is it Monday again and you know what that means: more beautiful projects to show you!

First up are Sophie's Orchid Lace Mitts (pattern by Anne Hanson of KnitSpot) made with FF Laceweight Merino in the Antique Rose colorway.

Such beautiful work and detail!

You can see more of Sophie's lovely work on Ravelry where she is tawnyone.

Next up are a pair of socks knit by Beth using FF Sportweight Cashmere in the Midnight Rendezvous colorway:

What could be more luxurious than cashmere socks! So pretty! (And I know, I know. It's been a long, long time since I've listed any cashmere. One of these days I'll surprise everyone with a new cashmere update when you least expect it.)

A big Thank You to Sophie and Beth for sharing their beautiful projects!

Great day to all!