Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Who Wants to be a Designer?

Hi Knitters,
There has been a lot of cool behind the scenes stuff going on around here and now has come the time that I can let you in on some of the coolness! First off, I don't know if any of you have heard the exciting news about the brand-new yarn line coming out this June '09 at TNNA from the fantastic people at Blue Sky Alpacas. The yarn line is called, Spud and Chloe. That is the logo above. Adorable, right? 

I have been doing lots of work for the Spud and Chloe line and I can tell you firsthand, the yarn is simply spectacular. It is a simple, straightforward line of yarn. There are three weights, sock (fingering), sweater (worsted) and outer (bulky). The yarns are made from all natural fibers and are machine washable. The colors are perfect for versatility and gorgeousness in general. The yarn is a treat, soft and squishy, really yummy. I was blown away the first time I got to use it and I'm not kidding.

Besides the description on the logo, "sweet yarns for real life," (which I love) here is the company's description:

"New from the makers of Blue Sky Alpacas, Spud and Chloe is a line of luxe yarns designed with life in mind. With a soft hand, spot-on colors and the option of gentle machine washing, everything you make is family-friendly and easy-going, made for real life."

What could be better than that?
Here is a little sneak peek at some of the designs coming up for Spud and Chloe. But here is where it gets even more interesting for you. The good people at Blue Sky Alpacas (BSA) are putting on a design contest for anyone to enter.  There will be 3 winning designs selected by the BSA staff. The prizes are phenomenal, a chance of a lifetime!

Each of the 3 winners will be announced with a featured link and picture on the Blue Sky Alpacas website's front page. (That's huge!!) The winners will also receive 3 skeins in each line of Spud and Chloe. This is before it is even released to the public so you will get the ultimate sneak peek! This is a large prize offer worth quite a bit. You will love this yarn, no question.

These are the specific requirements for the design contest:
1. Submit only one original pattern.
2. Patterns may range in difficulty from washcloths to lace shawls.
3. The contest will start May 1rst and end May 31rst (absolutely no later than).
4. Submit your original design to the BSA group on Ravelry called High Fiber. The official entry thread will be opened on May 1rst. Just hop on this forum and you will see that the top 3 topic lines are devoted to this contest.
5. Each submitted design has to have a free pattern link (yes, the pattern has to be available for free!) either on your blog or on Ravelry. 
6. You can use any of the Blue Sky Alpacas yarns for your design. Only Blue Sky yarns, not a mix with another brand. You can use two or more different Blue Sky yarns within the same pattern.
7. The 3 winners will be announced with a featured link and picture on the BSA website's front page under "Staff Pick" of the month. If you win, your linked pattern will run for approximately 30 days. Months will be July, August and September. (One winner per month)
8. There is a question line open on High Fiber. If you need any answers about the contest you can ask here. 

I am also happy to field any questions as well and I will try to get the answers for you. I think this is an exciting opportunity for any designer trying to break in. It is an amazing chance to get some attention for your knitting designs and blog. I strongly encourage any of you with free patterns already up and running or a pattern just waiting to be posted for the first time to enter. Contests like this don't happen very often, if ever, so take advantage. 

I can't tell you how many knitters write me all of the time asking for advice on getting a pattern published or getting a book deal. Well, this is the perfect place to get your feet wet. Here you go.

This is your chance to shine, Knitters! Just do it!

The Spud and Chloe website is here. It should be up and running pretty soon and I'll keep you posted on that. 

Also, there is a brand new twitter page for Spud and Chloe where there will be updates and contest news along the way along with other news about the yarn line and new patterns. Please join in and follow Spud and Chloe on twitter, too. There is going to be a lot going on over there shortly.

Take care and good luck! Let me know if I can help you along the way. I am more than happy to help.
best, susie

Saturday, April 25, 2009

An Occasion

Hi Knitters,
I got up early, early to work on my editing and made some good progress which feels great. We are having a thunderstorm-filled weekend so that makes it easier to get some work done. I took a break from the editing to knit a bit and to watch Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium with my girls and my husband later in the morning. What a good-hearted movie. It has some sadness, some magic and some stories to tell. 

I think I remember that this movie didn't get good reviews when it came out but we all loved it. Plus it is a G-rated movie which as a mother I sincerely adore and appreciate. Who needs all of the swearing, violence and other inappropriateness when watching movies with children? I never get that. I always try to support G movies, there aren't enough of them in my opinion.

My favorite quote from the movie is this:
"Your life is an occasion. Rise to it." 

Okay, on to a knitting occasion, there are two winners I need to announce. The first winner is for the Knit and Crochet Today dvd set, 2 seasons. And the prize goes to:

Sewtakeahike! Please email me your mailing address as soon as you get a chance. Congratulations! You will enjoy having these wonderful dvds for sure.

The second winner of the day goes to a washcloth knitter who will get 2 skeins of the beautiful, lush Crystal Palace Cotton Chenille. And the prize goes to:

Virginia Pluta of Louisville, Kentucky! I will send your address, which I already have, to Susan Druding of Crystal Palace Yarns and she will send the yarn out to you. Congratulations, Virginia!

The winners' numbers were selected randomly by a number generator so all is fair and square. Have fun with new stuff, ladies!

The beautiful new socks I am working on are being knitted in Sunshine Yarns Watermelon Stripe sock yarn and I am in love. Dani never fails me. You would love her yarn if you are looking for something different. 

Have a great weekend, Knitters.
best, susie

Thursday, April 23, 2009

What're you up to?

Hi Knitters,
I am up to a lot of different things this week. Those are my book pages strewn about on my studio floor. I have mainly been reading and editing all week. 
Every once in awhile I take a stitch or two on this Jennifer Pudney needlepoint. I started this on my vacation.
This afternoon I struggled through the baking of these Day of the Dead cookies for my daughter's social studies class tomorrow. I did not enjoy making these and hopefully I won't have to make them again. They took forever.
Here is the picture on the recipe. Mine are close enough, not perfect, but close. Mine look messy, I know.
The Collector is home from school for the second day due to illness and we have enjoyed one of her library books together. It is called, Chicken Chasing Queen of Lamar County. It is a very wonderful book. The illustrations are fantastic and layered and visually textured.
Chickens, chickens. Aren't these great? I love the little girl's shadow.
The big doily-tailed chicken is our favorite.
This book is a joyous burst of color! My sky looks like this sky today, the same color. Anyway, "chick" it out if you get a chance. It is a happy, silly, great read aloud book. We enjoyed it thoroughly.

Well, that's what I am doing this week? What are you all up to? I'd love to hear. Hopefully you are knitting more than me.
best, susie
p.s. Stay tuned for Saturday's double drawing for the Cotton Chenille and the Knit and Crochet Today dvd winners.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Knit and Crochet Today for You

Hi Knitters,
Candi Jensen is not only a fabulous author/designer but now she is also a t.v. producer! She kind of fell into the producing role but like with everything else she does she quickly became an expert to admire. Her show, Knit and Crochet Today on PBS, was nominated for an Emmy award last season. Candi is also a connector of people and an overall good soul in the knitting and crochet worlds. 

Anyway, there are two seasons of Knit and Crochet Today now available for purchase on their website. This site is fantastic. You can find out when you can watch this show on PBS, read about the hosts, catch up on episode topics and much, much more. For every episode the featured projects are then offered as free patterns on the site. There are some excellent patterns. It is definitely worth your time to have a look around. 

I ordered the dvd from the 200-A series and absolutely loved every episode. The show flows together nicely, the segments are informative, the cast is beyond fantastic. There are also interview segments with some fun and famous people in the fiber world. The experts on the show include Kristin Nicholas, Maggie Pace, Drew Emborsky and Robyn Chachula. Brett Bara, who is the host, is charming and smart, she is the perfect choice for this role as she adds a simple ease and comfort between all of the segments. For the 200-B series a pair of my booties from Itty-Bitty Nursery were used in a baby-themed show. As a thank you Candi sent me the dvd for the second series. I am about half way through the series and I will watch it over and over, I love it that much. The dvds from the two seasons have 26 episodes and 54 free patterns on CD-Rom.

To get to the point, generous Candi Jensen has sent me the two series to offer to you as a giveaway! You will love to watch Knit and Crochet Today and I am excited to have the chance to send the dvd set to one of you. Leave me one comment on this post to be automatically entered in the giveaway. Make sure you write your name or some identifying something in the comment. I will announce the randomly selected winner of the dvds on Saturday, April 25th along with the winner of the Cotton Chenille yarn for the Butterfly Washcloth pattern. Saturday's a big day around here!

The winner of the dvds will need to email me with their mailing address in two days, that means by Monday, April 27th. The chenille yarn giveaway winner will have given me their address through paypal, so that one is easy.

Okay, Monday Knitters, let's have a great week together and I really encourage you to enter to win this dvd set. It is a treasure.
best, susie

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Butterfly Washcloth Pattern

Hi Knitters,
The pattern for the Butterfly Washcloth is now available! Here is some information you may like to know about the pattern:
Finished Measurements: 8 by 9 inches (including the edging)
Needles: US size 6 or size to obtain gauge
Optional crochet hook size H
Yarn: Crystal Palace Cotton Chenille (98 yards per ball) in 2 contrasting colors or any worsted weight cotton like Sugar-n-Cream will work just fine. You can get two washcloths in opposite colorways with 2 balls of the Cotton Chenille.
Gauge: 4 sts per inch in stockinette stitch
Skills needed:
cast on
bind off
Optional crochet skills: (for edging only)
slip stitch
single crochet
This is an easy knit with just a few techniques! The butterfly is so springy and fun and colorful.
This is the perfect spring baby gift or child gift or even adult gift for that matter. Be sure to have fun with your color choices.

If you are interested in purchasing the Butterfly Washcloth Pattern please click on the Buy Now button below. I will email the pattern to you as an attached pdf file. Please allow a little time for me to get the pattern to you. I try my best to be speedy and efficient! The pattern price is $3.50.

Thanks, Knitters and have a good time knitting those butterflies! 
best, susie

Butterfly Love

Hi Knitters,
On my trip I came up with a couple of new washcloth designs. The first is a true springtime design. I am writing up the pattern today and will have it available maybe even later today, if not, then tomorrow.
Here is some information you may like to know:
US size 6 needles
Size H crochet hook (used for optional edging only)
Crystal Palace Cotton Chenille, 2 skeins in contrasting colors will make 2 butterflies.
Samples are knit in: #1109 Bubblegum, #2230 Mango, #406 Caribbean Blue, #5638 Powder Blue.
Note: Any worsted weight cotton will work fine, Sugar & Cream or Peaches & Creme for example are perfect.
Stitch holder
Yarn needle
Gauge: 4 stitches per inch
Finished measurements: 8 by 9 inches (including edging)
Skills needed:
cast on
kfb (knit in the front and back of the same stitch)
k2tog (knit two stitches together)
ssk (slip, slip, knit the 2 slipped stitches through the back loop)
pick up stitches 
bind off
Skill Level: easy peasy if you know the skills listed above!
Optional crochet skills:
single crochet
slip stitch
I wanted to show you the size in comparison to my hand as a reference.

I'll be hosting another Cotton Chenille yarn giveaway along with the Butterfly Washcloth pattern. I'll let you know more about it when the pattern is available!

Hope you like this new pattern as much as I do! What a fun baby/child spring gift this will make.
best, susie
p.s. Unrelated but here is another adorable hat idea I thought you might enjoy. Isn't that funny?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Old Friends

Hi Knitters,
The new pair of Noro Kureyon Sock Yarn (color # S182) socks I just finished are sure to become an old friend of mine. I already love them to death. They are comfy and beautiful and warm just like an old friend should be. 

I casted on 64 stitches, worked on US size 2 dpns, ribbed in k2, p2 for eight rounds and completed the rest of the sock in stockinette stitch. Plain stockinette stitch socks like these are still my favorite to wear but they aren't always the most fun to knit. It can get a little, well, plain. They are a fast knit though so that is good. The yarn is spectacular.
Speaking of old friends I want to tell you about a couple of friends of mine who have started blogs. The first is a dear, sweet friend of mine, Laura Mueller. Her story is a compelling one. Please check out her blog to follow her life story, it will inspire you. I want to direct you here now because she has just begun writing her story and you may want to follow it from the starting point. She is smart and funny and as you read her blog you will understand why I love her so much. By the way, she taught three out of four of my children for the first and second grades. Her talents abound.

The second old friend I want to direct you to is someone I have mentioned somewhat frequently on my blog for the past couple of years, Jaime Harder. Jaime, who I nicknamed my publicist extraordinaire, is also a woman of many talents. She is a knitter, chef and a certified dietitian and kind of a jack of all trades. Her blog is as smart as she is and you will enjoy reading her take on food and life in general. My sweet Jaime is getting married to her fiance David, who is in his first year of law school at Harvard. Their wedding is in a couple of months. She will be the most beautiful bride put on this earth! Can't wait! Please check out Jaime's new blog. I know you will love keeping up with her. She has a big, beautiful life ahead of her and she will do great things and hopefully we'll get to taste a little bite of it on her new blog.

This is one of the cutest photo series I have ever seen. Old friends, indeed. Someone sent me this link and I had to share it with you all.

Last but not least, here are some beautiful handcrafted bags I am eyeing up. Maybe someday...

I have so much to tell you and to share with you so I will be back soon with another post.
Have a beautiful Wednesday, Knitters. It is in the 60's and sunny in the Mad-City today. 
That's pretty good for my old friend, Madison.
best, susie

Monday, April 13, 2009


Hi Knitters,
Well, it's over and we're home. Before I leave on a trip I try my best to pick up the house, make beds, get the laundry done, wipe down the counters and generally make things look good. It makes coming home from a beautiful sunny beach a little easier when your house is clean (I am being generous with the word clean). We came today from upper 80's and sunny to rainy and 40 degrees. Yuck. Still I look around my little old house and think it looks pretty good. It does feel good to be home regardless of the weather.

Anyway, this is just a quick check in tonight to say hello. I did some knitting while on vacation and I will share soon. I finished a couple of things and made up few new little things and did some fun stitching but mainly I relaxed and spent time with my family. On Wednesday of this week I get the second pass of my book to edit, I thought it was going to be waiting at my door when we got home today but it wasn't ready yet. Plus I am going on a field trip with The Collector's class on Wednesday, busy week ahead. So much to accomplish, so little time, right?

My family is a fun(ny) group. The kids made a surprise dvd with video clips and pictures and little interviews and it was all set to music. I can't get over the stuff they can pull together at the drop of a hat. They showed it to my husband and me on the last night. It made me tear up something fierce. Those darn kids are getting so old and I want it to stop. Amazing how that happens. Amazing.

Hope you all had a good week. I dug through hundreds of emails in the inbox this afternoon. I sent out pattern orders, too. I think I got them all, if not be sure to let me know, there was a lot of stuff to get through. Thanks for your patience while I was gone. Tomorrow I am back to work as usual.

Every girl needs a week off now and then. 
best, susie

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Happy Spring Chickens!

Hi Knitters,
From my chickens to your chickens, have a good and springy week! I am taking a break from it all next week for some good old family time. I guess that's called a vacation, right?
Let's talk on Monday, April 13th or there abouts.
best, susie

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Hop Along

Hi Knitters,
To thank my baby model I decided to whip up a Bunny hat for her last night. The pattern is in my first book. You know, I made up this pattern probably 5-6 years ago or longer at this point and there have been so many patterns in between, I had to pull out my book to remember what I had done.

Last night I watched the movie Night at the Museum with my girls and my husband while I knitted. That is a great movie! My favorite in the movie is Dick Van Dyke. I love him always. If you are watching Night at the Museum you have to see Dick Van Dyke dance during the credits. It is the absolute best thing ever. It reminds you of him in his younger years and how completely magnetic he is. Whoever let him dance like that and snuck it into the movie is a true genius. Awesome. (I love the word snuck.)
I was reminded as I worked that, as always, knitting a quick baby hat is one of the best projects ever, if not the best. There is literally nothing better in my eyes. In a few hours you have created something adorable, usable, easy, fun and in the end it will be appreciated by the recipient. Baby hats are sooo good.

There are 399 versions of the Bunny Tail hat posted on ravelry at this point. Check it out here if you are interested.
Knitting the bunny hat makes me long to come up with a new baby hat book or something along those lines. I am going down a different path for my next project already but I am promising myself that I will return to the baby hat at some point in the near future. I think it would be so fun to come up with a new collection after all of these years. Maybe another baby hat collection and then an older child hat collection. Hmmm....
Okay, I used Blue Sky Cotton in Shell #606 and I found some chocolatey brown silk ribbon to tie around the ears.  I have no idea what that ribbon is or where it came from. This hat is a perfect beginner project in that it uses the exact same skills for making a simple baby hat, nothing new at all.

One more quick note, the ravelry group Itty-Bitty Knits is having an Itty-Bitty Hats knitalong, which is brilliant. Every month they are knitting one to two hats out of the book until every hat in the book has been completed. There is a schedule posted to look at and there are quite a few people knitting hats already. This Itty-Bitty Knits group is a truly nice group of supportive knitters. I really mean that. The group organizes monthly charity knitting sponsored by one member per month for their choice for a charity organization. This is an incredible part of the group. 

The Itty-Bitty Hats knitalong (KAL) is really open to your own interpretation and you can jump in or out whenever need be, it's flexible. If you are interested you should check it out. If you are not interested in the knitalong, it is only a small part of the group, so if you aren't a member I hope you join in general. I check out the forum every day to answer any questions that pop up and to join in the fun. 

I had to laugh when someone first brought up the Itty-Bitty Hats knitalong because I felt like I wanted to join in. They were asking if anyone had ever knit all of the hats in the book. Then I had to stop and realize that I had already knit all of the hats in the book. Too funny. It's strange how removed you can feel from your own work at some point. 

Anyway, have a wonderful Saturday. Hopefully you will all get a chance to knit today.
best, susie
p.s. I am taking a vacation next week from the blog for some family time. If you place a pattern order I may get a chance to send your pattern next week. If not, I will get it out right away as soon as I am back on my trusty computer. Fear not!

Friday, April 03, 2009

I Gotta Baby Model!

Hi Knitters,
Guess who was at my door wearing a really cute dress? That's right, a baby stopped by who is just the right size to wear the Baby Slouch Hat. I love a baby in a dress, always. My neighbor popped over with her gorgeous, sweet daughter to try on the Baby Slouch. 

I had to shoot fast and furiously, she has a lot of bouncy energy. I wish the camera had been at a straighter angle for the shot, that's the photographer's (me) fault. She is a real beauty and those big blue eyes? Dreamy.
This adorable little sweetheart is 5 1/2 months old and the hat I made is for 0-6 months. I think the sizing is right on the money. The hat looks super-duper cute on her.
These shots are better than the doll shots any day. Thanks to the little sweetheart and her sweet mom for coming on by!

Have a good day, Knitters. Off into the weekend we go!
best, susie

Thursday, April 02, 2009


Hi Knitters,
Coudre, French for, to sew or put stitches into. I feel a new obsession coming on.
The daisy covered tape measure is my second stitched creation of this sort. I used wool felt and embroidery floss. I traced around the actual tape measure to make a pattern for the center. Then I traced around the tape measure again and used the end of a large-scale paper clip to trace petals around the circle for the flower pattern. It's all very scientific. I free-handed the leaves.
The two wool felt covered tape measures are a particularly big hit with my kids. What is it with tape measures and kids? They love them. I think instead of a new toy every child should get a couple of tape measures of their own. Mine disappear from my studio on a regular basis. 

Anyway, I have a lot more of these in my head and I'll share along the way as they come to fruition.
Now onto two Alans and two excellent books. The Collector and I read this book this morning before school. It is truly adorable and the illustrations are exquisite. The version we have is from the school library, thus the plastic cover and the red tape. The title is, Velma Gratch and the Way Cool Butterfly, in case the glare prevented you from reading it. The author's name is Alan Madison and the illustrator is, Kevin Hawkes. I highly recommend this story of the sisters Gratch. It is a way sweet tale. Way.

The other Alan is Alan Dart. I love Alan Dart and his toy designs. He is the creator of the yuletide gnome dolls that are so hugely popular. The pattern for the gnome and many other fantastic toys are in this book, Irresistible Gifts to Knit by Alan Dart. It is an irresistible book. The reason I am writing about this is that yesterday I saw a big stack of Irresistible Gifts at Joann's on the magazine rack. I know awhile ago I brought up Alan's toy book and people had a hard time finding copies. It has been reprinted! So there you go if you are still on the look out. You can order it online, too.

Okay, now I am off to knit, knit and more knit. I am working on knitting some way cool projects for something new that I am way psyched about. I love to start something new, all of the excitement and unknown ahead of you...

Have a way cool Thursday, Knitters.
best, susie