Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Never Boring

Hi Knitters,
Well, it's never boring around here. I want to fill you in on a couple of knitting and winning opportunities that have popped up recently.

First off, Braided is my new Spud & Chloë free pattern. Here is the Ravelry link for Braided if you're interested. Enjoy. I am hoping to get an instructional video up about how to make this scarf within a week or so. I'll keep you posted.

Next, the Itty-Bitty Knits group on Ravelry has reached over 1,000 members. In honor of this fantastic group of charity and swap and knitalong knitters and the growing membership I have started a giveaway thread. I talked to my editor, Trent Duffy, at Artisan books and he generously has offered to give away 3 preview copies of Itty-Bitty Toys. That means three winners will be selected!

You have to be a member to enter the giveaway and I know a lot of you are already members so hop on over and enter. Please feel free to join the group now, too, you are always welcome in the group and then you can enter to win the book. The contest will be open through Oct. 5th.

The members of the Itty-Bitty Knits group are truly helpful, warm and welcoming. Their enthusiasm pulls you in and holds you. Honestly, I never thought I would become involved in a forum but I visit the Itty-Bitty Knits forum every day because it is so endearing and active. I always want to see what is going on there. The group runs constant monthly charity hat knitting that has benefited charity organizations all across the country and beyond. I venture to say at this point hundreds of knitted baby goods have been donated on behalf of the Itty-Bitty Knits group. That's a lot of good going on.

Yesterday, I desperately finished my fourth toy for a photo shoot that is happening today for Spud & Chloë and Blue Sky Alpacas and I mean right now. I literally lost track of the date and then on the news I heard the date being said in the background. I suddenly realized that I had this final toy due in ONE day. I could not believe it. It was only partially completed. I never do that, ever, and I won't ever do that again. It was painful. After hours and hours of straight knitting and detail work I finally finished the toy. At about noon yesterday I raced with my knitted toy wrapped in tissue paper over to FedEx and had it priority over-nighted to Minnesota, directly to the photo shoot location. Phew and double phew. Never again. never.

One other exciting thing that has been added to my schedule this week is due to an email I received from Candi Jensen last weekend. Candi is the producer of the PBS show Knit and Crochet Today. She wants to use three of my projects/patterns for the upcoming season of her show. This involves knitting up step-outs for the segment. You know, when they show the project being knit in progress. This means you have to knit up partially completed projects for them to use in the demonstration. When is all of this due in Detroit? Next week. Yeah, taping starts next week.

You are going to benefit from this Knit & Crochet Today endeavor, which I love. I am knitting a new washcloth/dishcloth pattern for the show that will be offered for free on my blog and also on the show's website. (There are tons of free patterns over there and you should take advantage!)

I haven't even started this one yet. (My stomach just sank.) I'll let you know when that's available for the taking.

Besides that, I should be receiving a contract for a new book deal from Artisan Books this week. The next book I am about to start is something new and different and I hope you are going to love it. I do. Artisan (a publishing group for Workman publishing) is the same publisher I have worked with from day one and I can't say enough good things about them. If you are on twitter you should follow Artisan Books for updates and fun and interesting tidbits. Artisan has several new knitting/fiber related books in the works that I am anxious to see. Artisan is also the publisher of Melanie Falick's, Knitting in America, now available in soft cover as America Knits and, Kids Knitting. These are two of the most popular knitting books of all time. It's a good, good publisher for knitters to get familiar with.

Plus, the tour for Itty-Bitty Toys is being set as I write. It will start in mid-November and I am literally going to be all over the country in the upcoming months. I'm very excited about this and I will post more information as soon as everything is confirmed.

Yikes, what time is it? I gotta go!

Oh yeah, I have a quilt class to squeeze in, too. I have to cut my fabric today. I actually thought things would be calm around here at this time when I signed up for this class last summer. Foiled again.

Wish me luck and I wish you luck if you enter the giveaway.
best, susie

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Kinda Sorta Fresh Start

Hi Knitters,
It has been one painful process to basically pull everything last thing out of the majority of our house and store it in boxes and bins in the garage, other rooms and the basement. That's not fun. However, the worst part is to reorganize, pitch, donate and determine what to save out of the stuff our family of six has collected over the last 20 years. This is the part that is most difficult for me. At times I am at a complete loss as to what to do with precious items that we really don't have room for but that I can't let go. I am talking about things like artwork, stories and all sorts of creations, photos of sports teams, cherished toys and childhood stuff in general. I don't know if anyone will want any of that in the future but I struggle getting rid of it. It's tough.

On a positive note, I have been finding and rediscovering lots and lots of fun things along the way. For example, the project above is a simple stockinette stitch shawl I started many years ago. It is made with Blue Sky Alpacas sport weight. I should finish this up as it is really lovely and mindless knitting. I think I'll bring it along to a soccer game this afternoon. I have found unfinished mittens, sweaters, scarves, hats and socks. Yes, those are all plural. I just need a little more time in the day. That's all.

The funniest thing about all of the unrest and chaos the house renovation has caused has been putting my old, heavily used (okay, downright junky) stuff back into the fresh and new rooms. It seems right and wrong at the same time, maybe more wrong than right. So it's a kinda, sorta fresh start for our family. What are you going do? I say embrace what you've got, right?

Anyhoo, I have had lots of requests for more photos of the renovation and I will do that. I want to wait until I have things back in place and until the house is actually finished. The kitchen is turning out better than I imagined. I have some tile on order from an awesome Madison tile store called, Tile Art on Monroe Street. The owner focuses on working as green as possible and uses materials produced locally and in the United States. I like that.

The tile I picked for the back splash is going to be so cool. It is stone and the rectangular pieces are long-ish, 6 inches or so and skinny (about 1.5 inches wide). It is in variegated shades of light green called, Ming Green. The grout is going to be a light gray. Yum. The tile will be the finishing touch for the kitchen project. Can't wait for that. Yeah, can't wait. It's like putting the frosting on the cake.

I still have workers at my house everyday from early morning to the late afternoon or beyond. This has been going on since mid-July and there is still much to be done. Progress is being made, sometimes at a snail's pace and sometimes quick as lightening. It just depends on the day. I am ready for it to be completed and to have some serious alone time. Peace and quiet are calling my name. Loudly.
Now, my sister and I started our basic quilting class last week at The Stitcher's Crossing. I am so glad my sister is there with me because she makes me laugh. I need that. The class is three hours long and meets three times total, once a week. My sister was concerned about going for three hours without eating. See, it makes me laugh just writing that. She is a snacker or a grazer, eating little amounts all throughout the day. Me? I just eat something to fill up a bit and then I don't think about eating again for a really long time.

During the class she definitely needed her snack break. She was starting to act a bit drained about mid-class so I actually had to remind her to stop and eat something. She snapped right back into action after her snack time. So funny! She's just like a little kid. We had a good time at our first class and we have a cutting fabric assignment for next week. I'll take some photos to share of our projects once we get going a bit more.
New topic, Alison Stewart-Guinee was kind enough to send me a copy of her new book, Fairy Tale Knits. I was touched that she wanted me to have a copy. Thank you, Alison. The book is adorable and there is a wide variety of projects for kids including lots of sweaters and accessories. Some of them are easy and some are more challenging. There is something for everyone. There are pirates, queens, mermaids and fairies along the way.

I adore the cover shot. It sets the mood for the book. The book is put together in a fairy tale-like way, of course. The binding and the pages and the feel in general give the feeling of an old-fashioned storybook. Love that.
This is my favorite project in the book. It is a crown hat that you can make with the hat underneath the crown or you can just make the crown part separately. Check out Alison's book if you are feeling like taking a wonderful storybook adventure with your knitting. Congratulations to Alison!

Take care, everyone.
best, susie

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Birthday Wishes

Hi Knitters,
My second child turned 16 years-old last weekend. We spent most of the weekend celebrating this milestone with him. It's hard to believe he's mine. He's more fun than anyone I've ever known. He works hard and plays harder.

I simply want to thank him.

It's quite a process to see your babies become older and turn into capable, happy adult-like people. Parenting in general conjures up words in my mind like big-huge love, fun, laughter, excitement, adventure, worry, thrill, pride, hope, future, joy, tears, the hardest work I'll ever know, chaos, noise, silence, contentment... home.

How about you?
I thought you would get a kick out of this sight. The Collector often leaves me in charge of her baby when she is gone at school. This is the view from my chair this morning and lots of mornings. I don't pay much attention usually but today the sight of that baby wrapped up to the chin sitting next to me made me laugh. She just put her baby next to my chair and didn't say a word about it. Love that. Then when she gets home she always asks me how the baby was during the day. I always tell her perfect and that the baby didn't make a peep. The Collector smiles every time.

That's another toy I'm knitting away on in my bag. Knitted toys are coming out of my ears. I never imagined that toy knitting would become a focal point of my design work. It is a happy and welcome development no question.

You can see the (poorly lit) new wood floor in my studio. I'm pretty excited about it. I had a painted sub-floor ever since I ripped out the awful old carpeting from the previous owners many, many years ago. I just made do and I figured anything would be better than stinky old carpet. The trim and the floor boards need to go back in so I have not fully moved back into my tiny little room just yet. Hopefully by the end of the week I can get settled and freshly organized.
It's a dark rainy day here and I don't have my lighting set back up but I am in love with the new paint color in my studio. It is a Sherwin-Williams color called Open Air. It looks like the clearest blue sky you would ever hope to see. Fresh.

I have a few fun links to share:
For all of you dinner cookers like me, here is a list of links for a bunch of tried and true casserole recipes that you will want to keep around. Jaime made every recipe on the list and verifies that each one is delicious. I trust this girl.

Berroco has an incredible pattern booklet available for little girl sweaters. I really like this one.

Eunny Jang, the editor of Interweave Knits, has a new downloadable scarf pattern that I am crazy about. I really want to knit this one up! It's a snowflake fair isle scarf knit in the round with chunky yarn. Gorgeous!

I am starting my quilting class this week. I thought that my house would be finished by now and it's not. I have packed up all of my sewing stuff including my machine. It could be a challenge to find the space to work free of dust and construction workers. I am still excited to take a class and learn new things. I'll just have to do the best I can. I may not get an "A" in the class but I am sure I will absorb a lot of information. My sister is taking the class, too, which makes it all the more worthwhile. I get to spend time with one of my favorite people doing something fun. Good stuff.

I hope you all have a happy and productive day!
best, susie

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Knitting Up a Storm. Really.

Hi Knitters,
It may not seem like it from the looks of this blog lately but I assure you that I have been knitting up a storm. Here is a little proof of that. I finished up another big toy project in the middle of the night last night. It is cool and fun and literally cool, if you catch my drift. I couldn't sleep worth a darn last night so I used the time for good at least. I am hoping for better tonight.

You may or may not know this but I have been adding some new knitting videos to my YouTube account. Check it out here if you are interested. I have recently added videos showing the knit stitch, purl stitch and the long tail cast on with binding off coming soon. The funny thing about showing how I do these basic knitting skills is the response. I know that I do things a little differently because I taught myself to knit and I mean I was all by myself. I basically made stuff up.

When someone writes me a note saying that I knit just like they do I wonder if this could be true but it must be. That makes me feel good for some reason. Now, I've never seen anyone purl like me. Since I just posted this video today I am waiting to see if someone says they purl like me. I'll let you know or... maybe it's you? Purling twins.

Different subject. I love the color combinations shown in some glorious skeins of yarn at this spot. Incredible, right? Makes you want to dig in.

Good night, Knitters.
best, susie

Sunday, September 13, 2009


Hi Knitters,
When we were in Door County we rented this pair of aqua bikes. We had never seen this type of bike/paddle boat before. We all took turns riding for an hour or so and it was really fun. There were single bikes, too. You could go farther and a lot faster and far more comfortably than on a traditional paddle boat. Gliding along.
Here are all four kids on the bikes. I don't know, I just found these interesting, maybe you've known about aqua bikes for awhile and I am behind the times in aqua bikes. Could very well be.

I have been collecting links for you again. There is never-ending crafting inspiration on the internet, we really are lucky. I can't ever get over all of the creative talent out there in the world. I wonder what my life would have been like if when I was growing up all of these crafting resources had been available at my fingertips. I'll never know but I imagine it would have been very different for me. I may have gotten started on my current path a lot earlier in life. It's kind of fun to think about.

Here you go with some top-notch links:
Salty handmade caramels on etsy- I am ordering these for sure. Salt AND caramel? Yes.
Edible Distractions blog - food and fun around the town and her Friday Favorites can't be missed. This is where I bookmark a lot of links.
Elle Decor Goes to Manhattan by Ingrid Abramovitch (one of Artisan Books own:)-a fun read.
Hannah Fettig's adorable knitted auto vest-too good! Get this pattern, Hannah is brilliant.
Knitters hit Brooklyn Heights-unbelievably fun knitting on the streets-wish I was there, be sure to look through the photos. I would go crazy if I saw this somewhere around my city.
Amy Butler's new fabric line called, Love. Well, I l.o.v.e. it. The projects are incredible.

That should keep you busy for awhile if you choose to look. Thank you to all of the fun readers who send me fun links. Keep it coming.
best, susie

Friday, September 11, 2009

Good Stuff

Hi Knitters,
Even before first off, Dawn Perkins please contact me, my email is on the sidebar. Your email address isn't working so I can't send your pattern order to you. It bounces back when I send it out. I hope you see this:) I need an alternate email address.

First off, I have a new free Rabbit pattern available over at Spud says!, the blog I curate for Spud & Chloë. It is already hopping on ravelry, too, if you want to go have a look-see.
Rabbit is meant to be a friend of Ribbit the frog, which is an earlier free pattern I designed. Rabbit has the same tennis ball inside of the body which makes for an added surprise. This would be a cute gift set to make for a baby or child, Rabbit along with the Bunny Hat from Itty-Bitty Hats. You could tie some matching ribbons around the ears on Rabbit and on the hat. That is a gift set I will make for someone someday for sure.
I have a couple links for you today, too. Here is an interesting, moving article from the NY Daily News about knitting. You may enjoy reading this one. I love to see knitting breaking into other venues and reaching out. Good stuff.

Kristin Nicholas is at it again with her awesomeness. Just look at what she made for her sister's wedding shower. Have you ever seen anything better than that? She made these, too, and I can't get over how much I love her stitching. Go Kristin! She has a new colorwork knitting book coming out very soon that I can't wait to get my hands on.

Well, into the weekend we go. My house renovation is still in full swing. In fact, I will be out of my studio for awhile for painting and a new floor. That will be tough because this room has been my "quiet" spot while the chaos has ensued around the house. I've had to completely clear out, which has not been an easy task but it will be good stuff in the end. Boy, you can really get socked into a space, right?

Yesterday I attempted to get Rabbit finished and posted in between three trips to the paint store and constant interruptions from delivery people and the contractor. It really was rough but I did it and that feels like an accomplishment of some small sort.

I'll take what I can get at this point.

Have a good, good weekend everyone.
best, susie

Tuesday, September 08, 2009


Hi Knitters,
Notice anything new on my bookshelf?
I received a sweet little package late last week straight from Artisan Books, my publisher. When I opened it up I found a brand-spanking-new copy of my next book, Itty-Bitty Toys. That is a moment in time, every time. It feels so good to hold years of hard work all bundled up in a beautiful book. It is difficult to describe.

I love Itty-Bitty Toys and I hope you will, too. The book is being released on November 3rd, 2009.

More to come on the toy projects inside the book and upcoming tour dates soon, very soon!
best, susie

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

September Pumpkin Knitting

Hi Knitters,
The Collector is so excited and proud. She finished her first pumpkin hat. She wanted me to share it with all of you. She cast on 56 stitches and used Blue Sky Cotton on a size eight 16-inch circular needle. We followed the simple baby cap pattern in Itty-Bitty Hats combined with the lil' pumpkin hat pattern in the same book. I helped a little bit with the top and the leaf.
She has decided to donate her pumpkin treasure to the September knitting charity on the Itty-Bitty Knits group. I requested the address and am sending it off later this week. This is the description of the charity group:

Avis Goodwin Community Health Centers, a non-profit located in Dover and Rochester, New Hampshire. They currently serve 8,000 individuals in comprehensive health care (prenatal, dental, cancer screenings, etc.), the majority of whom are low income.
A description of the specific project our donations will be going to, from the volunteer manager:
Welcome to the World Program: Each baby born through our agency receives a goody bag to welcome them into the world. The bag usually has at least one handcrafted item in it, such as a quilt/afghan, infant sized sweater, hat, booties and in the colder months, thumbless mittens. We deliver between 350 and 425 babies a year. The new moms are so touched that members of the community have made something special for their child to welcome him/her into the world. Most of the moms are low-income, uninsured and some face really tough times, this being one of the few nice new things their infant gets.

Now, the Collector is working on a hot pink bunny hat she wants to donate to this group as well. Maybe some of you will want to join in, too. Everyone is welcome.
Happy Wednesday, Knitters.
best, susie