Friday, October 30, 2009

Author Tour Dates through December!

Edited to add: Lakeside Fibers address is incorrect on the list below. I am having trouble getting into the copied text so here is the correct address (everything else is correct):
Lakeside Fibers
402 West Lakeside St.
Madison, WI

Hi Knitters,
Let me start today by sharing this generous review from my former book publicist, Jaime. Many of you met Jaime Harder Caldwell on my last book tour. She is a fun talent and she has started her own blog which is wonderful. Yesterday I saw the link about Jaime's post on twitter. I thought you might enjoy reading it, too. We had a lot of fun together and shared a ton of laughs along the way. I really miss working with her but I consider her a good friend so that will be forever.

On to the tour information, I am hitting the road with my trunk show for Itty-Bitty Toys! I have loads of stops all the way through March, 2010 but today I am just sharing the events through December, 2009. I will continue to update my schedule as the months go by. I have put up my schedule on the top of my blog sidebar so you can quickly see if I am coming to your city/town/yarn shop/bookstore.

Here is my schedule straight from Artisan Books, my publisher, through December 2009:
Susan B. AndersonDATE: November 5, 2009
TIME: 6:00 PM
VENUE: Lakeside Fibers
LOCATION: 402 West Madison Street MAP
CITY/STATE/ZIP: Madison, Wi 53715
PHONE: 6082572999
DESCRIPTION: Shop's 10th anniversary celebration, 10% off sale on all shop items!! Author meet & greet, trunk show and book signing.
DATE: November 6, 2009
TIME: 7:00 PM
VENUE: Schuler Books and Music Inc
LOCATION: 2820 Towne Center Blvd MAP
CITY/STATE/ZIP: Lansing, Mi 48912
PHONE: 5173167801
DESCRIPTION: Author chat, trunk show, Q & A and book signing.
DATE: November 7, 2009
TIME: 11:00 AM
VENUE: Schuler Books and Music Inc
LOCATION: 2660 28th Street SE MAP
CITY/STATE/ZIP: Grand Rapids, Mi 49512
PHONE: 6169427330
DESCRIPTION: Author chat, Q & A, trunk show and book signing.
DATE: November 13, 2009
TIME: 4:00 PM
VENUE: Needlework Unlimited
LOCATION: 4420 Drew Ave South MAP
CITY/STATE/ZIP: Minneapolis, MN 55410
PHONE: 6129252454
DESCRIPTION: Author meet & greet, trunk show and book signing.
DATE: November 14, 2009
TIME: 1:00 PM
VENUE: Shepherd's Choice
LOCATION: 2010 Second Avenue MAP
CITY/STATE/ZIP: Anoka, MN 55303
PHONE: 7634347453
DESCRIPTION: Author meet & greet, trunk show, and book signing.
DATE: November 19, 2009
TIME: 2:00 PM
VENUE: The Wool Cabin
LOCATION: 2020 East 3300 South Suite 11 MAP
CITY/STATE/ZIP: Salt Lake City, Ut 84109
PHONE: 8014661811
DESCRIPTION: Workshop, meet & greet, trunk show and book signing.
DATE: November 21, 2009
TIME: 1:00 PM
VENUE: The Sow's Ear
LOCATION: 125 South Main Street MAP
CITY/STATE/ZIP: Verona, Wi 53593
PHONE: 6088482755
DESCRIPTION: Author meet & greet, trunk show and book signing.
DATE: December 3, 2009
TIME: 2:00 PM
VENUE: Arkansas Children's Hospital
LOCATION: 1 Children's Way MAP
CITY/STATE/ZIP: Little Rock, Ar 72202
PHONE: 5013641811
DESCRIPTION: Speaker for Knitting for Noggins Knit-In, meet & greet, and book signing.
DATE: December 5, 2009
TIME: 2:00 PM
VENUE: Loops
LOCATION: 2042 Utica Square MAP
CITY/STATE/ZIP: Tulsa, Ok 74114
PHONE: 9187429276
DESCRIPTION: Author meet & greet, trunk show and book signing.

December 12, 2009
Stitcher's Crossing
Mineral Pt. Rd.
Madison, WI 53705
Author meet & greet, trunk show and book signing
Note: I am teaching one workshop in Salt Lake City at the Wool Cabin, November 19th. I know the spots are very limited so contact them right away if you are interested in joining me. I have designed a special project just for the class. It is a mini-reversible toy that encompasses just about every toy-knitting skill you'll ever need for successful toy-knitting. It's beyond cute and is only about 3-inches tall. I am pretty excited about this exclusive design for students only!

I will be teaching a couple more workshops with this same project at Loop in Philadelphia and The Woolie Ewe in Plano, Texas in March 2010. More information will follow soon.

Whew! How's that for a pre-holiday whirlwind? I am so excited about this tour!! Thank you to Artisan for sending me in person to all of these wonderful locations. If I find anything more specific out like tv appearances or other interviews I will let you know along the way.

I sure hope to see and meet as many of you as possible. I will drag my entire trunk show from the book with me (or as much as I can squeeze into my suitcase) to share with you. I limit my clothes so I can bring along the knitting! That's the knitterly thing to do, right? I love having all of the projects from the book to share. It makes the book come to life to see the finished projects. Plus, it is just fun to watch people enjoy the toys in person.
I am showing you the photos of the Giraffe, the cover model, from Itty-Bitty Toys. I took these before I sent him off for his official photo shoot.
I had no idea how many people collect giraffes until this book came out. There are a ton of giraffe collectors out there and I am hearing from lots of them. Love that!
I made my giraffe out of Cascade 220 Superwash wool.
The giraffe is the biggest toy in the book. To show you the size better, I took this photo. You can hold the giraffe toy just like a baby in your arms. The giraffe is a snuggler for sure!

Have a great Halloween weekend, Knitters. Again, I feel like I have so much to share and tell you and so little time.
best, susie
p.s. I passed on your sweet comments and emails about the sock bunny to The Collector. She has already stitched up another sock toy, an elephant. I will share with you soon.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Sock Bunny Love

Hi Knitters,
The Collector is on a crafting roll and I just had to share her latest with you. I had popped into Barnes & Noble with her the other day and we wandered into the knitting and sewing book section. She is fun because she will look at these books right along with me for as long as I'd like. Anyway, she was studying the book, Stray Sock Sewing, Too, while I was looking at the knitting books.

By the way, I quietly pointed out my new book to her as it was sitting on the bookshelf facing out at Barnes & Noble. She shook her head and said, "Mom." She said it kind of like I shouldn't have pointed it out. It was funny. It was the first time I had seen the new book out in a public setting. We didn't dwell on my book, that's for sure.

As always, when she gets interested in something crafty I have a hard time resisting her enthusiasm. She came home with the sock toy book. Later, my husband had to run to the drugstore for a couple of items and she tagged along. She came home with a bag filled with fuzzy socks for making toys. She even snuck in a pair of sock slippers (the little footy type) for herself. My husband didn't notice until they got home. He said the slippers were the same kind his Grandma Honey wore. Exactly. She was sporting her Grandma Honey slippers around like nobody's business. She is such a character.
On Sunday, she set out with her book, a pair of fuzzy pink socks, a needle, thread and scissors and a whole lot of determination. She picked out the project called, Baby Bunny. What I love the most about The Collector's version of Baby Bunny is that it doesn't look much at all like the bunny in the book. She took the idea and made it her own. That's awesome.
The fuzzy sock lent itself well to seaming and hand stitching because with matching thread you couldn't see a single stitch. She is beside herself with happiness. That's a lot of pride.
The Collector pulled out her button collection and selected the wooden heart buttons for the front and a tiny brown button for the nose. She stitched on a face with black embroidery floss. She did every last stitch of sewing on her own. Incredibly enough I didn't help at all. She felt so accomplished. This toy was made in a few short hours. She realized that she is able to create something really wonderful on her own without a stitch of guidance from me. This is a big moment for her. The sky is now the limit.
The finishing touch was the tiny pink pom-pom tail she made and added on the back. The bunny is just perfect in its imperfect way.

She named her bunny, Flopsy. She asked me to tell you that.

I enjoyed watching her in action on this project. Boy, she is driven when it comes to creating and making. It is her calling. I can't wait to see where this drive takes her.
best, susie

Monday, October 26, 2009

Fall Pickings

Hi Knitters,
Two weekends ago we gathered up the kids and went pumpkin and apple picking at a nearby farm. I treasure these traditions with my kids especially as they are getting older. It was the kind of gorgeous fall day which have been few and far between this year. We took full advantage.
The farm we always visit has some enormous carts filled with pumpkins toward the entrance to the farm. This year they were packed with the most beautiful variety of pumpkins.
First we headed out to the pumpkin fields because the kids really enjoy picking their pumpkins right off the lot. Unfortunately, we only found a couple of good pumpkins in the fields this year so we came back to the carts and finished out our selection. That's my nephew in the orange jacket.
Now that the kids are older they do all of the work so that's kind of nice.
My sister met us over at the farm. She is wearing a hat she knitted a couple of years ago. She bought the yarn in NYC at the yarn shop where she sat and knitted with Bette Midler and Cecily Tyson. Remember that? Those were some good times from my last book tour. Anyway, it's a super cute hat and I love the mega-tassel she made. Fun memories.
Siblings marching up the path to the apple orchard and carrying the apple picking bag. New rules at the farm make you pre-purchase the bag and listen to a brief lecture before you can go picking. There must have been some apple thievery and mischief taking place.
The trees were absolutely packed with apples, more than ever.
The Collector is in her glory.
I love the little things at the farm like the old and worn signs along the edge of the path telling you what kind of apples are found in that certain row of trees. I had never heard of Northern Spy apples, have you?
The kids are getting so tall. They can reach way higher than I can.
The Collector and I stay closer to the ground. I love the dirty hands. There was a lot of sampling going on which I am sure breaks a rule or two.
The trees provided a wonderful view.
Brothers always amaze me in any family by how similar and different they are at the same time.
A bite or two never hurt anybody, right?
The Collector ran back to grab a couple extra apples to feed to the horses on the way out.
Our work was done. We had five enormous pumpkins and a large bag of apples in our possession. Needless to say, I've been making apple crisp and applesauce ever since. Our house has been smelling of cinnamon and apples for days.

It's Monday already and I can't believe it. Have a good week, Knitters.
best, susie

Friday, October 23, 2009

Fall Crafts with the Girl Scouts

Hi Knitters,
Last week I hosted The Collector's Girl Scout troop for a fall crafting session. We had three projects to master in about an hour. The main project was to make the turkeys you see above, those are the samples The Collector made. I had done these same turkeys with my older daughter's troop at least five or six years ago. Back then I saw a version of this project either in a Martha Stewart magazine or on her show. I can't remember. I looked on her website but I didn't see anything that resembled this project. So I didn't originate the autumn leaf turkey idea but we definitely made them our own with a bunch of changes from the original.
When teaching or crafting with large groups, I think we had around 10 girls, success is all in the preparation. Ahead of time, I once again, got my trusty glue gun out and glued large cinnamon scented pine cones (the girls loved the scent, bought at JoAnn's) to thin wooden rounds (bought at a local craft shop). Next, I hot glued a tiny pine cone to the large pine cone for the turkey's head. This all had to be done ahead of time.
The preparation photos are at my house but the meeting with the girls was held at a public library where I reserved a big community room. It was perfect with big, long tables, tons of chairs, a bathroom right next door and lots of room for moving about.

Here is a list of what you need to make your own Autumn Leaf Turkeys:
1. fall leaves (we used fake but real leaves would be fantastic only not as lasting)
Note: For the leaves, I found plain leaves but I also found some fantastic leaves that were sprinkled with gold glitter at JoAnn's and the girls loved them!
2. other fall foliage (I bought that long garnish with orange and red strands and tiny berries and I found some red berries that you can see in the first photo)
3. pipe cleaners (red for feet and other fall colors for decoration)
4. small felt squares for the girls to cut on their own (yellow for beak, red for the waddle)
5. google eyes (a crafting must)
6. large pine cones
7. tiny pine cones
8. wood base (purchased at JoAnn's for around 50 cents)
9. craft glue for the girls to use for decorating
10. scissors
11. glue gun for adult set up of pine cones

I set up wax paper bags(love these and you can get them at any grocery), each labeled with their names. In the bags I filled all of the necessary pieces to make their turkey. The leaves and garnishes were spread out on the tables for easy access along with glue and scissors.

Also, in the wax paper bag I put in the makings for Betz's Felt Ball Acorns, one of my favorites. (You can see these acorns and get all links here, plus I did a knitted version here.) This was our next craft after the Autumn Leaf Turkeys.

The Collector had been collecting acorns and acorn tops for a couple of weeks for this project. I had a pretty good supply of felted balls but not a ton. I divvied up 3 felted balls per girl and three acorn tops for gluing. The felted acorns are special in my eyes so they just did a few of those. We had a lot more acorn tops so I bought some fuzzy pom-poms at the craft store and let the girls go to town gluing in the pom-poms in the rest of the tops. They loved it.
Um, just look at that expression and tell me you don't see pride. That's a proud turkey-maker if I've ever seen one. The turkeys took on personalities of their own. Do you see that this turkey has a hair-do? Love it. This girl makes me smile. She helped The Collector gather pine cones and acorns after school one day prior to the meeting.
The Collector helped make all of the samples and prepped and packed all of the materials with me. For a craft meeting you have to bring completed samples, organize the materials, pack the wax paper bags and plan a strategy. She was an all-around joyful crafting helper for the meeting. She is destined to be some kind of teacher or instructor of some sort. She has the knack and she likes doing it.

The best part of the meeting is when the girls are crafting. They have such unguarded conversation. They are looking down and working on their projects and they never stop talking the entire time. It is so fun and funny to listen to them chat. It really is the best part. Crafting brings out personalities in a big way. This troop is full of girls who love to make things. You can just feel the excitement when they walk in the door to a crafting meeting.
This girl is a major maker. She took an art class with The Collector last spring. You can see her acorns, too. Her mom loved the turkeys so much that she wants to use them as place cards at her Thanksgiving table and they are having a large group over. When I saw her a few days later she told me that she had gone out to buy all of the makings for lots more turkeys for her kids to make. It would make for a great table to have a group of these turkeys as a center piece, too.
The girls moved around to different work stations after they completed their turkeys to do the second and third craft projects. It is always good to have a sitting down time and then to allow some movement for the kids.

Another trick I do every time is when we come in to the meeting we all wash hands or use hand-sanitizer, then the girls all sit down to have a snack and a drink. I got an assortment of fresh bagels and strawberry and plain cream cheese. I had the bagel shop slice all of the bagels for me. I gave each bagel a good smear of cream cheese and sandwiched them back together. Next, I quartered each bagel sandwich. This is perfect because then the kids can take a quarter bagel at a time and there isn't as much waste. The bagels were a huge hit, too , and the strawberry cream cheese on the plain bagel was the most popular, fyi.

I use this starting time while they are eating and drinking to give large group instructions on the activities for the day. They are usually quiet and hungry at this time so you can get some good listening time. Plus, when there isn't a lot of extra time you can get two things done at once. The kids eat and I talk and demonstrate. It works really well.
Here is my smart cookie from the knitting meetings last spring. She is even wearing her same hat! She is a good and thorough little crafter and she's very entertaining along the way with a sharp sense of humor. The Collector was in preschool with this one so they go way back.
The third craft we did was to make Icicles. I've done pipe cleaner Icicles with kindergarten classes all the way through 5th graders. I loved the reaction of the girls when I showed them the icicles. There were gasps and oohs and aahs. This is a simple project with hardly any prep work. I found sparkly pipe cleaners and cut them into 4-5 inch pieces. I bent one end to hold the beads on the pipe cleaner. I bought all kinds of clear plastic beads in different shapes and sizes, even star shaped ones.

The girls simply slide the beads on in any order they choose and leave enough of the pipe cleaner exposed at the end to make a hook. We hang these all over our Christmas tree but I like them because they are just winter/snow/ice themed and not a religious holiday theme. We have a good mix of backgrounds in our group and I always strive to be inclusive of everyone with the projects we do. This is a great project and the girls could not get enough of making the icicles. They even took extra pipe cleaners and beads with them to make more at home.
Icicle making in progress. Love how they stand so close to each other.
Cute as a button. Can't you just feel her joy in her crafting? She is a sweet soul through and through. Check out the pipe cleaner swirl on that turkey.
Aren't they cute? I can't get over it. Chat and chuckle.
This one loves crafting, lots of excitement from her.
We had some smaller pine cones that The Collector gathered from a park up the street and some girls made some pine cone art with those as well. The pine cone on the left looked like a fall bouquet from the top view. This sweetheart completed a knitted hat last spring that was donated to charity. She is a good little knitter.
Here's the whole group. I made them whisper "turkey" when I took the photo. They thought that was funny. There are two girls missing from the group, one left early and one couldn't make it, she is coming over today after school for a private turkey/acorn/icicle session. Should be fun.

There are several girls I didn't get good individual photos of and I apologize for that if they are looking at this post. Next time I will!

There you have it! Maybe some of you can use these ideas for some fun fall crafting with your kids or scout troops this fall.

Have a good weekend, Knitters.
best, susie

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Molly's Mittens & Matching Hat!

Hi Knitters,
My son recently asked me to knit a pair of mittens for his friend, Molly. I gladly obliged. I had a bunch of colors in the Valley Yarns Berkshire Bulky in a bin in my basement from last year. I had plans to design some mittens in this yarn and I never got around to it. I had knitted my son a pair of green and white mittens in this yarn last year and he loves them.
Here is some information you might like to know for Molly's Mittens:
Size: To fit an average-size woman’s or older child’s hands. The length of the hand and thumb can be varied to fit a variety of sizes. The yarn stretches and softens with wear so a tighter fit at first is a good thing.
Finished hand circumference, measured around the knuckles on the hand, to fit 7 to 8 inches.
Yarn: Valley Yarns Berkshire Bulky (85% Wool, 15% Alpaca; 108 yards/100grams), 1 skein each in Stone Blue #38 and Natural #01
Needles: US size 10 double pointed needles, set of four OR size to obtain gauge
Gauge: 3 ½ stitches per inch in stockinette stitch and 6 rounds per inch
2 stitch markers
Scrap yarn
Ruler or tape measure
Yarn needle
The mittens would be great in one colorway for a solid mitt or striped throughout! There are so many color choices for this yarn and it is only $4.99 for a ball. You could make some fantastic mittens for gifts and save a penny or two while you're at it.

The pattern is available for purchase for $3.00 in my pattern shop.

Click here to purchase the pattern for Molly's Mittens!
So this morning I was looking at the left over yarn from Molly's Mittens and I wondered if I could get a good size hat out of the rest. Well, sure enough I could! This means there is another pattern available for you. You don't need to buy any more Berkshire Bulky to make this hat and the mittens combined. One skein of each color will do the trick for both projects. Talk about a great value.

I used a US size 10 sixteen inch circular needle and a set of four US size 10 double-pointed needles to whip up Molly's Matching Hat.
This hat is sized to fit an average adult woman's head or a medium to large child's head. The circumference of the finished hat is 20 inches and will stretch to accommodate up to a 22 inch head. The yarn stretches and softens slightly with wear so a tighter fit to start with is a good thing.
Since the hat was an add on I am only charging $2.00 for Molly's Matching Hat pattern!

Now if you purchase both Molly's Mittens and Molly's Matching Hat together I will send you both patterns for only $4.00.

Please remember if you order a pattern from my shop that I personally send out all of my pattern orders. If there is a slight delay in getting your pattern please be patient. I try to be as efficient as possible.

I think I covered everything.
Thanks, Knitters.
best, susie

Monday, October 19, 2009

Catching Up

Edited to add: I just made these mittens available in my shop right now! Click here for information. I will do a full post on the back story tomorrow.
Hi Knitters,
I have such a backlog of things I want to share with you. The photo above is my latest pattern for my pattern shop. It is all set to go, I just have to get it up and available for purchase on my shop. Maybe even later today or tomorrow. I've had the yarn to design these for at least a year so it feels good to get them done.

I will do a full write up with more information when the the pattern is ready to go. I am pretty excited about these simple and super fast mittens, knitted on size 10 double-pointed needles. I think you'll love them for your holiday/winter knitting projects. You could make a million pairs in a jiffy. The pattern is called, Molly's Mittens. Look for it soon...
I need to tell you that Alana Dakos (Did you listen to her 3 year old daughter here? It's only about 30 seconds long.) is hosting a giveaway for a signed (by me:) copy of Itty-Bitty Toys. All you need to do is leave a comment on this post to enter. That's it. She is leaving the contest open until November 1st! Now hop on over and enter so you don't miss out. I'd love to send you a book.

The wonderful Guido Stein, released his latest podcast episode #71 for It's a Purl Man, where he interviewed me about Itty-Bitty Toys and Spud & Chloƫ. It is a great chat. I love the way he cares for the sound quality and his interviewing style can't be beat. I am a big fan. This is about a 30 minute interview. Click here to listen or go to itunes to download it there, if you are interested, of course. This is one of my most favorite interviews to date. Thanks for having me, Guido.
Here is my beloved, cute sister in our last quilting class. Did I tell you that we made matching fall-themed quilts? I may have but there you go. We sat across from each other on two large tables pushed together. It was really fun. I made sure to include the incredible quilt behind her so you could get a glimpse of it. Stitcher's Crossing has the most amazing quilts sprinkled throughout the shop.
We took the class at Stitcher's Crossing, which I know I have mentioned before, and I'll say it again, this is a fantastic quilt/yarn shop that is a must see if you are in town. My lovely (and tall:) instructor, Anne Smith, did a beautiful job of guiding our beginning group of quilters and sewers. All eight students walked away with huge amounts of new knowledge, confidence and a mostly completed quilt. That's pretty good.

The binding on my quilt in the photo wasn't done but now my quilt is completely finished. I hand stitched the binding on right after the last class and tossed it in the washer and dryer (per directions) to soften it up. Now The Collector is wrapping her baby up in it and my older kids are using it as a lap quilt to snuggle with on the couch. It makes me feel so good. In fact, I can't even believe I sewed that quilt at all. Amazing.

Check out Anne's website here. Her daughter did all of the design work for the site. Anne offers quilting services, too. She is very talented. As a teacher, she did the best job of making everyone feel good and at ease by telling us about her mistakes and how she has made every mistake in the book and how there is nothing that can't be fixed. Anne has been teaching quilting for about 15 years and you can tell that she is a seasoned teacher. That's the best. She offered in-class ripping out services and would walk around with her seam ripper at the ready to help:)

It was a great time and I plan to squeeze in a couple more of her classes in the future (my fingers are crossed that I'll have time). I learned an incredible amount of information in a short few weeks. Plus, it was just good and simple practice for me. Everyone needs lots of that. I highly recommend taking this class if you are in the area. Thanks to Anne for a fun time and for helping me on my sewing journey! I love to sew and stitch.

Like I said, I have so much more to tell you. I hosted The Collector's girl scout troop for some fall crafting last week and we had a bountiful session. I have lots of fun photos to share of the wonderful girl scouts coming up. You may want to steal a couple of the crafts I did with them for your own kids.

I will get that mitten pattern up shortly. I will see if I can do it or whether my son will have to help me out or maybe I will just have him do it for me!

Have a good Monday, Knitters.
best, susie