Thursday, April 29, 2010

Woolly's World

Hi Knitters,
A few weeks ago I was excited to see that Marie Irshad was back to podcasting again. I vividly remember that Marie's podcast, Knitcast, was the first knitting podcast out there, at least to me. I couldn't believe my good fortune to have a knitting podcast to listen to. Well, to make a long story short, Marie took a break from her podcast and when she recently returned I was thrilled to hear her interview Woolly Wormhead, a fantastic hat designer.

Now, Woolly is an entertaining person with an interesting background. Her nickname, Woolly, came from her love of wool starting when she was a child and Wormhead affectionately came from her students due to her dreadlocks. I love that. Nicknames have to be organic in order to work and this one certainly does.

Woolly has just released another self-published book of her hat designs, Twisted Woolly Toppers. She is a wonderful hat designer and I am a big, big fan. Click here to look at a portfolio of all of her self-published work. It is very impressive and inspiring. Plus, I just can't help but to love a girl who loves hat knitting as much as I do. She makes me want to knit hats and only hats. Forever.

Take a look at these beautiful photos of some of the hats included in Twisted Woolly Toppers:
Woolly Twisted Toppers, (click here to purchase), focuses on hats that incorporate cables and various twists, some more intricate than others. The patterns are well-written, tested, include charts and abbreviation definitions and the patterns are incredibly thorough. She includes resources for help, too. I love the variety of interesting shapes and sizes her hats offer. It's like hat architecture. The book includes hats for women, men and children. Woolly's designs are nothing short of amazing hat innovation for sure! The photos were taken in Italy and all are gorgeous and inspiring. You can view all of the patterns in Woolly Twisted Toppers here.

Here is a review quote from Just Call Me Ruby:
"Woolly, is one of the most sophisticated and talented designers I can think of, with a completely instinctive and unstoppable need to design and create. Her enthusiasm and intelligence is inspiring to be around and shines through in her work. Every time I knit a Hat Woolly has designed I learn something new, but without having to struggle as the patterns are so well written, the photography is beautiful, the presentation of the pattern is exceptionally well considered and as a result I admire her work immensely."

I couldn't say it any better! Wow, that's quite an endorsement.

Click here for another fun interview with Woolly. I love how she talks about envisioning her designs in 3-D before she starts to knit. I do that same thing so I know what she is talking about. Her ability to see her designs in 3-D is clear because her hats look fantastic from every angle. This is important when you are wearing the item on your head!
One of the most interesting things about Woolly and her family is that they live in a bus. Her partner recently drove this newly purchased monster bus, named Penny Lane, across Europe and had many difficulties along the way. This new double-decker is replacing their current bus/home. Woolly tweeted this entire adventure with all of her worries as it was happening. Fascinating! Fortunately, they have had a happy ending and all is good. I think they are currently residing in Italy. For more detail on Woolly's life please visit her blog here. She has a great blog. You can also follow Woolly on Twitter here.

I highly recommend Woolly's current hat book. I am planning on making several of these hats for my own hat collection. I love supporting a vibrant indie knitter/self-publisher like Woolly Wormhead. Self-publishing is an endeavor not for the weak of heart. It is a lot of work to self-publish anything. I admire her and her unusual take on things very much.

Woolly Wormhead's work is completely original just like she is completely original. That is a big part of her appeal. You feel like you are discovering a secret treasure when you look through her books. Her hat designs are like nothing else out there.

best, susie

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Whistle While You Work

Hi Knitters,
I posted this on my other blog Spud says! and I think it is so fun that I am going to post it here as well. My son helped me set up a video shoot while I worked on stitching the Dream Catcher Baby Blanket together (the free blanket pattern will be pulled together in a couple of days so please be patient:).

In the different scenes, shot over several days, I am talking to various people hanging out in the kitchen with me, chewing gum in a couple of shots (unfortunately), signing TC's permission slips and sipping on coffee and water. The video is so fast, about 3 minutes, that you have to look hard to see anything other than my hands flying.

The one thing my kids were laughing about is how crazy fast my working hands look. I said this on Spud says! too, but my wish would be to have hands that worked that fast. Could you imagine the productivity? If only...

The song is Jack Johnson, my son's favorite artist, singing You and Your Heart, if you are interested. It is my new favorite song on my ipod and I requested he use it for the video.

best, susie

Saturday, April 24, 2010


Hi Knitters,
That was one fast week. I feel good about a couple of work accomplishments this past week. Of course I always wish I had more time or that I got more done but that's how it is. This morning I wound and wound a bunch of fresh skeins of Blue Sky Worsted Cotton and Spud & Chloë Sweater for some new projects I am working on. I still get a kick out of freshly wound yarn and how it is full of possibilities. One of the projects is for my fourth book, I am almost done as this is the last one. I feel like I have been saying that forever.

The other wound yarn is for a bunch of magazine projects I am starting. My mind has been running over-time with ideas. I am so excited about it. I love all of the potential resting at my fingertips. I have only done one knitting magazine project before. Do you remember it from a couple of years ago? I made a fun blue elephant for the Holiday Issue of Knit Simple 2008. Click here to see an assortment of finished Elephants. Also, click here to read my post from September 2008 about this sweet guy.

The thing is that this particular elephant didn't ever catch on too much when in fact it is one of the coolest toys I have ever designed. There are only 8 finished projects on Ravelry. The ears are lined with an attached I-cord. The body is slick and easy. The best part is that the shaping of the trunk purposely leaves two tiny holes on the sides where the tusks are added later. I love this project. You never know what is going to catch on or what will get lost in the shuffle. I think this Stuffed Elephant #31 deserves a second look. New possibilities for the old elephant, maybe?

Here are some other possibilities I am yearning to make:

I have a thing for scarves, obviously.

What are your knitting possibilities?
best, susie

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Around the House

Hi Knitters,
Here is what is hanging around my house this morning. I didn't move or rearrange a thing.

best, susie
p.s. The mailman just knocked on my door to deliver two boxes from Spool! Haven't opened them yet.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Yummy Monday

Hi Knitters,
Good Monday morning to you. All I have to say is that every girl deserves to have some knitting fun. This is mine in Madeline Tosh in Tosh DK in the Burnished colorway. I bought my yarn here. The pattern is the Tea Leaves Cardigan.
best, susie

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

California Time

Hi Knitters,
My oldest son made this video for my husband and me as a thank you for our recent trip to California. It is really fun the way he pieced the vacation together and set it to music. It is just under 7 minutes long. Don't feel like you have to watch it, I won't even know either way. I love this little trip video though.

If you do watch the video there are a couple things of interest to point out, when we were in Hollywood we drove around in Beverly Hills to look at the fancy houses. We came across the house where Michael Jackson last lived. Peachy is a Michael Jackson fan so we stopped at this house so she could get a photo. That's what those huge black gates are. There were tour buses everywhere and lots of people around. It was weird. The other thing is that when we were walking in Hollywood and looking at the stars on the sidewalk, the only star with people around it taking photos was Michael Jackson's star. There was a group around it at all times.

Along the Pacific Coast Highway we got such a kick out of my husband's fascination with Bixby's Bridge. There is a photo of my husband and me in front of the bridge at the end of the video. I had never heard him talk about it before but he knew all kinds of facts and stories about the bridge. Who knew? We also came across this secluded beach area that was packed full of seals (or are those sea lions? anyone?). My second son, he is 16, is always the one who has to get right up next to or in the middle of any situation. I was nervous to get too close but he just loved those seals.
In Palm Springs we stayed at a really cool 1950's style but modernized house. It is called the Oscar Mayer house. This house was owned at one time by Oscar Mayer, the b-o-l-o-g-n-a guy! It was amazing and roomy and we loved the pool. We all spent hours in the pool every day. The water was very warm. Everything was streamlined and low to the ground which was so different than San Francisco.
I loved this entire house but my favorite room? Now don't laugh, the sunny, gigantic laundry room! After days of travel with three teens, one husband and a 10-year-old, I had tons of laundry to do. I fell in love with this laundry room. I would love to have a nice laundry room at home. It would make this task so much easier take. Laundry is pure drudgery and it is by far my least favorite category of housework. With this big, bright sunny room I found myself happily folding and throwing in load after load. I was even humming at times. If only this room could have come home with me.
Thanks for taking a little timeout with me today. If you look real close you'll see TC in the left pool corner with her book propped up on the side of the pool so she could read and swim at the same time. She spent a lot of time like this and it looks pretty good to me.
Enjoy the rest of your day, sweet Knitters.
best, susie

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


Hi Knitters,
I randomly selected a winner for a signed copy of How to Knit a Love Song by Rachael Herron! A hearty congratulations goes out to Sharon in VA! Here is the winning comment:

I heard her interview on one of the podcast before you mentioned her on your blog and am thrilled at the possiblity of winning her book. Sharon in Va
April 09, 2010
Sharon left her email address, too, which makes it a lot easier for me! I will send you an email, Sharon, to get your mailing address to send off to Rachael. Thanks to everyone who entered. I had over 300 entries including the people that emailed me to enter. What a great tribute to Rachael!

I have loads of work to get done this week. I am still working on book number four. Even though the projects and patterns are mostly done there is a lot of text and other details to be completed. It really never ends, even after a book is published it seems. Not complaining, just saying... I am working away on the Dream Catcher Baby Blanket for Spud says! I hope you'll join me. It is really fun!

Here are a few fun links for you to check out:

Have a great day, Knitters. It is bright and sunny and fairly warm here today. Lovely. By the way, the photo is my family looking off of the Pacific Coast Highway.
best, susie

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Knit Collage Scarf Pattern

Hi Knitters,
Popping in here today to share the scarf I finished up this morning. A couple of weeks ago I shared some fascinating yarn I purchased from Purlsoho called, Knit Collage in the Mermaid Cafe colorway. I saw this yarn at ImagiKnit, too, if you are interested. The yarn has silly bits and pieces spun into the yarn. It is so much fun to knit up. I found things like crocheted flowers, strings of sequins, sequin flowers, lace, ribbon and tiny yellow flowers.

Well, yesterday I decided to whip up a scarf from the Knit Collage yarn. I knit my way through a soccer game and finished it up early this morning. It worked up in a flash. I love the finished scarf so I want to share the pattern with you!
Knit Collage Scarf

Finished measurements: 48 inches by 5 inches
US size 15 needles
3 skeins of Knit Collage (35 yards per skein)

Cast on 12 stitches.
Row 1: knit
Row 2: purl
Row 3: knit
Row 4: purl
Row 5: purl
Row 6: knit
Row 7: purl
Row 8: knit
Repeat rows 1-8 until you use up your yarn, leaving enough to bind off the last row. Try to end with a row 4 or a row 8 (but it's okay if you don't). Bind off.

That's it! Super fast, super easy!
I didn't block my scarf at all. I love it just as it is. If you get to make one for yourself, have fun!

You can still enter the How to Knit a Love Song giveaway for just a tiny bit longer. Click here to enter if you missed it.

I'll be back with a book winner in the next post!
best, susie

Thursday, April 08, 2010

How to Knit a Love Song Giveaway!

The giveaway is now closed, April 13th, 2010!!! Thanks to everyone who entered.

Hi Knitters,
On my vacation I read a couple of novels. The first one I read is called, How to Knit a Love Song, by Rachael Herron. You may have heard of Rachael before in the knitting world because she writes the popular knitting blog called, Yarnagogo. She is a genuine knitter and you can tell that through her book. The knitting and knitter's lifestyle is craftily woven throughout the book without being clumsy or forced.

The fictional story is set on a California sheep ranch. Cade, the resident rancher, is taking care of the land and sheep for his great aunt who has moved off to a retirement community. He wants to someday own the land himself and continue to run the ranch. Eliza Carpenter, the great aunt, just happens to be a beloved knitting guru (think Elizabeth Zimmerman and you'll have a clear picture). While Eliza is at the retirement home she meets the young and beautiful Abigail through knitting. Eliza becomes Abigail's knitting mentor. Abigail's knitting career takes off due to Eliza's guidance. They are fast friends. Abigail becomes a knitting book author and gives all of the credit to Eliza.

When Eliza passes away she leaves a small cottage and the surrounding land to Abigail. The small cottage and land happen to be a part of the bigger sheep ranch that Cade inherits at Eliza's passing. Abigail is saddened by the loss of her friend and mentor but is happy to leave a tumultuous life behind and move to the cottage to write and knit in peace. She knows nothing much about Cade and vice versa.

When Abigail shows up to claim her cottage and land, Cade is nothing short of angry about his new land co-owner. Then all chaos breaks loose!

The book has twists and turns and although you might be able to figure out who will be standing at the end it is still fun getting there. There is adventure, romance, story-telling, knitting and good old-fashioned fun in these pages.

Let me warn you though, it is a romance novel. There are definitely steamy scenes sprinkled throughout the book. This book is R rated for sure. It is not for kids in any way, shape or form. My blog is usually G rated and squeaky clean so that is why I want to put out this warning!

I really enjoyed reading How to Knit a Love Song. I especially love it because it is written by a blogger and a knitter who I have known (in the blogging sense) for years. It has touched me to hear and see how excited and proud Rachael is of her book.

Congratulations to Rachael. I loved your book and recommend it to anyone who loves a good romance novel and knitting. You don't even have to be a knitter to enjoy it. It is a light, fun and fast read. It was hard to put down once I started.

I emailed Rachael to ask if I could hold a giveaway for a copy of How to Knit a Love Song on my blog. I actually asked for her publicist's email but Rachael offered to sponsor the giveaway herself! Since she is sending out the book to the winner she offered to sign the book as well! How cool is that?

Leave a comment on this post to win a signed copy of How to Knit a Love Song! Please only enter once, leave an identifying something on the comment (name, link, ravelry id, email)! This makes it easier for me to contact the winner to get a mailing address. I will pick a winner in a few days or so. I will then post the winning comment so be sure to check back.

Enter quick! You will love it!
Good luck!
best, susie
p.s. There is a sweater pattern included at the end. Abigail knits a sweater throughout the story and then you get the pattern for the same sweater!
p.p.s. Rachael has done 2 podcast interviews that I have listened to: Knitcast and The Knitmore Girls. They are both wonderful interviews!

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Can you ImagiKnit?

Hi Knitters,
While I was in San Francisco I had a quick moment to visit the wonderful yarn shop, ImaginKnit. I had popped on their site to find the address and to make note of anything unusual about the shop before my stop but I really had no idea what to expect. ImagiKnit is on a corner and the street going up the side of the shop is incredibly steep. See how it looks pretty unassuming from the outside?
I was happy to be greeted with Blue Sky Alpacas Pretty Cheep Bags hanging across the front window. Those bags are the best for storing little projects and whatnot.
I found the Spud & Chloë right away. That's the Sweater yarn above. However....
um, yeah. Have you ever seen so much yarn in your life? I mean talk about inventory. ImagiKnit has it ALL. First off, the store is really like two stores. It is huge and spacious. Secondly, every inch is covered with gorgeous yarn and I think it is organized by fiber? or was it yarn weight? I know they had a sock yarn area and a bulky weight area. Anyway, there was lots of staff on-hand to help and they were super nice and friendly. I asked if they minded if I took some photographs before I started snapping away.
They had Blue Sky Alpacas, Spud & Chloë, Madeline Tosh, Yarn Collage (remember from a couple posts ago?), Manos, Malabrigo, Classic Elite, Debbie Bliss, Noro.... the list goes on forever and a day. Click here to see their extensive yarn selection. It is fantastic.
There is comfortable seating all over the place, couches, chairs, tables. There is a homey feel, very comfortable. I was very much struck by the number of knitted samples that were placed all over the shop. They had knitted hats, tables (literally) of sweaters, scarves, blankets, afghans, etc.
TC liked this wall of fun. On the floor behind her is one of those cool cashmere scarf kits. I should have bought one. Darn it. I have looked at those many times and then I never get one in the end. The kit contains enough cashmere yarn for a good sized scarf and 7 different pattern options. I have never knitted with straight cashmere and I only own one cashmere sweater. This is something I really want to try. I would get the pink scarf kit if I had the chance again. Oh well, things come and go. They have men's and women's versions available. Maybe I'd get black instead of pink.
This is the room when you walk in the front doors. See the cement floor? Love that.
Oh, I found the Spud & Chloë Outer, too. Love that Outer so much. In fact, I can't get enough of it. This is the top seller of the Spud & Chloë line and I understand why.
This is the second room of ImagiKnit. It is just as good as the first. This is the room with the tables with samples stacked up very high. I was really impressed. They had a lot of baby items displayed, too. See how they have two mannequins set up with men's knitwear? Pretty unusual.
Now you can see the walls in the second room. There were also lots of accessories and needles and bags to choose from. The options are endless in ImagiKnit. The staff was really friendly and welcoming. I enjoyed meeting them.
They even carry the Spud & Chloë pencil bags right along with the Blue Sky Pretty Cheep Bags. Both are terrific to store little things.
The second column of shelves from the right houses my favorite cotton, Blue Sky Worsted Cotton! They have the new Multi along with the organic and dyed cottons. What a vast selection they offer.
Do you see the wall of button tubes on the left? TC and I spent a long time looking at the button selection. Incredible. Oh, and who is that big guy sitting at the table reading a pattern? Someone better call security! Just kidding, that's my husband who is a man with a whole lot of patience, bless his heart.
Okay, so this last photo is something kind of cool and different ImagiKnit offers. Malabrigo sends sample or trial new colors of their yarns to this shop. Sometimes the colors become regular colors and sometimes they don't! Katelyn told me that they get sent bags of Unknown colors that can't be found anywhere else. That's what the unk on the label above means.

Great shop, great area, great city! Can't go wrong. I bought a skein of Madeline Tosh sock yarn in a lovely mix of greens and TC got a ball of pink fluffy stuff, super bulky weight (not sure of the brand).

Oh, and they had lots and lots of my books (Itty-Bitty Toys and Hats) and I signed them all! If you want an autographed copy you should give them a call or stop by to grab one. I met Jonah at the register when I was buying my yarn and he was really nice to meet. I think he is the manager.

You should definitely check out ImagiKnit if you are in the area.

3897 18th St. (at Sanchez)
San Francisco, CA 94114
(415) 621-6642
Monday-Saturday 11-6:30, Sunday 11-4
ImagiKnit - san francisco

This week is flying by, right?
Talk to you soon.
best, susie
p.s. I bought this pattern for a scarf. You might like it, too.

Monday, April 05, 2010

1477 McAllister St.

Edited to add the link for renting information: Click here to find out how!

Hi Knitters,
I have to share with you the amazing flat we lived in for a few days while we were in San Francisco. We all absolutely adored this fresh and homey spot. As we pulled up the owner's mother was outside sweeping the steep steps leading up to the humongous red door of our flat. She was French and lovely and welcoming. The houses were all connected in a row, sharing walls. It was picturesque and colorful. We couldn't wait to get inside.

Above you'll see my girls sitting at the table. We spent a lot of the time we were in the house at this table. TC is working on a latch hook square that is a swirled rainbow of sorts, you can see my knitting bag filled with yarn from Knitty City on the table and my other daughter (and all of us) spent loads of time reading on this trip. I love the fact that we are all such lovers of books. It was so quiet and fun at that table.
The ceilings were about 12 feet high which was wonderful for my 6'5" husband. That must feel so good to him, I can't imagine. The walls were painted a soothing green and soft shades of white. We were struck by the incredibly long narrow hallway sprinkled with so many doorways. At the back end of the hall was the kitchen and dining table, a nook-like area.
At the front end of the hall was a sitting room that was warm, gorgeous and comfy. The decor was sparse but clever and sort of just right. Thoughtful you might say.
The high ceilings were adorned with chandeliers, some with missing lightbulbs, but all with incredible moldings. The detail took my breath away. There were enormous pocket doors and secret passages that connected all of the rooms. The doors never seemed to close all of the way or just right but that added to the fun.
There were large windows and nooks everywhere. You can see the cables that run over all of the streets for the cable cars. I think after awhile you wouldn't see the cables but I noticed them every time I was walking or driving around the city. It is like living under a web of wires.
Books were stacked horizontally on most of the shelves. It was interesting. The floors in the rooms had old worn hardwood that I loved.
The flight of stair coming from the front door had this railing along the top. The hallway went in both directions from the top. My kids talked about counting all of the stairs but I never heard a number. It wasn't even the number of stairs so much as how incredibly steep they seemed.
This was looking down and out the front door. You always seemed to be going up or down in this city.
The kitchen was modern and clean and roomy. I especially loved the faucet. It was a statement. The double doors just beyond the sink held a full-size washer and dryer. Every inch of the flat was used in the most economic way possible.We had a tiny balcony off the dining area which I loved. Everything is so tight and compact but people get very creative with small spaces in true city living. I love the blue laced spiral staircase next door and their courtyard with toys strewn about. My kids were intrigued at the thought of having the little tiled space as your backyard. We saw kids playing catch on the sidewalks by our house. People adapt and make due wherever they live and that's what makes the world go round. I love that.
Looking down on the other side of the balcony was a postage-sized zen garden. It oozed a meditation-like feeling. It was beautiful. I am obsessed with the cracked cement and the green cushiony covering on the ground. Look at the vibrant green next to the gray. The leafy vines and ornaments added to the peaceful feel of this tiny space.
Every space had something interesting to look at or to think about. These beautiful natural rocks sat on the window ledge in the bathroom. I loved this thoughtful touch. I wonder where the rocks were from. Since I was a child I have been enamored by rocks. Love the rocks for some unknown reason. Look at those rustic colors all in a row. Perfection.
The doors above were the bathroom double doors from inside of the bathroom. They really didn't close right and they certainly didn't lock. It was kind of funny. My older daughter didn't like that fact at all. However, the shower swept you away. It was like standing in a sweet, warm rainfall. It made you feel so good.
Here is our gigantic front door. Love the deep shade of red. Love doors in general. They hold all of the stories inside.
The freshly swept steps going down from the front door were the best. The kids bounded up and down taking several steps at a time. Look at the checkered cement sidewalk. Delicious. Cement.
There were flowers everywhere. We were only a block or two from Alamo Square. There was a huge tree blocking the view of our house from the street so I couldn't get a great direct shot. There was a tiny garage and steep short driveway.
These houses were right next door and our house looked similar to these. I don't know the exact age of our house but I love all of the Victorian painting and colors in the neighborhood.

San Francisco is colorful in its buildings and in its people. There is fantastic eye candy everywhere you turn. I could hardly soak it all in. I was in love with all of it.
Perspective is everything. We all loved our flat in San Francisco so much. I would go back anytime and I hope it happens someday soon. We were on the run the entire time just trying to see and experience everything the city had to offer. I would love to have a longer time to stay in San Francisco in the future.

By the way, there were people on the streets wearing incredible knitwear at every turn. Long looping scarves worn loose or wrapped several times and scrunchy hats both knit and crochet were all the rage. More to come on the knitting scene later....

More to share soon!
Have a super Tuesday, Knitters.
best, susie