Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Knit Simple Holiday Winners!

Hi Knitters,
I am happy to present the 10 winners of the Knit Simple Holiday Issue 2010, all randomly selected this morning:
betz white

Congrats to all of the winners! A special congratulations to mellypea as she is the winner of the Spud & Chloë Sweater, 1 skein each in Toast, Watermelon and Ice Cream, to make the Bunny! I have already messaged on Ravelry or emailed all 10 winners. You have a couple of days to get back to me with your mailing address. If I don't hear from you I will be selecting a new winner from the comment pool.

Thanks to all of you for entering. Wow, that response was totally unexpected. My head is still spinning.
I love to share a little bit of the behind the scenes action. That's the stuff I always love the most. I mentioned that I had a lunch with Carla Scott, Renee Lorion, and Faith Hale where I was presented with this project. As soon as I heard about the Woodland Animals story I couldn't wait to get started. The first thing we needed to do was pick the projects I would be designing. There are so many woodland creatures to choose from. We had initially talked about making three bears using the same pattern but differing weights of yarn to change the size of the finished bear.
You can see that my sketch started with the three bears idea. Next, I moved on with a fuzzy-tailed squirrel with a couple of acorns thrown in. At this point I didn't plan on a reversible toy for the squirrel but later added the hedgehog to make a reversible or flip toy. Carla Scott wanted some sort of a toy with a twist for the mini-collection. Following my leaf path, I've always wanted to make a red fox and here was my chance.
You know I love the bunnies. I always think of a woodland bunny scurrying away as you walk on a forest path. I really wanted to include a different bunny than I had done before. I have designed so many bunnies, probably dozens, but I can't ever get enough it seems. The little owls ended up being my three-part project instead of the bears. The owls use the same pattern only with color variations that include stripes, simple fair isle and two-toned color work.

I wanted to do something teeny-tiny so I threw in the snail at the bottom of my sketch. Forests are filled with tiny creatures crawling under leaves and fallen tree branches. Snails also remind me of woodland fairy scenes. The snail didn't make the final cut along with the bears. I'll save those for another time.
These are the actual photos of my sketchbook that I sent off to the Soho Publishing/Knit Simple offices for review. I don't have a working scanner so I often just take photos and send those on when I need approval for projects or whatnot.

When I look back at my scratchy initial sketches I am always surprised at how much my drawings look like the actual finished projects. I don't really refer too much or at all to the sketches once I start knitting and pattern writing. The sketches must become embedded in my head somehow.

The shots of the animals in a row are so adorable. The one I showed on the last post included the reversible Hedgehog to Squirrel with the Squirrel showing so this one shows the Hedgehog at the end of the line.
I have some fun links for you to end this post. I have been gathering and gathering.
First, here are the ravelry project page links for the Knit Simple Holiday Issue 2010 Woodland Animal Story:

Here are some miscellaneous links:
Are you watching this blog? I am and it's worth mentioning again. Mila's Daydreams. I want to see her setting up these scenes on video while the baby is sleeping.

Jasmine from Knitmore Girls is in this documentary. You can only watch a bit at this point but it looks really fun. I want to see the whole thing.

Landslide by Fleetwood Mac on YouTube, makes me sad every time. (Annoying short ad at the start but keep watching.)

I have to make a batch of these very soon. I think I got this link from another favorite, Hello Yarn.

I was saddened to hear of Melissa Matthay's passing at the Madison Knitters Guild meeting earlier this month. A gasp went through the crowd as it was announced. Here is a cool after-thought pocket video tutorial from her. She was a very talented knitter.

Did you know that the fabulous knitter, Erika Knight, designed the Vancouver Olympic parade wear for the British Olympic Team? I think that is incredibly cool! Check it out here.

That's it for now.
best, susie

Friday, September 24, 2010

Huge Knit Simple Giveaway!

Edited to add on Sept. 29, 2010: The contest is now closed! No more entries are being accepted.

Hi Knitters,
First off, I want to tell you something exciting. Yesterday I asked Renee Lorion, an editor and designer for Soho Publishing, if I could host a magazine giveaway for the holiday issue Knit Simple on my blog. She quickly wrote back that I could giveaway 10 issues to my blog readers! If you are interested, see the end of the post to enter. I have an added surprise I am throwing into the prize pot to make it even juicier.

I am so excited to finally see a project I worked on hard and long last spring and summer in print. When I was in NYC last March I had the honor of going out for lunch with Carla Scott (editor in chief), Faith Hale (associate editor) and Renee Lorion (yarn editor), Knit Simple magazine. At lunch Carla asked if I would be interested in working on a woodland animal story for their holiday issue. I immediately said yes. I wanted to start working on it right there and then. The extra cool thing is that I was also asked to write an article for magazine and I have an interview included as well and I worked on a tutorial for the Little Owls project. All of this covers 8 beautifully shot and presented pages in the magazine.

I will show more about this project from my perspective and the inside pages of the magazine in a few upcoming posts but today I want to share with you the magazine photos of the projects first.
Bunny is a sweet little friend who can sit in your hands. He is made out of Spud & Chloë Sweater in Toast, Watermelon and a tiny bit of Ice Cream for the tail.

Click here for the Ravelry project page for Bunny!
I moved on to the Hedgehog to Squirrel reversible or flip toy. Here is side one with a sweet little hedghog....
which turns inside out to become this fancy gray squirrel. This is one of the best reversibles I have made. The little acorns are made separately and they are just as cute on their own. This project is made out of Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran.

Click here for the Ravelry project page for Hedgehog/Squirrel!
I have always wanted to make a fox and here was my chance. I love how he turned out, especially the skinny legs and round little paws. This friend is made out of Plymouth Worsted Merino Superwash.

Click here for the Ravelry project page for Red Fox!
Little Owls is a tiny project with the body and head and ears being worked up in one piece. Then the extra are added on. This is a quick knit as the owls are quite small. These hoots are knit up in Blue Sky Worsted Cotton.

Click here for the Ravelry project page for Little Owls!
These are my favorite photos. The Woodland Animals from the front!
This shot is the best, the Woodland Animals from the back! I don't know why but I love seeing them all lined up like this.
Group shot!

The entire magazine is packed full of fantastic projects for everyone in your family or your group of friends. Men, women, children, home... it's all included. This issue is huge. There are 45 projects included. There are sweaters, pillows, hats, mittens, vests, toys, scarves. I love so many of the projects. Knit Simple is the best at pulling together a collection of completely fun and fashionable knits that are at the same time practical and do-able! I really mean that.

I will be randomly selecting 10 winners to receive a copy of Knit Simple Holiday 2010!

Here is an added bonus, one of the winners will receive the yarn for the for the Bunny project made out of Spud & Chloë Sweater!

It is a huge giveaway and I am incredibly happy to be able to share this with all of you. To enter please leave a comment on this blog post. Leave some sort of identifying something, most preferably your email address or your Ravelry name! This makes it easy for me to contact you to collect your mailing address. Please only enter one time.

Okay friends, I will close out the giveaway in a short while so go to it! Be sure to check back as I will be posting my behind the scenes photos and insight into these new patterns over the next days.
best, susie

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Birthday Boy

Hi Knitters,
My second son turned 17 years old last weekend. That suddenly sounds old. Why does 17 sound so much older than 16? It's not right. We had a fun family-filled day together to celebrate his birthday. It was a day of eating good food, lots of outdoor time and simply being together. That's my favorite.

I have to say that birthdays get harder as the kids get older. I can't explain it exactly. It's like you hear the clock ticking. As my children grow into young adults I just look at them with amazement. I somehow can't believe the young man standing next to me is actually my child. Parenting is hard, hard work but the pay off is like nothing else.

This birthday boy is full of endless surprises and interests and creative endeavors. He has a boundless energy that he dedicates to his interests so easily. I admire that. He is full of life. That is the best way to describe him. He never shies away from a challenge or from hard work. He pitches in without being asked. I love that. He is inspiring to be around.

In the morning I hugged and kissed my big, warm, rumpled teenager right when he woke up to wish him a happy birthday. Nowadays I have to reach way up to get my arms around his neck. Every year on the kids' birthdays I always tell them that the dates of their births signify the best four days of my life. I want them to know. I am simply glad they are here.

Edited right after I wrote this post to add:
I just got off the phone with this son calling from school. Here is how the conversation went:

Son: Hi, Ma. I volunteered to bring a snack tomorrow for homeroom. I thought I'd let you know early. (He considers noon the day before to be early:).

Me: Okay, I'll think of something. Have a good afternoon.

Son: Oh, and the snack has to start with the letter B. I gotta go. Bye.

Me: What? Wait the letter B? How many do you need?

Son: Not very many, maybe 30-40. Bye. I've got class.

That sums it up. And yes, he calls me Ma.
Now for some knitting, Peachy finished her first hat. It is knit in Blue Sky Worsted Cotton in about the best shade of pink on earth, Lotus #617. Truly. She is very proud. We sat and watched Elf (our favorite movie) together the other night and I helped her finish the top of her hat. She decided on the stem and leaf to top it off.

She's already started her second hat in a dusky shade of pale blue called Sky in the Blue Sky Worsted Cotton. It is a beautiful color.
Miss Molly (my oldest son's girlfriend) has more knitting progress to report as well. She finished her first scarf in no time at all. Super bulky Spud & Chloë Outer in Soapstone, 3 skeins, US size 17 needles, 14 stitches cast on, worked in garter stitch are the perfect ingredients for a cozy winter scarf. This is the best beginner scarf ever. How cute is she? I can't get over it.
Miss Molly has also finished up her third baby hat. This one is the Multi-Cotton from Blue Sky in Gherkin (love that). It has the most gorgeous shades of green. We added a sweet stem and leaf on this one, too.

Miss Molly already has another adult-sized hat on the needles in Spud & Chloë Sweater in Turtle. She has now learned how to purl so she can do a ribbed edging. On fire.

I love to see the young ones eating up the knitting. What is it about knitting that captures the curiosity in people? I want to bottle that up somehow.
best, susie

Friday, September 17, 2010

A Fine Fall Day

Hi Knitters,
Thank you all for entering the book giveaway. Congratulations goes out to the randomly selected winner of the Ohio Knitting Mills Knitting Book:

Blogger the chanses said...

Be still my heart! I would love this book!
September 14, 2010
The Collector and I took a glorious hike through our neighborhood conservancy last week and I thought I would share the highlights of our time together.
A peek of fall.
The loss of summer.
The wheat grass taller than tall.
Apples bursting on a crystal blue sky.
The secret lace sprinkled path,
Leads us to our tiny, peaceful park.
The ancient teeter-totter once again.
A better view can't be found.
A good squeeze of a squishy little hand.
Nature's other snowflakes brighten the path.
Gorgeous greens and crunchy browns, mixed.

Have a beautiful fall weekend.
best, susie

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Ohio Knitting Mills Knitting Book Giveaway

Hi Knitters,
A couple of years ago or so I was visiting my publisher, Artisan Books, and my editor pulled out a box of sweaters for me to look at. As I looked over a few of the original sweater samples from the 1940's-1970's I became completely fascinated with this future knitting book. I loved holding the original and fantastically vintage knits in the office that day. The sweaters looked exactly like something my stylish mother would have worn during my childhood. How I loved her clothes back in the day. She was so chic. Anyway, I couldn't wait to see the finished book and my day has come!

With this initial introduction in mind I'd like to present to you, The Ohio Knitting Mills Knitting Book. It's a knitting book with a unique twist. Here is the blurb on the back book flap about Steven Tatar, the author:

Cleveland sculptor Steven Tatar was hunting for scrap metal when he stumbled upon the now shuttered Ohio Knitting Mills. He bought the company's sweater archive and opened Ohio Knitting Mills, a stylish Brooklyn storefront, where for two years he sold vintage knits that had never been worn. He now sells limited-edition sweaters on his web site, Ohio Knitting Mills.

Basically to boil the story down a bit, Cleveland for many decades housed garment makers, including the Ohio Knitting Mills. The OKM, for short, made knitwear for stores and brands like Sears, Saks Fifth Avenue, Pendleton and hundreds of other labels. Steven Tatar discovered a large amount of mint-condition knitwear when he acquired the mill in 2005.

The Ohio Knitting Mills Knitting Book has taken 26 of these original knitwear pieces and breathed a fresh and modern day adaptation into each of them. Each of the original pieces has been given new life with a design twist that updates the look but always keeps true to the vintage feel of the original. Patterns and schematics and instructions are provided for each of the patterns.

This is a wonderful, historical and beautifully crafted book. I just love the book design. I think it is timely as well. There is always an interest in vintage and retro fashion but I feel like there has been a definite resurgence of this trend as of late. The photography really captures the updated and modern flair given to the knitwear.
Each pattern has the original knitwear piece in an inset photo with a description and the year it was made. The example above is one of my favorites in the book. I would love to have this sweater in my wardrobe. The original design was for the winter collection from 1956. Each pattern has a description that explains its place in fashion history as a project introduction. The book is a good read along with the patterns. It is very interesting.

On a side note, the talented Kristin Nicholas wrote the instructions for the embroidery work on several of the projects. You can't get better than that. She is the embroidery expert like no other. What a bonus.
This original sweater is from 1972. I love the modern shape of the new version. The original had a drawstring waist on a long tunic shape. The new version is a much more flattering option that would look great on many body types.
The book offers a scarf, a hat, a bag and a couple of dresses as well as sweaters for both men and women.

How about that dress on the cover shot? It is stunning. I'll tell you what, when I was younger and thinner I would have knit that dress in an instant. Then I would have been wearing it with the black tights and a pair of black Mary Jane's all over town. I kid you not.
This one is from 1967 and the original is timeless. I love this sweater! This is going on my to do list for sure.
There is a lot of historical information and entertaining photos.
I love the photo pages of the original sweaters all lined up. Here are the good and golden ski sweaters of the 1950's. I can't ever get enough of the old stuff.
The instruction and technique support is thorough and helpful.
"Vintage-inspired projects updated for the modern knitter" sums the book up perfectly.

Steven Tatar did a guest spot on WGN in Chicago a couple of weeks ago. It is a fun clip because he brought along lots of projects from the book, both old and new. He did a great job.

If you'd like to win a copy of The Ohio Knitting Mills Knitting book please leave a comment on this blog post! Please only enter once and please leave your email or Ravelry name on your comment so I can easily contact you for your mailing address if you win. I will randomly select a winner in a few days.

Good luck.
best, susie

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Knitting Knirvana

Hi Knitters,
This is my friend, Suzanne. She came to my book signing at Knitty City in NYC last March. She is so much fun and although I felt like I have known her online there is nothing better than to get to be with someone in person. We had so much fun at that event.

Suzanne is a fabulous and talented knitter. She is the moderator for the Itty-Bitty Knits group on Ravelry. I feel so lucky to have such a good person helping to oversee this smart group of charitable and supportive knitters. She does an excellent job.

Suzanne had an exciting week. An article she wrote got picked up by Yahoo News and it is worth a read. She is talking about her time living in New York as a social worker and how 9/11 effected her and her work and how this tragic event continues to play a part in her life today. I was touched to see that in the article she talks about her journey back to NYC to see an author at a book signing. That photo of us together is of that day she describes in her writing.

Next, Suzanne started a video podcast on her blog. Click here to go to her blog.

You can watch her podcast right on her blog or you can hop over to youtube to watch it, which is what I did so I could watch full screen.

I just had to share the news about Suzanne, Knitting Knirvana, she is a good one to watch and follow. I can't wait to see what she does next.
best, susie

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Just Because

Hi Knitters,

This next one wouldn't let me embed the video for you so click here to see another gem!
best, susie

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

A Blanket for Peachy

Hi Knitters,
Do you remember Peachy's squares from a long time ago? Peachy loves to go to the knitting group with our neighbors which she has done for the last couple of years or more. Over these years she has knitted square after square at the knitting group but I know that she mainly goes for the cookies and hot chocolate and fun with her friends. I can relate to that.

I finally pulled out her squares and rectangles and oblong shapes again as I had promised her I would help pull them together into a blanket of sorts. The squares had been hiding in a bucket in my closet for many months. The shame.
Let me tell you that putting this blanket together wasn't an easy task. The squares had no real rhyme or reason and to get them to form into a blanket took some serious prep work and figuring out. I decided in order to get a little more consistency I would first add two rounds of single crochet around the edges of each square. This helped so much. I wove in all of the ends at this point as well.

After each square had the crochet edging in place I steamed, pulled and stretched it to form a square or really more of a rectangular shape. The squares became so neat and tidy and Peachy was beyond excited about all of the progress. She couldn't believe how good her knitting looked. She is so funny about it like there is no expectation at all. I set out all of the pieces on the kitchen table and I was pretty pleased to see that the funny little squares would actually form a blanket.

Next I set out crocheting the squares together using a slip stitch seam which made a fantastic little decorative ridge. I love the ridges. First I crocheted the horizontal seams together and then the vertical seams together.
Seam, seam, seaming..... You can see the horizontal slip stitch seams (the camera angle makes them look vertical here) and the open vertical seams.
Now I've got the seams finished and running both ways. Peachy used all sorts of yarn for her squares. There is wool, acrylic, blends of all sorts and even a little sparkly yarn thrown in. Some were yarns she picked up at the knitting group and some were from balls she picked out from home, various yarn shops locally and also from shops we visited while on vacation. Her squares tell many stories.
After all of the seams were complete I went on to add three rounds of single crochet around the entire outer edge. This made the blanket really come together.

By the way, crochet makes my hands hurt in the most awful way. I couldn't wait to put the hook down. I don't know what that is all about.
Peachy is thrilled with the outcome of her hard work. She has decided to keep her blanket and now has it proudly displayed on her bed. I don't blame her for keeping the blanket. It took her years to make all of those squares and I think it is sweet that she wants to hang onto her work. Peachy is not a passionate crafter but will join in on occasion and that is why this blanket seems like a monumental achievement for her.

Will she start another? That is yet to be determined.
best, susie