Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Fairy Gardens & My TC

Hi Knitters,
The winner of Loop-d-Loop Lace is....

EllenLBishop (rav id)

Congratulations to Ellen and thank you all for entering. I'll have another giveaway very soon. I already have the next book picked out and it is a good one.

Now, many years ago TC became enchanted with fairies. I thought it might be a passing fancy but this interest has stood the test of time so far. She still reads her fairy books (and this one and especially this one), collects fairy items and as soon as spring hits she starts planning her fairy garden.
My sister and I went out for lunch a few weeks ago. After lunch we wandered into a lovely little florist/gift shop next to the restaurant. We couldn't believe the tiny fairy garden furniture we stumbled upon. A couple weeks later we met again for lunch and this time we bought a bunch of the items for TC's upcoming birthday.

My sister bought TC the arch which is probably the best piece of the bunch.
Next, Peachy and I went to a garden supply shop and bought stones for paths, moss and other ground coverings and two bird baths (these were only $10 each - a steal). All of these gifts were purchased with the intention that TC would go to town creating her own tiny fairy gardens.
TC has been diligently working on her fairy gardens over the last week or so. She has mapped out and carefully placed her new fairy items.
One of the bird baths is complete as of yesterday. If you look closely at the photo above you can see the gardening tools like a shovel and rake and a watering can on the moss by the tiny bird bath.
I think the patio furniture is my favorite.
TC's neighbor friend has been helping her out with the bird bath fairy project. They are so cute and busy working together in the back yard. I love it so much that I don't disturb them at all while they are working. I don't want to interrupt their creativity. Watching their passion and willingness to work for long stretches at a time gives me so much joy. It truly is the simple things in life that bring happiness (and a good project always helps).

TC and this sweet friend pooled their money together a couple of summers ago to purchase some fairy figurines to put in the larger fairy garden. They are using a few of these same figurines in the bird bath fairy gardens, too.
Here is the start of the second fairy garden. This time she chose to do a border around the outside with her ground coverings.
I also got a few really inexpensive solar lights (about 80 cents per light) to put in the garden for TC's birthday. They are really cool because they glow at night in her garden.
TC spends a lot of time watering and taking care of her fairy gardens and now our new vegetable garden as well. She can often be found in the vegetable garden staking the plants that are getting unruly and bent over weeding or watering. She is a caretaker.
It has been fun to see the love of nature and gardens grow in TC. I think this one will stick with her and become a lifelong passion. It is in her blood and comes from generations before her.
I couldn't resist the fairy house from the gift shop as well. It is a wonderful sight at night because the solar light right behind the house makes it glow. The other night we had a bonfire in our backyard and she pointed the glowing fairy house out to me.

We both smiled at the unintentional goodness.


best, susie
p.s. TC likes to look at fairy garden images here.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Loop-d-Loop Lace Giveaway

Edited to add on June 29th, 2011: The giveaway is now closed and no further entries are being taken. Thanks to all for entering.

Hi Knitters,
Way back when I first started my blog in 2006 I posted this photo. This is my seven-year-old TC in her Loop-d-Loop sweater called, Child's Geek Spiral Pullover. She wore this sweater so much for a couple of years. I made it in the 4-6 size and had to add on to the borders to make it bigger. TC loved this sweater so much. She wore it to play in soccer games, to school, to snuggle on the couch at home, pretty much everywhere we went. It was her favorite. I washed it constantly. This sweater is still hanging in TC's closet today as one to save.

The pattern for this cotton chenille sweater is in Teva Durham's first book, Loop-d-Loop. I was completely in love with this book for a long time after it came out in 2005. Now, pulling it back out to look through again today, it still stands the test of time. Teva pushed the boundaries of traditional knitting. She twisted and turned ordinary knit items and made them extraordinary. In 2005 she broke ground for other knitting books like this one but no one has done it better. Teva was a first and I'll never forget the excitement I felt when I first got my hands on Loop-d-Loop. It was a thrill.

I did get to meet Teva briefly while she was signing books at TNNA a couple of weeks ago. Really, I walked past her sitting in a booth signing reserved books after her book signing. When I realized it was her I stopped in my tracks, turned around and introduced myself to her. I wanted to tell her what a fan I am of her work. That was an understatement. Teva is a genius, a stitch architect, a ground-breaking knitter extraordinaire. I didn't say that to her but I will say it here.

Teva's book, Loop-d-Loop, made me want to write knitting books.
Since her first book Teva wrote Loop-d-Loop Crochet, which is also a fantastic book, and now her new book Loop-d-Loop Lace.
Click here for more details on Loop-d-Loop.

I love my stack of Loop-d-Loop books. All three books are elegant and sophisticated. The designs are inspiring. The books are big and jam-packed and wonderful.
Today I am going to share a bit of Teva Durham's newest book, Loop-d-Loop Lace. The book is divided into chapters that focus on different types of lace: mesh, eyelets, samplers, leaves and doilies.
(photo by Adrian Buckmaster)
The book has more than 30 designs that include shawls, scarves, sweaters, skirts, cardigans, hats, socks, home decor, bags, capelets...

The design above is called the Smocked Border Triangle Shawl. It is a beauty.

(photo by Adrian Buckmaster)
I have a couple of ottomans I'd like to knit over at my house. I love this one. It is called, Split Leaves Ottoman.
(photo by Adrian Buckmaster)
My favorite chapter in the book is titled, Leaf. This is one of the many projects that has a leaf motif, called Palm Leaf Wrap.

(photo by Adrian Buckmaster)
For each project Teva tells the story behind the design, what inspired her and how the final design came to be. They are always interesting stories and they make you look at the design differently. Don't skim over this part of the book. I love the insight Teva shares.

The cover design (above) is called, Milanese Shower Bolero. It is made in Blue Sky Organic Cotton. I'd like to knit this one up. It looks so comfortable and sweet.

(photo by Adrian Buckmaster)
Here is another leaf inspired project. It is called the Embossed Leaves Wrap. It's so pretty.

(photo by Adrian Buckmaster)
Above are the Interlocking Squares Pillow and Bolster. I never thought of making lace pillows. I love the geometric lace pattern in this design.

I enjoy this book so much. The range of projects is spectacular. The book is gorgeous and artistic and a lovely addition to my library. I can't imagine the amount of work that went into creating Loop-d-Loop Lace.

If you would like a copy of Loop-d-Loop Lace by Teva Durham please leave a comment on this post. Please do not email me and please only enter once. Also, please leave an email address or your Ravelry ID so I can easily get in touch with you if you win. I will gather your mailing address at that time.

I'll be back in a short while with a winner!

Good luck.
best, susie

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

All Around Chicago

Hi Knitters,
I want to give a brief recap of my tour stop in Chicago last Friday. I was lucky enough to have my husband come with me for the day which made it even more fun. He was so helpful and it was good to have him around. He took lots of photos in the studio for the WGN Midday Fix segment. If you missed my live TV segment here is the link to watch it online:

We didn't have too much time to spare when we arrived. I was whisked in to set up and get a microphone on. The producer kept insisting that I knit something. I told him that I hadn't planned on knitting during the segment but he wouldn't let up on the idea. I had to pull the needles out of a sock I had with me by chance. I found a tiny ball of Spud & Chloë Fine in my bag by chance as well. I quickly cast on about 15 stitches and started doing some garter stitch rows.

During the short teasers for the segment he wanted me to knit something, too. Above you can see me knitting on the tiny swatch I started only a minute or two before he started filming the teaser. I did knit during the two teasers but I didn't knit anything during the actual segment.
It's kind of fun to get a behind the scenes look at a TV studio. It always looks so different when you are watching on TV.
My husband enjoyed seeing the whole thing in progress.
It went fine and fast. We were over and done at WGN by noon.
Our next event wasn't until 5pm so we took advantage of the few free hours we had. The WGN studio is very close to Wrigley Field where the Cubs play. A game happened to be starting around the same time we were there. We drove through the crowds of fans flocking into the game. It wasn't fun driving through but the people watching was great.
We headed to Navy Pier which is a tourist-y type spot in downtown Chicago. It was a beautiful day.
It was pretty crowded. We had a nice lunch at an outdoor cafe overlooking the lake. Then we just took to walking around the city.
We spent a bit of time walking up and down Michigan Avenue, one of my favorite Chicago streets. It was beautiful with all of the flowers and store windows. We had a good time and even picked up a Father's Day gift for my husband's father. That worked out well.

Then we were off again to Nina: a well-knit shop for a book signing and meet and greet event.
Click here for Nina's website!

Nina, the owner of this unique knit shop, really knows how to put on an event. She carries all of the Blue Sky Alpacas and Spud & Chloë line, which are her shop's best sellers. This is the perfect place to order from if you don't have a local shop carrying these yarn lines. Nina's doesn't have an online shop but you can call and place an order directly anytime!

Phone number for Nina: a well-knit shop: 773.486.8996

Nina had asked me to bring some of the projects from Itty-Bitty Toys, Itty-Bitty Nursery and Itty-Bitty Hats, as well as the Spud & Chloë at the Farm trunk show, which was the star of the event. It was fun to revisit some of those older projects from previous books.
The shop is sleek and modern and very well-organized.
We set up the farm front and center. They all looked so cute waiting to greet their guests.
Nina had snacks and refreshments. It was lovely.
The staff set up projects throughout the shop. They are incredibly friendly and enthusiastic.
The shop had Spud & Chloë and Blue Sky projects worked up and on display. The vest above is the Spud & Chloë Camp Hoodie I designed. I love the colors they used in this version.
There were lots of knitters who brought their toys to show me during the event. This is Maggie and she happily shared her Spud and Brown Cow. They turned out great! I love her Spud because she made the twisted loops extra long and it felt so wonderful to hold. That wooly coat had a life of its own.

This is baby Ian and his mom. She came to my last signing event at Nina's where she was pregnant with Ian. I remembered her and it was good to see her and the baby again. She made the Giraffe from Itty-Bitty Toys out of Spud & Chloë Sweater. The Sweater yarn has the perfect colors for this project. Ian kept chewing on the giraffe's ear which was funny.

This is plynn (rav id) or better known as Pat. Plynn is one of my buddies on Ravelry. She made a road trip to Nina's with her friend Pam. It was good to meet them both. Pam runs a knitting charity organization called, Halos of Hope. It is a non-profit organization. It started small and has grown into a full-time job for Pam. I loved hearing about her charity work which focuses on providing knit hats and other items to cancer patients all over the country. The focus is also on individuals, groups and hospitals that don't normally get a lot of attention, more off the beaten path. That is a good thing.

The event was well attended with knitters of all sorts, grandmas, young moms, kids, babies, newlyweds who knit toys for their ring bearers and flower girls (I met two young women who did this for their weddings). I signed lots of books and armloads of yarn was sold. It got so busy that I didn't get a chance to take any photos for the main part of the event.

The mom and son above in the photo came in right at the end and shared their knit piglet from Spud & Chloë at the Farm. That was fun to see. I think I met at least four Giraffes from Itty-Bitty Toys. That seems to be one of the main hits of that book.
Again, the staff at Nina's is top-notch. Nina, the owner is on the far right, and Sam Boice is next to her on the left. Sam knit the larger Giraffe I am holding out of Malabrigo and it turned out really big in size due to the heavier yarn she used. It is adorable. She stuffed it with her grandpa's t-shirt and cut a small heart out of the shirt and appliqued it to the backside of her giraffe. It is a wonderful way to remember her grandpa through her knitting. I love her ideas and her giraffe.

Sam is also starting her own yarn dying company called, The Wool Dispensary. Sam, who I met last time I was at Nina's, is a super fun and talented knitter. I think her new company will be a hit. I am going to keep my eye on this one.

Anyway, thanks to Nina: a well-knit shop for hosting and staying open late on a Friday night. I had a great time and you are always so welcoming. Your knitters and community obviously love your shop and your talented and helpful staff.

I'll be back in a couple of days with a book giveaway that you won't want to miss.
best, susie

Sunday, June 19, 2011

TC's Poster!

Hi Knitters,
It is Father's Day and we have a lot going on, as I am sure you all do, but I quickly want to ask a favor. TC's poster has been nominated to win a big contest. If you have a second and you feel like TC's poster is deserving of your vote, please pop over to the site. TC's poster is poster #6.

The contest closes in one day on June 21st so the window is very small to vote. Voting only takes a second. You can click on her poster to enlarge it. The actual poster has glitter on it which you can't see online. Also, the background is an intricate firework pattern. It's pretty cool and she worked very hard on it. She is thrilled to have her poster nominated. All of the nominees did a great job on the posters.

If you felt that TC's poster was worthy of your vote, thank you. If not, that's a-okay, too.

I will be back to tell you more about my Chicago trip in a day or two. It was a great success.
On another note, I just finished a project that will be a free pattern for Spud & Chloë. It is this adorable shrug with a ruching detail. I will give you the scoop on this one very soon.

Have a happy Father's Day, everyone!
best, susie

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Los Calcetines

Hi Knitters,
Friday, June 17th! Mark your calendars, if interested, I will be on the "WGN Midday Fix" in Chicago. It is a Chicago based show that plays nationally. If you'd like to watch please check and see if your tv market gets this show. My itinerary shows that I will be on the live tv segment at 11:45am.

Next on Friday, June 17th I will be at Nina: a well-knit shop from 5-7pm for a casual drop-in meet and greet and book signing. There will be refreshments, raffle prizes and the Spud & Chloë at the Farm trunk show and more! More? Guess what, my books will be 20% off during the signing and Nina has all four of them available for purchase.

location & contact info

nina: a well-knit shop
1655 west division street
chicago, illinois 60622
view a map

I hope to see you there! This is one sleek, beautiful yarn shop.

Calcetines means socks in Spanish. My high school Spanish student, Peachy, told me so. On my trip to TNNA last weekend I knit the sock you see above. It is out of my own handspun fingering weight superwash wool. I am loving the deep blue heathery stripes.
Here is my start on the second sock. I am finding more and more that when I travel a simple stockinette stitch sock seems to be my project of choice. Not long ago I would bring bigger and complicated projects to travel with. I would even do design work on the plane and in the airports. I can't seem to do that any longer and I am not sure why. Maybe I am too tired or something.

The roving used to make the yarn and sock above is from Dyeabolical. It is completely dreamy and I have been wearing my one sock around the house quite a bit. Handspun socks seem to go quicker than manufactured sock yarns to me, although I am pretty sure that is in my head.
Miss Molly is chugging right along with her new knitting skills. She worked up this pair of superwash dk weight socks in no time at all. I really can't believe how well she is doing. She started knitting at the end of last summer. What I love the most about Miss Molly is that she is fearless. She has now cast on her first sweater and her first pair of fingering weight socks.
I can't say enough about this gorgeous soft green pair of squishy socks. The yarn is Mama Llama's DK Sock in the self-striping colorway called, River. Molly used 2 skeins, US size 4 dpns and cast on 48 stitches to start. I have had this yarn for years and I have no idea if it is still available. I did purchase it at the Woolgirl.
Just look at Miss Molly's cute socks and feet. Don't those look comforting? I'll keep you posted on her progress. She keeps thanking me but I am thanking her. To see a new talented young knitter develop from scratch is one of the greatest joys I have known. I am honored to be her knitting mentor as she is the kind of student anyone dreams about. She is quick, smart and a bit of a perfectionist (just the right amount). Molly is motivated and fun. To see knitting through her eyes makes me remember being new and young to knitting all over again. I was unstoppable and so is Molly.

Hope to see you in Chicago on Friday!
best, susie

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Fat Robin - New on Petite Purls

Hi Knitters,
I have a brand new free toy pattern up this morning on Petite Purls. I have a long enduring love of robins in the springtime in Wisconsin. The first sighting of a robin in our yard is a yearly event we look forward to.

Here is my story behind this fun new design:

Every spring I anxiously wait for the robins to appear. I feel like it is a true sign that spring is coming and we desperately need spring in our cold Wisconsin climate.

One day I was out for a run when I came across a neighborhood park. Sitting in the grass was the largest group of robins I have ever seen, maybe 20 or so just sitting there. I stopped in my tracks and soaked it in for a while. This really inspired me to get going on designing a robin which was something I have always wanted to do. The other aspect of robins which I love are their gorgeous tiny blue eggs. I had to include a few of these in the design as well.

Fat Robin got its name because my kids and I always comment when we see a fat robin with "That's a fat Robin!" The fatter the better for us. When my daughter picked up the Fat Robin she said, "Awwww." Then she turned it over, saw the eggs tucked under the wings and exclaimed, "Ohhhhhhhhhh!!" That pretty much sums it up. Of course, every robin needs a place to sit so I whipped up an accompanying nest.

The sweet blue eggs are the best part. They get tucked under the wing/tail overlay for safe keeping and easy storage.

The entire toy is knit in Spud & Chloë Sweater.
The robin is knit in one piece in the round from the bottom to the top of the head.
The wing/tail piece is knit in one piece from the top down.
With a few quick and easy stitches to attach the wing/tail piece to the body you are done. There is little finishing and only two parts to the robin. It's a very simple toy design.
This is my favorite part. Tucking the eggs under the wings is the best.
The nest is also knit in one piece. I made up this fringe stitch which is worked in as you go.
The simplicity, the interactive element and my love of robins in general make this toy a special one.

best, susie