Monday, October 31, 2011

Coastal Knits Giveaway!

(Photo from Coastal Knits)

Hi Knitters,
When I heard that two of my favorite designers were collaborating on a book of knits I couldn't wait to see it. Both are wonderfully talented and with their combined designs they have created a book that is fresh, gorgeous and fun! I have talked about each of these women quite a bit before on my blog and I am sure you already are familiar with them anyway but Hannah Fettig and Alana Dakos are simply two smart, young, and hard working designers who deserve all of the accolades they receive.

The premise of their new collaborative book, Coastal Knits, is simple but yet clever. Hannah lives on the east coast and Alana lives on the west coast so they each took their respective shorelines as the inspiration for their designs. The book includes beautiful photography of each of the coasts and background information on their inspiration and the selected yarns. They also used yarns to create the samples from each of their coasts but they give many alternate yarn suggestions for each of the designs, which is incredibly thoughtful and helpful.

To hear a lot more detail listen to Alana's podcast, Never Not Knitting, where she and Hannah discuss every step of the process and the designs in detail and they answer questions from knitters. It's a great listen. Click here to listen!

There are 10 designs (click here to see all of the designs) that include a sweater, cardigans, a hat, fingerless mitts, a shawl, and a cowl. Each design is special and thoughtful. You will absolutely love Coastal knits. Some of the designs could be worked up in a matter of a few days and others are more involved. There is something for every woman in this book. The pattern collection is only available in book format.

Let's look at a few of my favorite projects in the book. Above is the Rustling Leaves Beret by Alana. Alana is the queen of beautiful detail and that shows in this beret design. Her designs are incredible and thoughtful. Every inch of every design is tended to by Alana so all you have to do is knit and have fun. I love that about Alana. What a talent.
(photo from Coastal Knits)

Hannah designed the fingerless mitts, Branching Out. I am making these for sure! I already have the yarn set and ready to go. Hannah has a knack for taking a simple shape or garment and giving it a special twist, something only she could come up with. I love her modern, clean aesthetic so much.

(photo from Coastal Knits)

Hannah's Water's Edge Cardigan is so simple and sweet. I could see throwing this on over just about everything in my wardrobe. I love this one and it is knit in a worsted weight so it would be a quick knit. I am making this one very soon!
Alana's Gnarled Oak Cardigan is divine. The detail at the neckline is perfection. Oh, I really want to knit this one up right away! Love it. I would wear this one out. I clearly have to knit my own Gnarled Oak Cardigan this winter.
The Rocky Coast Cardigan is already one of the most popular patterns on Ravelry. I have to make this one, too. The front is worn open, the feel is relaxed and easy, the cable pattern is paired with a wide rib which I love. It really is perfection in every way.

(photo from Coastal Knits)

Alana's Wildflower Cardigan is knit in pieces and has subtle feminine details. I think this little cardigan would be a lovely addition to any wardrobe. I want a Wildflower Cardigan in my closet for sure.

I pretty much have my to-do list all set as I would love to have every single design in the book in my knit wardrobe this season. Everything in here is practical and stylish at the same time. Along with the variety of garments there are small knits in the book that would be the perfect gifts for the upcoming holidays, too. It's all here!

The best part of this post is that I get to give a copy of Coastal Knits away to one of you! If you don't win I strongly encourage you to get a copy of your own. I can't recommend this work of art pattern collection highly enough. These are two of the most outstanding new designers in the knitting industry and I guarantee you will love this book.

Please leave one comment on this post to enter to win a copy of Coastal Knits. Please include your email address or your Ravelry name or both so I can easily get in touch with you to gather your mailing address if you win! I'll be back soon to randomly select the winner.

What an honor for me to be included on the Coastal Knits blog tour! I actually asked to be included because I feel so much admiration and love for these two designers. They are taking the knitting world by storm on their own terms and I am enjoying following both of their prolific careers. The future is bright!

Good luck and let the comments begin!
best, susie

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Come Knit with Amy and Me!

Hi Knitters,
I have an exciting new class lined up for a Knit Circus Mini-Retreat on November 19th in Madison. I am going to teach a class on toy knitting where we make my charming little fairy from the Knit Simple Holiday Issue 2011! With special permission from the good people at Knit Simple I am able to offer this one time class opportunity.

Way more exciting than my class is that the always fantastic and talented Amy Detjen is teaching a colorwork class following my class in the afternoon. I am definitely going to stay and learn from Amy. What a thrill. People travel from all over the country and I am sure beyond to take one of Amy's classes so don't miss this opportunity! She is one of the smartest, most knowledgable and funniest knitters around. I so admire her.

I hope to see you there!

Also, there are still spots available for the November 5th Knit Circus Retreat. There are spots open in a sock basics class, a mini-mitten class and a design your own cowl class!

Oh, and I want to let you know that I just posted a new free hat pattern on my other blog, Spud says! It is called the Beluga and Firefly Hat in honor of the fantastic gray and yellow color combination. It is a simple and fun hat to work up with just enough of a textural stitch pattern to keep things interesting but nothing too difficult.

Have fun and let me know if you are coming to my November 19th class and if you knit a Beluga and Firefly hat.

Don't miss my post scheduled for Monday where I am reviewing a beautiful new book by two of my favorite designers, Coastal Knits!

Happy weekend to you!
best, susie

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Catching My Breath

Hi Knitters,
Sorry for the long delay in between posts. I am back from Denver where I was filming two online courses for It was a hectic and intense week. I'll post more on that later. It was one of the coolest and most fun weeks I have ever had career-wise! I am really excited about the whole thing. I loved every single thing about the Craftsy experience.

When I got home from Craftsy I decompressed with some spinning. I took a day to catch my breath which is something I rarely do.

I shared the photo above awhile back. It is some Phoenix Song (colorway) roving from Dani at Sunshine Yarns, one of my favorite indie dyers. The singles are now the gorgeous hank of yarn in the first photo.

By the way, Sunshine Yarns is having a huge update on this coming Tuesday, Oct. 25th if you are interested. I love her yarns and roving, it is all very inspiring.

The colors in Phoenix Song are so sweet and yummy. There is yellow, an array of pinks, orange, gray, white, gold.... I think the addition of gray is what made it so interesting to me.

I ended up with a squishy, plump 4 ounce hank of superwash wool. I finished the singles off with a 2-ply and came up with 252 yards. I think it is a sport weight. My plan right now is to make a pair of skating mittens for the upcoming winter. TC and I have some big ice skating plans for the outdoor ice rink season this year. I think a pretty pair of Phoenix Song handspun mittens will keep me happy while I skate. I am pretty sure they will end up on TC's mitts after they are done. That's okay, too.

I'll keep you posted as I go.

You know when you finish off one new hank of handspun you want to run back to your wheel and your roving stash to start something new. Usually I hunt for something kind of different than what I just finished. My hunt led me straight back to Kentucky and my fantastic Dyeabolical purchases. I got a 4 oz. braid of the roving above. I pre-drafted it into these enormous balls of soft roving all ready to spin onto my wheel.

When I was in the Dyeabolical booth, the mastermind behind this eye-catching fiber recommended that she wanted to spin the braid on the left with the pinks and purples and blues together with the first roving a I showed, on the right. Being the newish spinner that I am I took her idea and ran with it. I grabbed the two braids and fell in love with her idea.

Dyeabolical has an inspiring blog, too, that will make you want to snatch up all of her yarn. Click here to see her blog! And now I just see that there is a video blog/podcast! I will be checking all of that out. I actually have some Dyebolical yarn, too. I may have gone a little crazy with my purchases at the Kentucky Sheep and Fiber Festival last May. Everything has brought me so much joy that I don't regret a single dollar spent.

I have a bobbin full of the first roving and have started a second bobbin. I can't wait to get the second 4 ounce braid spun up so I can see how these will ply together. It's motivating to have something so yummy ahead of me. Spinning is über fun!!

Speaking of Kentucky.... I wound my gigantic hank of Sheep Dreams handspun. It is an alpaca/wool blend that was gifted to me by my Kentucky friend, Dianne of Sheep Dreams. I think the hank has around 580 yards which is plenty for a Hitchhiker Shawl by Martina Behm. It is a fun little knit that is incredibly easy and portable since you don't need to have the pattern with you. You can just count your garter stitch ridges and you'll know exactly what comes next.

I also plan on making Martina's Lintilla Shawl with my lone hank of deep purple Wollmeise. That's probably coming up next for me on the shawl front.

On my recent travels I have gotten some sock knitting done. Socks are the perfect plane knitting project. Just last week I finished up one Candy Corn sock from my favorite striping sock yarn, Vesper. You can find her site right here. I am knitting these socks on my only purchase from Vogue Knitting Live, a set of US size 1 Blackthorn Needles. Let me say, these needles are like nothing else. I love them. They are made from a carbon fiber and they are black and smooth and unusual. Be sure to check them out if you are interested.

I don't know if I'll finish the second Candy Corn sock before Halloween but either way I absolutely love the yarn. I highly recommend the Vesper Self-Striping Sock Yarn!

I'm almost done with my second Door County Cherry sock. Really I only have a few quick inches to go. I love them more than ever now that I can see wearing them soon and just in time as it is getting colder outside.

The yarn is madelinetosh merino light. Click here to see some color choices if you are interested. This yarn is a single ply and it may not wear so well for socks but I don't care. I will love them while I can! It is worth it to me to have such a gorgeous and soft pair of socks that remind me of our vacation in Door County. The. Best.

I bought my one hank of tosh merino light at Spin in Door County. To get some like mine you could call them up at 920-746-SPIN (7746) !

To finish off this long overdue post, TC has been working her magic with the Halloween crafts. The other day she asked me for a couple of paper grocery sacks. A short while later she had sculpted some exquisite Halloween trees to go with her fabric pumpkin collection. The trees are so sculptural and moody. I love them. TC hung two knit acorns of mine on the branches. You can see one acorn at the top of the tree above if you look hard enough.

Not too long after the tress she created some salt dough ghosts that were finished off in the microwave and then simply decorated with a black Sharpie. I am telling you that one of the best things about having a crafty-to-the-core child is that you get seasonal decorations without even asking. The other thing I am enjoying is her total independence in finding and selecting her crafts. I didn't help one bit with any of this. It is all self-driven! Yay to that!

TC's favorite crafting and inspirational sites is Family Fun (we get the magazine, too)! She found all of these Halloween projects on here.

On another note, the winners for the Knit Circus pattern collection have all been notified by email. Jaala Spiro will be emailing the patterns to the winners. Thanks for entering and I'll have another giveaway very, very soon.

Have a great week, Knitters. I've missed you.
best, susie

Friday, October 14, 2011

Knit Circus Special Issue, Gifts 2011!

Hi Knitters,
This is the season for gift knitting and toys really are the perfect gift project for so many reasons. They're cute, small, do-able in a short time frame, a small amount of yarn is needed, no size or fit issues, and ALL age groups love the knit toys, not just the kids. I've said this before but when I go places it's the adults who go craziest for the knit toys.

My latest design was released yesterday in the Knit Circus Special Issue, Gifts 2011! This is an online magazine that has free articles and recipes and then you can purchase the individual patterns or the entire issue for an incredibly reasonable price.

In the pattern introduction I talk about how the Knit Circus headquarters is in Madison because the founder and editor in chief, Jaala Spiro, is a life-long Madisonian like me. Since we both have strong Wisconsin ties I thought I would honor that by making a Milk Cow for the issue. Wisconsin is the number one dairy state so what better to represent that than an adorable little Milk Cow.

The yarn is Blue Sky Alpacas Organic and Worsted Cotton. The optional red scarf and the horns are made in small amounts of Spud & Chloë Sweater.

I even included an udder... that was an experience. I made a brown cow for Spud & Chloë at the Farm, my last book, and I've had people ask me where the udder is on that cow. This time I was sure to include it. You could use a bucket from the Spud & Chloë at the Farm book if you are looking for a bucket pattern to include with your Milk Cow.

See? It's really there!

I love the personality of this one! What a fun and quick knit. Milk Cow is a good size and would be perfect for younger kids especially because it's a little larger. The entire Knit Circus Gifts Issue is wonderful with scarves, mitts, a cowl, a shawl, doilies, socks, a blanket, a cool reversible bag, a hat.... all of the patterns are a treat!

Have fun if you make a milk cow for your house or as a gift!

Oh, and leave a comment on here with your email address if you are interested in winning a copy of the entire pattern collection! I have been given the go ahead to share the entire pattern collection with 10 lucky winners! Please leave one comment. I will be back very soon to pick the winners.

Good luck.
best, susie

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A is for Apple Farm

Hi Knitters,
In the midst of all the knitting deadlines and knitting obligations I've had lately, we did find the time to sneak away to our favorite local apple farm last weekend. It was humid and over 80 degrees so it was an unusual fall day for us in our part of the country. My sister and her son and the fabulous knitter, Miss Molly, all joined us. I was happy to have all of our kids together with us.

I hope you enjoy this wordless view of our day. Our apple picking day ended later that night with an enormous pan of warm apple crisp served with vanilla bean ice cream on top.

I hope you are having a glorious fall. I have more fall-related posts in the works.

best, susie

Thursday, October 06, 2011

A week in the life....

Hi Knitters,
A week in the life includes....

...a birthday for a wonderful son turning 18 years old, bittersweet in the best way possible...
... a pair of fun new clogs that I've had for awhile but just wore for the first time last week....
...and the arrival of long awaited and almost impossible to get watermelon striping yarn that even includes seeds.
I can't wait to knit this hank up. I'm thinking about another hat or maybe mittens or maybe a cowl, not sure yet. I'll show you what I end up making with this hank when it's done.

I have been drowning in knitting deadlines lately, barely coming up for air and trying to push through. I'll have lots to share soon.

These are some busy family times and work times. What does your week include?
best, susie

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Ruche Beret - Weekend Hats

Hi Knitters,
I've had another design pop up last week in a newly published book. It is one of my most favorite designs I have done. About a year ago I sent off this hat to Interweave for Cecily Glowik MacDonald and Melissa LaBarre's new book, Weekend Hats. I am going to review the entire book coming up soon (as soon as I get a copy) but I wanted to first quickly share the hat I made for the collection.

The hat is worked from the top-down. The yarn is Blue Sky Alpacas Suri Merino. It is a drapey, decadent and romantic yarn. I absolutely fell in love with Suri Merino while making the hat. On one side of the hat you add more increases to get that extra fabric. Then just before the ribbing for the brim you make 3 pleats on the side of the hat that has the extra stitches. The pleating is a slick technique that I came up with as I worked. I am very pleased with the outcome.

The hat is actually pleated and not ruched so the name of the hat is a little misleading.

I made the hat sample for the book in the Harvest colorway and it only takes one hank of yarn. It is the perfect quick gift for the fall and winter seasons ahead. The Ruche Beret is knit at 5 stitches per inch on the dk weight yarn. This makes the drape in the fabric even better.

The Ruche Beret is also truly a weekend project. You can start one day and finish the next! It's a fast one. I have two more hanks of the Suri Merino in the colorways Earth and Seamist. I am planning on two more Ruche Berets this season. One for me and one for a gift.

I'll be back soon.
best, susie
p.s. Don't forget that I am speaking and signing books at the Madison Knitters Guild next Monday, Oct. 10th, 2011! Please come if you are in the area, the meeting starts at 6:30pm and the guild meets at a new location. I would love to see you there if you are able.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Handspun Hat

Hi Knitters,
While in my hotel at Vogue Knitting Live and on the plane home I worked up my handspun Fiber Optic yarn into this great little hat. TC took a lot of the photos of me in the hat. I love it and wanted to share it with you tonight.

best, susie