Friday, December 30, 2011

New Days Ahead

Hi Knitters,
Yes, it is December 30th here in Wisconsin and it still looks like fall. It is strangely warm around here, at least warm to us. I think there is another day in the 40's on tap and there is no snow on the horizon. Some of us are enjoying the snow-less winter and some of us are really missing the piles of snow, the sledding, hiking through the snow, and especially the outdoor ice skating. I bet winter is still coming our way.

Enough of the weather chatter, this post is mainly to let you all know that I have decided to leave my job as curator of the Spud & Chloƫ blog. It is a happy and good decision. I am excited to focus even more on my family, to work on my own things, to go in my own directions, to focus more singly on one project at a time, and mostly, to have the chance to breathe a bit. I take all of my work very seriously and I would not leave without much thought and consideration about what's best for my family and me. It is all good!

Of course that doesn't mean I am really resting. I am into the editing phase for the manuscript for my 5th book right now (it's going to be a good one) and I am already onto planning and lining up my next book which is always a fun time. I can't wait to get going on a new book project, the beginning is the best time of that whole process.

Also, I am especially excited to have the chance to focus on my own blog more. I love it on here and I have some new plans brewing. You can always and still find me here, on Ravelry under susanbanderson and in my fun and fantastic Itty-Bitty Knits group (click here for the group), please come join us, or on Facebook (click here for my Facebook page) and on Twitter (click here). I'm not going anywhere.

So I am onto new days ahead. I'm taking a deep breath and enjoying my family time during this holiday break, and sneaking in a little knitting time here and there. Call me crazy but maybe, just maybe, I'll even read a novel or two at my leisure.....

That's my story. Happy new year to you, dear Knitters. Let's make 2012 the best and most knitterly year yet!

best, susie

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Now for the Ruffle

Hi Knitters,
I hope you are all doing well. It is a busy, busy week for everyone I am sure.

Today I am quickly sharing that old Citron I started well over a year ago. I pulled it out again last weekend to see if I could actually finish it up. I am knitting with Malabrigo lace weight in the Sealing Wax colorway, on US size 6 needles. I don't know what it is about this project that makes it difficult for me to stick with it. Is it the lace weight yarn (not my favorite) or is it the endless rows of stockinette stitch? Actually, it is both of these things.

I added two more sections, for seven sections total, to use up the yarn and because I want it to be bigger. As written, this is a very small shawl. The added sections have made the stitch count very high even before the ruffle. I haven't dared to count or figure out how many stitches I have at this point in case it might make me want to stop working on it. Now I am on the first ruffle row where you kfb in each stitch. It will be well over 700 stitches in each row. This is going to be a long suffering ruffle to complete but the reason I keep going is that I know without a doubt that I will absolutely love wearing my rusty red Citron when it is complete.

I can't wait to bind off and block! There is a small possibility that I might add some beads to the edge as I bind off but I am not sure yet. I'll keep you posted.

Take care, Knitters. Thank you to the lovely knitters who have sent me some very kind and heart-warming emails and notes recently (Barb, Jenni, Nancy, Mary Rose and Betty to name a few). Those really make my day.
best, susie

Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry, Merry!

Hi Knitters,
My husband has always laughed about an old family friend who would greet everyone during the holiday season with a chipper, "Merry, merry!" So in the spirit of the goofy family friend of yore, I am sharing a, "Merry, merry!" greeting with you today and for the weekend.

The socks above sort of sum up my Christmas knitting this year. I didn't quite make it. I have one of things that should have two. Some gifts have even less than that finished. I am happily giving up! Instead of finishing the knitted gifts I have made great progress on my next upcoming book manuscript and that is a worthwhile compromise. I am so excited about this new book. It has come together like nothing I have done before. I simply love it. It won't be out for awhile yet but I will be sure to keep you posted.

Now that this book is coming to a close, I have future books in my head, on my needles and in my sketchbooks. I am having that sense of excitement you get when you start something fresh and new, kind of like when you cast on a new knitting project. It is the best.

There is so much potential on the horizon for the new year.... just look at all of that yarn-y fun just waiting to be had.

I hope your gift knitting has been more successful than mine this year! 

Happy holidays from my house to your house. I am wishing you all a peaceful, warm, and family-filled holiday season. 

Knitters, I hope to see you all back here next week. For now, I've got to get some pies in the oven.....

love, susie

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Thrumming and Spinning

Hi Knitters,
I am thrumming away on a mitten. I am finally making thrummed mittens which is something I have wanted to try for a long time. It is very fun and something you might like to do if you need a lot of warmth from your mittens. In Wisconsin you always need warm mittens in the winter so these are perfect. To make the thrums you create small 3-inch loops of roving to knit into the fabric as you work. It is very simple to do.

The loops are on the inside for an extra layer of woolly warmth. The yarn is Malabrigo. I'll tell you more about this project when I get a complete pair.

For some fun and quick spinning I recently spun up some Sunshine Yarns roving into a super bulky 2-ply yarn. The color name is Whipped Mocha. It is 100 yards and the interesting thing is that it is a wool and Tencel blend. The Tencel gives it quite a sheen as you can see. I have never knit with Tencel and when I ordered this fiber I didn't realize it was a Tencel blend. That's good though because I like trying new things.

I now have learned that I don't enjoy spinning with Tencel. It is fiber made from wood pulp cellulose that has a silky texture (I looked it up). It was shedding all over when I spun. I was literally covered in fiber after spinning with this roving and fiber was floating around the room and it was all over my chair. The end result is beautiful but I don't think I will use Tencel again for spinning. 

I will make a big, chunky cowl with this yarn. It is really soft and squishy.

You learn by trying new things and that's what I love about creating. 

Christmas is almost here and I am so excited to be home with my family over the holidays!! It is going to be a good year. Where are you spending this holiday season? Are you home or away?
best, susie

Monday, December 19, 2011


Hi Knitters,
First off, the winner of The Knitter's Life List is sauceyjill (rav id)! Jill is one amazing knitter so please go check her out on Ravelry and on her blog. I've known Jill for some time and she inspires me on a regular basis. Everything she knits I want to knit, too. 

Thanks to everyone for entering. I still have that same big stack of books waiting for reviews and giveaways so I will keep working away on that. There are so many wonderful knitting books out there and I love to share them with you. 

In the meantime, I have finished my beautiful Agnes pullover. 

The yarn is Quince & Co. Puffin in the Bark colorway, the pocket is Osprey in the Bird's Egg colorway.

I blocked it with a heavy steam from my iron and a damp cloth and the stitches evenly sprung into place with ease. Puffin is a single ply bulky yarn that I knit on US size 11 needles. I thoroughly enjoyed working with Puffin. The sweater came together so fast, maybe a week of off and on knitting at most.

I have also just finished a fantastic pattern for my upcoming book in Quince & Co. Lark and, I have to say, the project may be my favorite in the entire collection. It is my tiny masterpiece. The yarn is gorgeous and has a sweetness to it, sort of a beautiful simplicity. You should try Quince & Co. yarns if you haven't yet. It is American sourced wool which I like, too.

I only made a couple of minor modifications. I added length to the body. I think the sweater is slightly cropped as written in the pattern, which is adorable, but not for me. All I did was add a couple of inches under the pockets and before the ribbing. In the pattern the ribbing starts immediately below the pocket opening.

If you look at the lovely Gudrun Johnston's blog post about the Agnes sweater that she made along with her daughter you will see that her version is a little shorter than mine. It looks great and perfect on her but I need a little more length to my sweaters. Gudrun is one of my favorite designers, too, so be sure to check out her blog and patterns if you have a chance.

The only other thing I changed slightly is that I made the sleeves about an inch longer than in the pattern. They measure 19 1/2 inches from the underarm. I think the 2x2 ribbing number didn't work out either on the body or the arm, can't remember, so I decreased by 2 to make it work. Other than that I followed the pattern exactly. I did make the 40 inch size so it is quite roomy on me. I usually make the 36 inch size but I wanted it big and comfy so I could layer underneath. The pattern is clear and simple to follow. One more thing, I only used 6 out of the 7 hanks of the yarn so I have an extra hank that I'll whip into a hat or something at some point soon.

Isn't is just a perfect cozy winter sweater? The pockets are dreamy, the yarn is squishy and fun, and I will get tons of wear out of this one. I love a simple sweater for so many reasons. Simple sweaters are fun and fast to knit and even more fun and practical to wear. That's all I ask of my knitting and this project  has everything I look for in a sweater pattern.

It's a good day when you have a brand new handknit sweater to throw on! 

best, susie

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Knitter's Life List Video Review and Giveaway!

Hi Knitters,
I posted a 5 minute video review of the lovely Gwen Steege's new book, The Knitter's Life List. I am giving away a copy of this beautiful book that is packed full of information and inspiration.

Please leave one comment on this post if you would like to win a copy. Also, please leave your email or ravelry id so I can get in touch with the winner to gather a mailing address. I will give your address to Storey Publishing to send out a copy to you directly. I love this book and Gwen even signed my copy so I will be keeping this one for myself.

Good luck if you enter! It's a terrific book and I guarantee that you will love it!
best, susie

Thursday, December 15, 2011

My New Friend Agnes

Hi Knitters,
On my kitchen table this morning is the forever going game of Yahtzee and my new sweater friend, Agnes. The constant Yahtzee playing has been going on since our trip to Door County last August. The house we stayed at had a Yahtzee game just waiting for the Anderson family to dig in. The love of this dice game followed us home where we had a small travel Yahtzee set in a cupboard. It's been found and has been a constant for months now. There could be anywhere from 1 to 5 players at anytime. I often sit and knit nearby while the others play.

Now for my friend, Agnes, which you may be more interested in anyway. A few days ago I was hankering for a new sweater project so I wound 7 hanks of Quince & Co. Puffin in the Bark #121 colorway. I have had this yarn for quite some time now and when I saw the new Quince & Co. Wool Book One by Melissa LaBarre and Cecily Glowik MacDonald, I knew I had to make Agnes with the Puffin I had sitting on my shelf.

I love everything about Agnes, the big yarn knit on US size 11 needles, the top-down and seamless construction, the surprise side pockets and the easy casual style of the sweater in general that is a signature of Melissa LaBarre's designs. It is perfection. The Quince & Co. pattern is available in the ebook called, Wool Book One or as an individual pattern purchased through Ravelry. 

Here is the hole for my pocket just waiting to be picked up and knit with Quince & Co. Osprey in the Bird's Egg colorway. I think the bird's egg blue will be a winning combination with the rich bark color. I am already on the second sleeve and those pockets will knit up so quickly. After a good blocking, I think this sweater is destined to become a favorite throw on for this winter and many more to come.

I will share a few knitted Christmas gifts coming up shortly or as soon as I finish them. Even with all of the busyness of my work knitting recently I am still trying to squeeze in a few homemade gifts. What are you all knitting on for the holiday season this year? I would love to hear about it.

best, susie

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Banner Hat

Hi Knitters,
Last week I put up a new banner on the blog (the photo above). In October I did post a very short video on the making of the hat right here if you're interested.  The video includes some of these same photos.
TC took the photos of me on our front stoop in a very quick and haphazard way. I love the banner photo in the way the sunlight is blinding in the distance. 
I didn't write a pattern for the hat. I made it up as I went. It has a deep ribbed brim and a simple stockinette stitch top. I thought this project would show off the gradient roving from Fiber Optic, which I purchased at the Kentucky Sheep and Wool Festival last May.
I did a Navajo ply to keep the colors together. The fiber is a wool and silk blend. The yarn ended up being a worsted weight. I knit on US size 7 needles at 5 stitches per inch. I love the way it turned out.

Here is the yarn all ready to go. The colors are so vibrant and beautiful.

I'm going backward in the creation sequence here but this is the roving being spun into singles on my wheel last summer.

This is the roving before being spun. I've had a few asking questions about the hat so there you have it. The sweater is the Tea Leaves Cardigan by Melissa LaBarre in Madelinetosh dk in the Burnished colorway. It is my most worn handknit garment. What a great design.

The thing is that TC wore the hat to school one day recently. When I saw that she had it on before school I hesitated and almost asked her not to wear it but I held back. I didn't say anything because I want her to feel free to wear our handknits anytime and anywhere without hesitation. I want her to enjoy homespun clothing and to not worry about it at all. I want her to basically enjoy the fruits of our making lifestyle. I kept my concerns to myself.

Now the hat has gone missing and I am still glad I didn't say anything to her. I can always make another.

That's the story of my new banner. I am happy to have photos of my handspun hat to remember it fully.

The other new thing on the blog is that I am categorizing all of my old and new posts now. Since there are well over 700 posts it is taking me quite awhile to plug through them and distinguish what the labels should be. I have known about the need for categorizing these posts for a long time. When I finish categorizing all of the posts, blog readers will be able to find old posts and look for different topics easily. The categories will be posted on the blog sidebar for easy access. It is long overdue. Completing the labeling of all of the posts is still a work in progress. I think I have close to 300 posts categorized by now. I hope people will find this helpful in the future.

I'll keep chipping away at it in my spare moments. Have a great weekend, Knitters.
best, susie

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Ode to Opal

Hi Knitters,
I love Opal sock yarn. It's even cuter in person, if that's possible.
If you want some, I bought it yesterday at the Sow's Ear, Opal Schafpate 3, 5096.
That's it. I just had to share.
best, susie

Sunday, December 04, 2011

A-Treeing We Will Go

Hi Knitters,
We cut down a tree and brought it on home. The whole crew was able to gather up to go pick our Christmas tree today. I was glad to have everyone around. It sure doesn't look like winter in Madison. There's no snow and instead we had mud. It rained all night last night. I don't remember cutting a tree down in mud before. I prefer the snow by far.
There's that Surefire Hat again. He has two and swaps them out but always has one of them on everyday. He is a good and helpful one always jumping right in to get involved. I love that.
I now have 22 photos of my husband cutting down the Christmas tree and they all look pretty much like this one. This year the tree cut through so quickly. It was an easy time.
The stripped pine cones looked so unusual and ornamental on the tree branches. 
What a group. They make every outing a memory with lots of laughs and silliness. L.O.V.E. them.
It looks like a fall day much more than a winter day in Wisconsin, particularly in December. It is strange. It wasn't even that cold, maybe 36 degrees.

TC in her TC's Cozy hat (free pattern found on Spud says! or Ravelry)

Peachy wore her new Bella's Mitts. They are her favorite thing now (she told me so).
Peachy also wore her Twilight Hat that I knit for her last fall.

Peachy in her Twilight Hat and my eldest in his new Surefire Hat made in Brooklyn Tweed's Shelter. This is a true meeting of the minds.

I put up a new header on the blog. I have heard some very kind and positive feedback. I'll tell you more about the photo and a couple of new things on the blog in the next post.

For now, have a happy Monday.
best, susie

Friday, December 02, 2011

Haunted Vineyard

Hi Knitters,
The Knit Girllls are having a spinalong/knitalong on their Ravelry group that I joined. Cloudlover Yarns is the maker of the roving or yarn that was sent out to the knitters joining in. I love her stuff so much. This colorway is called the Haunted Vineyard. What a great colorway name. To join in you could either get the yarn or the roving to spin. Then The Knit Girllls pick a wide range of projects that you can make for the knitting of the Cloudlover yarn or roving.

The roving was so beautiful and I really wanted to try a different spinning technique this time. I ran across this post by Jillian on the Knitty Blog about a technique called the double marl. I ended up doing the double marl spinning technique on my Haunted Vineyard roving.

Along with this new technique I wanted to try to spin a bulkier yarn. I switched the whorl on my wheel to the largest size to create a heavier weight yarn. I was so pleased with the results. The double marl distributed the colors in a fantastic and interesting way and the roving was easy to prepare before spinning. Plus, it took such a small amount of time to spin up 4 ounces of fiber. Sometimes you need a quick project and this was it. I had just finished up spinning 8 ounces of fingering weight which took forever. I will share information later on this.

In the end, I got 130 yards of a yummy, squishy, chunky weight yarn. One of the patterns for the knitalong is the Thorpe hat by Kirsten Kapur (one of my favorite designers) and it happens to be free AND it happens to require 130 yards of a chunky weight yarn. How could anything work out better than that? It couldn't. I can't wait to cast on. I have all of December and January and February to complete the Thorpe hat and still be within the guidelines for the knitalong. I can easily make that.

(photo by Cloudlover)
Here is what the roving looked like before spinning. Isn't it so gorgeous? Cloudlover has yummy yarns and tons of other roving choices and a fiber or yarn club. Be sure to check it all out. You will love it.

One more time:

Click here for The Knit Girllls! If you aren't watching this video podcast you should. You will be inspired.

Have a good Friday, Knitters. Into the weekend we go...
best, susie