Friday, June 29, 2012

Pretzel-Making at Home

Hi Knitters,
My son has been cooking up a storm lately. He suddenly told me he wanted to work on his bread-making skills. Who can say no to that?

For his first project he decided on pretzels, the big, chewy kind you get at the mall, or frozen at Costco which are never as good. The recipe he used is simply called, Mall Pretzels. Click here for the recipe. I couldn't believe how easy it is to make warm, crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside, pretzels.

Here is a pictorial view of our pretzel-making adventure (I helped roll some of the pretzels but that's all I contributed). Check at the bottom of the post for a few links I want to share.

Oh, they were good, and let me tell you, the entire plate of pretzels was gone in a flash. Can't you just taste those? The pretzels melted in your mouth. We're definitely making these again. I love it when my son tries new recipes. He loves to cook and is always ambitious and creative in his choices. He also made a tasty and cheesy focaccia bread the other night that was delicious.

I want to share with you a new knitting videocast I am enjoying called, Snappy Stitches. Click here for the show information!  It's short and sweet and Chrissy (formerly of the Manic Purl audio podcast), the host, is a fantastic and talented knitter. This is a fun one to watch, she turns out sweaters and shawls and socks like it is nothing.

I just ordered the pattern and yarn to make Paula, of the Knitting Pipeline's, new shawl design. It is called, Hyla Brook, and is from the always wonderful, Quince & Co. It is a charming little shawl and I can't wait to dig in.

Click here for the pattern information for Hyla Brook!

Click here for the Quince & Co. yarn I ordered! You need only 2 skeins of Tern to make the shawl. It is a good deal.

I'll keep you posted on my progress when I get the yarn.

Take care, Knitters, and have a lovely weekend.
best, susie

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Loop Love

Hi Knitters,
I have gotten a tiny bit of spinning done lately. I started a Loop Bullseye Bump quite a long while ago and didn't touch my wheel for weeks and weeks. As a break from the work knitting it is fun to sit down and spin, even if only for a few minutes here and there.

I bought the center-pull, self-striping bump of roving quite awhile ago. These bumps fly so fast out of the Loop Etsy shop and they are all so unusual and beautiful that I am happy just to get my hands on one.

The bump of roving is called Mediterranean Sun and that is the perfect name for the colors. This roving, now yarn, is 100% merino wool and it spun like butter. It was smooth and fun and the colors are brilliant.

Above, the freshly washed yarn is still pretty wet. I love it when I can dry handspun outside in the warmer months. I Navajo plied, which is a 3-ply chain, in order to keep the same color stripes together. Since the roving weighed in at a hefty 5.4 oz. I was able to get 404 yards for a total. 

I am definitely making a shawl of some sort out of this gorgeous hank of yarn. I think it is a sport weight or so. Wouldn't that make a gorgeous shawl?

(photo from Loop on Etsy)

Here is the bump before it was spun. They are all one-of-a-kind and many include sparkle and all sorts of different fiber content blended together. This particular roving looked so much brighter in the bump compared to after I spun it. It became more muted which I love.

Click here for the link to the Loop Etsy shop! 

Also, an important announcement about my classes at Vogue Knitting Live:

Click here to register: The Vogue Knitting Live class registration is now open. I'd love to see you in Chicago on Oct. 28th.

One last important thing, I received an email about a fundraiser for the fires in Colorado from Dani of Sunshine Yarns. She lives in Colorado and is trying to help through the fiber community. Dani is a great and talented member of our fiber community and I love that she is doing something good for her wonderful state in need.

Here is her note to me:
Hi Susan,

I'm sure you've seen on the news, but Colorado is practically on fire, and I've started a fundraiser/prize giveaway!! For every $10 anyone donates, they get entered in our giveaway once... we are going to have a ton of prizes and hope to raise lots of money. Day 1 we did almost $1,000.

Thank you, thank you!

Here is a link to the newsletter I sent out with all the info: Colorado Wildfire Fundraiser

Dani Frisbie
Sunshine Yarns

Find us on:
Facebook | Twitter | Ravelry
Sign up for our newsletter for updates!

Quick share today. I'll be back soon with more.
best, susie

Monday, June 25, 2012

Fun with Cousins

Hi Knitters,
Here are a few more photos of TC's 13th birthday celebration. We had lots of family over for a cookout. My son who just graduated made pulled pork that was a two-day process. He is really into cooking and trying new things. I helped him make homemade pretzels yesterday which was really fun. I took photos of that so I'll share it soon. For the party, we had pulled pork sandwiches, watermelon, corn on the cob, salad, and of course, birthday cake.

Now, these boys, the cousins, are such goofballs when they get together. You never know what they will come up with. Do you have teenage boys, anyone? You see my son thought it was funny to make a weird expression in the photo above and....

... this next photo as well. Both of my sons think that is really funny for some reason.

The girls on the other hand do their best to look pleasant. That's my Miss Molly upper left, we love her, and my niece is lower right. You already know TC and Peachy.

Here they are thwacking the cupcake pinata that was strung up somehow to a big tree in our yard. I didn't even see how that was done but I heard something about a string being tied to a big rock that was thrown over a branch. I thought that showed some ingenuity.

I have to tell you a little story about something my boys and the cousins like to do together. They love making silly videos. About 4 years ago on a vacation together, the boys made a video called, Basketball Master, and it stars my sister's son. The boys think this video is hilarious, every time.

Here is the video from 2008 below:

The next video (below) was made just this summer and it again stars my nephew. My oldest son played and recorded the music and he does all of the filming and editing on these videos. You can see my second son in the lifeguard chair for part of the video at the pool.

I just love this video, it starts with a flashback from the first Basketball Master:

Now, below, is another video starring my brother's son, who is 9-years-old. My second son is the crazy guy in the video, my oldest son did the taping and editing. If you have teenage boys or even younger boys, you may understand this video a little better. The boys think this is so funny and my little nephew came up with the storyline on his own pretty much. This was all filmed at the birthday party and it was a big production.

I think it is funny because I can hear my nephew cracking up while he is supposed to be talking. He had a blast making this video. It is supposed to be cartoon-like. It was all done in good humor and no one was hurt in any way so don't worry. The boys think this is hilarious. 

Oh, and my nephew's name isn't really Carl, he just made that up. 

Okay, next up I'll have some knitting and spinning to share. I've already taken some great photos of a few things I have brewing.

Also, the Patchwork Sockalong is coming to a close this coming weekend (June 30th at midnight to be exact) and I have gathered some spectacular prizes for the participants who will be entered in prize drawings if they completed a pair of socks. I will be posting about the prizes coming up. It is a prize grouping of some of my most favorite knitting items out there. Even if you aren't in the sockalong, these are products you'll be interested in.

I hope you enjoy the videos.

See you back here very soon.
best, susie

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Party Prep

Hi Knitters,
Last week was a whirlwind of fun. We celebrated another milestone as a family. TC is now a teenager. Thirteen years old. We had to celebrate in style for such a monumental occasion. With the ever-trusty Peachy by my side we went out gift hunting for our beloved TC.

The first stop was our go-to local floral shop and fairy garden specialists, Jkinney Florist (click here). When we see this sign outside on the sidewalk in front of the shop, we know we are in the right place. This shop always has the best tiny items for TC's fairy gardens and we wanted to add to her collection. We picked out a couple of new furniture items for her, a stone bench and table set. It's so adorable.

J. Kinney Florist has so many unique and cool items including bags, jewelry (Peachy likes the LOVE necklace), home goods, garden goods, textiles, accessories, just any type of gift-y item you could think of, not just flowers. It is a gift store with a lot of style and we love going there.

Here is one of the shop's fairy garden displays. You can see the stone table and bench in the mix. Peachy really picked it out for TC, I was having a difficult time deciding. It is all so sweet it is hard to choose.

We love going to Monroe Street (in Madison) in general. J. Kinney is right across from a Trader Joe's, there are little local restaurants and shops of all sorts, it is a stretch of community that I think is completely representative of Madison. The UW football stadium is just a couple blocks down from the fairy garden florist, there is also a public library, a knit shop, custard, coffee, tea, children's and women's clothes shops, an art gallery or two, more restaurants, etc. It is a fun stretch to visit if you are in town.

Later that day I snuck off with the birthday girl to get her ears pierced. She has been waiting and waiting for this day to arrive. The woman asked if she wanted her to count down before the piercing and TC said, "No, just do it." She didn't even flinch. For her first earrings she selected a tiny daisy made out of sparkly clear stones, to appear like diamonds, I guess. They are super cute and suit her perfectly, twinkly and sweet.

TC tied the leftover graduation balloons around her waist. I thought that was funny to see her wearing those balloons around for her birthday. The balloons were from last weekend's huge graduation party  we threw with a few friends for over 200 people at a nearby park. The party-planning seems never-ending this spring and summer. Up next, my brother is coming for a visit (family dinner at my house), the Fourth of July (at my sister's house), and Peachy's birthday...... it's not over yet.

TC is holding a cupcake pinata Peachy and I picked up for her birthday party at Target. I know I'll get asked if I don't add that in.

I'll share more of the party up next. It was a lovely and fun family-filled night.

Thanks for all of the Opal Sock Yarn Bunny and Hat love. The bunny reached #10 on the Ravelry Top 20 Hot Right Now pattern list yesterday. That was exciting. I put the the hat and bunny up on Ravlery as project pages if you are interested and for your convenience (see the links below).

I received a lot of inquiries about the bunny pattern since I posted. The patterns will eventually be available as downloadable pdfs and will also be available in yarn shops as hard copies. I had so many questions and requests from all over the world, literally. No need to worry, the pattern will be available to all at some point soon in the near future. I will let you know when that happens. I also had some questions about the safety eyes. I purchased them at Jo Ann's and they are the 6mm size. It is the first time I have used safety eyes.

Click here for the Ravelry project page for the Opal Sock Yarn Bunny.

Click here for the Ravelry project page for the Opal Sock Yarn Bunny Hat.

Have a super Sunday.
best, susie

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Unicorn News and VK Live News!

Edited to add the Ravelry projects pages for the Opal Bunny and Hat:
Click here for the Opal Sock Yarn Bunny!
Click here for the Opal Sock Yarn Bunny Hat!

Hi Knitters,
Phew! What a week or two it has been and it continues right on with TC's birthday tomorrow. There are many celebrations to be had around here lately. It's all good fun but also very time consuming so that explains my temporary absence on here. It's good to be back.

Remember the sneak peek I gave for a project I have been working on with Unicorn Books? Well, here it is! I have created the top-down seamless Opal Sock Yarn Bunny exclusively for Unicorn Books, the distributors of Opal Sock yarn, one of my favorites.

In case you didn't catch that, this toy is worked from the top-down and is completely seamless. When you take that last knit stitch on that last toe, you are done! I also made this version with safety eyes but the eyes could also be embroidered. All that's left after the knitting is done, is to take three simple straight stitches with embroidery floss to make the nose, and of course, you can always add a pom-pom tail on the back.

The bunny is incredibly sweet to hold and sits at about 6 1/2 inches tall. There is something about that Vincent Van Gogh sock yarn that is vintage-looking, sort of worn and comfy, all in the best way possible. I can't get enough. I jumped at the chance to design something with the Opal sock yarn when I was asked several months ago.

Here is the back view. How incredibly sweet is this scene? He looks like he is waiting and watching for something right out that window.

I think this bunny should be the main character in a story......

Now here is the exciting news. This pattern (and my photography!) made the cover of the Unicorn Books Fall 2012 catalog. I am so happy about this fact. In case you are wondering that is my mother's original Winnie the Pooh book with a print date of 1928. It is a treasure of mine. This old, tattered book fit perfectly with this sweet old-fashioned bunny. I couldn't resist.

Here is how you get the pattern....

This information is in the catalog and you can see the phone number right on the bottom of page 11 if you need to call (800 289 9276). Those are TC's hands in the photos, she's a patient model for me and I appreciate that.

If you are attending TNNA at the end of this week, please stop by the Unicorn Books booth #109 to check out the original sample. For yarn shop buyers, if you order 1 bag of Opal's Vincent Van Gogh sock yarn you get 5 free patterns for the top-down seamless Opal Sock Yarn Bunny!

The pattern is also available for wholesale order through Unicorn Books for yarn shops! Yarn shops can order the pattern and if you are a yarn shop customer please request the pattern through your shop if you are interested. This is the only way to get the pattern at this time.

I think Unicorn is also running a special on my Itty-Bitty Book series, too. Be sure to check that out as well.

I also made a matching Opal Sock Yarn Bunny Hat with the leftover sock yarn after the bunny was complete. With one ball of Opal sock yarn you have the yarn to knit the perfect gift set.

The construction of the hat is different than the bunny hat in Itty-Bitty Hats and it whips up very quickly. Again, this hat is just like the bunny in that it is completely seamless.

Aren't they great together? That is a surefire hit for any baby shower around! You will be the most popular knitter in town if you show up with this gift for a baby or child or the toy for an adult or teen for that matter.

I don't see the matching hat in the catalog and I am not sure if they are releasing the hat pattern at TNNA or not but the pattern and hat are with Unicorn so ask about it if you stop by the booth or get in touch with them otherwise. The patterns should both be available for purchase.

I am proud of these little knits and I had fun designing them. It has brought me a lot of joy so I hope you enjoy them, too. Unicorn has already asked me to do more designs for them for their Opal yarns in the future so I'll keep you posted on any upcoming patterns.

Click here for the link to Unicorn Books!

Now for more gigantic news keep reading......

Vogue Knitting Live class registration is now up! The VK Live event this fall is being held in Chicago from Oct. 26-28th. I am so excited to be offering two new classes on Sunday, Oct. 28th. I am only going to be there on Sunday due to family obligations on the other days.

I am teaching a brand new and exclusive VK Live design for the String-Along-Frogs! These are small toys that can be whipped up in a jiffy on worsted weight yarn. The frogs are completely seamless and so much fun to knit. You can make them as separate toys or with the ability to hook together. It's up to you.

I am also making String-Along-Monkeys and Bunnies for the in-class pattern that is provided. I will preview those versions right here in a short while. You will get the pattern as part of the class and for now that is the only place to find the pattern. It is an exclusive design for Vogue Knitting Live in Chicago!

The String-Along-Frogs are knit in the wonderful Quince & Co. Lark in several of their green colorways.

The second class I am teaching is for a baby top-down seamless cardigan (photos coming soon!). This is another exclusive design for VK Live in Chicago.  I am offering the pattern and technique information/demonstrations in the class for a worsted weight, seamless, top-down baby cardigan. There will also be an option for a matching hat and/or a hoodie version of the cardigan. I am really, really excited to be teaching this brand new class topic for me. All information for the materials are on the VK Live website.

I truly love to teach and I am so thrilled to be included in this elite group of knitting instructors. It is such an honor. You have to go look at the line up, it is incredible.

Please join me, or any of the instructors, if at all possible in Chicago. Come on Midwesterners, let's come out in droves for this fun event! The better the attendance is, the better the chances that we will get to have another VK Live in our part of the country and that is a huge big deal! Plus, it is simply a cool, fun, educational, inspirational event which benefits everyone.

Click here to register for classes!

Hope to see you in Chicago in October 2012!

Take care, Knitters.
best, susie

Thursday, June 14, 2012

6am Balm

Hi Knitters,
I goofed this morning about the swim team schedule and woke TC up out of a cozy sleep at 6am instead of 6:20am. That may not seem like much but those 20 minutes can make all the difference when you are twelve and tired. She was a very good sport about it though and I even got her to take a couple of photos before leaving for practice.

The shawl, after blocking, is just so much fun. The handspun yarn is light as air and drapey. Luckily for me it has been a bit cooler these past couple of days so I have been wearing it around my house while I've been knitting away on work projects. The Balm to the Soul has basically been keeping me company while I work.

Here are a few more 6am shots of my first handspun shawl. To me it is a beauty and I am in love. I want to knit bunches of shawls out of handspun now. Hopefully that can happen.

Balm to the Soul Shawlette, by Jaala Spiro
Handspun yarn, roving in Wintersong by Sunshine Yarns 

Now it's 9am and I'm off to dig and sort through hundreds of tutorial photos for my book. The morning glow has ended and I have to get to some serious work ahead.
best, susie

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Two Quick Things

Hi Knitters,
I have two quick things to share today. The first is a photo of my finished Silk Moon Crescent Shawl being worn. I love it and it sits so nicely wrapped around my shoulders. I've had some requests to share a photo of the shawl on my shoulders so here it is. One other thing, I can't believe how much the Noro Kureyon softened up and how the fabric has a much better drape-factor after a good blocking. It was a bit stiff before I blocked and stretched it. Now it feels great!

The second quick thing is a sneak peek of a project I've been working on with Unicorn Books! I'm so excited about this one. The project we've been working on combines one of my favorite sock yarns, Opal (remember this post?), and one of my favorite and biggest craft book and yarn distributors, Unicorn Books, plus two of my favorite knitting projects to design! That's a lot of favorites together. It's a match made in heaven. In case you didn't know, Unicorn is the distributor for Opal yarns.

Our project is being debuted at TNNA next week in booth #109+ and in the Unicorn Books catalog. I'll do a full post on this to fill you in on all of the details in a few days. If you are going to TNNA make sure you stop by the Unicorn booth and check it out. Plus, Unicorn always has fun book signings so you can check out our joint project while you are in line to get your books signed. Take a look at the great author schedule!

It's all good and super cute and fun, just as knitting should be.
best, susie

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Monday After

Hi Knitters,
It's the Monday after graduation and the rounds of graduation parties to attend. It has been a day of recovery, at the very least, a small moment to catch my breath. I bound off the Balm to the Soul Shawlette, designed by Jaala Spiro, this morning. It is the first shawl I have made out of my own handspun yarn, which feels kind of good. The roving/yarn is from Sunshine Yarns, another favorite of mine. The colorway is called Wintersong, which is as pretty as the shawl.

It's a great pattern and there is a Balm to the Soul Shawlette knitalong starting on June 15th if you are interested. I am a member of the knitalong group (see the link below) but I am not entered for prizes or anything like that so I just worked on my shawl and finished it early. If you are joining in the knitalong you should wait until the 15th to start.

This would be a good first lace project because the lace repeat is simple as simple could be. You have it memorized after two rows, the second row being all purl stitches. I highly suggest it!

You only need 300 yards of either a worsted or a dk weight yarn. Everyone has that hanging around, right?

Here are some links:
Jaala Spiro of Knit Circus
Balm to the Soul Shawlette pattern
Balm to the Soul Knitalong Ravelry group
Sunshine Yarns and Roving

My version is quite different than the one in the pattern photo. The handspun gives it a completely different feel and look. My gauge was not the same because my yarn was not even at all. This was a very early handspun of mine and so my spinning was not close to even at that time. I love the finished shawl and I can't wait to wear it. It was so much fun to knit this great little pattern with my handspun yarn.

I fudged around quite a bit with the lace and the final sequence. I didn't have quite enough yarn to complete the entire pattern for the dk weight yarn version. I'm not even sure my lace is quite right, I never counted the stitches and ended up off a little bit here and there but I don't mind one bit. It looks beautiful to me. I will wear it proudly. It is so nice not to worry about a project being perfect sometimes. When it is just for me I generously forgive my little goofs.

Here's what is left over for the yarn. I possibly could have sneaked in one more row but that's fine. I was guessing at every row near the end. Sometimes you hit it, sometimes you don't.

It's fun to get a couple of shawls done this early summer. I don't know how much personal knitting time I will have over the next couple of months. I have lots of work projects going and coming up due. I am happy to have these sweet simple shawls under my belt already thanks to the lovely Jaala and her inspiring patterns. My guess is that you would love them, too. The other one I'm talking about is the Fruit Slice Shawlette.

Anyway, what a fun way to start off the week. We are hosting an enormous graduation party this coming weekend for my son and three of his buddies. There is so much work to be done, I can't even begin to think about it. I'll be taking it one step at a time. I know it will all get done and I am looking forward to the party.

I'll be back soon with a couple of blocked shawlettes to share. Hopefully I can get someone around here to snap a couple of photos with the shawls on my shoulders.

Happy Monday!
best, susie

Saturday, June 09, 2012


Hi Knitters,
Today my son graduated from high school. It was a beautiful day and a lovely ceremony.

We love him and he makes us proud.

He is one of the most fun, smart, creative, driven and cool people I have ever been around. That's him walking across the stage.

I have no doubt he will accomplish much in his lifetime. He has been an incredibly fun kid to watch throughout his high school years as he has such varied interests. I love that about him. I really never know what is coming next with this one but it is always good and exciting.

So today, here's to my sweet little boy!
best, susie

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

From Silk Moon to Balm to the Soul

Hi Knitters,
All links will be found at the end of the post today so look there if interested. 

One other quick note, thank you for the kind emails and comments on my sister and your sisters/friends. It was fun to hear about all of your sisterly love. My sister is a singer just like her daughter, and she told me that she wore the Piper's Journey Shawl to sing at a funeral last Monday. I loved that. She gets asked to sing at funerals at her church all of the time and she often doesn't even mention it to me. I think that is so kind of her to volunteer to sing for funerals. She just quietly does good in the world and never needs any attention for it. That's the best.

Now for some new things!

I finally finished those last few rows on the Silk Moon Crescent Shawlette at a soccer game last weekend. I immediately tried it on when I got home from the game and it is simply charming. It wraps right over your shoulders so nicely. I think I will get a lot of wear out of this one come next fall and winter.

I used Noro Kureyon in the #95 colorway. I think I used two balls but maybe it was three. I lost track. The pattern is well-written and Jaala, the designer and Knit Circus founder, did a great job with this catchy and perfect match of yarn and pattern.

Jaala hosted a knitalong for the Silk Moon Shawlette and the pattern and group really took off. Many people in the knitalong, which is now over, made several shawlettes and one knitter made something like seven of them! It is that kind of pattern. The group for the knitalong is still going and it is really fun to see the different finished shawls in all kinds of yarn and sizes.

This morning I pulled out my Soak basin and Soak wash and the Knitter's Block blocking boards. I love getting these items out because it means I have finished something.

The shawl soaked while everyone scurried about getting off for the start of the day.

After everyone left the house I gently squeezed out the excess water and spread out the shawl on the blocking boards. I decided to just shape this one without wires or pins. When I tried it on before blocking it fit nicely on my shoulders and I don't really want much more length so I am kind of leaving it as is with just a gentle stretch.

Noro and garter stitch are truly a pair for all times. There is nothing else like it. I'll get a photo of the shawlette on my shoulders after it is dry. I am already in love. Many people are making these little and quick shawlettes for gifts and I have to say, I am considering it, too. It was a fun, take-along, easy knit on big needles and worsted weight yarn. I am sure I could crank out a few more of these very quickly.

I want to update you on Jaala's next knitalong. Awhile back, Jaala sat on my couch knitting away on the sweetest shawlette. I remember just loving yarn and pattern she was making, it was for a class she was teaching at the Sow's Ear. After she finished the shawlette she wore it over to my house a couple of times and it looked completely charming draped around her neck. Jaala really sells her own designs by wearing them because they look so great on her. Anyway, I thought you might enjoy the fact that she worked on this design while sitting on my living room couch as we chatted and drank tea together.

The new knitalong is for the Balm to the Soul Shawlette. This one uses either a dk or a worsted weight yarn. Directions for both weights are included in the pattern. It is an adorable shawlette with a kiss of lace on the edge. I have started the Balm shawl with some of my earliest handspun from Sunshine Yarns roving in the Wintersong colorway. I may be a tiny bit short on the yardage (I have 250 yards) so if this is the case I have some other complimentary handspun I will use for the lace edging.

I have already joined the knitalong group for the Balm to the Soul Shawlette. It officially starts June 15th and runs through July 15th. I hope to see you over there if you are interested.

Here are all of the links:
Piper's Journey Shawl
Jaala Spiro of Knit Circus
Silk Moon Crescent Shawlette pattern
Silk Moon Crescent Shawlette knitalong group
Soak Wash
Knitter's Block
Balm to the Soul Shawlette pattern
Balm to the Soul Shawlette knitalong group
The Sow's Ear
Sunshine Yarns roving and yarn - one of my faves!

It is a beautiful week weather-wise around here. I hope you are all getting out to enjoy the spring season this year.

See you soon!
best, susie