Monday, July 30, 2012

A Monkey, Clouds and Cake

Hi Knitters,
As the days speed by and blur by in some cases, I still manage to get some personal knitting and spinning done although it seems less lately. I finished up two single socks this past weekend. On the right is my first Monkey Sock by Cookie A, a free pattern from I love it and can't wait to cast on for my second sock. On the right is the handspun Dyeabolical yarn. It is so well suited for socks.

For the Monkey Socks, I knit on US size 1 dpns and the yarn is Kristin Nicholas' (click here for her blog) Garden Effects by Regia in the Holiday #3306 colorway (click here for the yarn).

I used my regular old heel flap and gusset, not the one in the pattern. I did do the twisted rib stitch suggested in the pattern. It is a k1, p1 rib where you do the knit stitch through the back loop. I think I like a regular rib, like a k2, p2, better. You never know unless you try.

Great pattern, fun and easy lace chart, and perfect yarn for the Monkey Socks.

For my Dyeabolical handspun (click here for the site), I worked on US size 1 dpns and I used my free sock pattern, How I make my socks (click here for the pattern).  I love the new handspun sock dearly, can't wait to start the second. This will be my third pair of handspun socks since I started spinning almost a couple of years ago. That's pretty good.

I can't believe the amount of yarn I still have left. I have already knit a shawl and a sock from this hank of handspun. I will still have a ton left when the second sock is done.

I am using my Signature Needle Arts dpns with the stiletto points in US size 1 (click here for the site).

The cake of yarn is sitting on a Yarn Buddy by Sun Valley Fibers (click here for the site). I love having this yarn buddy.

I started a mitten with the Themyscira handspun. It's funny because when I say the weight of the yarn I spin I am totally and completely guessing. I actually have no idea and I don't take any steps to measure and figure out the actual weight. I thought this skein was a bulky weight, measured through my studious eyes. However, when I started knitting I quickly realized it is a worsted weight and I had to rip out the cuff I had started. Then I moved down to a US size 7 needle. I had to rip out the cuff again because the gauge was still too loose.

Now I have found the perfect fit. I am using my Signature dpns, US size 6, to get a nice bouncy fabric that will keep my mitts warm this winter. These are going to be really cute mittens and I am writing up a brand new pattern from scratch for them. I will share the pattern at some point with you when I am done. I am using a measuring tape and using that good ol' calculator and pencil and paper to get it just right. The good thing is that they will be written for a worsted weight yarn and not necessarily for a handspun. You could use any worsted weight wool in your stash for these.

I don't mind at all not knowing the exact weight or gauge of my handspun. It's all part of the fun trying to figure it out. The spinning is a side note to my knitting that I don't have to take seriously at all and I want to keep it that way. It's just free and easy!

This is the next up roving now on my Ladybug wheel. It is lovely. The color is Green River, perfection, and it is 4 oz. of Polwarth from Cloudlover Yarn and Fiber (click here for the site). This site has some irresistible yarn and fiber if you are interested. I have used roving from this shop before and it is wonderful.

The first 2 oz. is done and I think it is really beautiful so far. This one I am doing pretty thin and it will be a 2-ply when I am done.

I finished the Cakewalk Yarns socks in Cherry Blossom (click here for Rose's Etsy Shop). The pattern again is from my free sock pattern (click right here).

I love the speckled yarn and the sweet color so much. Cherry Blossom is a hit all around.

The yarn is a light fingering weight and the socks feel like air. I can't wait to put them to use this fall and winter. Now I will be casting on my next pair of Cakewalk socks..... what to choose, Sudden Valley or Hero Squad?

I'll be back soon with more.
best, susie
p.s. I think I might have to get these clogs. What do you think?

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Down by the Old Pool Yard

Hi Knitters,
Well, that was one long swim meet today clocking in at almost 6 hours. That's long for an outdoor summer meet against only one team. The other team is gigantic with hundreds of swimmers and relays up to H and I in the alphabet. Our team has A,B and sometimes C relays.

Luckily I packed my handspun sock project in my bag before we left. We found a shady spot tucked in by an enormous pine tree to put our chairs. There I sat in between events and knit away the hours. I am almost done with the toe now. It's so pretty.

I cast on my Ravellenics project very early this morning. I was too tired last night after a late dive meet and then dinner when we got home. My goal for the Ravellenics is to knit up all of the sample baby cardigans for my October 28th class at Vogue Knitting Live in Chicago. My toy class is sold out already but there are still spots in my design your own baby cardigan class on that Sunday afternoon.

I'll share the different versions of the cardigan I will be bringing to class on here as I finish them up. I already have one basic cardigan finished and it is adorable, a real staple kind of item to have in your knitting bag of tricks. There will be lots of options to choose from when the students create their own cardigan.

I am really excited about this new class. It is fun to change things up for sure. I hope to see you there if you can make it. I have had a few people ask if they can bring books for me to sign and the answer is, yes, of course. That is always fun and we'll have time to sign during the class as people are knitting away I am sure.

Click here for Vogue Knitting Live in Chicago this October

Have a good and peaceful weekend. I think I'll do another giveaway next week at some point so look for that if you are interested.
best, susie

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Double Marl Thursday

Hi Knitters,
I hope you are all doing well this week. We have finally gotten a couple days of rain around here and things are looking a little bit greener. That is a happy thing. The brown grass and dying greenery everywhere you turn has been a little depressing this summer. Hopefully the rain will continue off and on for awhile.

I am sharing some details about a hank of handspun yarn I recently finished. I was reading the blog quite a long time ago where Jillian Moreno wrote about a spinning technique called Double Marl. You can read about it by clicking right here. I immediately wanted to try this technique with some of the more colorful roving I had because it distributes the color so nicely.

I also like it because it is incredibly fast and a good way to whip up a bulkier weight yarn. I don't want to only spin fingering weight yarn. I want a good mix of colors, yarn weights, fibers, gradients, striping, etc. Why else would you spin? It's all about variety, creation, trying new techniques, learning more about wool and various fibers, experimenting and mostly having fun!

Here is the unbraided roving I picked up in.... Kentucky! You saw that coming. It is Falkland wool, 4oz.  It is from Dyeabolical Yarns and is in the ever-popular Themyscira colorway. This roving is so beautiful and vibrant.

Basically, you separate the roving into thin pinky size strips. You can kind of see I started pulling the skinny strands apart above. I didn't do any pre-drafting at all. Then you take two of the thin strips of roving and spin them together to get your singles.

I kind of think of it almost as a sort of 4-ply in the end because you are taking two strands to make the singles and then plying the two singles together to get the finished yarn. I know that isn't exactly true because you don't have 4 singles you are plying together but the way the colors mix together you are getting that from the four pieces of roving spun together.

Isn't it gorgeous? The colors just pop out at you.

In the end I got 150 yards of a bulky weight yarn. I am definitely going to make Molly's Mittens with this skein of Themiscyra. Click here to see the pattern for Molly's Mittens. This is the perfect yarn to make a super cute pair of mittens for the winter ahead. When we go skating outside in the bitter cold Wisconsin winter season I'll have on my watermelon socks and my Themyscira mittens and....

My Thorpe hat for which I spun the yarn using the same double marl technique last winter. The color mix and distribution in the knit fabric is so effective. And look how great those tassels turned out with the double marl yarn. They are barber pole goodness.

I'll share my finished Molly's Mittens when they are done. This mitten pattern is so fast and simple. I can't even count the number of times I've used this pattern, over and over again.

I best get back to work now. I'll return soon with much more on the knitting front.
best, susie

Monday, July 23, 2012

Whistle While You Work

Hi Knitters,
Instead of whistling while I work on editing my book pages, I take small breaks here and there to knit. I don't have time to put in all of the links today with this quick share of projects. However, I will be back soon to update you with the details.

In the photo above, I was recently reminded about the gorgeous Kristin Nicholas Garden Affects Regia sock yarn (Farbe 03306, Partie 11312) I had sitting on my shelf. Plus, I was reminded from the video podcast,, about the always popular Monkey Socks (pattern on by Cookie A. I had always wanted to knit myself a pair of these lacy socks so I finally decided to jump in and start a pair. I'm a little late to the game, but better late than never.

I have found that this is the perfect pairing of yarn and pattern. I am crazy over this sock. More to come later on my super fun Monkey socks project....

Have any of you knit Monkey socks? I'd love to know.

I took this long forgotten watermelon striping sock with me to a dive meet last weekend. Strangely, all I had left was the toe and it has been sitting untouched for months. It took only minutes to finish the sock as I quickly finished knitting the toe at the meet and then grafted it together when I got home.

Now I am in love with this single watermelon sock. This wool is not for the weak of heart. It is rustic in feel and has what I call hay bits and pieces scattered throughout. You have to pick out hay as you knit. For some reason this doesn't bother me at all and I kind of get a kick out of it. The yarn is a thick, rough single-ply that I not so easily knit up on US size 1 dpns.

I truly love this warm, fun, comfy sock. The winters will be a better place if I can get the second sock done in time. The sweet watermelon sock is right at the top of my favorite sock list, that is, if there was a list. There really should be a list.

The hard to get your hands on yarn is from It is the best if you can get it!

Lastly, I have a bunch of baby knits of all sorts and kinds on the needles for a collection I am working on. I couldn't be more excited about this one.

This tiny green sneak peek is all I can share at this time. More information on this will come later for sure.

What are you working on this week? Knitting or otherwise, I'd love to hear about it.

Have a super Monday and as always, a great start to your week, Knitters.
best, susie

Friday, July 20, 2012

Jellies and Knit Lamb Swap Package

Hi Knitters,
Let's end the week with a happy and knitterly post. I joined in a swap on my Itty-Bitty Knits group on ravelry. Mel, one of the lovely moderators and the queen of organizing swaps has an alphabetical theme going on this year. We are at JKL in the alphabet so the swap was titled, Jellies and a Knit Lamb. That was basically the requirement for the swap. Mel posted all of my various lamb patterns that swappers could choose from and then add any sort of jelly beans, gummies, or jelly-related candy to the package.

What I love about these swaps is the creativity that emerges in the packages. The package I received is incredibly creative and detailed. My partner is pattytrish (rav id) or Patricia, who lives in Kansas. She is a very active, fun, upbeat and supportive member of Itty-Bitty Knits and we are all lucky to have her around. Patricia wrote me a card and told me the theme for this package is color and I could certainly see that!

Just look at what she put together for me.....

I think this is the cutest and most colorful version of one of my sheep patterns ever! I just love it. The way Patricia used the bright variegated yarn for the fleece and then contrasted that with the stripey neutral yarn for the face and feet.... genius. This sheep made my day a million times over. I keep showing it to everyone and the reaction is the same every time, "CUTE!"

I'll save it forever and it is going in a special spot in my studio. Thank you so much for your beautiful work, Patricia.

Patricia also had time to knit up a pair of Fallberry Mitts in one of my favorite yarns.

The pattern is from Knitty so it is a free one. I think I might have to make another pair to have around here because there are many hands wanting to wear this pair by pattytrish. We love them.

Patricia knit two adorable sheep washcloths/dishcloths. She also sent me a gorgeous braid of fiber. You can find the free patterns for these washcloths, by bee30 - rav id or Ber, by clicking right here.

This one will be next on my wheel. I love Falkland Wool and the colors are wonderful and soothing. The dyer is Ella Marie Fibers on Etsy. What a great shop. I am excited to get this braid going.

Patricia's granddaughter, Gabby, knit up another rainbow dishcloth for me. She wrote me a sweet card explaining that the washcloth isn't exactly a square. Gabby, I couldn't love it more! Who needs a square? Squares are overrated. I will use and love your handknit goodness. Your knitting is beautiful and thank you for sharing it with me.

Can you believe this box of goodies? It never ends. Included is a Ravelry project bag, jelly beans and jelly babies, chocolate covered sunflower seeds, a sheep shawl pin (love!), "S" hankies, a knitty notepad and pen, a sheep calendar for 2013 (love this, I am a wall calendar kind of girl), and a couple of Kansas postcards.

This is all so much fun.

But it doesn't stop there. Patricia made a project bag with colorful sheep on the outside and a sunny golden floral fabric on the inside. I love the polka dot ribbon drawstring, it matches the knit sheep's bow.

Inside this sweet handstitched bag there was a treasury of goodies.

This little bag included, sheep buttons, embroidery floss, sheep earrings, two sets of fantastic sheep stitch markers (yay! I love these and I was just going to order more stitch markers.), a sheep stamp and ink pad, and a lovely card from Patricia.

Wow! That is one impressive and detailed swap package. I can't believe the effort and thoughtfulness that went into this.

Thank you, Patricia. xoxoxo to you.

The package I sent to my partner just arrived. My partner is in Canada and I can't wait to hear if she likes it. Fingers are crossed.

Have a great weekend everyone. I hope you get to spend some time knitting.
best, susie

Thursday, July 19, 2012

A Week Goes By

Hi Knitters,
First off, I want to quickly remind everyone that the Vogue Knitting Live Chicago, Oct. 26th-28th, 2012, classes are now open for general registration! I am only there one day, Sunday the 28th, and will be teaching two classes. I hope you can come!

Click here for Vogue Knitting Live Chicago class information!

A lot happens in a week or even a day sometimes. Here are some of the happenings around here over the past week....

I plopped a small ball of bulky weight handspun, my first handspun yarn ever, in my Julia Knowles yarn bowl (photo above).

Click here for the yarn bowl information.

I quickly knit up a sweet little homespun toy for a swap on my Itty-Bitty Knits group.

The pattern is called, Lamb from Scratch, and it is a charming, simple, fast and fun knit. Any bulky weight yarn will work great. I have seen this knit up in all sorts of yarns.

Click here for the Lamb from Scratch pattern information.

I got my swap partner's gifts and goodies all boxed up and shipped off in time. I hope she gets it soon.

Yesterday, I received my swap package in the mail. It is incredible and I am going to share this piece by piece with you later. What an amazing effort by my partner. More on this one soon when I get photos.

Our neighborhood pool had an adult social and silent auction fundraiser last weekend. I helped run the silent auction that night but found time to bid on a dozen homemade cupcake cookies baked and decorated by a neighbor of mine. Aren't they cute? They were gone in a flash soon after I brought them home. She is talented!

After finishing the Thin Ice Shawl, I had so much of the handspun yarn left over that I cast on a pair of socks to use up the rest. It is working up quite densely on US size 1 dpns which is good because it is a 2-ply yarn and might not be strong enough for durable socks. I know they might wear out quickly but making the fabric dense will hopefully help a little with longevity.

Sock pattern? Click here for How I Make My Socks.

The handspun yarn cake is spinning smoothly off of my Sun Valley Fibers Yarn Buddy. This is a beautiful handcrafted tool that I love using. I purchased mine at the Knit Circus Retreat last spring.

Click here to find out more about the Sun Valley Yarn Buddy.

During this past week I also finished up a bunch of projects for the upcoming holiday issue of Knit Simple. I got the finished knit samples shipped off to New York and finished writing up the patterns, which was no small feat with the amount of activity going on in my house. It's great fun to design for magazines but it is always a challenge to get all of the work done and on time.

After sending off the finished patterns, I quickly hand-stitched elastic sequin strips on five black swim suits for TC's water ballet routine group. That took forever! I sent them up with TC for practice, her instructor is none other than Miss Molly. The sequins all stayed on except for one girl. The silver sequins popped off on one side so I have to tack down again and allow for more stretch. It is tricky that stretchy fabric and sequin sewing.

Mostly, I have been doing a lot of book page editing. Reading, writing, checking math, checking photos, all that good stuff that needs to be done when creating a book.

It is going to be a really fun, playful book. I am pretty excited about it. It's not out until next spring 2013.

I even snuck in a couple hours of knitting and chatting time with my friend, Jaala Spiro. We treated ourselves to black cherry smoothies to boot. It was a good time. I'm so glad Jaala lives close by and that I've gotten to know her better over the last year. She's a gem.

Click here for Jaala's wonderful website, newsletter, tutorial source, and podcast!

While together that night, I started Jaala's Bridge Over Troubled Water Shawlette. By the time I got to the start of the first lace section they were closing down the joint but it was a good spot to stop knitting anyway.

Last but not least, last week my son made an extensive robot costume complete with silver spray paint, boxes, aluminum tubing (which they taped up to cover up his arms later), lightbulbs, a calculator, and a megaphone which made his voice sound robot-like. He coaches swim team at our neighborhood pool and showed up at practice as Robo-Coach. He coaches 9 and 10 year old swimmers and they absolutely loved it. He would shake hands with the kids using the tongs to grasp their hands. It was pretty funny. Another day he hosted a formal dance party with punch served in a punch bowl on the basketball court for his group after practice. Then yesterday he bought them donuts. He loves those kids and I love seeing the extra effort he puts in to make it fun and memorable for them.

Now this huge robot costume is sitting in my small basement along with my college son's stuff and all of our stuff.... oooph, it's not good down there. What are you going to do? It's all in the name of fun.

Well, I'm off to edit pages and pages of book material and to write tutorial copy to go along with the fantastic tutorial photographs from not too long ago.

I hope you are all doing well! Don't forget to enter the Cakewalk Yarns Cherry Blossom giveaway on Veronika's Yarn on the House blog. There aren't that many entries and she has 3 skeins to give away. Don't miss your chance and go enter! Click here for the giveaway!

What are you all up to this week? I'd love to hear.
best, susie

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Yarn on the House Interview and Loop!

Hi Knitters,
I have so much to announce today. I'll get right to it in order:

1. I did a fun video interview with Ve of Yarn on the House. Click here to watch.

2. Don't miss that Ve has 3 (!) skeins of Cakewalk Yarns Cherry Blossom sock yarn to giveaway to go along with my interview. You have to answer an easy, easy question in the comments on her post to enter to win the yarn. The question is in Part 3 of the interview. The entire interview is only a little over 20 minutes long total but is divided in three parts. Please go enter!

Also, check out all of the fun links Ve put together under our interview on her blog. We talked about a lot in such a short time. It is really fun.

Click here to watch the video on the Yarn on the House site.

3. The winner of the Themyscira Dyeabolical Yarn giveaway is..... sewsable (rav id)! Congratulations, Rachelle!

4. Rachel, of Dyeabolical Yarns, was thrilled with the response on the giveaway, over 700 entries, so she generously threw in a second skein of her yarn, colorway to be determined. The winner of a second skein of Dyeabolical is..... muttiruth (rav id)! Congratulations, Ruth!

Thanks to everyone for entering the giveaway. I will host another one very soon so stay tuned.

Now, on with the regular post. That beautiful shawl in the photo above is one that I just finished last week and I just love it.

I spun up this beautiful Bullseye Bump of merino wool fiber from Loop on Etsy. This colorway is aptly called, Mediterranean Sun. You can see Steph's signature center pull bump. She creates one of a kind bumps of all sorts of fiber. It is pretty amazing.

 Loop's Bullseye Bumps are fluffy and interesting and plain old entertaining to spin.

It all came out to become this gorgeous hank of yarn. It is Navajo plied, 440 yards of a sport weight in a merino wool. I wasn't quite sure what to make with it but then after I knit up the Little Shells Shawl and loved the pattern, I saw another shawl from this pair of designers, Holly and Ella Knits. It is the Summer Flies Shawlette. I thought I would give this one a whirl with my new Loop handspun.

Click here for the Little Shells free pattern.

Click here for the Summer Flies Shawlette free pattern.

Click here for the Loop Etsy shop.

I loved everything about knitting up this Summer Flies Shawlette. The handspun yarn just flew off my needles. The pattern is wonderfully written and clear. Each section is more fun than the last which keeps it fast-paced and fun. I loved the picot bind off at the end, even if it is a little tedious, the result is well worth it. I highly recommend this pattern.

Here is the shawlette blocking. There is a ruffle so I ran the wire through the start of the ruffle, right before the increase row. That way I wouldn't pull the ruffle out of the ruffle. It worked well. After blocking, the shawl is so light and airy.

I am not sure the colors are for me with my olive skin tone but I asked my blonde sister if she could wear these colors and she said yes. I was going to give it to her right away as she tried it on but she said maybe for Christmas or something. She already knows about it so that's not fun. I may give it to her soon. I am enjoying looking at it for now anyway before it goes away.

On a quick and funny note, I wanted the picot bind off to be in the blue color. In order to do this I wound a bit of the color you see right before the blue off of the yarn cake and started in with the blue for the bind off. Of course I ran out right before the end of the bind off row as you can see above. It is easy to underestimate how much yarn it takes to do a picot bind off and a ruffle for that matter. I had over 400 stitches on the needles at that point.

I debated what to do but in the end I just joined in the tiny ball I had wound off to get to the blue color and finished off the row. It looks fine and for some reason it isn't all that noticeable. I never mind little things like this when they happen. It is kind of fun to find the solutions.

That's why knitting is so great, you are always forced to think.

Okay, I'll be back soon with more.
best, susie