Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Vogue Knitting Live Chicago 2012

Hi, Knitters,
Well, all is said and done. Last Sunday morning, I woke up to my alarm at 3:20am to get ready to hop on the road to Vogue Knitting Live in Chicago. I had to be at the Palmer House at 8am to get my class lists and room assignments. My husband and TC drove to Chicago with me.

The sun rose at around 6:30am and the sky turned a beautiful pink color.

Finally, we could see the tall Chicago buildings on the horizon. It was such a dark and gloomy morning but I guess the day turned into sunshine later. My husband dropped me off at the front door of the Palmer House and went on his way to have a fun time with TC in the city.

As I was waiting for Gabrielle, from Vogue, to meet me by the elevators on the 7th floor of the hotel, the elevator doors opened and out popped Stephanie Pearl-McPhee. She was locating her room and dropping off some stuff for her morning class. She came back from finding her classroom (there were at least 60 classrooms on the floor) and said she had found my room on the way. She then helped me tote my two suitcases to the room. She is just as kind and personable as she seems on her blog. Before she jumped on the elevator to go have breakfast she mentioned that she was concerned that there wasn't a crock pot in her room for the class. She was teaching a class on silk and they needed a crock pot for part of the class content. 

When Gabrielle got off the elevator I was surprised she was on a scooter, I found out that she broke her foot. I can't imagine running this event with a broken foot. She deserves and extra gold star for that. As we were talking about my classroom and student lists and the key and what I needed to turn in after my classes, I casually mentioned that Stephanie had been here and was worried about a crock pot. Gabrielle's face dropped. She said it was the first time she had heard that Stephanie needed a crock pot for class. She turned to one of the volunteers with a worried look. They were certain that the hotel wouldn't have a crock pot available to cook silk in. 

Almost at the same time they came up with the thought that there was a Target directly across the street from the downtown Chicago hotel and off they went to fetch a crock pot. I loved listening to the whole thing and I was glad I mentioned it to Gabrielle. I assume a crock pot was delivered.

As I was waiting for Gabrielle, Carla Scott, the editor in chief of Vogue Knitting and Knit Simple, got off the elevator. She said, as many did during the day, "I haven't seen you at all this weekend." This was because I had just arrived on Sunday morning. The rest of the gang had already been there for several days.  

I got settled in for my morning Toy Workshop class. It really is one of my favorite things to teach as I have knit and designed so many toys at this point that I have gathered a lot of useful tips and tricks. I love sharing this information with other interested toy knitters.

What I didn't know since I was tucked into my classroom was that the weather on the east coast was playing a major role in the day for many of the VK Live participants at this point. Flights were being canceled and others were rearranging their flights early to try to get home.

Here is my top-down baby sweater class set-up. I made a basic top-down raglan pattern and then offered lots of design options. Even though the cardigans all started the same, in the end they could all look very different by making various choices along the way. 

I even designed and offered a mini-sweater or cardigan pattern option for the students in case someone wanted to knit a tiny cardigan just to be able to get all of the top-down cardigan concepts in during the class time. The mini cardigans/sweaters were ornament-size, maybe three inches long.

The mini-cardigan and sweater pattern will be available soon (after my mitten pattern and my new shawl pattern are done). 

No one opted for the mini-sweater or cardigan, they all started a regular size baby cardigan, which was fine. Most cast on for the 0-3 month size, a few cast on for the 6 month size, and all made good progress during class. I demonstrated picking up stitches for the button bands and neck edge, how to do the buttonholes and where to place them, placing the stitches for the sleeves back on the needles and picking up at the underarm and I included a quick trick for how to close up the gaps when picking up the stitches for the underarms. 

It was a fun and relaxing class.

Here is one side of my class for the Toy Workshop. They were amazing and chatty and fun. At times the group was so loud that it was hard to hear above the roar of the chatter. I loved that they were having a good time. They worked so hard, too. I ran demonstrations throughout the class, each demonstration I repeated three times to be sure everyone could come up to the front to see each technique.

Many in the toy class either finished the String-a-long toy or were close to finishing. I couldn't believe how fast they were. I have taught toys to lots of other groups and this one was by far the quickest group I have seen.

My work and demonstration table becomes messier and messier throughout the class. I always bring lots of toys for everyone to look at during the class. One thing that happened for the toy class is that I underestimated the amount of fiberfill the students would need. I didn't realize how many students would actually finish the toy or come close during the class so the supply of fiberfill was quickly dwindling down to nothing. 

I then started looking at the toys I brought for display and picked the Milk Cow to open up to steal the fiberfill out of so the students could keep working on their toys. I snipped the yarn at the front of the cow's body and pulled out the stuffing for everyone to use. The cow looked so sad and deflated.

After I got home I quickly re-stuffed and popped the stitches back on my dpns and reworked the front of the body. Here is the Milk Cow looking as good as new! I thought that was some quick on your feet thinking to solve our stuffing shortage problem.

Evelyn finished her String-a-Long Frog and put him in a very zen-like pose. Aren't they both cute?

At the front table sat three of my Itty-Bitty Knits (my group on Ravelry) buddies. Sheila (NUcat), Jessica (knitgineering), and Pat (plynn). It was so much fun to have them in class!

I had students from D.C., Arkansas, Canada, Illinois, Seattle, Los Angeles.... it was so fun to hear all of the places people came from for the event.

Pat made the mouse and nearly finished, and Jessica whipped up the monkey finishing every last stitch including the face embroidery. Jessica, by the way, has only been knitting for a year and a half. Her speed and agility with the needles amazed me to no end. She is a natural, no doubt.

(photo provided by plynn - she cropped the photo and couldn't get it back to the original size. :)

Pat, me and Jessica - intrepid Itty-Bitty Knitters! 

 After class I signed books, and got to look at photos of my toys with babies. I love it when people have photos. Pat took the photos for me! Thanks, Pat.

 I love chatting after class and getting photos with students.

Everyone was so fun! Thank you for coming to class with me.

 Here is Ashley from Arkansas. She was extra sweet. Hi, Ashley!

Here is my baby cardigan class. I have to laugh because this class was just as fun and sweet and hard working as the toy group but I could tell everyone was tired by the end of the day on Sunday, for this was the last class of the event. The students had already had 3 days of classes and shopping and fashion shows and dinners..... I also had one person drop out and then four students, who had paid and signed up for the class, didn't show up. I don't know for certain but I bet this had to do somewhat with the flight cancelations and scrambling to get home on Sunday. Many were stranded and still may be.

In the class was Brigitte, the owner of the Klose Knit Yarnshop in Urbana, Illinois. Paula of Knitting Pipeline just did an entire podcast featuring this yarn shop and her workshop with Stephen West at Klose Knit. Click here to see the blog post and/or listen to the show. I loved meeting Brigitte. She encouraged Stephen to write up his first pattern for publication as he worked at her shop as a teen in Urbana. It is really a fun story.

Brigitte's sweet husband patiently waited on some lounge chairs outside the classroom and Brigitte left a bit early to get on the road home. Her husband waved at the door as they left.

Also, in the cardigan class I had the privilege of having Jenee and Rebekah (whose flight was canceled to get back to D.C.) and Jessica again (speedy Jessica almost finished her baby cardigan during the class!). These three knit with me for the entire day. That was quite an honor. My friend Dianne of Sheep Dreams was there and it was great as always to see her.

My Madison friend, Ginger (front table on the left) made it to the class which was really fun. I really enjoy her. Brigitte was sitting right behind Ginger but had left before I snapped this photo.

It was a wonderful day full of knitting, teaching and meeting new people. I loved every minute of it. As quickly as I came, I packed up and met my husband and daughter at the front door of the hotel, and left. I didn't see the hotel much at all. Oh, and on the way out I got to chat briefly with Ysolda and Amy Detjen, who were both teaching and speaking at the event. That was a nice way to end the day.

I am not going to the VK Live in NYC in January, but I hope to be back again in the future. Vogue Knitting Live is one great event.

Click here for the Vogue Knitting Live website!

best, susie

Friday, October 26, 2012

Quaker Ridge Shawlette Knitalong Prize Winners!

(photo provided by Luna Grey Fiber Arts)

Hi, Knitters,
It's prize drawing time for the Quaker Ridge Shawlette Knitalong finishers! I am so excited to be able to offer such stellar and high quality prizes to this group of wonderful knitters. I'm going to jump right in. 

The first prize is a gorgeous skein of Rainbow sock yarn from Luna Grey Fiber Arts. Jackie the owner donated another skein of her hand dyed yarn and a project bag that was previously given out during the knitalong.  

 (photo provided by Luna Grey Fiber Arts)

The project bag is also included in this prize. And the winner is....... LannieK (rav id)! LannieK I hope you enjoy your fun new yarn and project bag.

I'd like to thank Luna Grey Fiber Arts on Etsy for generously donating to our knitalong. Please head on over to Luna Grey Fiber Arts and please take a look at her beautiful hand dyed yarns. This shop is truly a feast for the eyes.

The two hanks of yarn in the photo above are a lovely gift from Jackie of Luna Grey Fiber Arts to me. The yarn on the left is her  Hand Dyed Cashmere Merino Sock Yarn and the yarn on the right is her Merino Silk Lace Yarn. Wow, I can tell you that this is some squishy, soft, luxurious yarn. The colors are deep and rich and vibrant. I can't wait to dig in and knit something up with both of these yarns. I will keep you posted. Jackie, thank you! I highly recommend Luna Grey Fiber Arts.

Next up in line is a skein of yarn from one of my all-around favorites in the fiber world, the one and only Dyeabolical Yarns and Fiber.  If you are a regular reader of my blog you already know that I have worked with Dyeabolical yarn and fiber pretty extensively over the last year or so. The fiber and yarn is top-notch, the colors are bright, deep, interesting, and vivacious. Rachel, the owner, is a generous soul and has once again donated a skein of her superwash merino wool in the Traveling Tea colorway. This skein is a sock weight yarn in an oversized skein of 493 yards.

Click here to read all about this skein of yarn! It is so much fun.

And the winner is...... MissyT (rav id)! Congratulations to MissyT and a huge thank you, as always to Dyeabolical Yarns and Spinning Fibers!  Be sure to stop over to Dyeabolical and check out her holiday colorways. You can't go wrong with this shop.

 (photo provided by The Wool Dispensary)

The Wool Dispensary is a wonderful and relatively new independent yarn shop. I met one of the owner's of The Wool Dispensary, Sam Boice, in Chicago at Nina's, a well-knit shop, when I was on book tour. Actually, I have met her a couple of times now. She is a lively, talented knitter with tons of enthusiasm for her hand dyeing business. I love the name of the company as well as the yarns and colorways. Sam is an experienced dyer in the industry. I believe there is another owner, too, and they work out of Chicago. Give them a visit, you won't be disappointed.

Click here to check out the intriguing yarns on The Wool Dispensary shop!

Click here to visit The Wool Dispensary website!

Thank you, Wool Dispensary, for the generous donation of a project bag and a beautiful skein of yarn called, Arabian Nights in the Useful Poison base (merino/nylon/cashmere blend), fingering weight, 435 yards. I have my own skein of their sock yarn in a denim blue called Stardust and let me tell you, it is dreamy. I can't wait to knit with it.

And the winner is...... daylily1220 (rav id)! Congrats to daylily1220 and a huge thank you to The Wool Dispensary.

 (photo provided by Knitcircus)

The next prize is from my generous and talented friend Jaala Spiro of Knitcircus fame. Knitcircus has started their own line of hand dyed gradient and kettle dyed yarns. The yarns are spectacular to say the least. Jaala has a real eye for color and she has brought this right into her yarn line.

Check out the Knitcircus Etsy shop to see the color for yourself!

Click here for the Knitcircus website and sign up for Jaala's newsletter which is packed full of yarn-y information, patterns and tutorials.

Also, Jaala has started a brand new yarn club called All Wrapped Up. This club includes yarn and shawl patterns (Jaala designs the best shawls!) sent to you on a monthly basis. Click here to find out more.

Jaala has generously donated this skein of Malabrigo worsted base (yes, she dyes up the original Malabrigo Worsted which they have available to hand dyers), 100% merino and 210 yards, in her Foliage colorway, to one lucky winner!

And the winner is...... kieristhefastest (rav id)! Congratulations to Kelly and a gigantic thank you to Jaala and Knitcircus yarns. Jaala actually donated two skeins, one was previously awarded to a winner during the knitalong. Below is the photo from MelissaMartin (rav id) of her previously gifted gradient skein of Knitcircus yarn:
photo of Knitcirus gradient yarn by MelissaMartin (rav id)

Isn't it beautiful? Melissa is already knitting away on a new shawl with her prize which is fun to see.

 (photo provided by Infinite Twist)
This next prize is so above and beyond. I can't believe I get to offer such an interesting and high quality prize. Cate Carter is the owner of an independent company called, Infinite Twist. Here is a blurb from the website about the yarn and kits offered in her shop:
All of the wool yarns used in our kits are hand-spun and hand-dyed. Our range of semi-solid yarn is handspun at the Qinghai Spinner’s Cooperative. The Co-op (which is managed by social venture Shokay) provides much-needed income to 22 rural Tibetan women living in China’s Qinghai province. Our silk/wool 2-ply and wool/novelty yarns are spun in-house. All dyeing is done in our color lab with safe and colorfast dyes sourced in the U.S.

Infinite Twist is quite an impressive undertaking for Cate. Please visit her website by clicking here!

Click here for the Infinite Twist Etsy shop! Cate sells more than just yarn. Cate gifted me some of her spinning fiber and yarn samples. I'll post again about Infinite Twist in the near future to share the fiber and yarn further.

(photo provided by Infinite Twist)

The winner of the prize from Infinite Twist will receive a beautiful kit that includes handspun yarn, the pattern for the Leaf Pattern Cowl pictured above, and a set of circular needles. What a generous prize! Thank you, Cate. Please jump over and check out Infinite Twist!

And the winner is....... nauti54knitter (rav id)! Congratulations.

 (photo provided by Jelby)

The next set of prizes has been generously donated and created specifically for the Quaker Ridge Shawlette Knitalong. That's right, we have our own colorway now! Cary Smith, the owner of the Etsy shop, Jelby, creates the most beautiful, fun and practical stitch markers around. I have about 5 sets of her stitch markers that I've purchased and used extensively. I am a die-hard fan! 

To my delight Cary came up with a set of Quaker Ridge Shawlette stitch markers that so beautifully represent my love of the outdoors and autumn and this shawl. For those of you interested in getting your own set of Jelby Quaker Ridge Shawlette Stitch Markers, Cary is making them available in her shop for purchase!

Click here for Jelby on Etsy! Go get some! You will love these stitch markers. All of the colorways are beautiful. Check out her tins and wool stitch markers, too.

Here is Cary's description of the inspiration for her prize donations:
When designing the stitch marker colorway for the KAL, I tried to focus on the shawl name, Quaker Ridge, as well as Susan's love of nature. Using her photography as an inspiration, I imagined Quaker Ridge as a wooded hillside that runs along a field in shades of green and amber with accents of chocolate brown. 

  • A set of Eterne (snagfree) stitch markers in the Quaker Ridge colorway (fits up to US7)
  • A set of Eterne (snagfree) stitch markers in the Quaker Ridge colorway (fits up to US9)
  • An embroidered felt storage tin and a set of Eterne (snagfree) stitch markers in the Quaker Ridge colorway (fits up to US7)
  • An embroidered felt storage tin and a set of Eterne (snagfree) stitch markers in the Quaker Ridge colorway (fits up to US9
Each set contains 10 stitch markers. The tins are similar in design (sheep under a tree) but like most things in nature, they are slightly different.

 (photo provided by Jelby)

So there are 4 Jelby winners!
Winner #1 - Set of QRS, fits up to US size 7 stitch markers is..... my3sonsjct (rav id)! 
Winner #2 - Set of QRS, fits up to US size 9 stitch markers is....  EllenLBishop (rav id)!
Winner #3 - Set of QRS, fits up to US size 7 stitch markers AND the embroidered tin is.... peggity (rav id)! 
Winner #4 - Set of QRS, fits up to US size 9 stitch markers AND the embroidered tin is.... moniquew (rav id)!

Thank you, Cary!! You are fun and generous. Congratulations to the winners.

 (photo provided by Sun Valley Fibers)

Jeanette of Sun Valley Fibers is the owner of a local (to me) independent yarn company. She is one of the kindest, most generous people around. I love working with her and her yarns. I own Sun Valley yarn that I've purchased and I can't say enough good things about it. 

Jeanette donated 4 skeins of her luxurious and beautifully dyed yarns to our knitalong prize treasury. Thank you, Jeanette. I've already given out one skein to a lucky winner during the knitalong so that means we have 3 skeins left to give. Please check out Sun Valley Fibers online and at fiber events all over the country. This is one popular and respected yarn company and it is well-deserved. 

The winner of the beautiful yarn in the photo above, a glittery fingering weight superwash in the Cheeky colorway, is..... Gmahelen (rav id)! Congrats!

 (photo provided by Sun Valley Fibers)

This gorgeous single-ply fingering weight in the Blush colorway is going to..... Julesbean (rav id)!! Congratulations.

 (photo provided by Sun Valley Fibers)

The luscious yarn in the photo above is fingering weight merino/cashmere/nylon in the Plum Crazy colorway and a skein of this is going to..... jenb69 (rav id)!

Congratulations to the three winners of Sun Valley yarn and thank you to Jeanette!

(photo provided by Inspinknity)

Last but not least, there was a lot of discussion about blocking shawls and blocking wires going on throughout our knitalong thread. It came up over and over. One thing I could not live without when I am blocking my shawls are my Inspinknity blocking wires. So I contacted Rachel Calado, the owner of Inspinknity blocking wires to see if she would want to donate to our knitalong. Rachel told me she had been following the QRS thread and would definitely throw in a set of her Super Long Premium Blocking Wires! How exciting is that?

Click here to go to the Inspinknity website!

Click here to see the Super Long Premium Blocking Wires!

Here is a description of the prize set:
Super Long Premium Blocking Wires are designed especially for large pieces, such as circular shawls, scarves, blankets, or anything with a really long edge. With these super long wires, you'll be blocking your hand knitted (and crocheted!) items more easily and faster than with traditional methods. Using just a couple of wires and some T-pins, your work will look amazingly professional after blocking.

These wires stand apart from anything else on the market today. Made from a super-elastic wire with seemingly magical flexibility, these blocking wires will not rust, tarnish, corrode, or easily kink. They will not stain your knitting, and will last for many, many, many years! You can arch and curve these wires as you need, and they will always return to straight. This special property allows these wires to be used over and over again without weakening from repeated bending and straightening.

Set contains:
six 67” wires with tip protectors
thirty nickel plated T pins

I am so excited about this set! Thank you, Rachel. Go look at the Inspinknity Blocking Wire sets, there is so much variety. They are wonderful and tried and true. I could not live without my set and you will love them, too. 

And the winner is..... greeneye (rav id)!

Congratulations to greeneye and a humungous thank you Rachel of Inspinknity!

Well, in total I gave out 16 fantastic prizes during and now after the knitalong. I have contacted all of the winners through Ravelry with instructions on how to receive their prizes. It has all been a great experience. I love the positive energy surrounding this wonderful shawl knitalong. The camaraderie and helpfulness has been truly inspiring. I'd like to thank everyone for participating and thank all of the amazing prize donations I received to pass along.

Phew, that was one long post.

Have a great weekend, Knitters. I'll see you on the other side of Vogue Knitting Live in Chicago! I can't wait.
best, susie

Thursday, October 25, 2012


(photo from stashaway - rav id)

Hi, Knitters,
Today I am sharing a few of the finished Quaker Ridge Shawlettes (QRS) from the knitalong that just ended. There are already over 200 posted projects on ravelry and during the knitalong we had 155 knitters finish their shawls.

Click here for the QRS knitalong thread (6,700 posts with almost 300 knitalong participants)!

Click here to see all of the posted QRS projects!

Click here for the Quaker Ridge Shawlette pattern!

Tomorrow I will be posting the prizes for the drawings and the winners from the QRS Knitalong...... I have lined up some amazing prizes (yarns and products) and I can't wait to share. In the meantime, here are a few of the finished shawls.

(photo from EllenLBishop - rav id) 

(photo from Donsdatter - rav id)
Susan knit a QRS for her mother as well. I love this mother-daughter photo. 

 (photo from kendraja - rav id)

(photo from knit1purlwhew - rav id) 

(photo from KnitsbyKelly - rav id) 

(photo from terukosan - rav id) 

(photo from SmallCreation - rav id) 

(photo from peggity - rav id) 

(photo from llshan - rav id) 

(photo from NDErica - rav id)

Well, there you have a small sampling of the shawls. There are so many more and all are lovely. The participants used all sorts of yarn from different companies and even handspun and hand-dyed yarns. Some followed the pattern exactly, others added their own twist. Some added beads and ruffles, others kept is simple. The range of colors and styles is so inspiring to see.

I'd like to thank everyone for joining in and participating. It was really fun. The shawls are beautiful. Please continue to post any finished shawls in the knitalong thread on Ravelry.

I'll see you tomorrow with the winners. You won't want to miss the fantastic prizes being featured even if you didn't join in the knitalong. I bet there might even be a couple of things you haven't heard of before.
best, susie

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Dark and Stormy

Hi, Knitters,
Yesterday's late afternoon hike was the most enchanting fall experience. The day was dark and stormy. There was lightning and constant rain. The air was wet and heavy all day. 

After the storms cleared away.... this is what was left.

The dark spots on the path above are six gigantic wild turkeys.

All of this breathtaking fall beauty inspired me to start spinning this.....

Shetland Wool. Dyeabolical Yarns.

It's a very rustic wool that is going to be an autumnal bulky weight marled yarn.

In the meantime I am working away on my VK Live classes for Chicago on Oct. 28th. The preparation is going very well and I am anxious to get down to Chicago. 

The other bit of news is that the Quaker Ridge Shawlette Knitalong is officially over. I will be posting the fantastic prize drawings with the selected winners by the end of the week. I need to gather a few more photos of the prizes from the generous donors before I can do this.

Have a great fall-inspired week. I'll be back very soon.
best, susie