Tuesday, January 29, 2013


Hi, Knitters,
Miss Molly (my son's girlfriend) has been a knitting machine over the last few weeks of her winter break from college. She finished a pair of socks for her sister, a bunch of Tiny Sweaters and Tiny Trees, another beautiful cowl design of mine which will be available fairly soon (much more on that  later), and the Gaptastic Cowl shown in the photos here. 

Miss Molly used 3 skeins of Quince & Co. Puffin in the Chanterelle colorway. She worked on US size 11,  32-inch circular needles. It seemed to fly off the needles for her. Miss Molly has now become a cowl knitter. She is really enjoying this type of project and I don't blame her.

Last weekend I washed the cowl with Soak Wash in the Aquae scent and blocked it for her. The stitches evened out beautifully and it dried to be incredibly soft and squishy. The Puffin yarn is a single-ply and it is so much fun to knit. My Agnes sweater is out of the same yarn in the Bark colorway. Plus, it is so reasonably priced, even for a college student.

This is Miss Molly's first time trying it on. Isn't she sweet?

She will get so much wear out of her new cowl on campus. It is supposed to get really cold here over the next few days in Madison with the lows being below zero. She walks to class and work on a daily basis so I am happy she will have a new knit to snuggle up in on her cold winter walks. 

Victory! I love that look of pride. It has been fun to see Molly take off with her knitting over the last couple of years. She told me that people in her classes are always asking her about her knitting and that they ask her to teach them how all of the time. I love hearing that about college students.

Peachy liked this cowl so much that I am knitting one for her in Quince & Co. Puffin in the Twig colorway. The yarn is on the way.

Miss Molly's next cowl is going to be the Honey Cowl and I have a lot of yarn in my stash she can choose from for this project. I love sharing with her because she is always so appreciative and fun.

Next, Miss Molly immediately cast on for another pair of socks. This time in the Colinette Jitterbug sock yarn in the Dusk colorway. I bought this for her on our trip to Key West last spring. It is knitting up so pretty with the little bursts of color. She loves it.

Now on another topic, I get a lot of emails from people sharing their knitting adventures with me. Every once in awhile something will really inspire me and these two emails I'm sharing below may inspire you, too.

(photo provided with permission by The Wool Cabin)

A short while back I received an email with a link from my friend Alison, one of the owners of the lovely knit shop called The Wool Cabin in Salt Lake City. This is one of my favorite shops, by the way. Call them to order anytime 801-466-1811, their customer service is fantastic! I could not believe it when I saw that one of Alison's customers, Mary, had knit 68 of my farm animals for her grandchildren for Christmas! That's right I said 68! They are so well-done and you have to read about the barns (plural) that were made for her, too. That barn is adorable.

Read all about the talented Mary and her wonderful farm knitting by clicking right here!

Thanks to Alison for sharing with me. And Mary..... wow, you are something else, grandma of the year at the very least! Those kids are lucky to have you.

(photo provided with permission from Teresa)

Here's another email I received a short while ago from Teresa, now a college student. She won a big award for her farm knitting. All of the patterns for the animals are found right here. Read all about it in her email below (shared with permission, of course).

Hello Mrs. Anderson! 
My name is Teresa and I'm currently a college student. I just wanted to share with you my knitting experience from my senior year of high school. 
I came across your book Spud and Chloe at the Farm on one of my favorite knitting blogs, http://nevernotknitting.blogspot.com/. It looked like such a fun project!  I saw the book at my local grocery store, and almost bought it, but then decided that I wouldn't have time for such a big project during my senior year of high school. I changed my mind a few weeks later and bought the book off of amazon. I purchased all the yarn from Joanne Fabric and Craft Stores and got to work right away on making Chloe. 
I loved working on the project and very quickly found myself spending every evening working on the different characters. I have never worked on such a big knitting project and I was surprised at how much I enjoyed working on the animals. They were all so cute! My little siblings loved watching the animals take shape and every time I sat down to continue knitting, I had to continually tell my siblings to keep their hands off my project. I would have loved for them to play with the animals, but I was working on the project to enter it in the 4-H department of our county fair and I didn't want any pulled stitches or funny stretch marks. I did make two dolls for my sister's birthdays that looked like each of them: one with a blond ponytail and one with extra thick brown pigtails! Those are well loved dolls! I nearly completed the project by the time judging day at the fair rolled around. I still have to complete some hay bales and the picket fence, but other than that the entire set was entered into the county fair. It won the Best Overall Knitting award and was selected to go to the state fair. At the state fair, it received the purple rosette! I was so happy! 
I just wanted to share this with you and thank you for creating the Spud and Chloe at the Farm project. I really enjoyed working on the project and I learned so many new skills while knitting the farm animals. 
Attached is a copy of the three page article I wrote for the 4-H newsletter. It tells of my 4-H experience, and it might not interest you, but the part mostly about the farm animals begins in the second paragraph of the second page.
I look forward to following your blog and I can't wait for Christmas break so I can have more time to spend knitting!  
Thank you for taking the time to read this! I hope you have a lovely day! 

It's me again. Thank you, Teresa, for sharing with me. That was quite an undertaking for a young and busy knitter. Congratulations.

I was going to do a giveaway at the end of last week but it got moved to a slightly later date for a good reason. It is going to be an even bigger giveaway! I'll keep you posted on all of that coming up. 

I hope your week is off to a good start.
best, susie

Friday, January 25, 2013

Annabel Cardigan Story

Hi, Knitters,
Well, I have a new cardigan. Finishing a handknit garment is fun and satisfying every time. I always think about how you start a knitting project with simple sticks and string and you end up with something amazing. That's what knitting really is, amazing. I am in love with this sweet little garter stitch cardigan. You might like to knit one, too.

Here is the information on my wonderful new cardigan:
Pattern: Annabel by Carrie Bostick Hoge  
This is a wonderfully written pattern, very clear and easy instructions.

Level of difficulty: First time sweater perfection! Millionth time sweater perfection! Fun, simple and fast for everyone.

Yarn: Malabrigo Twist in the Indiecita #416 colorway (bought several years ago from Webs) I think this is the softest and squishiest cardigan I have ever made. I don't always go for the softest yarns but this time I did. If softness is something you seek out Twist would be perfect for you.

Needles: US 10.5, 32-inch circs and dpns

Buttons: Sheppardhandmade on Etsy (I'd like to buy everything in this shop. Adorable and sweet buttons, packaging divine, origami crane included, an extra tiny button, too, and letter stamped tape like from when I was a child. Love, love, love everything about this shop.)

Modifications: None except added a little length in the body and arms. I followed the pattern exactly for the second size. Also, I substituted the yarn. The pattern is written for Quince & Co.'s Osprey. I would love to make another in Osprey. 

What I learned: 
I learned that I really don't love alternating skeins but it is imperative when knitting with a variegated yarn. I already knew this but my dislike of alternating skeins every 2 rows was confirmed. It just slowed me down a lot. However, the finished fabric and coloration throughout the sweater is absolutely beautiful, even and perfect. It was worth all of the trouble.

I also learned that I really don't love garter stitch in large quantities. Again, I already knew this. Remember my Hitchhiker shawl? It's still not done. I just find garter stitch um.... a little boring (my least favorite word) but I love the finished garter stitch items so I will continue to knit every row when it's needed.

Here's the rest of the story in pictures:

A cardigan love story.
A sweet, simple one.
Have a good weekend and I hope you are knitting a love story, too.
best, susie

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

More Socks

Hi, Knitters,
I'm trying to get those unfinished socks off the needles this week. I'm having some success. I've started the second sock for the Rainbows and Clouds socks. The cheerful yarn is by the wonderful Abbi Grasso and her shop is right here. It feels good to get going on the second as the first sock has been finished for a long time now.

I hand washed another batch of handknit socks. I thought I might as well as long as I was washing and blocking the finished Annabel Cardigan (more on that later). Try and match them up! None of the pairs are next to each other.

This delicious stack of socks includes some pairs that were knit 6 or 7 years ago. I do think that hand washing really helps to keep the socks going longer.  

All of these socks are knit from my free pattern which can be found by clicking right here.                                                      

The freshly washed socks look so bouncy, warm and inviting. 

The socks from the top down are the Patchworks, Noro Silk Garden Lite, Cakewalk Yarns Cherry Blossom, Noro Kureyon Sock, Trekking XXL, and more Noro Kureyon Sock.

It has been cold in Madison over the last few days. I have been layering my woolens just to keep warm. I keep thinking about how I want to knit an Elizabeth Zimmermann Rib Warmer to wear over my handknit sweaters when the temps dip below zero. That's a must in the near future. 

Back to socks, while washing and blocking my socks and new cardigan I wore my first pair of socks knit from my own handspun. This yarn was from the Knitgirllls spinalong/knitalong a couple of years ago. I love these socks.

I finally finished the second sock from my beloved Freshisle Fibers watermelon striping yarn. These are definitely my favorites for the moment. I still need to wash and block them. 

I have wanted to knit the watermelon striping socks since I saw Stephanie Pearl-McPhee knit them years ago. Finally my dream has come true. The yarn is a rustic hearty single-ply which I adore. I loved every second of knitting these socks. I will wear these with great adoration for years to come. 

I can't wait to wear the watermelon socks with my watermelon mittens out on the pond skating rink in my neighborhood, possibly by the end of the week. The below zero temperatures right now won't permit the skating but soon it will happen.

I'll be back with all of the details on my fresh new cardigan and the sweetest ceramic buttons from etsy I stitched on yesterday. 

Stay warm and layer those woolens.
best, susie 
p.s. If you are interested please join me on instagram for quick and more up to the minute updates on my knitting and other activities. It's a lot of fun over there! Click here for my instagram photo collection.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Wash Day

Hi, Knitters,
There is nothing much better than a stack of freshly washed handknit socks. They feel bouncy and fresh and new again. I wash all of my handknit socks by hand using Soak Wash. It is fast, easy and gives me ease of mind that my socks won't felt or distort when being washed. I fill a tub with room temperature water, squeeze in some Soak, drop the socks in, let them sit for 15 minutes or so, gently roll out the excess water in a towel and...

.... lay them out flat to dry.

This winter some of my socks have taken a beating with my constant wearing and washing. This pair popped through at the toe which I haven't ever had happen before. Who knows maybe I knit the sock a smidgen too short? This hole I grafted closed. It's pretty much as good as new. 

This is Kristin Nicholas' Best Foot Forward sock yarn that is no longer available. Good thing I still have a few balls in my stash. I love this yarn and Kristin's colors. Her Regia Garden Effects sock yarn is still available and that's just as pretty.

The other day I discovered a hole on the bottom of the heel in these handspun socks I made last year. This hole isn't so easily repaired. The yarn I spun and used to knit these was only a 2-ply so I didn't expect them to last forever. I did get a lot of good wear from them and they are beautiful so all has not been lost. 

I have taken to wearing mix-and-match handknit socks around the house so I will just throw the sock without the hole back in my drawer to match up with another single sock. I actually really like wearing the unmatched socks. The older I get the stranger I get. I'll also wear single socks of different yarns together while I finish the second matching sock. I shouldn't do this because then when I finish the second sock the first sock is already worn compared to the brand-new sock. I know better, it's just kind of fun. I don't ask for much.

If I had to place a bet on the next pair of socks that will wear a hole I'd say it's a pretty sure bet that it will be my Door County Cherry socks (shown above). These are knit in a single-ply yarn (not the best idea but still fun and pretty). It is Madelinetosh Merino Light and it really isn't meant for making hearty-wearing socks. They still look really great and are beautiful and soft but the bottoms are wearing thin and even the color has worn off. It's just a matter of time. 

I still love these socks as the yarn was purchased at Spin yarn shop on a family vacation to Door County. Fond memories included. 

Those are Swedish Troentorp clogs the same brand and style I wore in the 70s. I have a couple pairs of Troentorp clogs and I love them as they bring me right back.

In order from left to right are the Door County Cherry Socks, the Patchwork Socks (seen in my blog banner - those are my feet in the clogs by the way, not a little girl's feet as many think), the Kristin Nicholas Best Foot Forward socks, Vesper Candy Corn socks, and my handspun Dyeabolical socks. 

All of these socks were knit using my free sock pattern/recipe called How I Make My Socks. I can knit these socks in my sleep. They are all cuff-down, heel flap with gusset. I love how they wear and how they fit. The heel is the best part.

Surprisingly enough the Patchwork Socks which are from the How I Make My Socks pattern (and use leftover sock yarn knit in 10 round increments) are wearing like steel so far. I have worn and washed these a lot this season. I think the Patchworks are my favorite socks. They are just fun. I should do some more Patchwork socks. It wouldn't matter much if they were just single socks knit one at a time because they don't match anyway. That may be the way to go. Things to do!

Oh, and I get lots of questions about care and washing of woolens. I handwash superwash wool and regular wool socks the same. I don't know if that's what is recommended but it seems to work well for my sock longevity. Some handknit socks I have had and worn for years and years with no holes or problems.

That's my sock story for the day. I have five unfinished pairs on my needles right now. That seems to be a lot. I think I'll finish those all up soon. That's the plan.

Happy Sunday to you. 
best, susie

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Ruche Panel Tuque for Our Back 40

Edited to add Jan. 18th: The Our Back 40 kit shop is just opening today or at the latest on Monday, Jan. 21st. There will be more colors offered for the hat kit at that time. Please check back to order your kit if interested!

Hi, Knitters,
I briefly shared this new hat design called the Ruche Panel Tuque I did for Our Back 40 last week when I was showing off the finished Belfast Hoodie. I want to give you a little more detail on this wonderful alpaca yarn company and some of the other patterns in their new kit collection that is premiering at Vogue Knitting Live this weekend in New York City.

My friend in knitting, Tanis Gray, who I first met in 2007 when she was an editor for Vogue Knitting, contacted me to see if I would be able to design something for a small alpaca yarn company debuting at VK Live. I submitted this hat idea and then waited anxiously for the yarn to arrive. I requested a worsted weight. When the yarn arrived in a tiny box I had no idea what to expect, not even the color. 

Oh, I was excited to see this gorgeous shade of green when I opened the box. The yarn is incredibly soft and luxurious. The company's tag-line is, Cashmere Quality, All-American Alpaca. It is a luxury yarn that makes you want to sink in and stay awhile. The Ne Plus Ultra Worsted-Weight Alpaca knits up like a dream and shows stitch definition wonderfully. I think the Ruche Panel Tuque would be a very warm everyday kind of hat. I can't wait to knit another one up for myself. It would be my go-to hat during these cold winter months without a doubt.

Here is the description of the worsted weight yarn I received for the hat from Our Back 40 and it's all true!

There are many designs available for the Our Back 40 kits you can purchase at VK Live in NYC this weekend and then online through the website. These kits include the yarn and pattern and they are really something special, like a little treasure or true luxury item. The hat I designed would be the perfect gift for a beloved woman in in your life (or for yourself, of course).  

Other designers included in the pattern collection for Our Back 40 are Tanis Gray, Mary Jane Mucklestone, Elspeth Kursh, Jessica Dekker, Ann Weaver, and Angela Hahn. 

Here is the description of the mission of Our Back 40 from their website, just reading this makes me excited to be a teeny-tiny part of their development: 
Our Back 40 develops, produces and sells yarns which bring together the finest alpaca fiber produced in the U.S. with discerning consumers who value its quality and provenance.
We achieve this by cultivating direct, fair trade relationships with small American farms to access their finest grade alpaca, and working closely with an artisanal mill in this country to produce yarns of distinct beauty and authenticity. When you purchase our yarns, you join a community and complete a vital circle of American trade.
Our goal is to inspire great projects with yarn that exceeds your expectations, made from fiber so fine it redefines alpaca. 
It's me again. You can see a list of the small farms along with links to them right here! I love reading the names of all of these farms. It is quite a list.

If you are attending Vogue Knitting Live this weekend in New York please stop by the String Yarn booths where you will find all of the Our Back 40 knit samples for the new kits at the booth. You will also be able to see and touch their yarns in person. You won't be disappointed and please tell Lynn I say hi! The booth numbers are 807, 809, 811, and 813.   

Now, a little bit about the hat called the Ruche Panel Tuque. Tuque means hat or beanie in case you weren't sure. I think it is such a cute name for a hat. The RPT is designed to fit an average woman's head from 19-22-inches in circumference. (My head measures 22-inches if you are interested in the fit.) If you are knitting this hat for a head on the smaller size you could always go down a couple of needle sizes for the brim. This will make a tighter fit. The hat knit as written is very comfortable on my head.

I made up a cast-on technique to get that adorable little ruffle in the panel section of the hat. I was really pleased with how it turned out. The frill is just enough detail, a perfect touch if I do say so myself. The hat is knit on US size 7 needles at 5 stitches per inch. The yarn is a generous worsted weight. 

I really wanted to keep this hat for myself but I'll just have to order a kit to make one to keep. 

And because I know I'll be asked this question, the pattern will eventually be available in my Ravelry Pattern Shop but not for quite a long while. I'll keep you posted when it becomes available. Click here for the project page for the RPT. Eventually I would love to do a quick knitalong for this hat as I really want one to keep at my house.

I'll leave you with a couple of beautiful photos I received from Lynn Edens of Our Back 40. These are the photos you will find in the actual pattern and on their website. 

(photo provided from Our Back 40)

(photo provided from Our Back 40)

Have fun at Vogue Knitting Live in New York this weekend. I can't wait for Vogue Knitting Live in Seattle as I will be teaching there (registration for classes just opened!). I've already heard from quite a few who are going to be in my classes. I love that. Please let me know if you are coming so I can keep my eye out for you.

Thank you for all of the Opal Sock Yarn Bunny and Hat Set love! The patterns are flying out of my pattern shop. That is so much fun. I really appreciate the support and I can't wait to see all of that sock yarn knit up into adorable little bunnies.

I'll be back soon with more. Get ready for another super fun review and giveaway next week.
best, susie

Monday, January 14, 2013

Opal Sock Bunny and Bunny Hat Set Now Available!

Hi, Knitters,
The Opal Sock Bunny and Bunny Hat Set are now available in my Ravelry Pattern Store. I designed the bunny and bunny hat early last summer for Unicorn Books and Crafts to premiere at TNNA in Columbus. Unicorn is the distributor for Opal yarns and they asked me to come up with a couple of non-sock designs for their beloved Opal sock yarn line. Opal really is one of my favorite sock yarns but you could knit either the bunny and/or the hat with any sock or fingering weight yarn you have in your stash. You could even combine leftovers to make a patchwork bunny. That would be so cute.

These are two great little stash busting projects for all of that sock yarn sitting on your shelves.

The Opal bunny is adorable and kind of old-fashioned looking. The best part is that the bunny is knit entirely in one-piece from the top-down. Once you are done knitting that last bunny toe you are done with the entire thing except for making a pom-pom for the tail if you like.

I pretty much love this bunny as it reminds me of an old and well-loved handcrafted toy from years gone by.

The exact yarn for both the bunny and hat is one ball of Opal Pullover & Sockenwolle Vincent van Gogh #5437. The bunny is knit on size US 1 double-pointed needles and the  hat is knit on size US 2 sixteen inch circular needles and double-pointed needles.

He is just as cute from the back view. The bunny would be cute in a solid or tonal sock yarn as well.  I used safety eyes but you could embroider eyes just as easily if you prefer.

The hat along with the bunny or on its own makes for an adorable baby gift. The hat sizes are from 0-6 months to 6-12 months. The hat and the bunny can be made out of less than 400 yards of sock yarn.

The ears are knit right in as you work the hat from the bottom up. It's a fun and fast little knit!

So I have the patterns each listed separately or you can purchase as a set for a discounted price.

The Opal Sock Yarn Bunny pattern available for $5.00. 

The Opal Sock Yarn Bunny Hat pattern is available for $5.00.

The Opal Sock Yarn Bunny and Bunny Hat Set patterns are available together for $7.00! 

Please note that the format for the pdfs were designed by Unicorn Books so they are a little different than my usual pattern format.

Enjoy the bunny knits! It's perfect timing with spring coming right around the corner.

One last thing and I'll write more about this later, my classes are up and available for registration for Vogue Knitting Live in Seattle this coming April 5-7th! I'm so excited to go to Seattle for the first time. I'm offering some new classes, too, including a class on this same Opal Sock Bunny project! I am thinking about including and coming up with a tinier sock yarn bunny version to get more done in the 3 hour class time. It should be really fun.

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