Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Vacation Knitting

Hi, Knitters,
I am off enjoying a lovely vacation with my family and my sister and her family this week so I am only briefly checking in today.

At the same time I am enjoying my family I am enjoying a bit of fun vacation knitting as well. I will fill you in on all of the details when I get back. In the meantime the sock yarn is Opal Vincent Van Gogh in Schlafzimmer in Arles and the shawl is called Pop Spots. The shawl is knit in Madeline Tosh Sock Yarn in Tart and Madeline Tosh Feather in  Tidal Basin. The shawl is incredibly fun and the spots are super easy and addicting. I am making the large size which is huge! I'm so excited about that.

I have made a decision while on vacation this spring. It is quite serious. I am going to commit to always having a pair of plain stockinette socks (How I Make My Socks Pattern on rav) on the needles in Opal Sock Yarn at all times from now on. I adore Opal sock yarn to no end and the patterning and the finished socks are simply divine. So while I love the indie dyers and other companies and will continue to knit socks in these yarns, Opal is appealing to me on so many levels. It deserves constant attention and time on my needles. Maybe you'll join me.

That is my vacation update. I'll be back soon next week as I prepare to leave for Seattle.

I hope you are all well. Love and miss you knitters!
best, susie

Friday, March 22, 2013

New Openings in Seattle + 2 New Projects!

Hi, Knitters,
First, I want to remind anyone interested that I am speaking at the Seattle Knitters Guild on Wednesday, April 3rd. I am speaking at 7pm for an hour or so. Please come and join me if you are able! I would love to see you there. I will have my new book, Topsy Turvy Inside Out, my new free Egg to Turtle bonus pattern card for attendees and I will sign books - new and old - at the event! 

Yesterday I approved some new openings in my sold out classes at Vogue Knitting Live April 5-7th in Seattle. There are now more spots in the Sock Yarn Bunny and Build-a-Toy Workshops and there are still a few spots left in the String-a-Long Toys Workshop. The Fair Isle Hat class is already full to the highest limit I can take but check back because people's plans change and a spot may open up.

The photo above is the mini-version of the Opal Sock Yarn Bunny. This version is for the students in the Sock Yarn Bunny class to work on during our 3 hour class time. There is so much technique crammed into this little bunny and with the smaller version we will get through more of the skills together. However, if someone wants to make the larger version of the bunny during class that pattern will be provided as well and all of the demonstrations and tips and discussion will work the same.

Here are the regular Opal Sock Yarn Bunny and the brand-new Mini Sock Yarn Bunny together for a size reference. The mini bunny takes only 15 grams of sock yarn. Leftovers beware!

The Sock Yarn Bunny is knit completely in one piece from head to toe. Once that last stitch is knit, you are completely done with the bunny. It is a fun-filled knit.

The pattern for the original, larger Opal Sock Yarn Bunny is available for purchase right here!

The Opal Sock Yarn Bunny and Bunny Hat set can both be made from less than 1 ball of sock yarn. Click here for the bunny and matching hat pattern set.

The Mini Sock Yarn Bunny pattern is not available for purchase yet but will be in the future. The yarn is Opal's Vincent Van Gogh in the Sunflowers colorway.

I have been working hard on the class samples for my new Build-a-Toy Workshop that premiers in Seattle at Vogue Knitting Live. I am teaching two sections of Build-a-Toy. It is going to be so much fun. I am demystifying toy knitting for the students in this class. I have laid out many, many different shapes and techniques for the students to put together to create an endless variety of knit toys. We will also be covering all sorts of tricks and tips for finishing your toys for the best possible results. 

Seriously, I think this should become another book for me. The students are getting so much information and so many patterns. I can't wait. I am having great fun pulling the parts of the class together. I am teaching the Build-a-Toy class in other places, too. One is the Loopy Ewe Spring Fling and the other is KnitEast next fall. Even if you aren't going to the Loopy Ewe Spring Fling this April, I will be at the Loopy Ewe Yarn Shop in Ft. Collins on Wednesday, April 17th for a book signing and meet and greet open for the public.

Above in the photo is a Bear in a hoodie union suit (is there such a thing?) done completely through color change. I love the way he turned out.

Of course I had to add the back flap!

This sweet, adorable bunny is also included in the class as an option. You can put together any variety of the pieces to end up with a bear, bunny, cat, owl, puppy, sheep, doll, giraffe, mouse, monkey, frog, etc.

I finished up this snowman this week as well from the Build-a-Toy options.

Three new toys together!

The toys in the class are anywhere from 3-6 inches tall. The snowman is a little taller with the hat. 

The patterns are only available for the class right now.

However, this adorable new Little Lamb pattern is available right now! This is the new cover model from a brand-new hot off the presses book, 60 Quick Baby Blankets. 

(60 Quick Baby Blankets, published by Sixth&Spring Books. Photos by Jack Deutsch copyright © 2013 by Sixth&Spring Books/Cascade Yarns. All rights reserved. Used by permission.) 

Here Little Lamb is looking all proud on the cover. I used a simple loop stitch for the woolly coat (different than the twisted loop stitch). This stitch is much easier to create. I was asked to create the lamb as a bonus project included in the book and for the cover.

[Little Lamb designed by Susan B. Anderson from 60 Quick Baby Blankets, published by Sixth&Spring Books. Photos by Jack Deutsch copyright © 2013 by Sixth&Spring Books/Cascade Yarns. All rights reserved. Used by permission.) 

I have another project besides the Little Lamb included in the book and that would be a baby blanket. When the publisher called to ask if I would contribute a baby blanket I said sure. Then they said it needed to be an intarsia monster-themed blanket. And I still said sure. I was thinking it would be a fun challenge and it was.

[Monster Mash designed by Susan B. Anderson from 60 Quick Baby Blankets, published by Sixth&Spring Books. Photos by Jack Deutsch copyright © 2013 by Sixth&Spring Books/Cascade Yarns. All rights reserved. Used by permission.) 

I sketched and tried a variety of monster-ish things before settling on the blanket you see above. I love the finished baby blanket the publisher named Monster Mash. It is perfect for any monster-loving baby or child. The colors used can make the blanket boyish or more girlish. I picked out the more boy-themed colors because a lot of knitting designs (mine included) can lean toward girls more. 

Now, for any of your intarsia fears.... throw them out of the window. This blanket is made in squares. Four of the squares are plain stockinette with a garter stitch border. The five monster squares are all made exactly the same. The intarsia is incredibly simple. I didn't use bobbins just long lengths of the yarn. The yarn is bulky weight, Cascade 128 (click here to see the amazing colors available in this superwash yarn). It knits up incredibly fast and squishy. This is great yarn.

I wanted the monsters to appear to be moving and jumping all over the squares. The added embroidery makes the monsters come to life, don't you think? It's a really fun and sweet knit. I made a garter stitch border in the round with mitered corners. It's a nice finishing touch. 

You could add a fabric backing on the blanket in flannel or something but I made sure to take a photo of the backside before I sent off the blanket for photography. I think the back of the blanket looks great! You don't need a backing at all.

60 Quick Baby Blankets is a fantastic collection of blankets with a huge variety in the mix, everything from cables to stitch patterns to stripes to baby buntings to gingham to plaid and more. Plus, you can get the book for only 10 bucks on amazon and it has 62 patterns. This is an example of why knitting books are still the best deal around for knitting patterns. Unbelievable deal! Even if you don't knit all of the projects it is packed full of stitch pattern ideas, charts, and inspiration that you could use on other projects.

I think this is a must-have for anyone interested in knitting special gifts for babies. 

That's it for today. I heard that my new book, Topsy-Turvy, Inside-Out Knit Toys is being released a little early! I am so excited for this book to come out, it's really a different twist on knit toys. I'll be back with more on the projects inside covers soon. If you'd like a fun sneak peek check out the book trailer video by clicking right here

best, susie

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

See Susan Knit

Hi, Knitters,
I am not sure if you will find this interesting or not but I frequently get asked about how I knit so fast. By fast I think people are mainly talking about how many items I finish. However, this does include technique questions, too. I also get many requests to take a video of myself knitting. So on this bright, very cold, sunny morning I set up my iPhone on a tiny tripod and filmed myself knitting in the round on double-pointed needles.

This is not an instructional video! I am just sitting and knitting.

If you are receiving this blog post as an email via subscription, click here to see the video!

In the short video I am working on a class sample for my new Build-a-Toy Workshop that is premiering at Vogue Knitting Live in Seattle. I believe both of the Build-a-Toy Workshops are sold out at this point but if you are interested keep checking back in case someone drops out. I have worked up about 22 different toy elements and I have about 5 or 6 toy designs made from these elements left to complete before class. I can do it! It's going to be an incredible class and really fun. There is so much technique involved in this workshop and that is what I love to teach and demonstrate for my students. The other toy workshop is String-a-Long Toys and it looks like there might be a couple of openings left in this class and we cover a lot of the same techniques if you are interested.

I am using Signature Needles, double-points, 6-inches in length in the stiletto point. I didn't talk or put any music on so you can hear the needles click and slide as I work.

This is my favorite way to sit as I knit. I like to cross my legs and hold the knitting relaxed and low on my lap and slightly off to the right.

A couple of things to point out and watch for are:
1. After I knit about half of the stitches on a dpn, I quickly place the point from the previous dpn in between my pointer finger and middle finger to get it out of the way. You can barely see my hands doing this but it really helps me go faster and knit smoother.

2. After I knit the first stitch on a new dpn I give it an extra tug to tighten up the yarn in between the needles so there won't be any laddering (stretched out columns) between the stitches at those changing points.

That's all today! Short and sweet. 
Happy Tuesday.
best, susie

Monday, March 18, 2013

Craftsy's Custom Yoke Sweater Class by Amy Detjen

Hi, Knitters,
It is snowing heavily in Madison once again and the high temperatures this week are topping out at around 20 degrees. The snowflakes are gigantic as they float down from the sky. It is mid-March as we all know and we are anxious for signs of spring. On the bright side of the weather situation I have just bound off and blocked a brand-new wool sweater and incredibly enough I will still be able to wear it for awhile. How's that for some positive thinking?

Right from the start I want to give you all of the links you need to find out more about the sweater I made from Amy Detjen's (a Meg Swansen and Elizabeth Zimmermann protege) online class called Custom Yoke Sweater.

Click here for Brown Sheep Nature Spun Sport Yarn! I bought my yarn in a kit directly from Craftsy. The yarn and the kit are both very reasonably priced.

Now for some information about the making of the sweater. The craftsy class for this sweater is called Custom Yoke Sweater. There are worksheets for making a completely customized sweater using your own measurements as Amy takes you step-by-step through the process. What a wonderful offering. Amy is a nationally known knitting technical editor and knitting instructor. She has taught and assisted  Meg Swansen at Knitting Camp for over 20 years. To be able to get this instruction online is such a treat. The sweater basically uses Elizabeth Zimmermann's formula for creating a yoke sweater but Amy takes it farther by adding more shaping and other elements for a perfect fit.

The other option to this online class is that Amy offers an already written out pattern for a wide range of sizes. If you don't want to take measurements and calculate so much you can just pick your size and start. That's what I did. I made the smallest size Amy had to offer in the written out pattern section and dove right in.

In the top photo you can see the sleeve hem with the hidden stripes. I like to finish as much as possible along the way when knitting a project. I finished the body hem, the sleeve hems, wove in the ends and grafted the underarms all before getting to the neckline. When I bound off the last stitch, I was done with every part of the sweater. That's such a good feeling.

Here I have just joined the sleeves, it is a bottom-up sweater, and have completed the first chart of colorwork.

I couldn't wait to get to the leaf knitting in the orange color. After the leaves are worked you get to have your first major decrease round to get rid of loads of stitches. This is such a relief after working the mega-huge rounds.

I do have to point out that if you are not interested in the fall motifs of my version of Sipsey's Folly, Amy offers a garden-themed version rounds to choose from as well. I am thinking about making the garden version of this same sweater at some point soon. I enjoyed knitting the fall-themes so much.

Here you can see the colorwork growing and the feet of the squirrels taking shape. It's so motivating to see the colorwork growing from your fingertips. You can see that it gets a little bumpy from the major decrease round. This all blocks out in the end.

Last Saturday I worked on the yoke quite a bit. Here is my squirrel hot off the needles. Super cute!

I did Elizabeth Zimmermann's Sewn Bind-Off at the collar and threw the sweater on over my head and took this photo right away. I hadn't blocked the sweater yet but I couldn't resist wearing it first for a few hours. The fit is amazing. 

The only thing I did a tiny bit differently is that I added 1/2 an inch to the sleeve length and 1 inch to the body length. Everything else is exactly as written. The pattern is perfection.

I soaked the sweater in a basin of lukewarm water for about 20 minutes. I gently rolled out the excess water in a couple of clean towels. Then I gently spread out the sweater on my blocking boards. The wool smelled so good from the Soak Wash in the Amy Butler scent (I don't think this is available any longer).

The yoke smoothed out beautifully. I love how washing the wool makes the stitches even out so nicely. It makes a world of difference. The other good thing from washing is how soft the wool becomes with washing.

Well, here you have it. It is soft, cute, fits great and it even smells good.

I can comfortably fit a long-sleeved tee underneath. Here my arms are down at my side. The sleeve and body lengths are just right. I learned so much from this pattern and the online course. Amy is a delightful, smart, cheerful, informative and funny teacher. That is the best kind. 

I highly recommend this class for any interested colorwork yoke sweater knitters out there.

I just love my new sweater! Thank you, Amy Detjen and for a wonderful knitting experience. 
best, susie
p.s. I am not going to make this a cardigan or change anything about it ever. It's perfect as is.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Belfast Hoodie - Revisited

Hi, Knitters,
Do you remember my recently finished Belfast Hoodie by Carrie Bostick Hoge for Quince & Co.? I knit this in Quince & Co. Lark in the Pomegranate colorway. I love everything about this cardigan, the hood, the trim, the fitted sleeves, the raglan/yoke combination, the pockets, the buttons, etc. You get the idea, it is wonderful. The only thing I didn't love on me is the length. The pattern is wonderful, the design is cozy and fun. Length is something that you can change and modify on any garment you are knitting. 

At first I thought the length was perfect but I had modified the pattern and put buttons and buttonholes all the way down the fronts. The pattern is intended to be a swingy, open A-line cardigan with three buttons at the top only. The way I wanted to wear it was all buttoned up. The loose A-line shape and my buttoned up fronts didn't mesh well. The cardigan was too loose at the bottom and there was simply way too much fabric to wear it buttoned up all the way. It didn't sit right. 

I stewed around in my thoughts on the extra-length and extra-width at the bottom for awhile. In the end I decided it was simply too long for me to wear comfortably (you can see the length in the photo above). The cardigan came all the way down to the top of my legs plus some. 

In the photo above you can see how long the cardigan is beneath the pockets. I basically wanted to remove everything below the pockets and add on a short ribbed edging. The cardigan is knit from the bottom up with the button bands picked up along the edges and added on after the body is complete. That presented an issue with pulling out the bottom and making it shorter. 

The photo above shows the cardigan after I picked up hundreds of stitches along the fronts and hood. I could not envision pulling out these stitches that circled both fronts and the hood. It was around 350 stitches plus more that I had picked up for the front bands. I had to think of another way to shorten my Belfast Hoodie.

I had plenty of leftover yarn, almost an entire skein, after knitting the cardigan, plus 2 extra skeins still in my stash. Yarn was not a worry.

I tried it on and decided that I needed to remove all of the fabric from about an inch under the pockets to the bottom edge of the cardi. 

The body of the cardigan would not be a problem to pull out. I carefully picked up the stitches all the way around the fronts and back and then I was planning on cutting it off to unravel up to my circular needle holding the stitches. You can see the circular needle, above, holding the stitches along the back.

Here's where it got trickier. I had a horizontally knit button and buttonhole bands. I decided to use a crochet steek across each of the front bands just below the picked up stitches. You can see that I picked up stitches on the front bands as well as the body of the cardigan.

You can see the crochet steek on both sides directly below the needles. 

I cut the steeked stitches on the front bands. It was really exciting because at this point I still didn't know if my plan would work. I knew I could most likely fix up most any situation but I didn't know how difficult it would be to get the cardigan looking good again.

When I saw that the steeks were going to hold the front band stitches adequately in place I began cutting and unraveling the bottom section of the cardigan.

I measured and I got rid of close to 6-inches of fabric! 

Here is the beautiful cardigan all set to finish up with the stitches neatly on the needles and with the nest of ripped out scraps sitting nearby.

I still have this stack of leftovers. I should try to save as much of the yarn as possible at some point. It felt so good to make this improvement. I knew in the end it would be worth the effort.

I added on the garter ridge to keep the theme of the sweater intact. I then knit maybe 6 rows of rib and bound off at a relaxed tension. I stitched the crochet steeks down to the inside of the cardigan.

I gave the new edging a good steam to set the stitches. You would never know the difference! It looks like a million bucks.

Here is the underside of the bottom edge and front bands. You can see the tacked down steeks.

I am so much happier with the length and the fit of my refreshed Belfast Hoodie.  

I have not taken it off since. The yarn and fabric and fit are simply perfect. It is much more flattering and wearable at this length for me. It feels like a new cardigan all over again!

Removing 5 or so inches at the bottom has made all the difference in the world. 

Remember that it's never really over with the knitting......

If you don't like a certain something about a garment you made, maybe you can change it to make your perfect cardigan or sweater come to life.
best, susie

Sunday, March 10, 2013

The Drawer

Hi, Knitters,
In the past I have had people request to see my handknit sock drawer. I have never shared the inside of my dresser drawers before but the other day I was folding some freshly washed handknit socks to put back in my sock drawer and the sunlight was hitting just right and I stepped back and took a moment. I thought about how pretty all of the handknit socks look together and what kind of hours of knitting and pleasure went into creating the fine collection I have today. There is a lot of yarn and years of knitting and living combined in here. 

Now, not only is there one pull-out drawer but....

there is another....

.... and both drawers are deep and double-layered with more handknit socks hiding underneath.

To make things even better, the dresser belonged to my beautiful mother.

It's all a treasure to behold.

best, susie

Thursday, March 07, 2013

A Day in a Knitterly Life

Hi, Knitters,
First of all, a gigantic thank you is due for the Ebb Cowl love, my latest design that was released for Quince & Company. The Ebb Cowl has snuck its way onto the Ravelry Hot Right Now Top 20 Patterns two separate times already, climbing as high as number 4 on the list. There are over 100 people joined in the Ebb Cowl Knitalong as of now and the pattern was just released on March 5th. You can join in at anytime and the knitalong is staying open until April 30th, which is when I will shortly thereafter be drawing for prizes for those who finish a cowl. You can enter more than once if you finish more than one Ebb Cowl.

Don't forget that if you finish ANY of the projects before April 30th, 2013 from the Quince & Co. Scarves, Etc. 2013 ebook you can post with a photo in the Scarves, Etc. 2013 Finished Project thread on my Ravelry group to be entered to win prizes. Click here to see all of the designs in the ebook. It's that easy.

Other projects I am going to knit from the Scarves, Etc. 2013 ebook are: Gill's Rock (I already received my yarn for this from Quince, Finch in Winesap! Plus, Gill's Rock is inspired from one of my favorite, and Paula's, Wisconsin spots, Door County. Remember this and this and this?), Mainline, and the Aurora Shawl for starters. I wish I could knit through the entire collection...... 

Okay, on to other knitterly happenings now. In the first photo you can see that I have finally finished the first bobbin of singles I am working on for a 3-ply sock yarn. That lovely pink bobbin is from Corriedale roving in the Sweetheart colorway from Dyeabolical. I am spinning another bobbin of the Sweetheart and then the third bobbin is a lovely natural white wool roving that I picked up at the Dane County Farmers Market last summer. I love it all so far but it is a slow moving project due to my other knitting obligations right now. I just sneak in a bit here and there. 

I don't have an enormous collection of stitch markers like some do. I do have enough to get by though. The other day I filled my pepper grinder in the kitchen with more peppercorn. The peppercorn came in this little bottle, which I thought was very cute. I washed it out so it no longer smelled of pepper, although I am a pepper addict so that's not the worst thing. I then filled the clean bottle with stitch markers. I think it is really cute for some reason and I love to reuse/repurpose containers.

Those sheep stitch markers were given to me by pattytrish (rav id) in a swap a short while back on the Itty-Bitty Knits group. Click here to find out more about the stitch markers.

I've made some handspun sock knitting progress. I have two different handspun socks on the needles right now. I enjoy the way the barber pole handspun yarn knits up looking heathered or tweed-like. It's wonderful. This was spun from Moonshine Fiber Co. roving.

The second handspun sock I am knitting is yarn I made from 8oz. of Dyeabolical roving. This sock yarn I am keeping on my Yarn Buddy from Sun Valley Fibers (a great local to me yarn and fiber farm). You plop the yarn cake on and pull from the outside of the yarn cake and the yarn smoothly spins right off and onto your needles, a great and pretty invention. I bought mine in person at an event last year but you can order one from the Sun Valley website. The craftsmanship is beautiful. The wood, there are different choices, is rich. I use the Yarn Buddy all of the time. The spin is smooth as silk. You know, this would make such a great gift for any knitter if you are ever trying to think of something unique.

This is how I keep my Yarn Buddy and latest sock set up right in my living room. It's like a piece of artwork. Then when I am sitting in the living room I pick it up and knit a few rounds.

I did some colorful wash the other day! This is the other artwork in the living room.

I hang my old and worn sewn by me knitting bag (it's still my favorite bag) on a chair in my living room. The felted flower makes me so happy. Heather gave it to me as a gift a few years back at TNNA.  I put it right on my bag and have never taken it off since. Thank you, Heather!  It's so well made. Heather recycles wool sweaters to create these gorgeous flower pins. I dream of having a bunch more of these felted flowers to put one on every bag I own. It's so happy. 

Inside my worn bag? Peachy's GAP-tastic Cowl in progress. I'm making her cowl in 3 skeins of Quince & Co.'s Puffin in the Twig colorway. Fast and fun are words to describe this cowl. I've gotten Miss Molly to make one and now my sister and her daughter are making GAP-tastics, too. It's a free pattern on Ravelry.

I'm working mainly on workshop/teaching preparation right now. There is so much work to get done for my upcoming classes and I am working right up to the last minute, as always. I hope to see some of you at the Madison Knitters Guild Knit-In on Saturday. My classes are full and then some! I'll report back on this event next week.

Well, that was a link-filled post for you. What are you all working on this week? I'd love to hear.
best, susie
p.s. I have three new hat patterns is coming out soon! Here's a quick look at one of the new hats! I still have some work to do on these patterns but they are coming.....