Friday, June 28, 2013

To Winona and Back

Hi, Knitters,
Edited to add: Dropcloth is having a 20% off sale on Etsy! I just ordered more. Sale Code: MICHIGANSUMMER 

Well, what a great response to the Dropcloth Sampler post and giveaway! I'm amazed at how many of you (hundreds!) are interested in the stitching just like me. I loved hearing about how many of you stitched in your younger days and many even commented on the Holly Hobbie stitchery kits from the 70s. I still have one that is unopened! Click here to see some Holly Hobbie embroidery kits.

The winner of the Dropcloth Original Embroidery Sampler is jaclyn622 (rav id)!!! Congratulations.

The winner of the Dropcloth Color Wheel Sampler is rachelunraveled (rav id)!!! Congratulations.

I have sent a pm on Ravelry to each of the winners informing them of the wins. The winners need to send me their mailing addresses to pass on to Rebecca Ringquist to send out their samplers. Don't forget about her fabulous online embroidery classes, too!

I'll have another giveaway very soon. Thanks to everyone for entering.

Now for a few details about my trip to Yarnology in Winona, Minnesota yesterday. In preparation for the trip I wound a few skeins of Quince & Co. Chickadee in the Frank's Plum colorway. This sport weight 100% wool is so bouncy and round that it is even fun just to wind into yarn cakes. If you haven't tried this yarn, you really should and right away. It is hard to describe. The yarn is springy, bouncy, tightly plied, and incredibly pleasant to the touch. I love it so much.

Since I was traveling yesterday I set my open Little Skein in the Big Wool project bag beside my swift and ball winder so I could pop the yarn cakes, pattern, Signature Convertible 32-inch US size 6 needles, and my Little Skein Snoopy stitch markers right inside to throw in the car with me. I kitted it all right up to go.

I am knitting Paula Emons-Fuessle's newest Quince & Co. shawl design called Lullaby Rain.  This is Paula's fifth shawl design for Quince (click here to see all 5 shawls). I love all of her shawls so much and this one especially makes my heart skip a beat. I can't explain why I am slightly obsessed with Lullaby Rain but it may have to do with the photo below.....

I adore this photo and the shawl and the umbrella and the colors and the model and the name of the shawl ..... it is all striking. I already had 5 skeins of Quince & Co. Chickadee in Frank's Plum in my stash and they will now become Lullaby Rain.  Perfection in the making.

Here is the start of Lullaby Rain, so far so good. It is a clear pattern, as Paula is known to do, with written out and charted stitch pattern instructions. Paula is a wonderful pattern writer, very thorough. I think that comes with years of knitting experience. She thinks ahead of anything that could possibly come up along the way and then explains it in her pattern for you.

Paula is hosting a Lullaby Rain Knitalong which you could join if interested. Click here to find out more.

Lullaby Rain kept me company for the car ride along with my husband who drove me to Yarnology for my book signing event at the shop.

Now I have made the road trip to Minnesota more times than I could count, literally. As a child I rode with my family to Anoka, MN many times a year to visit our grandparents and other relatives. My grandparents had a little lake cabin near Brainerd and we would go there in the summers as well. My brother went to school and lived in Maple Grove for awhile and now one of my sons goes to college in Minnesota. There is a long Minnesota history in my family. The point of this is that with the many times I have driven to Minnesota I had never taken the route through LaCrosse, Wisconsin and La Crescent, Minnesota along the Mississippi River. It is one of the prettiest stretches I have seen. The high bluffs and stone formations, hills and valleys, and rich, lush greenery filled my view with natural beauty. The river is high, turbulent and interesting. There are scenic bridges along the way as well. I really enjoyed the view out my window.

Plus, it is always fun to get to do something alone with my husband, a rare occurrence. He is an all-around good person and ever-generous to take a day off to go with me to Minnesota. He does so much for our family and especially me. We are lucky. More on my husband later in the post.

This photo doesn't illustrate how pretty it all actually was but that right there is the Ol' Miss. Even the sky was picturesque. My mom told me stories of learning to swim in the Mississippi River when she was a child. It didn't sound fun or safe (she was thrown in) and I am glad she survived. How anyone made it through is a miracle to me. 

Anyway, once I arrived at Yarnology things moved quickly.  I quickly set up my samples from Topsy-Turvy and a few samples from my other books and people began filing in. It was such a great group of knitters, many traveled several hours to get to the event. I always appreciate that effort. I talked to lots of knitters, signed stacks of books (many brought all 5 of my books to sign!). The shop is adorable with friendly staff, great yarn selection, books galore and anything else you could imagine. The space is roomy and inviting and the owners could not have been friendlier or happier. The event was a hit.

Somehow while I was chatting with the group Badger football came up and I mentioned that my husband played Badger football in the 80s. Actually, now that I think of it, it was Rhonda (above) who asked if I would knit a badger toy. It turns out Rhonda and her family are huge Badger football fans. Gabby, the shop owner, later told me Rhonda was hoping to see my husband when he picked me up and to get him to sign one of her books. I thought that was hilarious and fun. Rhonda was way more excited about my husband and the football than the knitting! I love it.

I called my husband when things were winding down after the event to come and get me at the shop. He wanted me to just run out while he parked at the curb but I insisted he come inside the shop and didn't tell him the reason.

When he got there Rhonda sweetly had him sign her Itty-Bitty Toys book and pose for some photos. She was so funny and cute. Above the three of us posed so Rhonda could share with her family. My husband is a good sport to say the least. I told you he was tall.

After the book signing and chatting time was over and people cleared out a bit I was able to get a few photos of the shop. I was so happy that I even got to have 2 new babies, just weeks old, and a funny toddler join the group of knitters for the night. One thing with this group is that many mentioned this blog to me and how much they enjoy reading it. That is always fun to hear and I appreciate people telling me that. It makes all of the hard work and effort worth it!

The shop is clean, open and warm. There is an upstairs and a downstairs, too. It is a very big space.

There are great samples everywhere you look and the yarn is clearly marked and displayed. The shop has some interesting local yarns and loads of popular yarns. There is something for everyone.

Above are the shop owners, Gabby and Kelly. Thanks for a fun-filled evening! The owners had snacks and sparkling water with lemon waiting for the guests. They wrapped each reserved book with a pretty ribbon and name tag which was a warm and personal touch. I really liked that. The entire feel of the night was warm and touching. They made me feel so welcome and wanted. I appreciate it.

This is little Sibylle. She is two. She is very cute. She enjoyed the toys as a 2-year-old does. After she was done with the doll she began tearing pages out of her mom's Itty-Bitty Nursery book. I love and enjoy 2-year-old antics anytime. Her mom was lovely and so was Sibylle. Sibylle also enjoyed the real-life babies at the event and wanted to hug them. She was very entertaining.

Here is a long shot of the shop.

The outside is adorable as the shop (look at those cute baby sweaters!) is nestled in an historic main street area of Winona. Winona was old, little and charming. You feel like you stepped back in time while there. I love little cities like this and Yarnology fits right in. I can tell it is a beloved shop.

The granny squared pole marks the entrance spot, nice touch.

After the event my husband and I stopped at a local eatery to grab a bite to eat before the 2.5 hour drive home. The homemade cookies in those jars were enormous and delicious. We had soup and a sandwich with everything on it. It hit the spot.

The place was called the Acoustic Cafe and the food and atmosphere was cute. Thanks to Yarnology for having me and thanks to Artisan Books (my publisher) for sending me and thanks to my husband for coming along. 

It was a good night.
best, susie

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Yarnology & Dropcloth Sampler Giveaway!

(Embroidery fiber from Dyed Fiber on Etsy)
Hi, Knitters,
Please read (or scroll) all the way through to the end today. I know it is long but there is good information and opportunity for you all the way through.

I am so excited to finally get up to Winona, Minnesota this Thursday, June 27th, 2013! I will be at Yarnology from 6-8pm. I will bring lots of samples from my new book, Topsy-Turvy Inside Out Knit Toys and a few (or a lot of) extras. Also, my Egg to Turtle free pattern card will be available for those attending the event. If you are in the area, please stop in. I'd love to see you at Yarnology!

65 East Third St.
Winona, Minnesota
(507) 474-9444

I had a great and brief time at TNNA last weekend. I was in Ohio less than 24 hours. I had two book signings on Sunday, one with Unicorn Books and another with R&M. Both signings went well. Thanks for stopping by! The other big thing was that the pattern for Little Dragon is now available for yarn shops to order from Unicorn. Little Dragon was featured on the cover of the Unicorn Fall 2013 catalog which was fun to see. 

While at TNNA I got to briefly see old friends, Suzette and Alison from The Wool Cabin, Brandy Fortune, Angela Tong, Craig from LoopKristin Nicholas (click here to see a photo of us together), and Leslie and Laura of The Knit Girllls. Plus, I met some new friends, the owners Lisa and Kris, from Cream City Yarn in Milwaukee.   

Now onto today's topic, embroidery! I love embroidery and have dabbled with it since I was a kid. We used to get those Holly Hobby kits, in fact, I still have one that hasn't been finished. It's probably 40 years old by now. I have done cross stitch and needlepoint, too. I enjoy hand-stitching so much but I haven't done much of it in recent years. That is until I found Rebecca Ringquist. Do you know her?

Here are Rebecca's links:
Rebecca Ringquist on Creativebug (I have taken 3 of Rebecca's online classes, Embroidery Sampler, Layered Floral Embroidery, and Embroidery Transfer Techniques - all of them fantastic!)

Run to all of these links! 

Not too long ago, before finding out about Rebecca, I had pulled out a piece of washed wool felt and some embroidery floss and just started stitching. I love busy, messy embroidery that appears without rhyme or reason. I started in with my stitches without any intention. I loved it but had to put it down because of work knitting.

Then I somehow ran across Rebecca's work and her Etsy shop and my urge to embroider took over. I quickly ordered the Dropcloth Sampler and waited impatiently for it to arrive. In the meantime I took Rebecca's wonderful Embroidery Sampler class in preparation. I learned so much, it's really incredible. I have stitched for years and years, however, this simple and fairly short class blew me away. I eagerly stitched along on my Dropcloth Sampler as I watched each stitch segment in the class again and again. I have watched each segment multiple times. The small tips and tricks you can learn from an expert are truly astounding. I am a changed embroiderer.

Rebecca is an amazing, charming, clear and relaxing teacher. I highly recommend her online courses. 

After I received my Dropcloth Sampler I couldn't put it down. I happily stitched all weekend. I ended up making my sampler into a sketchbook holder but it could also be a knitting needle holder. I love it so much and I can't remember having so much fun with another craft in a long, long time.

Here is what my finished sampler looks like:


The swirly blue chain stitch fabric is by Betz White!

Isn't it beautiful? I love the fabric and the linen backing. Rebecca is brilliant. I love that while practicing the stitches I could add in my own ideas and embellishments. Rebecca kept saying more is more and I completely agree when it comes to embroidery.

Giveaway Information:

Now for the best part! You can leave a comment on this post to enter to win your own unstitched Dropcloth Sampler from Rebecca's Etsy shop! In addition, Rebecca has generously offered to throw in her new Color Wheel Sampler (click here to see it!) for a second winner. I'm so excited for you. Please leave one comment on this post along with an email address or your rav id so I can get in touch.

After finishing my sampler sketchbook cozy I came back to my wool felt embroidery and made it into a needle holder. I put two pieces of washed wool felt together to create a needle book.

Now I load up my needles before I sit to stitch and I am ready to go!

Here is the back of the needle book. This needle book has been the greatest thing ever for my stitching. I love it!

I also stitched a linen bookmark that is going to be a gift. 

I backed it with some fabric and zig-zagged and sewed the edges to eliminate fraying. It turned out so good. I have ordered some more of Rebecca's Dropcloth designs to work on, too. 

It's so good to have a break from the knitting now and again. It is rejuvenating somehow.

Now enter away! You will have so much fun with Rebecca's work, I just know it.

Good luck.
best, susie
p.s. A photo p.s. is a first but here it is:

Please hop over and check out the beautiful ceramic work of Nancy Walker. I met her in Seattle at Vogue Knitting Live where her lovely daughter, Amanda, took one of my classes. I purchased one of Nancy's shawl pins with a rooster imprinted on the front and knit stitches imprinted on the back. It has become my favorite shawl pin and it is the only thing I bought at VKLive. These pins, called Talking Clay, are very unique. Click here for the brand new Talking Clay Etsy Shop! You will love the shawl pins and Nancy!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Little Dragon has Hatched!

Hi, Knitters,
Little Dragon, my newest pattern, is being released this weekend at TNNA in Columbus, Ohio! Yarn shops can order the printed pattern for their shops starting tomorrow through Unicorn Books. Please ask your local yarn shops about the pattern sold through Unicorn Books if they don't already have it available for you. 

I will be signing books at the Unicorn Booth #109 with knit Little Dragon at my side and of course the toys from Topsy-Turvy Inside Out at 11am on Sunday, June 23rd. I will also be at the R&M booth on Sunday, June 23rd, at 3pm with toys to enjoy in person. I hope to see you there!

In a few months the pattern will be available as a downloadable pdf through my Ravelry Pattern Shop. I'll keep you posted when the pattern becomes available through me.

I have just put up a pattern page for Little Dragon on Ravelry. The dragon is knit all in one-piece, seamlessly, from the bottom up. Little Dragon is knit in Opal Sock Yarn held double throughout on US size 5 dpns. I'm sure you all have some sock yarn you'd like to use up! I know I do. Little Dragon is about 6 1/4 inches tall.

This is one of the best toys I have ever designed. I just love this little guy. He is sort of sweet and innocent looking, demure, friendly and fun, definitely on the young side of life. I especially enjoy his big belly, you can see it from the side angle photos.

I have a partial book list of dragon stories for you today. There were many, many suggestions from my past post on Little Dragon. I love the idea of giving the knit Little Dragon along with a book to a child or young person or even an adult! Adults love the dragons, too.

Also, when looking through dragon books in the kid's section at Barnes & Noble, I couldn't help noticing all of the dragons in different colors in the various illustrations. There were red, green, yellow, orange, blue, and black dragons... something to keep in mind when knitting your own version. Maybe even a striped version? Yes to that!

A few book ideas:
How to Train Your Dragon
Puff the Magic Dragon (there is a new pop-up version!)
Waking Dragons
When a Dragon Moves In
Part-time Princess
Dragons Love Tacos
Dragon Rider
Dragon Keepers
The Knight and the Dragon
My Father's Dragon
A Practical Guide to Dragons
There's No Such Thing as a Dragon

There are so many more.....

Here are some links for you today:

Little Dragon preview video on YouTube! (See what Little Dragon looks like motion.)

Now for some photos to enjoy! Here is Little Dragon from every possible angle......

Wish me luck on my travels this weekend (crossing all fingers for smooth sailing). I will be in and out of TNNA like a flash, less than 24 hours in Ohio for me. I am so glad to be going but also to be able to be home for lots of family events this weekend. It all worked out well.

I'll be back on the other side of the weekend with a full report!
best, susie