Thursday, September 26, 2013

Mini-Sock Yarn Bunny ~ Pattern Now Available!

Hi, Knitters,
I quietly released a new pattern last night on my Ravelry Pattern Shop for the Mini-Sock Yarn Bunny! I designed this miniature bunny made out of sock yarn for my Opal Sock Yarn Bunny Workshops, which I am still teaching at various venues. It is a more manageable size for a three-hour class.

The pattern uses 15 grams or around 70-80 meters of sock or fingering weight yarn. You could use variegated, striping, solid, semi-solid.... anything goes! This is the perfect left over sock yarn stash buster for you. The funkier the colors the better!

The pattern is currently on sale through the month of October 2013! 

The price is $4.00 in my Ravelry Pattern Shop! Click here for more information or to purchase! Remember that you don't have to be a member of Ravelry to purchase patterns on the site.

On November 1st, 2013 the pattern will be sold at the regular price of $5.00.  

(The larger bunny is the original Opal Sock Yarn Bunny)

Here is some information you might like to know:

For the Mini-Sock Yarn Bunny: (click here for the pattern info. and to buy!)

Finished measurement: 4-inches tall when sitting

Yarn: Opal Pullover & Sockenwolle Vincent van Gogh (75% superwash wool, 25% polymide; 100 grams/425 meters), 1 skein in the Sunflower Colorway #5437

OR about 15 grams of sock yarn

Needles: US size 1 (2.5mm), set of 4 double-pointed needles or size to obtain gauge

Gauge: 8 stitches per inch in stockinette stitch

Yarn needle
Tape measure or ruler
Black embroidery floss
Removable stitch markers
Scrap yarn

Optional items:
Poly-pellets (Please note: Polly-pellets are considered a choking hazard for infants and young children, only use if your toy is for an older child on up.)
6mm safety eyes (Please note: You can embroider the eyes if there is a choking concern for infants and young children or if you prefer embroidered eyes.)

Pattern note: This is a seamless toy and it is worked from the top-down.

This little guy is nothing short of adorable. He sits in the palm of your hand. This bunny is a fantastic skill-building project. You will start with the head and work your way down to the very last toe with absolutely no seaming! When you knit the last stitch you are finished with your mini-bunny.

The knitting of the bunny is super fun and slick. You will learn how to pick up stitches on an object, do an afterthought technique for the ears, arms and legs, and simple increases and decreases are used as well. You will feel very accomplished after knitting your mini-bunny up and you are left with a sweet little bunny at the end. 

This bunny is the perfect gift for a baby, child, teen or adult. It is also the perfect stocking stuffer or package topper for a baby gift or baby shower! The possibilities are endless. The majority of us won't have to purchase any yarn to make a bunch of these bunnies. It's a good deal all-around.

Here are some in-progress photos for you to enjoy!

This is my favorite photo. The bunny is literally sprouting from my needles.

Waiting patiently for some arms and legs.

Still waiting for limbs while sitting in a nest of yarn..... 

Finally, the very last toe is being knit! Cartwheel or upside down jumping for joy is going on.

Kristebee (rav id) has made a handful of Mini-Sock Yarn Bunnies. The pink bunny is made from that huge skein of my handspun I sold last summer. She also made a beautiful shawl from the same skein. Her bunnies are wonderful!

Click here to see more about Kriste's mini-sock yarn bunnies!

(photo provided by Kristebee)

The other two bunnies are knit in Opal Vincent Van Gogh sock yarn.

(photo provided by Kristebee)

While I knit up this tiny bunny my big bunny, old TC, joined me in my studio.

I got her up off the floor and busy making sample pom-poms for an upcoming class. She's the pom-pom queen so she didn't mind a bit.

Anyway, get your Opal Sock Yarn Bunny and Mini-Sock Yarn Bunny patterns while they are hot and the Mini-Bunny is on sale! Ramp up your toy-knitting for the upcoming holiday season.

Have fun and keep me posted if you make a bunny. I'd love to see it.
best, susie

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Kentucky Sheep Dreams

Hi, Knitters,
I am so honored that Dianne MacDonald, my friend since I toured for Itty-Bitty Hats in 2006, has joined in the blog tour for Topsy-Turvy Inside Out Knit Toys. Since that 2006 book tour I have been to Lexington, Kentucky, where Dianne lives and farms, three more times. For each visit Dianne has been a gracious host, tour guide/driver (even picking me up at the airport at midnight) and meal provider for me. I think if I lived in Lexington, Dianne would be my best friend, if she'd have me. I'd be bugging her all of the time. 

The last time I was in Kentucky was for the Sheep and Fiber Festival where once again Dianne was an incredible hostess with the most-est. She invited me to come down and teach at the event. She is easy, kind, friendly and most of all extremely talented with all things fiber. Dianne does everything from raising beautiful sheep and other farm animals (you have to read her blog to believe it!), to creating fleece from her animals for her gorgeous spinning (it's like none-other I've seen), to knitting fantastic creations from her own wool (and commercials wools, too). Oh, and she used to co-own a beautiful yarn shop and she cooks and bakes up a storm and her friends love her! I am sure there is much more that this adorable mother and grandmother is able to do brilliantly. I have just yet to stumble upon her other talents as Dianne is also sweetly humble. That's the best part about her. 

Please visit and follow Dianne's Kentucky Sheep Dreams blog! If you are interested in farm life, beautiful farm scenery, sheep and other farm and domestic animals, knitting, spinning, cooking, baking, watching lambing on her lamb-cam, book reviews, retreat adventures, living with a veterinarian (her husband), mothering, grandmothering..... etc., please read this blog. You will love it!

Dianne knit up the Bunny and Lamb topsy-turvy toy from my newest book in her own gorgeous handspun. It is waaaaay better than my own version and the yarn is simply dreamy and perfect. She is incredibly talented, a treasure. Dianne reviewed the book, Topsy-Turvy, and is hosting a giveaway for a copy of the book!

Thank you, Dianne, for taking the time to be a part of the book/blog tour for me. You are always much appreciated.

Secondly, let me take a grateful bow and shout thank you to everyone who took the time to vote for my hat in the My Mountain Hat Design Contest! I just made it to 5th place by the skin of my teeth which means I won an iPad Mini. I am so excited about this fact! Thank you times a million-billion! I have wanted an iPad for my travels for.... well, since they came out and I have never bought one. I am thrilled. I know that it took a lot of combined effort and I appreciate everyone who voted.

The hat pattern will be released as a free pattern. I will link the pattern when it is available. You need two skeins of the Lova yarn to make the hat. I am not sure of the release date for the pattern.

Take care! Wish me luck for my first trip to Canada this weekend. I'm excited about that one, too. There is so much good going on this fall.
best, susie  

Monday, September 23, 2013

Single Sock Sunday

Hi, Knitters,
Thank you for the huge and warm response in regards to the Prairie Ridge Shawl kit giveaway from Infinite Twist. 

The shawl pattern climbed all the way to #7 on the Hot Right Now Patterns on the main Ravelry pattern page so thank you! 

I've randomly selected a winner out of the entries. The winner is.... DanaRT (rav id)!!! Congratulations to Dana! I've pm'd Dana on Ravelry to let her know she came up the winner. Dana, please email me your mailing address. Dana selected the Box of Chocolates colorway. Thank you to everyone for entering. There are many more giveaways in the works so stay tuned.

Cate Carter of Infinite Twist has let me know that she has sold a ton of kits already. Thank you for ordering and supporting this wonderful company with a mission to do good in the world. Please continue to support Cate if you are able to do so. Every little bit is appreciated! 

Alright! I have a big and busy week ahead. I leave at the end of the week for the much awaited KnitEast retreat in New Brunswick, Canada.

I am so excited about this event! I will be joined by fellow instructors Ann Budd, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, Mary Jane Mucklestone, Bristol Ivy, and Deb Barnhill. What fun. There are still a few openings in several of the classes (including my Sock Yarn Bunny class). Click here to see all of the classes being offered! If you are in the area check out this amazing event.

I know some of the attendees are in my Itty-Bitty Knits Ravelry group and we are looking forward to being together in person. I love when I get to be with my fellow IBKers.

Okay, with all of that out of the way, let's talk about a couple of new single socks. On Sunday I put the F in Finishing on two single socks. The first sock is in the photo above. I had a long swim meet to watch on Saturday so I put a huge dent in my 15 Colour Rainbow socks from Fab Funky Fibres on Etsy. 

I don't need to say anything more about this yarn, just look at it. I am swooning. Perfection is found right here in this yarn.

I used my How I Make My Socks free sock recipe as the pattern.

The second single sock is from the Opal Vincent Van Gogh series that I am working my way through. This colorway is Starry Night. This yarn line from Opal has been discontinued and it is increasingly difficult to find. I love every colorway found in the series. I think I have three Vincent Van Gogh colorways to go for a complete set.

Look out Opal's new line called The Little Prince! I love a book inspired yarn line. I am coming your way soon.

I used the Hermione's Everyday Socks free pattern for this one. It was simple and added a fun little twist.

I am accumulating a big stack of single socks. I need to go back and finish up a bunch of second socks I have started so I can have pairs. In the meantime I wear mixed pairs. It's kind of fun.

I hope you are all well. I'll take lots of photos in the busy week ahead to share when I return. 

best, susie

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Prairie Ridge Shawl ~ My New Design & Kits for Infinite Twist!

Hi, Knitters,
Today is a special day here on the blog, be sure to read to the end for an extraordinary opportunity for you. I have been working for about a year on this new shawl design and developing and coordinating ideas with this incredible yarn company, Infinite Twist. A year in the making for this concept! The hard work has been well worth it. The design and the yarn are a match made in heaven.

Today I am privileged to be hosting a giveaway for a kit to make my new shawl design, the Prairie Ridge Shawl, giving you information on where to purchase your own kit and mostly, letting you know about this interesting and inspiring yarn company, Infinite Twist. It's a big day!

Never have I felt so much love for a design before due to the back story of the handspun yarn and company, Infinite Twist.

I wish you could feel this shawl through the screen. It is soft and luscious. The yarn is 100% wool and the barber poling of colors in the yarn creates a heathered, almost tweedy effect in the fabric. There is something really different and special about this finished project. The color of the yarn really reminds me of the purple prairie flowers I have been enjoying all summer on my hikes.

The Prairie Ridge Shawl is versatile in the ways you can wear it. It sits nicely simply draped over your shoulders, you could add a shawl pin to hold it in place or tie it in the front, you can wrap it up closely around your neck or drape it over your shoulder and tie the ends in the back. 

For different ways to wear your shawl check out my video on YouTube called, Ways to Wear Your Shawl. Click here to view!

In the photo above I have the shawl over my shoulders and tied in the back. This is one of my favorite ways to wear a shawl. It stays put this way.

You can see how nicely the shawl sits on my shoulders and just envelops me in the lovely handspun yarn. It is an incredible feeling to wear this shawl.

Above I have the shawl wrapped up around my neck. I can't wait to wear the shawl wrapped around my black wool coat in the winter months ahead. That will be so warm and cozy.

The Prairie Ridge Shawl is like a sister in shape to my shawl from last year, the Quaker Ridge Shawlette. As you know, because I've said it many times, this half-circle shape is my favorite for a shawl. If you knit the Quaker Ridge Shawlette you'll find the Prairie Ridge Shawl similar in shape but different in many ways such as: a different cast on and start up, much easier increases, worsted weight yarn instead of a sport weight, a simple lace pattern worked in with stockinette stitch sections, and two edging options (a ruffle or a simple garter edge). The Prairie Ridge Shawl can be made any size because you can stop of any point in the pattern to make a smaller shawl or continue on with the sections to make a larger version.

Here is some pattern information you might like to know:

This is a perfect first shawl/lace project!! 

Finished Measurements: 68-inch wingspan, 22-inch depth after blocking
Yarn: Infinite Twist Halo Heather (worsted weight handspun 100% wool); 550 yards
Needles: US size 7 circular needles, 32-inch or longer
Gauge: 5 stitches per inch in Stockinette stitch before blocking
Sizing and Yarn Notes
The gauge for this shawl doesn’t have to be exact, however, the yardage requirements will vary if the gauge is different. Also, this pattern doesn’t require a certain number of stitches at any given point; you can easily make your shawl larger or smaller by continuing on or stopping at any time. Stopping at the end of a repeat is recommended when changing the size of the shawl.

(The 3 colorways for the shawl kits!)

And only because I know I will be asked this, right now the pattern is only available in kit form exclusively through Infinite Twist! Please take advantage of this beautiful kit offering if you are able. You won't regret it. 

In January 2014 the single pattern will be available for download through my Ravelry Pattern Shop. I will let you know when the pattern is available for download. It will become available on this page, click here! The Prairie Ridge Shawl is a great project for your own handspun as well. 

Here is some important information about Infinite Twist provided by the founder, Cate Carter:

Infinite Twist provides fiber artists with hand-crafted supplies and beautiful tools, and provides living wages for skilled artisans.
Your fingers only need to dip into a skein of Infinite Twist yarn once to understand that this is no ordinary yarn. This is a labor of love that has taken generations to perfect, and provides much-needed income to vulnerable populations of women in China.
All Infinite Twist yarn begins its journey as buttery, super-soft wool from Northern China. It is dyed in small batches and passed into the hands of masters of a fast-fading craft, to be hand-spun into heirloom-quality yarn.
Hand-spun yarn is a tactile delight to work with. Interacting with materials made by a craftsperson rather than a machine takes your knitting, weaving, crocheting, or other fiber art to a new level.
Cate Carter-Evans, founder of Infinite Twist, is responsible for the magical color combinations. All dyeing is done with safe and colorfast dyes sourced in the U.S.
Infinite Twist offers four flavors of hand-spun yarn, plus multi-yarn kits.
Qinghai Hand-spun is a springy wool that gives great stitch definition and an attractive corded appearance. This yarn is spun by the women of the Qinghai Spinner’s Cooperative.  The Cooperative was founded by social-venture Shokay in 2010, and provides jobs for rural Tibetan women in China’s Qinghai Province.
Halo Heather is hand-spun from hand-painted roving, resulting in subtly shifting colors that don’t pool.
Halo Shine pairs one strand spun with hand-painted roving with a Navajo-piled strand of shiny rayon.
Halo Semi-Solid is kettle-dyed in small batches, and can be custom ordered in a range of 28 colors.
Our Halo family of yarns takes its name from the gorgeous bloom of fibers it develops after blocking. The Halo family of yarns is spun by Infinite Twist’s Shanghai-based spinners.
Infinite Twist’s yarn line may be new, but the development of our heirloom-quality yarns began generations before.
Founder Cate Carter-Evans inherited her passion for spinning and dyeing from her grandmother, learned knitting and crochet from her mom at the age of 5, and adopted patience from her father by spending time in his wood shop.
Cate has conducted more than six trainings in the Qinghai Province for the cooperative’s members, helping them apply their traditional spindle spinning technique to spinning with foot-powered Acadia spinning wheels.
With a professional background in product marketing for apparel and accessories, Cate is thrilled to be putting her skills to work in service of what she’s most passionate about – yarn!
Her love of fiber began with color and she considers herself a colorist first and foremost. Take a look at the whimsical colors in the Infinite Twist collection, like the orange rose Shreveport, the incandescent Indoor Fireworks and the delicious Granny Smith, to see her talent in action.
She currently lives in Shanghai, China with her husband and three cats. When she isn’t teaching knitting classes you can find her dyeing yarn in her kitchen or spinning in her studio.

Zuo (in the photo above) is one of the spinners who has been working very hard on spinning up the kits for the Prairie Ridge Shawl. She is a very talented spinner as you'll see in the yarns below. I thought you might like to know a little about her: 

Spinner Profile:  Zuo
Zuo grew up in Anhui province, one of the poorest in China.
With a 7th grade education, she moved to Shanghai with her husband and young sons in search of a better life for their family, good schools, and jobs. She worked as a restaurant dishwasher, and her husband worked as a driver.
In her home village, her mom and the other village women were all makers – they could all spin knit, sew, and do embroidery. Zuo continues this tradition with her spinning and knitting.
Zuo has worked for Infinite Twist for just over a year. She and her mom spin the Halo family of yarns.
Zuo says she loves her job because she can work from home. She saves gas money for her motorcycle, doesn’t have to commute, and gets to spend more time with her family.

I had so much fun working with Cate on customizing and selecting the kit colorways for you to enjoy. I love nature and the nearby prairies and of course, fall. All of these loves of mine played into the color selections being offered by Infinite Twist.

Can you believe the color and depth of the glorious Iris Garden yarn above? As soon as I saw Iris Garden in the box from China I knew immediately that this would be the color for the shawl sample. I only wish you could all squish and feel how unique this yarn is in person..... 

The Iris Garden yarn pulls you in and makes you never want to stop knitting. I could not put the shawl down once I started working with this yarn. 

My next shawl is already on my needles and it is in this gorgeous blend of milk chocolate and very dark chocolate browns. The yarn colorway is appropriately called, Box of Chocolates. This is another kit colorway for the Prairie Ridge Shawl. 

Ahhhh! It is so beautiful.... dark and rich and interesting.

My third colorway choice for you is called, Autumnal and it couldn't be any more gorgeous. It is a deep, rich blend of rusty reds and browns. I love it so much I can hardly contain myself. 

I will be knitting another upcoming design using Autmnal so stay tuned....

So here are the color choices, Iris Garden, Autmnal or Box of Chocolates. The kits are selling for $95 and I want to talk about this for a brief second. The Quaker Ridge Shawlette, my last shawl, uses three skeins of Madelinetosh Pashmina. Pashmina sells for about $30 a skein, so the total price was around $90 for the shawl. For the Inifinite Twist Prairie Ridge Shawl kits to be priced at $95 is amazing. You are getting handspun worsted weight yarn and the pattern and you are helping support women like Zuo in China all for about the same price as 3 skeins of Madelinetosh. It's really a good thing. 

The kits are a great deal.
Here are the links again for the Prairie Ridge Shawl kits now that you've seen the colors:

You can see the slight halo on the blocked shawl above. The yarn is called Halo Heather and blooms up so nicely when blocked. I love a ruffle and an eyelet row mixed with a worsted weight tweedy yarn. It is a gorgeous combination.

I made video tutorials on how to block the Prairie Ridge Shawl using wires and pins on my YouTube Channel. The tutorial is in four parts:

You, of course, don't need to use pins and wires to block your shawl. You could just wash it in a wool wash and spread it out on your floor or table or bed or wherever is good. That will be plenty to get a good blocking.

My son and I headed out to the nearby nature conservancy where I do a lot of my hiking and walking and running. I am in there almost every day of the week. We brought some twine and ties to hang the shawl somewhere in the prairie section of the conservancy. We ended up stringing the shawl between one small tree and then over the branch of a much larger tree but the twine needed tension to support the shawl once we clipped it onto the string.

So the tension giver was me! My son took this photo without me knowing. I thought you might enjoy seeing a tiny behind the scenes view. Look at the beautiful prairie and the gorgeous skies and that spectacular Prairie Ridge Shawl suspended in the air. It was a day to remember.

I am so excited to give you the chance to win one of the Prairie Ridge Shawl kits from Infinite Twist today!! Cate of Infinite Twist is so generous. Thank you to Cate!

If you win you get to pick the colorway for your kit, either Iris Garden, Box of Chocolates or Autumnal. Please leave a comment and let me know what you think of Infinite Twist and which colorway is your favorite. Don't miss out on this chance!

Leave only one comment that includes an email address or your Ravelry ID so I can get in touch with you to get your mailing address if you win. Please be patient and don't enter more than once. It takes awhile for your comment to appear on the blog post because I have to approve each comment to prevent spam. I will randomly select a winner in a couple of days.

Let the comments begin! Good luck to you all. This is a huge opportunity!
best, susie