Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Come take a look and listen.....

Hi, Knitters,
I have two quick announcements today. First, thank you so much for the support in winning The Best Craftsy Instructor Blog! I am so honored. There was some stiff competition and I appreciate you taking the time to vote. Click here to see all of the winners in all categories! 

Secondly, I will be teaching two workshops at Vogue Knitting Live in Chicago this weekend, Sunday, Nov. 3rd. In between my classes I am going to be signing books in Jaala Spiro's Knit Circus booth in the market. After my class I will get to the Knit Circus booth #213 as soon as possible, a little after noon. I will be there for an hour to sign and chat. I will have the trunk show for my latest book, Topsy-Turvy Inside-Out Knit Toys. I hope you can stop by and say hello, get your book signed or purchase a book from Jaala to have signed (she has my new and older books available for purchase!). I hope to see you in class or at my book signing in the Knit Circus booth #213. Plus, Jaala makes the coolest yarns dyed right here in Madison. You have to see them to believe them.

I am teaching all 3 teaching days filled with various workshops at Vogue Knitting Live NYC, January 17-19th, 2014! Please check all of the classes out and sign up as the NYC VKLive has been known to completely sell out of class space! Get in early if you are thinking about going to this fun event and I hope to see you there.

Now for the business of the day. As promised, I cast on the Peerie Flooers Hat by Kate Davies, which means "little flowers" in the Shetland dialect. I love this hat and the pattern is wonderful. Through the years I have collected a box of 2-ply wools of various brands and colors like Jamieson 2-ply, Harrisville Shetland, and Knit Picks Palette. I have found that these wools intermix very nicely. 

My version of Peerie Flooers (above) will be a combination of Harrisville Shetland and Knit Picks 2-ply wools. I suggest that if you enjoy colorwork like I do, that you start a collection of these small 50 gram balls. Then when you see something you want to knit like colorwork socks, hats, mittens, etc., you can reach for your 2-ply wool collection and go to town. You need such small amounts of any one color that one small ball of wool goes a long way. Also, see those ends hanging out waiting to be woven in? I don't mind that one bit. I kind of like weaving in ends.... I know, weird but true.

Mary Jane Mucklestone's Solidago Socks are the perfect example of grabbing some 2-ply out of the stash and going to town. This sock has Jamieson and Palette. I am now almost to the toe on the second sock, a new pair is almost done. This is a great free pattern from Solidago would be a great first-time colorwork project for new two-color stranded knitters. The colorwork section is so small that you can get your feet wet and accomplish something with quick success. 

I am really excited about my box of embroidery thread from Flower Thread. I've had it for quite some time now but I hadn't shared it yet. Last summer when I was deeply entrenched in embroidery, I had heard my embroidery idol, Rebecca Ringquist, talk about loving her Flower Thread. Enough said. I am still embroidering here and there, I'll share some of it soon. My work knitting has definitely taken over though. Click here for Rebecca's excellent online classes on Creativebug!

Flower Thread comes like this, people! Wound and sorted and inspiring!

I have pulled my Patchwork Socks (my favorite socks ever) out of the sock drawer to enjoy again this fall. Switch yarns every 10 rows, use up your left overs. More socks like this to come. That's all.

So I spun this.... 


Friends in Fiber Falkland, 4 oz. ~ great prices!

This is one 2 oz. bobbin. Double-Marl.

I'll show you the finished handpsun yarn soon, it's plied and drying now.

Now for some fun links:

I will be reviewing Made in America Yarns coming up with a yarn giveaway!

I have a stack of books a mile high set to review and giveaway... I can't keep up with all of the cool knitting books out there, like this one, and this one, and this one. Look for these soon.

Every once in awhile I will list podcasts I am enjoying and today is one of those days. I can't stop listening/watching these podcasts:

There are many more I listen to and I will list more in another post. These are not in any specific order. These audio and video podcasts keep me company while I do my knitting work and running and hiking. Thank you to all of these amazing podcasters who add so much to our knitting community.

Well, that's enough for you today! 
I'll be back soon with much more....
best, susie

Friday, October 25, 2013


Hi, Knitters,
Fall has hit hard and fast here in Madison. In fact, it has been feeling downright wintery as far as the temperatures go, freezing at night and climbing into the 40s during the day. It has been blustery and cloudy for much of the week but the sun is shining today. We have had a terrible cold running through every member of the family for the past couple of weeks. The coughing and running nose have taken me out for a few days. It's a bad one. The snuffles and raw noses have added to the fall-like feel around here as well. 

We have been pulling out hats and mittens and shawls and coats and wool sweaters to fight the chilly temps. My knitting has really kicked up a notch as it often does for everyone this time of year.

I pulled out my Pop Spots Shawl and finished up the body of the shawl, which is incredibly fun to knit, leaving only the applied lace edging to go. I am knitting the shawl out of Madtosh Sock in Tart and Madelinetosh Feather in Tidal Basin. In reality I know that it is going to take me forever and a day to finish the lace edging on this large shawl even though it is a fun part of the shawl to knit. I am going to just tackle it a little bit at a time. We'll see when it gets done. I know I will love this shawl and wear it a ton when it is done. That is motivating.

I am finishing up lots of socks that are partially done or one done. It is fun to finish up a new pair of socks, nothing better really. I have lots of plans for what I want to knit for fun coming up, the non-work knitting on the side. That always drives and inspires me. The planning and dreaming about knitting is the best. My son requested a pair of socks and I have a half-way finished sweater for my other son that I am hoping to finish by Christmas (this Christmas).

I have lots of designs in the works, some coming out soon, lots coming out in January. Plus, I am plugging away on a new book. The behind the scenes knitting and writing and pattern writing is sometimes overwhelming, that's the part I don't share much on here because I can't spoil upcoming releases. 

Juggling all of the emails, teaching requests and teaching obligation work, etc., is something I am starting to struggle to keep up with, especially all of the emails. It seems things are just getting more and more. The thing is that I sincerely want to do it all, respond to every request, question and opportunity. I truly love what I do and I feel very fortunate. That's the hard part, keeping it down to a manageable level. I want to say yes to everything. I'm not complaining at all, I enjoy my work so much. Sometimes I just think I need an assistant so I can focus more on the actual knitting and writing work and not all of the busy-work that is necessary but time consuming. That will probably never happen but it's fun to dream.

The photo above is my usual work uniform in the fall and winter months. I know I am a lucky girl when I get ready for work by pulling on my Quince & Co. Belfast Hoodie, my favorite pair of jeans and slipping on my Bern Wool Birkenstocks (whoa, they are on sale right here!) with handknit rainbow socks tucked inside. If it's really cold I throw a shawl on over my shoulders on top of the sweater. Wool on top of more wool. It feels so good. I sit in the comfiest chair in the house surrounded by fabulous yarns, my computer and multiple projects in action. It is all good and happy and for some reason it is even better when it turns cold outside.

I know that you all know exactly what I mean.

The other thing that happens in the fall is that my pattern sales really pick up. I always find pattern sales interesting. I like to think about what the knitters are buying and knitting. There are some patterns that have been selling like hotcakes recently, like for example, Another Flower Headband (in the photo above) and I find the timing funny because my own daughters have been wearing their Another Flower Headbands almost everyday. They love this headband.

I love how the yarn used in each headband fits the girls' different personalities to a tee. My older daughter is much quieter and understated, thus the gray, and old TC loves a rainbow anything, the brighter the better. It makes me happy to see them wear the headbands so often. Both are lined for extra warmth. The gray is lined with a cut piece of fleece and the colorful one is lined with a store-bought knit headband ($1 at Joann's in the bins by the checkout). I stitched these in with a needle and thread. I did have to re-stitch the gray lining this year in a couple of spots but it only took a few minutes.

The other pattern that has been flying out of the shop is the Waiting for Winter Mittens and Fingerless Mitts pattern. This pattern is my tried and true mitten pattern, one that I have refined and worked on for years by knitting mitten after mitten. It is so easy and memorizable and that's what makes it fun, I guess.

Click here to see all of the downloadable patterns in my Ravelry Pattern Shop! (You don't need to be a member on Ravelry to view or purchase patterns.)

Other patterns that have been selling like mad for some reason are:
Milk Cow (I have no idea why this one has picked up so much.)
Ebb Cowl (Copyright just switched over to me! Yay!)
Quaker Ridge Shawlette (My bestselling pattern!)
Mini-Sock Yarn Bunny (recently released)
Opal Sock Yarn Bunny (I think people are pairing the big and mini together.)

And last but not least, the Surefire Hat is always a big fall and holiday knitting seller. I am happy to report that my sons are both still wearing their Surefire Hats! This has been going on for years and years now. Each of them have two different versions of the Surefire Hat and they wear them all winter long.

Here is the Ebb Cowl I did for blocking ~ it is completely reversible with an interesting and fun texture stitch.

The pattern has several different sizes written out. What a fun and fast knit!

Here are my boys in their original Surefire Hats. I made these when the boys were swimming on swim team in the winter and their coach required that all swimmers wear warm winter hats during the season. They were not to be outside without a hat. This picture above is so old now, it kind of makes me sad how young the boys were, in middle and high school. Now both are in college.... time flies.

Anyway, I love thinking about what sells in what season and why, as far as patterns go. Sometimes the ones that sell the most surprise you and sometimes not. Thanks for indulging me a bit.

I hope you are all well and enjoying your fall knitting.
I'll be back soon with more....
best, susie

Monday, October 21, 2013

Like. Like. Love.

Hi, Knitters,
First I have randomly selected 5 winners, each will receive a copy of the Unofficial Downton Abbey Knits magazine! The winners are (by Ravelry ID): Debbie4, VCR, kerryespins, annejz, and Yarnvixen. Congratulations! I sent the winners a message through Ravelry with directions on how to receive the prizes. Thank you to all for entering and for F+W Media and Interweave for giving us this opportunity.

Now for some knitting! Here are a couple of things I like that involve knitting and my daughters. My girls are both on the high school swim team. The team pairs up an upper-class swimmer with a freshman or sophomore. The pairs become "sisters" for the season. The swim sisters make each other inspirational posters and get weekly gifts for each other amongst other things. It's all fun and good but admittedly a lot of work for me. Each week I try to come up with something fun and little and unique. Some weeks are better than others. The weeks I am describing here are knitterly and an example of a couple of better weeks.

Every year I have knit a hat for the swim sister and a pair of mittens, given on separate weeks. 

Lion Brand had this super-bulky team spirit yarn at JoAnn's and in the team colors for our swim team. It was the perfect yarn for sister mittens. Go team! These flew off my needles in no time.

We debated the pom-poms but I finally couldn't resist. I might write up the recipe for this hat. I used scraps of worsted weight wool held double on US 13s. These hats are a fast and fun knit. I made it up as I went along. What a great scrap-buster.

The finishing touch included these wool felt labels. I stitched the girls' names with black thread. The labels marked the inside of the back of the hat. The back is hard to tell sometimes with this style of hat so I wanted to be sure to mark it for ease for the girls. It's a cute and personal touch.

Now for a couple of things I love.....

(photo by Betz White)

My buddy and fellow designer Betz White designed some fantastic knit-inspired fabric not too long ago. She has a bunch of it in her home and being the fabulous sewer and bag designer that she is, she decided to create some project bags using her fabrics. I was lucky enough to test out a prototype for her. There was nothing I could offer for improvement after I received my bag. They are adorable and functional as knitting project bags! 

Betz is offering pre-orders for her Stitch + Stash Project Bags right now!

(photo by Betz White)

The bags are reversible and can be folded down to sit and stay open or they can stay securely closed. The project bags are adorable and unique to boot.

Here is the link for more information straight from Betz:

I love my sample bag and I think you will love them as well.

Check out this incredibly cute felt ornament pattern by Betz! I am making these for Christmas gifts this year for sure!

Now this next shop was brought to my attention through an email from the button creator herself, Hannah Dewey. I checked out her shop and I think it is worth a mention!

Hannah makes buttons, hair bows and shawl pins and they are all cute and well-done. I especially like the candy swirl buttons. The buttons include whimsical children's designs and more subtle adult-like buttons as well. I haven't ordered any yet but I am planning on it soon.

If you order something let me know how it works out.

(photo by Kate Davies)

Lastly, I am loving the hat, Peerie Flooers by Kate Davies (one of my favorite designers, click here for her website!). I am going to cast this on. I have been scrounging around and I think I have the yarn to make this in my stash and pretty close to the colors, although slightly different. Isn't it gorgeous? I have been inspired by Paula Emons-Fuessle's version (click here!). I loved it when she talked about Peerie Flooers on her podcast.

In fact, I am loving this and so many more projects from my friend Paula's project page on Ravelry. I want to make just about everything she does. Paula really inspires me. I have the yarn and patterns for all of Paula's shawl patterns, her own designs. I have knit two of them already, Piper's Journey (already over 1000 completed projects in Rav) and Lullaby Rain. The others I have lined up with yarn are Gill's Rock (I have Quince & Co. Chickadee in Winesap), Ellison Bay (I have Quince & Co. Chickadee in Bird's Egg), and finally, Hyla Brook (I have Quince & Co. Tern in Sea Grass). These are all going to be knit this coming winter, or shawl knitting season as I call it! You have my word. 

Other projects that Paula (of had knit that I want to knit are the Baby Tea Leaves, the Henslowe Shawl, the Holden Shawlette, Windschief and Dustland hats, and the Elowen Shawl. 

I seriously am going to knit each and every one of these projects and I can't wait. I'll share along the way!

One last thing I love is the kind support you have offered by voting for me for the Craftsy's Best Instructor Blog Award. The voting is still open if you are interested. 

One last thing I love.... have you listened to Pam Allen and Hannah Fettig's new audio podcast, called They have recorded two episodes. These two knitting-greats are smart and knitterly and thoughtful.  Click here to have a listen to!

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

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Unofficial Downton Abbey Knits Giveaway!

Hi, Knitters,
Quickly, I have to note that I am so honored to have been nominated for the Best Craftsy Instructor Blog in Knitting and Crochet! Wow, what a thrill to be nominated amongst such talented bloggers. Thank you! 

Now the award goes to the next round of voting to get a winner. If you vote you will automatically be entered to win a free class of your choice! Please head over, if you are so inclined, and vote. I appreciate it so much. The winner will be announced on Oct. 29th, 2013.

Click here to vote! You'll see my sock drawer photo from my blog header on the correct category. I had to smile when I saw that up there.

Thank you!

(All photos in this post are from Interweave Knits)

Okay, here we go with another fantastic giveaway opportunity for you! I received the new Unofficial Downton Abbey Knits magazine from Interweave a couple of days ago and I can't put it down.

Let me give you some links to start:

The magazine is much more than just patterns. It creates a mood and lets the reader disappear for awhile in another time. There are historical articles, wonderful inspirational pictures, great projects both imaginative and practical and if you love the BBC show Downton Abbey as much as I do this is a must have special issue!

Here is the description of the magazine from the Ravelry Design page:

Look through the eyes of Downton Abbey with this new special issue from PieceWork magazine. Enjoy knits inspired by the lavish sets and styling of the hugely popular television series, which tells the story of the Grantham clan and their servants at England’s Downton Abbey.
This special issue includes: Knitted garments and accessories—gloves, shawls, sweaters and vests, blouses, hats, purses, and more—for both those upstairs and downstairs. Learn about knitting for the troops during World War I and enjoy articles detailing aspects of the Downton eras: fashion, history, and culture.

My favorite project in the book was closely inspired by this beautiful portrait.....

What a wonderful colorwork hat with a sweet pom-pom detail. I want to make this for sure with my Harrisville Shetland collection of colors just sitting in my studio. I would wear the pom-poms not so close the face but more on the side and back a bit. The poms are on braids or twists and are then threaded through a loop on the side. I love this detail!

Look for this one on my needles very soon, maybe even later today.

I love this vest with the subtle textured panel on the front by Joanna Johnson. It is made in one of my favorite yarns, Brooklyn Tweed Loft. This one is a win. I would love to have a vest like this in my wardrobe.

I love the clever twist of the Two in One Warm Hat or Cravat! It is a long tube that is then tucked inside itself to create a double-layer stocking hat. I think this is great fun. 

Here it is as a cravat (or a scarf if you're me!).

I think the detail on the Walking Out Eyelet Panel Blouse is lovely. I would wear this one for sure. It's a very sweet design that could easily be worn in our modern times.

In my cold climate I don't know anyone who wouldn't enjoy a Chilly Morning Cosycoat (I like the name of this one, too!). It is made out of Cascade 220 which is perfect.

The best part is the inspiration photo below:  

Isn't it wonderful? There are so many designs in this issue, something for everyone.

What a fantastic job by Interweave and the designers and writers! The magazine is selling for $14.95.

I am so excited to offer each of 5 winners a copy of this extraordinary magazine! 

To enter to win please leave a comment on this blog post that includes your Ravelry ID or an email address where I can get in touch with you if you win. The winners must have a U.S. mailing address. Please only leave one comment. It takes awhile for your comment to show up on the blog.

Thank you to F+W Media and Interweave for this opportunity!

Good luck and let the comments begin!
best, susie

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Farmers' Fall


Hi, Knitters,

Just in! Go check out my friend Leanne's Owls on Dantes Etsy Shop!! Click here! Leanne gifted me one of her little owl tape measures and it is adorable! She was selling them left and right at the KnitEast retreat a couple of weeks ago and has now updated her Etsy Shop. The tape measure is cozy-ed up in sock yarn and made to look like a sweet little owl. They are so cute. Great gift idea, knitters!!! 

The winner of the Happy Again Kit from Little Skein (go check out this Etsy shop!) is.......

maashrink (rav id)! Here is the winning comment:

I. Am. In. Love..... Hopefully I will be so lucky. Thank you for this opportunity and exposure to such beautiful products!!
Rav Id- maashrink
October 11, 2013
Congratulations to Melanie! Thank you to everyone for entering, what a huge and great response. I have another giveaway coming up right away this week so keep your eyes out for that.

Last weekend we went to the Madison Farmers' Market and it was such a treat. By the way, I never can remember is it farmers plural, farmer's singular possessive, or farmers' plural possessive... it is farmers' on the website so that's what I'm going with. Farmers'.

I think fall may be the best time to go. Here's a quick pictorial run through of the beauty.

My buddy Jeanette from Sun Valley Fibers was there vending with her husband, George, and daughter. They were just kind of holding their booth spot for the season and had some of their gorgeous yarns out on the table. I was shuffling along in the crowd and glanced over and spotted the yarn on the table. Then my eyes slowly moved up to see who owned the yarn and there was Jeanette's smiling face looking right at me. It was funny.

Don't forget about the Sun Valley Fibers' Thaw Retreat, January 23-26, 2014! I am teaching two workshops at this event in Barneveld, Wisconsin. The fabulous Amy Detjen is teaching, too. I can't wait for this one, so close to home. Last time I checked there were still a few spots available. It is going to be so much fun! I hope to see you there.

The Capitol Dome

I can't get over how artistic the displays are in some of the booths.

 Brunkow Cheese of Wisconsin serving up free samples of their warm grilled cheese. Crispy and gooey! They griddle tiny blocks of cheese and the lines are a mile long to get a piece.

 Brunkow Cheese of Wisconsin's booth is always a crowd-pleaser.

$9 flower arrangements!

 Owls Cardigan and warm kettle corn straight from the kettle..... mmmmmm.

 So artistic!

 There were several yarn options at the market. I love that!

 Brat booth! Only in Wisconsin, ya hey!

 There was a brief downpour but the crowd didn't clear out. It was homecoming for the UW-Madison so there was an extra amount of red attire.

On our way out at the top of State Street we ran into a friendly one-man-band. We listened for a minute and my son (who came home from college for the weekend) and my husband could not stop laughing as we continued the walk. The reason? The one-man-band guy was singing a song filled with curse words and some racier content. Every time some questionable word came up he would honk his horn loudly instead of saying that word. They thought that was just hilarious. It was pretty funny hearing them sing the song with horn noises included on the way home.

Lastly, a few days ago I finished up a quick Fair Isle sock called, Solidago, a free pattern on by Mary Jane Mucklestone. Click here for the pattern!  I am going to make a bunch more of these in mix and match colors. I just think they are adorable and so fun and quick (4-inch cuff) to knit. Genius she is that Mary Jane! Mary Jane is in Shetland right now with Gudrun (go look at her photos!!!) and Ysolda. Go look at Mary Jane's blog photos, you won't be disappointed. Click here for Mary Jane's website!

Take care, Knitters! Thanks for always jumping in and having fun with me on the blog. I really appreciate each and every one of you. You all keep me going.
best, susie