Thursday, March 26, 2015

Sock Report

Hi, Knitters,
I have a quick sock update for you today. I have finished the first sock blank sock. Sock blanks are machine knit pieces of fabric that are then dyed. You unravel the knit fabric and knit straight from the blank so the yarn is tightly kinked up. I worried that I would not enjoy knitting with the kinky yarn pulled straight from the sock blank but I actually don't mind it at all. In fact I really enjoy it.

I haven't washed the first sock yet so the fabric is still a bit rippled from the kinky yarn. When I finish the second sock I will wash both of them and show you how they turned out. The sock blank I am using is from Gale's Art. Gale does this unique and colorful stamping on the sock blanks which is her  original idea I think. I've never seen this done before. I don't know how she thought this one up, it is so creative and fun. The spots where Gale stamps the sock blank makes the yarn beautifully speckled and it knits up like a dream. I really love the effect. 

My socks are going to be mismatched, which I love. You can get double-stranded sock blanks for two at a time socks or you could knit one sock at a time and wind the other strand. You would then get matching socks. 

Click here for Gale's Art!  It looks like she is taking orders for her Special Secret Sock Blanks and they are taking about 10 days to ship. 

Click here for information on the Special Secret Sock Blank in the photo above! Gale has other sock blank choices and colorways and she'll even make custom sock blanks with messages. 

Click here to see the other sock blank I have that is next up. I keep thinking I want to knit a simple shawl from this one..... I think I will do that.

I am using Signature Needle Arts dpns, US size 1, 6-inches in length.

I finished the Regia Colourmania socks. I love this yarn so much. I have a couple more balls of Colourmania yarn and will be knitting more of these. I think the fabric looks fantastic, like watercolors all blended together. The yarn number for my socks is #4067.

I purchased this yarn at Simply Sock Yarn Co.

The sock blockers are from The Loopy Ewe. These wooden sheep sock blockers are my all-time favorites, hands-down. It's the shape and the wood that I love so much.

Last but not least, I finished the Over the Rainbow Gradient Matching Socks Set by KnitCircus Yarns. I love these so much. For this pair you get two matching cakes of yarn so your socks match exactly.

The yarn is: Over the Rainbow from Knitcircus in the Pirouette base: 75% Superwash Merino Wool, 15% Nylon, and 10% Tencel, 385 yards, 100 grams.

Click here for KnitCircus Yarns on Etsy.

Click here for the Over the Rainbow Custom Gradient.

The sock blockers are from The Loopy Ewe. They are red plastic.

For all of the socks I am using my free pattern, How I Make My Socks.

I knit the cuffs extra long, 8-inches, because I wanted to get to all of the colors. I should have made the cuffs 9-inches because I barely broke into the green section at the end and I had quite a bit leftover. The top sock in the photo doesn't show the green due to the lighting but the lower sock shows that a bit of the green is there on the toe. Regardless I love these socks. I wasn't quite sure about the Tencel content of the yarn but it was lovely to knit. The yarn and fabric are silky soft and I know it will be a sturdy sock.

Anyway, two more for the drawer! That's a win.

How's your sock knitting coming along? I'd love to hear what you are working on.

Have a good end to your week.
xo ~ susan

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

A Newfound Love

Hi, Knitters,
First, my generous friend, Jaala Spiro of Knitcircus, texted me yesterday and because the response to our new Come What May shawlette collaboration has been so fantastic she told me to give two kits away! So thank you everyone for purchasing the gradient yarn, the shawl pattern and the kits. Great news all around. 

The winners of 2 of the lovely Come What May Shawlette kits with beads, pattern and choice of gradient yarn colorway from Knitcircus are......

grahamcrackerzz ~ rav username   and  loopiedoo ~ rav username!

Congratulations to you both. I have contacted both of the winners. Thank you to everyone for entering and I will have another giveaway very soon.

Now on to today's topic at hand. 

Have you ever tried something new that you didn't enjoy, put it away only to come back to it later to have something suddenly click and you fall completely in love? This has happened to me a lot over the years. I think timing is everything. Whether or not you pick up a skill with passion depends on your desire to learn something new at that exact moment in time. I've had this happen with embroidery, sewing, quilting, spinning with a wheel, cooking, and even certain knitting techniques. 

photo from SpinCityUK on Etsy

So here's what happened. I saw this fiber called Dolly Mixture from SpinCityUK, on the wonderful Little Bobbins podcast. I fell in love with the unusual bright colors and the blend of fibers. I ordered two braids of the Dolly Mixture (click here to read about this unusual braid of fiber) for a total of 7 oz. I can't wait to start spinning this fiber on my Schact Ladybug

When my package arrived I was surprised to see that Louise included one of her beautiful dried flower spindles in the package as a gift. Click here to see a similar spindle in her shop. I was immediately enamored with this pretty spring-like spindle. There is a lightness and a sweetness to it. 

I decided at the very moment I saw the SpinCityUK flower spindle that I had to learn to use a spindle and quick. Now, quite awhile ago I had purchased another spectacular little spindle from Aaron Makes Stuff. This beautiful spindle is handcrafted with colored pencils set in resin. I love this spindle equally but when I got this one and tried it my heart wasn't into learning how to spindle spin. I was too preoccupied with other work obligations which made me feel restless when I was trying to learn. I put it away knowing that I would come back to it when I was ready.

Awhile ago I had watched a couple of videos on YouTube about spinning with a drop spindle so I knew the basic idea. Plus I have been spinning on a wheel for a few years now which helped with knowing how to draft and work with the fiber. Anyway, I picked up the flower spindle and gathered some of the fiber samples I have saved through the years. Suddenly the spindle worked for me and it was like magic. I could actually spin with a spindle! 

I feel like I get it now. I know people collect spindles and love using them to spin all sorts of fiber into yarn. It is definitely a slower process than using a wheel but there is something that is so fun about the process of using a spindle. I am already planning what to bring to spin on my upcoming travels. I think I am officially hooked. Yes, it was only a matter of time.

The mini-skeins above are my first spindle spinning attempts. The mix with the black is my very first attempt. It's pretty messed up but I learned a lot. The middle skein was next and I saw improvement. The pink and purple skein on the end is Romney fiber from Sheep Dreams, this was my third attempt. I did a 2-ply and ended up with about 50 yards and it is quite pretty and usable. 

Then I dug out my Aaron Makes Stuff colored pencil spindle. The two spindles are very different. The Aaron Makes Stuff spindle is light as air. The flower SpinCityUK spindle is much more substantial. I found a sample of some fiber from one of my favorite dyers, Friends in Fiber and started spinning with this other spindle. I am so pleased with how this spindle and fiber are spinning up. It is a really different experience but what fun!

Now I am spinning a batt that Joanna (click here for her podcast) from KnitSpinFarm threw in with another order I had made from her shop. It is 2.5 oz. of heaven. Joanna makes the most wonderful batts, honestly. She puts some sort of magic into the fiber because whenever I spin something from her shop I get the warmest, calmest feeling of appreciation for the fiber. She makes things extra pretty and sweet somehow. As you can see in the photo, the KnitSpinFarm batt is light green and yellow, so perfect for March and moving into the spring season. I feel like the flower spindle and this fiber are a match made in heaven. I am winding the singles onto a bobbin when the spindle gets too full. I am going to ply this on my wheel when I am done spinning the singles.

I'll keep you posted on my progress. Are you any of you into spindle spinning? I'd love to hear about it and any tips or tricks you might have for me as a newbie.

I'll leave you today with a photo of this gorgeous Harvest Wool from Timber and Twine.

Click here to read all about this company.

The skein above was dyed with madder and alum. It is 100 grams of an 8-ply and I think it might be about a DK weight. The yardage isn't listed. It is so pretty, rich in color and interesting. I love the messy skein, the twine, the tag, and the brown paper wrapping. It's all good. I'm pretty sure this skein will become a new hat for me. I'll keep you posted on this one, too.

Click here to check out Timber and Twine!

Have a happy and productive week ahead, friends.
xo ~ susan

Friday, March 20, 2015

Come What May Shawl Kit Giveaway!

Hi, Knitters,
First, I have to let you know that I am so excited to be teaching at StevenBe's in Minneapolis on Sunday, April 26th. This is the day after the Yarnover event where I am also teaching all day on April 25th. Please sign up for my Sunday classes at StevenBe's if you are in the area. I can't wait for this fun-filled weekend of back-to-back knitting events.

I'm thinking these classes might fill really fast because last year my classes were sold out in a flash when I taught at StevenBe's. 

I hope to see you in Minnesota in April.

Next, I have some fun news about my newest shawl design for KnitCircus.

Did you ever knit something and when it was finished you felt kind of sad because it was over?

That is exactly how I felt when I finished the brand new Come What May Shawlette. I ached for it to continue. I may have to knit another in a different color.

Here are a few work-in-progress shots:

Here is the story behind this beautiful new shawlette:

As I sat with my friend, Jaala Spiro, having tea, pastries and knitting in my living room one morning she surprised me with several cakes of her lovely KnitCircus yarns. One of these cakes was the spectacular gradient called Come What May. There is just something about the rosy shade of pink moving into the sweet kiss of blush and ending with the lightest shade of gray. The yarn cake was thrilling to hold in my hands and it was inspiring. I quickly cast on and knit the sweetest little lacey shawl that is not only simple and wearable but is a really fun knit to boot. The sections of the shawl keep you entertained while the gradient yarn motivates you to keep going to get to the next color.
The shawl is a semi-circular shape with stockinette, simple lace and eyelet sections that end with a beautiful eyelet ruffle. The shawl is finished with an elegant bind-off with silver-lined beads. The beads are always optional but they add so much to the look and feel of the finished shawl. The entire project is a pleasure to knit.
The yarn colorway is the single inspiration for the shawl so the name of the design has to be Come What May. The colorway, luxury yarn base, shawl design and beads are the perfect match.

The Come What May Shawlette is now available in kit form through KnitCircus! The generous people at KnitCircus have offered me a kit including pattern, yarn and beads to give to one of you today. Details are at the end of the post.

Click here for the Come What May pattern information on Ravelry! The pattern is now available through KnitCircus and in 3 months the pattern will be available in my Ravelry Pattern Shop.

Here is some information you might like to know:

Finished measurements: 48-inch wingspan, 28-inch depth after blocking.

Yarn: KnitCircus Opulence (80% merino/10% cashmere/10% nylon), 420 yards/100 grams. 1 skein in Come What May gradient colorway.

Needles: US size 6, 32-inch or longer, circular needles or size to obtain gauge

Gauge: 5.5 sts per inch in stockinette stitch before blocking

Stitch markers
24 grams of 6/0 seed beads, sample used silver-lined crystal beads
Crochet hook or flosser for placing beads

This is one project that just flew off the needles. It was so much fun to knit. The shawl kits are available in three colorways, Come What May (the colorway in the sample), Emerald City and Lothlorien. They are all beautiful options. I feel like this design is so attached to the KnitCircus gradient yarn that you may want to splurge and get the kit or the Opulence gradient yarn from KnitCircus. But of course that is always up to you!

If you would like a chance to win a Come What May Shawlette kit please leave a comment on this blog post. Please only enter one time, there is a delay for your comment to appear so only click on publish one time. Please leave your email address or Ravelry username so I can get in touch if you win.

This would be such a wonderful Mother's Day gift by the way, either knit up or in kit form if your mother knits.

Good luck and let the comments begin!

xo ~ susan

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Shawl Success

Hi Knitters,
Thank you for the amazing response to the Yowza Weigh It 3 Shawl that was released last week. I appreciate it and I can't wait to see the Yowza 3 shawls knit up!

I have been so thrilled with the results from our recent SBA Shawl Knitalong that I just have to share a few of the finished shawls. It was been amazing and fun. So here we go!

Above is the Drawing Nigh Shawl knit by kmacmillan on Ravelry. 

The Prairie Ridge Shawl knit by madingley on Ravelry.

The Yowza Weigh It Shawl 2 knit by mmcjohnson on Ravelry.

The Hayward Shawl knit by Okielynn on Ravelry.

The Prairie Ridge Shawl by pawsandknit on Ravelry. She used a Magic Cake.

The Drawing Nigh Shawl knit by quiltnknitnut on Ravelry.

I love this sweet model wearing the 50 Row Shawlette knit by raelynne01 on Ravelry.

The Quaker Ridge Shawlette knit by sarahwiggin on Ravelry.

The Yowza Weigh It Shawl knit by savannahchik on Ravelry.

The Yowza Weigh It Shawl knit by silverbell on Ravelry.

The Yowza Weigh It Shawl knit by simurgh on Ravelry.

The Yowza Weigh It Shawl knit by SwissKnits on Ravelry.

The Drawing Nigh Shawl knit by knittingdaddy on Ravelry. 

I wish I could post them all! 

Thanks again, Knitters, for joining in.
xo ~ susan

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Yowza Weigh It Shawl 3 ~ It's Here!

Hi Knitters,
I started this Yowza shawl journey on such a whim. Often the best ideas start this way. I had these beautiful Yowza skeins sitting in my studio and I kept trying to think of things to knit with them but nothing was jumping out at me. The Yowza skeins are really a work of art and they make you want to use every last inch so none of it is wasted. 

I was out running and thinking about yarn, as you do, and suddenly I thought of designing a mindless garter stitch shawl where you could just keep knitting until the yarn was gone. Then I realized that it could be taken even farther into the mindless realm by not counting stitches or rows but by simply weighing the yarn for a couple of key pattern points of change. 

I could not run home fast enough. I wound the skein of Yowza. This first skein of Yowza had been sitting on a shelf for four or five years. In a few short days it was knit up and a shawl series was born. I wrote up the pattern, took some photos and released it to the world. It has been tremendously successful.

Now I have released two more versions of the Yowza Weigh It Shawl. Each pattern has the exact same concept, absolutely no counting, weighing the yarn at a couple of key points, and ending up with a wearable shawl shape that accentuates the beautiful variegated yarn from Miss Babs.

Note: There is a $1.00 off discount code running from March 11th to March 16th, 2015. Discount Code: YOWZA3

The following is a bit of a side note.

The cover photos or beauty shots for all three of the shawls are unusual. The cover photos are meant to convey the quiet comfort, ease and simplicity of the shawls. The knitting is dreamy and relaxing, simple and natural. I just throw the shawl on and photograph how I would wear it day in and day out.  

I am not wearing a stitch of make-up for any of the photos, my hair is barely brushed just as it is day to day. The photos are real and raw. For the Yowza 3 cover photo at first glance I thought oh, you can see all of my wrinkles. I considered re-taking the photo for a brief second. 

Then I thought no, actually it is quite perfect. The photo of me loving the shawl wrapped around my neck, wrinkles and all, shows what these shawls are really about. The shawls represent for me no fuss, no muss, be yourself, simple, happy, confident natural beauty at its best. My favorite pattern beauty shots are not in a studio all staged and stuffy. They convey more.

It may sound corny but it is how I feel. I am not saying any of this to fish for compliments. I would love to see others take photos like this in their Yowza shawls, showing how the shawls make them feel.

On to the shawl information:
From March 11 to March 16th there is a $1.00 off discount code for the Yowza Weigh It Shawl 3! 
Discount code: YOWZA3
The Yowza Weigh It Shawl 3 was once again created in the spirit of dreamy simplicity. The third time is definitely a charm.
I cast on 9 stitches to start and never counted the stitches again. The versatile triangle-shape shawl with a light ribbed ruffle is another favorite shawl shape of mine. I was inspired by a recent shawl knitalong I hosted where a couple of participants put gorgeous ribbed-ruffle edgings on their Yowza shawls. So I added a ribbed edge in version 3. You could also continue in garter stitch to the very end if preferred. Both options are in the pattern.
Using one 8 oz. Yowza skein by the talented dyer Miss Babs and your trusty kitchen scale you will simply fly through the knitting of this shawl. It is another of the most addicting, fast and simple top-down shawl designs with a two-row repeat (and one of the rows is all knit) for the body of the shawl. The border is a light-ruffle. The outcome is a wearable and simple shawl to love. There are only two places you need to weigh your yarn in the pattern. I had 4 grams remaining at the end.
Be sure to check out the original Yowza Weigh It Shawl and the Yowza Weigh It Shawl 2 for more simple shawl shapes to knit and love.
Away we go with Yowza Weigh It 3!
Finished measurements for the triangular shawl:
Wingspan: 62-inches after blocking
Depth: 20-inches including the ribbed ruffle after blocking
Yarn: Miss Babs Yowza (100% Superwash Merino Wool, a light worsted weight; 560 yards/ 8 ounces), 1 skein (The pattern is based specifically on the Yowza 8 ounce skein but other yarns could be substituted.)
The sample is knit in the Berlin colorway. Yowza can be found on:

Also, if you like to print out your patterns, I made it so you really only need to print out one page of the pattern to carry with you. It is set up like this for all 3 versions.

I hope you enjoy the new version of the Yowza Weigh It Shawl 3! Version 4 is already being plotted and planned. I have a skein of the Perfectly Wreckless colorway that is calling my name. I am having so much fun with this study of shawl shapes and yarn.

I'll be back with the shawl wrap-up from the KAL.

Thank you, as always, for the support, Knitters. 
xo ~ susan

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

All in a Week

Hi Knitters,
First and quickly, there are a few spots open in the retreat I'm teaching at next month. It is going to be fantastic and I'm super excited about it. Maybe you could join us?

Here is the information: 
  • April 11-12th, 2015 Stitch 'n Bitch Retreat for the DC area, in Solomons, MD on the Chesapeake Bay

If you are interested in finding out more please email Marie at:

On to today's topic at hand. As we all know a lot can happen in one week. Here is a snippet of what has been going on around here over the past few days. 

I washed yet another stack of handknit socks, folded them and neatly tucked them into my sock drawer ready to wear again. These socks I washed on gentle with warm water in the machine. I dried them in the dryer on low until almost dry or slightly damp. I pulled them out and laid them flat to shape to complete the drying process. 

From top to bottom: Cakewalk yarns (discontinued), Kristin Nicholas Design Line Regia, Trekking XXL (discontinued), Opal Vincent Van Gogh (discontinued). 

As you can tell by all of the discontinued markings in the list sock yarn comes and goes so if you see any you like you should snatch it up before it's gone! 

I finished knitting the latest version in the Yowza Weigh It Shawl series. I'm pretty excited about this one. Yowza Weigh It 3 will be available very soon and I'll most likely run a discount code at the time of release. I bound off Yowza 3 and ended with 4 grams of yarn leftover from an 8 oz. skein of yarn. That's a pretty good use of ALL of the yarn.

Yowza is a giant 8 oz., 560 yard skein of 100% super wash wool, hand-dyed by Miss Babs. The skein in the photo is in the Berlin colorway.

This one is the same theory, you cast on and never count the stitches or rows again. You simply keep track by weighing your yarn in two key places. Garter stitch away and end up with a new shawl shape to love!

We are feeling a lot of excitement around here about the slight warming up after experiencing the coldest February on record since 1936. We didn't get much snow this year, only 30 inches for the entire season, but it has been a long stretch of bitter cold temperatures. As soon as it gets over 30 degrees in Wisconsin people are wearing shorts and everyone is outside. It's pretty fun to see.

So we hiked through slushy snow-covered trails on the first warm (over 30 degrees) day and we had a ball. Today it is supposed to get in the 50s and the snow has already taken a major beating. You can bet the sidewalks and trails will be full of happy Madisonians today including me.

The always adorable Miss Molly (my future daughter-in-law) finished her first sweater! It is the Louise cardigan by Carrie Bostick Hoge. Molly used the colors called for in the pattern but opted for Peacock as the blue color in the Quince & Co. Osprey yarn. I love the buttons Molly picked out, too. She purchased the buttons at the Wisconsin Craft Market and while she was there she picked up Cascade 220 for her next sweater.

I highly suggest Louise as a first cardigan. The pattern is clear and simple and well-written. 

And here she is! The cardigan fits Miss Molly perfectly and she is so proud. I have to tell a quick, funny story. Molly was at a meeting and her dad happened to be attending the same meeting. She was wearing her new handknit cardigan for the first time and her dad announced it to the people at the meeting. Everyone clapped for Molly! I love that so much. It's not everyone who gets a round of applause for finishing their first cardigan. 

Here's to Miss Molly! Good job. She has already cast on her next sweater, the Hiro pullover.

And one last fun thing that happened last week was that I went out for lunch on the square which means downtown on the Capitol Square where the state capitol building sits. My sister picked me up, with her newly purchased 1950s accordion in the back seat (yes, it's true), and we met our sister-in-law at Graze. The food was delicious. Graze is a farm-to-table restaurant with delicious and innovative twists on food. For example, my sister's burger, upper left, is a beet and walnut burger with a homemade bun sprinkled with sunflower seeds. She loved it.

Anyway, I loved my lunch and I've been to Graze for dinner before and loved that, too. If you are in Madison or visiting you should give it a go.

Thanks for joining me today. I am working hard on pattern writing for two shawls and editing my latest book manuscript for the second time. I have a couple of additional samples I need to knit up for the book project, too. It's always something. 

Have a great rest of your week.
xo ~ susan
p.s. Next time I am sharing a smattering of the finished shawls from our recent shawl knitalong. I am organizing that now. Can't wait.