Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Knitting without Needles ~ plus a Yowza Weigh It Pattern Sale!

Hi, Knitters,
Before I start the book review, I want to announce that in celebration of the (nearly) one year release of the Yowza Weigh It Shawl series of patterns I have put all 4 Yowza Shawls on sale. These shawls are simple, fast and fun and they make the perfect gifts using one skein of Miss Babs Yowza or a comparable yarn from your stash. 

The sale starts today, September 30th and will continue through October 14th, 2015. The four patterns prices are all set at $3.50 per pattern, marked down from the normal price of $5.00 per pattern. No sale codes are necessary as the prices have already been lowered for you. 

Big savings, big shawl knitting fun! Enjoy!

Here are the Yowza Weigh It Shawl Pattern links for you with the sale prices ready to go:

Here is the link for the Yowza yarn that I used in these shawls: Miss Babs Yowza.

Now for the book review at hand. 

Knitting without Needles.

I've been converted! 

Being more of a traditional knitter I have to say that I wasn't too interested in trying out arm knitting in the past but Anne Weil of Flax & Twine has completely changed my mind with her newly released book, Knitting without Needles. Anne Weil takes arm and finger knitting to a new level of execution and sophistication in the pages of her beautiful new book. The book is chock-full of 30 fresh and fun projects. The projects include stylish home decor, kid and baby items, wardrobe accessories and more. All of the simple mostly chunky projects will provide almost instant gratification and all you need are your arms/fingers and the yarn! Literally. 

Let me start with a few links for you:

Here is a little bit about Anne Weil from her press release:

Anne Weil is a freelance contributor for and her site is part of the "12 Months of Martha" team of bloggers selected by Martha Stewart's craft department. Her projects have been published on Design*Sponge, Design Mom, Apartment Therapy, Huffington Post, Real Simple, Mollie Makes, Pottery Barn blog, and more. Anne teaches nationwide and has online classes on and

I've provided direct links to Anne's accounts @flaxandtwine for you here: 

(Mug is from Creative with Clay, wheel is from Infinite Twist, pillow is handstitched by me from a kit by Kristin Nicholas)

Anne Weil has pulled together a fantastic book blog tour with some exciting participants. When Anne asked me to be a part of the tour I of course said an enthusiastic yes because I love her work and have followed her blog and Instagram for many years now. What I didn't know at the time is that Anne was making and gifting each of the blog tour participants with their very own Pouf in the Cascade Magnum color of choice! I couldn't believe it. The Pouf is one of the cover projects in the book.

The Pouf shell is created using arm knitting with 4 strands of Cascade Magnum held together and then it is stuffed with a comforter. Genius.   

The best part of receiving our very own Pouf from Anne is that when I went to say goodnight to my daughter last night she had already claimed the Pouf as her own. She was using it as a backrest on her bed while she was studying. Perfect and sweet. 

The Pouf would be a great college-kid dorm gift, too. Team colors, anyone?

(Mug is from Creative with Clay)

Knitting without Needles includes beautifully photographed step-by-step tutorials with crystal clear instructions. The projects are all creative, well-done and achievable. The book is for non-knitters and knitters alike of any skill level, even first-timers. There are projects that kids could do as well. There is a little something for everyone.

The home decor projects in the book are definitely my favorites. I think this is the area where arm and finger knitting can really shine to their fullest. 

photo provided by Knitting without Needles

These linen baskets are created with finger knitting. I just love them! 

photo provided by Knitting without Needles

The super-chunky throw pillows are made with arm knitting. I love the textured stitches. There is a cabled blanket in the book, too. Anne takes you step-by-step on how to use a paper towel tube as your cable needle. How fun is that?

I do think the highlight of the book besides the clever projects are the tutorials. Anne makes it all so achievable and simple by breaking down each step for you from casting on to binding off to stitching pieces together. It all looks so easy and clear. 

photo provided by Knitting without Needles

I had to add in this final photo of the baby booties. These are created with felt soles (a template is provided) and literally two strands of finger knitting cleverly stitched together. These baby booties would no doubt be the hit of any baby shower around.

Check out the other stops on the Knitting without Needles blog tour:

9/23  Gabrielle Blair | Design Mom
9/25  Lisa Congdon | Today Is Going To Be Awesome
9/28  Brittany Jepsen | The House That Lars Built
9/30  Erin Souder | House of Earnest
10/2  Susan B Anderson | Susan B. Anderson Blog
10/5  Victoria Smith | SF Girl By Bay
10/7  Melissa Coleman | The Faux Martha
10/9  Mari Richards | Small for Big
10/12  Shannon Cook | Very Shannon
10/14  Delia Randall | Delia Creates 
10/19 Caitlin & Manda | The Merry Thought
10/21 Meredith Crawford | One Sheepish Girl 

 'Tis the perfect start of the season for quick gift-making of all sorts and Knitting without Needles is the perfect start to homemade gifts for your loved ones.

I've got so much in store for you over the next couple of weeks. I have a couple of FANTASTICAL giveaways to offer you, a new podcast episode, new pattern releases of my own and more. 

I'll be back soon, Knitters.
xo ~ susan

Friday, September 18, 2015

Spinning for Knitting

(Gourmet Stash Fibery Tribbles being knit into a hanspun sock)

Hi, Knitters,
I was contacted by Liz Gipson, one of the founding members of Spinzilla, to contribute a blog post for the upcoming Spinzilla 2015 event. Ahhh, Spinzilla! How I long to be of part of this thrilling spinning adventure someday. Due to my travel and teaching schedule this fall I am unable to participate but it is my goal at some point to be a Spinzilla participant! I will be watching and cheering on all of the spinners this year and I hope all of you run to sign up if you haven't yet on Last year I was so inspired by all of the Spinzilla participants. 

Liz asked if I would write about the topic Spinning for Knitting. I said yes to Liz's request because although I don't consider myself to be an expert spinner I do think I have something to offer to this conversation. I have suggestions that may help others with this topic because the main reason I spin is to knit the handspun yarns I have created.

If you don't know what Spinzilla is here is a message from Liz Gipson, one of the founding committee members of Spinzilla:

Spinzilla is a global challenge to see who can spin the most yarn in a week. Teams and individuals take to their spinning devises to make as much yarn as possible in a very short amount of time. The event is designed to get spinners to push past their fears and to raise money for the NeedleArts Mentoring Program to foster the handspinners oftomorrowSpinner registration is open for just two more weeks. There is a team that needs and wants you. To see the complete list of teams, FAQ, and blog posts about how to get ready, visit Spinzilla's website at

You can still sign up to participate so be sure to check it out if you are interested. Click here!

First and foremost I am a knitter so when I look at any yarn, commercial or handspun, my mind immediately starts thinking about how I would knit the yarn. When I started spinning about 4 or 5 years ago all I wanted to do was knit with my handspun yarn. Right from the start I would knit with all of my handspun yarns, I had no hesitation at all. I was proud of my handspun, no matter how lumpy and imperfect. In fact, I made a design and pattern out of my very first handspun yarn called Sweet Sheep. The quality of the yarn was questionable for sure being my first but by knitting it into an adorable sheep the imperfections became somehow even more charming than I could have ever imagined. It felt like magic.

In my eyes there is no reason not to knit with ALL of your handspun from the very start. 

Right from the start I would spin and spin and spin all sorts of weights of yarn and use different plying and spinning techniques. I couldn't get enough of spinning and then knitting my handspun yarns. I think the word some might use is obsessed. The excitement still runs high while I am waiting for a new handspun yarn to dry when it is just fresh off my wheel. It never gets old to think about what I will knit with my handspun.

Part of the allure of yarn is trying to figure out that perfect project that will make a match made in heaven. It is like a puzzle challenge. I'm always asking myself, is it the right weight, the right yardage, will it drape or be light enough, will it hold up to wear and tear...... the questions go on and on. But if you don't try and experiment you won't ever figure out how to use your handspun and knit it into beautiful, wearable pieces. 

(A pile of handspun socks using the free pattern, How I Make My Socks)

Since I started spinning I have knit everything under the sun with my handspun yarns. I have knit shawls, socks, hats, mittens, fingerless mitts, a cardigan, toys, scarves, etc. Each project I work with handspun is somehow more satisfying than when I knit with commercial yarns. There is a different feeling you get from working with handspun especially when you've spun it yourself. 

Here are 8 tips for the Spinning Knitter:

1. Have Fun!! Just cast on with your handspun yarn and KNIT! Don't worry about the imperfections in your hanspun yarn because often much of it will disappear when it is knit into fabric. To me little imperfections add to the fabric and make the project even better. Your finished object will be one of a kind and that's the best.

2. Spin the yarn, then pick the project. I always just spin away first, really focusing and enjoying the process of spinning. Sometimes I have an idea in mind for the future yarn I am making and sometimes I don't. Sometimes the yarn turns out completely different than I initially intended. I never want to get caught up in trying to be too exact when I'm spinning to knit because that zaps the fun out of it. There are a million different things to knit with handspun and your yarn, no matter what, will work great in some project out there.  

3. Keep it simple. When selecting projects for your handspun simple projects are often better. If the yarn is busy with lots of color or barber poling, stockinette stitch, rib or garter stitch will usually look best. Basic hats, mittens, shawls, scarves and socks are often the best choices for a wide variety of variegated or striping handspun.

4. Combine your handspun with commercial yarns. This can help to make up for smaller yardage. My favorite knitting project combining handspun with commercial yarn is this cardigan (see the photo below). I combined a Loop Bullseye gradient bump with Cascade 220 in black. It turned out wonderfully. The gauge for the handspun wasn't always exactly the same as the Cascade 220 but it didn't matter at all. This is one of my all-time favorite projects.

I've been adding commercial sock yarn for cuffs heels and toes in my handspun socks lately and I love this combination. The pattern I use for my socks is the free pattern called, How I Make My Socks.

5. Experiment! Experiment with the needle size for knitting your selected handspun and be prepared to switch needles and swatch until you get the gauge that will work best for the yarn at hand. Knitting with handspun is not an exact science. For me there are often thicker and thinner moments throughout the yarn and I expect this and it doesn't bother me. I often have to try out different needle sizes when starting a handspun project. It is a different beast than commercial yarns.

6. Be Flexible. You may start out thinking you are spinning a fingering weight to knit a pair of socks and then you end up with a worsted weight perfect for a hat. That's fine! The part of spinning that is so interesting and fun to me is that things change during the process and it can keep you on your toes. It is exciting and adventurous.

 7. Don't force the spinning or the knitting. "Let the fiber be what it wants to be." I used to hear this all of the time from spinners and I didn't get it. Now I get it. What this means to me is that while you are spinning don't force the fiber to be something that it isn't meant to be for your technique. Through experience I know that for me Polwarth Silk blends can comfortably be spun into very thin singles. If I am spinning a straight up Falkland roving it works well for me to spin a worsted or bulky weight yarn. When you first start spinning different fibers you will find out how they spin up best for your personal techniques.

On the same note don't try to knit your handspun yarn into a project where it won't work. Maybe you'll even have to design something on your own to make the perfect match for your special skein of handspun. I did exactly this with the 50 Row Shawlette (see the photo below).

50 Row Shawlette ~ roving was from Unwind Yarns

I had 250 yards of a worsted weight handspun and I couldn't find the perfect pattern for it. That's when I decided to just cast on and make up a fun shawlette that would use every inch of the beautiful handspun yarn. The 50 Row Shawlette was designed in a snap. It was a perfect match.

Another project I designed when I couldn't find the perfect pattern is called, Lost Banner Hat (see the photo below). 

Here is an example of a gradient yarn I had spun where there wasn't enough yardage to create a larger project like a shawl but I wanted to keep the gradient colors intact. I needed a simple knit with stockinette stitch and rib. The Lost Banner Hat takes about 200 yards of a worsted weight yarn, either handspun or commercial. This hat knit in handspun feels so good on my head. I love it.

The name of the hat pattern was because the hat was lost and then found a long time later.

(Handspun socks knit with Friends in Fiber Gradient Rainbow)

8. BE FEARLESS! Knit your hanspun yarn into beautiful, treasured things. Don't just let it sit on a shelf or in a bin somewhere. Show it off to the world. There is really nothing like knitting with handspun yarn and you won't know until you try. It is pure magic! Really.

Lastly, be PROUD of your handspun yarn. And be proud of your knitting with your handspun yarns. How amazing is it that we can create our own yarns through the process of spinning and then make one of a kind originals with that yarn? It's the best.

By knitting with your handspun yarn you are tying your knitting in a more direct way to the wool, the silk, the cotton, the yak, the sheep, the earth, the farmers....  that's a powerful thing

Handspun is cool! Knit with it.
xo ~ susan

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Episode 18: Fall Knitting

Hi, Knitters,
Episode 18 is here. Today I am talking about a couple of sweaters, socks, socks and more socks. Handspun socks are particularly on my mind it seems this fall.

There is a brief photo slide show at the end. I wrote Slide Show where it says insert text at the end but it didn't save for some reason.

Click here to watch Episode 18: Fall Knitting on YouTube!

The podcast is available on iTunes as the Susan B. Anderson Podcast!

There are a few spots left in my Sock Yarn Bunny class in Madison, October 10th at the KnitCircus Retreat. If you are in the area I'd love to see you there. My Shawl Shapes class is already full but you could check on that one if interested. Sometimes people drop out at the last minute.

Click Here for the KnitCircus Retreat information! Oct. 10, 2015.

Knitting Pipeline Maine Retreat

Mary, Millie & Morgan ~ top down seamless doll pattern

Madison Knitters Guild

Kristin Nicholas

Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool

Antrorse by Shannon Cook

Solja by Anna Maltz

Kromski mini-niddy noddy

Stanwood Ball Winder

Kathleen Kibblehouse on Etsy ~ fabric dpn holders

Arne & Carlos sock yarn

Friends in Fiber on Etsy

Into the Whirled

Gourmet Stash

How I Make My Socks ~ my free sock pattern

Blueberry Waffle Sock pattern

Quince & Co. Osprey and Lark yarns

Nature Spun

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman (It is pronounced Ooo-vah. I pronounced it wrong in the podcast.)

A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg (I meant "affectation" when I was talking about the narrator, not the made up word I used, afflection. Sorry about that.)

Olive's Ocean by Kevin Henkes

Delancey by Molly Wizenberg

Ending Thoughts
Susan B. Anderson's Kids' Knitting Workshop ~ my next book!

Periscope ~ I'm @susanbanderson on here. Let me know your thoughts on this.


My Ravelry group ~ Itty-Bitty Knits

One last thing....

My lovely niece completed the Madison Ironman last weekend. We all went to cheer her on along the way and I am so proud of her. She is just amazing. This photo was taken on mile 22 of the marathon and just look at her still smiling away! She is one beautiful, strong and determined young woman.

You may recognize my niece from her modeling stint for the Split Back Snowflake Hat pattern.

Take care Knitters. I'll be back soon with more.
xo ~ susan

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Woodland Animal Patterns ~ Available now & on sale!


Hi, Knitters,
Today I have three new fall toy patterns for you. All three patterns are priced at an introductory sale price for one week starting today. The patterns will normally be set at $6.00 per pattern but I am offering each at $4.50 until September 15th, 2015. No code is necessary to get the discount.

I am super proud of all three of these delightful patterns which are all worked seamlessly from the bottom up with the exception of stitching on the fox and squirrel's heads to the bodies. Everything else is picked up or worked in one piece. The hedgehog is completely seamless. 

There are new and unusual construction techniques for each toy which are pretty innovative if I do say so myself. I hope you enjoy these three as much as I do.

Here is some information for Hedgie that you might like to know:



September 2015

Worsted / 10 ply (9 wpi) ?

6 stitches = 1 inch in stockinette stitch

US 5 - 3.75 mm

100 yards (91 m)

3-inches tall
This pattern is available for $4.50 USD  buy it now
The pattern for Hedgie is on sale for one week for $4.50. On September 15th, 2015, the pattern will return to its original price of $6.00. No code is necessary.
The little hedgehog has a unique and new seamless construction that starts at the bottom of the white tummy section. The tummy and face are knit flat and then the brown body is picked up and worked from there.
Hedgie is the perfect size to stick in a child’s pocket or to set on a hedgehog-loving person’s office desk.
Hedgie is part of a woodland animal trio which includes the Woodland Foxand the Squirrel and Acorns patterns.
The pattern is part of the Alana Dakos’ Never Not Knitting Press(NNKPress) printed pattern line which is available in local yarn shops everywhere.
It is a fun and quick knit!

The texture stitch is the same one I have used on other toys you may have seen. I have a YouTube video tutorial that shows how to do it. You can watch right here! 

Here is some information you might like to know about the Squirrel and Acorns pattern:

Squirrel and Acorns


September 2015

Worsted / 10 ply (9 wpi) ?

6 stitches = 1 inch in stockinette stitch

US 5 - 3.75 mm

150 yards (137 m)

5-inches tall
This pattern is available for $4.50 USD  buy it now
The pattern for the Squirrel and Acorns is on sale for one week. The price is set at $4.50 and on September 15th, 2015, the price will return to the original price of $6.00. No code is necessary.
The Squirrel and Acorns toy is worked from the bottom up seamlessly with the exception of attaching the head to the body. The rest of the parts of the toy, including limbs, ears and pocket, are picked up and knit on.
The squirrel’s tummy pocket is the most fun and unique aspect of the toy. To fill the pocket I have included the pattern for the sweet little acorns. The pocket holds up to 5 acorns.
The squirrel is worked in Quince & Co. Owl and Lark. The acorns are worked in tiny bits of O-Wool Balance. All are worsted weight yarns.
The Squirrel and Acorns pattern is part of Alana Dakos’ Never Not Knitting Press (NNKPress) printed pattern line which is sold in local yarn shops everywhere.
The Squirrel and Acorns pattern is part of a trio of Woodland Animals that inlcudes Hedgie, a tiny hedgehog, and a Woodland Fox.

I love how the hands fit right in the pockets.

The pocket will hold up to 5 little acorns, the pattern for the acorns is included.

The bushy tail is not difficult but you could also attach 3 or 4 tiny pom-poms if you prefer.


The tiny acorns are knit out of O-Wool but any worsted weight yarn will work fine.

Here is some information you might like to know about the Woodland Fox: 

Woodland Fox


September 2015

Worsted / 10 ply (9 wpi) ?

6 stitches = 1 inch in 6 sts per inch in stockinette stitch

US 5 - 3.75 mm

150 yards (137 m)

5-inches tall
This pattern is available for $4.50 USD  buy it now
The pattern is sale for one with an introductory price of $4.50. On September 15th, 2015, the price will be set to $6.00. No code is necessary.
The Woodland Fox is worked seamlessly from the bottom-up with the exception of stitching the head to the body. Everything else, including the ears, limbs and tail, is picked up and knit on.
The unique and new seamless head construction is worked in three sections, the top of the head, the bottom of the head (face section), and the back of the head which forms the hood.
The pattern is included in the Never Not Knitting Press (NNKPress) printed pattern line that is available for yarn shops everywhere.
The Woodland Fox is part of a trio of patterns that includes a tiny hedgehog named Hedgie and the Squirrel with Acorns.

This is one of my most favorite toy designs to date. There is so much personality packed in here.

The Woodland Fox is a bit of a fun knitting adventure.

There you have it! All three are discounted in price for one week starting today and going through September 15th, 2015. Click here for my Ravelry Pattern Shop.

All of these patterns are available as a part of Alana Dakos' NNKPress upscale printed pattern line for wholesale for local yarn shops everywhere. Click here to visit NNKPress to find out more! If you purchase the printed pattern in your local yarn shop there is a scratch off code on the pattern that allows you to have the digital pattern in your Ravelry library. It's the best of both worlds.

I'll be back soon with more.
xo ~ susan