Friday, October 30, 2015

Fall Inspired

Hi, Knitters,
I have randomly selected a winner for the Little Skein Secret Garden Luxe Kit and the winner is.....

Susan Cowan or MaggieGrl on Ravelry! Congratulations to Susan. 

I've already emailed Anne Vally of Little Skein to pass on Susan's contact information. Anne will be getting in touch directly. Thanks to everyone for entering, what an amazing and huge response! I will host another giveaway very soon.

I started recording a podcast episode and I got about 20 minutes in and I noticed my phone had stopped recording. I had to stop and move things around and by the time I got back to it the house was full of family and there was a lot going on. So I have about a half of a podcast filmed and hopefully I'll get to recording the rest this weekend or early next week. 

Well, fall has hit pretty hard around here. It is such a beautiful time of year. We have had a mild and somewhat warm fall season. Although we've had some colder weather recently the first week of November is supposed to be back up around 70 degrees. That seems impossible.

Everyday I get outside to enjoy the outdoors and the fall colors. It has been beautiful and inspiring. The fall landscape and temperatures have seeped into my knitting over the last couple of weeks. I'm thinking a lot about cozy sweaters and warm wool socks.

I started a pair of Patchwork Socks. There isn't a specific pattern for these socks. You just take leftover sock yarn and your favorite sock pattern and switch yarns every 10 rounds or so. The yarns I'm using are the leftovers from the four pairs of Arne & Carlos Regia socks I have made. I am knitting these socks from the toe-up and it has been really fun. They won't match but they will definitely go together and look like a pair. I see a lot of autumnal colors when I look at that finished sock. I've already started the toe on the second sock.

And for some reason navy blue has been going strong around here as well.

Miss Molly (my future daughter-in-law) finished her Yowza Weigh It 3 Shawl using Miss Babs Yowza in the Stairway to Heaven colorway. It is beautiful and she reported that she has worn it several times already. Molly says it is warm and cozy. She loves it!

The other navy blue project I've been working on is the Antrorse sweater by Shannon Cook. I am using Quince & Co. Osprey in the Peacoat colorway. Those are Karbonz dpns on the sleeve, US size 10. 

Since this photo I've finished the sweater and it is blocking and drying now. I've ordered some buttons that I hope will work out well. I'll share more about it as soon as it is all together and done. Antrorse is a great pattern, super simple and fast. 

I'll be back with my podcast episode very soon.
xo ~ susan

Friday, October 23, 2015

Secret Garden Luxe Kit Giveaway from Little Skein

Hi, Knitters,
I am going to jump right in to the topic at hand today. Anne Vally of Little Skein contacted me a few weeks ago to see if I'd like to host a giveaway for her new Secret Garden Luxe Kit. I thought it might be something you would enjoy hearing about and winning so I said sure!

Here are some links to check out:

Little Skein ~ the website! Anne is no longer selling on Etsy, just 

Anne's kits are always artistic, impressive and thoughtful. She designs and makes some of the items herself and then she enlists the talents of other designers that use all sorts of different mediums. It is always fun and interesting to see what Anne will come up with next. For the Secret Garden Kits she has included a beautiful cabled shawl designed by Alana Dakos of Never Not Knitting. It is an eye catching shawl that really captures the Secret Garden theme. Alana hit it out of the park with this one.

Today's giveaway prize kit for one lucky winner includes:

- PDF copy of "The Secret Garden" shawl by Alana Dakos
- 2 skeins of Western Sky Knits Magnolia Sock yarn in the colorway of the winner's choice. This is a beautiful, heavy fingering weight, MCN blend yarn -- oh so soft!
- Drawstring project bag in the winner's choice of my new Secret Garden fabrics
- Stitch markers
- Lots of knitting support as the winner knits the shawl: online stitch maps, technique videos, knitalong support, etc.

You get to choose which colorway you'd like for your shawl and they are all stunning. Western Sky Knits created the gorgeous Secret Garden colors for the kits.

And you also get to choose your stitch markers. So many choices!

The Luxe Kit is a huge prize valued at $110! Thank you to Anne for this great opportunity. 

If you'd like to enter to win a Secret Garden Luxe Kit please leave one comment on this blog post. Your comment must include your Ravelry username or your email address so Anne can get in touch with you to arrange your prize choices and delivery. Please only click on the publish button one time. There is a delay before your comment is published. 

I'll be back in a couple of days with a randomly selected winner.

Good luck and let the comments begin! I'll be back soon with much more....
xo ~ susan

Monday, October 19, 2015

Modifications and Tips for the Baa-ble Hat by Donna Smith

Hi, Knitters,
First of all thank you to my wonderful future daughter-in-law, Miss Molly, for her modeling talents and my son for his keen photography for today's post. Molly is beautiful and young and energetic and generous. She glows! And I think she has one of the cutest profiles I've ever seen. Miss Molly has cast on for her own Baa-ble Hat and is using the following modifications. I'll share her version when it's done.

Now for Baa-ble Hat knitting!

I've knitted a couple of Baa-ble Hats by Donna Smith and I am planning on a couple more. I think they will make the cutest gifts for the holiday season ahead. It is too fun and fast to pass up. The pattern is written and designed by Donna Smith for the Shetland Wool Week. In order to get the FREE pattern you have to sign up for the Shetland Wool Week newsletter and then the newsletter is emailed directly to you. The newsletter contains the Baa-ble Hat pattern. If I remember correctly it took at least a couple of days to receive the email with the newsletter and pattern.

I posted a couple of photos of my Baa-ble Hats on my Instagram and said that I made some modifications to the pattern that I will share here today. I've had people ask me about getting the free pattern. I guess some have had some trouble getting the pattern emailed and I'm not sure why. I do remember that there was a delay from the time I signed up to the time I received the email. Other than signing up on the Shetland Wool Week website, I don't know anything else about how to get the pattern. I've been getting emails from knitters about getting the pattern sent to them from me but I'm not distributing the pattern. You'll have to go through the website. I'm pretty sure if you're patient it will show up in your inbox. Also, check your spam folders to be sure it isn't in there waiting for you!

If you go to the Baa-ble Hat Ravelry page to see and read the comments about the almost 800 hats that have been knit already one common issue is that the hat has turned out too big. The pattern is knit in an aran or worsted weight yarn at an unusually tight gauge, 5.75 sts per inch. The numbers in the pattern and this gauge do work out fine to give you a 20-inch circumference hat which is an average and good measurement for an adult-sized hat. My feeling or guess is that many may not be getting this dense gauge exactly and so the hats are turning out on the large side. 

I saw Martha Healy, goldybear on Ravelry, knitting several of these hats at the Maine Knitting Pipeline Retreat. I told her that I had that pattern waiting for me to cast on when I got home. Martha warned me that it was on the big side and that she had made modifications. Martha's hats were turning out so perfect and adorable that I took her modifications to heart. I give her the credit for coming up with these general modifications and then I added a few things of my own.

Martha's hats are so cute and inspiring. Thank you, Martha, for sharing your modifications with me.

Here is how I knit the Baa-ble Hat. You will still need the pattern to knit the hat! These are just tips and modifications.

Quince & Co. Osprey ~ Aran weight 100% wool
Version 1: Peaks Ferry, Egret, Belize and Storm (red and blue version)
Version 2: Crocus, Egret, Kumlien's Gull and Honey (purple and mustard version)

Needles: US size 7/4.5mm and 8/5mm, 16-inch circular and US size 8/5mm dpns OR size to obtain gauge

Gauge: 4.5 sts per inch on the larger size needles in stockinette stitch

Note on gauge: I changed the gauge from the original pattern quite a bit! Achieving the correct gauge is very important for this hat. The fabric is supposed to be on the dense side, thus the smaller than normal needles on the aran weight yarn. Be sure to check your gauge.

Finished measurement: 20-inch circumference

~ With the US size 7 needles, I cast on 88 stitches and completed the rib as the pattern suggests. This will give you a long folded brim (cuffed) OR the long rib could be worn unfolded for a slouchy-style hat. You could make the rib section shorter (1 or 2-inches) if you don't want to cuff the brim and want a fitted hat.

~ On the first round of the chart I switched to the US size 8 needles and I increased 2 stitches for 90 stitches total. I just did a kfb in one stitch at the beginning of the round and a kfb in one stitch about half-way around.

~ The chart has 60 stitches. If you look closely the repeat is 30 stitches (I drew a line down the chart to keep track). I repeated the 30 stitch repeat three times. So I completed the chart once all the way across and then I repeated the first 30 stitches again.

Since I had a different number of stitches I did a slightly different decrease sequence and I needed to continue the colorwork. I fudged around with the colorwork repeats and wrote it down for you if you are interested.

Here is what I did using the top half of the hat color or the main color (MC) and the white flecks or the contrast color (CC). The decrease rounds in the pattern start on Round 26. Since I am not using the chart I am starting the Decrease Section numbering below with Round 1.

Decrease Rounds:
Rnd 1: (K8, k2tog in MC) repeat to end. 81 sts.
Rnd 2: (K2 in MC, k1 in CC) repeat to end.
Rnd 3: (K7, k2tog in MC) repeat to end. 72 sts.
Rnd 4: Knit in MC.
Rnd 5: (K6, k2tog in MC) repeat to end. 63 sts.
Rnd 6: (K2 in MC, k1 in CC, k3 in MC, k1 in CC) repeat to end.
Rnd 7: (K5, k2tog in MC) repeat to end. 54 sts.
Rnd 8: Knit in MC.
Rnd 9: (K2 in MC, k1 in CC) repeat to end.
Rnd 10: (K4, k2tog in MC) repeat to end. 45 sts.
Rnd 11: Knit in MC.
Rnd 12: (K4 in MC, k1 in CC) repeat to end.

Cut CC and work in MC only to the end of the hat.

Rnd 13: (K3, k2tog) repeat to end. 36 sts.
Rnd 14: Knit.
Rnd 15: (K2, k2tog) repeat to end. 27 sts.
Rnd 16: Knit.
Rnd 17: (K1, k2tog) repeat to end. 18 sts.
Rnd 18: (K2tog) repeat to end. 9 sts.
Cut the yarn and pull the end through the remaining stitches.

For a baby-size hat you could cast on 60 stitches and go to town repeating the chart one time through.

~ Pom Pom ~

For the pom-pom I used a Clover Large Pom Pom Maker (click here for information). If you don't have a pom pom maker use a cut piece of cardboard that is about 2 1/4-inches wide to get a similar size. I held two-strands of the top two hat colors together while wrapping the pom pom maker. I like to cram as many wraps as possible on the pom pom maker so it is super-full and round in the end. I can barely get the sides closed before cutting.

~ Floats ~

One last point to make is about the floats which are the loose strands being carried across the inside of the hat. In the red and blue version I trapped the floats here and there and not often, in the sheep section. I did this because some of the floats cross maybe 12 stitches or something like that. The rule of thumb is to trap every 5 stitches or so. This is technically what you should do but since the sheep are white and the floats are red the places I trapped the float showed through a little bit on the right side of the fabric. It looks fine but it's just something I noticed, no one else would probably notice. I also think the traps showed through more because of the aran weight yarn which is a heavy weight for colorwork. 

~ Tips for relaxed floats ~

1. The second time I knit the hat I didn't do any trapping of the floats. In the sheep section of the chart, I would stick the tip of my pointer finger in between the stitches on the right needle and the long float going across the back of the work while I was knitting to ensure that the float was going to be loose enough to accommodate the long stretch of stitches. This appeared to have worked out well and I will do this again if (when) I make more of these hats.

2. Make sure when you are doing colorwork that your floats are not too tight. This is imperative. I have seen some hats where the sheep are looking puckered because the floats have been pulled too tightly. It won't block out if your floats are pulled too tight, unfortunately. I suggest the finger trick I mentioned above and also make sure that the stitches on the right needle are spread out as you work. This really helps. Really make a concerted effort while you are knitting to spread the stitches out so there is space in between the stitches on the right needle. 

3. Another trick is to turn your knitting inside out and knit on the inside of the circular needle. The floats then have farther to go around the outside of your work. I generally don't do this technique because it feels strange to me to be knitting on the inside of the work, but I've seen others do it very successfully and it really does help.

Okay, Knitters, I hope this helps if you are going to modify the amazing and fun Baa-ble Hat pattern. Donna Smith has really done a great job with this pattern. It is a huge runaway hit!

Congratulations to Donna!

I'm not able to field a lot of questions about this hat and besides it's Donna's wonderful pattern and design. This is all I've got for this one! If you have other questions about Donna Smith's beautiful hat design I'm sure she would answer you either on her Ravelry or Instagram accounts, or on her blog/website at Donna Smith Designs.

Thank you for understanding. 

I will be back later this week with a huge Little Skein Luxe Kit giveaway worth $110! You won't want to miss it.

I hope you are having a wonderful fall season, Knitters.
xo ~ susan

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Episode 19: KP Maine Goodies & More Knitting!

Hi, Knitters,
First, I'd like to announce the winner of the Gale's Art Sock Blank Club 3-month Subscription winner!  The winner is Trwhip on Ravelry! Congratulations. I've contacted both Trwhip and Gale to let them know. Gale will be in touch directly to figure out the logistics. Thanks for entering everyone. Next week I have another HUGE giveaway to share that I know you will all be excited about. Stay tuned....

Today I have a new podcast episode where I am talking about the Knitting Pipeline Maine Retreat 2015, tons of yarn, knitting, a new shawl, patterns, various products, my sweater and more.

Click here to view the podcast directly on YouTube!

The podcast is available on iTunes. Click here!

In the video I talk about a lot of different knitterly things and here are all of the links:

Gale's Art on Etsy

Mary, Millie & Morgan Doll ebook information

Quince & Co.

The Knitting Pipeline Podcast

The Knitting Pipeline Retreat Group Ravelry

Itty-Bitty Knits Group (my group on Ravelry)

Louise Cardigan

Friends in Fiber on Etsy

Seven Sisters Arts

Juniper Grace

YOTH Yarns


Quaere Fibres on Etsy

Yowza Weigh It 4 Shawl

Miss Babs Yowza Yarn

Helen Stewart's Red Robin Shawl

Wool & Wire jewelry

NNK Press printed pattern line

Alana Dakos

Arne & Carlos Regia Sock Yarn

Yarn Enabler

Kristin Nicholas Colorful Pottery on Etsy

NNK Press Greeting Cards

Omena vest

photo from Sue Witkin

The beautiful Kriste, the doll artist extraordinaire, is on the left! 

photo from Kristebe

Friends forever!!

That's about it! Phew! I'll be back soon with much more and a fantastic giveaway from Little Skein.

xo ~ susan

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Win a 3-Month Subscription to Gale's Art Sock Blank Club!

Hi, Knitters,
One day many months ago I stumbled upon one of my favorite Etsy shops with no plans to purchase anything. As I was scrolling down and looking at Gale's beautifully dyed sock yarns and fiber something caught my eye. It was something I had never seen before, not like this anyway. I was seeing a piece of art, a new way to think about sock yarn, a new way to have fun with colors and dyeing. I was looking at the Gale's Art Secret Sock Blank. It was incredible.

I had to get one! I had to knit the Secret Sock Blank into socks immediately. And so I did. 

If you don't know what a sock blank is, it is a machine-knit piece of fabric that is made out of sock yarn. The dyer creates colors on the fabric and in Gale's case, stencils secret messages. You pull the yarn from the end of the blank that pulls off easily and cast on for your project. 

Gale has both single-strand sock blanks that will create mismatched socks, and double-stranded sock blanks which will create matching socks (strands are held together in the sock blank and two strands are pulled off at the same time). When ordering be sure to order the type you'd prefer.

I LOVE knitting socks from a sock blank. I didn't know if I would like it or not but it was fun, easy, portable and entertaining, especially with the Secret Sock Blank because I was so curious about how it would turn out. These socks flew off my needles, literally. I could not put them down. The yarn is kinked up when you knit with it which didn't bother me at all. 

Once the socks are finished and washed they are smooth as silk and gorgeous. I love the speckled look of the socks. The speckles on the socks are where the stencils were on the blank. Genius!

Do you remember this Monkey sock from awhile ago? This Graffiti and Asphalt Wonder Sock Yarn (best yarn ever!) is from Gale's Art, too. This yarn is variegated in little blips of color so every couple of stitches the color changes, there is no pooling or flashing at all. This is one of my all-time favorite yarns. 

As you can see I have been a long time user and admirer of Gale's yarns. She is so talented and she is always trying to push herself to create new and different techniques with her dyeing. Plus Gale is a down-to-earth, nice person. I met her at SSK last summer and everyone went bananas over her dyeing workshop at that retreat. If you ever get a chance take one of Gale's workshops. 

Anyway, I was thrilled when Gale asked me to host a giveaway for a 3-month subscription her first-time ever club! Yes to that!!

Click here to see more information about Gale's Sock Club! 

Today I get to offer a prize worth $99 to one lucky winner. 

You will receive the three sock blanks in the photo above from left to right:
1. In November 2015: The Fallen
2. In December 2015: Special Snowflake
3. In January 2016: Happy New Year 2016!

Each of these sock blanks evoke the best colors of the seasons ahead. It is so exciting just to think about it. If you want to just purchase the club and not wait too see if you win here is all of the club information including add-ons that can be included in your order.

The blanks are stenciled with seasonal prints and messages. Each one is inspiring.

My goal is to knit each blank in the intended month, November, December and January.

Now be sure to note whether you'd like a single or double-stranded sock blank. My sock blanks in the photos are single sock blanks. You can choose which type you'd prefer. 

Gale is also offering a one time only ONE YEAR Sock Club for those of you who are interested. Here is what Gale has to say about this intriguing option:

"This will be 12 sock blanks I am planning on doing this year. There sill be separate listings for the 12 single and 12 double sock blanks. I don't currently have photos of the year's worth so you will just have to trust that you will LOVE every one of them. The price for the year-long club reflects a 10% discount. Convo me with any questions about add-ons or anything else. 

The Club Blanks will never be reproduced again! They are only for the club people." 

Each blank is 463 yards of a Superwash Merino 75%, Nylon 25%, fingering weight, 100 grams.

The blanks literally glow. They are so beautiful. The finished socks are so smooth and lovely to wear. My Gale's Art sock blank socks are truly one of the most favorite pairs of socks I have ever knit. I wear them every chance I get.

If you'd like to be entered to win a 3-month Sock Club Subscription for Gale's Secret Sock Blanks, please leave a comment on this blog post. It is a must to include either your Ravelry username or an email address so Gale can get in touch with you directly if you should win! Please only leave one comment. You have to be patient for your comment to appear as each comment is approved before posting so there is a delay. Only click on the publish button one time. 

Be sure to follow Gale's Art on Instagram! You won't believe the sock blanks she has cooking.

Good luck! You will LOVE this prize, I guarantee it.

Let the comments begin.
xo ~ susan