Wednesday, March 25, 2015

WIP Wednesday: Let there be Gnomes!

The Countdown to YarnCon Gnome Gnitalong is in full swing here on Ravelry! Now that I have finished both of my secret knitting projects which are due this month, I am free to break out the DPNs and have myself a Gnome Party!
I am using leftover bits of worsted weight yarn and my new favorite DPNs from Knitter's Pride, Marblz, to knit slightly-less-tiny versions of Anna Hrachovec's Tiny Gnome pattern. My goal is to make a gnome rainbow to send to Seoul, and they are so fast to knit that I'm already off to a good start.

If you want to join in the fun, the Tiny Gnome pattern is available in a few places: Anna's book, Teeny Tiny MochiMochi; the Tiny Gnome Kit; and the Tiny Things Collection 3 which you can purchase for $3 off the regular price now through April 15, 2015 - just enter GNOMEDIPLOMACY at checkout.

I'm really excited to contribute a few gnomes to this project, and I can't wait to see how it turns out. Plus, I'll be entered into a prize drawing for each Gnome I donate to the cause at YarnCon!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Take 5 with Knitting Sarah!

Knitting Sarah
A few weeks ago, I introduced the Take 5 series, which is where I ask fiber-loving folks to share top five lists on a variety of topics (click here to get caught up). This week, I asked one of my favorite midwestern bloggers, Knitting Sarah, to share a list which could stop cold sheepers in their tracks...or, at the very least, make those of us with lesser resolve feel better about our frequent bouts of stash enhancement. Presenting....

Knitting Sarah’s Top 5 Excuses to Buy More Yarn

  1. Yarn doesn’t go bad. As long as it’s stored properly, yarn will happily sit in your stash for years waiting for you to find just the right pattern and moment to knit it (trust me, I’ve personally tested that theory). So really, why not add to it?
  2. Incentive. Sometimes we all need an extra push to finish up a certain work in progress. I find that the promise of new yarn on the way or new yarn upon completion of said WIP often helps me cross the finish line. I think it’s totally rational that I’ve come to consider the prospect of new yarn as a finishing tool.
  3. Souvenir, v. to remember. The verb ‘souvenir’ in French means, ‘to remember’ and what better way to remember a vacation or a special occasion or, you know, the fourth Monday in March than a nice sweater quantity of yarn?
  4. Matchers. Ironically, sometimes the only way to use my stash yarn is to add to it. Those single skeins often need new beautiful partners and I simply can’t stashbust effectively without adding new skeins to the fold.
  5. TEOTWAWKI*. It’s important that we as knitters are prepared for all possible scenarios, such as a disruption in yarn supply. Whether it’s due to a coronal mass ejection shutting down the power grid or it’s Sunday and your LYS is closed, you owe it to yourself and your loved ones to be ready.
In case you were worried, I’m pretty sure that #5 has you covered no matter what kind of stash enhancement you’re after, so go ahead and give those pretty new skeins a home!

Sarah also sent over this handy flow chart from which she frequently refers back to when the temptation to buy more yarn arises.

Be sure to check out the Knitting Sarah blog for more great ways to enhance your stash!

*TEOTWAWKI = The End Of The World As We Know It - for anyone who was wondering!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Winner + Celery Slouch Hat

Thanks so much to everyone who entered my Stripey Fine Giveaway! The lucky winner is PamfromNOLA. I will get in touch with you to arrange for the delivery of the prize - congratulations!
Today, I have a quick FO to share with you: my project for the Celery Slouch KAL, which is happening now through April 30 here in the Blue Sky Alpacas Ravelry group. There is a pretty awesome prize up for grabs, and all you have to do is knit this simple slouchy hat in any Blue Sky Alpacas yarn! Also, you get multiple drawing entries the more hats you knit & share in the group, which is a pretty sweet deal. 
It was the perfect conversation knitting project, and I ended up stashing it in my bag so that I could knit a few rounds wherever I happened to be - on the bus, at the salon, or at a party. The yarn is really soft, and it blocked out beautifully over a plate. I'm planning to donate it to charity, but it was fun to wear it for the photo shoot!
Have a crafty weekend!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

WIP Wednesday: Return to Block Island

I had quite the productive weekend, wherein I finished 2 out of 3 secret projects (and the third is now in the final stages of done-ness)! That meant I had plenty of time to to spend on my other WIPs and March Goals. My first order of business was finishing my Celery Slouch KAL project (more on that this Friday), deciding on a spinning project for March (more on that....eventually), and dusting off my Block Island Pullover, which has been rather lonely in the knitting basket of late. 

On Monday night, I finished the first sleeve, and instead of diving into sleeve #2 right away, I decided to take some time to weave in all of the many ends hiding on the inside of the sweater. It's not terribly exciting stuff, but I'll be glad I did it later on. Probably. 

I also added several squares to my destash memory fact, I've already exceeded my modest goal of adding 2 squares each week (for a total of 8)! I'm getting totally addicted to picking out new colors and yarns for each new square, and it's a great project to grab when I'm waiting for the cats to eat their food or sneak in a few rows while dinner is cooking.

That's about it for this week - also, don't forget to enter my giveaway for your chance to win a skein of Stripey Fine sock yarn from Spud & Chloe! Click here for contest details; I'll be announcing the winner this Friday, March 20! 

Monday, March 16, 2015

Yarn Enabling: Himalayan Trail from Bijou Basin Ranch

Last month, I shared a new-to-me yarn which I'm using for an design appearing in an upcoming Holla Knits collection. Today, I want to share a not-so-new-to-me yarn which has long been on my list of favorites, Himalayan Trail.

I first used this yarn in 2012, when I knit a scarf which I gave to a friend for Christmas that year. I immediately fell in love with the fluffy softness! At the time, this yarn was only available in two color options, Natural Brown and Natural Cream.
Dun Bonnet, just one of 24 color options from the Outlandish collection.
A little over a year ago, Bijou Basin Ranch introduced the Outlandish series of colorways which are inspired by the Outlander series. I admit, I haven't read the books, nor have I watched the TV show (which is just about to make its return to Starz) - but I am most definitely a sucker for beautiful semi-solid hand-dyed yarn! Last fall, I designed a hat and fingerless mitt pattern using Himalayan Trail, and I am just finishing up a brand-new design which will be released next month as an exclusive kit at

Why do I love this yarn so much? For starters, I love the fiber content: a luxurious blend of 75% yak and 25% merino. The resulting 2-ply yarn is lofty, without being too loose or too overspun:
It also has excellent stitch definition, lending itself to a variety of stitch patterns, though I'm partial to cables:
...and it even looks great when you weave with it on the Zoom Loom:
I haven't tried crocheting with Himalayan Trail, but the resulting knitted fabric is super-soft without feeling fragile. Not only that, but the scarf I knit for myself last fall has yet to pill, and I've worn it quite a bit this winter.
Bonus: you can probably find a colorway which matches your favorite teacup!
The price tag might seem a little cost-prohibitive for a larger project such as a sweater, but it's a worthy splurge, and there are plenty of projects you can make with just 2-3 skeins. You can either purchase skeins individually or choose from a variety of discounted project kits (including mine!) featuring this yarn.

Happy Knitting!

Friday, March 13, 2015

Stripey Fine Review & Giveaway

Today I have a special treat to share: an exciting new yarn from Spud & Chloë called Stripey Fine! It's a fingering weight blend of 80% superwash wool and 20% silk, which is a blend I don't think I've ever come across in a sock yarn (with the exception being Fine, the solid-colored predecessor to Stripey Fine). This gives it a bit of a sheen to the yarn itself, and I'm willing to be that the addition of silk gives it added strength while reducing the likelihood of pills. The yarn feels very similar to a sweater I made several years ago which was also a similar blend of wool and silk (which is now discontinued); that sweater has yet to pill or show signs of wear.
Stripey Fine comes in seven variegated colorways, shown above clockwise, beginning at the top: Blueberry Cheesecake #7863, Tootie Fruitie #7860, Grape Freeze #7864, Cherry Sundae #7866, Neopolitan #7862, Orange Cream #7865, and Mint Chip #7861 in the center. Each colorway knits up in what I would describe as a space-dyed effect; another fun feature of this yarn is that each variegated colorway is comprised of colors from the solid-colored Fine palette. They can be mixed and matched for stripes and colorwork to create even more exciting effects!   
As a participant in the Stripey Fine Blog Tour, I was given a skein of Blueberry Cheesecake #7863 to make myself a pair of the Stripey Wristlets by Sarah Smuland, which is the first design to be released featuring this yarn. The mitts practically flew off my needles, and proved to be the perfect project for on-the-go knitting. I still have about a half-skein of the yarn left over and could easily knit another pair to give as a gift.
For those who dare, the Stripey Wristlets pattern is available for only $1.50 on Ravelry (that's 50% off!) when you enter STRIPEY at checkout - click here to purchase your PDF copy today! Note: this coupon code is good through March 21, 2015, after which the regular pattern price is only $3.
Win This Prize!
Here's where things get really fun: the folks at Spud & Chloë have generously donated a skein of Stripey Fine and a copy of the Stripey Wristlets pattern for me to give away as a prize to one lucky blog reader! To be eligible, simply leave a comment on this blog post telling me which of the seven Stripey Fine colorways is your favorite. Be sure to also mention your Ravelry ID or email address so that I can contact you if you win.

If you would like a bonus entry, please like my Facebook Page or follow me on Instagram, then leave another comment telling me you did so - just be sure to mention your Facebook or Instagram name so that I can verify everything!

While you're at it, you should definitely join the Spud & Chloë Ravelry group or follow them on your social media channel of choice: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Pinterest.

I will randomly-select one lucky winner to be announced next Friday, March 20 here on this blog. Good luck! 

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Spin-Off Spring 2015: So Much Inspiration!

I'm always eager to receive the next issue of Spin-Off in the mail, but the Spring 2015 issue which just arrived at my house is quite possibly the best I've ever read. It's bursting with interesting products and cool ideas to try, and I absolutely love the emphasis on putting your handspun stash to good use.

Jillian Moreno's article on combining your onesie fiber braids to create interesting marled effects in your finished handspun yarn is one I know I'll be referring back to quite a bit; I also loved Dagmar Klos' article on overdyeing stash yarns using natural dyes to transform seemingly clash-y skeins of yarn into a harmonious palette. Other article topics include features on Shetland Wool Week (which took place last fall), a spinners' trip to Ireland, a tutorial on creating batts with leftover fleece and fiber in your stash, creating a rug hooking project with your handspun stash yarn, and more.

The projects focus mainly on using up your handspun yarn stash, and I am pretty sure I'll be casting on for a Stashbuster Afghan just as soon as I wrap up my March deadline projects. The piece on creating garments using a variety of fiber braids is truly inspiring, as is the "Adventures in Fleece" feature which includes instructions to crochet squares to create your very own breed sampler afghan.

If you still need convincing that this issue needs to be a part of your spinning reference library, then I will have to point to Leslie Ordal's "Save Our Stash" article, which has photos of those dreaded yarn-eating pests and includes tips on how to prevent infestations as well as what to do should the unthinkable occur. Hopefully, I'll never have to refer back to this particular article, but I'm glad to have it at the ready just in case.

You can purchase print copies of the Spring 2015 issue of Spin-Off here in the Interweave store; digital versions are also available here.

You may like to know: I am a subscriber to Spin-Off magazine and was not asked to write this review, nor was I compensated in any way for it.