Thursday, September 24th, 2015


Here in the Philly area, we’ve been hearing about the Papal visit for a while now. I happen to live in a neighborhood near one of the SEPTA train stations that will be used to move vast numbers of people into and out of Center City, so we’re hunkering down for a crazy weekend with road closures, traffic, and other disruptions.

So it seems to me the perfect time to have a Pope-apalooza Sale in my ArtFire shop!

pope sale

I have lots of great sock yarns at super prices, including some 490-yard skeins of superwash merino; a new base called Singular, which is a singles made of wool grown and milled (and dyed!) in the USA; and some one-of-a-kind skeins that I created when I was fiddling around with new bases, dyes and/or techniques. (They are lovely and a real steal at $15 each.)

We’ve got Madonna’s Robe, Vestments, Cardinal Crimson…



card 3

and free shipping with the code FRANCIS for US orders $25 and more…..Go here.

Friday, August 14th, 2015

Limited time: The Official Boris Striping Colorway

It’s been a rather difficult summer for me on the personal front, and there have been moments when if I wasn’t able to bury my face in the snorgly fur of Boris, I don’t know what I would have done. So when I was puttering around the dyepots the other day (as one does), I had an impulse: to create a striping colorway based on the gorgeousness of Boris’s coat. Voila!

boris stripe 1

I figured some of Boris’s fans might want a pair of socks or a cowl that will allow them to take a little bit of Boris-inspiration home with them.

boris striper 2

boris striper again

Order yours here.

Wednesday, July 29th, 2015

Old and new

I’ve been knitting socks for a long time, and this summer, I had to face a difficult but unavoidable truth: some of my handknit socks were falling to pieces.

People often act amazed that I would knit myself a pair of socks (and how many times have you heard someone say the cliche that incites equal parts of rage and disbelief on my part:  “why bother when you can buy them so cheap at Walmart”) but handknit socks are absolutely wonderful. They fit like no machine-knit sock ever will. And they last a long time. I have handknit socks that are at least a decade old and only now are some of them starting to show serious wear.

While it broke my heart a little to have to take some of the rattiest looking handknit socks out of rotation, it did prove to be a good motivator to cast on some new ones. I started with a short pair of warmer-weather socks:

This is some neon Regia sock yarn I had in my stash. The colors are perfect for summertime.

And then I cast on a regular pair of crew socks, using some of the Regia Arne and Carlos sock yarn. I love the bright colors and the faux fair isle patterning:

sock in progress sm

I’m only on the leg of these socks, but I can tell I’m going to pick up some more of this line of yarn when I see it, since the colors change so quickly and are creating such a fun pattern.

So it’s out with the old (only if they are truly falling apart) and in with the new in my sock drawer.


P.S. As of this writing, there are some lovely self-striping and gradient fingering weight skeins in my ArtFire shop!


Some have silver sparkles; some do not.



Some miniskeins, too!

neon mini

Saturday, July 11th, 2015


Boris wishes you all a happy Caturday.

boris july 15

Wednesday, June 24th, 2015

Book look: Crocheted Mitts and Mittens, by Amy Gunderson

It’s always fun to connect with other folks in the industry, and at Stitches West in February I had the chance to hang out  a little bit with Amy Gunderson, creative lead at Universal Yarn. Amy is not only extremely talented, she’s also hilarious, with a dry sense of humor that I adore. Recently she sent me a copy of her new book, Crocheted Mitts & Mittens: 25 Fun and Fashionable Designs for Fingerless Gloves, Mittens, and Wrist Warmers (Stackpole Books; $21.95 MSRP).

The first thing you’ll notice when you look at Amy’s book is that it’s got a lot of patterns — 25 in all. I love how the Ravelry listing shows each mitten or wrister against a relatively plain background, with the hand flat, because it makes it easy to see and compare all of the various designs.

gunderson holey

(That one is called Holey Color and uses a lace stitch to showcase a multicolored sock yarn.)

Another thing that you notice right away is the unbelievable variety of styles and techniques used in the patterns. Lace, colorwork, cables, embellishment, texture… it’s all included! If you like regular mittens, you can find them; if you like wristers with individual fingers, you’ve got it; if you want a decorative wrister, you’ll find options like Adorn:

gund adorn

My favorite design in the book: these adorable robot mittens:

gund robot

I also like the Little Victory pattern, which uses shells to make a dramatic long gauntlet:

gund little victory

and the Houndstooth Mittens:

gund houndstooth

Frolic features a charming ribbon embellishment, along with crossed stitches, eyelets and texture.

gunderson frolic

The Radiate mitts feature clever construction, working from the thumb out — a great use for the flexibility of crochet, and the perfect use for a self-striping yarn:

gund radiate

The Emotimitts have removable emojis so you can tell the world how you feel on any given day:

gund emoticon

The Ode to Bruges mitts feature a lovely lace pattern inspired by Belgian bobbin lace from the 17th and 18th centuries.

gund bruges

In addition to a variety of techniques, there are a variety of yarn gauges, from fingering on down to worsted, so if you’re looking for crocheted handgear, you’ll definitely want to check this book out.

If you are reading this and saying “Dayum, I don’t crochet” you should be advised that Amy also published a book of knitted mitts and mittens last year. It also features a very wide variety of techniques, yarn gauges and styles, and honestly, these fish mittens are worth the price of admission all by themselves:

gund fish

You can check out the rest of the knitted designs in Knitted Mitts & Mittens: 25 Fun and Fashionable Designs for Fingerless Gloves, Mittens, and Wrist Warmers.

Thursday, June 18th, 2015

Limited edition microbrews….

It’s been so much fun working with the folks at Jimmy Bean’s Wool to produce some limited edition yarns for their Microbrew series. This month, the theme was guilty pleasure movies. At the top of my list is the movie Mean Girls. Poor Gretchen, trying to hard to make “fetch” happen.

Please join me in welcoming Fetch, a yummy superwash merino/nylon blend, fingering weight:

fetch 3

A limited number of skeins are available here. So let’s make “fetch” happen!

And this month, I was approached by Loops Knitting, in Tulsa, to do a color for them as part of the same series. I was honored! Behold It Had To Be You, a semisolid blend of blues, grays and violets, named in honor of When Harry Met Sally,


another of my favorite all-time movies.

Also available for a limited time, here.

I had such a blast working on these colors — I hope you give them a lot of love!

Tuesday, June 16th, 2015

Long time no blog!

Sometimes the weeks just race by with a will of their own. Since I last blogged, I’ve been to the trade show TNNA in Columbus — we shared convention space with a group of haunted house producers; how fun was that?–



and I spent a glorious weekend in Amish country at the Lancaster Yarn Shop’s first-ever knitting retreat:


and in between there’s been all sorts of stuff going on. I’m finishing a book that will be published early next year, and in the midst of working on another one that will be released next fall. It’s insanely busy, but I love it.

One of the things I have been doing a lot of, believe it or not, is dyeing. I just posted some miniskeins in my Artfire shop. I’m just dabbling in the miniskein sets to see what customer reaction is. I’ve got a terrific blue to green gradient set in a new base (mostly merino with some superfine alpaca and nylon — it’s so softy and cushy)

maldives 2

and I also played around with a blue-faced leicester/bamboo blend,in both gradients (this is Russian sage, going from periwinkle through gray to sage-green)

russian 5

and also some colors that I dyed to work together, although they aren’t technically gradients. (I love Vintner, which has wine shades, a great transitional gray with flecks of wine and green, and grapeleaf green.)

vintner 5

Let me know if you’d like to see more and if so, whether you like gradients, coordinated sets or both!

Friday, May 15th, 2015

Maryland Sheep and Wool (and giveaway winner!)

I’ve been going to Maryland Sheep & Wool for years, but always on the Saturday of the show weekend. This weekend, my oldest was going to the junior prom:


and so Saturday was out. Not to be cheated out of a day at the show, my ragtag carload of fiber-lovers decided to go on Sunday. What a revelation! No lines. None. Not to turn into the fairgrounds, not for the bathroom, not for food, not for t-shirts.

No line to see me!

No line to see me!

No crowds. Although there was good turnout, you could actually maneuver around the buildings without being surrounded by a mass of humanity.

No lines to see me, either!

No lines to see me, either!

The weather was gorgeous (just lucky on that one).

I even caught sight of Ryan Gosling next to the word “ginormous” so I’ll let you guys ponder that one for a while.

I'd like to pet him

I’d like to pet him

And as usual, there were adorable sheep (Jen and I fell in love with this emo-looking guy):

Teesdale, right, Beth Smith?

Teesdale, right, Beth Smith?

There were all kinds of fleece

fleece bowl

and beautiful knitting & crochet


and weaving


and more knitting

and mittens

and more cute beasties

sheep 2

and all sorts of tempting things to buy.


So I’m thinking that maybe going on Sunday will become a new tradition for us.

Giveaway winner!

Lovely Maggie was the winner of the Lace Yarn Studio book and yarn giveaway! Thanks to everyone who entered. We’ll do some more fun giveaways in the coming weeks…

Thursday, May 7th, 2015

Rule Britannia: Interview with designer Andi Smith and GIVEAWAY

One of the best things about creating Lace Yarn Studio was the chance to work with so many talented designers. Andi Smith designed the lovely A Little Luxe Gauntlets

andi 3

that so beautifully use twisted stitches and pleats, techniques which look particularly good in fine-gauge yarn. (My favorite part about writing a curated book is getting packages in the mail from designers sending in their sample garments. When I opened the package from Andi, I screamed — the gauntlets were just so amazing.)

andi 6

Andi has been knitting for over 40 years (apparently she started in utero) and she originally hails from Yorkshire. She now lives with her family in Ohio and teaches, designs, writes and tech-edits. You can find her on Ravelry under the name “knitbrit,” and she’s got lots of gorgeous patterns there for sale. I chatted with Andi recently about her knitting, working with fine yarns in particular and other fun stuff.

andi smith

CS: A lot of knitters are intimidated by the thought of working with very fine gauge yarn. What’s your favorite thing about lace weight?

AS: I have two favorite things about lace weight yarn. First has to be the flexibility it gives me to manipulate the fabric created. Working with 9 or 10 stitches per inch creates a versatile fabric that has boundless possibilities without bulk. For Lace Yarn Studio, the fabric created for the Little Luxe Gauntlets was so fine and delicate that I was able to add pleats and keep the delicate aesthetic. The second thing I adore about lace weight is the actual knitting. To me, working with US#1′s or 0′s is utterly pleasing. The zen of knitting each stitch is exponentially increased the smaller the gauge.

CS: Have you always used lace weight and other fine yarns in your knitting?

AS: When I started knitting in the early ’70′s, I used whatever my mum would give me, and that tended to be fine, fingering weight yarns. It wasn’t until about 10 years ago that I truly fell in love with lace weight yarns, and again, it was their versatility that intrigued me.

CS: Tell us about how you came to design the Little Luxe gauntlets.

AS: You mean other than begging you to let me design for you? :D

If I remember correctly, I wanted to do a wrapped stitch gauntlet, but it wasn’t until I was able to play with the yarn that I came up with the row of buttons, and the pleats. Trendsetter/Lotus Mimi is such a classy yarn, and so I thought about classy gloves, and images of 1930′s and ’40′s silk gloves, with long, long rows of buttons and clever manipulations of what is essentially a tiny scrap of fabric came to mind.

CS: What did you think of the Trendsetter/Lotus Mimi yarn? It’s 100 percent mink (a Chinese breed — the fiber can be collected without harming the animal).

AS: Oh! The hand! This is such a blissful yarn to work with. I’d take the gloves in progress to my knitting group, and everyone would pet and swoon over how soft and delicate the yarn was.

CS: Any tips for people making the gauntlets?

AS: Don’t be daunted by the pleats! When I was figuring out how to make them, and write directions that are easy to follow, I used scrap yarn, and practiced a few times before working the Mimi. Work a swatch or two of just the pleats in a larger gauge. Turning those dpns clockwise and counter-clockwise can seem awkward at first, but it’s easy to do, if you work step by step.

CS: What are you working on next?

AS: I’m currently working on my second Synchronicity collection, and hope to have it published late summer/early fall. Much like the Little Luxe Gauntlets, I love to manipulate the fabric our knitting creates and see just how far I can stretch the bounds of traditional knitting. You can see the first collection here:

CS: What is your favorite cocktail?

AS: Oh, that has to be a Moscow Mule.* Utter deliciousness.


A huge thanks to Andi, both for being a part of Lace Yarn Studio and for doing this interview. Make sure you check out her beautiful collection called Synchronicity, which features some stunning two-color cable patterns.

andi cowl

The collection also includes a tutorial to help you with the two-color cable technique. If you’re a sock knitter, I often recommend Big Foot Knits, Andi’s sock book which gives all sorts of valuable information about fit, particularly for designing socks that fit larger-sized feet. And her Queen Street Cardigan is just gorgeous!

queen st

In honor of Andi’s visit, we’re going to do a giveaway. We’ve got a copy of Lace Yarn Studio and a skein of the Mimi yarn you’ll need to create Andi’s gauntlets.

To be eligible, leave a comment and make sure there is a way for me to get in touch with you (either by being registered with an email to leave comments or including your Ravelry user name in the comment — no way to get in touch, no way to win). Leave a comment by midnight on Monday, May 11th and on Tuesday, I’ll use a random number generator to pick a winner.

*Squeeze about 1/2 an ounce of lime into a glass, add the rind and ice, then add 2 ounces of vodka. Fill to the top with ginger beer.