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Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

Book review: Lovely Knitted Lace, by Brooke Nico

Yep, Brooke’s my dear friend. But I’m sure that even if I didn’t already know and love her, I’d be impressed with her brand-new book, Lovely Knitted Lace: A Geometric Approach to Gorgeous Wearables from Lark Crafts (available as of this writing via the link for $12.45). Brooke is a master of lace knitting, and her book presents a selection of beautiful lace patterns, accesssories and garments, with a variety of gauges and styles. It’s a lot of knitting bang for the buck. Let’s take a closer look.

Lovely-Knitted-Lace1 cover

Brooke’s approach to lace in this book is based on geometry: she divides her patterns into four sections based on the fundamental shape used to create the garment: circles, squares, rectangles and triangles. Each chapter starts with a  basic pattern and the patterns then build in complexity. I think a lot of less experienced knitters have the perception that lace is very mysterious and difficult to do — but like all techniques in knitting, it’s built from two basic stitches: knit and purl. And like all techniques in any craft, the more you do it, the better you get. Brooke has done a good job of making lace accessible to less-experienced knitters by including some technical information in the Introduction and first section of the book. Specifically, she discusses how to pick yarns, understanding gauge, and reading charts; walks readers through some cast-ons; explains nupps and how to make them; explains a flexible bind-off; and gives tips on spotting and fixing mistakes. She also includes smaller projects and projects shown in heavier-than-typical yarns to get the fearful knitter started.

Next comes the patterns–and they are gorgeous. The first section is triangles — from a knitter’s perspective, very easy to shape. The first pattern is the Triangle Tulip Shawl, knit from the top down, and Brooke shows how the shawl is essentially two right triangles together. It’s knit in worsted weight yarn, which makes it a nice way for knitters afraid of skinny yarns to plunge right in.

triangle violets 2

 

Next up is very special to me:  the Flutter Shawl is knit in my own Black Bunny Fibers laceweight yarn!  (There’s a bunch in stock right now at my Art Fire shop in a rainbow of colors, including red.)

flutter triangle

The Flutter shawl is a more narrow triangle, knit side to side.

The Poppy Shawl is knit in Icelandic laceweight yarn Einband, a great yarn for lace because it holds its shape so well. The Poppy Shawl consists of three triangles, and is the kind of shape that will stay on when you wear it.

magenta triangle

And the last design in the triangle section is the Floral Tunic, a top-down raglan constructed from four squared-off triangles.

triangle blue tunic

This is a lovely sweater that would flatter a lot of body types!

Next up is the Rectangles section. For those afraid of shaping, rectangles are the perfect canvas for lace. You can create a scarf or stole and focus on the stitch pattern, without worrying about shaping. The first project in this chapter is a rectangular scarf, knit in a Japanese leaf motif (the fabric is attractive on both sides, a nice bonus for scarves). It’s knit in sock (fingering) weight yarn — and would be a great project for a pretty colorway you have lying around, maybe a super-soft blend that would feel good next to your face.

blue scarf

This generously-sized cable & lace stole has snaps at the ends so you can wear it as a cowl:

red cowl 2

The Posies Wrap is a clever piece that would be perfect for someone who wants to start out slow; it’s mostly stockinette stitch but has an Estonian lace edging.

orange wrap full

There’s also a shawl made with a butterfly-shaped stitch

green butterfly

and a cute bolero:

bolero

The circle section contains not only this shawl, knit in Debbie Bliss’s Angel yarn, with its slight halo:

angel shawl triangle

but also includes a capelet that can also be worn as a skirt,

tr violet cir2

and a terrific lace beret:

beret 2 cir

But the showstoppers in this section have to be the Poinsettia Jacket:

poinsetta cir 1

which is created out of an octagon. I’ve seen it in real life and it’s simply gorgeous. Another stunner is the Camellia dolman,

circ white 3

knit from the center out.

Last is the chapter featuring square pieces, like the Dahlia shawl:

dahlia

and also featuring garments like this flowing Aster top:

aster

the Birch jacket:

birch best

and the Moondance shrug.

moodance 2

The last chapter includes some additional lace motifs that can be used in some of the patterns for alternative looks.

All the usual amenities are included, like charts, schematics and diagrams where necessary, and multiple photographs of each project. Yarn weights vary from worsted to lace weight and a few projects feature two yarns held together. Many of the pieces — stoles, shawls and scarves — are one size, and the garments feature a range of sizes from 34 to 36 on the smalls up through 48 to 52-ish on some of the large/xl sizes.

If you’ve got a lust for lace, then this book is for you. Even if lace isn’t typically your thing, there are some really striking projects in here, including some jackets, tops and wraps that might change your mind.


Thursday, April 10th, 2014

Knitting with my own yarn

It sounds strange, but I don’t often knit with Black Bunny Fibers yarns. I’ve knit myself a few pairs of socks, and a hat or two, but between using sample knitters and being hired to knit in other people’s yarns, the vast majority of what I work on is not BBF-dyed. I’m hoping that will change. I’ve cast on some projects with the hope of producing some patterns showing off my yarns for the next time Brooke and I vend. In the meantime, however, I have some extremely talented and amazing friends who are picking up the slack.

Check out this wonderful cowl, by Andi Smith.

andi pattern 1

It’s made with two colors of dk-weight yarn and is part of Andi’s collection Synchronicity.

andi pattern 2

The patterns in this collection feature two-color cables, a fascinating technique (and there’s lots of instructional material in the e-book if you’ve never done it before). This particular pattern is called “Black Bunny” and I am honored.

Kristin Omdahl has also been creating lovely things with BBF yarn. Check out this crocheted lace shawl, called Lilaberry:

lilaberry one

Exquisite! Made with BBF sock yarn….and yet another reason I need to hone my crochet skills. Download is available here.

With just one skein of BBF DK weight yarn, Kristin created this beautiful scarf:

honeycomb

called the Honeycomb. It features a dropped-stitch lace pattern that blooms beautifully after blocking.

honeycomb close

Luckily, there’s a bunch of freshly-dyed Black Bunny DK weight yarn in my ArtFire shop:

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heartasease

so have at it!


Friday, April 4th, 2014

Book Tour: From Mama With Love

I am honored to be the first stop in the blog tour for a brand-new e-book called “From Mama With Love.” A collection of designers, all of whom have children under the age of three years, created this collection with their own kids in mind. You’ll recognize their names: Connie Chang Chinchio, Tanis Gray, Margaux Hufnagel, Melissa LaBarre, and Kate Gagnon Osborn. Their e-book collection premiered a few days ago and includes 15 patterns for young children (three by each designer).

Exactly what will you find in this collection?

Two baby blanket patterns (this one is called Antonia’s Blanket, by Tanis Gray):

antonia

and this is Petunia’s Blanket, by Kate Gagnon Osborn:

petunia

three adorable hats (this is the Debonair Hat by Margaux Hufnagel):

margaux hat

four vest patterns (all of them pretty much unisex), including the Callum Vest, by Tanis Gray:

callum vest

and five sweaters. The Velvet Hoodie is shown with a flounced edge but can also be knit with a plain edge:

velvet hoodie

Tanis Gray’s adorable Ronan Sweater features bright colorwork:

ronan

and Melissa LaBarre’s Viviane Cardigan is knit in the round, with a cute yoke:

viviane

There’s also a knit cover for one of those baby pillows known as a “Boppy”:

boppy

Sizes vary from pattern to pattern; most run from newborn through at least 24 months, and some continue on through 4, 5 or even 10 years. The collection is now available for $24.95 on Ravelry; individual patterns will be sold beginning October 1. It’s a charming collection just right for the little ones in your life….

And please continue on to the remaining spots on the blog tour:

Monday, April 7th, Melissa LaBarre of Knitting School Dropout
Tuesday, April 8th Tanis Gray of Tanis Knits
Wednesday, April 9th, Connie Chang Chinchio,
Friday, April 11th, Susan B. Anderson
Monday, April 14, Kate Gagnon Osborn of Things for Charlie
Wednesday, April 16, Vickie Howell, Host of Knitting Daily
Friday, April 18, Carol Feller of Stolen Stitches
Monday, April 21, Kate Chioccio of Dragonfly Fibers
Wednesday, April 23, Julie Crawford of Knitted Bliss
Friday, April 25, Katie & Kara of Nice & Knit
Monday, April 28th, Ysolda Teague Guest Blog Post!
Tuesday, April 29th, Karida Collins of Neighborhood Fiber Co.
Friday, May 2nd, Cecily Glowik McaDonald of Winged Knits
Monday, May 5 - Carrie Bostick Hoge of Maddermade
Wednesday, May 7th - Thea Colman of Baby Cocktails
Friday, May 9th - Kate & Courtney, of Kelbourne Woolens
Tuesday, May 13, Jessica Correa, of Dream in Color Yarn Co.
Thursday, May 15, Kristen Kapur of Through the Loops
Tuesday, May 20, Tanis Lavalee of Tanis Fiber Arts
Friday, May 22, Alana Dakos of Never Not Knitting

 


Saturday, March 29th, 2014

Preview: Rowan Magazine Number 55

The hell with winter weather. What we need is a jolt of fresh color and knitting inspiration, in the form of a brand-new Rowan Magazine. Leave your snow shovels behind,

55 Cover_0

come with me, and let’s take a look…

I have never regretted picking up a copy of a Rowan Magazine.  I definitely find myself preferring the fall magazines to the spring ones, mainly because cooler weather gives so much more scope for knitting — thick yarns and warmer fibers aren’t out of bounds, and accessories like hats, mittens and scarves are necessary when winter’s around the corner. But I do need to remind myself that there are plenty of fun things to knit for warmer weather — tanks, layering pieces, shawls, cardigans to wear when the sun goes down. This year’s spring/summer Rowan Magazine does a great job of providing options for knitters who are looking for some lighter-weight garments to cast on — so let’s take a look.

As usual, the Magazine contains three major pattern sections, thematically organized into “stories.” The Spanish town of Vejer de la Frontera provided the setting for the first set of patterns, called Clarity. Clarity’s theme is lace, whether historic or contemporary, traditional or modern, knitted or crochet. The Magazine describes this story as “a very feminine collection of openwork creating a modern romantic aesthetic.”

And guess who has pulled off a hat trick in this story? Yes, my little British crumpet Sarah Hatton (do note that I said “CRumpet” and not “strumpet”). Her first design in this story is Bliss, a light and lovely scarf knit in Rowan’s lovely Fine Lace yarn (by the way, I just finished knitting with Fine Lace right now and it’s delightful — so soft!):

55 bliss scarf

Trinity is a nice layering piece knit in lace with some rib bands; it’s poncho style, which gives it a flowing feel, especially in lightweight, hazy Kidsilk Haze yarn:

55 trinity

And then there’s Mercy, knit in Panama (a cotton/linen/viscose blend), with an aymmetric front and lace bands — a good choice for newbie knitters who may be nervous about embarking upon an entire garment knit in lace; much of the sweater is knit in stockinette, with lace bands for trim.

55 merdcy

When you’ve been reading Rowan Magazines for a while, as I have, it’s fun to see the selection of designers grow and change. Vibe Ulrik, who just started contributing patterns in the last few years,  is quickly becoming another of my favorite designers to appear in Rowan. Loudres, her only pattern in the print magazine, is a lovely yoke-style sweater with bands of stockinette interspersed with bands of lace.

55 lourdes

One thing I love, love, love about Rowan designers is that they like to mix together yarns of different weights and fibers, something many designers seem to fear.  Here, Marie Wallin uses Cotton Glace plus Fine Lace plus Kidsilk Haze, for subtle variations in color and texture, as well as stitch pattern:

55 madonna

Lisa Richardson blends Kidsilk Haze with Anchor Metallic thread for this v-neck tunic with an airy lace + stripe pattern.

55 genesis

Crocheters will want to get hooking Harmony, a tunic with mesh/filet stitch and interesting panels of decorative stitchwork.

55 harmony

And that minx Marie Wallin also gives us the diaphanous Praise, knit in Kidsilk Haze and Cotton Glace,

55 praise

and Prudence

55 prudence

I would like to have the lighting tweaked on this photo so I could see the stitchwork better, but it looks like a very pretty, wearable design.

Keeping in with the crochet/lace theme, the first set of designs is followed by an article on the recent renaissance in Irish crochet lace, along with some fascinating photos both vintage and modern. (There is a luscious full-length dress photographed — really amazing.)

If the first story was not colorful enough for you, then you will love the second:  Legacy takes inspiration from Islamic and Moorish tile art, with a focus on the interplay of color and texture, including striated colors. Start out with a lovely striped sweater, featuring muted shades of Purelife Revive and Kidsilk Haze, designed by Kaffe Fassett.

55 Julieta_2

This supercute dress (dress!) by Grace Melville, was inspired by tile motifs.

55Consuela

My bff Martin Storey mixes colorwork and texture in this crewneck sweater (another fun thing that Rowan designers do — mixing techniques like stranded and textured knitting):

55 dia

Carlo Volpi’s crocheted top features rich reds and warm neutrals:

55alma

Brandon Mably used Cotton Glace to create this very sharp men’s vest:

55Estafan_2

Volpi uses sandy tones of Purelife Revive, melding one color into the next in Guido:

55 guido

Galina Carroll’s charming shrug uses rows of color to make a chevron pattern pop.

55 adella

Next is a special minicollection by Kaffe Fassett — the patterns for these designs can be downloaded from the Knit Rowan website (photographs but not patterns are included in the print Magazine). There are some great designs here, too: check out Belarus, with its stripe design and draped fronts:

55 bel

Another supercute dress, Estonia, knit in the quintessentially Kaffe tumbling blocks motif:

55 estonia

There’s an alternate version of the tumbling blocks design in Latvia, with a striped back — love this one!

55 latvia

Lithuania goes bold, with graphic black and white stripes in an op-art design.

55 lith

And there’s Moldova, a simple but elegant striped design that is the kind of sweater I would wear all the time.

55 Moldova cover

After a short article on UK’s Knitting and Crochet Guild, you’ll find the Essentials collection, a relatively new part of the Magazine that I quite like. It strips away the dramatic styling and backdrops that can distract some crafters, allowing the garments and their shapes to take center stage. I have to say that as I looked through this particular story, I wanted to make nearly every sweater in it for Little Miss, the preteen princess (and some for myself).  The candy colors and simple stripes showcase the beautiful yarns and are used very effectively.

This wavy stripe pullover, by Martin Storey, is terrific:

55Surf 1

Sarah Hatton, I love you so hard — my daughter would look incredible in Sailor, a simple yoke stripe top in luscious blues.

55Sailer 2

 

Play with vertical stripes in Sally, by Lisa Richardson,

55 sally

Stripes and cool but bright colors feature prominently in this story, like Promenade, by Grace Melville,

55 Promenade 2

sporty Pier, by Sarah Hatton,

55 pier.jp

Marie Wallin’s Port, with stripes and an eyelet pattern at the bottom,

55 port

and Martin Storey’s Celeste (love the colors and stripe motifs on this one!).

55 celeste

Storey’s Driftwood is charming,

55 driftwd

 

Grace Melville’s Cove features a gathered bottom,

55 cove

and Gemma Atkinson’s Wharf plays with nautical blues and whites.

55 wharf

The book closes with a profile of the fiber linen, a look at some of the new Rowan books and pamphlets coming out, and additional information about the locations where some of the photo shoots took place.  In addition to the designs in the book (38 in all), if you register with the Knit Rowan website, you get access to 12 more designs.

Overall, I thought this was a great Magazine, with a combination of more advanced garments in the first two sections (lots of lace- and colorwork) and some easier but very fun designs in the third section. This is a much more accessible collection than last year’s spring/summer magazine (no graphic prints or intarsia to scare nervous Nellies), perhaps reflecting more wearable trends in the fashion industry. As usual, the collection is beautifully styled and photographed, and presented in a gorgeous print Magazine with lots of on-line support.

Go forth and knit!


Saturday, March 22nd, 2014

The positively, absolutely true story of vending in Seattle.

When I packed all my yarn up, ready to leave for Seattle, it looked like this:

seattle bags

(That doesn’t include the three gigantic boxes I had already shipped out….)

My booth partner Brooke and I had spent a lot of time planning, talking to folks in the industry, calculating a break-even point, and figuring out what our booth would look like, but we both were keenly aware that we’d never vended at a big show before. After I was on the plane, thinking about the enormity of the job ahead, I had a crisis of confidence. What on earth were we doing?
 

What if no one bought my yarn? What if our booth looked like crap? What if people took one look at my stuff, and were all:

Despite my initial attack of nerves, things went exceedingly smoothly on my trip out. The plane was half-empty, so I had the luxury of stretching out a little. I arrived a little early and met up with Brooke.

The wonderful Chuck of Skacel offered to give us a ride home from the airport — what a kind and generous thing to do! I am not as young as I used to be, so the prospect of door-to-door service left me all

The next day, Brooke and I were up bright and early to get our rental car. We filled ‘er up with lots of stuff from Ikea and then headed out to my friend Carla’s, to pick up our yarn.

Carla is amazing — she let us ship box after box of stuff to her and never said a peep. As we were putting the last boxes in the car, though, I suddenly realized that two of my boxes full of BBF yarn were missing.

I checked my shipping information, only to discover something tragic. Seattle has quadrants, kind of like Washington, D.C. — so addresses contain designations like “N.E.” and “N.W.” and “S.E.” and “S.W.” Somewhere along the line, when shipping labels were being printed, “N.E.” got turned into “N.W.”

And autocorrect changed the zip code to the zip code FOR THE OTHER QUADRANT.

It just so happened that there was a house with the exact same number and street name in “N.W.” and my boxes were delivered there.

We decided to go to the other address in the hope that maybe the residents kept the boxes, figuring someone would come by for them. When we arrived, it just so happened that the house was empty, with a big realtor’s sign on the front lawn.

When we got closer, we saw that one of the boxes was sitting on the front porch.

I practically jumped out of the car to drag that box into the car. But that still left one box missing in action…

We looked in the windows — nothing. We circled the house to see if it was on the back porch — nothing. We called the broker who was selling the house — nothing. My box was gone.

All I could imagine was someone stealing the box, thinking it was a teevee or computer, and finding yarn, and not realizing the magnitude of their find, throwing it all in the nearest dumpster.

We headed back to the Convention Center (I’ll admit that I did cry a little in the car).

We had so much to do that I didn’t have time to dwell on this grievous loss. (Much.) We assembled fixtures, we arranged tablecloths, we pinned up samples, we artfully displayed yarn, and by the time the marketplace opened Friday evening, we had managed to create a charming booth:

IMG_0333[1]

A huge thank-you to friends like Patty, who helped us put things together, and Lorilee, who lent us chairs, and Barb and Caroline and Ron and Linda who sent us additional stuff to sell:

IMG_0339[1]

IMG_0334[1]

The first half-hour or so was excruciating. We were hoping for some customers, but it took a while for people to work their way toward the part of the center where our booth was located.

And then finally, we had customers!

Once we started to get in the groove, we had a great time meeting up with former students, blog-readers, customers of my website, and Ravelry friends, not to mention meeting some fabulous new customers.

Then the unbelievable happened.

On Saturday morning, just before lunch, my cell phone rang. IT WAS THE REAL ESTATE BROKERS AND THEY HAD MY BOX OF YARN!

One of the brokers had put it inside the house, thinking it belonged to the new owners, and they finally figured it out. Lovely, lovely Carla picked the box up and brought it in for us, so we had even more freshly-dyed yarn and roving to sell. (In fact, I had dyed so much yarn, that I brought a bunch of it home. Use the code “happybirthday” for free shipping and check out the lovely sock and lace weight yarns waiting for you.)

punch4

We had an absolutely wonderful time vending in Seattle and people could not have been nicer — the show attendees, the VK staff, and our fellow designers and teachers, who were incredibly supportive. Thank you all so much!


Friday, March 7th, 2014

Booth 405!

Sometimes an opportunity presents itself, and you just can’t say no. When Brooke Nico, co-owner of the Kirkwood Knittery and knitting designer/teacher extraordinaire, asked me if I would share a booth with Kirkwood at VK Live: Seattle, the show was only two months away. I had some misgivings — mainly about my ability to produce enough yarn and roving to make the show worthwhile financially. On the other hand, everything else about the show was perfect. Brooke has just released her first (gorgeous!) book, and it would be a terrific chance to showcase the book and the designs in it. (Like the Flutter Shawl, knit in BBF laceweight yarn:)

flutter triangle

We were familiar with the venue and know the VK staff really well (and love them). We decided to give it a shot, looking at this as a kind of trial balloon.

Which means the reason I haven’t blogged in a few weeks is because I have spent those weeks (well, teaching at Stitches West, which was wonderful!) hunched over the dyepots, producing skein after skein of beauteous yarn (and some batches of roving for spinners, too).

Sock yarn?  We got that.

IMG_7686

We’ve got the wonderful hardwearing German-style base Tight Twist (that one’s already on its way to Seattle, so no pix); we’ve got some special Seattle team colors in superwash merino;

seattle team

we’ve got Stella, a sparkly blend of wool and silk in sock weight;

seattle glaze

we’ve got Plump Cashmerino (also en route to Seattle).

I tried to create a mix of semi-solids and multicolors, so whichever you prefer, we’ve got you covered.

seattle lace 2 seattle louella seattle rianbow copy

Did I mention mini-skeins?

IMG_7688

I also did some DK-weight yarn, such as this butter-soft Louella — one skein makes a cute hat!:

seattle louella 2

and we’ve got laceweight, too:

IMG_7676

In fact, you can pick out some laceweight to go with your copy of Lovely Knitted Lace, and get Brooke to sign it for you!

cover brooke

Or you can pick up a copy of Sock Yarn Studio, nab a skein or two of Black Bunny sock yarn, and get me to sign it for you!

BUT WAIT:  THERE’S MORE.

We have wonderful friends in the industry and we are showcasing some of their fine products. Canadian superstar Barb Brown will be by, with copies of her Knitting Knee-High Socks and Stockings to sell and sign.

barb cover

We will have lots of Meow Foundation yarn, inspired by real cats and their markings (and benefiting animal charities in the US and Canada), courtesy of The Cat Lady (as my husband has dubbed poor Caroline).

Meow Foundation 1

We will have Einband, a lovely Icelandic laceweight, from our friends at Westminster Fibers, and Buffalo Wool Yarns, too!

Have I mentioned that the Sunday of the show is my birthday?

So if you live anywhere near Seattle-Bellevue, please come and see us and tell all your stitching friends. The show is next weekend, March 14-16, at the Meydenbauer Center in lovely Bellevue, Washington. There are all sorts of fashion shows, free demonstrations, lectures and classes, as well as the Marketplace. Details at the VK Live site here.

BOOTH 405!!!  See you there!

 

 

 


Monday, February 10th, 2014

Weathering the weather

I seem to be fated to grapple with weather-related mayhem throughout my life. Longtime readers may recall that when I was about 7 years old, my family was hit hard by Hurricane Agnes: we had to evacuate our house in the middle of the night when the Susquehanna River flooded a 36-foot-high levee and devastated my hometown. Just last fall, I was stranded in Chicago during Hurricane Sandy (although we escaped major damage to our house from that one) and we just returned to home after losing power (heat, etc.) for a whopping five days due to a nasty ice storm.

icy

Trying to find the good in stressful times is hard, but now that I’m back at home, with the house warmed up and the internet back, the washing machine chugging along, I feel a renewed appreciation for the little things in life that are essential to the fabric of our days. Turning a light on, a hot shower, being able to cook meals, watching tv or surfing the internet, just the simple pleasure of sleeping in one’s own bed….today I’m a very happy (and lucky) camper.


Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

So much fun your head might explode

I’m spending the whole day this coming Saturday at Loop Yarn, in Philadelphia, and we’ve got all sorts of fun stuff planned. Start out by taking my class, “Making Friends with your Handpaints.” If you’ve ever wondered why handpaints pool and what you can do about it, this is the class for you. We’ll talk about how handpaints are made; dabble in some color theory; learn about dividing handpaints into three categories to make them easier to work with; discuss why handpainted yarns so often pool, and tips for minimizing the pooling; we’ll even talk a little bit about intentional pooling, how you can harness the power of a handpainted yarn to make patterns instead of random pooling of colors.

In the afternoon, I’m giving a one-hour talk on sock yarns. If you’ve ever wondered how to pick from among the many types of sock yarns out there, the pros and cons of various fibers in sock yarns, how a plied yarn differs from a single, and how self-striping yarns work, you’ll want to come to this lecture. We’ll have fun and you’ll learn some good stuff, too.

Of course, there will be Black Bunny Fibers yarn!  I’m introducing a brand-new base, Bartram, that will be available exclusively at Loop — nowhere else on the planet. I’ve got about 30 skeins dyed up already and I can’t wait for you to see the supersoft, cushy merino yarn. Takes the dye beautifully!

bartram group

 

I’ve also been playing around with some other yarns. Take a look at these:

hannah dyed 2

 

hannah orange

I’ve handdyed some Lana Vida Hannah (above) — a lush blend of merino, baby alpaca and cashmere in a worsted weight, with over 200 yards per hank.

I’ve got some other sock yarns to bring in, too, including some Plush with Silk, a plump 80% merino/20% silk blend, and some blue-faced leicester blend sock yarn, too. And my amazing graphic designer just created these knockout labels for my yarns:

new labels

 

plump silk

We’re having a cold winter, so it’s the perfect time to treat yourself to some handpainted yarn — and maybe take a class or lecture, to learn more about what to do with your beautiful yarns. Then go home and knit like the wind while you watch the Olympics.

All the details you need can be found on Loop’s blog, here. See you then!


Friday, January 24th, 2014

On losing friends

I lost two friends this month. Not a very auspicious start to the year, and certainly not something I ever anticipated happening, at least not right now, in this way. Let me tell you a little about them.

When you socialize on a site like Facebook, you quickly see the phenomenon that I call the “internet interpropagation of friends.” A person from one facet of your life (say, elementary school) gets a kick out of someone from a completely different facet of your life (say, a knitting designer) and they friend each other. Pretty soon you get used to your college roommate exchanging bon mots with someone you used to work with, and you find yourself bonding with someone on the other side of the world who you might otherwise never have known, simply because you have a friend or two in common.

Doy was a friend I acquired through internet interpropagation.  He lived in another country and I never met him in real life, but he was a kind and funny soul. He liked to call me “child” and sometimes “welp,” even though I was several years older. He had the endearing habit of posting ridiculously hilarious (and often bizarre) photos on my Facebook wall. He was clever and a good writer and artist. I liked hearing about the world from a perspective thousands of miles away, and I loved seeing photos of him and his friends eating lunch food that looked so strange by American standards. He rarely posted photos of himself, but when he did, he always had a slightly shy smile. Before I even had a chance to think about why he hadn’t posted any photos on my wall lately, I heard that he had taken ill and was gone.

I miss him. I am glad I got the chance to have him in my life, even if I never met him in real life. Internet friends can be every bit as real and meaningful as the ones we see in person. Rest in peace, Doy.

Yesterday, I got a call on my cell phone around 5:15. It was my best friend from high school and junior high. She told me that a mutual friend of ours had died, suddenly and unexpectedly, without any prior illness. Woody was her brother’s best friend, and since we all spent so much time together in our younger years, he was an adopted big brother to both of us. Woody was, quite simply, the nicest guy you’d ever want to meet. He smiled a lot and although he was quiet, you could tell he was listening to every word that we said because every once in a while he’d crack a joke or make a remark that was dry and funny and absolutely perfect. He was the kind of guy who would do anything for you, whether you needed ten bucks, or a ride to the bus station or someone to give you a hug. He had a lovely wife, two still-young sons, and perhaps because he came to fatherhood a wee bit later than many of his friends, he relished every minute of being a dad, coaching soccer, being a Cub Scout leader and spending time with his boys. I have spent the last 24 hours thinking about his smile and feeling sad that I’ll never see it again. (I can’t find any of my photo albums that have photos of us in them but I”ll keep looking.) We spent so many holidays and summer vacations together. When we were in college or working away from our hometown, and we’d come back for a holiday or a wedding or a funeral, inevitably we’d all get together. When Molly’s dad died, Woody and I helped Molly and her brother clean out their parents’ home, laughing as we discovered high school relics in the basement or fifteen plastic grocery bags full of — you guessed it — plastic grocery bags stuffed behind the fridge. We went to bars together, dressed up for Halloween parties together (that was a wild one), occasionally hung out at the shore together but my best memories are of the many, many nights we all gathered at Molly’s parents’ dining room table, drinking and swapping stories and telling jokes and reminiscing. And laughing so hard we cried. Rest in peace, Woody.

I’m sad today.

I’m angry, too, angry at the randomness and the unfairness of it all, too. Two sweet souls who should have had another forty or fifty years of living ahead of them, and now they’re gone.

George Eliot wrote, “Our dead are never dead to us until we have forgotten them.” I like that thought. I like thinking that even though I’ll never read a funny post by Doy or get a big hug from Woody again, those two won’t ever be dead to me because I will never forget them.

Right now, though, that seems like small comfort.