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Thursday, October 30th, 2014

Holy moly!

Whenever I get back from a show I feel like I will never not be tired again. And this was was no exception.

However, I simply could not love Chicago more. It is the home of dear friends, like Franklin and Kristen and Michelle (who brought her adorable daughter to see me!)

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It is a city full of excellent, enthusiastic knitters, many of whom were in my classes and lecture.

It is a beautiful city, with character and charm.

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It is a city where you can choose to transact your business at the ATM in Polish if you wish. (My Bopchi would have loved that.)

My trip was extra-special because it started with my oldest kid accompanying me. He’s a high-school junior and starting to think about college. We added on an extra day to our trip and went to look at the University of Chicago.

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The school was beautiful, the tour was informative and we had a blast! We also went to see the Art Institute; Millenium Park; ate donuts at the most amazing place

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and generally had a wonderful time.

He also helped haul boxes and set up our booth — and we were rather pleased with the results. We had Julie Turjoman and her brand-new book, A Head for Trouble (review coming soon!) in our booth,

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along with Brooke’s breathtaking Peacock Wrap pattern and yarn custom-dyed to match.

It’s always hard for me to explain the peculiar state of mind shows like this put me in. Excitement, the contagious inspiration of seeing so many beautiful things, the feeling I’ve come home and am surrounded by my tribe, anxiety at putting on good classes, concern that we will sell enough yarn to make the trip pay off financially, the exhilaration of an amazing city like Chicago….

Now I’m home, and mulling over all that I did and saw and making plans for the next show.

Thank you, Chicago, for a wonderful trip. I hope we meet again soon!


Wednesday, October 29th, 2014

Nana-palooza

Everyone wish a very happy birthday to my mom, also known as “Nana” or “Shirley.” (I recently was at a dinner in which 3/5 of the fiber professionals present had mothers named Shirley — an elite club indeed.)

nana easter

Nana is 84 today and in great health, with all her buttons, living on her own in her house. I cannot tell you how thankful I am for all of those things.

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She is funny and silly, the kindest person you’ll ever want to meet, and her unwavering love and support have made me so much of the person I am today.

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She was married to my dad for over 50 years:

atlantic city

raised my brother and me to be responsible, caring adults:

mom wedding

and I love her more than I could possibly say.

mom tot


Tuesday, October 21st, 2014

Onward to Chicago and Booth 103!

    The month of October has been unbelievably busy. Now the last big trip of the fall season is upon me: I’ll be heading out to VK Live: Chicago bright and early tomorrow morning. I love Chicago and I love teaching at VK Live — and this time, I’ll also be vending in the marketplace. Brooke Nico and I will be selling all sorts of wonderful things in Booth 103.

What kind of wonderful things? you ask…..

    • Freshly-dyed yarns, including Avondale (silk/wool singles fingering weight), Fairview (baby alpaca/merino fingering weight), worsted weight Baby Blue (merino/baby alpaca blend), and lace weight old favorite Flutter and new Tibetan yak (shown below; Brooke whipped up a lovely free-with-purchase pattern for this, too)!

yak

  • Free patterns with purchase — for example, the Fairview Cowl pattern, in an easy-to-work lace pattern:

cowl 3

  • a new kit, called Extremities. You get 400 yards of a semisolid and 200 of a coordinating multicolor, all handpainted by me, and your choice of a mitten or sock pattern designed especially for the kit! (These won’t last long….)

In honor of our host, the historic Palmer House Hotel, Brooke has designed the gorgeous Peacock Wrap (the peacock is a symbol of the Palmer House). We’ve got gorgeous handdyed BBF yarn in the Peacock colorway, and a warm red called Great Fire (just in case you like warm colors better).

peacock

We will have Julie Turjoman with us on Saturday morning to sign her brand-new book, A Head for Trouble, which includes two wonderful patterns knit in BBF dk yarn (and we’ve got the yarn, too!):

turj head cover

turj verity

BTW, I’ll be teaching Yarn Substitution, my most popular class, and giving a lecture on handpainted yarns — including pooling, how handdyes are made and an introduction to intentional pooling. Sign up for those here.

So please come to the show, take some classes and then meander over to Booth 103 and say hello. I bet we’ve got some wonderful yarn and patterns that will beg to come home with you!


Friday, October 17th, 2014

Back in a flash!

Don’t worry, I will be processing the Summer Search raffle very soon. Right now I’m a bit swamped so I thank you for your patience. Um, imagine I wrote a really clever blog post here about how much fun I had at Stitches East, m’kay?


Tuesday, September 30th, 2014

Book look: Three Skeins or Less — Fresh Knitted Accessories by Tanis Gray

I’ve worked with Tanis Gray a lot over the years, so when she asked me if I’d like to contribute a pattern to one of her upcoming books, I was happy and honored to do so. This week, I received a copy of the finished book in the mail. It’s called 3 Skeins or Less – Fresh Knitted Accessories (F+W/Interweave) and it’s on the shelves right now.

tanis cover

I love when the title of a book tells you the important stuff, and this title tells you right away that the book contains knitted accessories — and that each project takes three skeins or less. That makes it a great way to use up leftover balls you may have in your stash, or to pop in to your local yarn shop and treat yourself without breaking the bank. (It’s also a great way to sample a new yarn or splurge a little on a special yarn you’ve been coveting.) And I love when a book features a variety of styles and techniques, so that you can find lots of things you want to make for yourself as well as gift ideas for other people, as this one does.

If I had more time to knit for myself, I’d probably jump into a nice juicy sock pattern, like the Diverting Socks (designed by Glenna Harris) (God knows there’s no shortage of sock yarn at my house!).

tanis diverting

I’d also love to tackle the Jujube Hat, by Carina Spencer, with its lace pattern that’s a perfect match for a rich blue handpainted yarn.

tanis jujube

But no matter what you’re in the mood to knit, you’ll find lots of options in this beautiful book. Here’s a hat by Melissa LaBarre which takes just one skein of aran-weight yarn, and cleverly uses knit and purl stitches to create a weaving vine pattern.

tanis little vine

Another one-skein pattern: my Laure Mittens, knit in luscious Lorna’s Laces worsted-weight yarn:

tanis laure

I deliberately chose a slip-stitch pattern that would help minimize any pooling and splotching, since this is a gorgeous handdyed yarn (the Christmas at Downton colorway).

It’s fun to see how many things you can make without more than three skeins of yarn — check out this lacy camisole, designed by Sauniell Connally:

tanis essex

or this snuggly bolero by Faina Goberstein:

tanis faina

You’ll find patterns knit in yarns by companies you know well, like Skacel (this is the Quinsnicket Cowl, by Cirilia Rose):

tanis cirilia

knit in a luxe silk-wool blend by Schoppel Wolle called In-silk; and you’ll also see some smaller handdyers featured. like Tanis’ own Momentum Mittens, knit in String Theory self-striping yarn.

tanis mittens

Just about all types of accessories are included, including cowls, like Kirsten Kapur’s Delancey:

tanis kapur

shawls and stoles (this is the Carmilla Shawl by Susanna IC):

tanis carmilla

and socks, like Marjan Hammink’s A Case of Lace Socks:

tanis case of lace sox

Summing up, you’ll find 25 lovely designs for women’s accessories, including hats, cowls, shawls, mittens, wristers, socks and even a bolero and a camisole, knit in a wide range of yarn weights, and featuring a variety of techniques (cables, lace, colorwork, texture and more). Some patterns are one-size-fits-all (like shawls) while others give small and large options (bolero and camisole have a range of sizes). Lots of photographs; charts where needed; nice clear typeface; and patterns are designated by how many skeins they take for quick reference. You can pick up a copy of this great book on Amazon, via the link above (MSRP $24.99, available at the time of this writing for just over $19) or at your local bookstore or LYS, or through the Knitting Daily website.

Photography copyright 2013 by Joe Hancock; used with permission and for review purposes.


Sunday, September 28th, 2014

Updated prize list: Win MORE amazing stuff!

I am very pleased to present an updated version of the Summer Search raffle prize list, reflecting one or two recently-added items.

As it stands now, EVERYONE WHO ENTERS will win at least one prize. That’s how generous my friends and colleagues in this industry are. So enter now (instructions below) to get in on the fun and help the amazing Summer Search organization help motivated at-risk kids to finish high school and go on to succeed in college.

Thank you a thousand times over to my generous sponsors, who are offering the following:

1. A $100 gift certificate to Black Bunny Fibers.

2. A copy of my new book, Lace Yarn Studio, as soon as I have a copy in my hot little hands to give you. (The expected publication date is April 2015, so this particular prize won’t ship until sometime in late April.)

cover LYS

3. A box of knitting and crochet books, including a copy of Sock Yarn Studio signed by me, that will give you plenty of wonderful patterns, information and inspiration.

4. A free subscription to the next round of the Black Bunny Fibers/Brooke Nico yarn club. (We expect the next round of the club to begin in February 2015, and you will be treated exactly as one of the paying members.) This is a $160 value!

Chianti: month 3 of the first round

Chianti: month 3 of the first round

5. A free Craftsy class taught by most excellent teacher and designer Patty Lyons — and Patty was generous enough to offer TWO of these, so two different people will win!

6. From fabulous designer and yarn maven Kristin Omdahl, a skein of her new Bamboo So Fine yarn!

bamboo so fine

7. Author and designer Stephannie Tallent will send you your choice of one of her Wild West e-books, full of terrific patterns inspired by the west.

8. Designer extraordinaire Barb Brown has offered up PDF downloads from her Ravelry store: five (YES — FIVE!!!!) winners will get their choice of three of her patterns.

9. The bodacious Andi Smith is giving one lucky winner a PDF copy via Ravelry download of her fantastic ebook Synchronicity (which contains a terrific pattern using BBF yarn):

synchr

10. I am touched that Sharon F, a blog-reader and one of the winners in last year’s raffle, is so supportive of Summer Search that she is offering a skein of Bad Amy yarn from her personal stash!

11. Designer and author Mary Beth Temple has offered free copies of her Arm Knitting and Finger Knitting books!

arm knitting

12. Designer, teacher and author Donna Druchunas will give one lucky winner a boxed set of her new journal, Stories in Stitches. This is a brand-new journal that goes beyond patterns (although it includes plenty of them) to give you the untold stories behind the stitches. Great for those interested in historical knitting, ethnic traditions and knitting from around the world.

13. I am also touched that blog-reader & dyer extraordinaire Betty Murphy will provide a winner with a skein of Moose Manor Handpaints yarn — lovely stuff!

14. Ditto for being touched and so appreciative that Heather H S is offering Tsarina Tsock yarn as a prize!

tsarina

15. The wonderful Ancient Arts Fibre Craft will provide a prize of a skein of yarn and pattern to go with! Caroline’s a great dyer so you’ll really love this one!

ancient arts logo

16. Hunter Hammersen, author of so many wonderful books, including the new volume of her Knitter’s Curiosity Cabinet, which I will review on my blog soon, is offering winner’s choice of any of her e-books, to THREE different winners. I just reviewed Hunter’s latest book, and it’s gorgeous.

hunter cover 3

17. And just added to the list, the generous Jo Ann, owner of Stash, a great yarn store in Havertown, PA, has offered the winner’s choice of a free knitting or crochet class at her shop. What a great prize!!

Here’s how the fundraiser works. You donate directly to Summer Search Philadelphia by going to this link AND (this is important!) selecting the Philadelphia office (it says “Designation” and you tick the Philadelphia oval). Then email a copy of your online receipt to me at c.sulcoskiATattDOTnet. To be eligible for the raffle, you must make your donation by October 3rd, at midnight. Please note that the end of Summer Search’s fiscal year is September 30th, so if you can squeak out your donation before the first of October, that’s a big help for them. (But as long as you donate by October 3rd, you’ll be in the raffle!) For each five dollars you donate, you’ll get one chance to win a prize. Your odds are excellent of winning something….


Wednesday, September 24th, 2014

No-Bull Book Review: The Knitter’s Curiosity Cabinet, Vol. 3 & Giveaway!

Yep, she’s done it again; designer Hunter Hammersen has produced a third volume of her gorgeous Knitter’s Curiosity Cabinet series. I’ve written about the first two volumes; they feature beautiful designs, a carefully curated selection of (mostly) handdyed yarns, and fascinating ties to vintage nature prints. Let’s take a closer look at the newest volume (and then let’s give one away!).

hunter cover 3

Volume III of this lovely series focuses on marine illustrations for its jumping-off point: (volume 1 was inspired by botanical illustrations and volume II by butterfly-themed prints, in case you’re curious). Each print is reproduced in the book and inspires two patterns, one for a sock and one for another accessory. As with the prior volumes, the book starts out with a history section, explaining the history of Victorian curiosity cabinets, then discussing the sources Hunter consulted for her research into marine illustration. The history section is followed by tips on how to use the book and read the patterns; then comes the key to the symbols used in the various charts; and then it’s right into the patterns.

Volume III contains 18 patterns, 9 for socks and the rest consisting of three sets of mitts or wristers; one cowl; two shawls; and three hats. Each pair of patterns is named after the same vintage illustration and shares design elements; each color-coordinates, too! As with the prior patterns in this series, you’ll find thoughtful details, creative design elements and high-quality photographs to tempt you.

Conferva Villosa is inspired by an aquatic plant, with socks and hat containing branching stitchwork reminiscent of the stitchwork of the plant fronds.

hunter conferva sox

both knit in Quince & Co. solid-colored yarns (one of the exceptions to the hand-painted yarns used in most of the patterns).

hunter conferva hat

Bunodes Crassicornis is a marine animal with a crown and tentacles (I always learn something about nature when I read one of Hunter’s books!) and inspired the lovely socks with a waving textural pattern.

hunter bunodes sox

The Bunodes hat uses a stacked pattern that mimics the tentacles seen in the print.

hunter bunodes hat

Small shawls are still all the rage, so feast your eyes on Planorbis Corneus, which has a lovely crescent shape

hunter planorbis

with the rippling feel echoed by the socks (I love the detailing at the ankle):

hunter planor sock

Shawl-lovers will also enjoy the Fucus Asparagoides shawlette:

hunter fucus shawl

with both plain and lace portions.

My favorite in this volume might be the Serpula mitts, knit in a fluffy mohair with clever cables:

hunter serpula writers

As a designer, I always appreciate beautifully constructed details, like the shaping of the Pelagia hat:

hunter pelagia hat

and the elegance of the Zostera mitts, knit in aran-weight yarn:

hunter zostera mitt

As with the prior books, you’ll find great photography (by Zoe Lonergan), with multiple photos of each pattern, including close-ups of stitch patterns and design details; charted stitch patterns; and helpful notes in text boxes. I especially love that a good range of sizes are given for nearly every pattern, so those with feet or heads that aren’t the “average” size will have no trouble finding the perfect fit. One thing I’d love to see in future books: designation of what category or weight each yarn is. Yarn weights vary in this book, and I think it might help knitters avoid confusion should they have to substitute yarns. Put that one on my wish-list for the next book! And I do hope there’ll be more.

The details: Knitter’s Curiosity Cabinet Volume III is a full-color, paperback book; 110 pages; 18 patterns, half for socks and the other for women’s accessories; all patterns are sized except one or two that are adjustable by knitting more or fewer repeats; yarn weights range from aran to laceweight, with a lot of sock and sportweight patterns; $21.95 for PDF only, $26.95 for print copy + PDF available via Hunter’s website or via this link through Amazon.

Have I whetted your appetite?

Leave a comment to this post no later than Saturday, Sept. 27 at noon EST and I will use a random number generator to draw the name of a lucky winner who will win a hard copy of Volume 3, courtesy of Hunter Hammersen! You must have a way for me to get in touch with you to win (either a Ravelry name or a readily available email address) or I’ll have to pick another winner.

And remember, Hunter is so generous that she has offered a free PDF copy of any of her e-books to one lucky winner in my Summer Search giveaway. You might want to make a donation to this wonderful nonprofit organization in order to be entered for a chance to win that wonderful prize (along with many other terrific prizes)….details here.


Thursday, September 18th, 2014

Summer Search Raffle! Prizes, prizes, prizes…..

Today, my third annual raffle to benefit Summer Search: Philadelphia opens. My friends and readers have come forward with an impressive selection of prizes. FYI: in past years, prize donors have been so generous, that nearly everybody who enters wins a prize!

First of all, let me tell those of you who aren’t yet familiar with Summer Search about this terrific nonprofit organization. The basic idea behind Summer Search is that there are many kids who have the potential to succeed in life but are struggling just to get by due to difficult family circumstances and poverty. Summer Search works with schools to handpick a group of high school students who have the raw potential to succeed, then provides them with all kinds of help: mentoring, tutoring, advice on picking and getting into colleges, help in dealing with the grinding day-to-day toll that living in a dangerous neighborhood takes on a young person. One critical part of the program, which starts in a student’s sophomore year and extends into their college years, are the two summer trips that each participant takes.

summer search shawn

These are perspective-changing experiences — an Outward Bound hiking trip, building wells in South America, climbing a mountain in New England — and for many Summer Searchers, it’s the first time they’ve left Philadelphia, let alone gotten on a plane or stayed in a tent. These experiences show the kids the wider world and help them understand what’s possible for them, while building self-reliance, self-confidence and independence.

summer search 3

The statistics for Summer Search are impressive:

An average of 50% of low-income students do not graduate from high school, and 90% don’t go to college.

Of the participants in the Philly program of Summer Search, on average 99% graduate from high school, and 83% are on track to get a college degree.

summer search 2

The Philadelphia office has helped 4700 students and this year, has about 150 students in their current programs. Of these students, 90% will be the first in their family to go to college.And 80% of the alumni surveyed also volunteer to give back in some way, by volunteering or working for a social cause, creating a ripple effect in their community.

Providing the kind of one-on-one services that Summer Search gives is not cheap. (Summer Search commits to providing each student in its program six-plus years of mentoring, counseling and other services — one reason for its tremendously high success rate.) This is where my lovely and generous readers come in. I have assembled an amazing array of prizes from people in the fiber world. For each five dollars you donate to Summer Search, you will get one “ticket” or chance in the raffle. A five dollar donation gets one ticket; twenty dollars gets four tickets; and so on. I’ll put all the tickets in a hat and draw winners the first week of October.

Here’s how the fundraiser works. You donate directly to Summer Search Philadelphia by going to this link AND (this is important!) selecting the Philadelphia office (it says “Designation” and you tick the Philadelphia oval). Then email a copy of your online receipt to me at c.sulcoskiATattDOTnet. To be eligible for the raffle, you must make your donation by October 3rd, at midnight. Please note that the end of Summer Search’s fiscal year is September 30th, so if you can squeak out your donation before the first of October, that’s a big help for them. (But as long as you donate by October 3rd, you’ll be in the raffle!)

For each five dollars you donate, you’ll get one chance to win a prize. And my friends in the yarn industry have been amazingly supportive by offering prizes. Here’s the list — but check back, because in previous years, additional prizes have trickled in:

1. A $100 gift certificate to Black Bunny Fibers.

2. A copy of my new book, Lace Yarn Studio, as soon as I have a copy in my hot little hands to give you. (The expected publication date is April 2015, so this particular prize won’t ship until sometime in late April.)

cover LYS

3. A box of knitting and crochet books, including a copy of Sock Yarn Studio signed by me, that will give you plenty of wonderful patterns, information and inspiration.

4. A free subscription to the next round of the Black Bunny Fibers/Brooke Nico yarn club. (We expect the next round of the club to begin in February 2015, and you will be treated exactly as one of the paying members.) This is a $160 value!

Chianti: month 3 of the first round

Chianti: month 3 of the first round

5. A free Craftsy class taught by most excellent teacher and designer Patty Lyons — and Patty was generous enough to offer TWO of these, so two different people will win!

6. From fabulous designer and yarn maven Kristin Omdahl, a skein of her new Bamboo So Fine yarn!

bamboo so fine

7. Author and designer Stephannie Tallent will send you your choice of one of her Wild West e-books, full of terrific patterns inspired by the west.

8. Designer extraordinaire Barb Brown has offered up PDF downloads from her Ravelry store: five (YES — FIVE!!!!) winners will get their choice of three of her patterns.

9. The bodacious Andi Smith is giving one lucky winner a PDF copy via Ravelry download of her fantastic ebook Synchronicity.

10. I am touched that Sharon F, a blog-reader and one of the winners in last year’s raffle, is so supportive of Summer Search that she is offering a skein of Bad Amy yarn from her personal stash!

11. Designer Mary Beth Temple has offered a prize, UPDATE a copy of her Arm Knitting book and another book!

12. Designer, teacher and author Donna Druchunas will give one lucky winner a boxed set of her new journal, Stories in Stitches.

13. I am also touched that blog-reader & dyer extraordinaire Betty Murphy will provide a winner with a skein of Moose Manor Handpaints yarn — lovely stuff!

14. Ditto for being touched and so appreciative that Heather H Sbis offering Tsarina Tsock yarn as a prize!

tsarina

15. The wonderful Ancient Arts Fibre Craft will provide a prize of a skein of yarn and pattern to go with! Caroline’s a great dyer so you’ll really love this one!

ancient arts logo

16. Hunter Hammersen, author of so many wonderful books, including the new volume of her Knitter’s Curiosity Cabinet, which I will review on my blog soon, is offering winner’s choice of any of her e-books, to THREE different winners.

YOWZA! And my deepest thanks to all of the prize donors. I couldn’t do this without your generosity and support.

If you’d like to offer a prize, please leave a message in the comments or contact me on Ravelry (my ID is blackbunny) or FB or wherever you can get me! I’ll be updating the prize list if more come in, but as it stands, this is already a fantastic array of prizes. My deepest thanks to all of those who are supporting Summer Search.

effie trinket

May the odds be ever in your favor.


Tuesday, September 16th, 2014

Month three: Chianti

Time keeps zipping along and we are already at the third month of the Pairings Yarn Club. It’s been such a wonderful project and this month, I was particularly excited to see the interplay between yarn, dyeing and pattern. We started with a lovely laceweight blend of merino, angora, tencel and cashmere. Brooke suggested we riff off the theme Chianti, so I opted for a semi-solid color that captured some of the richness of a bold Italian wine: not quite maroon, not quite deep pink, not quite purple.

yarn 3

Brooke picked an Italian lace pattern and whipped up a gorgeous cowl pattern:

another edge shot

and then in a daring move, I opted for a red-headed model (the gorgeous Wallis):

chianti 1

The cowl can be worn doubled

chianti 3b

or as a single loop,

chianti 8

and is such a perfect blend of pattern and yarn.

We’re working now on the last month’s project, but if you’re sorry you missed the fun, don’t worry: we’ll be doing a brand-new round of the club sometime after the New Year. We’ll make sure there are plenty of chances for you to sign up once we open up registration later this fall. And if you’re interested, one of the prizes in my Summer Search raffle (which will go live in a day or two) is a free membership to the next round of the club.

Salute!