Monday, April 14, 2014

Winner and a Project from the Past!

Hi, Knitters,
Thank you to everyone who entered to win a copy of From Mama, With Love. The winner is.....

BostonJen (rav id)! Congratulations to you.  I'll have another giveaway very soon.

Last spring while on vacation with my family I started the shawl in the photo. It is the Pop Spots Shawl by JuJu Vail. It is a really fun knit and I am so close to being done. I am making a size in between the large and small. The stitch pattern is quite simple and fun to knit. You are only working one color in each row so it is like doing stripes.

I am now on the applied lace edging and that is going very slowly. We'll see how much I get done. I'd love to have and wear this shawl so that is motivating. I am knitting it in two Madelinetosh fingering weight yarns on US size 5 needles. The red is Tosh Sock in Tart and the teal is Madelinetosh Feather in Tidal Basin. I don't recommend the Feather base for the spots because it was a bit sticky when you have to drop down. It sure is pretty though!

Last week was a race against the clock. I designed and finished and photographed a new Opal sock yarn toy for Unicorn Books. My deadline was last Friday and by Friday afternoon I had it all in the can. Long hours and fast knitting was about all I could do. I still have to write up the pattern in good form. 

The new toy is like the Sock Yarn Bunny and the Little Dragon that I did for Unicorn in the past couple of years. Both have been enormous hits and I even teach workshops on these two designs. The new toy has loads of fun and different techniques in the pattern and is again completely seamless and is super interesting to knit. This one uses sock yarn on US size 1s. It is perfect for using up those leftovers. It is going to be released at TNNA in the Unicorn Booth, which is early this year in May. I'll give you all of the details very soon and maybe a sneak peek after I get permission.

I am enjoying my girls this week as they have their spring break from school. I have been knitting a lot so I'll post a few progress pics this week. I have finished up two pairs of socks and started a new pair. I've started another new shawl design for a cool project ahead, and I am considering casting on a Leftie by Martina Behm. I got a kit for this from Miss Babs awhile ago..... so much fun to be had! How can we stand it?

I'll be back soon with more. Have a great start to your week. What are you knitting? I'd love to hear about it.
best, susie

Friday, April 11, 2014

From Mama, With Love ~ a sweet giveaway!

(cover image from From Mama, With Love)

Hi, Knitters,
My friend Tanis Gray sent me a copy of her new ebook, From Mama, With Love to share with you. I couldn't wait! I saw that The Knit Girllls reviewed it this week, too. Leslie and Laura did a very thorough job, sharing most of the projects and talking about the electronic format of the book. 

I am so impressed with this collection of 15 beautiful knit designs to wrap around your young children. I was trying to think of how to best describe this book but no one does it better than Tanis herself. The following is the description of Tanis' newest creation in her own words from her blog, and it's perfect:

"I had an idea many, many months ago to put out an ebook of baby knits as a group project among friends, including myself, Kate Gagnon Osborn, Connie Chang Chinchio, Melissa LaBarre and Margaux Hufnagel. The knitting design world is a small one, with most of us being female, many of us mothers and many of us friends. I so admire these women… Working moms, wives, creative minds, yarn lovers… These are my people and I love them fiercely.

The idea was rather simple – we’d each design 3 garments, have our children be our inspiration and models and gather these 15 designs together in an ebook. We all work in the knitting field, whether we’re running a yarn company and taking care of our daughter (Kate), designing feverishly while awaiting the birth of our second daughter (Melissa), designing while flying across the country for work and missing our daughter and son (Connie), designing while chasing after our son (Margaux) or designing late into the night while editing knitting books and making knitting class lesson plans while my son sleeps across the hall (me). I have spent time with all these incredible, talented, wonderful women in real life and having us all work on one big project like this together in the virtual world was an example of mom power. This book is a labor of love for our children, for each other and for ourselves as mothers."
(photo from From Mama, With Love)

The designs in the book are for both boys and girls, some are unisex. There are hats, sweaters, vests, blankets, and a boppy cover. I think it is a stellar collection! I would love to make so many of these projects. The talent of these mamas is clear and apparent. 

Click here to see all 15 designs!  The sizes range from baby up to 10 years old in some patterns.

Right now it is only available as an ebook for $24.95. In six months the individual patterns will be available by each designer and you will no longer be able to purchase it as an ebook.

(photo from From Mama, With Love)

The photos were taken by each designer and their kids were the models. That's Tanis' adorable son above. I love that because you can feel the love in the photos. It makes the collection more personal.

Tanis Gray is a genius at curating knit design collections. I have many of her books, maybe all of them, where she gathers talented designers to work under a certain theme. She does a fantastic job and From Mama, With Love is another example of her outstanding work in the knitting world.

(photo from From Mama, With Love)

One of my longtime favorite designers is Melissa LaBarre. I have knit many of her sweaters for myself and I love them. She is a talented designer. The hat above is called Sid Scrappy Hat and I think she captured the perfect photo of her gorgeous daughter wearing her new hat. It is so simple and sweet and I just love everything about it.  

(photo from From Mama, With Love)

The thing is that I like every pattern in the book. I could have gone through and shared each one. I am only showing a few of my favorites but each design in the book is wonderful. There are charts, clearly written patterns, good photos, an index to click on to get to the specific pattern, etc. There is a feeling or mood in the pages that is hard to describe. It's moms knitting for their loves and you get a sense of that love and devotion when looking through the book. 

The Viviane Cardigan (above) is another Melissa LaBarre design that would knit up in a snap in a DK weight yarn. It's top-down, one piece and it is cute! The size range for this pattern is baby to 2 years old.

Luckily I get to offer a copy to one lucky winner today! Please leave one comment including either your email address or your Ravelry ID. This is one of the best baby/child collections I have seen in a long time! You will love it. Please only leave one comment and be patient for your comment to appear. It takes awhile. I'll be back in a few days to randomly select a winner.

Good luck and let the comments begin!
best, susie

Monday, April 07, 2014

Fibre Space ~ Day 3!

Hi, Knitters,
I'm back home again and guess what? It's almost 60 degrees and sunny outside. I'll take it. I hope you all had a good weekend. I ended up yesterday meeting my brother and a couple members of his family for a wonderful brunch at a lovely restaurant by the water. Then he dropped me off at the shop to get ready for my afternoon String-a-Long Toy Workshop. I love these fun little characters and I am sending them off shortly to get them together as a published pattern. 

So the story of my Fibre Space experience continues for one last day......

The photo above is the hat that Greg (knittingdaddy - rav id) started in class on Saturday. Greg told me that the Fair Isle Workshop was a little out of his element and he wasn't looking forward to it as much as the toy workshops over the weekend. Then on Sunday he showed up with this almost completed hat that was just beautifully worked. He has fallen in love with two-handed color work! He even designed his own chart for the top layer of the hat. The Fair Isle Hat class turned out to be his favorite workshop of the weekend and he took all three. This kind of successful report makes me so happy. Way to go, Greg!

Greg has a great knitting blog called, Knitting Daddy, that you might be interested in. Be sure to read his "about" page, his knitting story is a touching one to say the least. Click here for Greg's blog!

On Sunday I had another wonderful class. Three or four people who had signed up for the class didn't show up so there was a little more room to spare.

Everyone worked so hard and many nearly finished their toy!

These are the String-a-Long characters, a mouse, monkey and frog. I love the pink mouse waiting to be a part of my technique demonstration. 

No mice were hurt, harmed or injured in any way during this workshop.

I assure you.

After class I quickly packed up, thanked everybody I could thank, hugged my dear students, signed a few last books, and ran out the door. My ride had arrived, it was Tanis Gray, the wonderful and talented knitter friend of mine who I have known for many years now.  

I was excited that she brought her adorable son along. He was so good and well behaved, I was  impressed. We went to get a bite to eat and chat for a little bit before I had to go to the airport. 

We tried to get all three of us in the photo. It sort of worked. Thank you to Tanis for the company and ride to catch my plane.

I have more to talk about involving a Tanis project later this week! You'll love it.

This is an interesting doll. Trudy, who works at Fibre Space, was telling me about a topsy-turvy doll she had as a child in the 1940s. I thought it might be the little red riding hood doll but she said it was not. Her doll was blonde on one side and brunette on the other. (Sound familiar in a sisterly kind of way?) 

I asked her if she would bring it in on Saturday so I could see the doll. And she did!

Can you believe this wonderful doll is nearly 70 years old? I adore both sides and I love it that Trudy had saved her doll for all of these years. The hair has kind of withered away but you could still see the colors. The fabrics are so sweet and I always love ric-rac (is this spelled correctly?).

The dolls were interesting because they were flat. I have seen this flat shape in other older toys and I always wonder about the reason for it. Maybe it was just the style then.

You know what I did? I forgot the item I wanted to purchase most. I had been thinking about it all weekend. After class, I quickly purchased the handmade darning egg I had set aside before class. I had been so busy packing up and Tanis was already waiting for me that I literally hustled out the door.

After I left the shop, I realized that the only other thing I really wanted to purchase was a couple of braids of the Sliver from Imperial Ranch. Oh, I am so bummed that I forgot to grab those before I left. I think I will call the shop and order a couple over the phone. Yes, that will happen this week..

Here is a close-up on the tag if you are interested in the origins of my new darning egg. It is so beautiful! I shouldn't say I can't wait to use it because that would mean I have a hole in my hand knit sock but....

I can't wait to use it. 

And to finish off, Paula, this one's for you!

Thank you Fibre Space for one of the best career weekends I've ever had! Thank you to the lovely students who came and worked so hard and were cheerful, supportive and fun! I love you all.

One more guess what? Danielle and I are already talking about when I can come back! More to come on that.

best, susie

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Fibre Space ~ Day 2!

Hi, Knitters,
Yesterday was simply an excellent day at Fibre Space. This shop is amazing. It is bustling and fun and cool. The staff is wonderful and helpful and smart. I had two jam-packed classes, full to the brim. In the morning Ann Weaver was teaching a sweater class at the same time I was teaching the Build a Toy workshop and it was the start of the local Yarn Crawl. The lines at the register were never-ending. It was a banner day for the shop. 

Fibre Space is clearly doing something right. The Old Town Alexandria setting is so charming and old. I love the teaching set up. There are open windows between the teaching room and the shop so you really feel like you are part of the action. 

See that swift in the window between the classroom and shop? That thing never stopped the entire day. I am surprised to see it resting in the photo above. That swift is hooked up to an electric ball winder.

I am so impressed with the owner, Danielle, and her staff. These are some hard working people. If people have images of owning a yarn shop and sitting around and knitting all day they should come to Fibre Space. The staff here never sits down or even stops for a second. They are helping people with their knitting, selecting patterns and yarn with customers, chatting, checking people out with their purchases, cleaning, helping me set up for my workshops, and more.... and they do it all with a smile. 

The first two photos are from my morning class. What enthusiastic toy knitters I had! We had a lot of fun together and the time went so fast. At the beginning of my workshops I always feel like I have so much time but all of a sudden at the end there is so much I want to squeeze in before the students leave me.

The following photos are from my afternoon workshop, Fair Isle Hat. This workshop has become one of my most popular classes wherever I teach. It fills up quickly and sells out it seems wherever I go. I love that because I love color work and I love teaching color work.

My classes pretty much rocked. I had students from past teaching venues show up, which I love, I had students with all levels of experience. Everyone succeeded and hopefully learned a thing or two and seemed to have good time on top of it.

I really love teaching knitting. That's what it boils down to.

Here is the sample table before my Fair Isle Class. I left the toys out just for fun.

Below are photos of my students' work in the color work class. I have to brag for them. They all learned and tried new things. Some were quite nervous at the start but they dug in and really went with the techniques at hand.

Look at these wonderful hats! This was only half way through the class. Much more progress was made by the end of class. A couple of students almost finished their hats. The photos below show some corrugated rib and a left-leaning Latvian Braid.

There were more, I didn't get photos of every hat in the class. Aren't those hats wonderful and inspiring? Thank you, students, for a fantastic day!

This is my beloved Melanie (maashrink on rav). I loved meeting her in person.

We have a thread in our Itty-Bitty Knits forum group on Ravelry called, Itty-Bitty Meet Ups. These meet-ups occur with members from all over the world. We always take photos and share them with our group and then everyone comments. On the left is Greg, knittingdaddy on rav, and Melanie, maashrink on rav. It was so lovely to spend time together in person.

Please come and join our fun-loving group on Ravelry, Itty-Bitty Knits!

One last note, I posted a photo of this sliver fiber for spinning yesterday on Instagram and Facebook, and asked if anyone knew what is was. I got a great response, even Amy Detjen and Clara Parkes responded and said I should get one.

Oh darn, I guess I'll have to bring a braid home with me now.

I'll take more photos from today! I have one more toy-themed workshop this afternoon. I can't wait.

There are not enough stars around for me to give Fibre Space a high enough review on all fronts. I suggest supporting this shop in every way we are able. It is a super vibrant community-based shop that is successful for all of the right reasons.

Click here for Fibre Space!

I'll be back soon with more. I hope you are having a nice weekend, everyone.
best, susie
p.s. I had about a 10 minute break at lunch to walk around in a t-shirt and skirt and soak in some sunshine. It felt so good to be outside without a coat, it just added to my great weekend.

Saturday, April 05, 2014

Fibre Space ~ Here we go!

Hi, Knitters,
I want to share the first day of my trip to Fibre Space in Alexandria, Virginia, with you. The travels were good although there was a bit of circling and minor delays due to visibility issues. Nothing major but I had to hightail it to my gate in Detroit because we landed quite a bit later than scheduled. The gates were really far apart but I made it fine.

Click here for the Fibre Space website!

I wore my 15 Colour Rainbow socks, the yarn is by Fab Funky Fibres on Etsy. It was such a gray, overcast and foggy kind of day that the bright socks made me happy.

On the plane I worked on my second sock in Regia Super Jacquard. I made pretty good progress.

 I could not believe how crowded Reagan National Airport was. It was so packed in the gate area when I got off the plane. It was difficult to get into the airport due to the crowding. The whole airport was super crowded. I was glad to get out of there.

During the second leg of my flight (I read during the first flight), I finished the cuff, knit the heel flap, turned the heel and finished the gusset. Now this should go really fast to the toe! I can't wait to wear this pair.

Danielle, the owner of Fibre Space, picked me up in her tiny Mini-Cooper car and I wasn't sure my two bags would fit but they did! She made it work.

 It was close to 60 degrees in Alexandria. I pulled out my spring coat and boy did that feel good. At home in Madison there were snow flurries. I ended up not even needing my coat for the walk to the shop. It was wonderful.

Old Town in Alexandria is so charming. You can walk everywhere. This brick park is right outside of my hotel window. The structure appears to have vines growing all over it which I'm sure in the summer is very beautiful.

I packed up to go to my book signing/meet and greet! I always bring my knitting just in case. Last night though I didn't have much time to knit. The meet and greet was great! I had a steady stream of friendly knitters who purchased and brought their books for me to sign. I loved meeting everyone. Thanks for coming if you were there.

Here are some photos from last night:

You should purchase from this shop. It's a good one to support. The vast array of unique and inspiring yarns is unmatched. Danielle, the owner, has curated an incredible amount of indie and commercial yarns. She is hard working and talented.

There's Danielle working so hard as usual.

Incredible sale bins! That's the signature mannequin. 

Unique spinning fibers.....

This table was filled to twice this size only hours before..... 

A gigantic collection of Brooklyn Tweed....

More unique homespun yarns!

A closer look (it's looking back at you!).

Brooklyn Tweed Loft. I want all of this!

More Plucky!

Skein from Australia! I really want to take some home.

Wall o' needles.

Okay, this Neighborhood Fiber Co. is driving me crazy I love it so much! 

The vibrancy is incredible and rich! This is a local to the shop dyer.

Look at the shelves and shelves of Neighborhood Fiber Co.  Danielle used to work in a different yarn shop with the dyer. She is loyal and supportive.

Spacious and well-organized!

I love the indie and the commercial yarns together. There is something for everyone.

The shop is bubbling over with samples. Isn't this cute? I have no idea what the pattern is called. I'll try to find out today.

I think one of these might come home with me. That is something like 1500 yards. I put my hand in there for scale. It is bigger than my head.

This one is my favorite color.

And maybe one of these for my sock darning.

Love it! Order one from the shop!

And maybe these should come home with me?

I am loving this rustic fiber. 

And maybe this could fit in my suitcase, too? I think I will bring some of this home. I will find out more today about this fiber.

The punch back there was pineapple and ginger! It was sooooo good and cold. I drank it all night at my signing. Ahhh, refreshing!

Ready to go!


Maureen, who took classes with me at Vogue Knitting Live in NYC brought her snowman to share with me! She is taking classes all day with me on Saturday. I love repeat students!

My buddy Greg and his beautiful daughter came to visit along with Greg's dad. Greg is a very active member of Itty-Bitty Knits (my forum group on Ravelry.) Greg is taking classes all weekend with me.

These are Greg's knits he brought on my request to share with me! He is such a great knitter, and fairly new, too.

Greg also brought his giraffe from my Not so Itty-Bitty Giraffe class on Craftsy. I love it!

Gotta run to class now! I'll take more photos today to share.

Miss you all! Have a super Saturday.
best, susie