Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Solomons, Maryland Retreat Recap

My travel knitting for the plane.

Hi, Knitters,
First, a winner has been selected for the two Quince & Co. Doll printed pattern books: Mary, Millie & Morgan and Ben & Buddy.  And the winner is..... honeysugar (rav id)!! Congratulations. I have already contacted honeysugar via Ravelry.

Apparently the kit for the Mary Doll is sold out (remember that they are a limited offer). There are still kits for Morgan and Ben & Buddy available. However, StevenBe's purchased lots of kits for my Top-Down Seamless Doll Workshop so I know they have some available for my students and possibly to sell. There are still spots left in this class on April 26th. 

Next, I have to mention the enormous response to the Big Woods Kits through Little Skein. The kits are inspired by the book, Little House on the Prairie. I designed the shawl and bookmark patterns that are included in the kit. I was teaching and there was no wifi so when the kit went live I kept in touch with Anne Vally of Little Skein via email to check in on how things were going. 

Here's how the kits are going from a few days ago:

Anne had a record-setting day on Saturday, April 11th, for the Big Woods Kit release. She broke the previous kit release record by 3-times! That's huge. Anne has really outdone herself. To quote Anne, "I'm BLOWN away!!"

Anne sewed 100 project bags to be ready for the release and now she has over 300 more to sew since the release. Again, that's huge.

The three Plucky Knitter yarn exclusive colorways have proven to be popular as expected. The gold colorway sold out first. There were only a handful of the deep red and there were still some available in the rich green colorway available. 

Anne had 300 kits available for purchase right away and blew through almost all of them.

The Pioneer Girl shawl reached number 8 on the Hot Right Now Patterns on Ravelry. The individual pattern for the shawl and bookmark will be available for purchase in my Ravelry pattern shop in June 2015 if you are wondering.

Little Skein is giving away a kit on Instagram right now and is hosting a Knitalong for the shawl coming up so stay tuned.  Little Skein is annielightknits on Instagram. You should follow her as she always has a lot of fun things going on.

I will be giving away a Luxe Big Woods Kit worth $135 in the very near future so stay tuned for that.

Now on to today's topic. I want to share a little bit about the retreat I attended last weekend in Solomons, Maryland. The retreat is hosted by the Reston SnB group (near D.C.). This group meets every Wednesday night and usually about 20 to 30 are in attendance. Every year the group hosts a retreat at the knitting group leader's home on Solomons Island Maryland. The leader's name is Marie and if you are interested in attending (the retreat is open to everyone not just group members), Marie's Ravelry username is NiteOwl. Click here for Marie's Ravelry profile, niteowl. 

Marie's historical home is spacious and is set up like a bed & breakfast. Some attendees stayed here and others stay at a nearby bed and breakfast and others stayed at a nearby hotel. 

I had a beautiful time, it was a treat. There were a total of 17 attendees, a few were in and out, but most all were there for the entire weekend. It was the perfect number of students. We had students come from North Carolina (knittingdaddy on rav) and New Jersey (christinenj on rav), and even  from LaCrosse, Wisconsin, Margaret and her daughter who now lives in Maryland. 

The entire weekend was enjoyable due to the kind, fun, enthusiastic and welcoming students and the host Marie. Marie is one of the most caring, gracious, attentive hosts I have ever met. She is outstanding and beloved by her group and I can see why. She makes the most pleasant experience for everyone. There is not a detail that isn't tended to, and I mean down to supplies for the classes, winding yarn for the kits, ordering safety eyes for everyone, cutting out felt circles for the owl project, etc. The meals were at her home (and they were beautifully presented, DELICIOUS and healthy!) except for one dinner at a nearby pier restaurant. We walked to the restaurant, ate and chatted and watched the sunset. 

Thank you to the talented and fun group of knitters and to Marie. I really will never forget this past weekend together. I hope we all meet again in the future. I will come back any time, just name the date.

Here are some photos from the retreat: 

My classroom view. I taught on a huge enclosed front porch that included fresh air and bright sunlight!

Marie's exquisite historical home where 6 attendees stayed, including me. You can see the classroom, it was the gigantic front porch.

The view from my morning runs along the boardwalk. I got 5 mile runs in each day. What is the name of this bridge again? I can't remember.

Lunch is served. Bountiful meals were prepared each day. It was so good.

The view from the restaurant on Saturday night after class.

The Quince & Co. Doll Kits and patterns await the workshop early in the morning. The Doll workshop was the highlight of the weekend for many of the students and me!

My newest workshop is Little Owl! Quite a few finished their Little Owls during the weekend. The project has loads of good toy and general knitting techniques packed in the tiny project.

 The doll workshop is awaiting the start here. All is set up and ready to go. Don't they look sweet? 

Serious work going on!

More serious work going on!

Marie is on the end chair in the back and her daughter, Jackie, is on the front left. 

The students are concentrating so hard in these photos (that's why I snapped the photos, they didn't even see me) but I assure you that this group laughed so often as did I throughout the weekend. They were light-hearted, game for anything, and their hearts were really into learning and making all of the projects. I loved them all. What a fun group.

Jinann's Little Owl was a hit with the fun color choices. 

I loved Jeanne's partially finished doll storage method! 

A special thank you to Jeanne for the 1.5 hour drive to the airport on Sunday.

teaching photos from Greg, KnittingDaddy

This is a great retreat open to everyone! You don't have to be a member of the group to attend. Mark your calendars for April 2016 if you are interested. Contact Marie, niteowl on rav for more information. 

Marie's email contact is: nofrogging@gmail.com

I'm off to Pasadena for Vogue Knitting Live this weekend. I hope to see you there!

xo ~ susan

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Two Quince Doll Book Giveaways, News & Workshops

photo by Pam Allen of Quince & Co.

Hi, Knitters,
Doesn't it seem that things get busy in bursts? April is just that, a burst of new and exciting things, knitterly things. So let's start today with a few announcements. There is a giveaway at the end of the post so if you are skimming through you might want to stop there.

I am featured on the A Playful Day's blog this week. She is hosting a bunch of bloggers for a week of fun Blog Love. Click here to read my feature and interview! Kate hosts one of my favorite podcasts by the same name as well. Be sure to check that out.

On Saturday, April 11th, Little Skein is coming out with her newest and latest kit collaboration called the Big Woods Kit. As you may conclude from the title the kit is based on Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House on the Prairie books. I wish I could share more now but next week I will be able to host a giveaway for one of the luxe kits. You will not believe these wonderful kits.

Anne Vally of Little Skein has pulled together the most amazing roster of talent, including herself, to make and design the pieces of this kit. I am honored to be included amongst this group. I have a shawl design plus a little extra design that are both knit in the Plucky Knitter's exclusive Little House inspired yarn colorways. My shawl design is a modern-take on the prairie theme, with just a sweet nod to the Little House. You don't even have to be a Little House fan (but why wouldn't you be?) to enjoy this gorgeous collection. Don't miss out on this one!

Oh! There is a small preview up on Little Skein! Click here to see some of what's coming!

Actually, am I dreaming or does Mary (the doll on the left in the photo above) look exactly like Laura Ingalls Wilder from the TV series? What a tie-in!

There is going to be a Knitalong, too. I'll keep you posted on all of this excitement.

The next announcement is that after teaching this weekend in Maryland I have three more venues coming up in April. This is the busiest month ever. There are still spots available for my workshops and loads of other teachers' classes in two of the venues. I would love to see you in class or just at the events! Let me know if you are attending.

Click here for Vogue Knitting Live in Pasadena, April 17-19th! In addition to my 6 workshops, I am also giving a one-hour lecture on Saturday from 5:30-6:30pm and I'm speaking on a design panel at noon on Sunday in the Marketplace. I hope to see you there.

Next I am teaching at the Yarnover event in Minneapolis on Saturday, April 25th but I believe my classes are sold out BUT wait! I am also teaching at StevenBe's Fiberfest in Minneapolis the following Sunday, April 26th:

Click here for more information on my Fair Isle Mitts Workshop at StevenBe's!

Click here for more information on my Seamless Doll Workshop at StevenBe's! StevenBe's has the doll kits available at their store for purchase for the class. It's going to be so much fun.

These are two of my most favorite classes to teach for so many reasons. I would love to see you there.

photo from Quince & Co.

Speaking of the Seamless Doll Worskhop.... I am beyond thrilled that my beloved Quince & Co. has had such success with both of the doll series I designed for them that they have developed the sweetest little kits for both Ben & Buddy and Mary, Millie & Morgan. I am so honored by this gesture. The kit development took many months of planning and you can tell that they have been thoughtfully resourced and curated.

photo from Quince & Co.

With the Mary, Millie & Morgan kit you get enough yarn to complete one doll either Mary or Morgan (Millie, the yellow-haired doll is not available in kit form), and enough yarn for all of the clothing pieces including a dress, skirt, cardigan and shawl. You also get a sweetly printed muslin project bag, stuffing and little buttons for the cardigan. And the most exciting thing to me is that Quince has turned the eBooks into charming printed pattern books that come with the kits. The printed books are adorable, keepsake material.

Click here for the Mary, Millie & Morgan Kit information!  There is a pull down menu marked with an arrow and Title. This confused me so I am letting you know. Click on the down arrow for the kit information.

photo from Quince & Co.

All of the same is true for the boy doll kit, Ben & Buddy. In the kit you get all of the yarn to complete Ben, all of his clothes including a hat, sweater, and pants. Plus you get the yarn to complete Ben's trusty companion Buddy, the playful puppy. Also included in the kit is stuffing, the printed pattern book and the charmingly printed muslin project bag.

Click here to find out more about the Ben & Buddy Kits from Quince! There is the same pull-down menu where it says Title, click on the arrow to find out about the kits.

photos by Pam Allen of Quince & Co. 

photo by Pam Allen of Quince & Co.

I believe the kits are limited editions so if you are interested you may want to consider purchasing sooner rather than later.

Now for the best part! I am so excited to be able to offer one printed copy of the Ben & Buddy book AND one printed copy of the Mary, Millie & Morgan book to one lucky winner!  That's two books for one winner. The books are so well done, and best of all, photographed by the one and only founder of Quince & Co., Pam Allen (one of my all-time favorite people). What an honor.

Edited to add: Just to make sure since the kits are in demand and are limited in quantity, the giveaway is for the pattern books only not the entire kit. Two printed pattern books (one boy, one girl) for one winner. 

Please leave one comment on this blog post to win copies of both of the printed doll books. You must leave either your Ravelry username or your email address to be eligible to win. Please be patient for your comment to appear and only click on publish one time. There is a delay before you'll see your comment appear.

Good luck and let the comments begin!

I'll be back after my Maryland weekend to randomly select a winner.
xo ~ susan

Monday, April 06, 2015

Episode 13 ~ Marco Island

Hi, Knitters,
I am back from my family vacation on Marco Island in Florida. It was just my husband, TC and me on the trip. My other kids had different school/work vacations so it was a small group this year. While we were there I recorded a brief podcast episode for you to share what I'm working on. At the end of the podcast I've included some photos and video outtakes.

You can follow/subscribe to my podcast on YouTube or on iTunes or here on my blog

If you like you are welcome to follow me on Instagram and Twitter and Pinterest and join my Ravelry group Itty-Bitty Knits

Click here to see my Ravelry Pattern Shop.

Here are the links for what I talked about in the video:

Opal Sweet & Spicy 2 in the Cake Pop colorway (I can't remember where I purchased this but if you google you can probably find someone selling it. Or try Ebay or Etsy.)

Arne & Carlos Design line from Regia I know that the Simply Sock Yarn shop is carrying this line. I'm not sure if it's available yet but you could contact them to find out.

The pattern I use to make my socks is my own free pattern called How I Make My Socks

Miss Babs Yowza in the Perfectly Wreckless colorway ~ I have started the Yowza Weigh It Shawl 4.

Knitcircus ~ Come What May matching gradient socks set. 

Aaron Makes Stuff colored pencil spindle

Wren & Ollie ~ fiber bumps 

Yarnover 2015

I'm pretty sure that's all that I mentioned. Thanks for watching.

I'll be back soon with more...
xo ~ susan

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Sock Report

Hi, Knitters,
I have a quick sock update for you today. I have finished the first sock blank sock. Sock blanks are machine knit pieces of fabric that are then dyed. You unravel the knit fabric and knit straight from the blank so the yarn is tightly kinked up. I worried that I would not enjoy knitting with the kinky yarn pulled straight from the sock blank but I actually don't mind it at all. In fact I really enjoy it.

I haven't washed the first sock yet so the fabric is still a bit rippled from the kinky yarn. When I finish the second sock I will wash both of them and show you how they turned out. The sock blank I am using is from Gale's Art. Gale does this unique and colorful stamping on the sock blanks which is her  original idea I think. I've never seen this done before. I don't know how she thought this one up, it is so creative and fun. The spots where Gale stamps the sock blank makes the yarn beautifully speckled and it knits up like a dream. I really love the effect. 

My socks are going to be mismatched, which I love. You can get double-stranded sock blanks for two at a time socks or you could knit one sock at a time and wind the other strand. You would then get matching socks. 

Click here for Gale's Art!  It looks like she is taking orders for her Special Secret Sock Blanks and they are taking about 10 days to ship. 

Click here for information on the Special Secret Sock Blank in the photo above! Gale has other sock blank choices and colorways and she'll even make custom sock blanks with messages. 

Click here to see the other sock blank I have that is next up. I keep thinking I want to knit a simple shawl from this one..... I think I will do that.

I am using Signature Needle Arts dpns, US size 1, 6-inches in length.

I finished the Regia Colourmania socks. I love this yarn so much. I have a couple more balls of Colourmania yarn and will be knitting more of these. I think the fabric looks fantastic, like watercolors all blended together. The yarn number for my socks is #4067.

I purchased this yarn at Simply Sock Yarn Co.

The sock blockers are from The Loopy Ewe. These wooden sheep sock blockers are my all-time favorites, hands-down. It's the shape and the wood that I love so much.

Last but not least, I finished the Over the Rainbow Gradient Matching Socks Set by KnitCircus Yarns. I love these so much. For this pair you get two matching cakes of yarn so your socks match exactly.

The yarn is: Over the Rainbow from Knitcircus in the Pirouette base: 75% Superwash Merino Wool, 15% Nylon, and 10% Tencel, 385 yards, 100 grams.

Click here for KnitCircus Yarns on Etsy.

Click here for the Over the Rainbow Custom Gradient.

The sock blockers are from The Loopy Ewe. They are red plastic.

For all of the socks I am using my free pattern, How I Make My Socks.

I knit the cuffs extra long, 8-inches, because I wanted to get to all of the colors. I should have made the cuffs 9-inches because I barely broke into the green section at the end and I had quite a bit leftover. The top sock in the photo doesn't show the green due to the lighting but the lower sock shows that a bit of the green is there on the toe. Regardless I love these socks. I wasn't quite sure about the Tencel content of the yarn but it was lovely to knit. The yarn and fabric are silky soft and I know it will be a sturdy sock.

Anyway, two more for the drawer! That's a win.

How's your sock knitting coming along? I'd love to hear what you are working on.

Have a good end to your week.
xo ~ susan

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

A Newfound Love

Hi, Knitters,
First, my generous friend, Jaala Spiro of Knitcircus, texted me yesterday and because the response to our new Come What May shawlette collaboration has been so fantastic she told me to give two kits away! So thank you everyone for purchasing the gradient yarn, the shawl pattern and the kits. Great news all around. 

The winners of 2 of the lovely Come What May Shawlette kits with beads, pattern and choice of gradient yarn colorway from Knitcircus are......

grahamcrackerzz ~ rav username   and  loopiedoo ~ rav username!

Congratulations to you both. I have contacted both of the winners. Thank you to everyone for entering and I will have another giveaway very soon.

Now on to today's topic at hand. 

Have you ever tried something new that you didn't enjoy, put it away only to come back to it later to have something suddenly click and you fall completely in love? This has happened to me a lot over the years. I think timing is everything. Whether or not you pick up a skill with passion depends on your desire to learn something new at that exact moment in time. I've had this happen with embroidery, sewing, quilting, spinning with a wheel, cooking, and even certain knitting techniques. 

photo from SpinCityUK on Etsy

So here's what happened. I saw this fiber called Dolly Mixture from SpinCityUK, on the wonderful Little Bobbins podcast. I fell in love with the unusual bright colors and the blend of fibers. I ordered two braids of the Dolly Mixture (click here to read about this unusual braid of fiber) for a total of 7 oz. I can't wait to start spinning this fiber on my Schact Ladybug

When my package arrived I was surprised to see that Louise included one of her beautiful dried flower spindles in the package as a gift. Click here to see a similar spindle in her shop. I was immediately enamored with this pretty spring-like spindle. There is a lightness and a sweetness to it. 

I decided at the very moment I saw the SpinCityUK flower spindle that I had to learn to use a spindle and quick. Now, quite awhile ago I had purchased another spectacular little spindle from Aaron Makes Stuff. This beautiful spindle is handcrafted with colored pencils set in resin. I love this spindle equally but when I got this one and tried it my heart wasn't into learning how to spindle spin. I was too preoccupied with other work obligations which made me feel restless when I was trying to learn. I put it away knowing that I would come back to it when I was ready.

Awhile ago I had watched a couple of videos on YouTube about spinning with a drop spindle so I knew the basic idea. Plus I have been spinning on a wheel for a few years now which helped with knowing how to draft and work with the fiber. Anyway, I picked up the flower spindle and gathered some of the fiber samples I have saved through the years. Suddenly the spindle worked for me and it was like magic. I could actually spin with a spindle! 

I feel like I get it now. I know people collect spindles and love using them to spin all sorts of fiber into yarn. It is definitely a slower process than using a wheel but there is something that is so fun about the process of using a spindle. I am already planning what to bring to spin on my upcoming travels. I think I am officially hooked. Yes, it was only a matter of time.

The mini-skeins above are my first spindle spinning attempts. The mix with the black is my very first attempt. It's pretty messed up but I learned a lot. The middle skein was next and I saw improvement. The pink and purple skein on the end is Romney fiber from Sheep Dreams, this was my third attempt. I did a 2-ply and ended up with about 50 yards and it is quite pretty and usable. 

Then I dug out my Aaron Makes Stuff colored pencil spindle. The two spindles are very different. The Aaron Makes Stuff spindle is light as air. The flower SpinCityUK spindle is much more substantial. I found a sample of some fiber from one of my favorite dyers, Friends in Fiber and started spinning with this other spindle. I am so pleased with how this spindle and fiber are spinning up. It is a really different experience but what fun!

Now I am spinning a batt that Joanna (click here for her podcast) from KnitSpinFarm threw in with another order I had made from her shop. It is 2.5 oz. of heaven. Joanna makes the most wonderful batts, honestly. She puts some sort of magic into the fiber because whenever I spin something from her shop I get the warmest, calmest feeling of appreciation for the fiber. She makes things extra pretty and sweet somehow. As you can see in the photo, the KnitSpinFarm batt is light green and yellow, so perfect for March and moving into the spring season. I feel like the flower spindle and this fiber are a match made in heaven. I am winding the singles onto a bobbin when the spindle gets too full. I am going to ply this on my wheel when I am done spinning the singles.

I'll keep you posted on my progress. Are you any of you into spindle spinning? I'd love to hear about it and any tips or tricks you might have for me as a newbie.

I'll leave you today with a photo of this gorgeous Harvest Wool from Timber and Twine.

Click here to read all about this company.

The skein above was dyed with madder and alum. It is 100 grams of an 8-ply and I think it might be about a DK weight. The yardage isn't listed. It is so pretty, rich in color and interesting. I love the messy skein, the twine, the tag, and the brown paper wrapping. It's all good. I'm pretty sure this skein will become a new hat for me. I'll keep you posted on this one, too.

Click here to check out Timber and Twine!

Have a happy and productive week ahead, friends.
xo ~ susan

Friday, March 20, 2015

Come What May Shawl Kit Giveaway!

Hi, Knitters,
First, I have to let you know that I am so excited to be teaching at StevenBe's in Minneapolis on Sunday, April 26th. This is the day after the Yarnover event where I am also teaching all day on April 25th. Please sign up for my Sunday classes at StevenBe's if you are in the area. I can't wait for this fun-filled weekend of back-to-back knitting events.

I'm thinking these classes might fill really fast because last year my classes were sold out in a flash when I taught at StevenBe's. 

I hope to see you in Minnesota in April.

Next, I have some fun news about my newest shawl design for KnitCircus.

Did you ever knit something and when it was finished you felt kind of sad because it was over?

That is exactly how I felt when I finished the brand new Come What May Shawlette. I ached for it to continue. I may have to knit another in a different color.

Here are a few work-in-progress shots:

Here is the story behind this beautiful new shawlette:

As I sat with my friend, Jaala Spiro, having tea, pastries and knitting in my living room one morning she surprised me with several cakes of her lovely KnitCircus yarns. One of these cakes was the spectacular gradient called Come What May. There is just something about the rosy shade of pink moving into the sweet kiss of blush and ending with the lightest shade of gray. The yarn cake was thrilling to hold in my hands and it was inspiring. I quickly cast on and knit the sweetest little lacey shawl that is not only simple and wearable but is a really fun knit to boot. The sections of the shawl keep you entertained while the gradient yarn motivates you to keep going to get to the next color.
The shawl is a semi-circular shape with stockinette, simple lace and eyelet sections that end with a beautiful eyelet ruffle. The shawl is finished with an elegant bind-off with silver-lined beads. The beads are always optional but they add so much to the look and feel of the finished shawl. The entire project is a pleasure to knit.
The yarn colorway is the single inspiration for the shawl so the name of the design has to be Come What May. The colorway, luxury yarn base, shawl design and beads are the perfect match.

The Come What May Shawlette is now available in kit form through KnitCircus! The generous people at KnitCircus have offered me a kit including pattern, yarn and beads to give to one of you today. Details are at the end of the post.

Click here for the Come What May pattern information on Ravelry! The pattern is now available through KnitCircus and in 3 months the pattern will be available in my Ravelry Pattern Shop.

Here is some information you might like to know:

Finished measurements: 48-inch wingspan, 28-inch depth after blocking.

Yarn: KnitCircus Opulence (80% merino/10% cashmere/10% nylon), 420 yards/100 grams. 1 skein in Come What May gradient colorway.

Needles: US size 6, 32-inch or longer, circular needles or size to obtain gauge

Gauge: 5.5 sts per inch in stockinette stitch before blocking

Stitch markers
24 grams of 6/0 seed beads, sample used silver-lined crystal beads
Crochet hook or flosser for placing beads

This is one project that just flew off the needles. It was so much fun to knit. The shawl kits are available in three colorways, Come What May (the colorway in the sample), Emerald City and Lothlorien. They are all beautiful options. I feel like this design is so attached to the KnitCircus gradient yarn that you may want to splurge and get the kit or the Opulence gradient yarn from KnitCircus. But of course that is always up to you!

If you would like a chance to win a Come What May Shawlette kit please leave a comment on this blog post. Please only enter one time, there is a delay for your comment to appear so only click on publish one time. Please leave your email address or Ravelry username so I can get in touch if you win.

This would be such a wonderful Mother's Day gift by the way, either knit up or in kit form if your mother knits.

Good luck and let the comments begin!

xo ~ susan

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Shawl Success

Hi Knitters,
Thank you for the amazing response to the Yowza Weigh It 3 Shawl that was released last week. I appreciate it and I can't wait to see the Yowza 3 shawls knit up!

I have been so thrilled with the results from our recent SBA Shawl Knitalong that I just have to share a few of the finished shawls. It was been amazing and fun. So here we go!

Above is the Drawing Nigh Shawl knit by kmacmillan on Ravelry. 

The Prairie Ridge Shawl knit by madingley on Ravelry.

The Yowza Weigh It Shawl 2 knit by mmcjohnson on Ravelry.

The Hayward Shawl knit by Okielynn on Ravelry.

The Prairie Ridge Shawl by pawsandknit on Ravelry. She used a Magic Cake.

The Drawing Nigh Shawl knit by quiltnknitnut on Ravelry.

I love this sweet model wearing the 50 Row Shawlette knit by raelynne01 on Ravelry.

The Quaker Ridge Shawlette knit by sarahwiggin on Ravelry.

The Yowza Weigh It Shawl knit by savannahchik on Ravelry.

The Yowza Weigh It Shawl knit by silverbell on Ravelry.

The Yowza Weigh It Shawl knit by simurgh on Ravelry.

The Yowza Weigh It Shawl knit by SwissKnits on Ravelry.

The Drawing Nigh Shawl knit by knittingdaddy on Ravelry. 

I wish I could post them all! 

Thanks again, Knitters, for joining in.
xo ~ susan