weekend prep.

Quince & Co. Lark Yarn
Library
Log Cabin Socks

This week, I spent a little time prepping for my weekend knitting projects:

First, I finally learned how to hand-wind a center-pull ball of yarn, which will be used on my secret WIP. I actually used my Beauty Blender container to start the ball, after seeing someone on Instagram use an old film canister. Sometimes the strand catches and needs a little extra tug to release, but overall, it works! I think I just wound those first few rounds a little too tightly, so next time, I'll try relaxing my tension. This is the first new skill I've added to my repertoire this year!

On Wednesday, I stopped into my local library to photocopy the Log Cabin Socks pattern out of the book, Handknit Holidays. (Question: does anyone else visit the library for knitting patterns?) Inspired by Jared's gorgeous version, these cozy slipper socks will be a (very late) Christmas knit for my very patient niece. Since the pattern calls for bulky weight yarn, I'm hoping these are a quick, satisfying knit.

What about you? What are you working on this weekend? 

beginnings

Mail
Quince & Co. Yarn Twig & Horn Wool Soap
Quince & Co. Yarn
Twig & Horn Wool Soap in Rosewood
Quince & Co. branding
Quince & Co. Lark

Last week was the best mail week ever. I received not one, but two packages from Quince & Co. The first contained four skeins of Tern sock yarn in springy shades of pale blue and lavender (Oyster, Mist & Dusk). These are for a new lace sock design I've been tinkering with over the winter, and it will be hard to decide which color(s) to use! I also splurged on a bottle of Twig & Horn's Wool Soap in Rosewood. I'm a sucker for good packaging, and I love the minimalist label and how you can see the milky soap through the clear glass bottle.

The second--and most important package--contained three simple skeins of Lark worsted-weight wool in the Canvas colorway. As is tradition, they came snuggly wrapped in Quince's classic brown paper bag, tightly sealed with the bright-white, circular Q sticker. Opening a Quince package is always like opening a Christmas present, however, this time, peeling back that sticker and opening that brown paper bag had a whole new meaning to me. You see, these three skeins mark a big first step forward in my knitting journey. And while I can't reveal the project yet, I will say that I did not expect an opportunity like this to come along so soon!

december

Cowl
Cowl
Tree Farm
Christmas tree
Tree Farm
The boy
Quince & Co. Lark

It's hard to believe we've reached the final month of the year. Fall flew by way too fast--it was all just a blur, really. From August to late November, work kept me moving at a steady pace. For those of you who don't know, a big of my job is to oversee the production of all the marketing and advertising content that goes into hiring Amazon.com's seasonal workers, so they can pick, pack, and ship all of your holiday orders. As you can imagine, this is quite a feat! We're starting to wind down now, so I'm beginning to shift my focus back to all things knitting. 

Somehow through all the chaos, I've started to combine my love of knitting with my passion for marketing and branding. I released my very first pattern for sale, The Giving Mitts, which was both extremely nerve-wracking and exciting. After dozens of hours fretting over making sure every detail was perfect, pushing the 'publish to Ravelry' button felt exhilarating! The #knitstagram community has been so supportive and it's been so much fun seeing everyone's posts. 

I also sent in two design submissions--a pair of lace socks to The Fibre Co.'s YSP 2 collection, and a worsted-weight cowl to Quince & Co.'s Scarves, etc. 7. The Fibre Co. ended up passing on my design, but I really enjoyed the whole process of coming up with the design concept, knitting a prototype, and branding the submission PDF. Actually, if I'm being honest, while I love the challenge of knitwear design, the best part of a submission is the pattern branding. I have so much fun staging the photos, setting the PDF layouts, choosing the fonts, writing the copy, and sharing glimpses on social media. 

All of this, I hope,  is good practice for down the road. My son graduates high school next year, so the question of  what's next has been a common theme around our home. Lately, we've been obsessively looking at real estate in Maine and are seriously considering a move up North. It would be a dream to move to small, coastal town and provide marketing support to a fiber company. In January, we're thinking about heading Down East to check out some of the small towns we've been researching. We hope that seeing them in winter will provide us with a realistic view of what it might be like to live there. If you have any suggestions on where to look, I'd love to hear them!  

have a lovely weekend.

weekend #knitspiration

Who else is anxious to get this weekend started? I can't believe how quickly this week flew by...there was so much to catch up on after being out of the office all last week. The hubs and I have lots of fun packed into this weekend. On Saturday, we're heading down to Westminster, MD with our two best friends to check out the Maryland Wine Festival. In addition to wine, there's an entire cheese pavilion, which I'm super excited about. Plus, there will be lots of artisan booths and craft vendors, so I'm secretly hoping I'll be able to get my hands on some local wool. 

We'll also be heading to the local Sängerbund for its annual Oktoberfest celebration. We're looking forward to hanging out with friends and family, watching our nieces and nephew dance the Schuhplattler (shoe slapping dance), and eating brats with warm, vinegary German potato salad. Oh, and drinking beer, of course! Marrying into a German family was a pretty awesome decision. 

There will also be knitting...lots of knitting. There are a couple of babies and a wedding on the way, not to mention winter! There are so many beautiful things I want to knit...how I'll fit it all in is beyond me. It's the classic knitter's dilemma. 

Speaking of beautiful things, here's a little #knitspiration to kick off your weekend:

No. 1 :: Brooklyn Tweed's Fall 2016 collection was released this week! As someone who's drawn to classic menswear styles, I love, love, love the his & hers bespoke concept this season. The standout pattern? Veronica Avery's Vika cabled turtleneck sweater. Between the spectacular cables, the drop shoulder, and the boxy, knuckle-grazing coziness, I'm sold. Pour a hot cup of french press on Saturday morning and check out the gorgeous lookbook

No 2 :: As my hubby well knows, I'm quite particular about my drinking vessels, particularly when it comes to coffee and tea. It's been a while since I've added a new mug to my collection, and this sweet little llama is calling my name. Side note: have you ever knit with llama? I was part of the test knit team for Steven West's Earth and Sky Shawl, and selected three shades of Llama Luxury to work up the sample. It almost feels like cashmere!

No 3 :: The closer we get to the cooler months, the more I want a sturdier wool on my needles. Hinterland's Cabin yarn is a single ply, mule spun Navajo Churro Lopi wool. It might be fun to knit this up into a pair of slippers to help keep toes cozy as fall sets in. 

Enjoy your weekend!

Photos from: Brooklyn Tweed, Anthropologie, and Woolful Mercantile

 

september things

It's hard to believe September is already here, isn't it? Every year, the months just seem to fly by, one quicker than the next. For me, the month of September officially marks the transition to the 'cozy' months--I'm content knowing that wool blankets, apple cider, and changing leaves are all just a few short weeks away. September also marks the beginning of our busy season at work, which we refer to as 'Peak.' It's during this time that I have to really have to consciously work to maintain a work/life/craft balance. The next twelve weeks are bound to be long and chaotically productive, so I'm really looking forward to this final, leisurely summer weekend. 

What are you up to this weekend? We're heading up to Atlantic City, NJ to spend some time relaxing poolside. I plan on casting on for my new cowl pattern on the car ride up and knitting while lounging under an umbrella.  

For those of you riding shotgun on the way to your holiday weekend adventures, here's a little #knitpiration for you to peruse:

No. 1 :: Ysolda released her lovely Inglis Mitts pattern as part of the new Wool Tribe 2016 Festival Companion book. I love the thought she puts into her designs; the way she curves the cable from cuff to thumb is a pretty flourish. Ysolda's Rose Red pattern was the very first hat I knit for myself,  way back in September of 2009. I remember being so proud of knitting lace in the round and learning how to read a knitting chart! The photo of me wearing the hat is still my Ravelry Avatar, even after all of these years... 

No 2 :: I've been doing a lot of sketching lately--my sketchbook is large and heavy and filled with swatches of wool that I've knit up over the years. It might be nice to have a few lightweight sketchbooks to throw into my knitting bag for when inspiration strikes on-the-go. I'm a long-time fan of Rifle Paper Co. products, and these Vintage Blossoms Notebooks are the perfect size for my knitting tote. [set of 2--on sale for the holiday weekend!]

No 3 :: Purl Soho's shelves are newly stocked with skeins of Sno by Woolfolk Yarn. This moody, black/green twist reminds me of the beautiful forests we drove past during our trip to Germany last September. 

Enjoy the last of the summer sun & have a safe holiday weekend!

 

swatching

Tosh Vintage swatch

This past Saturday, I had the entire house to myself, which is a very, very rare treat. Besides eating nothing but carbs  all day, I spent a considerable amount of time parked on the couch watching cheesy, made-for-TV movies and swatching my Tosh Vintage yarn. When I spotted these midnight-colored speckles on a shelf at Loop, I knew right away they wanted to come home with me.

Tosh Vintage in Optic

How perfect would they be worked into a cowl to go with my winter coat?

Madeline Tosh Vintage in Optic

This yarn is super hardy--I kept going back and forth on the stitch pattern that flanks the lace panel, and must have ripped out my knitting at least four times. The yarn held up extremely well and showed very little evidence of my woman-handling. Can we all agree that this Optic colorway is pretty amazing? I could stare at those tiny flecks of rust and aqua nestled into the fibers for hours on end. This yarn is just a delight to knit with, and, as Steven West would say, #specklesaresohotrightnow

 

the pondhopper hat

I was pretty excited to be a part of Alicia Plummer's test knit team for her latest hat pattern, Pondhopper! This was such a quick and fun knit--perfect for those last-minute holiday gifts. The combination of cables, ribbing, stockinette, and purling added just enough variety to keep things interesting for easy, evening knitting, and resulted in a rustic, woodsy-looking hat that's perfect for walks in the woods: 

The yarn is Swan's Island Organic Washable Merino DK in the (perfectly named) Eucalyptus colorway. It's crazy soft and beautifully variegated. I ordered three skeins directly from the Swan's Island website and three different dye-lots arrived in the mail. While normally this would incite panic, I decided to just roll with it. I selected the two that were the most similar in color and alternated skeins every row, carrying the strands along the back of the piece to minimize any pooling or striping in the finished knit.

Alicia's instructions were very clear--she wanted us to "...attach the biggest pom pom you can find!" to our hats, so I whipped out my Clover pom pom maker and made this fatty:

What's great about this hat is that it's the perfect knit for beginners looking to add some new skills to their repertoire. There's a little bit of everything here, and Alicia's instructions and chart make it very easy to follow along. In case you're wondering, here's a peak at the brim, unfolded:

I'm thinking of sewing the edge of the brim to the inside of the hat so that I don't have to worry about keeping it straight, and so that you see more of the hat pattern...I'm pretty sure that's how Alicia styled it in her photoshoot. Pre-blocking, I was a little scared that the hat was too small for my head, but after a nice long lavender bath, the yarn bloomed gorgeously and fits just right. I'd really, really love to knit a cardigan out of this yarn one day...

This was a fun little project and I'm glad to finally be able to share it with you! You can grab your copy of the Pondhopper Hat pattern on Ravelry for $4. Be sure to join the Pondhopper knitalong and be on the lookout for the matching fingerless mitts pattern, too! Have a great week!

Project details on Ravelry

hello, weekend!

Weekend Knitspiration 5

Is anyone else out there ready for summer to be over? There were a few mornings this week where I felt that back-to-school, fall-tinge in the air and got really excited. So much so, that I wore two cabled sweaters to work this week, which baffled some of my co-workers. Part of it's because they keep the air conditioning on so high, and part of it's because I'm hoping to wish autumn into existence... 

What's everyone up to this weekend? Now that my Berkeley class is finally over, I plan on knocking out at least four 28-row repeats of lace on my Topiary Wrap. That will bring me up to 10 completed repeats, which means there are 8 more to go before I get to the cast-off side ribbing. This thing is going to be gigantic. I also plan on swatching some of my new Tosh Vintage--there's a new cowl design in my sketchbook and want to see how the speckles look in the stitch pattern. 

Here's a little #knitspiration to get your weekend started:

No. 1 :: I've been wanting to knit Gudrun's Fidra Hat for some time now, and I think pairing the pattern with The Fibre Co.'s Arranmore yarn in Finian might result in the perfect October hat, don't you?

No. 2 :: Hunter Ammersen just released her second collection of shawls in her new book, Curls 2. There are 14 patterns total, all in the most gorgeous stitch combinations. Check out the individual designs here

No. 3 :: This time of year puts me in an organizing mood, and these wool Twig & Horn notions pouches, with their cotton muslin lining and bison leather pulls, are a little fancier than the old chocolate tin I'm currently using. Bonus: these would make excellent back-to-school pencil holders. 

No. 4 :: Since I primarily knit with circulars now, my straight needles have all but strangely disappeared. These artisan knitting needles might convince me to start growing my collection again! Hand-carved out of reclaimed apple wood branches, these beauties would look so pretty displayed in a ceramic vase, wouldn't they?

Hope your weekend's filled with lots of coffee and wool....

Photos courtesy of: Kelbourne Woolens, Pantsville Press, Quince & Co., Never Not Knitting

 

test knitting

swans island washable organic merino

I'm pretty excited to be a part of the test knit team for Alicia Plummer's new hat design! The pattern called for a DK weight yarn, so I knew right away that I wanted to try Swans Island Washable Wool Collection. Hand-dyed in small batches in Maine, this 100% organic merino wool is completely machine washable. Unlike traditional superwash yarns, which are stripped through a chemical process and coated with a plastic polymer that prevents felting in the washing machine, Swans Island coats their fibers in a certified organic compound using the Eco-Wash process. You get the ease of machine-washable wool without the guilty feeling. 

test swatch

Before my Sunday morning coffee was finished, I knocked out a small swatch in the larger needles, just to make sure I met the pattern gauge, which is 20 stitches x 24 rows = 4" in stockinette. I cast on 24 stitches, and knit the first two rows and the first/last two stitches of each row. This way, I had 20 stitches in between the garter border. Once I knit 24 rows, I finished off the swatch in a couple of garter rows. This gave me a nice, crisp measurement markers, both row and stitch-wise. Pre-blocking, my stitch gauge was spot on, however, my row gauge was a little short. Into the bath it went!

drying wool

Post soak, I lightly blocked the square to measurements:

Pattern gauge was met! The whole process took about half an hour from start to finish, which is pretty awesome considering how much time goes into knitting a piece. It makes me feel confident that the finished garment will fit just right. 

Alicia Plummer Hat

Off we go!

purl soho's classic cuffed hat

My love for the Purl Soho's Classic Cuffed Hat pattern runs deep. I've probably knit about a dozen of these over the years for friends and family members and they're always a big hit. This pattern has it all: classic styling, is quick to knit, and works well with whatever stash yarn you have available. Each Christmas, I knit up a stack of these for my nieces and nephews. Sometimes pom poms are requested, and sadly, sometimes they're not, as was the case this past holiday: 

Purl Bee's Classic Cuffed Hat

I've started using less-expensive, superwash yarn when knitting these hats for little ones and tweens. Many of the hats have been left on school busses, felted in the laundry, or just plain-old lost in the black holes that are their bedrooms. I'm looking forward to the day when I can transition them to the Shelter yarns of this world! 

The great thing about this pattern is that depending on which yarn you use, you get a completely different hat. If you knit with a traditional merino wool, you end up with a sturdy hat that is excellent for blocking out the cold winter air. When you use a softer, superwash wool, the hat becomes a little slouchier and relaxed. This time around, I selected Plymouth's Worsted Merino Superwash Wool in the Slate Blue colorway (lefthand side):

Plymouth Yarn Worsted Merino Superwash

This hat is a gift for my Aunt, who is going through chemo; I wanted something that's not only super-soft against the skin, but is also easy to take care of. The fine merino worked up into the slouchiest of all the classic cuffed hats I've knit, so I might go down a needle size for both the cuff and the body next time. (Again-must. start watching.) The Plymouth Superwash is a round, bouncy yarn with a beautiful luminosity and drape. The entire time it was on my needles, I kept thinking about how perfect it would be for a baby blanket or a shawl. 

Cast on and ribbed edge

The pattern suggests using a long-tail tubular cast on, which provides a nice, stretchy edge, but the tried-and-true long-tail cast on works just fine. I've done both with equally nice results!

Purl Bee's Classic Cuffed Hat Pattern-free pattern

While I truly believe all hats are better with pom poms, I left the pom off of this one so that my Aunt can start wearing it now and not worry about feeling too "wintery". I can always send her one to fasten on once the cooler weather hits! Speaking of cooler weather, Christmas will be here before we know it—it's almost time to start requesting color selections for this year's crop of hats! 

Have a great week...

Visit Ravelry for full project details

weekend #knitspiration

What's everyone up to this weekend? My sister and I are taking a road trip up to Long Island for our cousin's bridal shower! We're excited to spend the night with our youngest sister, her husband, and our two little nephews. We're going to drink wine, eat pizza, and do a little swimming with the boys!

I can't decide what I want to knit on the car ride up...the Topiary shawl is way too complicated for car conversations, so I'm thinking about getting a head start on my Christmas knitting and casting on a new hat or cowl. Any pattern suggestions?

Whatever you're doing this weekend, I hope it involves some knitting! Here's a little #knitspiration curated from our little fiber community this week:

No. 1 :: In case you guys haven't heard (wink, wink), Brooklyn Tweed released three marled color ways into his worsted weight Shelter line this week. Shelter Marls comes in three gorgeous colorways: Narwhal (shown), Newsprint, and Caribou. For a limited time, Jared's offering a free copy of his new Mawson Hat pattern when you purchase 1 or 2 skeins of the new yarn!

No. 2 :: Pam Allen has done it again with her new Andromeda Sweater pattern. Part of Quince's new collection, Tern 2016, this lightweight, open cardigan is the perfect piece for layering over summer dresses as we head into the cooler weather. 

No. 3 :: Now that I've learned my swatch lesson, I think Twig & Horn's Square Gauge Ruler is in order. The clever square design will ensure I'm hitting both stitch and row gauge. Check out the #twigswatching hashtag on Instagramthe ruler makes swatches look like framed pieces of art!

No. 4 :: I'm about to start a new counted cross-stitch sampler, and Never Not Knitting's Ornate Sewing Scissors might be the perfect way to snip away all of those tiny threads.

Have a lovely weekend! 

Photos courtesy of Brooklyn Tweed, Quince & Co., Twig & Horn, Never Not Knitting

 

The Barnwood Hat

The Barnwood Hat Alicia Plummer
Barnwood Hat 2

Last weekend, my second attempt at the Barnwood Hat finally came off the needles. The first one that I knit was gigantic because I was too lazy to check gauge, so for this version, I went down to size 5 needles for the ribbing and size 7 for the lace pattern. This one fits much, much better! Lesson learned: always. check. gauge.

The pattern calls for the alternate cable cast on, which I've never done before. Now that I know how to do it, I don't think I'll ever do a long tail cast on a ribbed edge with a long tail cast on ever again! Wooly Wormhead has an easy-to-follow tutorial here. As per the instructions, after casting on my stitches, I worked the first row of the hat flat before joining in the round. The alternate cable cast on gives the hat a nice, stretchy, neatly-ribbed edge. It appears as if there's no cast on at all—as if the 1x1 rib simply manifested. Clever. 

IMG_3281.jpg
The Fibre Co. Acadia Yarn

The hat is knit in The Fibre Co.'s Acadia yarn in the Mountain Ash colorway. The fiber's a soft, drapey, DK-weight blend of merino wool, alpaca, and silk. I'm so in love with this yarn. It would be absolutely gorgeous knit into a classic crewneck sweater. The silk noil (the short fiber left over from combing wool or spinning silk) gives the yarn a slight tweed effect, adding to the rustic feel of the hat. It ever-so-slightly camouflages the leaf pattern until the hat is worn. 

knitted lace hat
knit lace hat

It's still a teeny-bit slouchy, but I think that's because my noggin's a bit small at 21". If I were to knit this for myself, I'd probably cast on for the teen version. I'm excited to pack this one up and send it out to someone very special this week!

Visit Ravelry for full project details

Beautyberry blanket

Purl Soho Beautyberry Blanket
Purl Soho Beautyberry Blanket 2
Purl Soho Beautyberry Blanket 3
 (Left side of photo shows the 'right side' of pattern) 
Purl Soho Beautyberry Blanket 5
Purl Soho Beautyberry Blanket - marine
Purl Soho Beautyberry Blanket 6

This chunky beauty is for my niece, age 13. Whenever she visits the house, she heads straight for the couch and my hand-knit Montauk blanket. She's been asking for a blanket of her own for months now, and the minute I saw Purl Soho's Beautyberry Blanket pattern, I knew it was the one for her. 

I really wanted to use the Gentle Giant that the pattern called for, but at $418 for the throw size, it was just a teeny bit out of my budget. After a little research, I decided on Knit Picks Tuff Puff, a lovely super bulky alternative that worked out to a very reasonable $71. 

The Tuff Puff yarn is super soft and a delight to knit with—it almost reminds me of sturdy roving. I originally started out pairing the White (color A) with the Marina (color B), a beautiful peacock green/blue. However, after knitting a few rows, I decided to swap it out with Silver—partly because I'm a neutrals kind-of-gal, but also because teenage girls' tastes quickly change and I wanted to knit something that would transition with her well I nto adulthood. (The Marina has now been set aside for this gorgeous cowl.) 

The pattern is pretty spectacular... The front side has a beautiful honeycomb effect, the creamy white stitches framing the silver yarn in tidy, geometric outlines. The stitch pattern combined with the large gauge of the yarn resulted in a warm, lofty knit that's perfect for midday nap sessions.  

Things got a little tricky when it came to picking up and knitting stitches for the attached i-cord border. I wish I had used a lighter hand when knitting the i-cord, as the edges of the blanket curled in a little bit once the ends were grafted. After a bit of gentle hand blocking, this seemed to resolve itself. 

Even though I calculated 13 skeins of white and 9 skeins of silver for yardage, I only ended up using 10 and 6 skeins, respectively. When joining new balls, I did a simple wet felt join, which eliminated the need to weave in all of those pesky ends. The yarn does develop a soft halo after extensive handling, but I think that just adds to the charm of the finished knit. 

Overall, this is a showstopper of a piece and I couldn’t be more thrilled!

Full project details on Ravelry

Weekend #knitspiration

Hello, weekend! Do you ever have one of those work weeks where all of the small things keep piling on top of each other, keeping the real work from getting done? That's what this week felt like to me. Luckily, I have a rocking chair and knitting basket in my office, so I made a conscious effort to step away from the constant emails, office visits, and meetings and just sit and knit for half an hour each day. This mid-day fiber break really helped to clear my mind and refocus my energy, which definitely improved my afternoon productivity. I think I'll make this a daily practice...

What about you? What do you do during the week to stay sane?

To get you out of the workweek mindset, here's a little weekend #knitspiration:

No. 1 :: Twig and Horn Wood Yarn Bowls | These Maine-crafted yarn bowls are perfect for keeping your precious balls of wool from rolling off of rickety lakeside docks this summer. Available in Maple and Red Oak. 

No. 2 :: Purl Soho's Close Knit Washcloths | This is the perfect sitting-by-the-bonfire knitting pattern. Knit in Purl Soho's newest yarn, Cotton Pure, an unmercerized Pima cotton that comes in 43 gorgeous colors. Their carefully-curated yarn bundles provide enough yardage for nine washcloths! Bonus: you'll have something to wash your face with before tucking yourself into bed!

No. 3 :: Bailey Island Mitts Pattern by Kirsten Kapur | Knit with Swans Island light fingering-weight merino on teeny-tiny size 2 double pointed needles, these cabled beauties will be a welcome treat once the cool autumn days finally arrive...

Have a lovely weekend, everyone!   

p.s. Here's a New York Times article on the health benefits of knitting

Weekend #knitspiration

What's everyone up to this weekend? The hubby and I just got back from a nice long vacation not too long ago, so we're looking forward to spending a couple of nice, quiet weekends at home. I'm going to block my two hats and get back to work on my Topiary wrap. What about you? What's on your needles?

Here are a few things to get your weekend #knitspiration started:

No. 1 :: Never Not Knitting's Botanical Gift Set | A gorgeous kit of notions, including acorn snips and the cutest little pinecone stitch markers! Comes with a signed book of your choice. 

No. 2 :: Quince & Co. Kestrel Yarn in Urchin | There's something about this time of year that makes me want to reach for light, drapey linen, and this Urchin color way reminds me of the ocean. 

No. 3 :: Nouri Sweater Pattern | Pom Pom Quarterly, Issue 17: Summer 2016 was recently released, and Carol Feller's Nouri sweater looks like the perfect cover-up for nights spent near the water.

Hope you have a good one!