Saturday, November 21, 2009

Meet My New Friends

Get ready for some beautiful yarn shots, brought to you by me and Butternut Woolens, Shelly Whitman's yarn line. I first found out about Butternut Woolens in summer of 2007 and finally got to meet Shelly at Madrona in February 2008 where she had a booth selling her yarns. At the time, she had a farm in Oregon and grew her own sheep and rabbits, having the fiber spun into yarn and dying it herself. At Madrona, I had the good favor of purchasing three little batches of her various yarns. The rest of that year got pretty crazy for me so some chunks of time actually got blanked out (another story for another day)--so much so that in the meantime, Shelly had a complete change of events that led her to give up her farm and her business, move to Montana, and oh happy day for those of us who love what she does, re-open her business. Yes, Shelly is up and running again and you can buy her gorgeous yarns! Let me just show you some of the fun I've been having with them.
First of all, I used a hank of her Homegrown worsted in Beargrass to make a mini version of my Cabled Tam (Vogue Knitting Holiday 2008). Then I whipped up a sample for my new Fundamental Watch Cap with the same yarn in her Many Glacier colorway. Then on the needles you see I have started a free-form long-cuff glove with some of Shelly's Blue-Faced Leicester 4-ply sock weight in Fox Ears. I enjoyed every stitch of this. Beautiful, rich colors and excellent quality yarn.

Here's a basket of the Homegrown awaiting a Fair Isle felting project.

And another batch of Homegrown already caked up and ready to make a cardigan I have planned just for this. I know you love the colors as much as I do!
The last thing I want to show you, though, is unfortunately something you can't get anymore. I know it's cruel, but such is life! I have been hanging onto a couple of skeins of Shelly's precious Meadowspun Rabbit in Prairieaster that I bought from her back in 2008. When I found out that she had closed her business and might not be producing any more yarn, I couldn't think of anything special enough to make with that yarn. Boy, was I overjoyed when she got back running again. That meant I could make these.

Grace Note Mitts made with Meadowspun Rabbit 2-ply fingering (85% angora/15% merino) on size 3 needles.

Go and visit Shelly. You won't be able to resist. And if enough of us buy her yarn she will be able to build another bunny building for some bunnies and make more of this lovely yarn. I won't even try to describe it. Just ask me next time you see me, because I'll probably have these mitts with me showing them off. See ya then!

Monday, November 16, 2009

I'm a Blockhead

No, not a self-derogatory remark on my part--it's just the truth. I am crazy for blocking my yarny makings. Many patient souls have had to listen to me go on and on about how they should block their knits and crochets. As a result of this fixation of mine, I have amassed quite a few blocking tools over the years. I thought it would be fun to have a look at them.

Our first is an assortment of blocking tools. From left, you see my artist's model hands obtained from Dick Blick Art Materials a couple of years ago. I bought them not only to block gloves and mitts but to take photos when I had no live model around. They are perched atop one of my plastic sock blockers. Behind them is a trio of single wooden sock blockers that I bought from The Loopy Ewe last year. As I've blogged about before, I love it that Sheri lets you buy one sock blocker at a time. I knit socks one at a time, mind you, because I like to focus. Therefore, I only need to block one sock at a time! The glass head from Pier One is great for blocking hats, and I have the requisite plastic ever-pointy foot model (given to me by the ever-generous Sonya at Yorkshire Yarns) for the occasional sock block and/or photo session. Behind it all is my latest blocking tool find, the Knitter's Block by Coco Knits. This is a really fun tool. Joyce at A Good Yarn Shop in Port Orchard let me buy her display model. Thanks, Joyce! I plan to have a lot of fun with it. Like this...


After reading about and eying longingly at wooly boards for a couple of years, I finally came off the bucks and ordered one from Halcyon earlier this year. I was immediately intrigued but also a little disappointed that the thing had such a small range of sizing. Next came Brian (of Terri & Brian) to the rescue. He used his drill press to fix me up with more holes in the wooly board parts so that I could block little sweaters-in-the-round with it. Here it is up in the office landing, newly holed and wearing my latest Raibeart sample . The wooly board is a puzzling challenge to assemble, but will come in really handy for all the ITR sweaters I make--maybe even that Fair Isle one I am trying to get up the gumption to tackle.

Back in August, I had great help from Natalie (daughter-in-residence) in making my very own blocking board. We went to Lowe's, bought a piece of plywood, and had the guy cut it down into a couple of pieces for us. Then we went to JoAnn and got a two-yard piece of checkered fabric and to Hancock for some padding for making crib bumper pads. I wanted to be able to piece them together just right. Armed with a staple gun and glue gun (crafty artillary!) we put it all together to make a pretty cool blocking friend. I tell ya, I love this thing! It perfectly fits our little dining table and easily moves to the bed or to the floor if need be.
The last tool I'll introduce is the set of blocking wires that I bought at The Yarn Stash in Burien last winter. I finally tried them out on a sample of my Fern Lace Scarf made with the long-defunct kid-n-ewe. I can't wait to use these wires on expansive lace projects (on the needles as we speak) and even for sweaters. They make it easier to get your edges long and even.
Another fast friend of mine that you can see in this picture is the humble T-pin. I used to use regular plastic round-headed ones, but I find myself going for these guys all the time now. I have a couple of different sizes of them for fitting to the particular blocking project.
There you have just a glimpse into my blocking obsession. While not a blocking tutorial, I hope I have at least introduced you to a couple of tools you might like to try so that maybe, maybe you might want to give blocking a go. I promise you'll like the result much better than having all those wadded-up, wrinkly knits around.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Bellingham

Fred and I got to take a little trip north this past weekend to Bellingham, thanks to Andrew and Andrea Evans of Apple Yarns. They have a beautiful yarn shop in the Barkley Village shopping district. I taught Cableology I and II on Saturday, and on Sunday a little group of us convened for my Cableology III, which is a designer class. First, I'll apologize to Andrew, Travis, Bell, Bridgette, Kathie, Linda, and Amy (Andrea and Andrew's daughter) for not having a picture here to show you off! I was so busy jabbering at you about cable knitting that I forgot to snap your picture. You were a lovely group! (Back to your cable knitting, folks!)

By Saturday afternoon, however, I was calmed down enough to get all of these folks in the intermediate cables class! First, to your left you see Becky, obviously heavily focused on her project. To her left there's Andrea of the many hats, and then Sarah holding her knitting aloft.

Here we have Sarah again and then Hilary and then unnamed new cable knitter who came in a bit late and did not sign my list (sorry, sweets--please let me know who you are!) Speaking of that, if any of you are reading and I get your name wrong, well, excuse my memory and I'll excuse the crazy way you filled in the sign-up sheet! It was bouncing all over the table! This was one wild and crazy bunch, I'll tell ya. We had too much fun. Really.


On around the table we have Francine, Kim, and Margie. Yes, that's a quote on the wall from Clara Parkes' The Knitter's Book of Yarn. When I saw that, I knew I was in the right place.

Sunday morning we had the advanced cables group--the ones who are ready to design their own cable hat. And boy did they! These accomplished knitters came up with five very different takes on the cable hat. I can't wait to see their results! In the picture above you see DeeDee and Hilary knitting and looking through references.

Here you see Claudia and Francine starting work on their own designs. Yes, Hilary and Francine came back after a good night's sleep and joined in for more fun! Brave souls.

And here's Francine again with Miriam, who was designing a cable toque. Boy, are they concentrating!

After class Sunday Fred and I went downtown for lunch at Boundary Bay (yum!) and then for a drive down Chuckanut Drive. Here's Fred enjoying the scenery.

See?

And here's Margie signing us off (don't ask me how this picture got taken, but it perfectly illustrates the mood Saturday afternoon). It looks like she's saying, "Come on up to Bellingham and hang out and knit with us--it's sure to be a blast!"

Thanks to everyone at Apple Yarns for a really good knittin' time!

Monday, November 09, 2009

Tartans!


A couple of weeks ago we were privileged to be hosted by Yorkshire Yarns in Lakewood, WA, for a fashion show of the Figheadh designs. Look who joined us for the festivities! This is Mr. & Mrs. John & Ann Martin of Tacoma. Aren't they simply lovely in their family tartans? You can't hear it, but there is bagpipe music playing in the background and you can't taste it but we were drinking Scottish Breakfast tea and snacking on shortbread and scones. I wish you could get the whole picture! It was a blast.


Ireland was represented too, as you can see by Mr. McGaughey, who wore his utility kilt for us! If you think I was in hog heaven, then just multiply that by about ten. Too much fun. (No, I'm not doing a dance--I'm just giddily showing off the kilted guys. Yes, that's my daughter Natalie over to the right. She got roped into modeling and helping me lug stuff around. Thanks Nat!)

I was feeling my oats so much that I coerced this lovely group to model some of my new Fundamental Watch Caps. Don't they just look thrilled as can be? (Not so much) but they proceeded to stand around and be photographed for a good five minutes or so. Thanks to you all!

Last but not least, here is a great picture taken by Kelli of our two smallest models
wearing Declan and Raibeart and a couple of our hat designs. Cute!
We had a very fun and cozy evening as the YY Monday night knitting group knit and watched our little impromptu fashion display. Thanks so much to Mr. & Mrs. Martin and Mr. & Mrs. McGaughey for coming to add the kilt flair (and to model), and to Kerlina for bringing your little ones to show off our kid knits. I hope you had a good time, because we did!