Wednesday, February 03, 2016

random knits, banging out a sweater

This is Meltwater  from Elizabeth Elliott Knits, just brand new released today on Ravelry from that link. One of four stunning designs I shot for her last month--others releasing in the weeks to come. If you are looking for a quick happy-making bulky knit and aren't feverishly Banging out a Sweater, this is the what you need to get on the needles right now. 

Speaking of random,  I am astounded by the assortment that accumulates on my kitchen table each day. I am a natural clutterer. It's cleared after breakfast and by 4 pm...not clear. Recently: the teal indigo mass on the left is now a blocked but not yet fringed shawl. The mug on the right is my new favorite item--a gift from my sister who was in South Africa last summer.The rest is typical. Stuff. 
And speaking of the sweater banging-- my Frank Stella inspired Stopover is coming along nicely.   I got most of a sleeve done on the train in and out of NYC yesterday. I forced myself to knit continental on  it while riding south yesterday morning,  which neatly does the trick of slowing the pace.  I look at my fingers and think "can't you do that move faster?".  Nope.
Why would I do that, purposefully knit slower,you ask?  I didn't want to cruise ahead and leave myself knitless on the last hour of the 2 hour ride home at night. The plan was perfect, except of course I dozed off and now have 2 inches left to go. Oh wait? It's not a race???? 

Anyway, I can't wait to join the three pieces and start the yoke party.  If you follow me on Instagram (I am galezucker there) you will no doubt see it soon-ish.

Monday, January 25, 2016

my delightful lopi yarn source

If you're joining in the MasonDixon Knitting BangOut a Sweater KAL -aka the Stopover KAL  LopapeysaLooza--whatever you're calling it ---you'll love my yarn shopping tip.
Let me preface this.  1) the words "yarn shopping tip" do not roll easily off my fingertips and 2) I love my LYS.I always try to Shop Local. My local clubhouse , Knit New Haven*, does not carrry Lopi. Nor does the yarn shop at the other end of town, The Yarn Basket,  nor my 3rd closest, the artsy and fun to shop at Madison Wool.  So, last month, when I decided to satisfy  my colorwork jones described here with Mary Jane Mucklestone's Stopover, I hit the internet.

I'd seen this Frank Stella piece,  in Kay Gardiner Herself's IG feed in late November.  In an uncharacteristically decisive move, I declared it my Stopover colorway. Or as Kay calls it, my #Stellover.   (always with the great hashtags, that one)

Looking online I had  trouble finding just the right colors in any one shop. I landed on a new-to-me yarn source, Nordic Store and gleefully saw the LettLopi price set at $ 2.49 a skein. And not just some, but ALL the colors.
WHAT?  Lopi is a bargain even at full price (usually $4.50/skein) but this was cray-zeee. I grabbed my  four colors added a fifth because why not,  I go to the shipping and WHAT THEWHAT? The 4-7 day shipping price is $21.??? Almost equal to the price of the yarn?
So. Turns out I was online shopping in Rekjavik.  But - I had the exact hues I wanted, and more, and the price was the same- or less- than ordering in the US with shipping. I hit OK and BOOM 4 days later  I had my international mail with this inside .
Yup a video, because Icelandic wool by Icelandic mail gets the full Hollywood treatment.

And also because I hit the video button on my phone by mistake.

I'm going to consider myself a KAL member anyway, even if I already cast on. Without the CC on the bottom ribbing because that's not a good place for me to have a horizontal line. If you know what I mean. I'll have a good chunk of it knit while away this coming weekend- but I bet you'll still be done before me.

* At KNH they suggested subbing Quince Osprey. Different feel but nice option. I also considered Brown Sheep Lambs Pride, my old go-to for scandanavian style sweaters. But- a knitter wants what a knitter wants and in this case, it's the real Lopi and a package from Iceland.

Friday, January 15, 2016

new year print round up; vogue knitting

When we last spoke, I was up to my elbows, wrists  in Trip Mitts. How about a bulleted catch up?
•  Work in print! As the year turned, my office filled with work shot a while back, coming home to roost in the form of books,  magazines and booklets.  I'm thrilled with the spreads-and cover--of the new Vogue Knitting. Note to self: share some of the other recently released work in future posts.  Like the adorable Finger Knitting book in the back here. And the  Faerie magazine pieces. (Don't raise that eyebrow over Faerie.  Read what The NY Times says- raves, really- about it)
• Another view inside the Vogue Knitting. I shot two stories--one on Modern Bohus knits, and one is winter whites.  Normally I'm all about the colors and contrasts but the whites one?  All about texture and avoiding color.  I like turning things upside down like that- makes me see/ think differently. Sort of like how we're supposed to brush our teeth with the opposite hand than normal every so often, to stretch our little brains.

•  If you are at Vogue Knitting Live this weekend in NYC and you happen by the Vogue Knitting booth, let them know how smashing this issue looks. It's been re-designed, looks quite wonderful and fresh. Yes, I'm biased but it's still true :-)

• And-- a  super dorky me with the cover.

• Let the record show that I am at Level 5 Handknits here: an unreleased Mary Lou Egan sweater that is drop dead easy to knit, Honey cowl with my Aristida shawl on top, L'Arbre hat and Trip Mitts.  Yes, I actually did meet my friends looking like that and we  were not at a fiber festival.  I forgot I was wearing the cowl when I added the shawl over it. That's my story.

• I'm missing Vogue Knitting Live this weekend, due to a family trip. I'm the one who scheduled it on the same dates as what is always a fun knitting party time.  I am so annoyed at myself, increasingly with each IG post and photo of friends yucking it up on Broadway. I plan to, at the very least, take advantage of car knitting time and finish a shawl. Maybe start a sweater. Who knows? Caution to the wind! Maybe more mitts. 

 If you're going to VK Live in NYC , here're my recommendations:

- Hit the Marketplace and go straight ot Jill Draper Makes Stuff . Snag some Rifton before it is gone. Love that yarn, and she has some new colorways. Also, the Dragonfly Fibers ladies will be there with their brilliant colorways. Say hi from me.

- While you're hitting the marketplace, check out the Knitty City booth and their special guests schedule. Lars Rains will be there with his new book, Modern Lopi..It's lopapeysa weather. So get on it.  Say hi from me there, too.   The same booth is also hosting Kay and Ann from Mason-Dixon knitting, with their popular coloring book. A knitting coloring book. I bet they'll sign it in crayon.  And...say hi from me.

- I'd also recommend joining Ann & Kay  of Mason Dixon Knitting on their trot through Central Park on Sunday morning. Because  this is something you can't do at any other VKLive.  Seize the day. Might be my 2016 motto.

Monday, December 28, 2015

more trip mitts and a year end knit reconciliation

It struck me that a pair of Trip Mitts would be just the thing for a gift I needed to give last week.
There aren't many patterns I feel sure I 'll finish within 2 days. Have to admit, while I was publishing and writing about the Trip Mitts pattern here, I got a jones to knit more of them, just for funs this time.  My eyes lit on a skein of handspun I've been hoarding   saving. I had me a plan.
These are knit in a springy handspun BFL wool  in a denim colorway. The construction suits the lovely handspun colors, and the fit is pretty fab. It was a frenetic few days, last week, so I cast on early in the morning, left them on the table and whenever I had a couple of minutes or was cruising by,  I knit a few rows. Poof, by the end of the evening, the first one was done. I hadn't even thought through the contrast color /yarn for the three needle bindoff finish.
I'm  pretty suggestible when it comes to color. I walked out the front door and saw these last golden leaves fallen on a row of stones on the porch railing. I have goldy yarn leftovers aplenty here. Contrast color solved!

For a hot minute, I considered joining 12 Days of Casting On.  It appeals in that throw caution to the wind, say Yes, go wild, just do it way... but I have a pretty good amount of, let's say, abandon, in my life already.  I'm turning my attention to other projects that I'm pretty psyched about: a partially finished shawl that'll be a gift, and more yarn for a second shawl I'll keep, a lopapeysa  I am twitchy to swatch, and then maybe a lopapeysa for Dave, a partially finished bulky scarf from last winter that's got some appeal again, and I'll confess, I need some new mitts with fingers 'cause you just know it really will turn into winter one of these days.  Zoe's agitating for a new sweater too, and how can I resist that? All worthy and interesting , all knitting I am looking forward to.   

But then I was contemplating the fabulous Noro Silk Garden Solo Trip Mitts that Mason Dixon Knitting Kay Gardiner whisked out...and I thought of a dear friend who I want to gift at the New Years Eve bonfire, and I thought of at least one partial skeins of Noro Sillk Garden in my tote bags of mysterious leftovers,  ...and I know I can knit these Trip Mitts in a couple days, I have I'm casting on for them last thing tonight, and probably my last cast on for 2015.

Happy New Year to all.  What're your knitting  plans as the year flips over?

Friday, December 18, 2015

trip mitts

Fingerless mitts, knit flat and joined by a 3 needle bindoff in a contrasting color.  Fun, quick, and a perfect distraction from serious pursuits. Also really excellent on a chilly day.  As soon as you complete this entertaining maneuver that is a three needle bindoff, they're done. Boom! Just like that. Trip Mitts.

Available now on Ravelry from me  5$ us 
My list of why you might like the pattern
- if you like to knit flat instead of in the round
- if you always wanted to try a 3 needle bindoff
- if you need a quick gift
- if you hate lots of finishing on a project
- if you need some travel knitting
- if you need a quick little instant gratification knit
- if your hands are cold (had to say that, right?)
- if you like rustic or simple style
- if you happen to have an odd or leftover skein of Dk (or close) yarn around (what? you don't???shutthefrontdoor!)
- if you want a distraction from those attention-needing children family cleaning deadlines knits....

The pattern includes links to written and video tutorials for 3 needle bindoff, if the technique is new to you and you'd like some backup. It's  satisfying to have this trick in your knitting arsenal.  Done on the right side, in a contrast yarn as in the case of these mitts,the three needle bindoff  leaves a neat little stripe as a graphic element that I designed to land offset on each mitt.

I like a loose fitting mitt, so I chose Anzula Oasis, a camel/silk blend that is gorgeous to touch but nicely durable. You can knit these in almost any fiber-- a plied wool will give you more spring and more fit.
And Trip Mitts go well with seawall sitting in the mist, too.

Many thanks to the lovely Sofie for modeling these, to Kirsten Kapur for her help in fine tuning the design and to Ellen Silva of Twinset for tech editing (she's a wizard).  

Hey- if you knit any of these, send me a shout when you put them up on your Ravelry project page- I LOVE seeing what knitters do with patterns. I am SheShootsSheep on Ravelry.

Friday, December 11, 2015

fr makers to makers: the gift idea list

Welcome if you've come over from other Makers to Makers Gift Lists that preceded me. Links at the end. Definitely go click on them- they beat me to many fab gift ideas.  Let's get down to business:
a skein of Dragonfly Fibers yarn in Admiral Benbow
For the Knitters & Knitters Who Stitch on Your List: Obviously a gift certificate to your LYS is always excellent, especially if you are lucky enough to have ones like Knit New Haven or The Yarnery in Minnesota or TheYarnSpot in Maryland in your backyard*. If you can't get there in person, I bet you can call over the phone, and get personal help. Or maybe, like me, your giftee admires indie yarn shops from afar, that she/he can't get to. Or, heaven forbid, you don't have a local yarn store? Why not gift someone with a virtual, yet tangible, visit?
Start with a project or tote bag from the shop of your choice, add  a couple of skeins ofyarn that's particular to the geography, toss in a notion that they'd never treat themselves to and presto changeo--excellent gift.  (Can I also say? Feel free to just take this and mail it to someone who wants to know what to get you. Right?)
A few suggestions for starters:
peeking into Fibre Space in Old Town Alexandria VA
- Fibre Space in Alexandria, VA/Washington DC metro area. Danielle does it up right. Get one of her Knitting Space Girl totes (mine is well-used). One of the delightful aspects of the shop is they have sections dedicated to local yarn companies. I'd recommend a couple of gorgeous skeins from the talented local folks at Dragonfly Fibers like the one up top on this post or others they carry.  Top it off with a pair of little fun scissors or measuring tape.

-Other side of the USA, other Washington - Tolt Yarn & Wool is on my list of LYS to visit, someday.  Until then, their holiday tote bag filled with - well, pretty much anything they sell, you can't go wrong there. Personally, I'd put in a copy of the new book they produced with Kathy Cadigan's black and white  photos, Farm to Needle, and  a Salish Toque Kit, keeping it regional and stylish.

- If your giftee is into sewing and knitting, you must order them a gift bag of goodies from Clementine in Rockland Maine. Leah's shop selection is a sewist's dream come true- flannels, knits, wools, cottons, the best notions, patterns from the indies, dry goods, trims, and when she mails things to you, they are lovingly packaged and wrapped just so. If you need an idea of what to buy, consider some of the projects on her Pinterest board and order the makings for someone crafty. (Or, make it yourself. Do you love the flannel blankets with pompom edging?) She's also the go-to purveyor of Starcroft Yarn, grown, spun and dyed by her mom, Jani Estell.  This yarn, in itself, is never ever a bad choice.

Yarn in a Box Club/Kits !
A few years back, I listed yarn CSA's and Sock Clubs to give as gifts. The Yarn and Fiber CSA's  have all but disappeared. Clubs come and go. Do not use my old lists as a resource,  I'll save you by not linking to them. But never fear, the Yarn Box Kits is here!
a little stack of items knit with Zen Yarn Garden yarns
The purveyors of stunningly dyed yarns, Zen Yarn Garden have a fabulous subscription Zen Knit Box, it's available in shawl boxes or as the blanket club. Or you could get one of each for your giftee.

Another gift series of yarn+pattern, with lots of customization options is YarnBox . Looks delish.

Buy Ready to Wear from an Indie Maker
I truly do not enjoy shopping in big stores,  I'm  better in neighborhood small shops and oooohh baby give me a souk or market with haggling and I am so there (seriously, you probably hate dickering but I totally dig it. Take me to Morocco with you and I'll show you my stuff).  The one kind of shopping I'll go for locally is Pop Up Shops or makers markets and craft shows...but sometimes the timing isn't right. Luckily, we've got online.
Two of my faves, that I shop at
 Peterson Sweater Company - Hand loomed fine gauge knits, beautifully crafted, and excellent fitting. (If you're local, Chelsea's got a pop up shop at The Haven Collective in New Haven CT this month, too).

Naturwrk shirts  I know, there are so many places for screened tshirts but these, I can personally testify,  are the very best. First off, they're illustrated and screened by hand in Nashville by an indie artist.  The quality is crazy good- soft, well made and they hold up. I'm on year 4 with mine and they haven't faded or stretched out or fallen apart at the seams.  I'm kind of loving his takeoff on the xmas sweater--and the tea towels (I already have that bee on a shirt, its a summer fave). Full disclsure, the artist behind this is a cousin, but that's just icing on the cake.

And I can't leave off
ex libris anonymous -  book journals--recycled books that are recycled/upcycled into bound blank paper journals.  I love mine so much I can't bring myself to write in them (I know, that's nuts). Shopping their etsy shop is a hoot- it's  fun to legit be judging a book by its cover ;-).

The Mason-Dixon Coloring Book - in case you've been under a rock and haven't witnessed the adult coloring book phenomena this we have one we can call our own. Lots of peeks inside on their blog, and ample linkage to purchase, too. Brilliant!

All around genius with color and design,  Kristin Nicholas has  many great gifts you could give in her online shops, from books and cards ,to embroidery kits to her colorful pottery. Don't wait too long thinking about that last one, it's all going to get snapped up as she refills her etsy shop!

Craft Activism  --Lastly, my book with Joan Tapper, in which we are all about making for a reason--whether you're knitting a group blanket like Fussy Cuts , upcycling and repurposing T-shirts into fabulous dresses with instructions by crispina ffrench, or discovering the granny square for its modern contribution to the world of fashion..and beyond. For makers who enjoy all the media, not just yarn.

Happy gifting! For more ideas, go to some of my maker friends who also participated in this chain of gift ideas, they beat me to many I would have included!
Beverly Army Williams / Po Mo Go Lightly
Mary Lou Egan / Yarnerinas
Cal Patch/ Hodge Podge Farm

* Apologies to all the other wonderful LYS I left off- just included a smattering of those I am in contact with most regularly.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

holiday greetings of all kinds

Happy Chanukah (or Hanukah, or Hannukah - you gotta love a holiday that can't be spelled wrong in English). The Festival of Lights is on, now.  We are the house that still has pumpkins on the front porch, and a hand traced turkey drawing on the front door. But step inside and it is full blown winter holiday time. It's hard to focus on All The Things, like work, and making gifts and seeing friends and playing with dreidls and exchanging gifts and lighting candles...and because this weekend we'll have a party, instead of getting up on the food prep,  I have decided to rehab and paint a tiny bathroom that's stuck in 1995. Back when stamping brass painted fish and stars all over the dark purpley-blue walls actually seemed -and looked -cool.  Anyway, come Sunday, I will fry lotsa latkes. We make up our annual per captita potato consumption all in one weekend. And it is oily and delicious.
what I am knitting this week. The L'Arbre hat on the right is finished. The indigo yarn on the left is on the needles, to be a shawl. Yes, I seem to be into that particular color--though the shawl  is a gift.
All the added activity makes my focus fragment into a zillion pieces. Yesterday, I gave myself an hour to choose words for a new years card I was designing. The imagery was no prob. Should words that take long? Yup. It took pretty much all day. I started out looking at other cards,  googling new years wishes and new years toasts and quotes on renewal and...after three many hours, there I was reading every single post on a really sappy Pinterest board. Note to self: in 2016, when you hear a thoughtful  quote, save it to use for your new years card.

Overthink much?? Probably should have gone with this:
Life is really simple but we insist on complicating it.- Confucius

Hope the rest of your week is uncomplicated! To help simplify your gift giving , you can follow this thread of Indie Gift Ideas, starting with my friend Beverly Army Williams at PoMoGo Lightly.
Wednesday (today) is Mary Lou Egan and Thursday will be  Cal Patch of Hodge Podge Farm.  I have Friday, come back and check it out!