Satuday Review: Knitting Socks With Handpainted Yarn

November 21, 2009

Knitting Socks with Handpainted Yarn edited by Carol J. Sulcoski

As soon as I heard of this book it caught my eye. At the time I had been going through different sock patterns tired of finding great patterns that were terrible for multi-colored yarn. It seemed as if the only pattern made for a truly variegated yarn was the Jaywalker, and you can only make that one so many times before going stark raving mad. This book of 21 sock patterns by 17 designers offers quite a few ways of dealing with multicolored yarns.

The pattern selection is great, going from simple and short like the Zigzag lace anklets by Pam Grushkin to a complicated intarsia construction like the Spread Spectrum socks by Kristi Schueler.

There is also 18 pages of instruction in the front, covering everything from needle sizes to color theory and 7 pages of knitting instructions and tips which are always great when a book has more complicated patterns in it. (We’re not supposed to remember the correct way to do everything, now are we?)

There is also a clever way of sorting the patterns, putting different icons for “Nearly Solid,” “Muted Multi,”  and “Wild Multi” I do have to say that I wish “Nearly Solid” wasn’t an option in this book though. I can go to any other pattern book for socks that work with that type of yarn. Also, the icons themselves were hard to tell the difference between. They were blue circles with swirls, either white, medium blue or light blue. It is not easy to tell the difference between medium blue and light blue and if you’re going by icons, there is a lot of flipping back and forth to see which is the darker blue swirl.

I also have to congratulate the designers and especially the editor on the choice of sock yarns.  There was a great selection and some of it was from the not-so big companies. It’s another great way to see knit samples of the same yarns that I love to window shop.

<- I especially loved the “Marie Antionette” colorway from Black Bunny Fibers- point of interest; Carol Sulcoski, the editor is also the owner of Black Bunny Fibers.

All in all the book has a lot to recommend it, and a collection of really talented

My rating: A great concept and some very good designs, but not all of them were really made for handpainted yarn, and the icon classification system is hard to figure out.

Weekend Deals, Steals & GIveaways

November 21, 2009

Fiber Artist Friday Part 2: Interview with Ray Whiting

November 20, 2009

Here is my Q&A with Ray. He is a great guy with an excellent sense of humor and I was very happy to get a chance to ask him some questions.

I want to correct another point – originally on the post this morning I had a typo saying that you had to buy 12 skeins to get into the stashbuster stocking contest, when I meant 2. I just wanted to reiterate in case of any  confusion.

With no further ado; the question:

1.)What is your favorite part about running Knitivity?

Dealing directly with customers/end-users of my product; the ability to customize each skein if a customer wants “a little more of this” or “a little less of that” from my regular line-up, as well as a completely custom job from photographs.  I’ve done yarns to match several beloved pets for people, and recently worked from a photo of a customer when she was little, shown with her grandfather — she wanted his shirt color, her dress, his eyes, and the color of the ice cream they were sharing.

I also enjoy the flexibility of being a small operation, so I can adjust to my customers’ needs more readily than a large mill that has to make large production runs.

2.)Can you tell me about the charity work that you do?

I don’t have a specific charity focus, per se, but when I hear of a particular need, I’ll announce it (like the Bundle Up New Orleans project immediately after Katrina, or sending socks to Greensburg  after their big tornado).  And if any of my customers are doing charity knitting/crocheting, and let me know when they order any of the mill solids, they’ll get a bundle discount.  And, if a group is doing a “love blanket” or something, they can all order their individual colors and get a discount, ensuring all the yarns in a project are of similar weight/gauge for a uniform group project.

3.)How can others get involved?

Let me know of specific needs.   I try to avoid focused political and/or religious fund-raisers, of course, because everyone has their own views, but generic social service projects (“Aunt Millie’s house burned down and they need blankets and socks” for example), I can put the word out to others.  When there are larger needs, like after a natural disaster affecting many people, I try to find out who the local contacts in an area of need and direct people to send their charity knits straight to that area.  It’s always much easier to partner with local agencies or charity drives already in place, rather than re-invent the wheel.  Many American-based charities prefer acrylic-knit goods, but I don’t sell acrylic yarns, so my products aren’t suited for most of the big on-going charities.  And groups like Red Cross prefer simply to get money now.   So I stick with encouraging smaller projects.

4.)I know you relocated after Hurricane Katrina, so… how do you like Houston?

It’s bigger than when I left in 1983.  I came here specifically because all my children and grandchildren are here.  Were it not for them I would have picked a smaller city where I could get around.  Houston is fine, of course, but where I live keeps me out of easy access to other knitters and other activities — no easy bus service into town, etc. (I don’t drive).

5.)How do you create your colorways? Do you plan it out ahead of time, pull out the dye and see where that takes you, or is it an entirely different process?

Sometimes I’ll aim for a particular result (like my colorways derived from the Astronomy Picture of the Day photos, or the custom jobs from customers); other times I’ll throw dye at a yarn and see what happens.

6.)I love the names of your colors, do you plan them beforehand or do you look at the finished product and name it accordingly?

As with #5 above, sometimes it is deliberate (like when I wanted Candy Corn, or the Barista Collection), and other times a yarn names itself afterward, such as the Doberman — that was a total accident when a kettle of black was insufficient for all the yarn and it bled out to produce a tan edging, it reminded me of the coloring on a Doberman Pincer.

7.)You sell Dura-lace, certainly the only superwash lace yarn to my knowledge; do you knit a lot of lace?

I don’t personally knit much lace (clumsy fingers, poor eyes), but many of my customers do.   I wanted to find a North American-made laceweight, instead of using imports, so I asked my mill that supplies all my other yarns to develop a laceweight.  So they did, and the rest is history.   Since I’ve had success with it, the mill will be taking it public in their line-up next year, but until June I have it exclusively.

Re: North American yarns:  I’m not strongly “anti” import yarns, and many of them are lovely.   But my personal goal, as an independent artist myself, is to support the North American / USA wool market, and I work with a mill that uses almost entirely North American raised wool, and they do their own spinning and dyeing here in the States.  It helps the sheep farmers, it keeps Americans working in the mill, and they supply virtually ALL my undyed yarns now.

8.)What caused you to request superwash lace weight in the first place?

See #7 above.  Originally it wasn’t a request specifically for superwash, but just something thinner than their fingering.  It just happened that their machines were already calibrated to spin the strands for sock yarn, so it was an easy modification to adjust it for laceweight.  But now having committed to the superwash, it is clear there is a market:  it will encourage more people to try knitting lace knowing they can just toss it into the washer if they need to.  Obviously care should be taken for any fine knits, but there’s not the worry about felting as might come with regular wool or other fibers.   And, it holds a blocking quite well, according to reports from my test knitters.

9.)What’s your favorite colorway?

The next one!    :-)   There are some that make me happier than others (and a few that I hope I never have to dye again!) but as long as people order them I will continue doing it.  And quite often a “mistake” along the way often leads to an entirely new colorway.  Like when I needed to do an “Art School” (the primary colors a small child uses in art class), and used the wrong (deeper) dyes, so it became “Art School, Sr.”, in a bolder, more mature set of colors.   And then I accidentally spilled some black on a batch of Art School, Sr., and that became “Graffiti” — it reminded me of the splash of colors one sees while driving past a graffiti-laden freeway overpass.

Fiber Artist Friday: Ray from Knitivity

November 20, 2009

Today’s Fiber artist is Ray Whiting from Knitivity.com. I hadn’t heard of Ray before Lisa suggested him for a feature, but I have since become very glad that she has. Not only is he a talented dyer who runs a great shop, but he also has had the life altering experience of living through hurricane Katrina.

He kept a journal throughout the event and it’s posted here. Warning, don’t start reading this unless you have some time on your hands. It’s not short but it is very compelling and poignant.

Knitivity itself has some very interesting features, for instance it has the only superwash lace weight yarn I’ve ever seen. (And now that I’ve seen, I seem to have developed a burning desire to own- such is the life of a yarn addict.) He dyes all of his yarns in really intriguing colorways; everything from Dirty Mechanic to Cats Paw Nebula. He also dyes to match artwork and photographs. You have to see the results – amazing!

Another feature that I haven’t seen before Knitivity is Dicey Knitting which is basically implementing special dice instead of a pattern. This sounds like it could be a lot of fun, but you have to be committed to it. I’m a control freak so it would take a lot of effort for me to just sit back and let the dice tell me what to do, but you know, I think I would enjoy the process.

Ray also supports local charity, and if you have a local charity you knit (or crochet) for and you are wondering if you could get a discount or bulk deal on some of your supplies, check back later on, because there are details during the interview.

Now to finish off the summary of this great guy and his lovely store, what kind of shopper would I be if I didn’t share some of the deals??

I really enjoy this stocking, it just looks like so much fun! Ray knit this stocking personally and is giving it away. To win the contest all you have to do is either buy 2 skeins of sock or lace *or* $50 worth of stuff.

The reason you only have to buy 2 skeins of sock or lace yarn, is that the 2 will no longer put you over the $50 mark because they’ve been discounted $3!

And… if you buy a skein or more of “Dura-lace yarn” (that’s the superwash laceweight I was talking about before) you can get the pattern for the Limberlost Trails Shawl free!

P.S Remember to check us out at 6pm when I have a Q&A with Ray himself!

Twitter Thursday (Times 2)

November 19, 2009

NASA_Astronauts

RT @depptla: A bit blurry, but one of the cupcakes I made for @Astro_Nicole‘s bday, as promised! (@NASA_Astronauts) http://pic.gd/9e1692

Which just proves 2 things, 1. That creatives and astronauts get along quite well, and 2. Astronauts love twitter (well I can’t really say that this proves it, but following both NASA and NASA_Astronauts on twitter will certainly prove it)

Speaking of astronauts, I was thinking of making a shuttle-styled wine bottle bag to gift some family members much more aeronautically inclined than myself. What do you think?

and…

poppytalk

a new zine that I’ve just fallen for called, “At Your Leisure”. created by @happymundane – see sneak peek here – http://tinyurl.com/ykfg8sk

It looks very nice. Definitely the type of thing I would want to pick up when looking for inspiration.

Ornaments, Organization, and etsy

November 19, 2009

Okay, so I’ve been spending all my time gearing up for the holidays both in the “what the heck am I going to get everyone?” sense and in the etsy shop/ keeping the blog interesting sense. In creating ornament patterns to post, I’ve created 2, maybe 3 crochet patterns (I’m not quite done with the last one) and 1 knitting pattern, only it’s more of a door-hanger size than a tree ornament. I do have an idea for another knitted ornament but I have to say that I’m running out of creative ones. I hope, when the time comes to post that I’ll have just as many knit ornament patterns as I’ll have crochet ones, but at this stage I’m not making any promises.

I just posted a couple new things on my etsy store; namely single month listings of December’s crochet and knitting not-just-sock clubs. I will be posting these regularly from now on, but of course I won’t be posting the new month’s color until after the 15th when the contest is done.

Now my next big task: cleaning my craft space. Ugh. But organization does help the creative process. (At least, I really hope so!) Wish me luck, because I’ll need it.

Yet another quick announcement: Ray from Knitivity is going to be my featured fiber artist this Friday. He has a very interesting history, and an absolutely lovely shop. You definitely want to check it out. I just wanted to say a quick thank you to Lisa, who nominated Ray during the giveaway.

Web of Yarn Wednesday: NaughtyKnitterz.com

November 18, 2009

Before I go into this, I want to apologize for missing a couple of days. You never realize how far down a bad cold can bring you until it happens. Now that I have some of my energy back though, I return you to your regularly scheduled programming.

www.NaughyKnitterz.com is a site I came across only recently. It has beginner and advanced knitting tips, a “Happy Hookers” section with crochet tips, and even articles on different yarns, and everyone’s favorite: free patterns!

The patterns and articles can be submitted by anyone, so please, share your pearls of wisdom with the world. (I spend way too much time knitting – I almost spelled it ‘purls.’)

 

Weekday Deals, Steals & Giveaways

November 17, 2009
  • Darcy’s Knotty Knitter is hosting a giveaway for a MAD Creations bag and wallet. I don’t know about you, but I am sure entering!
  • www.klymyshyndesign.etsy.com has patterns on sale for $2-$4 until Christmas
  • www.Turtlepurl.etsy.com is also hosting a sale until christmas, but she is offering 10% off every purchase, and if the order is over $35 then you either get free shipping or free ChartEze (those magnetic strip dealies.)
  • www.lesleyluu.etsy.com has 40% off her entire shop!
  • www.BirdsNestYarns.etsy.com is offering free shipping on the first 10 sales.
  • Dyelectable Yarns is offering free shipping today only
  • www.TheFiberFix.com is offering Malabrigo Sock, Silky and Worsted at 15% off. It’s almost all gone (no wonder!)
  • www.RomneyRidgeFarm.com has a deal, if you buy one of their 2010 calendars (which are of course, filled with fibery friends) you are immediately entered to win 6 skeins of handdyed yarn, knitting needles and a 2nd calendar. You also automatically get a $5 coupon for black friday
  • www.OzeYarn.com is closing down (how sad!) but due to this unfortunate event, we can get great deals on their stock. Be sure to check them out!

The Winner!!

November 16, 2009

As I said, the might Google defeated me and the answer is, as so many of you said, The Sign of Four. The “Rebellion of ’57″ came from that book, and when examining Watson’s poketwatch as a test of his skills of observation, Holmes spoke about the habits of pawnbrokers in England. Here’s the sneak preview of the colorway:

 

 

 

 

 

The winner is: Sara

Congratulations! For those who didn’t win, don’t worry, this is going to be an ongoing giveaway, though there will be 2 changes. First, that the clues will be a little less obvious, and hopefully a lot more fun, and secondly that since this will be a monthy contest (running from the 1st to the 15th of each month) the giveaways will only be for 1 month of the subscription.

It’s in the Bag Review (Day 1 of Blog Tour!)

November 16, 2009

Cover

It’s in the Bag: Knitting Projects to Take & Make edited by: Kara Gott Warner

If you haven’t seen it yet, check out her interview.

When I first had the chance to review this book, I jumped at it. It looked really interesting. I have to say however, that this is one of those books that gets better and better the closer look you take.

With 60 patterns in five categories, there really is something in this book for everyone. The 10 pages of information including knitting basics, crochet basics, embroidery and all abbreviations make this a perfect book for a beginner. I could easily see taking this book, and going from a basic understanding of knit and purl and launching into cables, lace knitting and colorwork.

Another thing that makes this book great for the new-to-knitting is the easy and accesible way the patterns are laid out. The pages themselves feel rather inviting, with large, easy to read fonts and the occasional tip or personal anecdote to ease your knitting journey.

Please don’t make it out that this book is just for beginners though. I consider myself a fair to middling knitter and I found tons of patterns in here that I couldn’t wait to cast on. Here are a few that caught my eye.

There are accesories like the Luxurious Lace Collar:LuxuriousLaceCollar

(click any of the pics to enlarge)

Wouldn’t this make a great gift? It’s quick but super-stylish! As soon as I saw this one, it went on my ‘to-gift’ list. The best part is that it’s easily small enough to take around with you. (You can gift the results to whoever admires your project the most!) I may have to buy the gorgeous Lantern Moon Bag that is featured with this pattern, though.

 

There are also great wearables like the “Sleek, Stylish, Sleeveless Shirt” SleekStylishSleevelessTop Now, you all know how much I love alliteration, so I couldn’t help but love this shirt. However the best thing about this shirt is that the shaping at the waist is done with ribbing. So you can cast on the stitches, work the stitch type as directed and continue on to the top. Honestly. There is no decreasing or anything. Isn’t that exactly what you want from a portable project, no need to tote instructions? 

 

Speaking of wearFrillyPrillyPonchoables, don’t you just love this sweater for our furry friends? Despite the name this “Frilly Prilly Poncho” is elegant and dignified for either a girl or boy and is a great idea for keeping the less fluffy warm all winter long. (Hey, it works for us humans, right?)

 

 

NauticalStripesOnesieHat

Doesn’t this picture just make you purse your lips and say “awwww…”? The Nautical Stripes Onesie & Sunhat  is probably the cutest thing you can make for the little man in your life. Just beware, if you take this pattern around with you, there is a good chance you will be mobbed with requests as those with their own little guy add this to their christmas list.

 

LacedUpCablesAfghan

Out of all the great patterns in the “Home Adornments” section this particular one caught my eye because of its unique construction. The “Laced-Up Cables Afghan” is exactly what its name implies. You first create the cable panels, then lace them together using a crocheted chain (for those who haven’t done this before, it’s really simple trust me- plus you don’t even need to use a hook) This is a great way to take the sting out of knitting a blanket, and bonus, the panels will be quite easy to tote around with you, which an entire blanket wouldn’t be.

LacyALineBabyDress

I know I already featured one baby look, but I had to recommend a pattern like this to any beginning lace knitters. I know that common knowledge is that “feather and fan” patterns are the ‘thing’ for new lace knitters, but if that has left you hopelessly frustrated try this one instead. This lace pattern is extremely easy and easy to see, and isn’t this dress just absolutely adorable? (Besides, all my friends seem to be having girls this year so this dress definitely caught my eye. Now I need one of them to have a boy so I can make the onesie too!)

Has your interest been perked yet? If so make sure that you check out Kat Coyle’s blog- www.katcoyle.com/blog/. Kat will spend some time with Laura Nelkin discussing her Andrea Beaded Cuffs. Also- Don’t miss Laura’s beading tutorial at Nelkin Designs.

My rating you ask? 5-BOY A perfect score, what else could I give to a book this good?


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