Sunday, December 23, 2012

Knitting Spotlight 'Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale'

I have had so much fun watching Christmas movies online this holiday season. I only wish that they had the original stop-action movies that I watched as a kid on either Netflix or Hulu. Not having cable means that I can't really plunk down and continually watch Christmas reruns while knitting, but that basically means that I pick and choose which holiday specials, programs and movies I'll be watching this year.

It was one of the recommended movies on Hulu recently -- 'Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale', that caught my eye. The story of a young boy who lives in Finland's border with Russia, this story follows him and his father as they discover that Santa, whose past may be darker than the jolly version that Pietari grew up believing in. The story itself is fun, if a little bit creepy for a Christmas movie, but the best part was seeing all of the fun Finlandian knits that the main character wears! Feast your eyes on these lovely hat and mitten sets, mixed color pom poms, and yoked sweater!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Been Spinning

I got a little more spinning done over the last couple of weeks, this time with Hello Yarn 'Critter'. Being Falklands wool, it was an easy spin and extremely easy to get even throughout the singles. I love how you can always tell which fibers are Adrian's while they're on the wheel, if only because she shows so much variety within single color sections. In this little bit of orange alone there must have been 10 different shades! I feel like this really adds a depth to the yarns spun up with her fiber that sets it apart in knitted garments.

At first, I wasn't sure if I cared for how the yarn barberpoled during the plying process -- especially since I was going to have a lot of it at a fingering weight. But after finishing the first skein, which was primarily orange, and the second skein, which has more purple, I think I really adore it. I was considering making socks, but now I am re-thinking the possibility of some kind of scarf. More than likely, this will be set aside for awhile whilst I work on more pertinent projects. I have a sweater that is almost finished, and several design projects in the works. I've also been wanting to jump back into some of my old patterns and re-work to re-release a few of them with better photos, wording, and pdf files.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Future Furniture

Do any of you put together really, really advance plans for your future homes? Right now, it always feels like Andrew and I are waiting -- waiting to have a more solid living situation, a more solid income, more solid jobs. Of course, this is to be expected, since he is in the process of finishing his degree, and soon I will be finishing my own, and then we will be out in the world looking for work and a 'settled' place to be. But right now, I can't help but dream a little about that future space, in between my shifts at work and looking for a night job, digging my clean clothes out of a laundry hamper instead of a dresser, and wistfully wishing that I could upgrade Craigslist furniture, although I have no access to  space like a garage or backyard.

Apartment living is hard, sometimes -- it never feels like the space is fully your own, at least, not where we are, and the things that you'd want to change most are the most forbidden. You can't paint the walls, you can't add screens to the windows, and then drafty-ness of having a window air conditioner, which you could change just by taking the thing out in the winter time, is an uncompromising constant. We're lucky, though -- we don't have bugs, noisy neighbors, or dirty carpet. We don't have leaks coming in through our ceilings or broken windows our landlords won't fix. So I know there are many things to be thankful for.

But sometimes, you just want to dream a little, which is why I have started putting together a small collection of 'future' things -- paint swatches and pictures from magazines, Pinterest boards dedicated to future spaces. I ordered these little fabric swatches from Thrive Furniture about two months ago, and they've finally arrived, so much prettier than I thought. Andrew and I have had a good time looking through them and thinking about what colors we like best. He surprised me by pointing out a reddish, deep, eggplant as one of his favorites. Or blue, of course, since it is his most favorite of colors. I could go for that.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Book 4 Has Arrived!

I got my contributor copies of Malabrigo Book 4 in the mail a couple of days ago, and have been thumbing through them! The paper they chose for this next volume is fantastic -- thick, with a satin-matte finish and excellent color distribution. The photographer was really excellent to work with, and while there have been a few complaints about the styling, I feel generally very good about it. 

I will admit that I am a bit sad not to be doing anything right now with a company or a book. I feel most at home when I have a project, so perhaps after I finish the few smaller design projects I've been working on, it will be time to tackle something large scale again. If you know of any companies that you feel really need help on their books, please leave a comment or send me an email!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Box Step

Jubilee Boxy from the side by h.thiessen

Jubilee Boxy from the side, a photo by h.thiessen on Flickr.
Boxy on Ravelry: project, pattern, yarn

I finally finished my Boxy pullover! Knit up in fingering-weight handspun, I felt like this sweater should have taken forever, when it really only took about a month and a half. I spun the yarn, you may remember, from Two if By Hand 'Jubilee' -- the only worry I had early is that some of the skeins seemed less saturated, but in the finished garment you really can't tell at all. I love it! The Polworth wool makes it very cozy but not heavy at all.

The pattern was a little hard to follow in places, just because there are two sets of instructions -- one set is for in the round, and the other is for a seamed pullover. When you follow the seamless version, like I did, you have to do some skipping around. Other than that, the most 'challenging' part of this pattern was the cast on, which included a massive number of stitches that you had to be careful not to twist! My favorite part of this pattern was definitely blocking it. During the whole process I kept trying it on and wasn't sure I would love it -- it seemed very tent-like. But once it was finished, I steam-blocked using my iron, and it made all the difference in the world. I should have trusted my swatch more, as the finished swatch had plenty of drape.

Andrew is new to taking knitting pictures for me, but I think he did pretty well. Don't you just love the super-classy state of the building we're living in? Yes, that is two tones of peeling paint. No, they don't have any intention of sanding or refinishing the building ever.....

Friday, November 16, 2012

Blog Tour - Accessories: Autumne 2012

Lucky me! I was asked by the very talented Denise Voie de Vie to review her newest e-book collection of accessories, aptly titled Accessories: Autumne 2012. This is an absolutely lovely collection of five patterns that are perfect for the transition into cool weather and beyond.

Denise chose a lot of yarns that have rich, rustic textures, while keeping the patterns fully accessible to knitters of intermediate (or adventurous beginner) levels and budgets. Choosing yarns from Lion Brand favorites like 'Fisherman's Wool' to Brooklyn Tweed's new line of yarns including 'Shelter' and 'Loft', and pulling them into high relief with crochet , Denise expertly blends textured yarns and textured stitches.

My favorite pattern in this collection has got to be the gorgeous Piaf Scarf, named after the famous chanteuse, Edith Piaf. I can certainly imagine wrapping this luxurious, tasseled, scarf about my shoulders and striding through the streets of Paris. Perhaps someday -- for now I'll have to settle for Knoxville, Tennessee levels of glamour!

As part of her blog tour, Denise has agreed to give away a copy of her pattern Slouching Towards Tassels Cap, which is worked up in Brooklyn Tweed for the sample. While I love BT yarns, don't you think it would look equally fabulous worked up in handspun? I do too, and that's why I'm going to match Denise's generosity with some of my own, and give away a skein of handspun with this pattern! Lucky for you, I happen to have a skein of handspun Freckle Face Fibers in the colorway 'Oceanglass' for one reader of this blog (see picture below). This is 160 yards of worsted, and enough to make the worsted version of this hat. To win, just leave a comment here by the end of the year. Prizes will be announced the first week of January and shipped immediately. Please make sure you have an email address attached to your post, or you leave your Ravelry name. With my Genet Giveaways, this was a big issue, since it is hard to contact someone without any contact information!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


I've mostly just been working on my Boxy in handspun -- the handspun in the post below this one. It's very bright and making me very happy! We've been watching The Walking Dead (well, we were watching it, but now the new season is out and I have to wait another whole week before I can see the next one! I should have spaced out seasons 1 and 2 likewise so that I got used to that rhythm, Netflix has spoiled me.) I am not a horror person, nor a zombie person, but this show has me obsessively attached. I am going to begin reading the comics this week. I don't mind spoilers and apparently they've been changed from the comics drastically anyway.

In other news, the blog had another facelift -- several folks mentioned that it was a bit like reading in a cave, so I decided to go with something a bit more bright and cheery. I don't want any of you to feel like this blog is dark, dank, and full of bats. There's only one bat here, and it's me.

I've been very busy, and next week I get to go home to Iowa and fetch Thusa, so there's been much preparation for that. I also have some exciting projects coming up next month that I can't wait to share, and I'll be sure to let you know as soon as possible. In the meantime, happy knitting (and crafting, and crocheting, and whatever it is you do...)

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Product Review - Two If By Hand

So, I am in full fibery swing over here, now that it is beginning to feel like fall, and that means that I'm finally ready to dig in full force on some of the sweater lots that I spun up over the summer. One of the sweater lots was a custom order from Two if By Hand, a two-person hand-dyeing team. Maria and Ceylan have been spinning and knitting for a long while, but only begun dyeing fairly recently, and they are definitely making up for lost time. Their colorways are fantastic!

When I saw Jubilee in an update (on Polworth), I knew that I had to have some and organized a custom order with the team. It was my first Two if By Hand fiber, although the brand has been getting great press for awhile, and I was very impressed by the turnaround time and quality of fiber I received. I got my order within a month or a month and a half -- very quick for something custom made -- on the fiber requested (Polworth). I was shown some example braid photos from the dye batch to confirm that I still liked the colorway prior to payment, and was given a shipping notice when my package was sent.

Upon arrival, the braids were gorgeous! I took them out right away and took a picture. While spinning, I noticed that some of the fiber in small sections had rolled together, forming 'rings' -- I have experienced this with all level of fiber prep, I just removed these sections and kept on spinning. It was very easy to draft and I did not pre-draft the top, instead spinning it for long color repeats end to end, and then plying. I did notice that there were slight variations in saturation between braids -- this is my only complaint, but it was not enough of a difference for me to be willing to return the fiber! I simply plied the brighter braids with the slightly less saturated braids, and the results were very even.

I will definitely be buying fiber from Two if By Hand again! My Jubilee spin (which ended up being around 1800 yards), is slated to become a Boxy. Like I've said, I was really impressed with the quality of this brand. I do not buy a lot of fiber, and am very picky about the fibers that I buy regularly. It has to be very colorful to catch my eye!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Transition Weather, Transition Mittens

Ravelry: Transitional Mittens
Yarn: Hello Yarn Bristling Handspun

I could not be more excited for fall. Here in Knoxville, the fall comes in late, late October, bringing with it a fabulous change of leaves that people come from miles around to see -- it truly lights up the Smoky Mountains. Unfortunately, I have been so used to Iowa winters that I am ready for it to get chilly at night and in the morning around mid-August, so that's when I go full out on the knitting front.

It's not cold enough yet for these, but they're almost finished -- a pair of elbow-length mittens, spun with Hello Yarn 'Bristling' fiber -- that go from deep gray-blue all the way to bright mint green, kind of a reverse of the changes we're seeing in the landscape here. This fiber was pre-drafted and divided by color when I got it as a gift from a Ravelry friend, so I decided to spin it up as she'd intended. I love the results thus far. I can already imagine wearing them with my navy peacoat!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Time for an Update!

I felt like the blog needed a little re-vamp -- what do you think of the new look? I am working on a new blog project with my sister (we're hoping to start blogging in November), so this blog is going to return to just being about yarn and fiber and all things wooly! I feel like the new look really reflects that!

Over time, I hope to add a few more detail things, but I am very very slowly navigating the world of coding and images and all that, so it's taking me a little time. I felt like the blog was getting neglected again (mostly because I'm working two part-time jobs, and doing lots of things around town), and I'm hoping to reboot it!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Kickstarter Giveaway Winners!

Sorry for the delay, everyone -- I've been moving and looking to move again next month, working a new job and doing whole bunches of work on a painting series and series of knits for a local retailer. It's exciting but it's been keeping me busy!

Here are the winners from the Genet Quarterly Giveaways:

Noeud Papillion & Custom Handspun -- Pam Allen
Ninetta Neckwarmer & 3 skeins of Malabrigo Rios 'Cumpersita' -- Chloe of Knitified
Aecor Shawl & 1 skein of Anzula Squishy -- Heather Hill
Bauble Cowl & 2 skeins of Malabrigo Chunky in 'Purple Mystery' and 'Indigo' -- Autumn Holloway

Winners, please send me your address by email ( and for the winner of the handspun prize, tell me what your favorite color family is for hats! Thank you everyone for being so supportive of my project and spreading the word.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Genet Giveaway IV - Noeud Papillion & Handspun

your skein will look different, this is just an example!

I've been busy this week moving and unpacking, but the Genet Quarterly is still on my mind, and coming up to a very tight deadline. The last day to make funding is June 15th, and right now, with only about 15% of my goal met, it's seeming unlikely. I do have a few more options up my sleeve (investors, etc.) but  it would be so awesome if I could meet this Kickstarter goal!

The fourth Genet Giveaway is a skein of handspun yarn in a color palette of the winner's choice and my Noeud Papillion hat pattern (as always, to enter to win you have to spread the word about the Quarterly or donate. If you have already contributed you are already eligible to win any of the giveaways, and you can have a second entry by posting about the Genet on Twitter, hashtag #genetquarterly, or by posting about it on Facebook or your blog and then commenting here with where you posted.) Even if the Kickstarter does not go through, the blog giveaway prizes will still be issued.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Genet Giveaway III - Ninetta Neckwarmer & Malabrigo


It's another week of Genet and another week of a giveaway! This time we're giving away three skeins of Malabrigo Rios in Cumpersita (sorry, no picture yet, will try to remedy this before the end of today) and the Ninetta Neckwarmer by generous designer Nina Machlin Dayton! This neckwarmer is near and dear to my heart because it was one of the first patterns published by my pet project, The Malabrigo Freelance Project, which has continued for almost three years now (they're already done 'casting' the third year, and this one isn't even halfway over yet).

As always, if you have donated, you will be automatically entered to win this lovely set. However, even if you don't donate, you can enter to win too -- just by spreading the word about The Genet Quarterly. Hop on your Twitter or Facebook or blog and talk about The Genet (leave a comment here that says your account name, or use the hashtag #genetquarterly if your account is public), and think about joining our Ravelry group too, if you're on Ravelry (although that does not gain you an entry). If you aren't a knitter, you can enter to win a different kind of prize -- a custom designed, custom-knit hat from me! I will be putting anyone's name in this pool who donates to the Quarterly, no matter the amount (even if you do knit and win, you'll still get the prize!)

Right now we are at about 10% of our funding and have about 20 days to go to earn around $14,000. I know that seems like a huge number but I will be breaking it down on the Kickstarter today to show you all how the money plays a big part in making the magazine really awesome for you! I want this to be a success so badly. If you can help by just spreading the word around, it would mean so much to me.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Genet Quarterly Sketches

Technically sketch, not sketches yet, but here's the first sketch for the Genet Quarterly's sewing patterns. It was very difficult to come up with something solid for how I wanted to display these sketches. At first I thought I'd go very technical with them and just work them up in Illustrator, but then I decided that I liked the idea of the sketches having a little more personality, and I've redone one of them as mixed-media, cut out and photographed in front of a painting. I don't know if I'll stick to this for every issue but for the first issue it's working out all right. This dress will also be shown in a maxi length! I have also decided that the patterns will also be offered as finished, commissioned garments in the Genet Quarterly shop, so if you don't sew you can still order some of the fashion for your own use (sewn to your measurements!)

Currently the Quarterly is about 10% to our final goal, which is making me bite my nails! They say that most Kickstarters don't get full funding until about 10 days before they close, but I'm getting worried for sure. Don't forget that even if you don't donate, you can still win some awesome stuff just by spreading the word, and check out the giveaways below (and soon to be above) this post for details!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Genet Giveaway II -- Aecor Shawl & Anzula

The second week of the Kickstarter has begun, and that means you have another chance to win an awesome pattern + the yarn to make it here on the blog! All you have to do is either donate or spread the word about The Genet Quarterly! You can spread the word by posting on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog -- link me in the comments or tell me your Twitter name / Facebook name so that I can find the post. If you have donated you are already registered as an entry, and you can gain extra entries by spreading the word.


This week's pattern is the Aecor Shawl, by Mary Catherine Black. The pattern is designed for Anzula Cloud, a light fingering weight, nylon-cashmere-merino yarn that is SUPER squishy and soft. You'll win a copy of the pattern and a skein of Cloud in a gorgeous neon green color that I haven't seen anywhere else! With neons being so popular this year, you'll be ahead of the trend with a fun and funky shawl in this color.

For those of you who don't knit, I wanted to add a little extra option. If you donate to The Genet Quarterly (any amount), you are entered to win a custom-knit, custom designed hat by me! I will call you or skype you, sketch your perfect hat, and then knit it up in the colors of your choosing. All you have to do is donate to be entered to win!

Viva la Lana!

I'm in Uruguay finishing up with a photoshoot for Book 4 with Malabrigo Yarns, and we had to do some last-minute styling shopping in the mall's Zara. On our way out we noticed this awesome display by Manos del Uruguay, which, in addition to having yarn, also sells hand-knitted sweaters and such at stores all over the country. I snapped some shots -- basically they had a bevy of artists 'design' interesting displays off of a sheep-shaped base, and these awesome sculptures were the result! Please excuse the picture quality, I was using my phone!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Crochet Rug Project -- Finished!

I finally finished my second major crochet project - a rug! I made this rug with 5 skeins of Universal Yarns' Shepherd's Own 'Chunky', a rustic wool that has a great texture and sturdiness for household items. I used all one colorway but there are some natural variations in this undyed wool, which add a little depth to this fun project.

Each of the motifs, which are based off this crochet pattern, are about 9 inches across, and this makes for a nicely sized area rug that will look great wherever it ends up in our new apartment. Andrew and I aren't moving out of his place until August, so it will stay in storage until then. I love it!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Genet Giveaway I -- Bauble Cowl & Malabrigo Yarn



As part of an extra boost for anyone yarny interested in the Genet Quarterly, I am offering a giveaway each week! This week, the launch giveaway is a copy of Alex Tinsley's 'Bauble Cowl' and two skeins of Malabrigo Chunky (in Purple Mystery and Indigo) to make this awesome, fashionable, accessory!

Here's how you enter! If you donate to the Kickstarter, you get automatically entered to win any and ALL of the giveaways, upcoming as well. If you have a Twitter account, tweet about Genet for a second entry and use the hashtag '#genetquarterly' -- tell me your twitter name in the comments. If you post about the Genet on Facebook, let me know in the comments and you'll get a third entry! If you don't donate but you do one of these other things, you are still entered to win -- spreading the word is helpful too! Thank you for your support, and don't forget that if you donate, the incentives are AWESOME too!

Genet Quarterly Inspirationals

It's scary sometimes to launch on your own, to go out on a limb and try to make a project a reality. If you had asked me 5 years ago what I would be doing today, I have no idea what I would have told you -- maybe I would have said that I'd be painting in New York, or working on fashion. I know that I've always enjoyed making, and creating, and I've had some really excellent work in the past few years. It's been interesting and fun and constantly on the go.

I think the idea to start this project kind of started around a year and a half ago. I realized that the things I love best -- networking, connecting people to other people, color, sharing my interests and inspirations -- needed to find some other media than the blog. I've spent the last year really delving deep mentally and figuring out how to do that. And that's where the Genet Quarterly Inspirationals came from.

I won't make you read all about my Kickstarter project here, but I do hope you'll go over and check it out at the Kickstarter website -- Genet Quarterly launch page. There are some awesome incentives for folks who donate, too, and I will be holding some bonus giveaway prizes here on the blog in the next few weeks, too! Keep an eye out!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Candy Buttons

I'm moving again soon and that means that some of the things that have been out have to be relocated into boxes and such. I took a moment to play with the button collection a little bit - I'm adding to it piece by piece, and I love what I have so far. I can't wait to find perfect projects for all these little guys!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Forays in Crochet

pattern for this motif can be found here, I am using a US K hook

I've been teaching myself to crochet. So far, it's gone pretty well - I have made an entire crochet afghan, which I have yet to photograph (tomorrow, I promise), and now I am working on a crochet rug, after seeing so many awesome doily/motif rugs all over Pinterest. I really fell in love with some crochet coasters that I saw today, and decided that the floral motif would be the perfect structure for a rug!

They're working up very quickly in Universal Yarn's Shepherd's Own Chunky, which is a rustic-feeling wool in natural tones. It's been discontinued but before I left Premier I grabbed some of it in an office destash. This project is going to be the perfect size with just 5 skeins. And I love watching the stack of motifs grow. It's also a great beginner project because if I mess up, nobody will notice -- it will be on the floor so they'll only see it from a distance!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

People Worth Pinning - Cirilia Rose

You might know her from her work at Berroco under the famous (possibly infamous) Norah Gaughan. But if you look her up now, Cirilia Rose is making a name for herself in addition to the pattern world, as the new Creative Director at Skacel knitting. She blogs as Bricoleur Knits and you can add her on Pinterest as Cirilia. Skacel also has her working on a new project, the Skacel Fiber Studio!

I thought it would be fun to include Cirilia as the re-introduction interview for the People Worth Pinning series here on the blog. I think that Cirilia picks a lot of sweet, cute things that have a bit of a punky bite to them. She likes some good ol' geekery, too!

Cirilia's color palette ranges from sweet pastels tinged with grays, all the way to neon brights. Top three boards I would recommend following from her include her Color, Aquarelle, and of course, Textiles.

1 - source pin ; 2 - Pop King lipstick for J.Crew ; 3 - Jewelry Designer Stine A. Johansen's interior ;
4 - Jason Martin 'Elemental' ; 5 - Bonny Map Scarf by Calypso ;  6 - Celine Snowboards ;
7 - Anthropologie Window Paintings  ; 8 - Eco Highlighter Pencils ; 9 - Fuzzy Logic Argyle Charts

Friday, May 4, 2012

Inspired Palettes in Ilustrator

Greetings, friends!

As you may have noticed, the blog has had a little makeover, and I thought this would be a fun time to show you how I like to use photos that I find inspiring in a piece of artwork. And how anything you find inspiring -- whether it's a photograph of a bird, or a painting, or a garment -- can become a new palette in illustrator. You can then turn this palette into anything you want: signage, blog layouts, business cards, mood boards, textile design, even mapping out quilts.

First step is to find an image that inspires you. Pinterest is a great website for that, and you all know I'm addicted to it, so of course I go there for anything image and inspiration related. Today, I saw an utterly gorgeous crocheted piece by the writer of Muita Ihania, a Finnish lifestyle blog that has a really beautiful, colorful, feel. Here's the image:

Muita Ihania blog photo

I love the colors in this afghan! I fell so in love with them, in fact, that I spent the next hour combing through every page of her blog looking for in progress photos to watch it all come together. While searching, I found just the type of photo I wanted -- a stacked up image of all the quilt pieces, which I then could use as inspiration for the warm, colorful blog layout that you see now! Here's how I did it -- first, copy the image into Illustrator by right-clicking to copy (on a Mac you hold down two fingers on the mouse pad and press to click, then drag to the option 'copy image'). Then go into the Illustrator window and paste the image onto the artboard. It isn't important where, but you want it to be a manageable size while still giving you lots of space to work around. As you can see, I dorkily put mine half on, half off the artboard, and now I have the lovely black line to show you. 

screenshot by me; original photo from Muita Ihania blog
From here, you may notice that there are eight little squares in the upper right corner of that image. Those are made using the rectangle and eyedropper tool, and literally just 'eyedropper-ing' the colors into each square, pulling them from the image. After you find eight colors that work together, here's how you turn them into a saved palette on Illustrator. 

The first, and simplest step is to pull your color swatches into the swatch window (which you can see by going to Windows > Swatches) -- select each swatch with the eyedropper and then, where the color appears in the fill section, pull these over into your swatch window. You might want to delete all the other swatches in the swatch window before doing this, if you're like me and like a clean workspace! Now that all eight colors are in the swatch window, it's time to define your palette.

Illustrator does two types of palettes. The first type is a 'color group'. This is designated in the swatches window by a small folder, which is followed by each of the colors in the color group. You can have multiple color groups to a saved swatch set, which is useful if you just want to play around with different colors in one project. Make sure you have all your swatch colors selected (click the first swatch in line, hold down shift, and click the last swatch in line), then click the icon in the Swatches window that is a little folder with a plus sign. It will group the colors together and ask you to name them. 

Maybe you want to create three or four useable color groups, and then bundle them together in a Swatch packet. When your Swatches window looks exactly like what you want, click the little button in the left corner of the Swatch panel that shows two folders on top of each other, and drag down to 'Save Swatches'. You then get to title the Swatch, and you can access it later by clicking that same button, dragging down to 'User Defined' and finding the Swatches you want! Create your artwork as you like using your new colors! 

If you are using a platform like Blogger, and you don't do CSS or HTML or any type of coding, you might just be using the templates and advanced changes feature in the editing dashboard. If you are, you can use your palette here, too -- just open up Illustrator and double-click the swatch you want to use for the color of say, your background, or text. You'll see a window like this:

This is the Color Picker. You notice how on the right side it has a bunch of boxes with numbers and letters? Do you see the one near the bottom that is just a #? That is the HEX, or hexidecimal, number code used to show a color in HTML. In the Blogger interface, there are plenty of options to put in this six-digit letters and numbers code, and you'll have exactly the same colors in your template as in your banner art! 

Neat, huh? I don't share this stuff a lot, but if you enjoyed this post, let me know, and I might be able to do more. Now that I'm working mostly from home, I should be posting on the blog more!

Monday, April 30, 2012

Growing in New Directions

Tumblr photo, unfortunately uncredited (let me know if you know)
It was time to make some changes. After spending roughly six months working for Premier, which is a great company and has a lot of great people, I realized that something really big in my life needed to change -- my direction. I think that starting out in this industry, you can apply your talents in so many different directions that you don't really know where you'll end up. For me, I started out doing things I loved (like color selection, and coming up with ways to connect great designers with great yarns), and then it turned me towards a job where I did a lot of things I liked (designing yarns, coming up with inspirations), but a lot of things that I didn't enjoy, too -- like handling angry customers, developing marketing strategies, and handing production timelines. I tend to operate better on a presentation and inspiration cycle, where I come up with ideas and show them to someone, and they either use it or they don't, should it match their ideas. But when it came to some of our customers, it was more trying to cater to the ideas that they had than to suggest something new. For me, it culminated in a feeling of lost creativity, and it wasn't making me very happy. It wasn't making our customers happy either. Sometimes, things aren't a great fit, and you have to grow in a new direction.

Luckily, I have been able to move from Premier into developing a dream of my own. I hope that all of you will stay tuned for the next few weeks when I start debuting tiny hints and then finally the full fledged project. I think it's pretty perfect for me, and hope that more than a few people will connect with it, as well. If there's anything you need to know about it, just know that it will be beautiful, and fun, and colorful. As always.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Curried Chicken Salad

This is a combo of lots of different recipes I've tried for this -- some that I've made in restaurants, some at home, my mom's recipe growing up.... Curried Chicken Salad seems to be gaining in popularity, and the best thing about chicken salads in general are that they can be made with basically any combination of different materials you have in your cupboard. Of course, traditional chicken salad includes grapes, celery, chicken, mayonnaise, and spices to taste (usually plain old pepper for mine, I like it to taste really simple, clean, and fresh.) I started using a rotisserie chicken for my chicken salad a few years ago - it makes a large amount of chicken salad and if you want to have chicken for dinner the same night, you can use it in pasta or just eat some of the chicken for lunch. Plus the fact that the chicken has been slow cooked with sauces keeps your salad from getting dried out or tasting bland. If you can find it, a rosemary enhanced bird is my absolute favorite.

First, determine your ingredients. I prefer all chicken salads to have at least 2 types of fresh fruit, a few different kinds of nuts, a dried fruit (cranberries or raisins are spectacular here), mayonnaise for the base, and then spices. For this one we'll obviously be using curry, but I decided to use all of the following ingredients:

1 Rotisserie chicken (a small chicken makes for enough chicken salad for a few people for 2 days, or one person to have for lunch for about a week.) 
Mayonnaise (your preference, I'm a blue-ribbon girl all the way, personally)
Granny Smith Apple
Grapes (halved)
Dried Cranberries
Sunflower Seeds
(I cheat a bit here and use a fruit-and-nut trail mix that includes sunflower seeds, almonds, peanuts and cashews. I like a lot of crunch in my salad!)
Yellow Curry
Chili Powder (a little goes a long way but can add some spicy sweetness with the cinnamon)
Lemon Juice

I don't really cook anything to specific ratios, so the best I can tell you is to do what feels right. Mix the drier ingredients (like the chicken, fruits, nuts, seeds) together. Mix the mayonnaise with the spices to taste in another bowl -- this will help you get the sauce ratio right for you without it being oddly distributed in the final batch. Add a teensy dash of lemon juice if you are putting apples in your salad - this will keep them from turning brown on you. Also, if you have a more delicate fruit like a blueberry, this will keep it from being totally crushed when you mix the batch up, since you only have to mix it once! After it's done, I like to pile it on a bed of lettuce and top it with some cucumber, with hummus on the side. It makes great lunches and snacks!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Future Colorwork

I spent a lot of nights this week spinning this, mostly because my apartment can get very quiet, but also because I like to spend my evenings in a productive way while doing non-productive activities like watching the season finale of The Bachelor or additional episodes of Once Upon a Time. Neither of which, just so you know, are incredibly enriching shows, but I just can't sit down and listen to something serious after a long day at work.

Altitude is a lovely Southern Cross Fibre corriedale prep -- I matched it up with three of the four colors that came in my Citrus Splash club installment, I think the browns go nicely together with the deep blues and purples. I've plans to turn this into colorwork, or perhaps gift it as a colorwork kit to someone, not entirely sure yet. It's about a very light worsted or heavy dk weight.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Square One

I have started a little at-work project, for knitting during my lunch breaks, although occasionally it comes home with me -- a Mitered Crosses Blanket. If you aren't familiar with the origin of this particular blanket pattern, you'll be pleased to learn that not only do you get a gorgeous blanket out of it, but you'll also have donated to charity. Each purchase of the pattern gets donated in full to the Mercy Corps. At the time this pattern was written, the money was mostly going to Japan to relieve some of the tsunami damage. I am not entirely sure what the Mercy Corps. is putting all the money towards now, or if it is still going to Japan, but it's nice to know that I could give at least a little to charity with the purchase of this pattern.

All in all, the pattern is well written, and fairly easy to understand -- making it a great beginner pattern for learning increases and decreases. Since it's in garter stitch, I would highly recommend it to someone who knows the basics of a long-tail cast on. It also uses an additional cast on -- the Backwards Loop, that, as it turns out, is the cast on that my mother, who is just beginning to knit, knew from her childhood.

I am knitting the blanket out of some handspun superwash BFL, 'Hello Yarn', in the 'Chard' colorway. I have about 500 yards of it spun up to about a light worsted weight, and it coordinates very well with my background color, which is Universal Yarn's Deluxe Worsted. Universal is the yarn-store sister brand to Premier, where I work, and we had some yarn that got wet during transfer or maybe during a rain storm in the warehouse. Since we would never send damaged yarn to a store, we split up the lot amongst folks in the design studio and all took home a bag, which we then washed and dried out. Honestly, it was dry when I got it, and it didn't smell musty at all, so I'm just knitting with it, since it'll be washed later anyway. I've dealt with some pretty gnarly yarns before (fleeces that have been underwashed, etc.) so it didn't bother me too much that the yarn might have gotten a bit waterlogged.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Southern Cross Fibre Club

This December, I got invited to be in the Southern Cross Fibre Club, after being on the waiting list for a bit. This club is well known on Ravelry for great colors that work for a variety of people -- including guys -- and fibers that are interesting and often unusual. So far, that's held true for me, although one month of the installment wasn't really my colors, and I thought about trading it (ended up keeping it), I am trying to broaden my comfort zone and try some new spinning. After all, if I just kept adding favorite colors to my stash I would have so much green that I could never knit it all up.

I think it's really important that people review clubs they are in, so after a year of being in club I plan to post a review based on my experiences in this club talking about various points that I think are important to folks looking for a club to join. So far, I have only been in three months, though, so you'll all have to wait until December. In the meantime, enjoy the gorgeous Texel (a new fiber I haven't tried yet) above! It was the January 2012 installment. The colorway is called 'Tequila Sunrise.'

Friday, February 10, 2012

Wishes: Fenton Jewelry

So gorgeous. This CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund competitor has really caught my eye on the documentary 'The Fashion Fund' (you can find it on Hulu and probably elsewhere, too.) While the series itself is really inspiring if you love fashion or are into design, Fenton, a jewelry collection by Dana Lorenz, is truly exceptional. The mix of candy-colored pastels and metals in the newest collection (which for some reason wouldn't load pictures), is particularly fantastic. I pulled a few from her flourescent collection from last year for your viewing pleasure.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Back to the Baktus

I have a lot of works in progress right now. Work is a work in progress, even -- I'm getting used to this new job, new apartment, new city. I don't know anyone here, and Andrew is only here for about 3 days at a time at the moment, so that means I'm alone a lot. To stay sane, I needed some 'tv' knitting. Something low stress that I can knit while zoning out in front of a movie or drinking a glass of wine. The Lacy Baktus is the perfect pattern. I've made one before, but this year I'm thinking I might make a few more, I love it so much and wear it so often.

This one is in Hello Yarn handspun (I honestly have a very small fiber stash and most of it is either Southern Cross Fibre, Pigeonroof Studios, or Hello Yarn -- mostly because I try not to buy a lot of fiber so I don't end up trying a wide range of dyers the way some spinners do) that I spun a very long time ago -- Thrive Corriedale. Corriedale is a great fiber because it is bouncy and lofty, but some spinners prefer not to use it because it can be a little itchy if the micron count isn't very high. Adrian of Hello Yarn definitely picks high-quality Corriedale, and I'm not the least bit worried about an itch factor with this sunny scarf.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Spinning for Sweaters, Part II

I have finally finished plying and washing my Hello Yarn 'Onion Skins' -- although the knitting won't begin for some time due to the other projects that aren't quite off the needles! I am planning on making an Agnes, which should be nice and cozy if the weather ever gets below the mid-fifties here in Charlotte. Seriously, I know some of you back at home (in Iowa, in the Midwest, anywhere that it is cold) probably want to smack me for griping about nice weather, but a girl's gotta have a little winter! Especially if she's a knitter who likes to make warm woolies!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Back from Anaheim

I got back from Anaheim and the Craft Hobby Assoc. Show on Thursday, but I've just been resting up a little bit. There wasn't really anything interesting to share from the show -- I will have some pictures of our booth later -- and for now it is too dreary outside to take very good pictures of any goodies or treats I got in the mail over the past few days. But expect posts this next week -- I have been reading the new Clara Parkes' book, 'A Knitter's Book of Socks', and loving it! And you know what that means... as soon as some wips are off the needles, some sock wips are getting started!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

What to do Today

Sundays are probably my least favorite day of the week. I wake up with the knowledge that before the end of the afternoon I have to say goodbye to my lovely boyfriend and roommate for three days -- he works out of town for Mondays, Tuesdays, and this week, an additional day (he came back to care for me when I was sick last week a day early). After he leaves, I inevitably go into a period of withdraw where I wander aimlessly around the apartment for about fifteen minutes, picking things up, putting things away and then back out again. It's not that I have nothing to do. I am almost done with my spinning, I could certainly finish any number of the quilts in progress in the closet. There's even some repair work to be done on a skirt that I ripped a placket out of.

But there's something missing, and my mind has to settle out with that before I get on with the rest of the day. Do any of you have roommates or spouses who travel a lot? Do you find yourselves doing the same sorts of things?

New Toy

I went and finally joined the ranks of smart phone users yesterday with a shiny new iPhone 4. I didn't get 4S because I'm not that fancy, honestly, and this should work fine for everything I need (mainly a phone and wifi hotspot and that email access and instant whatever). So I'm playing around with getting it set up today. Do any of you have favorite apps that you'd recommend? Or a case you love? Right now I am just trying to figure out the ins and outs of iCloud, which I will be joining today.

Honestly, now I'm worried about being too connected.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

A Quilty Little Jaunt

I haven't mentioned it on the blog yet, but after I got back from New York, I got very sick. Very, very sick. I stayed in bed all day on Saturday, Sunday, and then on Monday went to the ER, where I was then admitted into the hospital until Wednesday morning. You know that stomach bug that has been 'going around'? Not just 'going around' for me. Apparently some people are getting hit by it a lot harder than others, and I was one of them. After feeling entirely miserable and then slowly recovering from home over the last week, I was pleased to have finally fully turned the corner on Thursday evening.

You see, up until yesterday, I couldn't do many of the things I do on a daily basis. Go into the office, drive to the store, check the mail, spin yarn, knit... all of these things were clouded by a feeling of overwhelming nausea and exhaustion. Until today. Today, after stopping by the office and assuring them that I hadn't secretly moved to Tahiti, and had, actually, been sick (and had a hospital doctor's note to prove it), I had my boyfriend drop me off at the local sewing store, which is about a block from my apartment, and after visiting, I walked home. Walked. If you have ever been very sick, you know what an accomplishment this can be. Your first time having enough energy to get yourself further than bed to kitchen, to stand up longer than the time it takes to have a shower, to spend time talking to someone other than yourself or Twitter. Today was a big deal.

The sewing shop I stopped into is quilting, mainly, and was having a 'Fat Quarter Friday' buy 4, get one free promotional. I picked up 10 quarters total in a little spectrum, and the last copy of a Tula Pink quilt pattern. It looks complex but the saleswoman assured me that I can do it. It's only half square triangles, after all. And that they'll help.

I think I'm going to like having a little sewing store around the corner.