Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Dwelling on socks

My other socks are still in progress, but I seem to have socks on the brain recently and couldn't help starting a pair with my Cave Dwellings HY spin. I went and had lunch with Jennifer at Panera a few days ago, and we chatted about the yarn, and it just made me want to come home and get crackin'! It's hard to find anything to keep you busy this close to vacation (well, besides the things that you need to be doing, like cleaning your apartment and packing), and we leave on Friday, so I wanted a project that I could bring along.

I can't tell you how excited I am to see surf and sunshine and sand -- I haven't been to the ocean in well over 7 years now, and it means the world to me to spend some time fully relaxing. I won't be bringing a computer and there's no television in the house we're renting, so it should be a fully tech-free vacation. I will, however, take a camera so that I can tell you all about it when I return!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Yarn appreciation, part 2

Y.A.P. Greens

Green is probably the color I have the most of in my stash, at least right now. It has been my 'favorite color' since I was very young, although I don't consider any color truly a favorite anymore. I love them all! Pictured here is a very special skein of Brooklyn Tweed Loft in 'Sap'. I picked it up during a business trip at Loop in Philadelphia. Next to it is some Spud & Chloe Fine in Glow Worm from my mom's shop, The Sheep's Stockings. The two skeins that come next are both No Two Snowflakes yarn - one lace, the other 100% cashmere in 'Spritely'. Following up is a gorgeous true green skein of Alisha Goes Around, and some more Malabrigo Worsted in Forest.

Y.A.P. Blues

I grew up not really having any affinity towards blue. My grandmother, supposedly, did not like blue at all, and had not a drop of it in her house. As I have grown older I've fallen in love with it, especially deep purple blues, robin egg blues, and pale, wispy blues. Two skeins of Rauma Finull-garn are first, and are really part of a set of 4 colors I pulled to do colorwork with. To design colorwork with. I need to get going on that idea. Next to it is a skein of Pear Tree Yarns 4-ply in Robin's Egg, although in my opinion this color is more like the inside of the shell than the outside. Some Blue Sky Alpaca in Sky, and some special and unusual yarn that was a gift from Joji, who works at Milana Hilados, a really cool yarn store in Argentina. In the back is some Madelinetosh DK in Ink, I believe. Although to be honest I am not 100% sure of the colorway.

Y.A.P. Purples

I have never been much of a purple person, so I honestly have no 'true purple' anywhere in my stash. All the purples I own are slightly off kilter, I prefer them to have a little red or a little too much blue, or be faded, as you can see. A skein of Skein Yarn's Top Draw Sock in Fig is a prized gift from my friend Patricia, and next to it is some Light Brown Hare sock I bought long ago on Etsy. An exciting test skein of Shibui Cima in Ultraviolet, a color that came out new this year, and some Darn Good Yarn recycled silk in a most arresting shade of blue violet. A skein of Malabrigo Twist sits beside it, but this skein is from back when Twist was first coming out, and was still called Gusanito. The colorway was never released (too close to Malabrigo's ever-famous purple mystery colorway) -- the color is called Anil. In the very back is yet more Malabrigo Worsted, this time in a re-worked colorway, Alpine Pearl - now with more teal blue and variegation!

Y.A.P. Browns

I don't think I could complete my Yarn Appreciation Post without a look at browns and neutrals. I have a soft spot for brown. I think it's underrated as a color to wear -- it's flattering on a variety of skin tones and looks lovely paired with most colors. It reminds me of warmth almost instantly when seeing it. In front is Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light in 'Fig', getting cozy next to Malabrigo Arroyo in 'Coffee Toffee'. A skein fo Quince & Co. Tern sits happily alone in 'Gingerbread', although it has a matching skein in a lighter brown to make Adrian's Flocked Mittens (although I am not sure what color I shall use for the dots!) A skein of Madelinetosh Sock in Golden Hickory, and a single skein from a sweater-lot of Malabrigo Worsted in Rich Chocolate, destined to become a Vaila, although many attempts have been made. (I am determined to make this sweater!) 

I would love to see some other knitters do a Yarn Appreciation Post! It was so fun to get into my stash and really LOOK for special skeins in each spectrum.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Yarn appreciation post

Twinkiechan, the queen of all bubbly, kawaii and candy-coated crochet, recently posted a 'Y.A.P. - yarn appreciation post' on her blog and I just loved the idea! It's so fun to go stash diving and find out what colors you're drawn to in each family, and talk about the qualities of the yarn that made you buy it. I have a relatively small stash, compared to many knitters, but I pick everything in there really carefully. As a result, I love everything in my stash, and know that it will all happily become projects someday.

I sort of decided to do my Y.A.P. posts in stages -- I have a total of 8 photos so I am splitting them into groups of 4, so I don't totally overwhelm all of you. The other 8 will go up tomorrow.

Y.A.P. Reds

My taste in reds tends to run one way or the other. I either love deep, rich, cherry-toned yarns, or bright, cheery, vermillions that have a good dose of orange in them. I think this comes from loving painting so much -- Alzarin Crimson and Napthol Red are my 'go to' colors for mixing reds. I suppose some part of me adores them in their truest forms, too. Shown here are Blue Sky Alpacas' Worsted Cotton in the colorway 'Ladybug', Plymouth Yarn Baby Alpaca Lace in 2095, Wool Candy DK in Cerises, and Malabrigo Rios in Cumparsita. I of course adore BSA cottons, but I haven't quite managed to start any projects in this color yet. I think some part of me harbors the desire to make baby things out of this yarn, and I don't know too many babies, so that could be part of the delay. The laceweight Plymouth is going to become a lining for my Squirrel Sampler Mittens, which are still slowly progressing along (or rather, just sitting in the wip basket, to be honest.) The Wool Candy was used as a border on a scarf for Andrew last year as a Christmas project -- I suppose it should eventually become some handwarmers or perhaps a hat. I have 3 or 4 skeins left in the Cumparsita. I used to have a full lot but sent some off as a prize for a giveaway last year. I think the remaining skeins will become an Abalone.


I don't buy a lot of pink. I really should, because I love it, but it's just not that often that a pink really catches my eye. Usually if it does, it's a super-hot pink color, like Madelinetosh Pop Rocks (which I am working on Thayer with). I prefer my pinks to be very true, bright pinks with purple undertones. Maybe a tiny touch of orange. Pictured here are Malabrigo Worsted in 'Molly', Noro Nobori, which is sadly discontinued (I love this base and was very sorry to see it go), Fable Fibers in 'Chloe' -- this is a really happy, bouncy yarn -- and KPPM in some unknown mauve color that will eventually become colorwork mittens or socks.

Y.A.P. Oranges

I honestly don't have that much orange in my stash either. It's not that I don't like it as a color, but I just generally tend to lean towards more brown than orange, so most of the orange tones are really browns. I have one skein of true-orange -- the Shepherd's Wool (by Stonehenge Fiber Mill) is really fantastic. This base, which is a dk superwash, is one of the softest and best behaved yarns that I've worked with. I would probably knit anything and everything out of this yarn as my 'workhorse' yarn if I had to. Next to it is a special skein from Lush Mommy on Etsy, my mom got this for me as a present last year, and it will become socks, for certain. Next to it is Alisha Goes Around, picked up at my first TNNA trip, and this yarn is really fantastic. I think the colorway name was 'Pecan Pie', which happens to be a favorite dessert. This base also has a slight sparkle to it, which I love. Again, this will become socks. The skein next to these is from Skein, on the Top Draw Sock base called 'Rusty Rock'. I was gifted this skein from a dear friend, Patricia, who thought that I should try some Skein. I haven't made them yet, but you only get 2 guesses to figure out what project this yarn will be.


And, finally, the last color group of today - yellow! I adore yellow, from bright and sunny all the way to mustard, and right now my stash is leaning heavily in the mustard direction. The bright and sunny skein on the end is from a Yarnbox dyer. Have you ever seen a happier color? I submit that the answer is no, you haven't! The little skein is Malabrigo Finito, made from the most soft wool in all of Uruguay, and possibly the world. The colorway is Mostaza, and I have two skeins, but I can't seem to locate the issue of Vogue Knitting with Jared Flood's Druid Mittens pattern, which is what these skeins are destined to be. Another skein of Blue Sky Alpacas Worsted Cotton lurks next to it, in the fantastic 'Cumin' colorway. I would seriously wear a hundred garments this color, I truly adore it. BSA does a great job with their dyes. The one next to it I have no name and no brand for. It was a sample someone sent me at Premier, trying to get us to carry their yarn as a base, that just wasn't going to work out -- it made no sense for the company to hire another mill to make yarns for us when we were connected to another mill. I got to take it home so I could swatch it, which is why it has no labels. The skein in the way back is Malabrigo Aquarella in Palmar, and it was the first skein I ever bought from someone's Ravelry stash. Someday it will become a truly fantastic hat. This year, I think!

Stay tuned for the cooler half of the rainbow tomorrow!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

May Yarnbox reveal

Even though this came a few days ago, I wanted to wait to share it until more people had gotten theirs -- I hate to give something away to anyone who might read my blog and be in the club and not want to be spoiled. So if for some reason you are a reader of the blog, and you haven't gotten your Yarnbox for May yet, look away if you don't want spoilers, because this post is full of them!

Our first month of Yarnbox has launched and the members seem pretty happy with it. As a perfectionist myself, I can see a little room for improvement, but all of the things I don't like I can make better in the next box -- that's how companies improve, after all.

Our yarn this month was provided by Zen Yarn Garden. It's their Serenity Silk Singles base which is fantastic -- a great blend of cashmere, wool, and silk that feels light to knit with, smooth, and extremely soft. We sent two skeins, each valued at around $35 retail, in custom-dyed colors that Zen worked up just for us. There are two shades of complimentary greens that can be worked with together or separately -- the yardage is really good enough to do whatever you want with them! The darker green is called 'Oasis' and the lighter, more variegated green is 'Eden'. 'Eden' is personally my favorite, but I have no idea what I'll be making with it, and I could certainly see Oasis working up into a great gifted accessory for someone next Christmas.

Also in this box were designer postcards from Denise Voie de Vie and Jennifer Wood. These ladies were fantastic to work with and it was really exciting to collaborate with them on their cards. We also got to include really great packets of Soak, which is pretty much my favorite wool wash ever.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

New business cards

New Business Cards

I had some new business cards printed for TNNA and also some new handspun tags for my mom's shop! These are designed entirely by me, in Adobe Illustrator, and printed through Moo. I have to admit that I'm pretty darn proud of them and the quality from Moo is always great. I can't wait to hand these out.
New Business Card - Back

Do you guys think I should change the layout of the site to match the feel of these cards?

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

A few small projects

A few projects

It's been a good start to the week. I had a few days off from my retail job and could really focus on more creative pursuits. (For anyone wondering, no, I didn't touch that mitten yet at all.) I started a sock
pattern, Hickory, from Clara Parkes' book "The Knitter's Book of Socks". I am horribly addicted to Clara Parkes. I read Knitter's Review all the time and have every single one of her book titles, except possibly the newest one, which I don't even know the title of yet!

In addition to the sock, I've been swatching like crazy for YarnBox previews (see the green swatch? That's June's base and yarn, but in a different color.) I've been writing down ideas for events and promotions and displays and products for my mom's shop when I move back and start working there in July, and I've been swatching for other projects too -- designing a bit, which feels good.

Annie Yarn Stitch Markers

I have some lovely stitch markers from Annie Yarn to play with (she has such a lovely shop and it matches her personality so well!) They don't work with the sock I'm knitting right now, since it's a fairly simple piece, but I'm sure I'll find a use for them in a lace project soon. The sock is coming along pretty quickly -- I'm already working the heel flap -- so I should have at least half an FO soon.

Strawberries and Cream

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Weekly spin -- cave dwellings

I have still been spinning every week, but most of it has been super-secret spinning for Fluff, which I'll be telling you all about soon enough! I did take some personal time, though, and spin up this fingering-weight, two ply from Hello Yarn Club. The colorway is called 'Cave Dwellings' and the fiber is merino with tussah silk.

HY Cave Dwellings

I knew right away that I really wanted this yarn to become socks. Susan B. Anderson recently posted a lovely and enviable photo on her blog, which she now has as her header, of her sock drawer. I would love nothing more than to have a drawer full of handmade, and sometimes handspun, socks -- and sometimes the best place to start is by spinning some yarn. This yarn is around 318 yards, but it will be perfect for some toe-up, quick and easy, two at a time socks.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Jess Quinn art dolls

all photos in this post are property of Jess Quinn Small Art on Etsy

I have a sort of secret obsession on Etsy - I spend a lot of time going through pages and pages of plush toys.

As a child, we had quite a lot of stuffed animals, from frogs to koalas to teddy bears to stuffed rabbits. My first plush was a duck that my parents named 'Lucky Duck' that was in my cradle. I loved on him so much that his beak wore off. They still have him in a bag in the attic somewhere, along with my best stuffed friend, Ernie (who is also balding, noseless, and terribly faded). As we got older, the animals that were still in good condition moved on to be with other children. As a devotee of The Velveteen Rabbit, some part of me has always believed that these toys go on to have loved, full, and happy existences until they are falling apart at the seams and too delicate to be played with any longer. That movie is so sad, I have trouble thinking about it.... 

Anyway -- I spend a lot of time on Etsy looking up carefully rendered sculptures in plush and thinking about how lovely they will be someday as a future tree ornaments, home accents, or nursery decoration, a much-beloved toy for a future child, or a gift when some of my dearest friends begin having little ones of their own. I have never made toys myself, though I do have a few knitted patterns for them that I will try someday, but there is just something really special and beautiful about handmade toys.

Today on Etsy I found this lovely shop - Jess Quinn Small Art - that specializes in lots of small objet d'art, but has some of the most fantastic plush dolls! Here are a few pictures (all belong to Jess Quinn Small Art, of course) and be sure to click over to her shop and check it out!

Friday, May 10, 2013

A bit of bright

A Bit of Bright

Just some of my favorite colors in a little stack. Happy spring!
(Click the photo for details on garments and items featured)

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The best kind of mail...

I love getting mail! That might be why I signed on so quickly to do YarnBox, because there isn't anything quite as rewarding as going to a mailbox usually filled with bills and discovering a surprise or two. Yesterday, I received my April 2013 Hello Yarn Club fiber, 'Cave Dwellings', and some Rifle Paper Co. notebooks. I plan on dedicating a notebook to each of my business ventures (YarnBox, Fluff, and my mom's shop, The Sheep's Stockings) so that I can stay plenty organized.

Best Kind of Mail

Did any of you get anything good in the mail?

5 minute face

I don't like to be high maintenance ever, but I especially hate taking too much time getting ready in the summer. My obsession lately has been with taking enough time to look decent while still not taking more than 10 minutes to put on makeup for an average day. While normally for me that would mean skipping some steps (mascara, eyeliner, and lipstick are the first to go), I've been working on getting my "5-minute face" down to a science. I don't plan on doing a lot of beauty posts since I am far from a beauty blogger, this is literally my entire makeup collection.
5 minute face

I have finally found my perfect foundation -- L'Oreal True Match Lumi. When this came out I was only trying it because they had discontinued my favorite foundation and this was the replacement, but I have really fallen in love with it. Now that I've declared my adoration for this slightly-dewy-but-not-sticky-and-never-oily liquid foundation, they'll be discontinuing it in a week.

I put this all over and then top it off with Revlon Photo-Ready powder. I never used to use powder, but I feel like it really helps to take that little bit of shine off and keep your makeup on your face during the day. If you're like me, you have major blush fading issues -- blush just seems to disappear after a few hours -- so it's nice to at least look like you had flawless skin to begin with.

I sweep on some blush. I have been using NARS 'Orgasm', which I loved, but I wanted something slightly cheaper and slightly more true pink for summertime. I don't usually get very tan so having that extra bit of color is great for me. I'm currently using Sonia Kashuk blush in Flushed, but I'm not particularly attached. I might give cream color another go sometime soon.

For my eyes, nothing matches the love that I have for my Urban Decay Naked palette. Seriously, this is about the best money that I could have spent to find colors that I love. I usually use only about half of the palette - my colors are Virgin, Sin, Naked, Buck, Half-Baked, Smog and occasionally I hit up Toasted. When it's time, I'll re-buy Smog and go with Bare Minerals' Queen Phyllis color for my cream/shimmer base instead of Sin, because I like that it's more cream/white than pink. I use a bit of liquid eyeliner (whatever's on sale, I'm not honestly very picky here) and some mascara. Right now, the mascara is Covergirl Lash Blast Length, but my favorite mascara of all time is absolutely Chanel Imitable -- if I could afford that $30 price tag for mascara, I would buy only Chanel for the rest of my existence.

Vermilion Summer

For lips, I either go bare or top on my current obsession - vermillion! I am totally in love with this bright, red, happy, color for summer. I picked up some Face Stockholm for J.Crew in Chili Flake, which is the perfect compliment to the Deborah Lippmann 'Footloose' polish that I've been wearing on my toes and fingertips for the past few weeks (I just keep repainting, I can't seem to get away from it!)

My fragrance this summer (not pictured) is a double-ended rollerball wand of Coach Poppy and Coach Poppy Flower. I use Poppy on days when I'm feeling fun and casual, and Poppy Flower if I'm having a particularly 'girly' day.

What are your favorite beauty products?

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Weekend wips, revisited

Weekend Wips, Revisited

Last weekend, I posted about my one and a half Ayatori 'Heart of the Lotus' mitts! I wanted to get them completely done this week, but I had to settle for just barely short of done, due to how much work I've been doing. I am all the way up to the bobbles, though, so I think I'll be done by this evening and can share the FO with you next FO Friday! Next up on my list of projects to tackle are this pair of Entomology Mittens. The pattern is by Hello Yarn, and I love it, but it was very hard for me to follow the first time around (it's not the pattern's fault, it's mine -- I can't help but try and have conversations and watch television shows while knitting, when I really should just be concentrating!) This is a slightly bigger challenge because it requires me to knit an entire colorwork mitten, plus two thumbs, by next weekend. But I will be very pleased if I can complete it!

Entomology Mittens WIP

As a little side note - YarnBox fully launched this week, and we saw some early-bird May spots get snatched up pretty quickly (I think we sold close to 90 spots in under 3 hours), and our June waitlist already has upwards of 60 people on it! It's exciting, but at the same time, a little overwhelming! We have a pretty big ad coming out in Interweave Crochet's latest issue, and I feel like that's only going to make more people want to join. While I feel like we're ready, I can't help but wish that I could just add one more thing to each and every month -- hopefully eventually I'll get at a place where I can stop meddling with all the details and just calm down. Unlikely, but I'm hopeful. I'm too much of a perfectionist to let things 'slide by'! I just want it to be the best club I can possibly imagine.