Monday, April 28, 2014

simply swatching

Roxanne sent me a few more ZYG yarns to swatch in more new colors -- Glitter Sock (a new base for the company) in colorway Teak, and Serenity DK in colorway Cocoa.

I have to say that out of all the bases I have tried from Zen Yarn Garden thus far, my absolute favorite is the Serenity DK. I have never felt a yarn as luxuriously soft and squishy! I might have to treat myself to a sweater lot! I immediately cast on:

For the Cocoa swatch I wanted to do a stitch pattern that would really show off the great stitch definition of this yarn. I chose a stitch from my 1963 Stitch Dictionary, 900 Knitting Stitches, called "Diagonal Crossed Stitch."

Diagonal Crossed Stitch
CO a multiple of 2. 
Row 1: *Slip 1 purlwise, k1, yo, pass slipped stitch over the k1 & yo*
Row 2 and all alternate rows: purl
Row 3: k1 *slip 1 purlwise, k1, yo, pass slipped stitch over the k1 & yo*

For the Glitter Sock, I decided to use Rambler Stitch, which has become a recent favorite due to the massive amount of it in the Stitch Block Cowl I'm knitting. It came out quite squishy, even on US 2 needles. One thing I really like about Glitter Sock is the amount of Stellina (sparkle) it has in it -- the sparkles are really long and not just specks. Not that there's anything wrong with specks, it's just a different kind of sparkle than I usually see. 

Rambler Stitch

I'm getting ready this week to go to TNNA but when I get back I hope to have lots to show you! I'll be taking the camera and hopefully making a Yarnbox video while I'm away. 

Friday, April 25, 2014

rambler redux

After working on my Stitch Block Cowl for awhile, I decided that the thickness of the Spud & Chloe Sweater I was using (a cotton-and-wool blend yarn) wasn't going to work very well with the other yarns I had selected (100% wool, and slightly thinner.) It was a case of the wrong yarn!

So I have re-started in this lovely heather teal from Shepherd's Wool -- and it's coming along quite nicely already. The perfect thing to work on during this week's Mid-Iowa Shop Hop, where the flow of traffic is unpredictable and you might have to get up at any moment...

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

hens & chicks

Yesterday, my mom and I made a little journey around Iowa to pick up some bags for the Annual Mid-Iowa Shop Hop, which starts tomorrow (yikes!) We stopped by a local store in Conrad, Iowa -- Hens and Chicks -- since I hadn't been in before and I love a good quilting shop.

While Heidi doesn't carry some of the fabric designers I was searching for (no Heather Ross, no Anna Maria,) she does carry an exceptional collection of so many other things. Plus the store has an absolutely beautiful selection of wools! I got immediately sucked in by a little stash of beautifully dyed wool fabrics.

I'm not sure what the pink will become, but I know I have enough of the gray to make a winter skirt, and enough of the three varying greens to make a cozy winter cowl. I am actually getting quite excited about sewing again -- I haven't done much sewing in the past year or so. 

I also picked up some buttons that match a few of the yarns I've been storing. We just revealed April's Yarnbox shipment, so if you're not looking to get spoiled, I wouldn't read past here...!

I have a sweater lot of Annie Yarn in Robin's Egg from the September 2013 Yarnbox that is due to become an Earl sweater, and I wanted to get a few buttons so I could add them on to keep it cozy and closed. You know, just in case. Luckily for only 10 cents a pop, I was able to find all of these beautiful buttons at Hens & Chicks: 

I also have plans to turn the pretty hank of Fyberspates' Lavender Haze on Vivacious DK into a baby sweater, so found some buttons for that, too: 

I'm a bit of a button addict, but I can't wait to get started on these projects! I have half a mind to try and hunt down a glove pattern for the hot pink wool -- what would you make with it? 

Saturday, April 12, 2014

knitting cheat: ktbl knitted co

Many knitters -- whether they learn from someone else or start on their own from a video or book -- begin their knitting careers with one of the simplest and easiest cast ons -- the Knitted Cast On (click here for a video.) This cast on is great to learn on because it teaches you the steps for the knit stitch from the very beginning. I learned with this cast on, and a little rhyme taught me how to memorize the steps: under the fence, around the sheep, bring him through, and off he leaps! 

As I got more advanced in my skills, I found that the Knitted CO just didn't work for a lot of things I was making. It's not very stretchy, so it wasn't picked for mittens, hats, or necklines on sweaters. And it didn't lay as nicely or evenly as a Long-Tail -- you couldn't cast it on mid-row like a Backwards Loop. And when I used it for swatches or scarves or flat knitting, I found the little loops that the edge sometimes makes frustrating. I wanted clean edges.

Last year, I decided to pick it back up and see if I could get a clean edge from it -- and I could, with a little trick, which I'm now going to share with you. You use the cast on the exact same way, but when you work back for you first row, you're going to knit through the back loop on every stitch. It doesn't make it any less (or any more) flexible, but it sure does make it prettier!

Here's the difference, so you can see. The first 10 stitches from the right are done the traditional way, where you knit into the stitches normally in the first row -- you can see the little loopies along the edge. The next 10 stitches are done with a ktbl for every stitch. It makes for a pretty braided finish.

I will definitely be picking the Knitted CO up more! In fact, I've been using it on my swatches quite a bit.

Thursday, April 10, 2014


Did you know that I do a little freelance social media for Zen Yarn Garden? This luxury yarn line has a bunch of beautiful colors, and I talked Roxanne into letting me knit some swatches of this year's newest ones -- a bevy of blues that will be available at TNNA in May.

Of course, I couldn't resist getting started -- swatches are the perfect thing to work on while you're waiting on a meeting to start or uploading photos into Photoshop for editing. 

First up, Blue Jeans. This color is more of a purple than a denim blue, in my opinion, but it kind of reminds me of really faded jeans. I love all of the tonalities in this color -- it's a semi solid that feels fairly solid. I love how it worked up in simple stockinette. Purple isn't really my color, but this is the perfect shade of purple-blue-grey for me to want to make something out of it. 

Then the light blue, called Tranquility. This is certainly a tranquil blue -- it reminds me of the most perfect blue sky, completely cloudless. Simple seed stitch for this swatch.

Next up, Baltic Sea. I did this swatch in Hurdle Stitch.

Hurdle Stitch 
To do this stitch, just cast on a multiple of 2. 
Row 1:  *k1, p1* 
Row 2: *k1, p1*
Row 3: knit
Row 4: knit

Yes, it really is that easy. 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014


I've been continuing the series of Stitch Lab posts over on the Knit Purl blog. If you've ever wondered about some ways to create intentional holes in your knitting (buttonholes, dropped stitches and yarn overs), be sure to check them out!

Holes Part 1
Holes Part 2

Monday, April 7, 2014

gray mail day

Today was a really gray day here in Iowa. The sky just never stopped being cloudy, for even a moment. At least the birds are back -- we've seen red-breasted finches, robins, wrens, and even a pair of young cardinals at our feeder. It's nice to have some sign of spring, or at least the sounds of birds again, even if it still looks gloomy outside.

The mailman came this afternoon bearing goodies -- yarn and fiber club! Today's haul included a hank of Madelinetosh Prairie, in Calligraphy, which is the most lovely mix of rose, taupe, and ivory.

Three hanks of Zen Yarn Garden's Serenity Worsted, sent by Roxanne so I can do some swatching for the TNNA booth before the beginning of May. I don't know if these are new colors, but, if they are, wow!

And of course, Hello Yarn Fiber Club! This month the colorway is called Tideline, and is on Romney fiber. I love spinning Romney into singles, so that's likely where this will go -- skinny lightweight singles for knitting something airy and wispy. I love the name and the colors.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

vogue revival

Somebody brought in a huge stack of Vogue Knitting issues from the mid to late 1980s, and I've been going through them to see if there's anything I'd like to knit. Of course, there are a few things that are pretty awesome -- like this cover up for the beach:

I could see myself wearing this seashell sweater -- I love motifs and this one is very pretty and neutral. Maybe I would remove a few of the seashells, just because... 

It's not only a recent obsession to 'put a bird on it' -- this bird patterned sweater was another intarsia motif. I have seen a lot of these dolman sweaters coming back though. I can't say that I mind! 

I even like the look of this sleek, spring shell. It was a Singer pattern tucked into one of the issues -- it might inspire me to design something different in a similar shape: 

Of course, for every one wearable, beachy item I have been collecting mentally, I found a few real 80's gems. How about a matching outfits for you and your Cabbage Patch dolls? 

And I know that all of you Muppets fans out there are going to want some of these Kermit Club sweaters, right? 

One of the things that really struck me about these older Vogue issues is how beginner-oriented they were. So many of the articles are on things that most knitting magazines these days don't cover -- how to change colors, how to fix basic mistakes (like a dropped stitch), even how to knit on a circular needle! In one of the issues, there was an opinion piece from a Vogue writer chatting about how she couldn't imagine switching away from her straight needles. 

They did book reviews on Elizabeth Zimmermann books and interviewed 'up and coming' talent like Kaffe Fassett -- look how young he looks in this photo! Dashing!

These have been a lot of fun to go through! I hope to knit a few of the patterns and make notes on how patterns have changed over time, as well. I'm sure some of you probably have a few older magazines or knitting patterns laying around - let me know if you post about them on your blogs!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014


I've been a but busy with work for the past few days (after I finally got over my cold), but today I posted this tutorial on simple Brioche Rib stitch on the Knit-Purl blog. Be sure to stop over and check it out!