December 31, 2011

Happy New Year!

December 23, 2011

A Fiber Artist Christmas

`Twas the night before Christmas and all around me
Was unfinished knitting not under the tree.
The stockings weren't hung by the chimney with care
'cause the heels and the toes had not a stitch there.

... The children were nestled all snug in their beds
but I had not finished the caps for their heads.
Dad was asleep; he was no help at all,
And the sweater for him was six inches too small.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I put down my needles to see what was the matter.
Away to the window, I flew like a flash,
Tripped over my yarn and fell down with a crash.

The tangle of yarn that lay deep as the snow
Reminded me how much I still had to go.
Out on my lawn, I heard such a noise,
I thought it would wake both dad and the boys.

And though I was tired, my brain was a bit thick,
I knew in a moment, it must be Saint Nick.
But what I heard then left me perplexed-ed,
For not a name I heard was what I had expected
"move, Ashford; move, Lopi; move, Addie and Clover
Move, Reynolds; move, Starmore; move, Fraylic–move
"Paton, don't circle round; stand in line.
Come now, you sheep wool work just fine!
I know this is hard semi, it's just your first year,
I'd hate to go back to eight tiny reindeer."
I peered over the sill; what I saw was amazing,
Eight woolly sheep on my lawn all a'grazing.

And then,in a twinkle, I heard at the door
Santa's feet coming across the porch floor.
I rose from my knees and got back on my feet,
And as I turned round, Saint Nick, I did meet.

He was dressed all in wool from his head to his toe
And his clothes were handknit from above to below.
A bright Fairisle sweater he wore on his back,
and his toys were all stuffed in an Aran knit sack.
His cap was a wonder of bobbles and lace,
A beautiful frame for his rosy red face.

The scarf round his neck could have stretched for a mile,
And the socks peeking over his boots were Argyle.
The back of his mittens bore an intricate cable,
And suddenly on one I spied a small label.
SC was duplicate stitched on the cuff,
and I asked "Hey Nick, did you knit all this stuff?"

He proudly replied "Ho-ho-ho, yes I did,
I learned how to knit when I was a kid."
He was chubby and plump, a quite well-dressed old man,
And I laughed to myself for I'd thought up a plan.

I flashed him a grin and jumped up in the air,
And the next thing he knew he was tied to a chair.
He spoke not a word, but looked in his lap
Where I'd laid my needles and yarn for a cap.

He quickly began knitting, first one cap then two;
For the first time I thought I'd really get through.
He put heels on the stockings and toes in some socks
While I sat back drinking Scotch on the rocks!!

So quickly like magic, his needles they flew,
That he was all finished by quarter to two.
He sprang for his sleigh when I let him go free,
And over his shoulder he looked back at me.
And I heard him exclaim as he sailed past the moon
"Next year start your knitting sometime around June."

-Author Unknown

FAF: Silk Hankies

I've just recently added silk hankies to the shop and thought I'd share them with you. These are not your Grandmother's silk hankies. In fact these are not really hankies like you think of them at all.

The silk hankies I'm talking about are raw silk cocoons that have been stretched over a square frame. They are stacked one on top of another until a small pile is made. There are dozens of these thin layers of cocoon hankies in an ounce. An ounce of these silk hankies will easily fill a small sandwich bag.

These silk hankies can be spun into yarn or have become very popular in felting projects. There has also recently been a small "craze" of knitting straight from the hankies. I tried it and it worked wonderfully. Silk is warmer than wool, lighter and is good at staying dry.

They are a lot of fun in their undyed state, but dyeing them is such a treat. They're shiny and bright! I've spent the last couple weeks dyeing several into a rainbow of colors. I still have a hard time believing how much an ounce really is!

My goal next week is to start spinning these into a yarn that should be amazing! I know I did things a bit backwards by knitting with them first instead of spinning, but I just love these hankies and had to play with them right away.

Happy Friday!

December 19, 2011

Bella's Mittens are Mine

I decided it was time to knit something for me. Everything I knit either ends up as a gift or in the shop. I don't knit for me very often. These caught my attention.

The pattern is called Bella's Mittens. I think they were inspired by one of those Twilight movies. That could explain why they are so popular. There are more than 7500 projects listed in Ravelry using this pattern!

I just loved the way these mittens looked and they seemed like a good way to start cables. I've never done any cables while knitting. It's not that they looked difficult, I'm just not a real fan of how most of them look. They tend to be too busy looking. I liked these though.

Luckily I had some bulky yarn mixed in my sock yarn stash and it was even a color I could live with. That doesn't always happen.

I cast them on and finished the first mitten in 4 days. Now I know some of you could have knit one of these in a fraction of the time, but for me that's really, really good. I normally only knit at night for an hour or two.

The second one is about 3 inches long and I can't wait to finish because I love these mittens. Now if only the weather would cooperate.

Has anyone told the weather man that it's supposed to be December? It was 50* here in Michigan again. It supposed to be 30* and snowy by now, but we've had barely any snow. In fact it's only gotten below freezing a couple times.

Is the weather weird were you are?

I love to see what you've been working on.

December 16, 2011

FAF: Yarn Cone Trees

I stumbled upon this awesome project a couple days ago and have finally figured out what I am going to do with all of those cones I end up with from the yarn I get. All those pounds of yarn from the mills comes on these cardboard cones and the kids snitch them to make monsters out of. If the kids don't take them I just throw them away because I never knew what to do with them.

Now I do. How cute are these?

They don't have to be Christmasy either. I'm thinking they'd be a great way to show off our different yarns at festivals. Besides they are just too cute!! I need to get some more yarn in now because I am out of cones.

You can find the complete instructions here. I'd love to see some of yours if you make them too.

December 13, 2011

Blocking Georgiana

Blocking knits when they are finished is not my favorite thing. It's not that it's hard, it's just a lot of wet work.

When I finished my Georgiana shawl I realized I had a problem. I did not have enough mats to go under my shawl to block it. Oh, but that gave me a chance to make an order for more and a couple other things I've been wanting. :)

For once my order made a speedy appearance and in no time I was soaking and blocking my shawl.

This shawl has an interesting shape. Every other shawl I've blocked has been a triangle shaped shawl, but this was round. I spent almost an hour moving, tugging and wiggling it into shape. It still wasn't perfectly symmetrical, but I'm not sure any one can tell but me.

Here she is!

If you look really close you can see there is a color difference between the old mats and the new ones.

December 10, 2011

Why You Should Always Wear Gloves While Rinsing....

While rinsing some aqua fiber today I ended up dyeing my hands. One of these days I'll learn to wear gloves while rinsing. For now I guess I am an honorary Smurf.

December 09, 2011

FAF: New Pattern - Snowfall

Remember that pattern I talked about writing last Friday? I finally released it into the world yesterday.

Sending a pattern off into cyberspace is terrifying. Really, really terrifying. Will people like it? Could I have done any more to make it better? These questions kept me up most of the night. No matter how many patterns I create, these same fears assault me every time.

I get over it thought because seeing the pictures of my pattern pop on Ravelry is such a thrill! And then seeing people favorite the pattern and queue it and then make it.......awesome!

I know I did my best creating this and the test knitters loved it and gave great feedback so I know there shouldn't be much to worry about, but still, I'll probably stew about it for a while.

I am excited to share it with you and the weather almost cooperated so I could take pictures. I would have preferred some snow on the ground, but mother nature wouldn't listen to my pleas.
So here it is......Snowfall. Fingerless mitts inspired by the first snow of the season. The pattern can be found in Ravelry and in our Etsy shop.

December 02, 2011

FAF: Creating a Pattern

Have you ever wondered how all those creative pattern writing people create those patterns? Every person's creative process is different, but I thought I'd give you a glimpse of mine.

The inspiration for a pattern can come from anywhere. This particular pattern idea came from a wine bottle cozy I made. It was so cute that I thought it needed to be worn. That was the start of the fingerless mitt pattern that will debut next week.

After getting an idea of what I want it to look like, I then decide which yarn I want to use. I like to write the patterns to feature the yarns we sell so I go diving through the inventory and play with yarn until I feel I have the right one for a project. In this instance I choose a 100% superwash merino in fingering weight (our Klondike base). 

I tend to doodle and write all over papers so the start of the pattern kind of looks like this.

There is a small sketch of what I wanted it to look like when complete and lots of crossed out math on the top as I tried to figure out the number of cast on stitches.

Did you know there's math in knitting? I mean, seriously scary math? I pictured a cute lacy edge to my mitt and finally came up with the perfect one. The problem....the number of stitches for the repeat of the lace pattern was completely different than the repeat for the mitt pattern. There was a lot of math, cursing and scribbling as I finally found a combo I could live with and that worked together.

For the most part, the rest of the mitt was a piece of cake. Why is the beginning always the hardest?

I spent about 2 weeks of evenings writing the pattern and knitting as I went. Occasionally I had to adjust something and once I ended up with a whole section that looked like this. I wasn't happy with it.

After my first pair was finished and the pattern typed up, it went out to the test knitters so they could give it a whorl.

For the most part, the pattern was a complete success. We had a couple of days of discussion on how to improve some instructions and there were a few typos, but overall it was good.

The test knitters gave it their approval and now 2 weeks later it's almost ready to debut. I can't wait! Here's a blog exclusive sneak peak.

December 01, 2011

December Phat Fiber Sneak Peak

The theme for the December Phat Fiber box is..........Childhood Favorites!

It was a very generic theme to work with and honestly I could have gone in a million different directions. I even toyed with the idea of a Disney movie theme or my favorite 80s cartoons. The problem was I had some colors stuck in my head and I needed a way to use them.

I finally decided on ice cream flavors. Who doesn't love ice cream? I went with my absolute favorite from childhood, Mint Chocolate Chip and the kids favorite, Cherry Chip. I think they translated really well to yarn.

 I used our Klondike base - 100% Superwash Merino. Very springy and squishy.

Full size skeins will be up in the shop on Monday and to get the December Phat box visit the Phat Fiber website for all the information.


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