Friday Pattern Spotlight: It’s Sweater Weather

There’s something about the beginning of September that seems to stimulate the senses and make many knitters excited about casting on sweaters.  Maybe it’s the anticipation of cooler weather, the love of fall colors or the the dreams of a cozy fire that makes many of us go a bit nuts over sweater knitting, but for me it’s the pure joy of knowing that cooler weather is around the corner in Phoenix giving me a small window of “sweater weather “.

So let's take a look at what is "hot right now" on Ravelry  .....

The number one spot goes to Andrea Mowry for her latest design, Throwback.  When I saw this design hit the pages of Ravelry, I instantly fell in love.  This sweater is a classic that echos the feel of fall, camping, long walks in the woods and curling up next to a warm fire.  Perfect for beginning colorwork, cast on now and you'll be all set for a trip to Rhinebeck!

Courtesy of Andrea Mowry 

This sweater was inspired by my childhood and weekends spent in northern Michigan on the sand dunes. It is my favorite cardigan for layering and keeping warm all Autumn and Winter long! This sweater is worked flat from the top down, seamlessly, except for the sleeves which are knit in the round.

The next design that has caught my eye is Lineage my Gabrielle Vezina. What I love about this sweater is the simplicity of the design and the use of leftover yarn from other projects.  I think this design would also be perfect for handspun too!

Courtesy of Gabrielle Vézina

The little balls of yarn left after a knitting project are little pieces of our knitting journeys which fill our hearts with dreams, our heads with mindfulness, and our bodies with warmth. These little leftover balls, too small to become their own projects, but too pretty to be thrown away, receive a new purpose with this stash busting pattern. 

Talk about cozy, the Aibell Cardi by Kelene Kinnersly is simple, elegant and has just the right amount of cables.  I love the deep ribbing for the arm and front bands too.

Courtesy of Kelen Kinnersly

Soft flowing cables highlight this quick and cozy knit. Sister pattern to Aibell Pullover.

For those of you looking for a classic cardigan, look no further than the Classic Gansey by Beth Brown-Reinsel.  I love this design and I'm so excited to have found just the right yarn from a destash sale from a fellow Ravelry knitter.  I plan to cast on as soon as I can and think this cardigan will be a staple in my fall wardrobe for a long time to come.

Courtesy of Interweave / Harper Point

The Classic Gansey Cardigan is a worsted-weight cardigan for those who like the modern gansey adaptation of a cardigan but don’t wish to knit at a tighter gauge. Rolled edges, minimal cables, and focus on knit and purl patterns, such as the Scottish Flags motif that is front and center on the cardigan, give this design an updated look.

Classic cables with a touch of lace, who could resist not casting on Isabell Kraemer's Eri.  This beautiful classic design was featured in Issue 4 of Laine Magazine.  Perfect for the office, the weekend and fall walks.

Courtesy of Laine Magazine
Eri is worked seamlessly from the top down. The front is worked in double seed stitch with a cute textured cable panel down the centre. First the yoke is worked back and forth until neck shaping is complete. Then the yoke is worked in the round with raglan increases. When the yoke shaping is complete, the body is worked in the round to the ribbing. Then sleeve sts are picked up again to work the sleeves top down in the round to the end. As this jumper is worked from the top down, it is advisable to try it on from time to time to check the length and overall fit. The length and width of the yoke are easily adjustable by adding or reducing increases and adding or reducing underarm stitches.

I hope you enjoyed today's spotlight and remember, It's sweater weather, so go cast on today!

Until next time  ~ be creative!

Back From A Break

As most of you know, and can relate too, life gets hectic at times and even quite busy.  That’s what happened to me over the last two weeks and it also was a time to reflect if I wanted to keep blogging or not.  After much contemplation, I plan to continue blogging with a mix of everything I love to do.  I’m a creative soul, so I tend to go full speed ahead on new crafting adventures.

I have frogged most of my WIPs as they just weren’t speaking to me. I’m still working on my Mirkwood Scarf but haven’t made to much progress on it because I casted on top down raglan cardigan using my stash of Tahki Yarns Vermont.

I also have casted on a pair of Arrowhead socks using my stash of Paton Yarn DK  in denim heather.  I love knitting DK weight socks as they knit up quickly. It’s been quite fun using DPNs again (I’m using my Knitter’s Pride Dreams) especially since I’ve been using two circulars for the last 10 years.

I haven’t started the Woolly Thistle Sweater KAL yet, but hope to cast on this weekend.

Until Next Time - Be Creative !

Spinning Tools ~ Have You Hand Painted or Stained Yours ?

As a creative person I love color, especially turquoise and red.  Two me these two colors go together marvelously well and at times can even look a bit vintage.

niddy-noddy (plural niddy-noddies) is a tool used to make skeins from yarn. It consists of a central bar, with crossbars at each end, offset from each other by 90°. The central bar is generally carved to make it easier to hold.

Earlier this year with the purchase of two wheels from The Woolery, I received  with each purchase an unfinished Kromski Niddy Noddy.  I had received the same noddy from them two years prior that I had stained a weathered gray and loved how it turned out, so much so that I decided to stain my new ones red and turquoise.

I also stained my Ashford carders to match and love how they now look. After seeing them next to my blending board in the photo above, I think I might have to stain my dowels for my blending board too!

On the left I used Turquoise Stain and on the right I used Barn Red Stain, both are by Varathane Premium Fast Dry Wood Stain by Rust-Olem.

I use my niddy noddies often and love the look of my handspun yarn on them, especially when I take photos.  

If you're a beginner spinner, this is a great video on how to use the niddy noddy.  Noddies are great for measuring yarn and skeining yarn, which helps to keep your handspun from getting tangled.

Until next time ~ stay creative!

Stitching Update ~ Warm Winter Woolens!

In between knitting, crocheting and spinning, I'm working on a second cross stitch project, Warm Winter Woolens by Little House Needleworks.  I started this adorable little stitch project the end of July and set it aside to finish my Quote the Raven piece.

I will be finished framing this piece with the delicate flowers, leaves and stem on each side by tomorrow and will be starting the sheep.  This is really quite fun and I can't wait to finish it so I can start my next stitching project,  Playing with Jax by The Cricket Collection (shown below left).  

I've also ordered a few more seasonal cross stitch patterns by the Cricket Collection that I look forward to stitching in the upcoming months.  I've found that this has been a nice change to the fiber arts and still always my creativity to flow.

Until next time ~ Stay Creative!

Exciting New Yarns for Socks !

For the very first time I'm trying Blacker Yarns Mohair Blends for a pair of socks. This yarn is super soft and has really great reviews from sock knitters.  I chosen a gorgeous color for socks called Barripper and have casted on Mona Schmidt's design Embossed Leaves.

Colorway:  Barripper
So far I've completed two full repeats of the lace design and need to complete 1 more repeat before starting the heel. So far I'm really love the texture and feel of this yarn, and it shows off the stitch definition quite nicely.  The only tiny negative, it sheds a bit but I can live with that.

From the Ravelry Page:  Adding mohair to a yarn enhances the effect of dyes, while increasing both durability and softness. Mohair is often referred to as nature’s nylon, so this yarn is particularly well suited to making socks, from comfy everyday to wonderfully hardy hiking socks.
We have chosen to use either Hebridean or Manx Loagthan fleeces for our blends to make the most of the contrast with the silky white mohair. The hardy Hebridean sheep have very dark brown, almost black, fleeces that gradually grey with age, so this yarnis bitter chocolate in colour with occasional silvery hints. The Manx Loagthan is a particularly striking sheep, some having up to six horns. Their fleeces are mid to dark brown but bleach to cream at the tips in the sun, so the colour for this blend can range from a full brown to a softer, deeper and more varied shade.
Both these two natural blends take dye less vividly than the Mohair, lending our finished Mohair Blend yarns a rich depth and lustre.
We’ve named the shades of our Mohair Blend yarns after some of our favourite hiking locations in Cornwall.

I ordered two more colors in the Mohair Blends in the colors Blisland and Treenarren (shown on the bottom row of the photo below),  and three skeins of  WYS Signature 4 ply Spice Rack in the colors Nutmeg, Cinnamon and Poppy.  I've not used West Yorkshire Spinners sock yarn and look forward to casting on socks with texture, lace and cables.  Now to find just the right patterns!!!

I also wanted to share my sock drawer, which currently houses 44 pairs of hand knit socks that I've made over the last five years.  For these socks I've used Indy dyed yarns, Opal, Patons Kroy, Cascade Heritage and Serenity Sock.  I love each pair and wear them all as often as I can, even through the very hot summer days of Phoenix.  

So, with the current sock tip and the lovely new yarns shown above, I will be adding an additional six pairs to this drawer.  Maybe it's time to start a secondary sock drawer.

Until next time ~ stay creative!

Friday Spinning ~ My Breed Study, Bluefaced Leicester

It's time to get back to spinning for my breed study and this month's fiber from The 1764 Shepherdess is Bluefaced Leicester, commonly known among spinners as BFL.

I have prepped this squishy soft 1 oz of roving and have started to spin it up.  I am spinning only 15 minutes a day ( Instagram #spin15aday and #spin15aday2018challenge) and will have this finished and chained plied over the weekend.

Bluefaced Leicester (BFL) is buttery soft and perfect for new spinners as it drafts beautifully and spins up like a dream.  It is perfect for next to the skin garments, such as socks, scarves, mitts, hats and sweaters.  My fiber stash contains quite a bit of BFL and BFL silk blends.  I personally love spinning this fiber and have also achieved exactly the weight I want when spinning.

Here's a little info on the Bluefaced Leicester sheep ...

Courtesy of Blacker Yarns

The Bluefaced Leicester (BFL) is a longwool breed of sheep which evolved from a breeding scheme of Robert Bakewell, in Dishley, Leicestershire in the eighteenth century. First known as the Dishley Leicester, and then the Hexham Leicester, because of the prevalence of the breed in Northumberland, the name Bluefaced Leicester became known at the beginning of the 20th century.  In the 1970s, the Bluefaced Leicester was exported to Canada. Exported frozen semen from the United Kingdom is now used to expand the genetic diversity in Canada and the United States. This breed is raised primarily for meat, but their fleece is becoming increasingly popular for handspinning. Bluefaced Leicester sheep may also have brown on their face.

Once this breed study is spun up, I'm thinking it might be time to get back to spinning my Abundant Earth Fiber ( post intentional spinning ).  I really want to get this done so I can cast on my hap cowl.

Until next time ~ stay creative!

Hip Hip Hooray ... I have a new pair of socks!!

April of this year I started a pair of modified Los Monos toe up socks.  I finished the first sock in June and I am happy to report that I finally finished the mate. I'm quite pleased that my stripes are matching, with the exception of the last few inches at the top of the sock and cuff.  This was due to my heel, but I actually don't mind and love how they turned out.

For this project I used Premier Serentity Sock yarn in the color Surf and two US size 1 1/2 circular needles in a 16" length.  This was the second time I've used this yarn and I have to say I really enjoyed knitting with it and I love the colors.  

I will share that I have been mostly a Opal Sock yarn fan for all my socks but I've been quite impressed with this yarn and here's why.  The first pair of socks I made in this yarn was Socks on A Plane, that was four years ago today and I wear them quite often.  There is no pilling, no stretching, no fading and they hold up in the wash quite well (yes, I machine wash my sock on the gentle cycle and lay flat to dry).  The yarn is $4.99 a skein and it takes two skeins to make a pair of socks. So very cost effective for the sock knitting addicts out there like me.      

Do you have a favorite sock yarn ?
Until next time ~ stay creative!

Almost done, done and something new!

So what is almost done ....

Still not to much knitting going on but I am happy to report that I've almost finished the mate to my modified Los Monos Locos socks!!!  I've just started the heel gusset increase and hope to have this mate finished by the weekend, it not sooner.

Now for those of you who don't know me too well, when it comes to self-striping yarn, my stripes have to match.  That means I am known to rip out and start over until I have a perfect matching pair of striped socks.  Yep, I'm a little OCD about that!  So,I 'm very happy to report that my stripes match and I will soon be wearing a new pair of socks.

So what have I finished ...

To give my left arm a little bit of a break from a tremendous amount of knitting and spinning, I've turned to cross stitch.  I haven't worked on cross stitch for years but decided it would be fun to do again.  I really enjoyed working on Quote the Raven by the Cricket Collection.  I made a couple of changes, basically just color and love how it turned out.

As you can see in the photo above left, the fabric was cream and on the right a bit more "beige/tan".  After finishing the stitching, I decided that this piece needed a more vintage halloweens appeal and opted to tea dye it.  The result was just as I hoped (see below) and I was quite pleased that I even had a frame that was perfect for it.

Please forgive the glare and shadow from me taking the photo

For the tea dying process:  I used two PG Tips tea bags and boiling hot water.  I prepared the finished piece by rinsing it underneath hot water and then placed it into it's tea bath.  I swished it around several times and then allowed it to seep in the tea for about five minutes. I then took it out, placed it on a towel and used one of the tea bags to dab a bit more "tea color" around the design. I gently rolled it up in paper towels to remove excess water and then placed it on a towel to dry outside in the sun.   

So what is new ...

I share a few Harry Potter inspired knits last Friday and fell in love with Always by Mary Annarella.

Photo courtesy of Mary Annarella

I will be making this fun knit in Madelinetosh Pashmina Worsted in Lapis and Nutmeg. I'm hoping to have enough yarn left over to make mitts to match as the MC (Lapis) only requires 170 yards and the CC (Nutmeg) only requires 80 yards.  With that in mind, I'm think fingerless mitts in Nutmeg with touches of the Lapis.

What do you have going on this week?  Any finished projects or soon to be finished projects ?

Until next time ~ stay creative!

Plotting and Planning: Time for Sweaters

Do you plot or plan your next project ?  I do and sometimes it takes a few days to narrow down exactly what I want to make, what yarn I can use from my stash or what I m need purchase and any other items that will need to be on hand to finish what I will be making.

Today, I "planned and plotted" my next three sweaters that I want to make.  Two of these designs I've had my eye on for quite a while and the third was by pure chance.  I even took advantage of the closeout sale on Classic Elite online at  Webs and can't wait for my yummy yarn to arrive!!!

I could not resist purchasing Weekender by Andrea Mowry and was super excited to find out that she was offering 25% off all her patterns in honor of her birthday.  I love this design for it's shear simplicity and construction.  It's got comfortable written all over it and since close to 1,500 sweaters have been made I think this will be a winner.  

For this design I have chosen Classic Elite Liberty Wool in the color Slate.  I'm very excited about this project and look forward to casting it on soon.

It’s time for my annual Birthday Sale!! Please enjoy 25% of all my self published patterns with the coupon code BIRTHDAY35 until 8/8/18 at midnight EST!! Thank you for another awesome year in this AMAZING community!!
Weekender - photo courtesy of Andrea Mary

I also decided to make a Classic Elite design by Susan Mills called Big Liberty Wool Yoke Pullover.  This is a bulky knit with a simple design around the yoke.  This will be my very first colorwork project and I'm quite stoked!!!  

For this project I purchased Big Liberty Wool in Azul for the main color (body) and Sisal for the colorwork design.  

Photo Courtesy of Classic Elite

The last sweater that I decided on was by pure chance.  Somersworth by Tonia Barry is a classic raglan sleeve style sweater with a front placket and textured cuffs.  What nailed it for me on this design was truly the cuffs.  There are three colors and three textured stitch motifs used, giving this classic sweater a unique touch.

For this sweater I purchase Classic Elite Adelaide in Oatmeal for the main color (body) and one skein each of Ivy, Dried Rose and Plum for the cuffs.   

Photo Courtesy of Classic Elite
You may be wondering why the choice of Classic Elite for all three projects and truly it's twofold.  Buying yarn that I've lusted over for quite a while that is now on sale is one reason but the main reason is my pure love of Classic Elite and I'm quite heartbroken that another favorite yarn company has closed their doors.  Once this yarn is gone from all the shelves and online sources, there will be no more to be had unless purchased from a destash sale or an eBay listing.  For me this truly is a sad day.

If you haven't heard about Classic Elite, take a moment to read their blog post, as well as a wonderful post by Kristin Nicholas.  It's truly sad when our "local" stores close, but it's even sadder to see companies within our country close.  

I leave you with this thought from Kristin's post as it really rings home to me.

Failure of the consumer to realize that most yarn companies are really only small companies that look big. I have heard knitters say - "Oh I won't buy from any big company - I only buy independent." Little do those knitters realize that most of the "big yarn companies" really aren't big at all but Mom and Pop businesses who have bank loans and employ folks in their local towns to help them spread the yarn love through the world. 

Until next time ~ stay creative!

Friday Pattern Spotlight: Belated Birthday Wishes to Harry Potter

July 31 is a magical day. It's Harry Potter's birthday, and the beloved fictional wizard just turned 38 in 2018.

Even though I'm a little over the age of 50, I will be the first to admit I'm a Harry Potter fan.  So much so that over the years I've knitted many Harry Potter inspired patterns.  In honor of Harry's recent birthday, I thought it only fitting to share a few of my favorite Harry Potter inspired knits as today's spotlight.  I hope you enjoy these as much as I do, a few of which are brand new on Ravelry as a tribute to this wizard's birthday!

Let the sorting begin ....

Shopping at Diagon Alley by Jessie Marie was released this week in honor of Harry's birthday and is the third in her Harry Potter sock series, the Philosopher's Stone Sock Club.

Courtesy of Jessie Marie

From the designer's Ravelry Page:     Harry’s first visit to Diagon Alley is the moment where everything he has been told by Hagrid really comes to life, and as a reader it is what really bought the wizarding world to life for me. I loved the idea that even though I did not receive my Hogwarts letter, the possibility of this hidden world still existed. Fast-forward several years and I finally get to visit Diagon Alley at Universal Studios on my Honeymoon, making this pattern doubly special to me.  This simple knit and purl pattern is easy and repetitive to knit and is reminiscent, not only of the brick wall behind the Leaky Cauldron, but also of the cobbled and uneven streets. Slip stitches throughout help add to the squishy texture and pull everything a little…. well, diagonal. 

Dobby is Free by Sandra C is one of five of her Harry Potter inspired colorwork sock patterns.  Be sure to check out her complete collection!

Courtesy of Sandra C
From the designer's Ravelry Page:  Who doesn’t love Dobby! I am so happy I am able to bring the pattern I’ve had in my head for so long!  July 31st is the perfect day to release the last three patterns in this collection. It is HP’s birthday and the birthday of one of my daughters.♥ See my other HP inspired sock patterns. I have one for each book.

Riddle of the Spinx by Trysten Molina is another lovely colorwork pattern released in July.

Courtesy of Trysten Molina

From the designer's Ravelry page:  Inspired by Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the Riddle of the Sphinx Socks give the perfect answer to get us through the maze! These socks are a fun way to celebrate our love of these books, characters, and wizardly feels!

The Weasley Homestead by Erica Lueder is a favorite, so much so that I've made at least four pairs of socks from this pattern.  Be sure to check out all of Erica's Harry Potter inspired sock patterns, they are fun and many are free downloads.

Courtesy of Erica Lueder
From the designer's Ravelry page:  My inspiration for this sock “pattern” came from both the particular colorway used (Fresh From the Cauldron’s Superwash Sock in the Burrow Colorway) and from the Weasley Family itself from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter Series. I want to note that the stitch pattern used throughout this sock has been used in several other projects and I am not, in any way, claiming it as my own. This “pattern” is really not a pattern at all, just instructions on how I used the stitch pattern to create this particular pair of socks.

Hogwarts Express by Susan Ashcroft is the perfect shawl to show off your love of Owls and Harry Potter.

Courtesy of Susan Ashcroft
From the designer's Ravelry Page:  This crescent-shaped shawl uses a simple construction with no short rows, making it both quick and relaxing to work.  The owls take a little time, but they are such fun to make that I think this still qualifies as a speedy knit.

Always by Mary Annarella is a wonderful tribute to Snape and I love the both the front and back of the design.  It's perfect!

“After all this time?” 
“Always,” said Snape.

Courtesy of Mary Annarella

Courtesy of Mary Annarella

From the designer's Ravelry page:  This hat spells out one of the most beloved lines from the Harry Potter series along with the Deathly Hallows symbol that evokes the theme of the final book.

I hope you enjoyed my spotlight today.  

Until next time ~ stay creative!

Now that the tour is over

Tour de Fleece is officially over and I have to say I have been blown away over the amount of wool that was spun and the beauty of the finished yarn.   

I truly enjoyed my group, #teamspin15aday, which shared on Instagram and in our Ravelry group, #Spin15aDay  .  

For those of you on Instagram, check out what our group accomplished in spinning by using the hashtag #teamspin15aday2018 

I was very pleased with the small amount of fiber I spun up and here's a recap ...
64 yards of Whiteface Woodland 
40 yards of Natural Polwarth 
25 yards of Corriedale 
70 yards of Abundant Earth Fiber in Citrine 
67 yards of Abundant Earth Fiber in Sugar Snap

Now that the Tour de Fleece is over, I still will be spinning at least 15 minutes a day and will be working on my Abundant Earth Fiber.  I really want to finish it so I can cast on my Half Hap.  I will be starting the next color, Blood Orange, tomorrow and hope to have it finished and plied by the ed of the weekend.

I'm also finishing up my Targhee and while this hasn't quite been an enjoyable spin for me, I look forward to getting it done and plied.  I'm hopeful I will have enough yardage for a shawl or cowl and mitts.

Did you enjoy this years Tour de Fleece ?

Until next time ~ stay creative!